LushniaK_PICRear Admiral (RADM) Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. | Deputy United States Surgeon General

gold-star1 Click here to read the Rear Admiral’s open letter to our attendees, which was read in his absence during the Preventive Care Luncheon of our 2014 “Homes for the Brave” Conference on November 7th, 2014.  Despite a last minute conflict that prevented his scheduled in-person participation, we are appreciative of Dr. Lushniak’s commitment to our platform, and the US Public Health Service’s continual support of efforts that serve the social needs of our military families.

Rear Admiral (RADM) Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., is the United States Deputy Surgeon General. RADM Lushniak articulates the best available scientific information to the public regarding ways to improve personal health and the health of the nation. He also oversees the operations of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, comprising of approximately 6,800 uniformed health officers who serve in locations around the world to promote, protect, and advance the health and safety of our nation.

RADM Lushniak served as Deputy Surgeon General from November 2010, until July 17, 2013, when he assumed the duties of Acting Surgeon General.

RADM Lushniak was introduced to the USPHS in 1983 as a senior medical student when he completed an elective with the Indian Health Service in Winslow, Arizona. He began his USPHS career in 1988 as a Lieutenant, entering the service as part of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and initially was stationed with the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Cincinnati, Ohio where he conducted epidemiological investigations of workplace hazards. In 1990, he was accepted for the CDC’s long-term training program and completed a three-year residency in dermatology at the University of Cincinnati after which he established an occupational skin disease program at NIOSH. During his time at the CDC, he also served on special assignments and disaster response activities in Bangladesh, St. Croix, Russia, and Kosovo, was part of the CDC/NIOSH team at Ground Zero (World Trade Center) and the CDC team investigating the anthrax attacks in Washington, DC. In 2004, he transitioned from the CDC to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the Chief Medical Officer of the Office of Counterterrorism, and in 2005 was appointed FDA Assistant Commissioner, Counterterrorism Policy and Director of the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats within the Office of the Commissioner. While at the FDA, he was deployed after Hurricane Katrina to serve as the Department of Health and Human Services representative in San Antonio and served as the FDA Deputy Incident Commander for the 2009 pandemic response. He was promoted to Rear Admiral, Lower Half in 2006 and attained the rank of Rear Admiral, Upper Half in 2010.

RADM Lushniak was born in Chicago to post-World War II immigrants from Ukraine. He was admitted to the six-year Honors Program in Medical Education at Northwestern University and completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Sciences in 1981 and obtained his medical degree (M.D.) in 1983. In 1984, he completed the Masters of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree at Harvard University. He completed a residency in family medicine in 1987 at St Joseph Hospital in Chicago and a residency in dermatology at the University of Cincinnati in 1993. RADM Lushniak maintains board certifications in dermatology and preventive medicine (occupational). He served as a staff physician in dermatology at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and is adjunct professor of dermatology at the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences.

RADM Lushniak served as the co-executive director of the USPHS Music Ensemble from 2007-2011 and is a member of many professional organizations including the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Academy of Dermatology, the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Public Health Association, the American Dermatological Association, the American Contact Dermatitis Society, the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS), and the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America. He has received numerous USPHS awards including the Distinguished Service Medal, Surgeon General’s Medallion, the Exemplary Service Medal, two Outstanding Service Medals, a Commendation Medal, and two Achievement Awards. In addition, he has received the AMA Dr. William Beaumont Award in Medicine and the AMSUS Sustaining Member Lecture Award as well as DHHS Secretary and FDA Commissioner awards.  

A firm believer in leadership by example, RADM Lushniak also promotes the core messages of the National Prevention Strategy via his active lifestyle. He is an avid long-distance bicyclist, runner, hiker, and kayaker. In 2012, he scaled the summit of the most heavily glaciated peak in the United States, Washington’s 14-thousand foot Mount Rainier. He also leads community Surgeon General’s Walks throughout the United States. He resides in Rockville, Maryland with his wife Dr. Patricia Cusumano and two daughters Larissa and Stephanie.


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CONGRESSMAN DAVID PRICE | U.S. House of Representatives, NC’s 4th Congressional District

David Price represents North Carolina’s Fourth District – a rapidly growing, research-and-education-focused district that includes parts of Alamance, Orange, Durham, Wake, Harnett, Chatham and Cumberland counties. He received his undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and went on to Yale University to earn a Bachelor of Divinity and Ph.D. in Political Science. Before he began serving in Congress in 1987, Price was a professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Duke University. He is the author of four books on Congress and the American political system.  Price currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee and is the ranking member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Appropriations subcommittees covering housing and transportation and military construction and veterans affairs. He is a recognized leader in foreign policy, co-chairing the House Democracy Partnership, which he initiated to help strengthen parliaments in emerging democracies. In North Carolina, David’s constituents know him as a strong supporter of education, accessible health care, affordable housing, clean air and water, and improved transportation alternatives.  David is a native of Erwin, Tennessee. He and his wife Lisa live in Chapel Hill and are parents of two children and proud grandparents of a grandson born in 2006 and a granddaughter born in 2009.


