Sen. Cory Gardner
After realizing her elementary school dreams of becoming the next Barbara Walters would not be her reality, Amber knew her calling was to join the United States Army as a Combat Medic. Amber’s heart and soul are fueled by her passion for helping others. It made sense that she chose a profession which would allow her to do just that, while honorably serving her country.
First and foremost, Amber is a MOM to an incredible tween. Amber is also a Gold Star Widow, a two-time cancer survivor, and is a current Graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. She is seeking to earn her Master’s of Science in Organizational Dynamics, and is a member of Penn’s prestigious Organizational Consulting and Executive Coaching Cohort.
Since the death of her husband, Army Ranger SGT Ryan “Doc” Baum, Amber has dedicated herself to non-profit work in the Trauma, Veteran, Military, and Gold Star communities. Amber is honored to have been the keynote speaker, subject matter expert, and motivational speaker at countless schools, fundraisers, and various Veteran, Military, and Gold Star functions.
Amber has a passion for being part of a team which facilitates positive growth and change, individually and collectively, within dynamic cultures and systems. She uses her strengths in social awareness, adaptability, and conceptualization to create holistic solutions within challenging workplace dynamics. Amber is committed to excellence through steadfast hard work, and a unique grit. On any given day, you will find Amber with an endless amount of spirited energy.
For fun, she greatly enjoys Crossfit, outdoor adventures, and sipping ice cold Arnold Palmers while reading a good book.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew
Alexander Chafetz enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17, serving four years on the Presidential Support Program, of which two were at Camp David. Following his enlistment, he attended Columbia University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. In 2015 he founded a non-governmental organization (NGO) while living abroad in Istanbul, Turkey. This organization raised donations for nutritional aid and school supplies that Alex personally delivered to refugee camps in southeastern Turkey. For the past two years, Alex has worked in New York City as an associate in the Global Client Management and Corporate Banking division of the Bank of New York Mellon, covering Fortune 500 companies. During this time he acquired a broad understanding of credit analysis, financial markets, and the global banking system.
Sen. Doug Jones
Elise Fink is a six-year veteran of the United States Army. As a human resources officer, she served in the Republic of Korea, Germany, and Fort Drum, N.Y and was the direct advisor to commanders regarding policies that effect the military’s most important resource: soldiers and their families. Over the course of her career, Elise designed and implemented several personnel systems that streamlined Army personnel structures in Korea and Europe. She collaborated and worked with numerous foreign militaries supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve and developed a keen understanding of policy in this area.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth
Wade Giltz decided to follow his family’s tradition of military service by enlisting after high school as a fourth-generation Marine. He served as an Amphibious Assault Vehicle Crew Chief before being assigned to the Advisor Training Cell on Camp Lejeune, NC. During his deployment to Afghanistan, Corporal Giltz served as an advisor and liaison to the Afghan National Army in Helmand Province, supervising a medium-machine gun course. When his service ended in 2015, he attended West Virginia University and studied Political Science and International Relations.
Outside of his studies, he spent his time in college working on a local election campaign, interning with Camp Lejeune’s community relations office, and three years working in WVU’s Veterans Resource Center assisting veterans with their benefits and learning about the issues they face after their service. Those experiences during college, coupled with his time spent on active duty, made working in D.C. on Veteran’s Policy the obvious next step. Wade is currently serving as a Veterans Policy Fellow in Senator Duckworth’s office.
Rep. Andy Kim
Keegan Korpela is a US Navy veteran hailing from Wyoming. Keegan graduated and received his commission from the US Naval Academy. After completion of his service with honorable conditions, Keegan spent a few years in different sectors before feeling the desire to do something again with the same higher purpose he felt in the military.
As luck would have it, while on vacation Keegan came across the master’s program in Violence, Terrorism, and Security at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. Within two months, he moved overseas to begin the program and graduated in December 2018 with a Master of Arts (MA) with commendation for his dissertation analyzing cases of Russian malign influence, highlighted by their 2014 hybrid warfare operations in Ukraine. Keegan’s year spent living in Belfast provided numerous invaluable experiences such as interacting with locals in a post-Troubles era as well as meeting the architect of the Good Friday Agreement, former Sen. George Mitchell. Learning first-hand of the successes brought on by the Agreement has created a passion for studying geopolitical issues and a desire for Keegan to help see these lessons used in ending more conflicts.
Outside of work, Keegan is a voracious reader with as many books at once, an aspiration for more international travel, and an eagerness to spend time in the kitchen cooking a variety of dishes for friends and family.
Rep. Ted Lieu
Yi Liu is a proud veteran who served 5 years in the Air Force. Yi was born and raised in mainland China and after waiting 13 years for her visa, she immigrated to San Francisco with her parents right before turning 21. Yi speaks fluent Chinese Mandarin and Cantonese.
Yi earned her Master of Science degree in cybersecurity in 2018 and she is now serving as a Congressional Fellow in the office of Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33). When not working on the Hill, Yi runs a small eco-friendly food ware business to promote the reduction of single-use plastic.
