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Our Leadership

We were founded and are still guided by a team of scientists, engineers, and financial specialists with deep photonic roots.

With decades of experience, we are recognized across the industry for our ability to innovate and deliver.


Board of Directors

Tom Haslett, Ph.D. | Chief Technical Officer

Dr. Tom Haslett has been overseeing the entirety of Avo’s technical operation since 2006. His technical background is rooted in his more than 30 years of experience crossing optical technologies and applications, covering a wide range of device- and instrument-level optical and mechanical design and an array of spectroscopic and optical sensing techniques.


Prior to joining Avo Photonics, Dr. Haslett served as Chief Technology Officer of Photonami, a technology company focused on the design and manufacturing of advanced photonic solutions. At Photonami, he primarily developed novel semiconductor laser technology and lead teams from chip design through to packaged laser subassemblies. He was also strongly involved in research and development efforts on optical amplifiers and other active optical components. Dr. Haslett has also served as director of the Photonics Research Facility at Photonics Research Ontario, where he worked on fiber Bragg grating design and fabrication, holography and sensor applications.


Throughout his career, Dr. Haslett has played a strong role in customer interaction, technical project management and systems engineering. Dr. Haslett holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Queen’s University at Kingston (Ontario) and a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Toronto.

Jeff Perkins, Ph.D. | Chief Operations Officer

Dr. Jeff Perkins directs and manages Avo’s operations. With broad experience in high-volume optical component production as well as quality operations, he comes to Avo Photonics from JDS Uniphase where he served as Senior Technical Manager of Process Development and Automation, Operations, and Product Development. In these roles, Dr. Perkins established and propagated process platforms into new product development teams to ensure that new products were designed for automation, initiated focused efforts on product cost and yield improvements, and directed design models for TOSAs utilizing both direct modulated and electro-absorption modulated lasers; uncooled TOSA platforms for VCSEL, FP and DFB datacom applications; and a ROSA platform implemented for both PINs and APDs, spanning multiple bit rates, and 850/1310/1550nm transmission.


Prior to JDSU, Dr. Perkins was at Epitaxx, Photocircuits Corp, and IBM. Mr. Perkins received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with an emphasis in fluid dynamics and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering with an emphasis in heat transfer from Lehigh University (Pennsylvania).

Kimberly Wheeler | Chief Financial Officer

Ms. Kimberly Wheeler steers Avo’s operations while overseeing its corporate finances and financial reporting. Ms. Wheeler holds nearly 25 years of financial and operational experience. She joined Avo from Concords, Inc., a Philadelphia-based employment screening company, where she served as CFO. At Concords and through her accounting and financial analysis expertise, she proactively drove profitability and contained costs while managing the organization’s human resource and customer relationship management departments.


Prior to Concords, Ms. Wheeler served as CFO at A&A Connections/DataQ Internet Equipment Corporation, where she was responsible for the daily financial and accounting functions of two distribution companies with combined sales of $40 million even as she directed inventory control, international cash management, the generation and fulfillment of 15-month budgets tied to corporate goals and comprehensive tax accounting. Ms. Wheeler received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Villanova University.

Joseph L. Dallas, Ph.D. | President

With over 30 years of technical program and operations management expertise, Dr. Joseph L. Dallas guides the vision of Avo Photonics. Dr. Dallas founded Avo in 2003 because he saw a need for private-label photonics design, development and manufacturing. He has since grown Avo into an independent, U.S.-based global company that serves as the trusted source for confidential, client-owned photonics products for varied applications across key markets.


Prior to founding Avo Photonics, Dr. Dallas designed and created NASA’s Space Lidar Technology Center. As Deputy Director at this “skunk works” facility, he led development and production of active space-borne remote sensing optical instruments.


Throughout his career, Dr. Dallas has directed basic optical research, developed and produced semiconductor laser diode products, created various diode-pumped solid state laser systems, developed high-power diode array lifetesting stations and conducted long-duration optical damage threshold studies. He has a strong background in laser physics, materials, reliability and environmental testing.


Dr. Dallas has written numerous optoelectronic technical papers and has presented at international conferences, including CLEO, Advanced Solid State Lasers and the Annual Symposium on Optical Materials for High Power Lasers. Dr. Dallas holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Villanova University and a Ph.D., with Distinction, in physics from the Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.).

Senior Management

Natalie Cusat | Director of Finance

Natalie Cusat serves as Director of Finance at Avo, managing the day-to-day financial operations of the company and related financial reporting & analysis.  She began her career in public accounting and has amassed diverse experience over her nearly 2 decades in the field.  She has held positions in accounting, finance, internal & external audit, and consulting, over a wide array of industries including non-profit healthcare & retail. Most recently Natalie was a Finance Manager at a publicly traded landscape services company with $3B in revenues, serving as the primary source of executive support on financial performance & analysis.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting with a Spanish minor from Widener University, and is a licensed CPA in the state of Pennsylvania.  In her spare time, she is a Certified Group Exercise Instructor and enjoys spending time with her daughter & husband.

