To learn about us, let us start with our Management Team

Chris Carberry





Chris Carberry is the CEO and co-founder of Explore Mars, Inc. a nonprofit which was created to advance the goal of sending humans to Mars within the next two decades. The organization also encourages the use of STEM curriculum in the classroom to instill a desire to pursue space exploration for future generations.

Carberry is a well-respected expert and influential director of strategic alliances in the space community and has been responsible for growing many partnerships, grants and sponsorships for leading industry organizations. His innovative ideas and vast knowledge regarding space have given him a political presence when it comes to policymaking concerning the space related matters. Currently, as Explore Mars Executive Director, he acts as the main liaison for efforts and project ventures. He has been an international spokesperson on behalf of various space related entities on numerous occasions.

Prior to joining Explore Mars, Carberry served as Executive Director to The Mars Society. In his early career, he acted as a member of the Steering Committee where he organized congressional outreach efforts around the country. He also played a part in congressional lobbying events such as the 2007-2010 Space Budget Blitz, the 2007 Moon-Mars Blitz, the 2006 Space Blitz, and the Great 2006 Mars Blitz as chairman and co-coordinator.

In more recent years, he has led successful international conferences including the ISS and Mars Conference in Washington, D.C. and Strasbourg, France, and the Women and Mars Conference in Washington, D.C. In 2012, he represented Explore Mars as a delegate to the Mars500 Symposium in Moscow, Russia, and is spearheading the Humans to Mars Summit in Washington, DC in May 2013.He currently serves as Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Space Exploration Alliance, which is an umbrella group representing 13 space advocacy organizations with total membership of over 700,000 people.

Aside from his accomplishments as a space thought leader, Carberry is a noted writer and has contributed positioning work for the Republican Party’s National Platform in 2000, and co-authored Congressional testimony. During his time as director at the Mars Society, he began The Mars Quarter, an online and print magazine. He is also the author of dozens of articles and Op-Ed pieces concerning space policy and politics that have appeared in such publications as USA Today, US News and World Report, the Huffington Post, and many others – and has been featured on national and international such as NBC Nightly News. BBC World, NPR, and many other news outlets. In 2006, he published a mystery/science fiction novel called Celestial Pursuits: in the hub of the Universe.

Chris has helped launch programs such as the Mars Education Challenge, Mars Exploration Magazine and Mars Talk (an online video talk show) and the Campaign. Chris has a black belt in Kung Fu and is an avid ocean kayaker.

Prior to his space career, Chris worked as an archivist of modern political papers and was research assistant for numerous best-selling biographers.

Chris received a B.A. degree in political science and a M.A. in history and archival methods.






Artemis Westenberg is President and Director, and co-founder of Explore Mars, Inc. She intends to see humans walk on Mars within the next two decades.[br]

Artemis has been a lobbyist for various causes and organisations for 37 years, starting with a successful lobby for her grammar school when 17. Since 2000, Artemis has been involved in space exploration advocacy, as President of the Mars Society Netherlands and Steering Committee member of The Mars Society Inc. After serving as crewmember in a number of MDRS (Mars Desert Research Station) crews and consequently as CapCom for MDRS and FMARS (Flashline Arctic Research Station), also as logistics manager, for the 4 month FMARS crew in 2007, Artemis took on the responsibilities of Mission Director, managing the MDRS since August 2008, which she turned into a financially independent and self-sufficient project. She intends to establish a European Mars analogue station, in which design she has been involved from the start. Artemis has organised (inter)national conferences since 1980, among which several conferences for the Mars Society in the Netherlands and Europe.

Her former employment includes management in technological multinationals such as Honeywell and THORN EMI in public affairs and business administration, and president of the Council of Women for Rotterdam. Artemis is a nationally decorated feminist in her home country and started her feminist career as member of the Dutch government delegation to the UN conference on the status of women, Copenhague 1980.

In the Netherlands Artemis is often spokesperson for the space community when Mars is in the Media. She has been quoted in numerous national and international newspapers and magazines and has appeared on national and international television and radio.