Edward Jennings Jr.US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development, Region IV Regional Administrator

Prior to accepting the appointment in May 2010 as the HUD Southeast Regional Administrator, Jennings service in the Florida House garnered several awards including being named one of Florida Trend Magazine’s Top Seven Freshman in the Legislature, and Affordable Housing Advocate of the Year. Throughout his legislative career, he served on various committees including the Vice Chair of Community Colleges and Workforce Development; Commerce Council; Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee; and the Insurance Committee.  During his House tenure, he served as a Fannie Mae Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in the Senior Executives and State/Local Elected Officials Program. He was elected by his peers to be the Chair of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators and a member of the Board of Directors for the National Conference of Black State Legislators.    

Regional Administrator Jennings founded his real estate development firm in 1997 which became an economic vehicle for revitalizing East Gainesville. His professional experience includes development, construction, acquisition, and property management of varied property types. They include: low-income housing tax credit housing, single family modular housing, transitional housing, mixed use property, and commercial/retail space.  As a business leader seeking to make a significant impact in his community, Jennings served on the boards of the: Alachua County Public Schools’ Foundation, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, Builder’s Association of North Central Florida, African American Accountability Alliance, and the United Way.  He has garnered numerous civic and professional honors for his community and legislative contributions.            

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Spanish from the University of Florida. During his tenure at the University of Florida, he also served as President of Florida’s most prestigious leadership honorary, Florida Blue Key.  Regional Administrator Jennings is a graduate of the prestigious Leadership Atlanta 2014 program and is married to Heidi Jennings and they have a daughter Elizabeth Lauren.


USPHS_logo_colorLCDR Jacklyn Finocchio, Pharm.D | President-Elect of the North Carolina Commissioned Officers Association of
the United States Public Health Services

The mission of the Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service is to improve and protect the public health of the United States by advocating for the Commissioned Corps and its officers through mentorship, officership and promoting local COA branch members.  As America’s uniformed service of public health professionals, the Commissioned Corps achieves its mission through: Rapid and effective response to public health needs, Leadership and excellence in public health practices, and Advancement of public health science.  LCDR Finocchio maintains these values through her leadership position with the NC Commissioned Officers Association, as its President Elect.


Veteran Champs-167Koby J. Langley, JD, MPA | Senior Vice President, Service to the Armed Forces, at the American Red Cross.  Former Director of Veteran, Wounded Warrior, and Military Familiy Engagement at the White House.

Prior to transitioning to the White House and his current role with the American Red Cross, Koby J. Langley, JD, MPA served as the Senior Advisor for Wounded Warrior, Veteran and Military Family Initiatives at the Corporation for National and Community Service, which leads the President’s national call to community service initiative, United We Serve. He helps develop policy on the corporations’ portfolio grant investment of $27M in 2013.  Langley previously served at the Department of Defense where he was appointed to the Senior Executive Service by Secretary Robert Gates in 2010, and worked as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Assistance Policy. There, he developed their five-year strategic plan, served as the Department of Defense lead in the development and launch of the Veterans Job Bank with the Chief Technology Officer to the President and industry experts from Google.  The  was a 2012 ACT-IAC Awards Finalist, connecting veterans to over one million job opportunities.

In 2009, Langley worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Special Assistant to Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, and assisted in the development of the strategic planning portfolios for offices reporting directly to the Secretary, as well as the agency lead for the Presidential Study Directive for Military Families, later published as “Strengthening our Military Families.”  In 2008, Langley was a core member of the Presidential Review Team for the Department of Veterans Affairs, appointed by President Obama. From 2006 to 2008, Langley was the founding member of a boutique multi-million-dollar winning litigation firm, and also worked as a volunteer Veteran organizer and advisor for the successful Congressional campaign of the first Iraq War Veteran elected to Congress.

Having served in Kosovo and Iraq, Langley is a decorated officer, two-tour combat Veteran, and a recipient of the Bronze Star.  He served as a JAG Attorney, supporting hundreds of federal litigation cases for the Justice Department, and the U.S. Army.  Langley is published in numerous national news outlets, and was the originating editor of the award-winning blog He was recently a panelist on emerging community needs “Facing the Invisible Wounds of War” Hosted by CNN contributor Christopher Wallace as well as a live panel contributor to the MSNBC show “UP” on Veterans policy in Iraq.  Langley is a Truman National Security Fellow, and a graduate of Notre Dame University. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Colorado, Boulder and attended the Judge Advocate General School at the University of Virginia. Langley also holds a MPA from Georgetown University and is a Harvard Law School Certified Mediator.


Veteran Champs-23Dr. Sara J. Landes, PhD | Research Health Science Specialist for the National Center for PTSD.

