Protégés of LEAD Cohort 9
Andrew Ertl is a Senior Program Analyst working to facilitate the AUKUS program agreements within the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N54). Previously, he was an active-duty U.S. Marine for six years, during which time he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and then served three years at U.S. embassies abroad. Andrew then earned a BA in History from Columbia University before embarking on his first graduate program at Tsinghua University in China through the Schwarzman Scholars Program, earning a Master’s of Management Science in Global Affairs. Andrew earned a second graduate degree from the University of Oxford, a Master’s of Public Policy in 2019. He then worked on Capitol Hill as a defense and foreign policy staffer before serving as a John S. McCain Strategic Defense Fellow for Headquarters, United States Space Force, and later the Office of Industrial Base Policy. Andrew’s military awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and he was a member of a team that was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Andrew looks forward to continuing a life of service.
Dave Wassung is a Defense Fellow in the Department of Defense Legislative Fellowship Program. He is currently assigned to the Office of Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01), in which he serves as an advisor on matters related to national security, defense, foreign affairs, and veterans' affairs. Dave was born and raised outside Charleston, South Carolina and enlisted into the U.S. Air Force after high school graduation. As a Career Enlisted Aviator, with mobility and special operations experience, he has deployed extensively around the globe and has served in both technical and leadership positions. Dave holds an undergraduate degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management and a graduate degree in Intelligence Studies.
Devin is a seasoned Captain in the US Army JAG Corps; currently stationed at Fort Belvoir. She's an alumnus of Florida State University and Thurgood Marshall School of Law (TSU). Prior to attending law school, she moved about the country and gained diverse work experiences. She originally hails from Tampa, FL and lived in NYC, Denver, Chicago and Houston before joining the Army.The self- proclaimed city girl and foodie has a passion for civil rights law and international travel. She believes we should always challenge ourselves to try the things we are most afraid to try; whether in pursuit of our careers or our personal goals.
Lieutenant Colonel Dwight Rabe, USAF, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2006 and commissioned as a second lieutenant. He graduated specialized undergraduate pilot training in 2008, and has since attained over 2,900 flying hours as an instructor, aircraft commander, and first pilot in various U.S. military aircraft with multiple deployments. He is currently assigned to the Pentagon serving as the Director of the Department of Air Force Fellows Program, overseeing administrative requirements and outreach for 170 Air and Space Force Fellows assigned to universities, think tanks, corporations, federally funded labs, and government agencies. He previously served as the Chief of Aviation Safety Division at Headquarters U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and the Executive Officer to the Senior Defense Official/Defense Attach at U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. Dwight holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (U.S. Air Force Academy, CO, 2006), a Master of Arts in Diplomacy (conflict resolution track) (Norwich University, VT, 2012), a Postgraduate Certificate in European Union Policy Making (Vrijes Universiteit Brussels, Belgium, 2022), and completed the Defense Ventures fellowship immersed with Catapult Ventures, a Silicon Valley based venture capital fund. Dwight resides in Alexandria, VA with his wife Anna.
My name is Emily Makhlouf. I am a Navy veteran and current internal medicine resident at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. Through my experiences as a physician both in and out of the Navy as well as completing my Master's Degree in clinical ethics, I have become passionate about healthcare policy in this country, specifically putting patient care first, putting medicine over profits, and ensuring there is an equitable distribution of basic healthcare for all Americans. I look forward to being part of the HillVets Lead Program to further my leadership skills, develop relationships with mentors, and network with those involved in the political sphere in Washington D.C. I am excited to see what the future holds!
Major Emmett R. Roberts, US Army, Retired, is the President / Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Roberts Strategic Solutions, LLC (RSS); he also serves as the Founder / President / Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Maryland Veterans Chamber of Commerce (MDVCC). Mr. Roberts is a 26-year Army Veteran with expertise in the areas of Law Enforcement, International Affairs, and Intelligence. He is a versatile and high-energy executive who leads organizations through change and challenge to profitable growth; a strategic problem-solver who envisions smart solutions and executes with urgency across all levels of the organization; hands-on leader with an extensive background in project management and leadership; and an outstanding strategist who can deliver in a highly competitive market. Offering 26 years of executive leadership complemented by proven skills to significantly enhance corporate objectives. He also holds a Top-Secret clearance.
