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Speakers & Panelists
U.S. House of Representatives
Representative Don Bacon
Growing up and working on a farm in Illinois, Congressman Don Bacon learned first-hand how the value of hard work and commitment contributes to the success of a small business. He moved from the family farm to attend Northern Illinois University, from which he graduated with a Bachelors of Political Science in 1984, the same year he married Angie, the love of his life. They have three sons, one daughter, and six grandchildren. One year later, he began his military career by joining the U.S. Air Force and serving nearly 30 years, ultimately retiring as a Brigadier General. During his career in the Air Force, Congressman Bacon specialized in electronic warfare, intelligence and reconnaissance. His career highlights include two tours as a Wing Commander, at Ramstein Airbase in Germany and Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska; group command at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona; squadron command in Arizona, and expeditionary squadron command in Iraq. In total, Rep. Bacon served 16 assignments including four deployments in the Middle East to include Iraq in 2007 to 2008 during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Congressman Bacon’s military decorations include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, two Bronze Stars, two Legion of Merits, five Meritorious Service Medals, and the Aerial Achievement Medal. Additionally, he was selected as Europe’s top Air Force Wing Commander for his time at Ramstein Airbase, as well as recognized as a distinguished graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, Navigator-Electronic Warfare School, and Officer Intelligence School. Further, Congressman Bacon has earned two Masters Degrees, from the University of Phoenix in Arizona and the National War College in Washington D.C. Upon his retirement from the Air Force in 2014, Congressman Bacon served as the military advisor to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01), where he specialized in military affairs focusing on Offutt Air Force Base and the Nebraska National Guard. He also was an Assistant Professor at Bellevue University where he taught Undergraduate Leadership along with American Vision and Values (The Kirkpatrick Signature Series), until his 2016 election to Congress, representing Nebraska’s Second Congressional District. Presently, Congressman Bacon serves on two committees within the House of Representatives: the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Agricultural Committee.
Co-Founder & CEO, With Honor
Rye Barcott is co-founder and CEO of With Honor, a cross-partisan nonprofit that fights polarization in Congress with principled veteran leadership. He has built his career in service and entrepreneurship by building bridges across often difficult divides. While in service in the Marines, he co-founded the youth leadership, violence prevention, and public health organization CFK Africa in the Kibera informal settlement of Nairobi, Kenya. The memoir he wrote for students, It Happened on the Way to War, juxtaposes military service in the Marine Corps and social entrepreneurship. Bono called it “a wild ride.” Dartmouth awarded him an honorary doctorate in humane letters. After serving in the Marines in Iraq, Bosnia, and the Horn of Africa, Barcott earned his MBA and MPA at Harvard as a Center for Public Leadership Social Entrepreneurship Fellow. Prior to founding With Honor, he co-founded and led the solar power investment firm Double Time Capital, and served as Special Advisor to the CEO of Duke Energy, where he started and led a clean energy investment group. Barcott serves on the boards of the CFK Africa, the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, and the U.S. Institute for Peace.
Vice President of Government Affairs, Student Veterans of America
Tammy Barlet is Vice President of Government Affairs for Student Veterans of America. She served eight years in the United States Coast Guard as an Operation Specialist Third Class Petty Officer. In 1998, she patrolled the Persian Gulf on the USCGC Chase (WHEC-718) for Military Interdiction Operations (MIO). During this patrol, USCGC Chase diverted four vessels in violation of United Nations Sanctions against Iraq, interdicted 1,527,740 gallons of fuel oil, and conducted eighty-six gunnery exercises. Her last duty station was the Vessel Traffic Service Houston/Galveston. She was awarded the Coast Guard Achievement Medal for de-escalating an incident that could quickly have become a Homeland Security Threat. After returning home to Pennsylvania, Tammy was certified as a sterile compounding pharmacy technician and worked in the Lehigh Valley area for ten years. Tammy holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and a bachelor’s in public health from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. While pursuing her studies, Ms. Barlet fulfilled her MPH practicum requirements at Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society as a State Policy Intern and The Mission Continues fellowship as a Policy Associate at Student Veterans of America. She received the Distinguished Undergraduate Internship Award from the College of Public Health at Temple University for her work during her internship in Alaska. In 2021, Tammy was awarded Temple University’s Public Health Alumni award for her advocacy work to ensure veterans receive timely, high-quality health care. As a 2019 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellow, Ms. Barlet’s proposal revolved around oral health as preventative care for the veteran population. The VFW used her research as a part of the written testimony for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health legislative hearing later that year. Tammy’s knowledge and expertise in public health and VA led her to testify before the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on mental health, preventative care, reproductive health, women veterans, and extended care services. Tammy resides in Maryland and enjoys quilting, kayaking, hiking, biking, and geocaching.
