David Robinson '83 | Handley 100th Notable
David Robinson ’83

David Robinson grew up in Winchester. He played varsity basketball for the Judges and was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by his classmates. After graduating from Handley in 1983, David attended the United States Naval Academy, where he earned a degree in systems engineering and was the outstanding Marine graduate in the class of 1987. Following his commission from Annapolis, David served for 25 years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a fighter pilot supporting global operations aboard aircraft carriers and bases throughout the world, rising to the rank of colonel before transitioning to a second career in the private sector.

During his military career, David flew over 3,500 hours, 200 aircraft carrier landings, and 100 combat missions in the FA-18, and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for supervising over 20,000 combat missions and more than 2,000 medical evacuations while serving as the director of air operations in Iraq. David was also a TOPGUN instructor, where he developed the curriculum used to train the top aviators in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. He earned a master’s degree in national security strategy and served in the Pentagon as a strategy director for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In his final assignment, David was the commanding officer of a Marine aircraft group, where he managed operations and logistics for a fleet of 250 jet aircraft, and led over 2,500 personnel supporting combat and contingency operations in the Middle East and West Pacific.

Upon completion of his military service in 2012, David founded Vertical Performance Enterprises, a strategy and leadership consulting company specializing in executive leadership development and organizational performance improvement. He’s been a senior advisor to Fortune 1000 companies across a wide range of industries, and a keynote speaker for numerous Fortune 500 companies and organizations throughout North America. David is the author of The Substance of Leadership: A Practical Framework for Effectively Leading a High-Performing Team, published in 2021, and he’s been featured in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Chief Executive Magazine.

David and his wife, Mary Delle, live in Hilton Head, South Carolina. They have three grown children: Abbey, a pediatric nurse practitioner; Drew, a Naval Academy graduate and Marine officer; and Audrey, a clinical nurse. David is especially grateful for Handley’s teachers, coaches, and staff whose tireless dedication, exemplary leadership, and passion for excellence have provided a strong foundation for so many Handley graduates throughout the years.

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