President & CEO

Jeff Ruckman

Jeff Ruckman is an internationally recognized leader in precision optics with decades of experience in optics development, manufacturing, and team management. As President and CEO of AmeriCOM, he is responsible for all facets of business operations that support the organization’s mission, and for harnessing the resources of industrial, academic, nonprofit, and governmental partners.

In 1989, Jeff founded and operated a technology-based consulting firm with extensive expertise in the management of special manufacturing equipment development and the optimization of manufacturing and business processes. His firm earned business with the Army ManTech funded program at the Center for Optics Manufacturing (COM) in Rochester, NY. Jeff’s extensive experience in collaborative environments, enabled him to create and manage inter-company design teams of both industry producers and DoD end-users for COM, that rapidly and collaboratively specified, designed, and built manufacturing equipment and process solutions which revolutionized the optics fabrication industry. Jeff also developed and executed a unique technology transition program for COM that was highly successful in moving COM developed technology into industry.

In 2004, Jeff served as manufacturing engineering senior manager for the Optics Component Center (OCC) at Lockheed Martin, the company’s only optics production facility. As its leader, Jeff was responsible for day-to-day production support; advancing critical optical manufacturing processes, advanced technology development for fabrication, and thin film coating; and developing and executing a business and technical roadmap for the OCC.

Jeff recently retired from Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) unit where he was the Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise Leader and also the Deputy to the Director of Production Engineering. Jeff was responsible for the strategy and execution of the MFC manufacturing research and development portfolio. He also supported MFC production of products including the F35 (Electro-Optic Tracking System and Missile Launch Detector); the Apache helicopter fire control systems (Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor); radar-guided missile systems like Javelin, Hellfire, PAC-3, and THADD; and the emerging needs of directed energy weapons, hypersonic missiles, and additive and conformal optical designs. Jeff was named a Distinguished Member of the Production Technical Excellence Staff at MFC.

Jeff has authored and co-authored a number of papers and has been an invited speaker at many national and international optics fabrication conferences. As a result of this work, Jeff is internationally recognized for his work on fabrication processes in difficult-to-machine brittle materials. He is the co-inventor on two patents related to the development of optical materials.

Tom Battley

Vice President, Government and Partnerships

Tom Battley

Tom Battley is recognized internationally in the optics, photonics, and imaging industries for his track record of leading teams, growing organizations, and establishing communications channels that support workforce development and overall growth of the optics industry. As Vice President Government and Partnerships for AmeriCOM, he is responsible for creating regional industrial workforce development ecosystems throughout the U.S. to serve as precision optics educational centers and manufacturing training sites. Tom also oversees the national outreach campaign to raise awareness of optical technician career opportunities.

A lifelong technology evangelist, Tom serves as a lobbyist and educational fundraiser in his position as the Executive Director of New York Photonics Cluster (NYPC), the largest cluster of its kind in the United States, comprised of more than 120 companies employing 24,000+ people. The cluster includes companies large and small, research institutes, and a network of educational partners, all committed to maintaining a flourishing industry ecosystem. In his role as executive director, Tom initiated, executed, and managed collaborations across multiple partners in the region.

Under Tom’s leadership, Rochester’s optics, photonics, and imaging ecosystem has grown and flourished, with major accomplishments including the revitalization of the Monroe Community College Optical Systems Technology Program, which involved raising $750K, establishing an industry advisory board, recruiting faculty, and instituting the first endowed professorship in the college’s history. Today it is the leading program of its kind in the nation with record enrollment.

Tom’s work with NYPC included advocating for the National Academies study, Optics & Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation, and the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), which led directly to New York State being designated as headquarters of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation in Integrated Photonics. Working with the New York Cluster, the American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association, and Rochester’s congressional delegation, and in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense, Tom co-led the establishment of AmeriCOM, the American Center for Optics Manufacturing.

Prior to his work with the cluster, Tom served as Monroe County Economic Development Director and participated in $2.4 billion in business investment in the greater Rochester, NY community, including major technology investments in optics, biotechnology, telecommunications, and advanced manufacturing. In 1986, he was a co-founder of Teknic, Inc., a firm that creates and sells precision servo control products to the OEM capital equipment market.

Alexis Vogt PhD

Workforce and Higher Education Executive Director

Alexis Vogt, PhD

Alexis Vogt, PhD serves as executive director of workforce and higher education at AmeriCOM. Dr. Vogt is also a tenured professor of optics and the endowed chair of the Optical Systems Technology program at Monroe Community College (MCC), the first college worldwide to award associate degrees in precision optics. In her first five years at MCC, Dr. Vogt secured over $6 million for the program.