Dr. Landes is a Research Health Science Specialist at the Dissemination and Training Division of the National Center for PTSD in the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.  She is also an affiliate instructor in the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.  At the National Center for PTSD, Dr. Landes is the lead for their veterans employment initiatives, including the online Veterans Employment Toolkit for employers, managers, HR professionals, and EAP providers; an online course for EAP providers; and their Veterans in the Workplace Survey Project.  Dr. Landes’ research interests are in the dissemination and implementation of empirically supported mental health treatments, with a focus on implementation into larger health care systems such as the VA.  She has received research funding from the National Institutes of Mental health and the Department of Defense.


CONFERENCE CHAIR | T.J. Breeden, Founder & Executive Director of eMerging Entrepreneurs, Inc.

2012 recipient of the White House’s “Champions of Change” Award (Veteran’s Economic Advancement);
2013 recipient of the Small Business Administration’s “Veterans Entrepreneurship Advocate of the Year” award.

T.J. is the Founder & Executive Director of eMerging Entrepreneurs, Inc.; a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, that provides Career Transition Assistance, Small Business Training, and Entrepreneurial Developmental services to veterans, military spouses, and under-served minority communities.  The organization employs a grassroots approach to assisting those who seek to advance their small business interests; partnering with state & federal agencies, universities, local chambers of commerce, and military installations in an effort to extend high-tech training & resource solutions to under-served communities.  T.J. created the Champions Conference as a platform for leaders and creative thinkers to explore ways of collaborating with one another.  This initiative comes in response to growing, regional and national efforts to spearhead job growth and economic stimulation, amidst what many consider to be one of the harshest periods of joblessness and socio-economic decline of this generation, particularly amongst our veterans, reservists, and military retirees. T.J. is a 2012 recipient of the White House’s “Champions of Change” award, as well as the US Small Business Administration’s  2013 “Veterans Entrepreneurship Advocate of the Year award for his efforts in advancing small business growth within the military community.  He also serves on the City of Durham, NC’s  “Small Business Advisory Committee” at the invitation of the Office of Employment & Workforce Development, and serves on the NC Advisory Committee for the US Global Leadership Coalition; a broad-based network of 400 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic and community leaders in all 50 states who support a smart power approach of elevating diplomacy and development alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.  Lastly, T.J. is also the Program Director of the Urban Leadership Lab, a social-incubator that provides urban youth with access to mentorship and career development training. 


headshot-2-iwp-photography33CO-FOUNDER & CONFERENCE RESOURCE LIAISON | April Ellerbe, Director of Sales at the City of Durham, North Carolina’s Convention & Visitor’s Bureau

April Ellerbe is the Co-Creator of our original event concept, and although she’s recently transitioned from her role as CEO of New Century Planning, LLC into an executive posts with the City Durham, NC’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, she continues to offer insight as an executive contributor to our leadership & research project.  April brings over 20 years of experience to our non-profit initiative; with an extensive background in offering consulting, design, events coordination, and travel services.  Because of April’s talents and accomplishments, she has received a number of awards.  She was recently highlighted as one of the event industry’s top young professionals to know and has been awarded various awards, including the industries “40 under 40″ recognition, 1st place in AFR’s 2013 National “Design and Inspire” competition, as well as being awarded 1-of-12 contracts to host an official delegate event for the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.  Her work has been published in national media outlets such as Today, CNN, Politico, Biz Bash, Smart Meetings, Collaborate, and PBS; and her portfolio includes the likes of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Duke University Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology, The Sundance Film Festival, and most recently she facilitated a gathering in the Nation’s Capital for “The Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color,” also know as the My Brothers Keeper Initiative.  Her efficiency, creativity, and spirit of excellence will prove extremely valuable to the development and expansion of our Champions program, and we’re excited to have her assist us as we press forward in “creating environments where collaboration can thrive!


2014-10-08 15_36_00-Document1 - Wordgold-star1 FEATURED PRESENTATION & HONOREE | CNN Digital’s “The UNCOUNTED”

CNN Communications has extended us permission to feature videos and personal accounts captured through their award-nominated web-series.  In March of 2014, CNN Digital published a docu-series about suicides among military family members, entitled “The Uncounted” (created by Ashley Fantz and Nick Scott).  In the summer of 2014 (at the urging of military family groups) a report was given to Congress on what it would take to track suicides of military-service family members.  “The Uncounted” captures the experiences of these families, and provides an intimate portrait of their stories; told through the eyes of siblings, spouses, parents, and children.


gold-star1 LEADERSHIP HONOREE | Tucker Smallwood: Vietnam Veteran, Actor, & Philanthropist

Accepting on behalf of “The Soldiers Project”

Born in Washington, D.C. his childhood included two years in Salonica, Greece (where he learned to speak Greek fluently) and two years as a college student in Munich, Germany. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1967 with a minor in German and a major in Speech/Television Production. Tucker began directing television for WBAL in Baltimore and in late spring of 1967, was drafted into the Army.  Following his training and commissioning as an Infantry Officer, and six more months as an Infantry Tac Officer at Ft. Benning, he attended Jump School, Special Warfare School at Ft. Bragg and Vietnamese Language School at Ft. Bliss. He then commanded a 5-man Advisory Team (MAT-36) to Vietnamese Regional Force troops in the Mekong Delta. Following months of hospitalization, surgeries and recovery, he extended his Army commitment for three more months to teach patrolling and counter-insurgency tactics to Engineer Officer Candidates at Ft. Belvoir, in Virginia. (The mission of Army Engineers is to fight as Infantry, when needed.)