Sen. Jack Reed
Dimitrios Meritis is a former U.S. Marine and current HillVets House Legislative Fellow working on technology issues for U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.
With extensive experience in public, private, and nonprofit sectors, he brings a multifaceted approach to examining whole of government solutions for dealing with AI, cyber, disinformation, digital literacy, and other technology topics. In addition to his technology portfolio, he assists in a variety of other topics including defense, foreign affairs, security, trade, education, employment, energy, and climate change.
Mr. Meritis also serves as a HillVets House National Security Fellow at The American Legion’s DC headquarters, advising leadership on transatlantic national security issues.
He holds a Master of Science (MSc) in European Affairs from Lund University (Sweden), a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs from Miami University, and is currently pursuing a Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) in Legislative Affairs from The George Washington University.
He currently resides with his wife, Kristiina, in Arlington, VA.
After realizing he desired the opportunity for greater leadership, Jesse joined the ROTC program at the University of Toledo during law school and commissioned as an Army Intelligence Officer in 2013. He recently completed a tour in Iraq as a targeting officer with the Joint Special Operations Command in support of the defeat-ISIS mission. He has been an intelligence officer serving in the Military Intelligence Readiness Command since 2014 and has served as an assistant battalion intel and operations officer, as well as platoon leader for a geospatial intelligence platoon. He has served twice in Germany in support of U.S. Army Europe for the Army’s Balkans mission.
Jesse has worked in both the private and public sector as a contract negotiator, most recently with the Defense Contract Management Agency, working public contracts on behalf of the U.S. Government. The majority of his professional career has been spent in public service, as he has also previously spent time working as a summer law extern for an Ohio Appellate Court, in a prosecutor’s office and in the district office of current U.S. Congressman Bob Latta. His broad experience in the public, private, and military sectors, as well as having lived all over the country and having visited over 30 countries worldwide have afforded him a measured and thoughtful perspective.
Rep. Gil Cisneros
Kevin Penn enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1996 and served as a helicopter dynamic component mechanic, a Drill Instructor, and an intelligence officer. Following a year-long deployment to Iraq in 2008, Lieutenant Penn was selected for the Junior Officer Strategic Intelligence Program and relocated to the national capital region. There, Lieutenant Penn earned a Master of Science of Strategic Intelligence (MSSI) and also was promoted to Captain. After completing the MSSI program, Captain Penn worked in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. He then served as a Company Commander and retired in August of 2016.
Kevin has always been driven to serve and to volunteer, particularly with children. He spent over 10 years with the Young Marines in Tustin, California and joined the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) in 2010. He has since been to many national and regional seminars, family campouts, and sporting and special events all across the country. He spends much of his time visiting his TAPS kiddos and families, going with them to parks, shows, museums, holiday events, and even their schools. He considers the building of these memories to be the best thing he does with his time and he believes TAPS isn’t something he does, it’s something he is.
Kevin is currently on a congressional fellowship through HillVets, and he is working in the office of Representative Gil Cisneros from California. Therein he is working on veteran and service member issues in general, but on transition assistance more specifically. Making sure his sisters and brothers are properly prepared for the civilian world is something he has been passionate about for years, and he is excited to serve again.
Rep. Virginia Foxx
Nick Riffel enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2008 and served as a Designated Marksman and Infantry Team Leader with First Battalion Sixth Marines. During his service Corporal Riffel lead teams of Marines on two combat tours in Afghanistan from 2009-2010 and 2011, to include the Battle of Marjah (Operation Moshtarak) and Operation Eastern Storm. At the end of his second tour Nick was severely wounded in combat and sent to the Wounded Warrior Battalion. While there Corporal Riffel volunteered with Big Brother and the Semper Fi Fund in youth outreach programs. When his service ended in 2013, he attended the University of Akron and obtained bachelors degrees in Political Science and Criminal Justice.
While attending college Nick was a member and representative of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of applied politics. He also worked as a field organizer for Senator Rob Portman’s successful campaign re-election in 2016. In the 2018 midterm elections Nick worked as the Southeast Missouri Regional Field Director for the GOP and was successful in getting Senator Josh Hawley elected.
Rep. Jimmy Gomez
Robert Thompson enlisted as an infantry soldier in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard shortly after 9/11 while pursuing his degree at Valley Forge Military College. Following graduation and his subsequent enlistment he switched to the Navy and served four years as a Quartermaster navigating minesweepers at sea, deploying twice to the Middle East as well as Central America and the Panama Canal zone where he was instrumental in piloting his ship through the Canal. Following military service, he worked in media and film both behind and in front of the camera on movies, shows, and commercials and for networks such as National Geographic and The Discovery Channel.
He attended the ASU Cronkite School of Journalism and was a field coordinator for the 2016 David Trone for Congress campaign. He currently serves as a fellow in the office of Congressman Jimmy Gomez of California. In that capacity, he has brought a focus to military and veterans issues and worked with the legislative staff on appropriations and major legislation. He’s also aided the communications director as an interim press assistant during the Congressman’s appearances on news programs such as Hardball, The Situation Room and The Last Word.