HillVets LEAD Protégés
Defense Policy Fireteam
Tom is a former Air Force officer that led Combat Search and Rescue teams outside of Baghdad, Iraq in 2011 and Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2012. These combat experiences convinced him of the importance of understanding the “human terrain”. After the Air Force, he pursued his graduate studies in North Africa, where he conducted field research on the cycle of instability in Mali, Mauritania and Morocco, and honed his language skills in Arabic and French. In 2016 and 2017, Tom served as a disaster response team leader with a 12-person medical team that provided care for Iraqi and Syrian refugees. Now, he is fortunate to serve as the MIlitary Legislative Assistant for a member on the House Armed Services Committee.
Tom is a graduate of the AF Academy, US Army Airborne, USASOC Military Free-Fall, and USAF Combat Dive.
Lieutenant Tyler Alfriend is an active duty Naval Officer, currently serving as a Defense Fellow on Capitol Hill. Tyler was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and received Senator Barbara Mikulski’s nomination to the United States Naval Academy, where he graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in English. Following his graduation from Annapolis, LT Alfriend attended Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School, where he earned a Master of Science in Finance. As a Navy helicopter pilot, Tyler has deployed throughout the Fifth and Seventh Fleet Areas of Responsibility, participating in Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea and conducting missions throughout the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Tyler lives with his fiancee in Washington, D.C. and is looking forward to marrying her this October in the nation’s capital.
Luke Lorenz serves as the President of Veterans Against Hate, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing dialogue and interactions between different groups in America. He is a former Commissioned Officer in the United States Army, having served overseas in a Patriot Missile Battalion with missions in both EUCOM and CENTCOM. Luke has worked as a policy analyst for a prominent Washington DC think tank which formulates innovative, bipartisan approaches to matters of national security and American economic competitiveness. He has also worked for a Washington DC trade association on matters related to defense industrial supply chains, advanced manufacturing, and infrastructure investment. Luke is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a current student in the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.
Kyle Smitz served 6 years overseas in the United States Army as a global logistics manager, including a tour in Iraq and a deployment to Eastern Europe. A visionary innovator with a natural ability for critical thinking and problem solving, Kyle has demonstrated leadership that makes him an attractive protégé for the LEAD fellowship. As a bipartisan business polymath, Kyle favors highly-methodical, research-validated policy focused on evidence-based decision making.
Mike Solis was born and raised in El Paso, Texas and has just completed an over two-decade career in the United States Army (USA) as an Air Defense officer. During his career, he has deployed to the Central Command area of operations three times, to include a tour in Iraq embedded as an advisor to the Iraqi army. He has had the honor of commanding from the platoon to the battalion level and culminated his career in the Pentagon as a member of the Joint Staff. His degrees include a BS in management from the United States Military Academy, MA in Leadership Studies from University of Texas, and MAs from the Naval War College and the Army War College. He and his wife, Paty, are the proud parents of three kids, Mike, Manuel, and Gabrielle.
Andrew Gore serves as a Management Analyst supporting the Department of Homeland Security. Prior to joining the public safety space, he was a Policy Advisor supporting the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Policy. Andrew also is currently a 1LT and Specialty Platoon Leader in the 1-175th Infantry Regiment of the Maryland Army National Guard.
Prior to working in the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, he served as a Program Analyst with USAID assisting with acquisitions and procurement, research and analysis, writing and editing, and stakeholder engagement on a variety of projects.
Andrew holds a Masters of Arts degree in International Business and Policy from the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service and McDonough School of Business. He also holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Business Administration and Management from the American University Kogod School of Business.
Veterans Policy Fireteam
Ashlynne Haycock is currently the Deputy Director, Policy for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), she also serves on the VA’s Advisory Committee on Education (VACOE). She is the surviving daughter of US Army SFC Jeffrey Haycock, who died in the line of duty in 2002, and US Air Force Veteran Nichole Haycock, who died by suicide in 2011. She graduated from American University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2013. While at American University she was one of the first recipients of the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Fry Scholarship.
Ashlynne has been involved with TAPS as a survivor for over 17 years. She has been on staff with TAPS for six years and was instrumental in creating the TAPS Education Support Services program and online education portal. She is an experienced professional in all areas of education benefits for surviving children and spouses at the federal, state and private levels. Ashlynne is regularly invited to participate in forums focusing on veteran and survivor education benefits. She has assisted over 2,300 survivors in accessing education benefits worth over $200 million in assistance since 2013. Ashlynne was highly involved in growing the partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014 to create a Memorandum of Agreement which was recently expanded in 2017.