In September of 1970, Tucker resigned his commission and moved to New York to study acting. He began at the Neighborhood Playhouse (thanks to the G.I. Bill) under the tutelage of Sanford Meisner. Sixteen months later, having been cast as a continuing character in the NBC soap opera Somerset, he was asked to leave the Playhouse, for students were not allowed to work professionally. In the mid-70’s, he resumed his studies with Stella Adler and worked on soaps, children’s TV (Jabberwocky) and public affairs programming. He was the Emmy-nominated host of CBS’s news magazine, CHANNEL 2: The People, in 1974.  He also developed an enduring relationship with Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, creating characters in six productions over the next eight years, along other roles on Broadway and in regional theater productions. Additionally, he filmed more than 100 television commercials and PSA’s during that decade. During the ‘80’s, he appeared in several feature films, such as The Cotton Club and Presumed Innocent, did yet more theater and was the spokesman for more than 1000 television and radio commercials.

In 1991, he moved to Los Angeles and began his work in prime time television. After several years of guest-starring roles on dramas and sit-coms, he chanced into the universe of science fiction and enjoyed considerable success on such series as SPACE: Above and Beyond, The X-Files and Babylon 5, as well as in the films CONTACT and DEEP IMPACT. Theatrically, he performed in several productions for the Mark Taper, Cast Theater and Odyssey Theater. The 1993 Stages Theater Center production of “Don’t Blame the Bedouins” (with Grace Zabriskie) was historic: the very first appearance of American actors on-stage in Romania.  In this new millennium, he has continued to create an eclectic body of work, both in drama and comedy, including a physically challenging season as the Xindi Primate Diplomat on Star Trek: Enterprise. His most cherished experiences in recent years have been film projects for emerging artists (independent films), allowing him to explore characters rarely available to him on big budget studio productions. In late summer of 2006, following his return to Vietnam at Christmas of 2004, he published an anthology of essays entitled RETURN TO EDEN. It is available both in soft cover and as an audio book MP3, as well as on Kindle. Each format continues to garner praise from both veteran and civilian readers.


Dr. Sharon Elliott-Bynum, PhD | Co-Founder & Executive Director of Healing with CAARE, Inc.

For over 30 years, Dr. Elliott-Bynum dedicated her life to helping the under-served; setting a standard for service, responsibility, and unconditional support for those in our communities who are most in need.  In 1995, she and her late sister Pat Amaechi founded “Healing with CAARE, Inc.;” a non-profit organization that provides a wide variety of medical and social services, all catered to treating factors that contribute to long-term health and wellness deficiencies.  Today, CAARE stands as the city of Durham’s first FREE comprehensive health care clinic for the region’s uninsured.  Dr. Elliott-Bynum worked to foster a culture of service by developing opportunities to create community supportive safety nets of care inclusive of a holistic approach to wellness; physical, social, psychological and spiritual.  This endeavor has led to an expansion of services which include: the Jeanne Hopkins Lucas Education and Wellness Center (which provides nutrition classes and healthy recipes, case management services); Free pap smears and referrals for free mammograms; A Substance Abuse outpatient treatment program; GED and a Job-Link program; and Its latest program which seeks to address the housing and career needs of the area’s veterans community.  In response to statistics showing that a growing number of NC’s homeless population consists of veterans, CAARE has carved out a 5,000 square foot unit in the ground-floor of its 23,000 square foot facility for 15-housing dormitories for displaced male veterans, in addition to a separate transitional housing facility for women veterans which will open in late-2014.


CraigStephens1 - CopyLieutenant Colonel Craig E. StephensUnited States Marine Corps (Retired)

Command Advisor, Wounded Warrior Battalion-East

Lieutenant Colonel Stephens enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps in August 1977 and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California.  Graduating from boot camp on 10 November 1977, he was meritoriously promoted to Private First Class and subsequently attended Administrative Clerk’s Course and Personnel Clerk’s Course at Schools Battalion, Camp Pendleton, California.  In February 1978, he was transferred to Corrections Battalion, Camp Pendleton, CA.  While in his billet as Personnel Clerk, he was meritoriously promoted to the grades of Lance Corporal, Corporal, and Sergeant.  In February, 1981, he was transferred to 1st Radio Battalion, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii where he served at Legal Chief and Administrative Chief.  In 1984, he was transferred to 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton where he served as the Regimental Administrative Chief.  While there, he attended the Staff Noncommissioned Officer’s Academy – finishing second in his class.  He was promoted to Staff Sergeant in November 1984 and was transferred to Drill Instructor School, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California in May 1985 where he finished second in his class and was assigned as a Drill Instructor with 2d Recruit Training Battalion.  Staff Sergeant Stephens was accepted to the Warrant Officer Program and appointed to Warrant Officer in January 1986.  He subsequently attended the Warrant Officer Basic Course in Quantico, Virginia and the Personnel Officer’s Course at Camp Lejeune.  He was then transferred to Marine Barracks, Bangor, Washington where he served as Adjutant and Personnel Officer.  During his tour at Marine Barracks, Bangor, he was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer, W-2 and was selected as a Limited Duty Officer and promoted to First Lieutenant in May 1989. 