President, The Beytin Agency
Before founding The Beytin Agency, Aaron spent nearly a decade creating political direct mail campaigns. He’s won over 250 campaigns in 16 states from statewide races to small town elections. Aaron has a knack for pulling off victories in challenging political environments. Aaron worked on Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s 2008 underdog victory and helped Illinois Governor Pat Quinn rehabilitate his 2010 campaign. He’s won legislative and municipal campaigns from coast to coast and helped engineer – and hold – Democratic legislative majorities in the New Jersey and Delaware state legislatures, including the only coordinated mail campaign that gained Democratic legislative seats in the continental U.S. during the 2010 Republican landslide. Campaigns & Elections Magazine named Aaron a Rising Star in 2010 and The Beytin Agency is the only firm – Democrat or Republican – to twice win the magazine’s national award for “Best Direct Mail Piece” (2012 and 2014). In just four years, The Beytin Agency has earned twenty-eight Pollie awards from The American Association of Political Consultants. No Democratic political consultant won more Pollies for direct mail in 2015. Aaron holds a Masters Degree in Political Management and a Bachelors Degree in Economics from the George Washington University. He’s spoken about political strategy locally and as far away as Australia. A native of Maryland, he lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife Jen, and their son, Sam.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
for Military Community and Family Policy
The Honorable Patricia Barron
Mrs. Patricia “Patty” Barron was appointed as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy in January 2021. Mrs. Barron is currently responsible for a broad portfolio that includes policy, advocacy, and oversight of all community support to service members and their families, including quality-of-life issues; key legislative and policy issues affecting military families; family, child, and youth programs; the Military OneSource program and non-medical counseling resources; military spouse career advancement; morale, welfare, and recreation; defense resale policy for commissaries and exchanges; and family advocacy programs. Her oversight also includes casualty and mortuary affairs, and military funeral honors. Prior to joining Military Community and Family Policy, she served as the Director of the Family Readiness Directorate at the Association of the United States Army and supported all AUSA family programs and events by providing management and oversight to all directorate activities. Previously, she served as the Director of Outreach, Military Family Projects, at Zero to Three and worked as the Director of Youth Initiatives at the National Military Family Association where she oversaw NMFA’s Operation Purple Camp program. As an Army spouse for 30 years, she has been involved in myriad efforts to support military families. She served on the Department of Defense Military Family Readiness Council, Zero to Three’s “Coming Together Around Military Families” Advisory Committee, the Sesame Workshop “Talk, Listen, Connect; Phase Two” Advisory Panel, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Advisory Board, the Child Care Aware of America Advisory Board, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Military Leadership Council. Mrs. Barron earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of San Francisco, a Master of Science in Education from Long Island University, an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University, and an Executive Education Certificate from The Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Mrs. Barron is married to retired Army Col. Michael Barron. They have three adult children: Michael, Megan, and Joseph; a son-in-law, Vance; and two granddaughters, Sofia and Violet.
Senior Director Federal Government Affairs, Novo Nordisk
With over 20 years of political, legislative, and senior management experience, Brian currently serves as Sr. Director of Federal Government Affairs for Novo Nordisk, where he heads up their fed. gov’t affairs office. His expertise in navigating complicated policies and relaying those to policymakers in a manner easy to understand and trusted has resulted in his successfully building alliances & engaging effectively with Members of Congress & their staff. For more than 16 years, Brian served as a senior Aide on Capitol Hill, including as Chief of Staff to Rep. Jared Polis, now Gov. Polis (D-CO), where he secured the office as “Number One Rising Political Star” by Politico and featured on CNN’s show “Freshman Year.” During his tenure, he served as the top aide to 5 Members serving as their chief advisor, political strategist, and communicator, and maintains an extensive network on the Hill with both Members of Congress and their staff. In his current role at Novo Nordisk, he serves as the principal federal legislative and political strategist, overseeing the federal government relations office, including the lobbying, grassroots, and PAC teams. In this role, he has designed and implemented an aggressive legislative program that resulted in passage of one of the company’s top legislative priorities and a doubling of funding for one of the company’s key health programs. Given this success, Brian was promoted three times in three years. Brian’s work has been recognized by his selection to the Congressional Stennis Fellows -- a prestigious leadership organization for senior staff of Congress. He also was asked to serve on the Advisory Board of HillVets, chaired by Sec. Chuck Hagel, an organization dedicated to ensuring our nation’s veterans and Servicemembers become more active in government and politics. And he has served for years on the Board of Directors of the Point Foundation, a scholarship-granting organization for underserved LGBT youth.
Managing Director of Programs & Services, D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families
Barbara E. Carson is Managing Director of Programs and Services at the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and brings more than 25 years of experience, military service, and proven leadership in successfully building and delivering programs across government and military sectors. Carson is responsible for the day-to-day management and oversight of the Institute’s national programs and services, which focus on entrepreneurship, career training, and community services. Carson retired as a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve (USAFR), her last assignment was to the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Office of Public Affairs. She has served more than 25 years as an active-duty and reserve officer, and her experience includes nuclear command and control and public affairs assignments across the United States, Japan, and Europe. Prior to joining the IVMF, Carson spent nearly a decade in leadership at the U.S. Small Business Administration, (SBA) most recently serving as the Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Disaster Assistance. There, she was responsible for developing, implementing, and evaluating the SBA’s disaster loan program throughout the nation. Also at the SBA, Carson served as Deputy Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development where she advocated to increase small business contracting opportunities in federal agencies and led SBA federal procurement programs including 8(a), HUBZone, Woman-Owned Small Business, and All Small Mentor Protégé programs. Carson has also served as the SBA’s Associate Administrator for the Office of Veterans Business Development, where her military background was an asset to the program. Carson received her Master of Science in Management from Lesley University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Iowa.