Alison Lang | Director of HR

Alison Lang leads Avo Photonics in HR operational and organizational effectiveness, employee relations, benefits management, and talent acquisition. She is a business leader who uses her strategic experience to provide solutions to complex organizational issues, and is experienced in implementing Human Resources' best practices to drive growth. 


Prior to joining Avo in 2023, Ms. Lang was leading HR strategy in varying industries such as defense and space, environmental engineering, and the food industry; and she has served as an HR leader specifically supporting engineering operations for over 10 years. Under her leadership, Avo’s staff has grown by more than 60%.


Ms. Lang’s certifications include PHR and SHRM-CP. She earned a Professional in Human Resource Management certificate from Villanova University, as well as a Masters of Science in Organizational Management from Misericordia University. When she is not leading HR initiatives at Avo, she can be found enjoying the outdoors and spending time with her family.

Steven Leffler | Director of Specific Product Engineering

A longtime Avo employee with 23 years of experience in the photonics industry, Steven Leffler manages engineering for sustained production of complex systems. In his time at Avo he has been involved in the development and production of many devices including tunable lasers, satellite signalling systems and instruments, fiberoptic communications hardware, sensors, and spectrometers.


Before joining Avo, Mr. Leffler worked in tunable laser research and development at Princeton Optronics. He has a Master's degree in physics, specializing in laser physics, from the University of British Columbia (Canada), and a Bachelor's degree in physics from Western University (Canada).

Sven Mahnkopf, Ph.D. | Director of Product Development

With 17 years of operations and program management experience, Dr. Sven Mahnkopf serves as Director of Product Development at Avo Photonics. Dr. Mahnkopf has designed and produced edge and vertical cavity surface emitting laser devices, photodetector arrays, active optical benches, and SERS substrates. He has a strong background in laser physics, photonic crystal metamaterials, and plasmonic bandgap structures. Dr. Mahnkopf has authored or coauthored 4 patents, one book chapter, and more than 20 optoelectronic technical papers including 7 invited papers. He has served as session chair at OSA FiO.


Prior to joining Avo, Dr. Mahnkopf worked at Infineon Technologies (Singapore), Mesophotonics Ltd. (Southampton, UK), and Opticomp Corporation. Dr. Mahnkopf received a Fulbright scholarship in 1996 and holds a doctorate degree in Physics from Julius-Maximilians-Universität (Würzburg, Germany).

Timothy McDaniel | Director of Product Engineering

As an optical engineer at Avo, Timothy McDaniel manages high volume production programs, advises opto-mechanical design; and develops opto-mechanical processes, fixturing, and prototypes.


Prior to joining Avo, Mr. McDaniel completed a Master’s degree in Physics from San Diego State University and a secondary Master’s in Optics from The College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL) at the University of Central Florida—with research focuses on femtosecond laser development and the fabrication of micro-structures in UV-fused sicilia using optical femtosecond pulses. Mr. McDaniel earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Dan Riben | Director of Manufacturing

As Director of Manufacturing, Dan Riben oversees and manages high volume optical production at Avo Photonics, ensuring safety, production, quality, and customer fulfillment. He was brought to Avo in June 2023 to play a key role in growing the business from a workforce of 250 staff to nearly 400.


Mr. Riben leads with 30 years of experience in manufacturing, operations, and dynamic leadership of scaling teams, including 10 years of overseeing optical management and materials at JDS Uniphase. Exposed to the industry from an early age, he can claim experience in electronics manufacturing dating back to his days helping his family business as a teenager.


Mr. Riben obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Communication from the University of Pittsburgh, and he earned an Executive Development Leadership and Management Certificate from Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a Six Sigma Green Belt and Lean Champion.

Kerry Scott | Director of Supply Chain

As Director of Supply Chain, Kerry Scott oversees logistics, finance, and material planning for Avo’s largest customer programs. Ms. Scott joined Avo Photonics in 2011 as Procurement Manager. Since then, she has helped the company grow from a small operation of 30 employees, to a global organization with a workforce that has grown tenfold, becoming a director in 2024. Ms. Scott earned a degree in Finance from Drexel University, and before joining Avo worked as a Senior Analyst at Comcast.

Ian Trauffer | Director of Process Engineering

Ian Trauffer became the Director of Process Engineering in 2024, managing the development of products through processes such as die bonding, wire bonding, seam sealing, and optical alignment. He also manages equipment maintenance and calibration, as well as software development and automation. Mr. Trauffer joined Avo Photonics in 2018 as a Junior Process Engineer. The first major employer of his professional career, Avo has seen him hold many evolving responsibilities, helping scale optical programs from prototype to production, fueling the company's growth.


Mr. Trauffer’s undergraduate physics work included optical experimentation and analysis on exciton diffusion through aromatic hydrocarbons. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Lehigh University, where he studied Physics and Computer Science.

Khoa Van | Director of Materials

Mr. Khoa Van leads and manages high-volume optical production, ensures production quality, and fulfills commitments to the customer. His career at Avo began as a Process Engineer back in 2015. He is now the Director of Materials after demonstrating a talent for managing scalable production. He also plays a key role in implementing the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for the company. Mr. Van obtained Bachelor’s and Master's degrees in Chemical Engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia, as well as  MBA at Penn State.

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