Artemis enjoys her work as space ambassador giving lectures for any age about space exploration and Mars. At present, Artemis works as Business Manager of the Van Beek-Donner Stichting, a welfare foundation in Rotterdam. She holds an M.A. in Ancient History, and Islam, with minors in International Relations, and in Classical Studies from Leiden University, the oldest university of the Netherlands (1575), and a degree in General Management, from the Dutch Entrepreneurial Society.

Joe Cassady





Joe Cassady is a graduate of Purdue University where he majored in Aeronautics and Astronautics. He received a Bachelors Degree in 1981 and a Masters Degree in 1983. His course of study for the Masters Degree emphasized Electric Propulsion and Orbital Mechanics. While pursuing his Master’s Degree, Joe worked as a Researcher at the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory at Edwards AFB. There, he performed research into the acceleration mechanisms of Magneto Plasma Dynamic (MPD) thrusters. After graduating, Joe continued his research at the AFRPL, where he helped to create the in-house Electric Propulsion Laboratory (EPL). While at AFRPL he was twice awarded Air Force Sustained Superior Performance awards, received the AFRPL’s Excellent Performance award and was nominated as the Los Angeles Regional Civil Service Employee of the Year in 1984.

In 1985, Joe Cassady joined Rocket Research Company (RRC) in Redmond, WA as a Senior Development Engineer. Since then, he has been involved with propulsion research and development in varying roles with Olin Aerospace, Primex Aerospace Company, General Dynamics Space Propulsion Systems, and Aerojet. His work has included experimental research and analysis for satellite propulsion using arcjets, ion thrusters, pulsed plasma thrusters, and Hall thrusters. Joe led the project team that developed and flew the highest power electric propulsion device ever flown aboard the Air Force ARGOS satellite in 1999. He was twice awarded the company’s Administrator of the Year Award for his contributions to advancing the company’s technical and business capabilities. In 2001, he was recognized as part of the EO-1 Pulsed Plasma Experiment team with a Goddard Space Flight Achievement Award. More recently, his responsibilities have evolved to include research projects in cryogenic propulsion and development of thruster technology in support of the NASA Exploration. Currently Joe is the Executive Director of the Washington, DC Office of Aerojet. He is based in Washington, DC.

He has served on numerous interagency panels including the NASA Solar System Exploration Team, the Space Propulsion Synergy Team and the New Millennium Project Development team. He has a long-standing interest in advanced propulsion for planetary exploration and in low thrust orbit mechanics. He has authored or co-authored more than 45 papers dealing with propulsion technology and its applications. He holds four patents for electric propulsion technologies. His professional affiliations included the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; the American Astronautical Society; and the Electric Rocket Propulsion Society, where he serves as Vice President, Operations. His lifelong goal has been to see humans travel to Mars.

Rick Zucker
Rick Zucker, who is currently Vice President, Policy, for Explore Mars, Inc., joined the organization in March 2013. Rick is a leader in space advocacy, and he has also written, co-authored, and/or edited numerous articles/OpEds on space policy/space advocacy.

Since 2008 and continuing to the present day, Rick has chaired the “Legislative Blitz”, a grassroots visit to Washington, DC by the Space Exploration Alliance, a collaboration of non-profit space advocacy organizations. Rick also chairs Explore Mars Inc.’s grassroots visits known as “Mars Day on the Hill”. He is a member of the Development Team for the Humans to Mars Report, an annual report that provides a comprehensive analysis of progress in the technical, political, and scientific fields, as well as in public perception, relative to the human exploration of Mars. Rick is also a participant in the Mars Affordability and Sustainability Workshops, including serving as one of the three senior editors for the reports generated by the second and third workshops (held in Pasadena, CA in October 2014 and in Washington, DC in December 2015, respectively).

Prior to joining Explore Mars, Inc., Rick served the National Space Society (NSS) in many capacities, including Executive Vice President, Chair of the Policy Committee, and as a member of the Board of Directors. Rick also served the NSS as its Vice President of Public Affairs, Chair of the Policy Implementation Subcommittee, and as a member of numerous other committees. In recognition of his efforts on behalf of the Society, Rick received the Society’s 2008 Chris Pancratz Space Activist of the Year Award and its 2010 Award for Excellence.