Jordan is a U.S. Marine who enlisted in 2009. Prior to his time on Capitol Hill he spent nearly 15 years supporting operations around the globe. Jordan served as a Watch Officer assigned to Joint Task Force-505 in Japan during Operation Tomodachi, where he assisted in humanitarian efforts resulting from the devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor explosions. In 2014 he deployed Kuwait to run the Crisis Operations Center under the command of then Colonel Jason Q. Bohm, USMC as part of the inaugural iteration of the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) just as ISIL invaded Iraq. Jordan holds degrees in Business Management & Entrepreneurship and is currently attending Georgetown University's Government Affairs Institute where he is focusing on Legislative Studies. He moved to Washington D.C. in 2023 to spend time at the Pentagon's Office of Legislative Affairs before being selected to serve as a Department of Defense Congressional Fellow. Jordan is currently working for the United States Senate as a Defense Fellow for Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). Jordan and his husband Zac are both natives of Orange County, California. They currently reside on Capitol Hill with their two Beagles Cooper and Trevi.
Jose "Ed" Sumangil recently retired from the USAF. His last Air Force role was as the Chief of the Senate Liaison Office for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force Legislative Liaison. Prior to that role, he served as the Senior Executive Officer to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force. In his new civilian capacity, Ed serves as the Director of Government Relations for the Small Business Consulting Corporation. During his career, Ed commanded the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base and commanded the 9th Bomb Squadron through two combat deployments. He was a policy officer at the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy and a joint staff officer at the US Strategic Command Plans and Policy Directorate. He holds a BA from Rutgers University and MAs from Norwich University, the USAF Air Command and Staff College and School of Advanced Air and Space Studies. He completed his senior developmental education at Stanford University's Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. Ed currently lives in Fairfax Station, VA with his wife Jennifer, their children Amelia, a freshman at James Madison University, AJ, Ryan, and their black lab named Crew.
Lieutenant Colonel Mason, commissioned in the Marine Corps in 2010 holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors (cum laude) in Political Science from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He also earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of San Francisco School of Law. Additionally, he is a graduate of both the Expeditionary Warfare School and the Command and Staff College. After completing The Basic School and Naval Justice School, Lieutenant Colonel Mason served as Trial Counsel with Marine Forces Reserve. In this role, he focused on litigating complex reserve courts-martial and administrative hearings in the Southern and Eastern Judicial Districts. In 2012, Lt. Col. Mason deployed to Afghanistan as an individual augmentee, focusing on fiscal and operational law with Special Operations Task Force. Upon returning, he led reserve trial counsel for Marine Forces Reserve. In subsequent roles, he shaped legal guidance for major events and managed reserve personnel policy. In 2022, he led the Reserve Integration Section for TMX, enhancing active-reserve collaboration. Currently, Lieutenant Colonel Mason is serving as a Congressional Fellow and pursuing a master's degree in public policy at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. Lieutenant Colonel Mason has received several personal awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.
Katherine Martinez, a trailblazing 1st Generation American and English Second Language learner, embarked on a remarkable journey marked by unwavering dedication to service and a pursuit of education. Serving as a Sonar Technician in the United States Navy 2015 to 2019, Katherine not only defended her country but also set the stage for a transformative life dedicated to empowering others. Post-military, Katherine's academic pursuits were nothing short of exceptional. She earned an Associates of Science from Tidewater Community College and went on to graduate with dual Bachelor's degrees in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University Her leadership prowess became evident as she assumed the presidency of Student Veterans of America chapters, steering them to new heights. Her impactful leadership was acknowledged at the 2022 SVA National Conference when she was named the Student Veteran of the Year. Additionally, under her guidance, the chapter at Old Dominion University was honored with the prestigious Student Organization of the Year award at Old Dominion University's Annual Student Engagement & Enrollment Services Leadership Awards Ceremony, triumphing over 300+ student organizations. In a remarkable testament to her leadership qualities, Katherine was appointed by the Governor of Virginia to the Joint Leadership Council of Veteran Service Organizations in July 2023. This recognition highlighted not only her individual accomplishments but also the impact she has had on the broader veteran community. Currently serving as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Lead at the Travis Manion Foundation, Katherine continues to contribute to the foundation's mission of empowering veterans and families of fallen heroes.
Ki Suh Jung
Ki Suh Jung is a foreign area officer in the United States Navy. A native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Government from Dartmouth College and a Master of International Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He was commissioned through Officer Candidate School and designated a surface warfare officer in April 2013. He redesignated as a foreign area officer in August 2018. As a surface warfare officer, Ki Suh's assignments at sea include auxiliaries officer and gunnery officer onboard USS MUSTIN (DDG 89) and training officer onboard USs BARRY (DDG 52), both of which were forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. Ashore, Ki Suh served as an experimentation officer at the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center's Integrated Air and Missile Defense Division in Dahlgren, Virginia. Following his redesignation as a foreign area officer, Ki Suh served as an alliance strategy and policy officer at the Republic of Korea (ROK)-U.S. Combined Forces Command in Seoul, ROK and strategy and policy officer at U.S. Naval Forces Korea in Busan, ROK. Ki Suh assumed his current duties as a legislative fellow in November 2023.