Chief Strategy Officer, ZeroEyes
Kieran Carroll is the Chief Strategy Officer of ZeroEyes. Mr. Carroll came to ZeroEyes from PwC’s advisory practice, where he delivered strategy solutions to clients in the telecommunications, financial services, and healthcare industries. Previously, he served as a naval officer and led cross-functional teams at Special Operations Forces and Intelligence Community organizations. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Data Ethics Consortium for Security and sits on advisory boards of several technology companies to include One Stop Systems (NASDAQ: OSS), BreachBits, and Advisar AI.
Asst. Undersecretary for Health, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
Dr. Carolyn Clancy
Dr. Clancy serves as the Assistant Under Secretary for Health (AUSH) for Discovery, Education & Affiliate Networks (DEAN), Veterans Health Administration (VHA), effective July 22, 2018. The Office of the DEAN fosters collaboration and knowledge transfer with facility-based educators, researchers and clinicians within VA, and between VA and its affiliates. Prior to her current position, she served as the Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the second-largest Cabinet department, with a $246 billion budget and over 424,000 employees serving in VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices, and national cemeteries, overseeing the development and implementation of enterprise-wide policies, programs, activities and special interests. She also served as the VHA Executive in Charge, with the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Under Secretary for Health, directing a health care system with a $68 billion annual budget, overseeing the delivery of care to more than 9 million enrolled Veterans. Previously, she served as the Interim Under Secretary for Health from 2014-2015. Dr. Clancy also served as the VHA AUSH for Organizational Excellence, overseeing VHA’s performance, quality, safety, risk management, systems engineering, auditing, oversight, ethics and accreditation programs, as well as ten years as the Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. She is a highly experienced and nationally recognized physician executive. Dr. Clancy is a general internist and health services researcher, a graduate of Boston College and the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She holds an academic appointment at George Washington University’s School of Medicine and serves as Senior Associate Editor, Health Services Research Journal. She has contributed to eight academic textbooks and authored, co-authored and provided invited commentary in more than 225 scholarly journal articles. She served as member of the National Quality Forum’s Board of Directors, Chair of the AQA Alliance and served on the Board of Governors for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and was presented with the 2014 Quality Champion Award from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. She was also named as an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and was selected as the 2015 Outstanding Federal Executive of the Year by Disabled American Veterans. In 2018, she was selected as one of the Top 50 Physician Executives by Modern Healthcare, and in 2019, she was identified as one of the 50 Most Influential Clinical Executives by Modern Healthcare. And she was also awarded the 2023 Primary Care Collaborative’s (PCC) prestigious Barbara Stanfield Award.
Executive Director, Center for Military Transition
Raymond Mason School of Business William & Mary
Passionate about education, service, talent and leadership development, and assisting veterans excel in new chapters of service, Jonathan "JD" Due is the executive director of the Center of Military Transition at the Mason School of Business at William and Mary. In this role, JD leads the Mason School's efforts to develop and empower veterans to think and lead like executives. Prior to serving at William & Mary, JD spent several years as the director of programs and scholarships at the Pat Tillman Foundation, where he ran the selection process for the Tillman Scholar community and developed a leadership development program for remarkable active-duty service members, military veterans, and military spouses. A 20-year veteran of the US Army himself, JD served as a cavalry and armor officer in a wide variety of assignments, to include command, the faculty of U.S. Military Academy, and as the lead writer for a number of doctrinal manuals and future warfighting concepts.
Former Secretary of Defense
The Honorable Chuck Hagel
Chuck Hagel served as the 24th Secretary of Defense from February 2013 to February 2015. During his tenure, he directed significant steps 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. In addition, he led major initiatives for service members and their families, including increasing resources for suicide prevention, combating sexual assault, and accounting for missing personnel. Further, 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. Secretary Hagel 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. He is the only Vietnam veteran and the first enlisted combat veteran to serve as Secretary of Defense. Hagel served two terms in the United States Senate (1997-2009) representing the state of Nebraska. Hagel was a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; and Intelligence Committees. He Chaired the Foreign Relations International Economic Policy, Export and Trade Promotion Subcommittee; and the Banking Committee’s International Trade and Finance, and Securities Subcommittees. Hagel also served as the Chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the Senate Climate Change Observer Group. Previously, Secretary Hagel was a Distinguished Professor at Georgetown University, Co-Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, Chairman of the Atlantic Council, Chairman of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration Advisory Committee, and Co-Chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Corporate Council. He served as a member of the Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board, Secretary of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of Nuclear Power, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Board of Directors and Systemic Risk Council; as a Senior Advisor to Gallup; and on the Advisory Boards of Corsair Capital, Deutsche Bank America, M.I.C. Industries, Bread for the World, Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, Center for the Study of the Presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, George C. Marshall Foundation, Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Global Strategy Forum, Global Zero, Hamilton Project, Initiative for Global Development, Lung Cancer Alliance, International Center for the Study Of Radicalization and Political Violence, National Bureau of Asian Research’s Next Generation Leadership Board, Ploughshares Fund, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, U.S. Institute of Peace Middle East Senior Working Group, U.S. Middle East Project, America Abroad Media, American Security Project, and The Washington Center. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Hagel was president of McCarthy & Company, an investment banking firm in Omaha, Nebraska. In the mid-1980’s, Hagel co-founded VANGUARD Cellular Systems, Inc., a publicly traded corporation. He was President and CEO of the World USO, Private Sector Council (PSC), and Chief Operating Officer of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7 Summit). Hagel also served as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration under President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Commissioner General of the 1982 World’s Fair. He is the author of the book, America: Our Next Chapter and was the subject of a 2006 book by Charlyne Berens entitled, Chuck Hagel: Moving Forward.
