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Key Personnel

Paul O. Davis, Ph.D.

Paul O. Davis, III, Ph.D. - Founder & President

Bio Sheet | CV PDF

Paul O. Davis, III, Ph.D., is the founder and president of the First Responder Institute. He is a graduate of the School of Public Health, University of Maryland and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Under contract to the Marine Corps, he embedded as a rifleman and conducted a five-year job task analysis of the critical and arduous tasks required for the MOS 0311 in high altitude, cold weather, desert, jungle and amphibious operations. Under contract to Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA), Dr. Davis developed physical performance standards for all uniformed personnel.

Dr. Davis was also a member of the Astronaut Rescue Team Initiative- a joint-USAF-NASA project to designed to increase survivability of a Space Shuttle launch mishap, created after the Challenger incident. For the Navy, he carried out a world-wide certification program for Command Fitness Coordinators.

For the Army, he wrote the first POI (program of instruction) for the Physical Fitness Academy at the Soldier Support Center.

He is the executive producer of several ESPN, Versus, A&E, CBS Sports and Discovery Channel productions including the Marine Corps Super Squad Challenge, Army Ranger Challenge, World SWAT Challenge and the Firefighter Combat Challenge®.

He has authored more than 200 treatises, articles and reports as well as two books- most recently: Hard Work: a guide for human resource managers, labor attorneys, and ergonomists- co-authored with Dr. Brian Sharkey.

Key Personnel

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Robert J. Alesbury, Jr.

Business Development Professional – Key player in the establishment of diverse new businesses. Extensively involved in market and business plan development, capitalization (internal, private, and public placement), organization development, market launch, and subsequent product, market and business redirection efforts.

Senior Executive – Successful track record performing a range of commercial, managerial, executive and board-level duties – as a team leader as well as a team member – in both entrepreneurial and Fortune 500 environments.

Communications Expert – Designed highly successful communications strategies for new and existing products within a broad range of industries including pharmaceutical, software, e-commerce, transportation, consumer goods, international trade, and banking.

Marketing Professional – Developed, implemented and managed direct, distributor and agency sales/marketing organizations and business development programs – in strong and weak business climates. Acquired a comprehensive understanding of marketing and business practices across a wide range of industries and international markets.

Executive Sales – Skilled at prospecting, developing and closing “front office” multi-million dollar programs and sales contracts – within a wide range of industries – including the public and not-for-profit sectors.

Tested/Proven Leader – Successfully represented a broad spectrum of investor, employee, management and board-level constituents in numerous challenging circumstances: start-ups, capitalization, mergers, reorganizations, and turn-around situations


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Dr. Zung V. Tran, Ph.D.

Dr. Tran is currently Founder & Chief Science Officer of MedAware Systems, Inc., where he has applied his experiences in meta-analytic methodology to creating a comprehensive medical literature database. Using a combination of intelligent software and human intelligence, this database is composed of hundreds of variables extracted from tens of thousands of individual published clinical trials. Using this database, investigators are able to apply analytics to address questions regarding symptoms, treatments, and outcomes.

Dr. Tran is retired from the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, where he was Research Professor of Biostatistics & Informatics, and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics. During his academic career, he taught numerous graduate and post-graduate biostatistics and clinical trials design courses and was co-investigator and senior biostatistician for numerous NIH-funded clinical trials. He was the recipient of numerous federal and foundation research grants, both as principal investigator and co-investigator.

Dr. Tran has over 30 years of experience in biostatistics, specializing in the design and analysis of clinical trials. He was one of Gene Glass' first doctoral students, and has considerable expertise in meta-analysis methodology, having published the first meta-analysis paper in JAMA (1985), and received the first NIH R01 grant (1988) for a meta-analysis project. For over 20 years, Dr. Tran served on numerous NIH study sections over and has extensive senior-level management experience in academic as well as industrial settings. He served as a consultant for a number of pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

Dr. Tran participated with Dr. Davis on several Job Task Analysis projects, analyzing multivariate relationships between predictors and performance in a criterion-related validity strategy.

Dr. Tran was a Full Member of the University of Colorado Cancer Center and served as Director of the Biostatistics Core for a major NCI funded project that was administered through the Cancer Center. He also served as Interim Director of the Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Shared Resource for the Cancer Center.

