Leah La Salla, CEO & Co-Founder
Leah La Salla is a self-taught, polyglot software architect of Sicilian-Irish origins. Her high school years involved many hours working in her dad’s super-precision tool-and-die machine shop. Leah got started in tech long before there were any initiatives trying to bring women into development. She studied CAD design in college and then spent a decade in software engineering – including five years as a Federal employee - while teaching herself to program in an additional 9 languages, and mentoring around a hundred in women in coding. Leah’s worked on wide range of technically unusual products including fabrication application development, industrial printing, and more conventional app development and app security. She built Astral’s original prototype in between assembling the company team out of the personal and professional network she has built over the course of the last fifteen years. As the inventor of mind-flown drones, Leah hacked NASA with a toaster.
Josè "Chango" La Placa Amigò, COO & Co-Founder
Josè La Placa Amigò is a second-generation Cuban-American born in Miami, and brought up in Puerto Rico where his mother is the Dean Emeritus of the University of Puerto Rico School of Science. Jose served in the US Air Force, as an off-site engineer specializing in installation, fault isolation, and reconstitution of fixed cable and wireless distribution systems, as well as LAN and WAN - and is a war veteran. Fluently bilingual Spanish / English, he establishes and oversees our Spanish-speaking international strategic partnerships and WAN network engineering for line-of-sight development at Astral AR. Jose is also longtime volunteer and foster parent with the Santa Rosa Dog Den Rescue, helping countless dogs find forever homes.
Mary Ceallaigh, CPO
Chief of Staff - Mary brings a Human Dev degree to Astral AR, and is at the hub of our product vision, team comms, execution, and company culture - keeping it holistic as Astral’s first employee. She’s mentored individuals, developed and led teams, and optimized outcomes both in and around the Austin startup world as well as in Los Angeles and internationally. Leah’s understudy, Jose’s stunt-double - otherwise known as “Miracle Mary”.
Mark Neville, CTO
Mark is a serial entrepreneur with an extensive technical background in VR, AR, computer vision, sensor fusion, and artificial intelligence. A PhD with global awards for his contributions in AI, Mark's turned his talents to flying drones with the mind using EEG and state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms for collision avoidance, sensor fusion, and mapping in autonomous vehicles. He's also licensed to fly both fixed wing and helicopters.
Katie has over a decade of experience in classrooms and library settings as a Subject Matter Expert in Science Education where she’s authored, produced, and reviewed an expansive repertoire of instructional and learning tools. Katie brings a learning overview to Astral’s in-house team development and external pilot training program liaising. A friend of Leah's since they were both in early childhood - this complements her scope at Astral.
Nathan graduated with honors from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. His law practice in Austin, Texas includes advising businesses - their owners, investors and contractors - on complex business litigation matters and business transactions. He's also recognized for the highest ethical standards and professional ability by his Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent rating. Nate coordinates legal overview & compliance from his office a few blocks away from us, in downtown Austin.
Jill James, CFO
Jill started in banking as an analyst with JP Morgan and AXA Financial - and holds an MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She’s served as team on 6 VC-backed start-ups with 4 exits, plus started 2 of her own. Jill helps us deploy for holo-edge success as our finance guardian angel/fractional CFO based in Los Angeles.
Amber Allan, CMO
Amber serves as Astral’s fractional CMO via our partner company Double A Events - which specializes in boosting leading edge companies via experiential marketing design and event production. She is overviewing marketing with an inspired team liaising with Astral on a variety of fronts - from offices in Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London.
Joe, Director of Engineering
Joe manages our Chicago office, and has known Leah since her machine shop days in Rockford, Illinois. He brings an additional MBA to Astral's GovTech proposal processes, managing all bidding related communications, and sales overviews. When not at Astral, Joe’s busy ice fishing, summer fishing, and at the pool hall and golf course.
Anita, Dir. Social Media
Anita is a U.S. Air Force veteran and worked in Intel Ops. Anita is the primary driver behind Astral’s ability to quantify its traction with analytics. Formerly an elected Board member in the Tampa metro area, Anita has also served as a member of staff on several local, state, and presidential political campaigns. She moonlights in music & photography.
Andrew, Director of Security
Andrew is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He's also a certified tactical strategist for public security. A friend of Leah's for many years before Astral, Andrew leads and implements physical security overviews on behalf of Astral's mission. In his spare time, you might see him flying above Austin in a small plane, or saving the day in some way.
Steve, Director of Staff
Steve has decades of experience maintaining team relationships (just about as long as he’s known Jose). He leads implementation of Astral’s ongoing team education related to processes and protocols - and mediates communications for a healthy company culture. Steve makes sure we are values-aligned in how we collaborate and succeed.
Maulik, VP of Marketing
Maulik found out about Astral at HUB Austin, the co-working & shared office space for startups. With a background in product marketing, management, and engineering - Maulik is now leading our Marketing team's messaging coherency with visual translations for the world. He's also a strategic foodie entrepreneur.
Alisha, VP of GovTech Deployment
Alisha is an internationally Certified Emergency Manager experienced in working with local, state, and federal agencies. Founder of the Emerging Technology Caucus of IAEM, Alisha is also a certified instructor through the Nat'l Disaster Preparedness Training Center and the Nat'l Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center (NERRTC / “TEEX”).
Stacey, VP of Customer Success
Stacey comes to Astral by way of 20+ years in management at Cisco Systems. She brings seasoned perspectives on how companies grow and the total relevance of relationship maintenance for long-haul customer care. Originally from Ohio, Stacey discovered Astral at a Women in Tech event at a local library in Austin, Spring 2017.
Additional Team Members
Kaitlyn, Executive Assistant
Kaitlyn came to us via Zirtual Assistants, and the rest is history. She’s behind the scenes in complex calendaring and secretarial sorcery that multiplies Astral’s success. Based in Northern Colorado, Kaitlyn interfaces with team members across multiple time zones and locations - at the heart of Astral.
Aidenn, Office Manager
Aidenn keeps track of logistical management matters at our Austin office - and the many practicalities that go into a multiipurpose workspace. She loves creative strategizing and knows Leah from years before Astral. It made her a natural choice for the job.
Torey, Content Design Intern
Originally from Texas, Torey is our Intern Supreme working for Astral from New Hampshire. Her background is in creative writing, marketing, and customer service. Torey helps develop Astral’s storytelling and visual graphics production through learning by doing - and editing.
Robbie, Lead Pitch Hitter
Robbie is a jack of all trades and master of few when it comes to all things internet related. His past 25+ years of experience lends itself at times of need whatever the need may be. He is also willing to go the extra mile to ensure Astral crosses the finish line beyond his web related asks.