Founder & CEO, IndyGeneUS AI & IndyGeneUS Institute
Yusuf N. Henriques is the Founder & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IndyGeneUS AI & IndyGeneUS Institute (pronounced indigenous) a precision genomics company aiming to create the world's largest blockchain-encrypted digital health platform of indigenous and diasporic African clinical and genomic data. Their genomics laboratory is located at the JLABS facility in Washington, DC, on the historic grounds of the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where Henriques once walked the halls as a U.S. Army Combat Medic. The Jamaican-born immigrant is a serial start-up visionary whose companies are at the helm of technology and thrive at the intersection of financial and health equity. He is passionate about mentoring the next generation of founders and was recently named a 2022 Techstars Mentor-In- Residence. Henriques is a sought after thought leader where he frequently speaks on the importance of precision health equity and the power of Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS), with an emphasis on BIPOC communities. Prior to Henriques’ start-up ventures he was a sought after regulatory affairs expert. He launched his career in the regulatory space as the acting Branch Chief for the Ob/Gyn, Gastroenterology, and Urology Divisions in the Center for Device and Radiological Health at the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). He served as Director of Regulatory Affairs for SAIC, where he oversaw regulatory compliance strategies for multi-site clinical trials. He was a lead regulatory scientist for the Strategic Innovation Group (SIG) at Booz Allen Hamilton and Senior Research Health Scientist for Outpatient Psychiatry at the James J. Peters Veteran Affairs Medical Center in The Bronx, NY. Henriques managed a $45M scientific portfolio for a large multi-center clinical trial research project in PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injuries) for the VA Cooperative Study Research Program and the Department of Defense, where he studied alongside Rachel Yehuda, the Vice-chair of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) Psychiatry Department. It was through his association with ISMMS that he gained exclusive rights to the patent for the PTSD genomic assay (TruGen-1) that he developed under his first start-up TruGenomix (Polaris Genomics). The patent is currently being piloted at the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) hospitals nationwide to address the high rate of suicides in the veteran and active-duty populations. The Howard University graduate earned his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry (Magna Cum Laude) and his entire c-suite are also Howard Alum. He is a proud father of four girls, an avid LinkedIn contributor, and a lover of soccer.
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of the State
Foreign Service Officer (Public Diplomacy) with 15 years of federal service. Background in public affairs, political non-profits, Capitol Hill legislative process, social media, media relations, and multimedia production. DoS postings in Brazil and Cambodia with temporary duty to India. US Air Force service in Germany and Operation Enduring Freedom deployment to Afghanistan.
CEO, Ukrainian Veterans Foundation
Nataliia Kalmykova is the Chief Executive Officer of the State organization Ukrainian Veterans Foundation of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs of Ukraine. Ukrainian Veterans Foundation provides financial and educational support to veteran-owned businesses; supports non-profits for veterans; runs the veterans’ crisis hotline; and provides legal consultations for veterans, families, and families of fallen. Additionally, this organization maintains analytic and information campaigns to ensure veterans’ visibility to the larger public. In addition to her role with UVF, Nataliia is 2023 Fulbright Scholar working on her research on female leadership in the military at the University of Buffalo and getting the Master of Business Administration degree at the MIM-Kyiv Business School. She received her Master’s of Public Administration in Vinnitsya Institute of Continuing Education in 2021. She previously worked as the Gender Adviser to Land Forces Commander (2021) and at the International Charitable Foundation Come Back Alive, she served as Deputy Director (2020-2021) and Head of Military Department (2017-2020). She has initiated project of leadership for the military with top rated educational institutions such as the Lviv Business School and MIM Business School. She planned and executed the 2019 Conferences "Army: Build on Trust” and the Modus Initiative – both about organizational culture and gender issues in the military.
Associate Professor, US Army War College
Dr. Carrie Lee
Carrie A. Lee is an associate professor at the US Army War College, where she serves as the Chair of the Department of National Security and Strategy and co-director of the USAWC Center on Civil-Military Relations. Her award-winning writing has appeared in publications such as Foreign Affairs, Texas National Security Review, War on the Rocks, Armed Forces and Society, International Politics, Orbis, and The Washington Post. In addition to her work at the Army War College, Carrie is a contributing editor for War on the Rocks, adjunct professor with Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, a Shawn Brimley Next Generation Fellow with the Center for a New American Security, and is affiliated with West Point’s Modern War Institute, the Truman National Security Project, and Foreign Policy for America’s NextGen Initiative. She has previously held academic positions at the US Air War College, Notre Dame International Security Center, and the RAND Corporation. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University in 2015, and a B.S. from MIT in 2010.