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Dr. Mark Abel, Ph.D., C.S.C.S.

Dr. Abel is an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion of the University of Kentucky. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Utah with a major in Exercise and Sport Science- Exercise Physiology. He is a former firefighter and has conducted a number of applied research studies in the public safety sector. He has published widely in peer-reviewed journals as well as a frequent presenter at scientific sessions such as the American College of Sports Medicine
(ACSM) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) Tactical Strength and Conditioning Conference (TSAC). Dr. Abel carries the Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist. He lectures both in the undergraduate program as well as supervising doctoral and graduate students at UK.

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Rob O'Connor, B.S.

After graduating from Frostburg State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business with a Marketing focus, Rob went to work for the United States Treasury. Since 2016, Rob O’Connor has been working as the lead creative with On•Target Communications the rights holder for numerous ESPN properties. He provides graphic design, marketing development, videography/photography and production, as well as media management and relations support for the Iconic Firefighter Combat Challenge and Battle Challenge brands.

Rob has created scores of instructional, educational and sales websites and videos for a wide array of public safety-related commercial firms as well as the first responder community. Many of his videos have GMIs (gross media impressions) in the millions. From concept, design, capture, videography, editing and posting, Rob has the mastery of the entire gamut of Adobe and Apple products.

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Norman D. Henderson, Ph.D.

Dr. Henderson, professor emeritus, Psychology Department, Oberlin College has five decades of experience in the public safety space. He has consulted in the development of certification examinations for EMTs, entrance testing for the Cleveland Police and Fire Departments. Other jurisdictions including Norwalk (CT), State of Louisiana, Kent (OH), Warren (OH) and East Cleveland.

He has made appearances in eight employment opportunity lawsuits, including the
seminal Zamlen firefighter hiring case in Cleveland with an important win for the City.

Academically, he has won honors as Elected Fellow, American Psychological Association, Founding Fellow, American Psychological Society, Fulker Award for best research paper in Behavior Genetics.

Dr. Henderson received his doctoral degree from Case Western Reserve and has been a consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services, serving on the Research Grant Review Committee.

Among his hundreds of publications in peer-reviewed journals, are four relevant publications related to the first responder community. Dr. Henderson has been an editor for five prestigious psychology journals.

Dr. Henderson has consulted on several Davis and Associates projects including the PFPA, Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue and DHS-ICE projects.


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Dr. Brandi A. Weiss, Ph.D.

Dr. Weiss is an Associate Professor of Quantitative Methods with tenure and Director of Research Methods at the George Washington University. She received her Doctorate in Measurement, Statistics, and Evaluation from the University of Maryland, College Park, and holds a master’s degree in Assessment, Measurement, and Statistics in Psychological Sciences from James Madison University.

Her research focuses on methodological issues in latent variable modeling with a specific emphasis on: data-model fit, measures of fit and misfit, structural equation modeling (SEM), mixture modeling, and nonlinear modeling. Her research has appeared in refereed scholarly journals such as Psychological Methods, Educational and Psychological Measurement, Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, Research and Practice in Assessment, Journal of Experimental Education and Applied Psychological Measurement.

Dr. Weiss has served as the methodologist on over thirty dissertation committees and has nearly twenty years of experience working as a statistical and psychometric consultant collaborating with clients across a wide array of disciplines including audiology, business marketing, education, exercise science, human development, marine biology, medical sciences, neuropsychology, psychology, social work, and student affairs.

She has also worked with a broad variety of assessment types including large-scale University-wide assessments, item banking for computer-adaptive tests, instrument and survey design, and small-scale program evaluations. She served as the methodologist of the PETIT (Prematurity’s Effects on Toddlers, Infants and Teens) study for four years examining longitudinal neuropsychological, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes of prematurely born children until the study concluded in 2016.

Dr. Weiss teaches graduate-level courses in quantitative methods including Introduction to Statistics, Group Comparison and Design Analyses, Data Management, Factor Analysis, Regression and Predictive Analyses, and Structural Equation Modeling.


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Kelly Kennedy, Ph.D.