Liis Sam is a foreign affairs and international business professional based in Washington, DC, with roots in Estonia. Her interests focus on the nexus of emerging technology, law, and business. She earned her Master of Laws degree from the University of Oslo, Norway, focusing on the ethical and legal accountability implications of autonomous weapons. She previously studied law and social sciences at the University of Tartu, Estonia. A certified project manager, Liishas held roles in the private sector as a Project Analyst, Industry Outreach Coordinator and office manager, helping companies develop streamlined marketing and data management solutions while ensuring digital security. She previously served as a Legal Research Analyst at NATO's Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Estonia, where she earned a certificate in the Law of Cyber Operations. As a U.S. Navy veteran spouse since 2018, Liis has firsthand understanding of the challenges faced by veterans and military families, including frequent relocations and the need to establish a career foundation in unfamiliar territories. Beyond her professional pursuits, Liisembraces a balanced lifestyle. In her free time, she finds joy in activities such as running, immersing herself in nature, pursuing photography, and indulging in her passion for F1 racing.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Matt graduated from Michigan State University in 2014 and the Michigan State University College of Law in 2017. Shortly after passing the bar exam, he received his commission through the Air Force JAG Corps direct appointment program and reported to officer training. He spent roughly three years at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, followed by a one-year remote tour at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. During his time as an active-duty JAG, Matt advised commanders and senior staff on all phases of Air Force operations and assisted in formulating policies to implement federal directives. He also represented the United States in several courts-martial at the misdemeanor and felony levels. After separating from the Air Force in mid-2022, Matt joined Ernst & Young (EY) as a Senior Consultant focused on workforce advisory, stakeholder engagement, and project management. He recently returned to law practice as an attorney-advisor at the Federal Election Commission where he focuses on enforcing the Federal Election Campaign Act. To that end, he drafts legal memoranda analyzing campaign finance violations, negotiates settlement agreements with subjects, and delivers oral presentations to the Commissioners in support of his recommendations. Matt lives in D.C. with his mini dachshund, Arthur.
Olin Sell is a native of New York, NY. He attended the Bronx High School of Science and earned a military commission from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1992. After completing Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 1994 he served on SEAL Teams and Special Boat Teams in various leadership positions until being transferred to the Chief of Naval Operations office at the Pentagon in 2000 where he received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his actions on September 11th, 2001. After 9-11 he was transferred to the Middle East where he served as Director of Operations and managed all SEAL planning and logistics in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Between 2006 and 2010, he deployed numerous times to both Iraq and Afghanistan and in 2010, reported to Naval Special Warfare Development Group in Dam Neck, VA. From 2012 to 2018, Olin worked in Washington D.C. supporting Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the U.S. Department of State’s Counterterrorism Bureau. Olin’s final tour in the Navy was in Rota, Spain, working for the Navy’s 6th Fleet Expeditionary Combat Force headquarters. He retired from the Navy in May 2022 and now works as Director of Federal Enterprise Solutions with VIRSIG LLC. Olin is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (BS), the U.S. Naval War College (MA), the Navy Operational Planning Course (NOPC), and the Tuck School of Business Next Step Program at Dartmouth University. He resides with his wife and four children in Davidsonville, MD.
Rafael E. Diaz
Captain Rafael E. Diaz is a Defense Fellow in the Army Congressional Fellowship Program under the Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison. In this capacity, he serves in the U.S. House of Representatives for Rep. Scott Franklin from Florida. Upon completing the fellowship, he will be assigned to the Army National Guard as a Legislative Affairs Officer. Captain Diaz previously served as the Company Commander for B/1-116th of the Virginia NationalGuard, where he was deployed to Kenya to support the Combined and Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. Before this assignment, he served as a Security Cooperation Officer for the National Guard Bureau Joint Staff. There, he managed the Bilateral Affairs Officer Program under the State Partnership Program, working with elements of the Army and Air National Guard and allies and partners across the globe. A native of Havana, Cuba, Captain Diaz graduated from Florida International University in Miami, FL.There, he received a commission from the Reserve Officer Training Corps before moving to Washington, DC for further studies and duties under the 29th Infantry Division.
