Traditional Non-Profits

This category honors some of the longest standing, non-profit supporters of the veteran community. The continuously show dedicated and committed efforts to bring veteran and service members’ interests to the forefront of national dialogue, which has made them highly influential and powerful forces in enhancing veterans’ needs. The individuals listed below represent the leadership of these organizations, those who reinstated the commitment to veterans in 2016, and who ensured that the veterans’ issues remained prevalent in public discourse.

Derek Fronabarger, SVA

A graduate of the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina, Derek understands the value of education and education benefits to today’s veteran. Recently promoted to Vice President of Operations and Chief of Staff, Derek began his career at Student Veterans of America as the Director of Policy following his time with Joining Forces under the office of the First Lady.

Lou Celli, American Legion

Louis “Lou” Celli became the American Legion’s Director of National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division after establishing his own nonprofit and a distinguished 22 year career in the U.S. Army. A Harvard graduate, Lou also serves on the Board of Directors for the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program. An active advocate for veterans you can often find him on the hill testifying before Congress on their behalf.

Joy Ilem, DAV

Joy Ilem is an Army veteran currently serving as the National Legislative Director at Disabled American Veterans where she leads a team dedicated to promoting and defending legislation to assist disabled vets and their families while also protecting and securing benefits. In her 20 year career with DAV she has held a variety of positions to include Service Officer and National Service Officer.

Sherman Gillums Jr, PVA

A retired Marine Corps officer, Sherman Gillums Jr is the first post 9/11 veteran to lead Paralyzed Veterans of America. Sherman began his career with PVA in 2004 as a National Service Officer helping his fellow veterans claim the benefits to which they were entitled. Quickly making his way up the ranks, his experience and innovation have been invaluable to PVA and veterans living with spinal cord injury or disease.

Joe Chenelly, Amvets

Joe Chenelly is the youngest and first OEF or OIF combat veteran to lead one of the “Big Six” veterans service organizations. A Marine, he served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving active duty as a staff sergeant. He was appointed AMVETS National Executive Director last spring at just 39 years old after serving as the National Communications Director. Joe spent the past 10 years in a quiet but influential position, running DAV’s social media efforts. Drawing on his experiences as an advocate, journalist, political advisor, and combat correspondent. Before joining AMVETS, Joe was the Assistant National Director for Communications at DAV.

Michael Linnington, Wounded Warrior Project

Linnington is the Chief Executive Officer of Wounded Warrior Project. He previously served as the first permanent Director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, following his retirement as a Lieutenant General from the U.S. Army. He served as the Military Deputy to the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) from 2013 to 2015 and as Commanding General, Military District of Washington and Commander, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region from 2011 to 2013. Linnington also held general officer positions of responsibility as Deputy Commanding General, Fort Benning, Georgia; Commandant of Cadets, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York; and in Kabul, Afghanistan. Linnington graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.