Protégés of LEAD Cohort 4
A native of Puyallup, Washington, Maureen Elias served in the United States Army from 2001- 2006 as a counterintelligence agent. After leaving the service, she spent 12 years raising three children and supporting her active duty Army husband, Dustin Elias. She graduated from Bowie State University with a masters in mental health counseling in 2017 and began working as the Assistant Director of The Veterans Health Council of Vietnam Veterans of America. Maureen was recognized as a HillVets100 Class of 2017 for her advocacy work. In December of 2019, she started serving as an Associate Legislative Director at Paralyzed Veterans of America where her portfolio includes veteran benefits, women veterans, and mental health. She also serves as a Director of the High Ground Veteran Advocacy Fellowship. Maureen enjoys spending time mentoring veterans on personal statements and interview skills, geocaching, and going on adventures with her family and friends.
LCDR Mark Ewachiw earned his commission through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 2005. His tours of service include three ships and duty stations around the globe. He served onboard USS PORTER as their Communications and Public Affairs Officer, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON as a Reactor Division Officer, and most recently USS NIMITZ as the Reactor Electrical Assistant. Ashore his assignments have included regional Anti-Terrorism/ Force Protection Officer in Naples, Italy, and Project Manager at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii. Mark holds advanced degrees from MIT in Naval Architecture/Marine Engineering and Electrical Engineering/Computer Science. His personal awards include the Navy Commendation and Navy Achieve Medals in addition to various unit and campaign awards. He currently serves as a Defense Fellow on the personal staff of Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.
Kiona Harvey is a U.S. Army Veteran and Active Duty Spouse, Health Educator, Community Builder, and Transformational Faith-Based Leader. Her primary professional focus involves policy advocacy respective to Veterans, Military Families, Maternal and Child Health, Disability Awareness, and Education. Ever committed to her community and service members and she was also a nominee for Military Spouse of the Year 2018. As a candidate for Richland 2 School Board, she was one of the youngest and first currently serving Active Duty Spouses to campaign in the district. She expressed her concern with Military Children in Public Education Systems and provided professional and person insight to parents on navigating this course as a parent of a student with disabilities. She went on to consult for several organizations with the mission of serving Military students and families. Kiona has contributed to the Executive Committee for the Arthritis Foundation Center of Excellence working with researchers from around the country to transform Arthritis Care for Veterans. Kiona also provides Advocacy and Health Coaching with the faith-based organization Proverbial Health & Wellness and had the opportunity to join Mayor Muriel Bowsers addressing Child and Maternal health disparities among women of color. Most recently, Kiona has worked to educate communities affected by COVID-19. Above all, Kay (as she is known by her friends) is a person of deep faith as exhibited by over 25 years of dedicated service to the United Methodist Church where she serves as a commissioned Health Minister. She and her husband, LTC Christopher Harvey reside in Fairfax County, Virginia and have an amazing 10th grader, Christopher Jr. Mrs. Harvey is completing her master’s degree in health education with plans to pursue doctoral work in due course. She hopes to continue service to her country as a Public Servant in the area of Healthcare and Politics in the near future.
An Ohio native and mother of two, Kaitlynne Hetrick currently works as a Government Affairs Associate for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). At IAVA, Kaitlynne supports the organization’s efforts to bring veterans’ issues out of the beltway and into the consciousness of the American public. While she dives into all of IAVA's policy priorities, her real focus in on the issues that face our nation’s women veterans, their gaps in healthcare compared to their male counterparts, and the sexual assault and harassment problems within our current military system. Before IAVA, Kaitlynne served 4 years in the United States Navy as an Aviation Electronics Technician. Following her service, she attended Baldwin Wallace University (BW) and obtained her bachelor’s in public Relations. At BW, Kaitlynne served as the President of the University’s Student Veteran Organization, helping her fellow veteran students through their transition from servicemember to veteran. She also simultaneously served as a Public Relations Intern for Challenge America, a non-profit that connects service members, veterans, and their families to resources and solutions that build community and give purpose to their lives.