Head of Federal Affairs, Block
Tom Manatos is the Head of Federal Affairs at Block, a company that includes Square, Cash App, TIDAL, TBD and Spiral. He previously served as Vice President of Government Relations at Spotify and Vice President of Government Affairs at the Internet Association. In these roles he coordinates policy development and advocacy on a broad range of issues in the technology and financial services industries. Before joining the tech, financial services and music worlds, Manatos was a Senior Advisor to both the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as a liaison to Members of Congress, Senators, local elected officials and outside stakeholders. Tom has also spent time working on two Presidential Campaigns, a Presidential Inaugural, four Democratic conventions and numerous Congressional campaigns. Early in his career, Tom developed a passion of helping people find jobs on Capitol Hill and in politics. Feeling he was in a privileged opportunity working in a Capitol Hill leadership office, Tom decided to help fellow young professionals who were interested in politics and government by sending out a daily email of job and internship openings. As time went on, the word spread and the list grew. Tom’s list quickly became the top political, policy and government job service in the country helping thousands of people find jobs. Tom and his wife Dana, who is a Republican, run TomManatosJobs.com, a nonpartisan jobs service where hundreds of jobs in the government, non-profit, campaign and private sectors are posted each week. A native of the Washington, DC area, Manatos holds a degree in communications from Cornell University and a master’s degree in government from Johns Hopkins University. In 2008, Tom married Dana Edwards who worked for President Bush in the White House Office of Public Liaison and the Presidential Advance Office and is Founder and CEO of The Milkshake Factory. Tom and Dana reside in Bethesda, MD with their three children.
Director of MilPride, Modern Military Association of America
Cathy Marcello is the program director of MilPride, the children and families program at Modern Military Association of America, the nation’s largest organization of LGBTQ service members, military spouses, veterans, their families and allies. Cathy has been advocating for transgender youth since her own child transitioned 13 years ago. Cathy grew up as an Army brat and is the spouse to a veteran who just retired after 26 years in the Army. She has been coordinating projects and leading volunteers in the nonprofit world for many years. She has a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology and lives in Washington, DC.
Provost, Shenandoah University
Dr. Cameron McCoy
Cameron J. McCoy, Ph.D., joined Shenandoah as its second provost in July 2021. Dr. McCoy brings a unique perspective to the role, with leadership experience honed in not only educational administration, but also the military, nonprofits, and the private sector. McCoy is a sought-after business lecturer, presenter, student adviser and educational consultant. He is also a researcher whose work is focused on the boundary spanning functions at the intersection of university-industry-government. He came to Shenandoah after serving as vice president and vice provost for strategic initiatives in support of the president, provost, and vice president for administration at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, starting in 2014. In the role his responsibilities were threefold. First, to grow sustainable financial and value-based external and internal relationships that positioned Lehigh for a transformative future. Second, to proactively shape the Lehigh experience for learners and extend that experience over a lifetime. Third, to foster strategic institutional culture shift and maximize return on resources through consultative design and implementation of wide-ranging innovation initiatives. During his time at Lehigh, his team collaborated to launch the Lehigh University Student Scholars Institute (LUSSI), a structured career development pathway customized for 100% of Lehigh’s first-generation students, low-income, and underrepresented groups to support their unique career needs. This program was awarded the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award in 2020. Additionally, under his leadership, Lehigh launched a first of its kind evolutionary College of Health which included collaboration with a major regional (PA) health organization to develop educational and research pathways in data-informed public health, medicine and business degree programs, and faculty-driven innovation. Prior to joining Lehigh, he was executive director reporting to the vice president for strategic planning and economic development (VPSPED) at the University of Oklahoma, in Norman, Oklahoma. During his tenure at Oklahoma, which began in 2007, he also served as Executive Director of OU’s first Corporate Engagement Office as well as its Director of Marketing and Public Relations for VPSPED. In 2014, he was named one of Oklahoma magazine’s “40 under 40.” He earned his Ph.D. (interdisciplinary; focused on economics, educational administration and sociology) and Master of Arts in liberal studies/administrative leadership from the University of Oklahoma. He also earned three bachelor’s degrees – history, social studies and architectural studies – at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. McCoy transitioned to a career in higher education after working in the private sector for several years as a regional manager for Simon Property Group in Dallas, Texas, as well as a senior manager for TXU Energy Group, also in Dallas. Both before and concurrent with his retail career and the early years of his time at the University of Oklahoma, he was an officer in the U.S. Army, serving on active duty from 1998-2001 and 2003-2004, and with the Army National Guard from 2001-2003 and 2004-2009. Since 2014, he has served on the board of the University-Industry Innovation Network. A few of his current affiliations include the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities (Vice Chair), Workforce Relevance of Liberal Arts Taskforce with MIT J-WEL, Service 2 School, and Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). McCoy is a graduate of the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership and the OU Economic Development Institute. McCoy served as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow at George Mason University and Southern New Hampshire University. Originally from Oregon, Cameron enjoys camping, hiking, petting all of the dogs, and spending time with his family.
Senior Advisor, The Roosevelt Group
Captain (ret.) Larry Meehan joined The Roosevelt Group in October 2021 as a Senior Advisor. After over 30 years of service in the U.S. Navy, Larry recently retired from the Navy International Program Office where he served as the Director Middle East Division and was responsible for all foreign military sales programs for the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard that pertain to the Middle East partners with a specific focus on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and Kuwait. Prior to that assignment, Larry was the Deputy Director of Travel Operations for the Secretary of Defense supporting Ash Carter, Jim Mattis, and Bob Work. He planned and executed 57 foreign and domestic trips and served as part of the Secretary’s personal staff assisting in strategic communications. Larry also brings additional Congressional expertise to the TRG team as he spent 2013 to 2015 working as the Defense Fellow for Senator Jack Reed – Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Before heading to the Hill, he was the Commanding Officer, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron EIGHT and during that command tour completed two deployments to the Middle East and safely executed more than 5100 flight hours. Larry holds a Master’s of Public Policy from American University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the United States Naval Academy.