Aleks Morosky is the National Legislative Director of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). He is primarily responsible for communicating the MOPH legislative agenda to the United States Congress, federal departments and agencies, and other organizational stakeholders in the veterans’ community.
A native of Norwich, Connecticut, Aleks served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army for one week shy of seven years, reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant. He deployed twice to Iraq from 2003-2004 and 2005- 2006 as a member of the 502d Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.
Following his military service, Aleks graduated magna cum laude from the University of Connecticut with a BA in Political Science using the GI Bill. Upon graduation, he served as a House Wounded Warrior Fellow in the office of Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro from 2011-2013. He then went on to work for the National Legislative Service of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in their Washington, DC office from 2013-2016, where he was ultimately promoted to the position of Deputy Director. Aleks assumed his current role as MOPH National Legislative Director in June 2016.
Kristina Keenan is an Army veteran and served in the Minnesota Army National Guard from 1999 to 2005. In 2003, Kristina deployed with the 34th Infantry Division to Bosnia as part of the NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR). Immediately following, she volunteered for a second deployment to Bosnia. Kristina finished her military service in 2005 with the rank of Sergeant.
Kristina lived in Paris, France from 2006 until 2018 and has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science (2008) from the American University of Paris and a Master’s degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action (2015) from the Institut d’études politiques de Paris (the Paris Institute of Political Studies, commonly known as, Sciences Po).
She has worked for the American University of Paris since 2009, in roles including Alumni Affairs Coordinator, Manager of Outreach Communications, Manager of Development Relations, and currently is the Associate Director of Development Relations, working remotely from Washington, DC.
Kristina has been an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars since 2013, serving from 2016-2018 as Commander of Post 605 in Paris, France. She also held positions such as Department Chair for Student Veterans of America (SVA) and National Women Veterans Advisory Committee member. In 2018, Kristina worked with the VFW’s National Legislative Service in Washington, DC as an Associate Director, leading the grassroots advocacy program, Action Corps Weekly, and a portfolio of legislative issues. She now supports the VFW’s legislative advocacy efforts as a dedicated volunteer.
Alan is an active duty Naval officer serving as a Defense Fellow on Capitol Hill. He was born in southern California and raised in Seoul and Madrid. He graduated from Stanford University, then spent three years conducting basic science research at the National Institutes of Health and at medical school; he earned his medical degree from the University of Texas at Southwestern, Dallas. As a flight surgeon for two Marine Corps squadrons, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Alan subsequently completed his masters degree in public health and medical residency in general preventive medicine at Johns Hopkins University. He assisted in the planning and execution of multiple medical humanitarian missions in the South Pacific, served on Seventh Fleet staff for three years, and helped inform Navy Medicine’s response to the public health emergency of international concern caused by the Zika virus. Alan is board-certified in both general preventive and occupational medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine. Alan’s interest in veterans policy stems from his background as a public health physician practicing in a military health system that is undergoing transformational change.
Danielle Corazza is the Vice President of VetsFirst, within the United Spinal Association. She previously served as the National Outreach Coordinator for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Women Veterans. Prior to her federal government service, Ms. Corazza was an entrepreneur operating Applegate Solutions, a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that provided management consulting to an array of clients including the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, as well as private and nongovernmental organizations. She previously served as the Director of Veteran’s Initiatives and Outreach at Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, where she developed their innovative Joining Forces for Women Veterans program and promoted nationwide collaborative efforts to foster additional access to services for women veterans.
Ms. Corazza also executed program management for both Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. Danielle was enlisted in the United States Army and Army National Guard for five years; her service included a tour in Korea. Due to service-connected injuries, she left the service and utilized Vocational Rehabilitation services and the Montgomery GI Bill to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources and Business Administration, a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts, and a certificate from Georgetown University in Nonprofit Executive Management in 2014. She has served on the Advisory Council for Final Salute, on the Women Joining Forces Council for Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, the American Legion’s Small Business Council, and the Camp Lejeune Community Action Panel.
Michael Desmond is a tireless advocate of the Military and Veteran Family community. Traveling the world to support combat and humanitarian missions across the Middle East and Southeast Asia as a Marine, Michael was an entrusted intelligence analyst that specialized in cultural competency and strived to find the balance between ethical negligence and cultural relativism. Bringing these insights home and refining those lessons through the multi-disciplinary lens of graduate study in Public Health Michael has been successful in supporting the development of novel approaches to supporting the well-being of veterans. Ranging from direct interventions for veterans experiencing suicidality to community building to support resiliency Michael has served the veteran community both in uniform and out. He now resides in Baltimore where he works in support of growing the Mid-Atlantic Region for the Travis Manion Foundation and spends his downtime hiking with his family or cooking for his friends.
Robert Thompson enlisted as an infantry soldier in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard shortly after 9/11 while pursuing his degree at Valley Forge Military College. Following graduation and his subsequent enlistment he switched to the Navy and served four years as a Quartermaster navigating minesweepers at sea, deploying twice to the Middle East as well as Central America and the Panama Canal zone where he was instrumental in piloting his ship through the Canal. Following military service, he worked in media and film both behind and in front of the camera on movies, shows, and commercials and for networks such as National Geographic and The Discovery Channel.
He attended the ASU Cronkite School of Journalism and was a field coordinator for the 2016 David Trone for Congress campaign. He currently serves as a fellow in the office of Congressman Jimmy Gomez of California. In that capacity, he has brought a focus to military and veterans issues and worked with the legislative staff on appropriations and major legislation. He’s also aided the communications director as an interim press assistant during the Congressman’s appearances on news programs such as Hardball, The Situation Room and The Last Word.
Colin Raunig is a communications professional with extensive publishing and writing experience. He has published in The Iowa Review, The Atlantic, and The Hill, among other publications. Colin was a speechwriter for the winning congressional campaign of Jason Crow (D-CO).
Colin is a 2007 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Ocean Engineering. He was a Naval Flight Officer on the E-6b Mercury, a command and control and communications platform, at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. From 2012-2015, he was a Personnel Exchange Officer at the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Officer Candidate School in Eta Jima, Japan. He then left active duty, entered the Reserves, and began grad school at Colorado State University, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in English. In August 2017, Colin earned the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Reserves.
Christopher E. West is a U.S. Army veteran with more than two decades of distinguished service as a military engineer and public affairs officer. He is a combat veteran of both Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Chris earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in English and Political Science from the University of Memphis. He also holds a Master of Arts degree in Management and Leadership from Webster University; a Master of Public Management from the University of Maryland at College Park as well as a Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy from the Geneva School of Business and Economics in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition, Chris is a 2018 Senior Executive Fellow of the J. F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Leslie Nicole Smith, a retired Army Captain, graduated from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia with a degree in Communications/Public Relations. She received her commission from the Army ROTC program at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Leslie was assigned to the Nuclear Biological Chemical Corps and later attended the Army Defense Information School to serve as a Public Affairs Officer for additional duties.
Leslie deployed to Bosnia in September 2001 with the 29th Infantry Division for Stabilization Force 10 during Operation Joint Forge. She developed a blood clot and returned stateside two weeks before the end of her deployment. Leslie was admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for complications resulting from exposure to a chemical agent or toxin. Leslie lost her left leg below the knee and vision leaving her legally blind. Staying positive despite her injuries, Leslie forged ahead and returned to work for the USO World Headquarters and then for the Department of the Navy. Now she passionately advocates for veterans and wounded, ill, and injured warriors, and their families. Most recently, Leslie was recognized as a HillVets 100 of 2018 Honoree for her service as a Secretarial Appointee with the Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. Leslie also participates with the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program by providing input and testimony on behalf of the Vision Loss and Prosthetics programs. She is a member of the Council of Advisors for the U.S. Army Heritage Center Foundation and serves as an Ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation. She is a member of the National Campaign Team for the Wounded Warrior Project.
In addition, Leslie is a spokesperson for many organizations including Canines for Veterans, the USO, the Fisher House Foundation. She is the national spokesperson and one of three co-founders of Fatigues to Fabulous, a nonprofit that assists female veterans. In 2007, Leslie served as the Wounded Warrior Advocate on the Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors established by President George W. Bush. The following year, she spoke during primetime at the Republican National Convention for presidential candidate John McCain and then campaigned across the country as a Tier 1 Surrogate Speaker with the Veterans for McCain team.
Leslie has been featured in several national campaigns including the Department of Defense “Hiring Heroes”; Toyota “100 Cars for Good”; and Department of Veterans Affairs “Make the Connection”. Leslie has appeared on NBC’s Days of Our Lives to raise awareness for post-traumatic stress and on Lifetime’s Project Runway All Stars where she represented female service members in the Army. She joined Oliver North on the Katie Couric Show to discuss her story that was included in his book, American Heroes: On the Homefront, The Hearts of Heroes. Along with numerous print publications and radio interviews, Leslie has appeared on media outlets including FOX News, MSNBC, WJLA, CBS Talk Philly, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, News Close Up with Marvin Scott, CNN HeadLine News Morning Express with Robin Meade, Inside Edition, and the Pentagon Channel. She has shared her moving and inspirational story all around the country including the White House, Wall Street, and West Point.