FIRST® Welcomes Diverse STEM Community Leaders to PreK-12 Nonprofit Board

Leading Robotics Community Adds Former FIRST President Donald Bossi, Boeing Executive Leanne G. Caret, Technology Executive Richard L. Clemmer, and Google Leader Melissa Smith, a FIRST Alum, to Board of Directors

MANCHESTER, N.H., May 21, 2021FIRST®, an international not-for-profit organization with the mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, today announced the election of new members to the FIRST Board of Directors: Donald Bossi, General Partner, Technology Venture Partners; Leanne Caret, President & Chief Executive Officer, Boeing Defense, Space & Security; Richard L. Clemmer, Former Chief Executive Officer & President, NXP Semiconductors; and Dr. Melissa Smith, Staff User Experience Researcher, Google/YouTube.

Bossi, who retired as President of FIRST after seven years of leadership and growth, re-joins the Board of Directors in the role of Co-Chair alongside Co-Chairs Kelly Ortberg, Former Chairman & CEO of Rockwell Collins and CEO of Collins Aerospace; and Clemmer. Co-Chair Bob Tuttle, General Partner, 1848 Associates, is retiring from the Board.

“Bob Tuttle has served tirelessly to advance the mission of FIRST. On behalf of the Board, I thank Bob for his invaluable service as Co-Chair,” said Ortberg. “We are fortunate to have Don and Rick join as Co-Chairs, with Don’s wealth of institutional knowledge and deep passion for the FIRST mission and Rick’s extensive executive leadership expertise. With the experiences, talents, and perspectives of Don, Rick, Melissa, Leanne, and our entire Board, we look forward to supporting the growth of FIRST programs and brighter futures for FIRST participants.”

Caret joins the Board as an experienced aerospace executive and long-time STEM advocate from FIRST Strategic Partner The Boeing Company. Smith is the first graduate of FIRST programs to join the youth-serving organization’s Board after more than 20 years of deep involvement with the organization as a participant and volunteer as well as a distinguished career in user experience research at FIRST Strategic Partner Google.

The FIRST Board of Directors is comprised of a cross section of leaders from business, government, education, and the sciences that have the fiduciary responsibility to provide strategic direction and organizational oversight for all activities of FIRST. The Governance Committee of the FIRST board of directors periodically reviews candidates to nominate individuals who will bring the most to the organization and the Board in terms of experience and expertise to support the longer-term strategic objectives of FIRST.

Newly appointed FIRST Board members include:

Donald Bossi, Technology Venture Partners, General Partner

Donald Bossi

Donald Bossi is a General Partner with Technology Ventures Partner (TVP). In this role, Don utilizes his long history as an operating executive to invest in and advise a wide range of technology-based growth companies.

From 2013 to 2019, Don served as President of FIRST®. During his very successful tenure, FIRST more than doubled in size, and Dr. Bossi’s business acumen and passion to do good led to many advances for the organization.

Prior to FIRST, Don had a distinguished career as CEO of Inlet Technologies and Aegis Lightwave and as President of two large business units within JDS Uniphase, where he was responsible for more than $1 billion in revenue and thousands of employees. During his early career, Don was a research scientist at MIT Lincoln Lab and United Technologies.

Dr. Bossi holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from MIT and attended executive education courses at Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Leanne G. Caret, President & Chief Executive Officer, Boeing Defense, Space & Security Leanne Caret

Leanne Caret is President and Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS), which provides solutions for defense, government, space, intelligence, and security customers worldwide. Countries beyond the United States where BDS has prominent operations include Australia, India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. In 2020, Boeing’s revenue from defense and space platforms and services exceeded $34 billion.

Fortune magazine named her to its Most Powerful Women list in 2020 for the fourth consecutive year. In addition to being a 2019 inductee of the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame, Caret is a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She is also on the George W. Bush Women’s Initiative Policy Advisory Council and on the board of directors for Kansas State University.

Caret is a second-generation Boeing employee who started working for the company in 1988. Prior to her current position she was president of the company’s Global Services & Support organization, BDS chief financial officer, vice president and general manager of Vertical Lift, vice president of H-47 Programs, and general manager of Global Transport & Executive Systems.

Caret holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Kansas State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Wichita State University. She also earned certifications from Harvard University in the Program for Leadership Development and the International Security Defense Program, and completed the Integral Leadership Program at the University of Notre Dame.

Richard L. Clemmer, Former Chief Executive Officer & President, NXP Semiconductors

Richard Clemmer

Richard L. “Rick” Clemmer brings significant executive leadership experience in the technology industry to the FIRST® Board of Directors. He most recently led NXP Semiconductors as Chief Executive Officer and President for more than a decade and continues to serve NXP as a strategic advisor.

Clemmer has also previously served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Agere Systems Inc. and as senior advisor to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. He also held a number of executive leadership positions at Texas Instruments and Quantum Corporation.

Clemmer currently serves as Chairman of Privafy, Inc., a security SaaS company. He also serves on the board of HP, Inc. and Aptiv PLC.

Clemmer holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Texas Tech University and a Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.

Dr. Melissa Smith, Staff User Experience Researcher, Google/YouTubeMelissa Smith

Melissa Smith, PhD, is a Staff User Experience Researcher and manager at Google, leading research for the YouTube Music Artist & Industry team, where she leads research to improve the artist and industry experience across YouTube's various surfaces. Previously, she held roles working on developing next-gen gaming experiences for Stadia, Google's cloud-based gaming platform, improving YouTube creator monetization, and advancing the video watching experience for the YouTube mobile app and desktop site. 

Melissa is the first FIRST® alum on the Board, having participated as a student (FIRST® LEGO® League and FIRST® Robotics Competition) and actively volunteered in various roles for the past 21 years. Currently, Melissa is a Regional and Championship-level Head Referee and part of the Greater San Francisco Region planning committees. She was the 2018 FIRST Inspire Gala Evelyn Kamen "Rising Star" Award Recipient and the 2020 San Francisco Regional Volunteer of the Year Award recipient. 

Melissa holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and a PhD in Human Factors & Applied Cognitive Psychology from George Mason University. 

Learn more about FIRST Leadership. 

About FIRST®  
FIRST® is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs. An international not-for-profit organization founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has a proven impact on STEM learning, interest, and skill-building well beyond high school. Boosted by a global support system of mentors, coaches, volunteers, alumni, and sponsors that include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, teams operate under a signature set of FIRST Core Values to conduct research, fundraise, design, and build robots, then compete and celebrate at local, regional, and international events. High school students are eligible for more than $80 million in college scholarships. Learn more at