Professionally, Rick is an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia. He is an experienced trial and appellate attorney, with over 30 years in private practice. Rick received his law degree from New York University School of Law and his undergraduate degree in Politics from Brandeis University.

Gary Fisher





Gary Fisher serves as a member of the Board of Directors, andTreasurer of Explore Mars, Inc. His qualifications include a BS and MS degree in Industrial

Engineering from Lehigh University.
He has worked as a systems analyst, and database administrator for Control Data Corp., Texas Instruments, and Unisys, and for many years held a second job as bookkeeper to a medical practice. In 2000 he started The Optical Boutique, Inc., an optical shop. In 2004-2005 he served as Executive Director of the Liberty Eye Surgery Center in Philadelphia, PA. In 2006 he helped start the ophthalmology practice, Valley Eye Professionals LLC.

In 2007 he was a founder of Lift-Off Technologies Corp, an invention development company, and since 2008 has been the Administrator of Valley Eye Professionals, LLC. His prior nonprofit experience includes serving from 2008 to 2010 as Treasurer of the Mars Society, Inc.

Debbie Cohen





Debbie Cohen is the Director of Finance and Operations of Explore Mars. She brings over 30 years of nonprofit and small business financial management/accounting experience to her position, including 14 years of experience in the financial services industry, over 13 years of experience in the administration of 501(c)(3) organizations, and 12 years of political/government experience. Her particular expertise is in the development and implementation of financial and operations systems for small nonprofit and for-profit business entities.

In addition to her Treasurer duties, Debbie provides ongoing operations management assistance to the Explore Mars staff, and helps to coordinate operations and logistics for Explore Mars events, including serving as Deputy Co-Chair for the annual Humans to Mars Summit.

A dedicated advocate of space exploration and development, she worked with the National Space Society from 2010 through 2013, where her positions included Associate Director, Operations Manager for the 2012 International Space Development Conference in Washington, DC, Chair of the Public Relations Committee, and Public Relations Director for the 2011 International Space Development Conference in Huntsville, Alabama.

Professionally, Debbie owns a business management and financial consulting practice serving nonprofit and for-profit small businesses, sole proprietors and high-net-worth individuals. Her nonprofit clients have included public policy foundations, schools and grassroots advocacy organizations in Washington, DC. In the course of her nonprofit career, she held various senior management positions in the areas of administration, operations and development for three non-profit public policy foundations in Washington, DC and has served on the boards of trustees/directors of several more.

Debbie’s corporate finance experience includes serving as Director of Finance for Columbia Books & Information Services, the publisher of the original U.S. Congress Handbook, as well as numerous other products for the government relations, trade association and nonprofit business sectors; Chief Financial Officer/Finance & Operations Principal for Scully Capital Services, a boutique investment banking firm arranging finance structures for large-scale environmental, energy and transportation industry projects; and Chief of Staff for Clifford Brody & Associates, a Washington, DC firm providing legislative and regulatory consulting services to major US banks.

Her political experience includes serving as a Legislative Assistant for the Western Hemisphere Affairs Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, working on two presidential campaigns, and the aforementioned public policy organizations.

Blake Ortner





Blake Ortner has been a strong Mars advocate since before 1999. He currently serves as the Deputy Government Relations Director for Paralyzed Veterans of America in Washington, DC where he is responsible for federal legislation and government relations, as well as budget analysis and appropriations. He has represented PVA to federal agencies including the Department of Labor, Office of Personnel Management, Department of Defense, HUD and the VA. His current focus is on Veterans health care and benefits. In addition, he is PVA’s representative on issues such as Gulf War Illness, Deployment Health effects and coordinates issues with other Veteran Service Organizations.

As a member of The Mars Society (TMS), he conducted significant volunteer advocacy for Human Exploration of Mars and the need for Heavy Lift Vehicles if the United States wishes to be a true space faring nation. He served as the Director, DC Working Group in leading advocacy efforts in support of Mars exploration. He also served as the coordinator and Conference Director for both the 2006 Washington, DC Mars Society Convention and the 2009 University of Maryland – College Park Mars Society Convention.