He was transferred in August 1989 to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2d Marine Division where he served as Personnel Officer.  During this assignment, First Lieutenant Stephens deployed on two Landing Force Sixth Fleet deployments and participated in Operation SHARP EDGE in Monrovia, Liberia; Operation DESERT SHIELD; Operation DESERT STORM; and Operation PROVIDE COMFORT.  In July 1992, he was transferred to Marine Corps Security Force Battalion, Norfolk, Virginia where he served as Adjutant.  He was promoted to Captain in November 1992.   In September 1996, he returned to Camp Lejeune for duty with U. S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic.  Initially serving in the G-1 Operations Section, he was eventually reassigned as Adjutant, II Marine Expeditionary Force following the relocation of U. S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic to Norfolk, Virginia.  He was promoted to Major in June 1998.  He served as the Assistant Chief of Staff G-1, II Marine Expeditionary Force in April 2000 until his transfer in July 2000.  He assumed duties as Executive Officer, Personnel Administration and Legal Services School, Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools, Camp Johnson where he served until March 2001 when he was assigned as the Commanding Officer, Headquarters and Service Battalion.  Upon deactivation of Headquarters and Service Battalion in January 2002, he resumed his duties as Executive Officer, Personnel Administration School.  

He was transferred to 2d Force Service Support Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force in September 2002 where he served as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1.  He deployed to Kuwait with the Marine Logistics Command in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from February to June 2003.  He also deployed to Haiti where he served as the J-1 Director, Combined Joint Task Force-Haiti in support of Operation SECURE TOMORROW from February to June 2004.  He was transferred to II Marine Expeditionary Force in July 2004 where he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and again assumed duties the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1 until his transfer to U. S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command in February 2006.  He retired from the Marine Corps in October 2007 and remained assigned as the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1 for U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command as a GS-employee (GS-14).  He assumed his current duties as Command Advisor, Wounded Warrior Battalion-East in August 2009.

His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two Gold Stars, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two Gold Stars, and the Navy, Marine Corps Achievement Medal with one Gold Star, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.  Other decorations include the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star, Joint Meritorious Unit Award with oak cluster, Good Conduct Medal with one bronze star, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation with three bronze stars, Drill Instructor Ribbon, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with three bronze stars, Southwest Asia Service Medal with one bronze star, Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal (K).  Mr. Stephens and his wife, Beverly, have been married for 35 years.  They have four children: Daniel, Timothy, Rachel, and David.   They also have six grandchildren.


2014-10-30 22_33_53-Neunaber - Windows Photo ViewerDenise Neunaber | Executive Director of the NC Coalition to End Homelessness

Denise Neunaber is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness (NCCEH). A statewide membership nonprofit NCCEH works to secure resources, encourage public dialogue, and advocate for public policy change to end homelessness. A native of Austin, Texas, and a graduate of Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, Denise began working to find an end to homelessness as a Crisis Intervention Counselor in Asheville, helping homeless individuals access resources and services. For the past ten years Denise has worked as an advocate at the state and federal levels through crafting new legislation and assisting the State and local communities in designing, funding, and implementing programs. A frequent presenter at national conferences, Denise contributed to the development of the Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness. She also manages NCCEH’s role as the lead agency for a statewide Continuum of Care that allows North Carolina to draw down annually $5.5 million dollars of federal funds to assist 79 counties in the state. Denise lives in Raleigh with her husband, Rob, and their two children, Emmeline and Jake.


Dr. Glenn Albright Co-Founder & Director of Research for Kognito Interactive.

Associate Professor and Director of The Veterans & Active Duty Service Member Initiative at Baruch College.

Dr. Albright is a clinical psychologist and former Chair of the Dept. of Psychology at Baruch College, City University of New York.  He is currently Director of Baruch College’s “Veterans and Active Duty Service Member Initiative,” where all New York City veterans, active-duty service-members, and family members from both groups will have free access to employment training, entrepreneurship consulting, mental health services, and workshops addressing financial management and legal problems.  This initiative will also involve Baruch’s School of Public Affairs where qualified veteran students who wish to continue their service in government or the non-profit sectors can achieve a Bachelor’s Degree.  Dr. Albright also directs a team of researchers in evaluating the impact of Kognito Interactive’s training simulation on changes in knowledge, skills, self-efficiency, and behavior in the fields of health & behavioral health.  This research has led to publications that have evaluated innovative virtual “role-play” training simulation technology that resulted in several applications that support veterans, including: a PTSD and resiliency training for veteran families; military cultural competency training for university/college faculty, staff, and administrators; and peer-to-peer veterans training to enable veterans to better support each other in the transition process.