Dr. Kennedy is one of the nation’s leading experts in fitness training for police. While working for the largest Police Department in the Southeast United States, she has physically trained and tested over 3,700 police recruits and officers since 1999. During this time, she has lectured on physical fitness to classes for Police, Corrections and specialized units such as the Special Response Team, Rapid Deployment Force (RDF), and Defensive Tactics Instructor. She led the design of a large tactical obstacle course and was a part of a committee to create a pretest physical fitness screening for the members of the RDF. Additionally, she created a physical screening standard for readiness for the Aviation Unit, Marine Patrol Unit and served as the project manager of a team of physiologists in the development of the minimum standards for fitness for the job of Police officer, K-9 unit and Special Response Team.

In 2003 she started an education and consulting company called Fit-to-Enforce that takes her all over the country teaching and consulting law enforcement. She has worked as a Subject Matter Expert in physical fitness for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and has served on the editorial review for the Tactical Strength and Conditioning Report. In addition, she has presented at conferences for the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), Tactical Strength and Conditioning Conference (TSAC) and Florida SWAT Association. Kelly has also hosted workshops for the AVON 3-Day Walk, Team Footworks, was an examiner for ASCM's Health/Fitness Instructor exam, interviewed on the Performance Nutrition Radio Show, and was a featured professional in the SoBeReal section of SoBeFit Magazine. After graduating with a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology, she worked as an adjunct instructor at Florida International University for five years.

Kelly is certified with the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as a Certified Exercise Physiologist and Certified from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (CISSN). She is a past certified Level 1 Sport Performance Coach from USAW, for 10 years was a Level 1 CrossFit Instructor, currently Certified as a Defensive Tactics Instructor, member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association and earned a Ph.D. in Global Leadership from Lynn University.


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Daniel J. Pace, B.S.

Daniel graduated with a degree in Computer Science (Magna Cum Laude) from Salisbury University. He is a Certified Apple Server Administrator (2008) and has developed specialized software to track data for the Firefighter Combat Challenge. Mr. Pace has conducted two redesigns of the Firefighter Combat Challenge’s website. He travels regularly to each event as an integral part of the management team, assisting in logistics, and customer service. He spearheaded a successful project to design software for the Challenge’s merchandise store, which directly increased sales through a more streamline process of checkout. He maintains all computer systems for the company, including set-up and running the company’s server for over 10 years. Fluent in FileMaker, C, C+, HTML, Java, SQL, Intuit QuickBooks and Dreamweaver. Daniel has developed an on-line survey instrument to capture critical, arduous and frequently performed essential functions for federal and local government public safety agencies.


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Brent P. Davis

Brent is a two-combat tour veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He was assigned to 3rd LAR and drove the second LAV across the line of departure in the invasion of Iraq. In his second tour, he was a part of an elite S.U.R.C. Jet Boat group with responsibilities for the protection of the Haditha Dam, Ramadi and interdiction of insurgents using the Euphrates River. His primary MOS was a LAV Crewman while he filled infantry positions as Jet Boat Machine Gunner and Line Mechanic. He earned numerous awards and citations including the Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon. Presently, he is in his 8th year as a Montgomery County firefighter-EMT, having graduated from the Public Service Training Academy with 17 NFPA certifications. Brent holds a Class A CDL and provides logistical support and a course relocation specialist for the Military Battle Challenge, the Firefighter Combat Challenge® and the L.E.O.P.A.R.D.


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Keith B. Barrett, B.A, M.B.A.,

Keith is the product of 31 years of combined service in the US. ARMY (10 Years Active Duty and Reserves) and Maryland State Police. His Military service has spanned numerous conflicts. served primarily in and around the Airborne community. He served and trained with units which include
2nd Ranger Battalion, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and 3rd US Infantry The Old Guard
“Official Escort to the President.” Keith has served 2 direct combat excursions:

• Operation Just Cause – Panama 1989
• Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm – Saudi Arabia/Kuwait1990-1991

He ended his time in service with the US. ARMY in 1997 with an Honorable Discharge 11 Army achievement medals, 7 Army commendation medals, a combat infantryman’s badge with star, 2 combat patches and numerous other awards and achievements. Upon being selected and hired by the Maryland State Police, he spent most of his State Police career in a patrol capacity. Most of his patrol skills and experience were obtained while patrolling in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Keith developed an affinity for the suppression of criminal activity through aggressive policing tactics and subsequently honed his skills to be eventually considered a subject matter expert on drug interdiction and officer survival as it relates to patrolling focusing on the seizure of illegal narcotics, guns and money used in narcotics trafficking trade. Some of his arrests have become cornerstones for Police Interdiction and Drug seizure work. Some of those cases have become policy for numerous Law Enforcement Agencies as they have become State case law that has been confirmed by the Maryland State Supreme Court of Appeals (State of Maryland vs Harding and State of Maryland vs Suddith).