In addition to his work for PVA and TMS, he is a military officer. He originally served on Active Duty with the 9th Infantry Division and the Army’s elite 2nd Ranger Battalion. He continues his military service as a Brigadier General in the Virginia Army National Guard.
His military service includes:

2001-2002, as Chief of Operations for Multi-National Division North for the SFOR 10 peacekeeping mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina 2004-2005 he commanded an Infantry Battalion Task Force in Afghanistan earning 2 Bronze Star Medals 2007-2008 he served in Iraq as the Chief of Operations for Multi-National Force – Iraq earning a Bronze Star Medal and a Joint Commendation Medal.

Additional awards include the Legion of Merit, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Combat Action Badge, Ranger Tab, Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge and the Parachutist Badge. Currently serves as the Division Commander for the 29th Infantry Division in Virginia.

Joseph H. Webster





Joe Webster is an attorney in private practice with a law firm in Washington, DC, where he has practiced law for 15 years. During that time, he has gained extensive experience crafting policy positions and documents, as well as lobbying both the Executive Branch and Congress. On the space policy front, Joe has helped to develop policy and advocacy positions for both the Space Exploration Alliance and the Mars Society. He also has participated in a number of space policy legislative “blitzes” over the years. Joe served as a JAG officer in the Army Reserve and is a veteran of both Operation Iraqi Freedom (2006-07) and the Gulf War (1990-91).

Rich Phillips





For more than 20 years, Phillips has worked with our nation’s leading companies and political leaders to help build leadership positions for companies, products, issues and ideas.

Phillips is president of Phillips & Company, a management consulting firm that helps leading companies achieve sustainable revenue growth through strategic communications and business development campaigns. With a focus on space technology, homeland security, mobile computing, telecommunications and green technology, Phillips & Company helps organizations own the issues driving their respective markets through public relations, integrated marketing, business development, brand positioning and public affairs. Phillips is currently Executive Director of the Next Step in Space Coalition and founder of the Space Economy Leadership Summit series.

Prior to founding Phillips & Company, Phillips served as Chief Communications Officer of Simplified Development Corp., an Austin-based provider of telecommunications software, where he led marketing and communications strategy for North America, Asia and Europe.

Prior to Simplified, Phillips served as Director of Corporate Communications at NIC, a leading provider of Government services. In that capacity, Phillips worked directly with state CIOs and other state and local government leaders and associations including the National Governors Association to launch the Government Web Privacy Coalition aimed at ensuring the protection of private data and information. Phillips also directed the first benchmark study on citizen and business demand for Government services.

Before that, Phillips served as Vice President of the Next-Generation Communications Practice at Cunningham Communication, a communications consulting firm, where he managed accounts for global leaders in telecommunications and Internet technologies, including Sprint Corporation.

Phillips has also served as Director of Public Affairs for the Reason Foundation, a national public policy think tank where he was responsible for strategic planning and communications with national media and federal, state, and local government officials. Phillips successfully built strategic coalitions with both opinion leaders and associations in order to advance public policy programs and solutions in transportation, education and environmental policy.

In 1991 and 1992, Phillips served as Director of Information Services at the Bush/Quayle campaign in Washington D.C. under Ari Fleischer. Phillips also served as a technical advisor for media and information management at the Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas.

Prior to joining the Bush campaign, Phillips served as policy development assistant in the Office of Policy Planning at the White House under Jim Pinkerton, Deputy Assistant to the President for Policy Planning.

Phillips was appointed to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Advisory Council with the Texas Office of Homeland Security.

He is an adjunct professor at St. Edward’s University New College and a 1997-98 Graduate of Leadership Austin.

Phillips moved to Austin in 1996 and is a proud Texas business owner with deep roots in national service. He married his wife Michelle in 1994 and they have three children. Phillips earned a Bachelors degree in Economics with Distinction from Boston University and a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University.


Michale Raftery
Josh Powersr