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President Biden names AFRL executive director as Presidential Rank Award recipient

  • Published
  • By Bryan Ripple
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – A member of the Senior Executive Service, or SES, and executive director of the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, has been named by President Joe Biden as a recipient of the 2023 Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award.

The Presidential Rank Award is one of the most prestigious awards in federal career civil service and recognizes the exemplary contributions of civilian leaders throughout the federal workforce. Timothy Sakulich was selected by the President of the United States based on his sustained high performance and contributions to federal service.
“Tim has made a profound and lasting impact on AFRL’s ability to build capabilities that our Airmen and Guardian warfighters need through S&T,” said Brig. Gen. Scott “Nova” Cain, AFRL commander. “He is a visionary who truly believes that [science and technology, or] S&T drives operational advantage for the future fight. We are all proud of him, and he is certainly deserving of this recognition.”
Sakulich began his military career as an Air Force Academy Distinguished Graduate and served 26 years in various leadership roles, with his military career culminating in 2010 as the Air Force Materiel Command inspector general. He held several leadership positions since joining the civilian ranks and is currently responsible for managing the Air Force's $3 billion science and technology portfolio, along with an additional $3 billion of externally funded research and development. He serves a government workforce of 6,500 people in AFRL's nine component technology directorates, 711th Human Performance Wing and AFWERX. He’s been serving in his current role since April 2021. 
Serving the world’s best science and technology workforce as AFRL continues transformational change over the past few years to enable the S&T requirements of 2030 has yielded a long list of significant accomplishments to give warfighters asymmetric advantages well into the future.
As the executive lead for the implementation of the Department of the Air Force’s 2030 Science and Technology Strategy from 2018-2020, Sakulich led a multipronged campaign to implement the strategy while building stakeholder coalitions and laid out business foundations to fully achieve the singularly most strategic transformation of the DAF’s $6 billion a year, 11,000-person science and technology enterprise since AFRL’s establishment in 1997.
Sakulich also conceived and championed the development of AFRL’s 2030 Human Capital Strategy, driving alignment of plans, policies and resources over the Future Years Defense Program, or FYDP, to ensure modern, competitive advantage in recruiting, developing and employing the S&T talent needed to lead and accelerate technology for air, space and cyber operational imperatives, and to exploit OSD critical technology areas in support of National Defense Strategy priorities.
“I am humbled by this recognition, and it is shared by the phenomenal AFRL team that I serve,” said Sakulich. “We have one of the most important missions in the DAF, to discover and provide S&T solutions and capabilities to our warfighters so they can do their jobs, execute their missions and come home safely. This is a team effort, and I am honored to be a part of that.”
Sakulich is one of 232 SES, senior level, and scientific and professional, members across 31 agencies who will take home an award in recognition of their extensive contributions to public service.
The President also selected Heidi Bullock, director of contracting, Headquarters AFMC, for the Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award. A full list of the 2023 Presidential Rank Award Winners is available here.

About AFRL 
The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit