HillVets Advisory Board

The Honorary 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.

Ken Falke
Ken FalkeCEO, Shoulder 2 Shoulder Inc.
Mr. Falke is a 21-year combat Veteran of the U.S. Navy and retired Master Chief Petty Officer. Ken Falke is highly respected around the world and known as an innovative and forward thinking leader. Ken is passionate about subjects of wounded warrior care, military and Veteran transition, counterterrorism and training and technology development. At the present time, Ken is the current CEO of Shoulder 2 Shoulder Inc., a technology and multi-media company. In addition, he is the chairman and founder of Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness and the EOD Warrior Foundation.
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

Saki Ververis is a recently minted Congressional Relations Officer with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to taking a position with the VA, Saki was a Senior Legislative Assistant for the House Veterans Affairs Committee, minority staff, for almost 3 years. Saki was an active duty Air Force Airman before going to law school at South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas, in 2008.

Matthew Stuart
Matthew StuartBoard Member

Matthew Stuart served as a Soldier in the U.S. Army from 2000 – 2004. Mr. Stuart deployed to Kosovo in 2001 and served in Iraq, 2003. Upon completion of his 4 years active duty commitment, he attended the University of Utah and graduated with a BS in Geography, BS in Environmental Studies, and received a Certificate in Geographic Information Science (GIS).
Mr. Stuart is a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #3586 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has served in various capacities within the VFW organization, having achieved All American Post Commander status during the 2008 – 2009 & 2014 – 2015 administrative years. He has served the VFW organization both local and national in numerous offices and committee positions, to include Commander for the Department of Utah VFW 2011-2012. He achieved the coveted Triple Crown All American Commander status within the largest Combat Veteran Service Organization. Mr. Stuart is involved in numerous Veteran-centric organizations and programs including Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Military Order of the Cooties, and Saving the Legacy: An Oral History of WWII Veterans. Mr. Stuart currently serves on the VHA Post Deployment Veterans Community Board advising VHA with improving outreach and educational efforts in regards to environmental exposure programs and services.

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.

Mike Gula
Mike Gula Board Member

Mike Gula is the co-founder of Gula Graham, the largest Republican fundraising firm in the country. Since 2009, Gula Graham has raised over $250,000,000 for House and Senate members of Congress, including $51,000,000 during the 2016 election cycle. During that cycle Gula Graham professionals provided expertise to a multitude of successful election and reelection campaigns that included some of the country’s top Senate races: Senator Pat Toomey, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Ron Johnson.

Additionally, during the 2016 cycle, Gula Graham oversaw the fundraising efforts for Conservative Solutions PAC, established to support the candidacy of Senator Marco Rubio for President and raised $44,000,000 in less than nine months.

Mike is also the co-founder of Prime Advocacy, a leading Washington, D.C. fly-in consulting firm, which specializes in event management, scheduling Congressional appointments and trip logistics for leading associations and corporations.

Mike has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, National Review, Roll Call & The Hill.

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.