Rob “Ichi” Balzano
Rob “Ichi” Balzano
Former F-16 Pilot, USAF
Rob “Ichi” Balzano is a goal-oriented, integrity-based leader and operations professional with over 25 years’ experience and repeated success leading, training, and motivating teams through planning & goal setting, comprehensive mission analysis, quality task execution, and effective debriefing.
He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a degree in Human Factors Engineering, holds a Master’s Degree in Management from Troy State University and executive education from the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business. With nearly 5000 hours total flying time during his Air Force career, he was an F-16 Instructor Pilot with 200 hours leading and flying combat missions in Iraq. Balz was also a T-38 NATO Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander responsible for the direct leadership, training, and supervision of instructors and student pilots from 14 different countries. He later became an Aircraft Commander in the Gulfstream G-100 and Instructor Pilot in the B-737, Boeing Business Jet, flying our nation’s leaders and dignitaries around the world. He was the Director of Risk Management for the Air National Guard, responsible for safety policy, training, mishap prevention and investigation of flying assets comprising over 106,000 personnel and 1500 aircraft across 54 states and territories. He has also served as National Program Director for all homeland defense F-15, F-16, and F-22 fighter alert operations and personnel, executing an annual budget of $114 million and resources for over 1000 airmen across 15 Air National Guard bases. He is currently Senior Advisor in Washington, DC to the 3-Star Joint Force Air Component Commander for the homeland defense of the Continental United States Region of NORAD. In this role, he coordinates national security objectives and policy with interagency partners of the FAA, DHS, TSA, US Secret Service, CIA, FBI, US Capital Police and law enforcement agencies within the National Capital Region to ensure the security and defense of our nation’s airspace.
Ichi is fluent in Italian and certified at the highest level of proficiency by the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. He is the founder and President of a 501c3 non-profit corporation, The Check-6 Foundation, whose mission is to provide aid, assistance, experiences, purpose, inspiration and hope to children battling serious illnesses and military veterans in need. He combines his vast experience operating and leading high-performance teams with non-profit leadership and business experience consulting with top-level executives. Ichi is a proven leader, team builder, connector and influencer and is a great addition to the Afterburner team!