Lt Col Jason “JJ” Johnson is currently serving as a Brookings Legislative Fellow for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment Subcommittee. Prior to his current assignment, he served as Chief, Legislative Liaison, Appropriations for the U.S. Central Command’s DC-based Legislative Affairs office. Lt Col Johnson was born and raised in Newark, NJ and received his commission in April 2003 from the Air Force Officer Training School. That December, he graduated from the Air Force Intelligence Officer Training School. During his career, he has led at the national, interagency, joint, operational, and tactical levels, serving as an Intelligence Flight Commander in numerous locations, deployed as an Intelligence Chief, served as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Mission Operations Commander, served on the HQ Air Staff, and was Aide de Camp to Vice Commander, 3 rd Air Force, with duty at RAF Mildenhall, UK. Lt Col Johnson has also served as the deployed Deputy Chief for the AFCENT Commander’s Action Group and served aboard the USS Mount Whitney as the Executive Aide for the Joint Task Force Deputy Commander for Operation ODYSSEY DAWN. He was also a member of the ISIS Counterterrorism Cyber Strategy Team and Head of Private Sector Engagements at the National Counter Terrorism Center in Washington, D.C. In this capacity, he led efforts with private sector, academic, and technology partners to develop innovative and dynamic solutions to counter violent extremist organizations’ radicalization and violent activities online.
A native of San Jose, California, LCDR Kieszek graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Biology/Pre-Med and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy. She earned the designation of Naval Aviator in July 2004 alongside her identical twin sister, LCDR Deborah Kieszek. After completing initial SH-60B training in San Diego, CA, she reported to HSL-51 in Atsugi, Japan from 2005 to 2008. While at HSL-51, LCDR Kieszek earned her qualification of Level 300 Airborne Tactics Officer and Helicopter Aircraft Commander. After a tour as an ROTC instructor at the University of San Diego, CA, LCDR Kieszek served as the Officer in Charge of the Forward Operating Location Kasenyi in Entebbe, Uganda for 15 months. She then transferred to Full Time Support as a Fleet Logistics (VR) pilot and flew for VR-53 at Andrews Airbase from 2014 to 2017. She then transitioned to OPNAV N814 as a Manpower Analyst. During this tour she applied for and was accepted for a Defense Fellowship through the Office of Legislative Affairs. As a fellow, she reviewed and prepared defense legislation for Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI). LCDR Kieszek now serves as a Congressional Liaison for the Chief of Naval Reserve. LCDR Kieszek’s personal awards include the Korea Defense Service Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (2), Navy Commendation Medal (2), and Joint Service Commendation Medal.
A native of Houston, Texas, Mike Kilbane graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He has served as the Defense Fellow for Senator Baldwin of Wisconsin since January 2020. Prior to his current assignment, he served as a civilian contracting officer at Naval Sea Systems Command at the Washington Navy Yard. Mike was commissioned as a Naval Reserve Supply Corps Officer in 2011. He has deployed and lived throughout the world, to include deployments to Japan, Afghanistan and most recently Korea, as the Executive Officer of a Provincial Reconstruction Team. He served in the Pentagon, in Bahrain, in the U.S. Embassy, Dakar, Senegal, and on senior personal staffs. Mike is currently pursuing an MMA in National Security Studies, Sub-Saharan Africa concentration from the Naval War College.
A native of Sheridan, Wyoming, Keegan Korpela earned his commission from the United States Naval Academy in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in English. Following his graduation, he served in various locations with multiple responsibilities as a support officer. After he transitioned to the civilian sector, he worked in the sales industry until September 2017 when he decided to pursue an M.A. in Violence, Terrorism, and Security at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Upon graduating, he served as the National Security Fellow for Representative Andy Kim (NJ-3), helping in various capacities and working on different portfolios to include: national security, foreign policy, and veteran’s issues. Currently, he works at the Pentagon supporting the Department of Navy’s Service Integration & Policy office as an analyst on Irregular Warfare.
