Chip Laingen, MPA
Commander, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Executive Director, Defense Alliance


Chip Laingen is the Executive Director of Defense Alliance.  He is on the board of directors for AirSpace Minnesota, and was a member of the executive commission of the Minnesota Science & Technology Authority from 2009-2011.  He  was selected as an Executive Fellow for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrative Leadership in 2010.  In 2011 he joined the graduate faculty at the UofM's Technological Leadership Institute.  He is a past President of the Twin Cities Council of the Navy League and is the owner of Laingen Communications.

Commander Laingen is a 21-year Veteran of the U.S. Navy.  A 1983 graduate of the University of Minnesota NROTC program, he earned a B.A. degree in International Relations; and an M.P.A. (National Security) in 1993 from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  He was designated a Naval Aviator in 1985, and was assigned to seagoing squadrons, amassing 3,000 fixed and rotary wing flight hours, including combat flight time during Desert Storm in 1991.  He is also a qualified Officer of the Deck – Underway.   

On shore duty, CDR Laingen's duties included:  Ph.D. study in national security at the Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; Speechwriter to the Secretary of the Navy during the tenures of the 70th and 71st Secretaries; and Commanding Officer of Helicopter Training Squadron Eight in Pensacola, Florida.  During his tour as CO the squadron was named the number one advanced squadron among 17 in the naval air training command, and received the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award and the Secretary of the Navy Safety Award, as the squadron surpassed 900,000 mishap free flight hours.  He retired from active duty in 2004.


Patria Lawton, M.A, MBA
Business Director, Defense Alliance


Patria LawtonPatria Lawton is the Business Director, and Marketing and Events Coordinator for Defense Alliance, and a key facilitator for the membership.  She has an extensive background in executive level business communications, including marketing, college level instruction, and consulting for Fortune 500 companies.  

Pat has experience teaching college level Business Communications, Interpersonal Communication, Small Group Communication, Public Relations, and Public Speaking. She has taught at Minnesota School of Business, Normandale, and is currently a full-time faculty member in the Communication Department at Inver Hills Community College, as well as a graduate level instructor at the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute.

Pat Lawton has an MBA from Augsburg College, an M.A. with Honors in Communication from Bethel University and a B.A. in Communication Studies and English (with an emphasis in rhetoric) from Gustavus Adolphus College where she graduated Cum Laude. Her graduate thesis focused on the role of communication in appropriating women’s athletics. She has also completed additional graduate work at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She has studied in Greece, Fiji and Morocco and traveled extensively abroad.

Pat is a co-awardee of the 2014 "Progress Minnesota" award and the 2007 SBA Veterans Small Business Champion of the Year Award.  In 2014 she was Instructor of the Year at Inver Hills Community College, and in 2009 was Instructor of the Year at the Minnesota School of Business.