Ginger Miller | President & CEO of Women Veterans Interactive (WVI)

2013 recipient of the White House’s “Champions of Change” Award (Women Veterans);
2014 honoree of the Clinton Global Initiative’s “Commitment to Action.”

Ginger Miller is a native New Yorker and former homeless service disabled veteran. After taking care of her husband, a disabled veteran, who has suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for over a decade and experiencing homelessness with her family, Ginger decided to form John 14:2, Inc.; a nonprofit organization whose core mission is to assist military veterans and their families experiencing homelessness, substance abuse, and mental illness to reintegrate back into the community, retain permanent housing, maintain sobriety and regain their pride, dignity, and most of all, hope. Since the inception of John 14:2, Inc in 2009, the organization has helped over 300 veterans. In the summer of 2011 Ginger started Women Veterans Interactive, a division of John 14:2, Inc that is dedicated to serving and supporting women veterans, while meeting them at their points of need.  Since the inception of Women Veterans Interactive, the organization has supported over 500 women veterans through outreach and support services.  In March of 2013 Ginger was honored with the White House Champion of Change Award for “Women Veterans,”   and in 2014, Women Veterans Interactive was honored by the Clinton Global Initiative for its commitment to recruit military and veteran women who are seeking employment for a free, three-tier interactive workforce development program. The organization intends to reach 3,000 women and ultimately assist 1,000 military and veteran women in become gainfully employed; through a combination of dedicated resource and network partners. A deliberate and concentrated recruitment effort will be placed on, near and around military installations.  inger served in the U.S. Navy from 1989 to 1992, received a Bachelor Degree in Accounting from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, and a Masters in Nonprofit Management May 2013 from the University of Maryland University College.


Robert Curry | Founder & CEO of Dryhootch of America, Inc.

2012 recipient of the White House’s “Champions of Change” Award (Veteran’s Social Advancement). 

Robert is a disabled combat veteran of Vietnam & Laos. His business career included management positions at IBM, AT&T, Lotus, & iEmagine, where he spoke internationally on new technologies. Like most veterans, the effects of his combat career eventually caught up with him, and he was forced to undergo extensive treatment for untreated PTSD & TBI. After treatment, Robert decided his efforts would be best spent helping our newest veterans to (as he put it) “avoid going down the same path as many of our nation’s Vietnam Vets have.” In response to his, he launched, a community-based Veteran Peer-to-Peer program that offers an array of resource services to transitioning service-members; ranging from individual and group mentorship, to “Warrior Summits,” and Veteran Legal Services.  The program has expanded to multiple states with a community of over 1800 supporters, and earned him the White House Champion of Change Award for his innovative work in “helping our veterans & their families who have survived the was, to survive the peace.


2014-09-20 01_01_12-www.veogeorgia.org_p_our-founder.html (2)Frantz Fortune | Founder & Executive Director of the Veterans Empowerment Organization (VEO)

2014 recipient of the White House’s “Champions of Change” Award (Veteran Entrepreneurship)

Frantz Fortune has worked tirelessly for nearly two decades to generate a synergy between both the civilian and social service sectors in order to eradicate homelessness among our veterans. In 2008, he founded and currently serves as the Executive Director of Veterans Empowerment Organization (VEO), a “Housing-First” and wrap-around supportive service provider for homeless veterans. Mr. Fortune’s career includes various positions in Mental Health, Low-income Housing Management, and Substance Abuse/Behavioral Counseling. He began working professionally with the homeless population as a Resident Assistant, Employment Coordinator, Life Skills Instructor, Case Manager, Program Manager, and eventually as a Program Director prior to founding VEO in 2008. Mr. Fortune humbly displays a genuine sense of pride in making a vast difference in the lives of veterans. His hard work and extraordinary efforts have been recognized by numerous leaders on the local and state levels and he is incredibly grateful for the community’s collective support as he continues to build a national model to help end veteran homelessness in America.  Mr. Fortune was recently acknowledged as a White House “Champion of Change” for Veteran Entrepreneurship.


Joy PhotoJoy Simmons | Program Manager from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina  

Joy has fifteen years of healthcare experience spending the last fourteen years at BCBSNC. Joy currently manages the Hospital Quality Program.  Additionally, she manages other innovated pilots such as a PCMH Pilot focusing on the Federal Employee Program population, and critical partner in developing the Red, White and Blue NC Initiative that provides resources for our members and online training for providers.  In the past, she has managed the Blue Quality Physician Program (BQPP) and the Blue Distinction Center program.  The BQPP is designed to recognize and reward physicians that demonstrate a strong commitment to patient-centered care, clinical quality, administrative efficiency, and cost efficiency. The Blue Distinction Program recognizes top-performing specialty doctors and health care facilities in North Carolina that meet strict national quality and cost efficiency standards. The program recognizes facilities for the following: Bariatric Surgery, Cardiac Care, Complex and Rare Cancers, Spine Surgery, Knee and Hip Surgery, and Transplant programs.  Her previous work at BCBSNC has also focused on provider quality including seven years working in credentialing and she was a key contributor on the award winning BCBSNC Bridges to Excellence pilot.  Prior to BCBSNC, Joy worked at Duke Hospital in the Gastroenterology Department and at UNC Family Medicine in the Residency Department.