President, Salus University
Michael Mittelman, OD, MPH, MBA, Rear Admiral (ret.)
Dr. Mittelman is the sixth president in the 100-year history of Salus University. He graduated from Jacksonville University in 1975 and earned his Doctor of Optometry degree from the Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry and was commissioned into the Navy Medical Service Corps in 1980. In 1990, he earned a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and graduated from the Naval War College non-resident program in 1991. In May, 2019, he earned an MBA from the Fox Business School, Temple University. After a 33-year career, Dr. Mittelman retired from the US Navy with the rank of Rear Admiral (Upper Half), having served as Deputy Surgeon General of the Navy where he was responsible for overseeing Navy Medicine’s extensive world-wide healthcare delivery system. Prior to becoming Deputy Surgeon-General of the Navy, Dr. Mittelman served as U.S. Pacific Command Surgeon. While serving at U.S. Pacific Command, Dr. Mittelman directed the comprehensive U.S. military medical response as part of Operation Tomodachi following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Dr. Mittelman is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American Academy of Optometry. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and recipient of their 2012 Distinguished Service Award. In 2012, Dr. Mittelman received the Distinguished Service Award of the American Optometric Association and in June 2019, he was inducted into the National Optometric Hall of Fame. In May, 2022, Dr. Mittelman was the recipient of the Admiral W.F. “Bull Halsey” Leadership Award.
Former Under Secretary of the Army
The Honorable Patrick Murphy
Mr. Patrick J. Murphy was appointed as the 32nd Under Secretary of the Army and Chief Management Officer (CMO) by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2016. Mr. Murphy assumed duties as the Acting Secretary of the Army three days after being sworn-in and remained in the position until May 18, 2016. In this position, he led the management and operation of the Army, which would rank as a Fortune 10 company if it was a public company. His focus was on dynamic and efficient business operations, transforming the Army to be more innovative and responsive, expanding the Soldier for Life initiative, public-private partnerships, and aggressively utilizing social media to tell the Army story to new audiences in a more compelling way. Prior to his confirmation, Mr. Murphy was a litigation partner and served as an outside general counsel for small businesses at a national law firm. Previously he served as a Special Assistant for the Southern District of New York. From 2011-2015, Mr. Murphy was a television anchor and contributor to NBC Universal and executive producer for MSNBC’s “Taking the Hill,” a national security policy show which specialized in breaking down the civil- military divide that’s occurred with an all-volunteer force. From 2007-2011, Mr. Murphy served as the first Iraq War Veteran elected to the U.S. Congress, representing the Eighth Congressional District of Pennsylvania. He served on the Armed Services, Select Intelligence, and Appropriations committees, responsible for the $3.4 trillion budget. He co-authored several initiatives including the 21st Century GI Bill, the Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and Hire Our Heroes legislation. In 2008, he was instrumental in establishing the Washington Crossing National Veterans Cemetery for over 300,000 veterans. He also authored the Improper Payments Bill, which has saved the American taxpayer tens of billions of dollars. Mr. Murphy, a third generation veteran, was commissioned as a second lieutenant and later served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps as a criminal prosecutor and as an assistant professor in the Department of Law at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY. Following 9/11, he served two overseas deployments-Tuzla, Bosnia in 2002 and Baghdad, Iraq in 2003-04. While serving in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division, he led a Brigade Operational Law Team (BOLT) and earned a Bronze Star for his service. Overseeing the justice system for the 1.5 million Iraqis in south central Baghdad, he prosecuted two high-level terrorists in Iraq’s highest court. A former collegiate hockey player, Mr. Murphy is a graduate of King’s College, the University of Scranton ROTC program, and the Widener University Commonwealth School of Law. Besides teaching at West Point, he has lectured at Harvard, Stanford, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Air Force Academy and his alma maters.
Former Secretary of Defense
The Honorable Leon Panetta
Leon Edward Panetta served as the 23rd Secretary of Defense from July 2011 to February 2013. Before joining the Department of Defense, Mr. Panetta served as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from February 2009 to June 2011. Mr. Panetta led the agency and managed human intelligence and open source collection programs on behalf of the intelligence community. Secretary Panetta has dedicated much of his life to public service. Before joining CIA, he spent 10 years co-directing with his wife, Sylvia, the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, based at California State University, Monterey Bay. The Institute is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit center that seeks to instill in young men and women the virtues and values of public service. In March 2006, he was chosen as a member of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan committee established at the urging of Congress to conduct an independent assessment of the war in Iraq. From July 1994 to January 1997, Mr. Panetta served as Chief of Staff to President William Clinton. Prior to that, he was Director of the Office of Management and Budget, a position that built on his years of work on the House Budget Committee. Mr. Panetta represented California’s 16th (now 17th) Congressional District from 1977 to 1993, rising to House Budget Committee chairman during his final four years in Congress. Early in his career, Mr. Panetta served as a legislative assistant to Senator Thomas H. Kuchel of California; special assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare; director of the U.S. Office for Civil Rights; and executive assistant to Mayor John Lindsay of New York. He also spent five years in private law practice. He served as an Army intelligence officer from 1964 to 1966 and received the Army Commendation Medal. Secretary Panetta holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a law degree, both from Santa Clara University. He was born on June 28, 1938 in Monterey, where his Italian immigrant parents operated a restaurant. Later, they purchased a farm in Carmel Valley, a place Secretary and Mrs. Panetta continue to call home. The Panettas have three grown sons and six grandchildren.