Robert Brent Balderston is a proud father of two boys, 8 and 11. He has had an illustrious career in the United States Army, serving for almost 25 years with a focus on Special Operations for nearly two decades. Brent has held several crucial positions during his tenure, including Troop Sergeant Major, G8 Sergeant Major, and twice as a Command Senior Enlisted Leader for SOCOM Joint Task Forces. He has been deployed to various regions across the globe, including the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and South America. In 2021, Brent achieved a significant milestone when he was chosen as the first Command Sergeant Major for the Central Squadron of the Joint Cyber Operations Group, a unit functioning under the Joint Special Operations Command. In this role, he was crucial in establishing and leading this advanced cyber unit. Recently, Brent has focused on Special Projects after transitioning from his command position. These projects involve developing modernization strategies, conducting manpower assessments for organizational restructuring, and creating a comprehensive transition program. As he approaches his retirement from active military service on August 1, 2024, Brent looks back on a career defined by remarkable experiences, significant leadership opportunities, and an unwavering commitment to serving his country.
Robert M. Bruce
Lt Col Robert M. Bruce is a Congressional Budget and Appropriations Liaison working in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller. He coordinates communication between the Department of Air Force and Congress on budget and appropriations topics and defense issues. Lt Col Bruce is a 2007 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Ill. He commissioned in 2008 through Officer Training School and has served twenty years as an Active Guard Reservist with the Air Force Reserve. Lt Col Bruce has served in a variety of tactical and operational roles throughout his career. Prior to his current position, the lieutenant colonel was a Defense Fellow in the Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
Sabrina Black is currently an Army Congressional Defense Fellow serving in Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland’s (WA-10) office. She manages the office’s Defense, Education, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs portfolios. Sabrina is also an active-duty Air Defense Artillery Officer in the United States Army. In 2004, she graduated from the University of Central Florida, earning a B.A. in Communications. In 2009, she enlisted in the Army as a Broadcast Specialist, and in 2015 completed the Officer Candidate School as a Commissioned Air Defense Artillery officer. In 2020, Sabrina earned an M.A. in Leadership Studies from the University of Texas El Paso and a second M.A. in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University in 2023. Throughout her 15-year Army career, Sabrina has demonstrated outstanding performance in various demanding and key leadership positions. She is a dynamic leader with success spearheading tactical planning and leading teams through diverse operational requirements. Sabrina is a skilled trainer and mentor who understands maximizing team performance and has a strong work ethic, adaptability, and exceptional interpersonal skills. She is a highly motivated professional offering value to any organization in need of great collaboration and multitasking abilities.
Stephanie Copp is currently serving as the Special Assistant to the Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development. She graduated from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs with a Master's in Public Administration, specializing in human rights and gender and public policy. During the course of graduate school, she was an intern at the White House in the Office of Management and Budget, where she focused on risk management and drafted cybersecurity policy and strategies; an intern with the Department of State's employee affinity group Executive Women at State, where she promoted DEIA policies and programming; and a graduate student Project Manager with the United Nations Development Programme, where she created a gender responsive conflict analysis guidance note to be utilized in UNDP conflict responses. Prior to graduate school, she served in the Army for over seven years as a missile defense officer and spent her last two years of service advising the commanding general in charge of all Army air and missile defense operations in the Middle East.
District of Columbia native and proud alumna of Bowie State University, Trina Quirindongo (pronounced KEY-REN-DON-GO) harbors a desire to impact the world by igniting small yet powerful conversations with everyone she encounters. She leads through compassion and commitment, which is why she has embarked on the journey in pageantry. Through her platform as Ms. Capitol Hill 2023, she empowered and educated the community on veteran legal policies. Her reign as Ms. Puerto Rico 2024 will advocate for the importance of disaster relief at the current military installation in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Fort Buchanan, as well as globally.Trina's career has spanned business banking over the past nine years while simultaneously serving in the United States Air Force. She initiated her military career in 2017 with the Air Force Reserves within the job role of Traffic Management Operations. Currently, she is serving in an active-duty component at Joint Base Andrews within the DC Air National Guard. While on her first deployment in Ali Al Salem, Kuwait, she took on initiatives that led to numerous distinguished awards. Recently, she obtained her Master of Business Administration from Howard University in May 2023. Her interests include traveling, museum visits, photography, and writing children’s novels.
Wendy is a Defense Fellow currently serving in the Personnel and Readiness section in the office of the Secretary of Defense. She completed a year-long fellowship in the office of Representative Steven Horsford NV-04 during the 118th Congress. Also, she is an Air Force leader leveraging 19 plus years of proven experience in law enforcement, security operations, tactics, and emergency management. Adept at leading teams of over 50 in a dynamic, fast-paced environment, She demonstrates a comprehensive proficiency in emergency procedures related to control and containment. She is a savvy communicator with extensive experience effectively dealing with populations from diverse social and economic backgrounds. Wendy has a bachelor's degree in psychology, a masters degree in management and a graduate certificate from Georgetown University in Legislative policy.