Laurie PhotoLaurie Champagne | Senior Strategic Advisor – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

 Laurie has been a nurse for over 27 years, 7 years of which she spent active duty as a United States Air Force Nurse during the Gulf War and Desert Storm. Laurie has worked for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina for over 13 years and her experience spans across Care Management, Quality and building value based partnerships within our provider community. Laurie was a critical partner in development of the Red, White and Blue NC Initiative that provides resources for our members and online training for providers. The Red, White and Blue NC Initiative was recently recognized by the White House and Laurie had the opportunity to present this program to Joining Forces convening on Mental Health.

Other initiatives that Laurie manages include: The Multi-payer Advanced Primary Care Demonstration, a CMS funded demonstration designed to increase the number of Patient Centered Medical homes in rural North Carolina; Quality consultant for our Accountable Care Organizations: and various pilots focusing on Oncology and End of Life care.  Joy currently manages the Blue Quality Physician Program (BQPP) and the Blue Distinction Center program.  The BQPP is designed to recognize and reward physicians that demonstrate a strong commitment to patient-centered care, clinical quality, administrative efficiency, and cost efficiency. The Blue Distinction Program recognizes top-performing specialty doctors and health care facilities in North Carolina that meet strict national quality and cost efficiency standards. The program currently recognizes facilities for the following: Bariatric Surgery, Cardiac Care, Complex and Rare Cancers, Spine Surgery, Knee and Hip Surgery, and Transplant programs.  Her previous work at BCBSNC has also focused on provider quality including seven years working in credentialing and she was a key contributor on the award winning BCBSNC Bridges to Excellence pilot.  Prior to BCBSNC, Joy worked at Duke Hospital in the Gastroenterology Department and at UNC Family Medicine in the Residency Department.


Shannon Carroll, MBA | Chief, HR Staffing Services a the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Veteran Employment Services Office (VESO)

Shannon Carroll, Chief, Human Resource Services at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Employment Services Office (VESO) since 2011, is responsible for the design and execution of a Veteran-centric human resources management program to increase employment of veterans and uniformed service members within the Department and throughout the federal government. She leads a team of HR practitioners with oversight in recruitment and staffing; federal policy advisory services; agency policy development; learning and development; career services; Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act compliance and case management; and deployment life-cycle support services to VA’s over 300,000 employees.  She also manages the Feds for Vets program and solution strategies to increase veteran employment for 18 federal agencies and one nonprofit organization.  Prior to this appointment, Ms. Carroll led the Operations Division of the Corporate Senior Executive Management Office with primary responsibility for recruitment, staffing, and classification services for VA’s executive and senior professionals in the Title 5 and Title 38 occupations of U.S. Code. During Ms. Carroll’s 11-year tenure at the VA, she has held positions as Chief, Operations Division for the Office of Human Resources, Veteran Benefits Administration and Deputy Director of Human Resources for the VA Medical Center in Washington, DC.  With over 25 years as a public servant, Ms. Carroll has distinguished herself as a leader on federal human resources and management policy.  Ms. Carroll earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, University College in Business Management (Human Resources) and graduated summa cum laude from Strayer University with a Master of Business Administration. She is a registered Mediator and is currently working toward SHRM certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).


2014-09-27 01_16_34-RickCollins1 - Windows Photo Viewer (2)gold-star1 LEADERSHIP HONOREE | Rick Collins, Founder & Executive Director of Vets 360, Inc.

For over 30+ years, since becoming a member of her Majesties Armed Forces, Rick has always supported and engaged Veterans less fortunate than he. From St. Dunstan’s in the UK to full circle with Vets 360 and many hands-on interactions throughout the years. Vets 360 was formed as a result of the tragic death of two friends to suicide in early 2011. Both were young, under 26 years of age, both were combat Marines and both had been civilians less than one year.  These actions led to a period of study and research and in very little time the realization that our young, high school educated, short term military service, combat veterans are our most under-served, at risk and vulnerable when entering civilian life. Many for the first time as adults. This simple fact pushed Rick to dedicate his life to a process of prevention through education. Preventing, despondency, isolation, self-medication, frustration and suicidal ideation by a simple process of engagement, education, employment and healing.  Rick and a powerful team of advisors, friends and strangers who understand the challenges is moving Vets 360 forward toward a program of Engagement in partnership with National CORE, Education in partnership  with many schools across the country, Employment, in partnership with Launch Consulting and other veteran-centric staffing teams and Healing through anyone and everyone who is committed to help this demographic of veterans deal with the inevitable impact of combat trauma, without sole reliance on pharmacological support.