CEO, ATG & Pelocity
Stephen Pollan is a successful entrepreneur with over twenty years of executive leadership experience. After progressing through operations management and human resources positions with international food-industry corporations, he chose to take advantage of new entrepreneurial opportunities when creating Assessment Technologies Group (ATG). He strives every day to make ATG the best in the business of organizational consulting, and always pursues through difficulties until the job is done right. Stephen is a well-respected businessman and devotes a great deal of his time improving the Jacksonville community as a member of many local boards and councils.
President and Co-Founder, We2AreVets
Dr. Destinee Prete
Destinee Prete, is an Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology Professional, a Certification/Credentialing SME, a business owner, and has been connected to the military her entire life. Her mother, father, brother, herself and her husband have all served or are currently serving in the military. Dr. Prete has continued to work within the veteran transition and nonprofit space following her military service. She is the President and Co-Founder of We2AreVets, a nonprofit focused on honoring, empowering, and recognizing women veterans. Dr. Prete is also the Chair of SIOP's (Society of I/O Psychology) Military and Veterans Inclusion Committee and has created a network of (over 450) professionals called "I/O Military Experts". She works to align her field of study and passion for service 'beyond the uniform' as an advocate and voice in various settings including academic, professional, political and personal.
Director of Communications, New Politics
As Director of Communications and National Press Secretary, Gabe serves as the public voice for New Politics. He develops. manages, and executes the organization's communications and press strategy; leads efforts to shape coverage of New Politics and its endorsed candidates; and advises campaigns on media and communications strategy. Prior to joining New Politics, Gabe served as Press Secretary for the New York City Department of Veterans' Services, where he managed traditional and digital media relations and prepped the agency's principals for public engagements. He is a Marine Corps veteran and graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he studied public administration.
Director of Innovation, Army Human Resources Command (HRC)
Col Kristin Saling
Colonel Kristin Saling is a recognized leader in the Army human capital enterprise who has been upgrading Army human resources with analytics for the past seven years. A university-trained complexity scientist and a self-taught big data analyst, she applies her understanding of analytic techniques and technology to problems across Army HR. She has an excellent track record of assembling and employing teams of diverse technical talent to solve problems in the organization she supports. As an Army ORSA, Kris has received several analytic awards, including the Wayne P. Hughes Award for outstanding junior analyst, has published extensively, and speaks regularly on analytic topics and applications in the human domain.
Chief Growth Officer, RRAI
Scott Sanders is Chief Growth Officer of RRAI and leads RRAI’s Growth Team and developed the company’s Autonomy as a Service (A3S™) model. Scott joined RRAI in May of 2022 as Head of Business Development and has worked with the executive team to reshape and lead the company’s sales strategy and customer service infrastructure development since that time. He is responsible for customer growth, success and account management and has been instrumental in refining RRAI’s market penetration strategies which embrace a fully integrated product development approach across defense and commercial sectors. Prior to RRAI, Scott was the Head of Business Development for national security technology firm Vannevar Labs. He was previously Senior Director for Anduril Industries’ Counter Unmanned Systems division, where he built the company’s acquisition strategy for its $1 billion SOCOM Systems Integration Partner program. Prior to Anduril, he served as Special Operations Team Leader in U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) and developed innovative technology deployments for Remote Advise and Assist/Virtual Accompany Kit (RAA-VAK) that enables Special Operations Forces operators to remotely enable partner forces. Scott earned his BA in Economics and Business at the Virginia Military Institute.
Staff Director, Senate Veteran Affairs Committee
David Shearman is the Staff Director for Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Jerry Moran of Kansas. Since March of 2015, he has worked on veterans issues related to education, employment, transition, and memorial benefits. David helped passage of the Forever GI Bill, the HIRE Vets Act, the VALOR Act, the WASP Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act, the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, and the PACT Act, among others. He received the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Special Recognition Award for 2022, the Military Coalition Freedom Award in 2018, the Military Order of the Purple Heart Exemplary Service Award in 2017, and was named the HillVets100 Legislative Staffer of the Year for 2017. David was a Noncommissioned Officer who served for six years in the U.S. Army Infantry. During that time, he was stationed overseas in Iraq, Kosovo, and Germany. David is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Infantry Mortar Leaders Course, Primary Leadership Development Course, and Airborne School. His decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantryman Badge. David attended Georgetown University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and a Master of Arts in U.S. National Security Policy.