Keith retired from Maryland State Police in good standing in 2005. Some of his career accomplishments include being awarded the honor and title of the College Park Barrack “Trooper of the Year” 5 years consecutively, Prince George’s County Police Chief Association “Officer of the Year 3 times, Federal Bar Associations “Top Cop “award, American Legion’s Officer of the year award 2 times, 2 Governor’s Citations for service and a host of other awards and accolades. Keith maintained a 100% closure rate on all of his criminal investigations in a 3-year period. Keith continues to serve our country in the Army Reserves as a Military Police Officer.

Upon his retirement from the Maryland State Police, Keith went to work in the private sector. He has contracted employment with On•Target Communications where he held the position of Director of Operations and Training for The World SWAT Challenge, The Best Ranger Competition, The LEOPARD Challenge, Marine Super Squad and RED SWAT. He was a consultant and chief trainer for the ICE new hire project for Immigration Enforcement Agents. Upon the expiration of that contract, Keith has contracted with private military contractor companies whose areas of operation include Iraq, Nigeria and Afghanistan.

Keith holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and arts and an MBA in Homeland Security with a concentration in Senior Police Leadership. He still maintains close ties and stays active in the Law Enforcement community.


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Deborah A. Davis, B.A.

Deborah earned her undergraduate degree in Physical Education at the University of Maryland as well as her master’s equivalency for her Maryland State Teacher’s license. She retired from the Montgomery County Public School System and assumed a position at On•Target productions where she manages the travel logistics for a staff of 30. Debbie “cracked the code” for determining the algorithm that airlines use for optimizing revenue per seat, and by doing so, has saved the company thousands of dollars. For Applied Research Associates, she advises on best strategies for airline, ground travel and web-based housing pricing.

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Brian J. Sharkey, Ph.D., FACSM

Dr. Sharkey received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland as an exercise physiologist. He took a position with the University of Montana, rising through the academic ranks to full professor. Brian was recruited as Dean of the college and Health and Human Performance at the University of Northern Colorado, then returned to Montana to finish out his professional career.

As an extension of his duties at the UoM, he was an integral and lead member of the MDEC staff, widely known for his work in setting employment standards for wildland firefighters, hotshot crews and Smoke Jumpers. The Five-Minute Step Test became a requirement for earning a “Red Card,” meaning one was qualified to serve on the fire line. Later the 45-pound pack test was validated and implemented as a replacement.

He was on the Sports Medicine Team for the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, providing coaching and assessment of the cross-country ski team.

Dr. Sharkey was elected as president of the American College of Sports Medicine and earned his Fellowship in that organization in the early 1970s. He was a part of the USMC Global Study Group, collecting data on the Marine Corps’ MOS 0311 (Rifleman). The research team was integrated into fire teams and conducted operations and training in Jungle Survival (Fort Sherman, Panama) and high altitude/cold weather logistics at the Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California.

A prolific author, Dr. Sharkey has several fitness-related books to his credit, the most recent being Hard Work, co-authored with Dr. Davis.

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Joseph M. Heiss, BS, CPA

Joseph Heiss received his degree in Accounting from the University of Maryland and earned certification as a public accountant in 1988. Mr. Heiss, with his considerable experience as a consultant to scores of businesses, has been our financial advisor for over 10 years. He prepares cost estimates, forecasts, budgets and advises on matters of commercial insurance, cash flow, regulatory and statutory law compliance.

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Todd Shelton

Mr. Shelton is the Operations Manager for the World-famous Firefighter Combat Challenge®, His duties include supervision and set-up of the 37,500 square foot, competition course, coordination of all over-the-road transportation via the four tractor trailers, management of the 30 support volunteers, maintenance of over $100K of self-contained breathing apparatus, monitoring compliance of all DOT regulations, and obtaining requisite permits as well as interfacing 15 venue hosts per year. He also provides similar services for our Military Battle Challenge, a combat-centric sport and obstacle course at military reservations and bases across the country. In the instant case, Mr. Shelton will coordinate the implementation of a version of the L.E.O.P.A.R.D. for Weld County.

