By Jacqueline Jastrzebski, Logistics Officer Association Public Affairs

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – Throughout the last 35 years, the Logistics Officer Symposium Exhibit Hall has been the stomping grounds of big-name logistics industry partners like Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

As LOA evolved throughout time, the exhibit hall became a place welcoming of smaller businesses and non-profits, too.

The Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, one of LOA’s newest exhibitors, is a non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers who are known for shaking up the scene.

DEF prides itself on being a home for disruptive thinkers who work within the national security enterprise.

“We want to connect likeminded people and help creative thinkers understand that they can make a difference even at the most junior levels,” said Jen Sovada, DEFx director.

The non-profit was founded five years ago as a means to promote a culture of innovation. Professionals gather at workshops around the country to network and discuss ideas that address national security challenges.

Unlike most national security related organizations, for this non-profit, it’s not about age or rank. Revolutionary thinking happens at all levels and DEF recognizes the need to provide a forum for these ideas.

DEFx is one of their newest platforms for generating innovative thinking. During a one-day conference, speakers from all walks of life are brought in to discuss challenges and inspire solutions.

“Joining the DEF network allows you to expand and think differently in a community of other disruptive thinkers,” Sovada said.

Though LOA and DEF have differing missions, both share a passion for mentoring, connecting and empowering national security professionals.

“Non-profits are the dreamers,” said JD DuVall, LOA COO. “Including them at LOA provides inspiration for the war fighter to take on challenges and ultimately try to provide solutions for government professionals.”

To learn more about DEF, start a free membership, or subscribe to their mailing list, visit