Vice President of Program & Alliance Leadership, Mustang Bio
Robert Sexton is the Vice President of Program & Alliance Leadership at Mustang Bio, a clinical stage cell and gene therapy development company, where he assumed his position in October 2022. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing program strategy and governance activities, including CMC, Non-Clinical, Clinical Operations, and Regulatory Affairs as the R&D Steering Committee Head for Mustang Bio development programs from phase 1 through commercial launch. He also leads alliance lifecycle management, collaboration, and governance activities for in-licensed products with strategic alliance partners. With over two decades of experience in pharmaceutical and biotechnology development and commercialization, including ten years of focused experience in cell and gene therapy, Robert has a wealth of expertise to bring to his role. Before joining Mustang Bio, he served as the Senior Director of Commercial CAR-T Operations at Legend Biotech, where he played a critical role in developing the market enablement strategy and operating model that led to the successful commercial launch of the CAR-T product CARVYKTITM. He was the third commercial employee at Legend Biotech, joining the company in the start-up phase, and helped to lead the organization in establishing their collaboration with Janssen Biotech and their successful IPO in June 2020. Prior to his time at Legend Biotech, Robert spent a decade at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, where he held various roles in clinical operations, patient & specialty services, market access, and cell & gene therapy. During his tenure, he supported the development and launch of several new products, including three first-in-class therapies. He was a member of the commercial launch team responsible for commercializing KymriahTM, the first commercially approved CAR-T product, which was a significant achievement for the industry. Earlier in his career, Robert worked for Sanofi, where he held roles in global clinical and regulatory affairs, as well as account management, supporting Federal Accounts serving Veteran’s Affairs & Department of Defense institutions. Robert earned his M.S. in Biotechnology from The Johns Hopkins University, as well as an MBA in Strategic Management and a B.S. in Biology from Monmouth University. He is a native of New Jersey, where he currently resides with his wife and five children.
US House of Representatives
Representative Mark Takano
For more than twenty years, Mark Takano has worked to improve the lives of Riverside County residents, both as an elected official and as a teacher at Rialto High School. Born and raised in Riverside, Mark's commitment to public service began at an early age. His family roots in Riverside go back to his grandparents who, along with his parents, were removed from their respective homes and sent to Japanese American Internment camps during World War II. After the war, these two families settled in Riverside County to rebuild their lives. Mark attended La Sierra High School in the Alvord Unified School District, and in 1979 he graduated as the school's valedictorian. Mark attended Harvard College and received his bachelor's degree in Government in 1983. As a student, he bused tables to help make ends meet. During his senior year, he organized a transcontinental bicycle ride to benefit the international development agency Oxfam America. Upon graduation, Mark returned home to Riverside and began teaching in the Rialto Unified School District in 1988. As a classroom teacher, Mark confronted the challenges in our public education system daily. In 1990, Mark was elected to the Riverside Community College District's Board of Trustees. At RCC, Mark worked with Republicans and Democrats to improve higher education for young people and job training opportunities for adults seeking to learn a new skill or start a new career. He was elected Board President in 1991 and helped the Board and the District gain stability and direction amid serious fiscal challenges. In 2012, Mark became the first openly gay person of color to be elected to Congress. Mark Takano represents the people of Riverside, Moreno Valley, Jurupa Valley and Perris in the United States House of Representatives. He serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and as a member of the Education and Workforce Committee.
Policy Director, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
Jon Towers understands the complex dynamics that drive veterans’ affairs related policy change on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies. He has spent more than two decades on the frontlines of congressional Veterans’ Affairs committees learning the ins and outs of one the most inscrutable agencies in the government. From pensions to veterans’ insurance to the G.I. Bill and more, no one downtown gets the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) like Jon. Jon spent more than two decades on the frontlines of congressional Veterans’ Affairs committees. He served as staff director on both the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee, leading efforts that resulted in the passage of scores of veterans’ benefits bills. During his time on the Hill, he was instrumental in leading the congressional oversight of the department and setting the committees’ policy agendas, giving him a deep knowledge of the unique workings of the VA. Jon has extensive experience with the VA formulary and is well-equipped to assist clients in navigating an often-complex VA contracting system. Jon was the lead negotiator for Senate Republicans on the historic PACT Act, which was signed into law last year. The PACT Act is among the largest expansions benefits in our nation's history, giving hundreds of thousands of veterans exposed to toxic substances, such as chemicals in burn pits, access to VA health care and simplified decisions on their VA disability claims.
Senior Vice President & President of the Better World Campaign, United Nations Foundation
As President of the Better World Campaign and Senior Vice President at the United Nations Foundation, Peter Yeo leads the Foundation’s strategic engagement with the U.S. Congress and Administrations to advance policy changes that support the UN’s work for global progress. Peter joined the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Campaign in 2009 with over twenty years of legislative, analytical, and management experience, including senior roles on Capitol Hill and in the State Department. Prior to arriving at UNF, Peter served for ten years as the Deputy Staff Director at the House Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA). He has worked on a broad range of foreign policy and foreign aid issues. On behalf of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Democrats, he led the successful negotiations for the landmark HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003, commonly known as PEPFAR, as well as the successful $50 billion reauthorization of the law in 2008. He also shepherded into law several measures dealing with China, Tibet, Burma, and East Timor. Prior to his work with the Committee, he served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. State Department during the second Clinton Administration, where he led the negotiations around repayment of the U.S. arrears to the United Nations and was part of the U.S. delegation to the climate negotiations in Kyoto. Peter holds a BA in East Asian Studies from Wesleyan University as well as a MA in East Asian Studies from Harvard University. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a leading independent nonpartisan foreign policy think tank, and a Board Member of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.