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John Tillett

Captain Tillett is a 26-year career firefighter-paramedic with the Knoxville (TN) Fire Department. He annual Competitor in the Firefighter Combat Challenge® since 2003. He is the station commander for an engine company and has made significant contributions to the KFD in the fabrication of training props. His contributions to the Firefighter Combat Challenge® and the L.E.O.P.A.R.D. have been in the design and fabrication of “Ready for Prime Time” props for our ESPN sports properties. There is no limit to his engineering prowess and mechanical designs. From our 18,000 pounds, $1.5M mobile hydraulic tower, to the installation of our 117kW genset, Captain Tillett is the go-to guy for upgrades, overhauls, and repairs. John will be available to fabricate any necessary props for a work-sample, content valid physical ability course.

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F. Carl Schneider, M.D.

Dr. Schneider, a graduate of Loma Linda University Medical School has over 40 years of clinical experience, over a decade of which he was the chief medical examiner for the US Secret Service occupational health program. Additionally, he supervised the activities of Human Performance Centers, a subsidiary of Alexandria Hospital in their contracts with public safety organizations in the greater Washington, DC area. Currently, he represents a number of member hospitals in Administrative Law Judge Hearings on the subject of Medicaid reimbursement- an ongoing challenge- requiring up to the minute subject matter expertise in the standard of care.

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Jack Harvey, M.D., FACSM

Dr. Harvey attended New Mexico military Institute and then for undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biology/Chemistry he attended Sam Houston State University. He received his medical education from the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio. After residency he opened a sports medicine practice in Fort Collins, Colorado and soon thereafter became a co-Founder of The Orthopedic Center of the Rockies (Fort Collins, Loveland). He served as team physician for the Colorado State University as well as the Denver Broncos. He was Chief Physician to USA Wrestling for 20 years. His sports experience included high school, collegiate and professional sports. He was a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and a Founding Member of The American Medical Society of Sports Medicine. Jack is a firearms expert and instructor. Presently, in association with Rifles Only LLC, he provides advanced training courses for military and LEO SpecOps sniper teams held on his ranch in Stout.

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John LeCuyer, M.A.

John LeCuyer is a retired Fire Battalion Chief serving 32 years with a large Municipal department. He is a decorated Marine veteran having served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive in 1968 and major engagements (Khe Sahn, Con Thien, Hue, Dong Ha, and Quang Tri through 1967-68).

A graduate of the University of Northern Colorado with an M.A. in kinesiology, and two undergraduate degrees in Arts and Sciences (A.A. and B.A) from the University of Metropolitan State at Denver.  Conducted numerous physiological research projects with UNC and the University of Colorado over a period of 15 years. Worked with occupational and physical therapists in the study and development of job descriptions and risk management rehabilitation standards for injured firefighters.

Frequently attended the National Fire Academy in Emmitsberg, Maryland receiving a dozen certifications including Leadership Incident Management Credentials from FEMA. Participated in large scale disaster incidents, both real and simulated exercises. Participated in the evaluation and award selection for FEMA grants. Taught all fire science subjects, class and field drill included, at the Rocky Mountain Fire Academy in Denver spanning ten years full and part-time. Developed all relevant course work compliant with IFSTA State Certification standards. 

Worked directly in cardiac rehab facilities conducting exercise tests and developing exercise programs as a certified ACSM technician and member. Published the book Fitness Program Design for Public Safety Officers (2000) that was used as a text for Occupational Therapy course at the University of New Brunswick, Canada; also a member of the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology. Wrote and published numerous articles on occupational and rehabilitation subjects including ergonomics and return-to-work guidelines. Assisted in the development and validation of physical performance tests for fire departments.

As a member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Occupational Health and Safety Committee (NFPA 1500) for ten years; contributed to the development of standards for international application (NFPA 1500 series documents). Served as Fire Department Health and Safety Officer for fifteen years as administrator of the NFPA Program.


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