Under her leadership, program enrollment and completion rates increased exponentially and laboratory renovations yielded 7,500 square feet of teaching space in four optic labs making use of $3.5 million of state-of-the-art optics manufacturing and metrology equipment. In her position at AmeriCOM, Dr. Vogt will expand her successful work at MCC to AmeriCOM partner colleges, faculty, students, and employers across the nation.

Prior to joining MCC, Dr. Vogt worked in the optics industry as Applications & Business Development Manager at Melles Griot (IDEX) and previous to that, designed contact lenses and intraocular lenses for Bausch + Lomb. In addition to her industry experience, Dr. Vogt holds three patents and has authored hundreds of papers, presentations, and publications in the field, including the definitions of “light” and “polarization” for World Book Encyclopedia. Dr. Vogt received her B.S. as well as her Ph.D. in Optics from the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester where her research focused on polarization engineering, coherence theory, and microscopy.

Dr. Vogt is an active member of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics and a senior member of Optica, formerly OSA, the Optical Society of America. She serves as a board member for the American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association (APOMA), the Rochester Museum & Science Center, the New York Photonics/Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster (RRPC), and the MCC Optical Systems Technology Advisory Board. In addition, she serves on the University of Rochester Hajim School of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council, the University of Rochester Institute of Optics Industrial Associates Director’s Advisory Council, and as the MCC Optics Club advisor.

Dr. Vogt is the recipient of the 2021 RRPC Leadership Award, the 2020 IEEE Technical Skills Educator Award, the 2018 National Women’s Hall of Fame Keeper of the Flame Award, and the 2017 New York Photonics Education Award. Her professional efforts have also been recognized with the Rochester Business Journal 2016 “Forty Under 40” award, the 2015 IDEX KEEP award for high performance, and the 2012 Bausch + Lomb CEO Award. With a commitment to the future of OPI industries, Dr. Vogt dedicates time to youth outreach and has been involved with coordinating and presenting optics demonstrations to children and educators both within the Rochester community and internationally. She is respected nationally as a speaker and role model for young women in optics.

Josanne DeNatale

National Marketing and Workforce Development Operations Director 

Josanne DeNatale

In her marketing role, Josanne is responsible for the AmeriCOM brand identity and for developing strategic marketing campaigns to raise awareness of the optics industry and the many career pathways it supports. As operations director, she coordinates the activities associated with the evaluation and onboarding of a community college to serve as the hub of an AmeriCOM optics ecosystem. Both roles rely on close collaboration with partners in secondary schools and institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, and industry. Working with marketing partners, Josanne implements a range of recruitment and outreach activities to middle- and high-school-aged students, adult learners, and those who influence them as they consider studying and working in optics manufacturing.

Before joining AmeriCOM, Josanne was president and co-founder of Cognitive Marketing Inc, a brand development and strategic marketing consultancy based in Rochester, NY that serves universities, colleges, independent schools, educationally oriented nonprofit organizations, and economic development initiatives across the country.

An experienced strategic marketing consultant, Josanne guides teams of creative and marketing professionals in the development of content strategies, identity systems, and integrated marketing campaigns for student recruitment and institutional advancement. Josanne is committed to fostering collaboration among her teammates and brings the intellectual orientation of both a designer and a marketer to her work, placing equal importance in human creativity and the power of data.

Josanne is particularly focused on educational equality and is chair of the Board of Advisors of the Horizons Student Enrichment Program at The Harley School of Rochester. She has served as an advisor to the Center for Student Opportunity and their I’m First ( initiative and the Rochester College Access Network (RCAN) of the Rochester Education Foundation and has volunteered with summerLEAP, a regional consortium of organizations that provide summer learning programs to children in urban and rural school districts.

Engineering Manager, Defense Precision Optics Consortium

Kristen Lynch

Kristen heads up the Research and Development side of AmeriCOM to develop new precision optics manufacturing technologies and transition them into industry.

Program Manager, Workforce and Higher Education

Kirsten Nobel, PhD

As Program Manager for Workforce and Higher Education, Kirsten works with college partners and experts from industry to set up training labs for tomorrow’s optics technicians. The Workforce Development team seeks to expand AmeriCOM’s reach to new community colleges in optics-rich areas around the country.

Kirsten holds a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Rochester, specializing in human and machine vision, optical properties of the human eye and neural mechanisms of visual perception. Prior to joining AmeriCOM, Kirsten was a Solution Engineer in biometrics, designing  face, finger and iris recognition systems used by the federal government for counter-terrorism and passport issuance.