A native of Houston, TX, Karla Langham is a field representative and caseworker in California’s 51 st congressional district, a seat held by Congressman Juan Vargas. Mrs. Langham received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Houston and her Master’s in Public Administration degree from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, at Monterey, CA. Shortly after graduating from the University of Houston, Mrs. Langham moved to Kaneohe, HI to be with her husband, LCDR Ryan Langham. As a military spouse of 12 years, Karla has lived, traveled, and worked in various sectors across the United States and internationally. She has moved 11 times, lived in 8 different cities, one other country, and endured multiple deployments making her well-versed in the trials military families face. She has positioned herself as an advocate and ally to the military and veteran community. Prior to her position in Congressman Juan Vargas’ office, Mrs. Langham worked as a researcher and policy analyst for Northrop Grumman on projects dedicated to reforming and improving the security of Department of Defense classified networks. While working as a researcher, Mrs. Langham volunteered with the American Red Cross (ARC) in Yokosuka, Japan during the community response to the USS Fitzgerald collision at sea. She provided operational support, quickly streamlining the intake process of injured sailors to facilitate access to immediate recovery assistance. She continued to volunteer with ARC (Service to the Armed Forces) in San Diego, speaking at pre-deployment events to ensure families were aware of Red Cross procedures surrounding emergency messaging. Additionally, she worked as an independent contractor for United States University, a veteran friendly university, supporting the Family Nurse Practitioner immersion program. Mrs. Langham is also a regular contributor to Military Spouse Magazine where she sheds light on a multitude of topics that impact her community.
Originally from Binghamton, NY, Seamus Murphy enlisted in the United States Army in 2005. He was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He then deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom to Ramadi, Iraq for 15 months in 2007 and Baghdad, Iraq in 2010 for 12 months. During his six years of service, he earned the rank of Staff Sergeant. His awards include Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Expert Infantryman’s Badge. Seamus exited the military in 2012 and went on to earn a B.S. in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University. He spent the summer of 2016 abroad, working to help empower smallholder farmers in western Kenya. Additionally, during his time in university, he founded the Cornell Undergraduate Veterans Association. Upon graduation, Mr. Murphy joined Accenture and currently serves as a Management Consultant for the firm, based in New York City. He continues to be actively involved in Veteran’s advocacy at his alma mater and is a founding member of Big Red Vets, Inc, a non-profit supporting its ROTC programs and Veteran students.
Lieutenant Ryan Peterman is an active duty Naval Officer, currently serving as the Defense Fellow for Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. A native of Bettendorf, Iowa, he earned his commission from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science in History in May 2013. Following commissioning, Ryan reported to Pensacola, Florida for initial aviation training, and was designated a Naval Aviator in January of 2016. After earning his Wings of Gold as a helicopter pilot, he reported to the HSM-73 Battlecats at Naval Air Station North Island. During his time with the Battlecats he deployed on both the USS Halsey (DDG-97) and the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) throughout the Fifth and Seventh Fleet Areas of Responsibility, participating in Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea and conducting missions throughout the Arabian Gulf in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom Sentinel. He currently resides in Washington, D.C.
Larry Provost is the Outreach Officer for the National Cemetery Administration, a position he has held since 2017. Mr. Provost has been in the Army, currently in the Virginia National Guard, for over 21 years and recently commissioned as a Chaplain Candidate (Second Lieutenant) after 20 years enlisted, topping out as a Sergeant First Class/E-7. He currently volunteers to provide military funeral honors for the National Guard. Mr. Provost previously served in Army Civil Affairs, as well as an Army Paralegal and Army Mortuary Affairs Sergeant. He has deployed twice to Afghanistan, once to Iraq, and once to Kuwait. Mr. Provost holds a Masters degree in Legislative Affairs from the George Washington University, a Masters degree in Government from Regent University, a Masters degree in History from Liberty University, and will shortly complete his Masters of Divinity from Liberty University. He has completed additional study at the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem in Israel and plans to pursue a PhD in Holocaust Studies in the future.
