Don Montague

Head of Research & Development, Kite Designer, Test Captain

Don holds multiple patents on innovations in sports and energy systems. During his tenure as Head Sail Designer at Gaastra Sails and, subsequently, as Head of R&D for Naish International, he was responsible for advancements in both design and manufacturing. Don’s background as a professional windsurfer on the World Cup Tour and as a professional kitesurfer has kept him on the cutting edge of sail and kite development for the past 30 years. He has received many awards for competition and design, and has been featured in and contributed to magazines, movies, and TV shows internationally. At Kai Concepts, Don is responsible for the overall project vision, for directing kite design, and for helming the kite on boat tests.

Joe Brock

Lead Boat Designer, Shop Manager, Test Team

Joe earned a degree in physics from the Colorado School of Mines and spent the next ten years working seasonally on commercial fishing boats in Alaska. During the off-season, he built a 26-foot catamaran that he sailed with his wife from Washington to Alaska to the Gulf of California. In 2007, Joe joined Makani Power to work with Don on kiteboat development. At Kai Concepts, Joe is the shop and engineering manager and a skilled designer and fabricator. During kiteboat tests, Joe is the usual helmsman. Outside of work, Joe’s interests include creating the perfect truck and camping with his family.

Betsy Pfeiffer

Project Manager, Multimedia Specialist, Test Team

Betsy grew up on the beach in San Diego, and she comes from a long line of sailing enthusiasts and engineers, including a grandfather who designed a record-setting hydrofoil boat in the 1950s. After graduating from Carleton College, she worked as an audio editor at a radio station and as a print editor. In 2008, she joined Makani Power’s archive department, and in 2010 she joined the Kiteboat Project. At Kai Concepts, she is responsible for project management, business management, videos, photos, and written documentation. During kiteboat tests, she often captains the chase boat. Outside of work, Betsy climbs as many rocks as possible.

Jamie Schulte

Electronics Team Lead, Test Team

Jamie holds multiple master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon, where he contributed to research in robotics, AI, and data mining. At Stanford, he assisted the winning DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous car development team, and at Makani Power he developed avionics hardware and software for a kite-based wind power system. Jamie joined Kai Concepts in 2009, and here he is responsible for developing the data logging and analysis hardware and software, and for maintaining an archive of test data. He has been integral to the development of kiteboat electronic control systems and in all aspects of Jetfoiler development.

Alec Korver

Hardware Engineer

Alec graduated from Dordt College with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Before joining Kai Concepts, he developed algorithms for generating and evaluating motor designs in Sioux Center, Iowa, and he studied permanent magnet motor design at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 2013-2016, Alec co-founded a self-funded startup focused on reclaiming, refurbishing and reselling automation control systems.  His other personal projects have included the development of an optimized electric bicycle and creating an Arduino vivarium controller. On the Kai Concepts Team, Alec works to design and build electrical control systems for the Jetfoiler. In his free time, Alec enjoys kitesurfing, rock climbing, and walking his two dogs.

Kathleen L’Orange

Office Manager

Craig Cohen

Composite Specialist

Craig has been working with composites for 20+ years, building and developing pro-formula race cars and motorcycles, unmanned arial vehicles, racing yachts, and an endless list of prototypes. He spent the last decade working as a composite technician and shipwright at the Berkeley Marine Center, and he joined the Kai Concepts team in 2017, bringing with him his advanced marine industry skill set. At Kai, Craig is responsible for much of the carbon work on the Jetfoiler prototypes. His skills are also put to use toward training the composites team, completing shop build projects, and furthering the ocean-going kiteboat. Craig earned a BS degree from Whitworth University in developmental/child psychology. He spends his off hours with his family building cool stuff and cruising the bay in an old wooden fishing boat.

Joseph Liang

Embedded Systems Engineer

Shirley Tsui

Junior Electronics Engineer

Lisa Picker

Composite Technician

Sonja Schwartz

Bookkeeper, Accounts Payable

Sonja earned her PhD in Environmental Science, Policy & Management from UC Berkeley, where she spent her time researching the ecology, evolution, and conservation of Caribbean coral reefs and Indo-pacific parrotfish. In addition to her academic background, she has worked as a data scientist in the tech industry and as a hiking guide in Yosemite. Between her many rock climbing and skiing expeditions, Sonja completes bookkeeping, invoicing, and payroll tasks for Kai Concepts and is responsible for financial reporting.

Margueritte Peterson

Multimedia Support, Test Team

Margueritte holds a BA in English from the University of Florida, and works as an online media consultant for small businesses around the country.  She joined Kai Concepts in 2015. She often documents jetfoiler and kiteboat tests with video and still photography. She also maintains the communication systems and point-of-view cameras used during testing. Margueritte maintains the jetfoiler website.