Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Announces New Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives

James Grimsley

Choctaw Nation Photo

James Grimsley

Advanced Technology Initiatives News

DURANT, Okla. – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is proud to announce James Grimsley as Choctaw Nation’s new Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives. In his role he will manage strategic advanced technology programs, such as the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“drone”) Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP) and similar initiatives and support economic development and growth for the Choctaw Nation.

“James is a wonderful addition to our team,” states Tammye Gwin Senior Executive Officer of the Division of Strategic Development. “We see an opportunity for James to have a big influence on our aerospace and aviation initiatives as well as spur not only growth but knowledge within our communities on the topic.”

For more than 29 years Grimsley has been heavily involved in aerospace and aviation. He has been active in the development of technical policy at all levels of government, a nationally recognized expert on technology related to unmanned aircraft (drones) and autonomous systems and an acknowledged speaker in the topic of technology policy issues since 2007.

Grimsley led the proposal development and capture team for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma for the FAA’s UAS IPP. The Choctaw Nation was selected as one of ten sites in the nation for the UAS IPP by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L Chao and the Choctaw Nation is the only tribal government selected for the program.

Grimsley is the founder of successful technology company startups and is also a former Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma – Norman Campus (OU). Grimsley was also the founding director of the OU Center for Applied Research and Development.

Grimsley graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and a Master in Science. in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Grimsley was a division chief engineer and later an assistant vice president with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Prior to SAIC, Grimsley was a civilian electronics engineer with the United States Air Force.

About the UAS IPP Program

The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) is an opportunity for state, local, and tribal governments to partner with private sector entities, such as UAS operators or manufacturers, to accelerate safe UAS integration. The program will help the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) craft new enabling rules that allow more complex low-altitude UAS operations by:

  • Identifying ways to balance local and national interests related to UAS integration
  • Improving communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions
  • Addressing security and privacy risks
  • Accelerating the approval of operations that currently require special authorizations

The program is expected to foster a meaningful dialogue on the balance between local and national interests related to UAS integration, and provide actionable information to the USDOT on expanded and universal integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.

About the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with more than 212,000 tribal members and 12,000-plus associates. This ancient people has an oral tradition dating back over 13,000 years. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, its historic reservation boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma, covering 10,923 square miles. The Choctaw Nation's vision, "Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture," is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity. For more information about the Choctaw Nation, its culture, heritage, and traditions, please visit


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