HillVets Advisory Board

The Honorable Secretary Chuck Hagel

Chairman of the Advisory Board

Chuck Hagel served as the 24th Secretary of Defense from February 2013 to February 2015 and took the significant steps necessary to modernize America’s partnerships and alliances, advance the rebalance in Asia-Pacific, bolster support for European allies, and enhance defense cooperation in the Middle East while overseeing the end of America’s combat mission in Afghanistan. Hagel also led major initiatives for service members and their families, including increasing resources for suicide prevention, combating sexual assault, and accounting for missing personnel.

Secretary Hagel improved partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to include health record interoperability, service treatment record transferability, and continuity of mental health services and support. Hagel also launched the Defense Innovation Initiative to better prepare the Pentagon for future threats, and enacted comprehensive reforms to the Nuclear Enterprise and Military Health system.

Garry Augustine
Garry AugustineExecutive Director, DAV
Garry Augustine, a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran, was appointed Executive Director of the 1.3 million-member DAV National Service and Legislative Headquarters in Washington, D.C., in August 2013. His responsibilities include oversight of DAV’s National Service and Legislative Programs. He is the organization’s principal spokesperson before Congress, the White House and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).In his previous position as National Service Director, Mr. Augustine managed all activities of DAV’s National Service Program, which employs approximately 270 professional National Service Officers (NSOs), 34 Transitional Service Officers (TSOs) and support staff in 100 offices throughout the United States and in Puerto Rico.
Matthew Sanderson
Matthew SandersonMember, Caplin & Drysdale
Matthew Sanderson is a Member in the Political Law and Exempt Organizations practice groups of Caplin & Drysdale. Mr. Sanderson helps corporations, political committees, candidates, and advocacy groups comply with the increasingly numerous and complex federal, state, and local laws that govern political activity and commercial interaction with public-sector clients. Specifically, he advises clients on campaign-finance, “pay-to-play”, ethics, and lobbying rules.
Mr. Sanderson served as General Counsel of Senator Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential campaign, Outside Counsel for Governor Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign, Legal Counsel to Governor Mitt Romney’s Commonwealth PACs, Campaign Finance Counsel for Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, and General Counsel for a government reform commission created by Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. He, along with the rest of The Colbert Report team, received the prestigious Peabody Award in 2012 for efforts related to television personality Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC.
Brian Branton
Brian Branton Member, Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs for Novo Nordisk
With over 20 years of Congressional and lobbying experience, Brian Branton served for 16 years as a Congressional Aide on Capitol Hill, including most recently as Chief of Staff to Rep. Jared Polis, who during his tenure secured the title of “Number One Rising Political Star” by Politico Magazine and was also regularly featured on CNN’s show “Freshman Year.” Brian served as the top aide to 5 Democratic Members of Congress, and maintains an extensive network on the Hill with both Members of Congress and their key staff.
He currently serves as Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs for Novo Nordisk, where he oversees their federal government relations and lobbying activities. Born in North Carolina, Brian graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1991 with honors and received his law degree from the Washington College of Law (American University) in Washington, D.C. in 1994.

The HillVets Board

Justin Brown
Justin BrownFounder and Chairman of the Board

Justin Brown is the Founder, of HillVets and is currently the CEO, of the Nimitz Group, a bipartisan consulting firm tackling the most difficult veteran and healthcare issues. He has nearly a decade of Veterans’ focused experience and advocacy, fighting on behalf of Veterans and their families to increase educational and employment opportunities, to expand access to benefits and healthcare, and to eliminate homelessness. He has worked for the VA, the VFW, the American Legion, and was a Staff Director for numerous Subcommittees for the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Justin began his commitment to public service at the age of 17 when he enlisted in the United States Navy. There, he completed one deployment in support of Operation Southern Watch and two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following Justin’s service, he attended the University of Utah, graduating with dual bachelor’s degrees in three years. He became active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) where he served as the youngest All-American District Commander and Department Chief of Staff in its history.

Saki Ververis
Saki VerverisBoard Member

Building communities and strengthening communication through meaningful relationships are Saki’s guiding lights. He is a founding member of HillVets who has worked as a staffer on Capitol Hill, as a civil servant, and at the White House. In 2014, he served in the US House Veterans Committee during some of the most transformative years for veterans healthcare and benefits policy. During that time he worked with HillVets founder Justin Brown to build a stronger community of veterans on Capitol Hill. The work continues today to create an expanding community of veterans who have policy roles and help make the country a better place for future generations to come.

David Bell
David BellBoard Member

David Bell is the director of government relations at the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) since 2018. In this capacity, David focuses on advocating on behalf of 1,500+ members that manufacture, distribute, and/or install roadway safety infrastructure. The goal of David’s advocacy efforts is to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries on America’s roadways through educating policymakers at the federal level. David’s goal is to advance policies that move the nation Toward Zero Deaths on U.S. roadways.

Additionally, David worked at the Portland Cement Association (PCA) as a government affairs manager.  In this position, David spearheaded the association’s advocacy efforts at the state level and was responsible for developing the Association’s State Government Affairs Task Force. David was also responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and advocating on a variety of issues falling under each of PCA’s reporting committees (Environment and Energy, Transportation and Infrastructure, Occupational Health and Safety). Further, David assisted with the day to day management of PCA’s PAC.

David went to PCA from Prime Advocacy where he managed over 30 legislative conferences for an array of trade associations while leading business development efforts resulting in 20 percent growth in annual revenue. Previously, David worked in the offices of Congressman Jon Runyan (R-NJ-3) and Congressman John Adler (D-NJ-3). In these offices, Mr. Bell handled constituent casework related to Social Security, Medicare, Veterans’ Affairs, and HUD.

David is originally from New Jersey and earned his B.A. in Criminal Justice/Political Science from Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Abigail P. Gage
Abigail P. GageBoard Member

Abigail P. Gage has been involved with HillVets Foundation since 2013. She was a fellow with the first HillVets House class and later served on the first all-volunteer staff as Director of Operations. Today she serves on the Board of Directors as the HillVets President of Alumni Affairs.Abigail is a U.S. Army Veteran and national security professional with over 10 years of defense policy and project management experience in the military and on Capitol Hill. Abigail has worked for the House Armed Services Committee, served on active duty in Germany, and deployed to Iraq. She continues to serve today in the Army National Guard.Abigail earned her Master of Arts in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University SAIS, with concentrations in Economics and Strategic Studies, and her Bachelor of Arts from Washington and Lee University, with majors in Geology and Anthropology.

Joseph Betteley
Joseph BetteleyBoard Member

Joseph (Joe) Betteley was a member of the first group of HillVets Fellows in 2014 and was later a member of the first group of HillVets Lead Protégés in 2018.  He served on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001-2010 and in the reserves for the Utah Army National Guard from 2010-2013.  He was a tactical systems operator on KC-130s, an embassy security guard, and a Russian Linguist.  Joe has a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Utah and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.  Joe currently works at a law firm in Washing D.C. and his practice is focused on foreign investment in the U.S. and global financial crimes compliance including anti-corruption laws, economic sanctions, and export controls.

Rachel Levenberry
Rachel LevenberryBoard Member

Rachel Levenberry joined the HillVets Foundation board in 2022. She was introduced to HillVets and the mission in 2018 when she helped support HillVets events hosted at the Gallup World Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Rachel is the Chief of Staff at Rockwood Company, a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) change management consulting company that supports the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.

Rachel lives in Washington, D.C., and holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Roanoke College.