Ryan Morning

Ryan “Morno” Morning, President & Co-Founder possesses over 22 years of operational, technical, and acquisition related experience. An innovative leader and team builder, Ryan concurrently serves as the Director of Business Development for StraCon Services Group, LLC. A former pilot and Acquisition Officer, Ryan retired from the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in 2014 and saw an immediate need for the continuation of services offered to transitioning service members via the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). He began collaboration with the service provides in the local Patuxent River, MD area to offer networking events and industry panels and through this collaboration and coordination, the AVA Group was established. Ryan has a genuine desire to help veterans, their families, and the local community. He views the AVA Group and our industry sponsors as the conduit by which we can help local veterans successfully transition from the military, strengthen the Southern Maryland community, and empower veterans.
Ryan possesses a Masters of Science in Business Administration from Boston University, a Masters of Arts in Leadership Studies from Marshall University, a Postgraduate Certificate in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, and Bachelors of Arts degrees in Political Science and Economics from the University of Rochester. He is a graduate of USMC Command and Staff College, a member of the Defense Acquisition Corps, and DAWIA Level III certified in Program Management. Through the Scrum Alliance, he is a Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) and Certified Scrum Master (CSM). He is a Project Management Professional (PMP), and Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) through PMI.

Erin Emery

Erin Emery, Vice President & Co-Founder has more than 20 years of exemplary client service, and full life cycle human resources experience in support of the defense consulting industry. She combines her ability to critically think, provide leadership and find creative solutions to assist her clients in filling critical positions. She works with executive management to provide a strategic and integrated approach gain a competitive advantage. As the daughter of a veteran, she naturally fell into a role where she was able to dedicate her career assisting veterans with their career needs. Throughout her career, she has also volunteered her time assisting homeless veterans by providing career counseling, job placement and resume writing.
Ms. Emery holds a MBA from Purdue University and a BA in Psychology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Ms. Emery is also a licensed Realtor in the state Maryland. Originally from Massachusetts, she has called Southern Maryland home for over 20 years. She is the proud mother of two young men and believes that treating everyone with the respect they deserve has been the driving force behind the success in her professional and personal life. Ms. Emery is the current Director of Human Resources for the small service disabled veteran owned consulting firm Air Combat Effectiveness (ACE) Consulting Group, LLC. Headquartered in Lexington Park, MD and Realtor with Century 21 New Millennium based in White Plains, MD.

Damian Bates

Damian Bates, Vice President & Co-Founder of the AVA Group, has over 25 years of dedicated service and experience in support of the Department of Defense and the defense contracting industry. He served over 20 years as a United States Marine retiring in 2014. He has worked with non-profit organizations across the country helping to advance the well-being and vital social networks of the veteran community. He also gained invaluable experience working at the Veterans Administration Hospital providing services in the Substance Abuse and Mental Illness clinic. His creative and empathic approach to social outreach and community organizing produces quality results and impactful change for targeted veteran populations. His tireless work ethic is matched only by his strong commitment to serving those in need.
Coming from a long history of family members who served in the military, Damian culminated a career in the Marine Corps as a Gunnery Sergeant. He has over 20 years of senior level experience in building successful organizations, solving complex problems, and conquering tough challenges using creative solutions with the discipline of execution. Damian has a known reputation for building cohesive teams through servant leadership, stewardship, trust and communication. He currently serves as a Senior Program Manager at StraCon Services Group located in Lexington Park, Maryland.
Mr. Bates holds a Masters Degree in Social Work with a focus on military veterans from the University of Southern California and a BA in Psychology from National University in San Diego. He has co-founded two non-profit organizations and uses his natural and learned leadership styles to successfully serve as a Senior Program Manager to the defense industry.