John Rhodes is a native of Vancouver, Washington, and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in May of 2000. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. John spent 9 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy serving as a pilot (E-6B Mercury) and in various other staff and leadership positions. Upon separation from active duty, John joined Alion Science and Technology as a program analyst providing direct support to the Technology Director for the Littoral Combat Ship Program Office (PMS 501). After working at Alion Science John then accepted a position as a Navy civilian serving first as a program analyst within PMS 501 and later transitioning to Assistant Program Manager for rotating radars within Program Executive Office (PEO) Integrated Warfare Systems (IWS) 2.0. Within IWS 2.0 he led the procurement of multiple rotating radars for various surface Navy and Coast Guard ships. Currently, John serves as the Navy Defense Fellow to Senator Angus King of Maine. Additionally, John serves in the U.S. Navy Reserve where he previously flew the C-130T Hercules and was the Commanding Officer of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron SIX FOUR (VR-64) and later as an International Engagements Desk Officer (OPNAV N3/N5). He is currently assigned to the staff of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.
Creating an algorithm for the stock market to win Goldman Sachs Portfolio Challenge, selling her first marketing plan to Prudential, becoming a founding employee of FINRA, authoring the first ever African American Financial Experience study, inventing the top financial literacy product in the world, and being named the “Next Steve Jobs” by Forbes – all by age 30, Angel Rich has earned the title Wealth Pioneer. In 2009, Rich became a Global Market Research Analyst for Prudential Financial. While there she conducted over 70 financial behavior studies including the Obama’s Veterans Initiative. During her final year at Prudential, she helped the company’s Annuities division grow from #16 in Service to #4, helping the company save $6 billlion. After leaving, Rich founded The Wealth Factory with a mission to provide equal access to financial literacy across the world. Today her company designs WealthyLife financial literacy education technology games, curriculum, and fintech products. The first game released is titled CreditStacker. This match-three game, like Candy Crush, allows users to swap colored pieces representing the 5 major credit types, to pay off debt, achieve a high credit score, and learn from the multiple-choice questions. It has been named the best financial literacy product in the country by The White House, Department of Education, and JP Morgan Chase. In August 2017, the company launched the full product version of CreditStacker, exceeding 200,000 downloads in 60 countries in 21 languages in two weeks. Google named it one of the Top 10 Apps in the world of 2017. The Wealth Factory’s goal is to transform financial marketing to financial education while reducing poverty, increasing financially savvy citizens, raising financial product ownership and building better financial ecosystems. That year, Rich also released her first book – The History of the Black Dollar – with the foreword written by Dr. Maya Rockeymoore. The book takes readers on an economic journey through history to depict the major milestones, historic figures and upcoming leaders. She was also named Hamptonian of the Year and became a proud member of the 2016 HBCU 30 Under 30, Hampton 40 Under 40 and Google Top 30 Black Female Founders. In 2018, the United Nations named her one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the African Diaspora and one of five Icons. In 2019, she released her second book, Black Woman Politics, and was honored as a historic figure at the Sandy Spring Slave Museum. She is most proud to be Vice Chair of the financial literacy council after appointment from the Mayor of DC, designing the financial literacy recommendations for the city.
A Milwaukee, Wisconsin native, Sam Rogers served in the United States Army for eight years as an Interrogator and then Human Intelligence Collector. During that time, he deployed to southern Afghanistan twice, leading field intelligence teams to provide tactical targeting to a variety of U.S. and joint military units, supporting COCOM strategic objectives, and collaborating with various agencies to enable their operational success. Following separation, Sam entered undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee studying Political Science and U.S. Law Studies, ran a student veteran advocacy organization, and built campus- to-capital coalitions to engage in legislative policy solutions to remove barriers to veteran success in transition. Sam returned to Afghanistan for a third year-long tour between freshman and sophomore years, serving as an Operations Intelligence Officer in an Army special mission unit. Upon return, Sam and his wife, Danielle, traded places as she departed for training in the U.S Navy and he experienced first-hand the challenges of a newly minted military spouse, raising their three children while working and completing his degree. Sam now serves as the Coalitions Director of Concerned Veterans for America - Wisconsin, where he builds coalitions to support a variety of national policy outcomes in foreign policy, VA healthcare, and the national debt while empowering state and local legislators and non-profit leaders to address the needs of their veteran communities. Sam’s awards include the Combat Action Badge, Superior Civilian Service Award, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with four campaign stars.
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