The media plays an integral role in our political process. In 2019, the following individuals led the way on reporting on a variety of issues and topics of interest to the veteran, military, and supporter communities. Through their stories, the media has held public and government officials accountable for their actions and promises. The media has also enlightened the public on veterans’ issues and increased their understanding of the sacrifices made by those who chose to serve.

Leo Shane, Military Times

If Leo didn’t write it, few would know about the inner workings of the advocates and issues affecting veterans on Capitol Hill. If there are important issues at play on Capitol Hill Leo is there. He is an award-winning Military and Veterans Affairs reporter whose work has drawn national recognition from policy leaders, media peers, and troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, all of who rely on his insight as an objective voice on issues affecting their lives. He has worked in Washington, D.C. since 2004, covering Capitol Hill and the White House. His beats include legislation affecting military policy and veterans’ issues. His work also includes overseas coverage of military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chile and Ecuador. He has become a prominent voice on veterans’ issues, chronicling troops’ transition back to civilian life and the challenges facing the Department of Veterans Affairs. Leo Shane has the honor and distinction of receiving the most HillVets 100 recognitions. He has been recognized on every HillVets 100 with exception to the HillVets 100 of 2018; his absence proved to be controversial.



Abbie Bennett, Connecting Vets

Abbie Bennett is an award-winning journalist and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in English and a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She has been recognized with awards for excellence in investigative, breaking news and politics/election reporting by the N.C. Press Association and the Association Press.

Raised an Army Brat, Bennett was a first-generation college student and recipient of military scholarships, including the XVIII Airborne Corps scholarship and the MJ James Ursano scholarship. Prior to joining Connecting Vets, Bennett was a reporter for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., where she covered local and state government, served as an online producer and built and led the real-time news team.

Bennett previously reported for The Daily Reflector in Greenville, N.C., newspapers in Charlotte, N.C. and was a reporter, visual journalist and editor for the Fort Bragg Paraglide newspaper and Elite Magazine, a military lifestyle magazine published by The Fayetteville Observer. She has reported while embedded with active and National Guard units during hurricanes and other disasters in the Carolinas.Bennett has also lectured for journalism classes at East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina.



Dave Lapan, Bipartisan Policy Center

David Lapan is a recognized expert in media and currently serves as the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Vice President of Communications. His career in public service spans more than three decades, with service in the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.   

Mr. Lapan is a retired Marine colonel, with more than 30 years of military service and 22 years of communications and public affairs experience at the highest levels of the Defense Department.

As a public affairs officer, he served as a spokesman and advisor for the Defense Department; for the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; for the commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces—Afghanistan; and for multinational forces during military operations in Haiti and Iraq.

Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, Dave served as senior director for the National Capital Region of the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), a global, nonprofit organization focused exclusively on the well-being and needs of America’s 4 million military and veteran-connected children. Lapan has served as the press secretary and deputy assistant secretary for media operations for the Department of Homeland Security.



Andrea McCarren, PenFed Credit Union

Andrea serves as VP and Chief Content Officer of PenFed Digital. Building on her decades of award-winning local news experience, Andrea McCarren launched a digital division in January 2019, dedicated to share inspiring stories of resilience and service on all of PenFed’s social media platforms. She has travelled the nation with her team, showcasing the motivating work of veterans, active duty military, and military families.  Andrea believes that her work has been focused on the challenges faced by military families and strives to find encouraging ways to uplift them and overcome such challenges. A proud daughter of an Air Force Brigadier General, Andrea McCarren’s passion is helping Veterans and military families. She is proud to work for an organization that does so much for those who served and sacrificed for our country. Andrea also also currently raising her third service dog (Maverick) for a wounded warrior or someone else with a disability.