Tom Alexander Joins Saildrone as VP of Government Relations

Tom Alexander will lead Saildrone’s new Washington, DC office, working to promote autonomous solutions for science, mapping, and homeland and national security.

Tom Alexander at Saildrone HQ in Alameda, CA.

Saildrone is excited to announce the addition of Tom Alexander as Vice President of Government Relations. Alexander brings nearly two decades of experience in senior-level roles at the Pentagon, White House, and with Congress. Most recently, he served as the associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) where he managed the federal budget for homeland security and was the principal advisor to the OMB director on issues involving the departments of Transportation, Homeland Security, and Justice, and the General Services Administration.

“When I first heard about Saildrone, it was like a lightbulb lit up. I spent my career in government looking for solutions that were better, faster, and cheaper to help alleviate the strain on our large assets deployed around the world. As a product, Saildrone spoke to me immediately, it was the solution I had been looking for,” said Alexander.

Based out of Saildrone’s new Washington, DC, office, Alexander will work to increase awareness of Saildrone’s ocean data collection, ocean mapping, and maritime domain awareness (MDA) products and services across federal government agencies, from Congress to the departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, and Defense.

“Tom’s deep understanding of the government’s operational requirements will be transformational to the Saildrone mission,” said Richard Jenkins, Saildrone founder and CEO. “Our objective is to give maximum operational utility to government agencies. Tom’s wide experience will enable us to evolve our extremely cost-efficient, data-as-a-service products, while still being compatible with existing acquisition and contracting mechanisms.”

A licensed attorney with a BA from Thomas Aquinas College and a JD from Ave Maria School of Law, Alexander began his career in Washington, DC. With a passion for national security and defense issues, he quickly found his way into public policy and government. He spent more than a decade in the House of Representatives in various roles including as National Security Subcommittee staff director for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, counsel to the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee, and chief counsel on the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

As acting assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict at the Pentagon, Alexander was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy on all counterterrorism, special operations, counter-narcotics, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and stability operations.

“I led the Pentagon’s Office for Counter Narcotics and Global Threats, which had a $1.1 billion program budget at the time. We really struggled with how to help the US government and foreign countries to interdict drug shipments that were inbound to the US from Central and South America—how do you identify them in a sea of legitimate traffic and then tip and cue the Coast Guard for interdiction? We had big, expensive assets out there doing what Saildrone USVs can do virtually on their own. That is what really attracted me to this solution,” said Alexander. 

Saildrone’s vision is of a healthy ocean and a safe and sustainable planet. To achieve that mission, Saildrone has developed robust, low-carbon solutions for sustainably exploring, mapping, and monitoring the ocean. Saildrone’s uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) provide unprecedented intelligence for climate, bathymetry, and maritime security applications. They have sailed over 500,000 nautical miles from the Arctic to the Antarctic and spent more than 15,000 days at sea performing missions for sustainable management of fisheries, air-sea heat and carbon exchange research, ocean mapping to improve navigation safety, and more.

“National security is knowing exactly where everybody is at all times—that’s persistent maritime domain awareness. If you can do that with a low-cost, unmanned, low-signature platform and provide the same or better MDA that you can with larger assets, it’s a win for everyone,” said Alexander. “Even though I’ve left the federal government, I will continue to work toward our national interests to identify and provide the types of goods and services required to advance homeland and national security.”

Last month, Saildrone announced it had closed a $100 million Series C funding round.

On the mission side, recent announcements include sailing through Category 4 Hurricane Sam to improve hurricane forecasting and the Surveyor’s first Pacific mapping mission to Hawaii and back in support of Seabed 2030.


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