Maria Silverhardt (2)Maria-Elena Silverhardt | BI Data Analyst, New Century Planning

With a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and over a decade of grass-roots activism, Maria Silverhardt aspires to combine these two passions to enhance opportunities for positive social impact. Her interest in marrying innovate technology with positive social change has led her to the field of data science, where in 2016 she will graduate from NC State with a Master’s in Analytics. Driven by her personal research, Maria promotes data to be used in a responsible manner for the benefit of social good. As the Business Intelligence Analyst for New Century Planning, her proficiencies and skills contribute to consulting actionable insights from analyses. Her business strategic and financial acumen plays a key role in structuring and leveraging data to improve acquisition and engagement efforts as well as decision making and planning. As an educational advocate, Maria tutors math, language, and science subjects in her free time.


Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators (DISI) | Duke University

DISI1The Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators (or DISI) is a Duke University graduate student organization that builds interdisciplinary problem-solving teams to help existing social organizations better achieve their missions, by providing pro-bono technology and consulting services.  The mission of DISI is to create a dynamic interdisciplinary graduate and professional student group at Duke that contributes its talents at the intersection of business principles, technological innovation, and effective policy to serve social organizations.  The organization provides a variety of services for our partners, including but not limited to: (1.) Impact Evaluation: Comprehensively assessing and measuring changes in social, environmental, and financial outcomes as a result of programs and policies administered by the Partner; (2.) Integrating new tools and technology: Develop new tools or use current technology to help social organizations more effectively and efficiently provide services and goods to the community; (3.) Social change strategy: Help partners identify new visions that seek to achieve social change. DISI will help partners draw strategic plans and establish programs that help achieve these visions; (4.) Development and Finance: Help organizations identify areas of financial concern and implement fundraising and grant writing strategies; and (5.)  Capacity building: Enable partner organizations to have greater capacity to deliver on their missions, with lasting impact.


Arjun Rallapalli | Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators (DISI)

Arjun is a 4th year PhD student in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University where he is investigating the possibility of creating nanoscale optical logic devices using photo-active molecules bound to self-assembled DNA nanostructures. Arjun has a BS in ECE from Georgia Institute of Technology. After completing his undergraduate studies, Arjun worked at GE Healthcare for two years, where he worked with different medical imaging teams to build circuit boards, optimize imaging algorithms, and reduce system costs. Arjun is also the co-president of Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators (DISI), a Duke University graduate student organization that builds interdisciplinary problem-solving teams to help existing social organizations better achieve their missions by providing pro-bono technology and consulting services. Arjun is originally from India and has lived in the US for over 16 years. In his spare time, he likes to play tennis, follow the NFL and the Indian cricket team, and watch movies.


CatJones2gold-star1 LEADERSHIP HONOREE | Catherine Woyee-Jones, MilitarySpouse, Advocate, and Author

Catherine Woyee-Jones is a native of Monrovia, Liberia West Africa, who currently lives in Apex, North Carolina with her husband (Courtney) and their 3 amazing children.  Catherine has 17 years’ experience in mental health advocacy, community development, nonprofit fundraising, cause branding, community relations, strategic philanthropy, women’s activism, organizational psychology and corporate social responsibility.  Due to Catherine’s husbands’ obligation as a Major in the United States Army, Catherine decided to join the ranks of her fellow military spouses to apply her professional background as a volunteer and former Chapter Director for Blue Star Families. As a Chapter Director, she was responsible for developing and supporting the organization’s membership base in her local community. She continues to serve as an Issue Leader for Blue Star Families where she is an advocate for military families discussing key military family issues with both civilian and military leaders in her community.  Catherine has received honors from: her Alma Mater North Carolina Central University, the 40 Under 40, former Governor Beverly Purdue of North Carolina, Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, First Lady Michelle Obama, and appeared on Oprah’s “Favorite Things” in 2012 or her commitment to serving her military community.  Catherine started her career with the state of North Carolina as the Project Manager of a program that provides local community resources such as GED, health, and housing, financial education and job placement to low-income public housing residents in Durham, North Carolina. She then went on to serve as the Program Director/ Policy Analyst for the Georgia Department of Labor Jobs for Graduates Prisoners transition program in Savannah, Georgia.  She served as the keynote speaker of the 29th Annual Clinical Conference of the American Diabetes Association.  When Catherine isn’t changing the lives of those in her community, she is the publisher of Africa Is Beautiful Magazine; “MAB;” a bimonthly publication dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of African women.  Catherine is also a contributor to ABC 11, WNCN, The Huffington Post, Lifetime Moms, Better Homes and Garden,  Military Spouse Magazine, the OWN Network, and OWN Magazine. She has also shared her own personal story as a civil war survivor and military spouse this summer in the Lifetime Movie Network Series “Faces behind the War.”


WWP2gold-star1 PROGRAM HONOREE | The Wounded Warrior Project

Carol Sharpe, Fayetteville, NC Alumni Manager will accept on  the organization’s behalf.

Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families. On that date, America watched in horror as approximately 3,000 people died including hundreds of firefighters and rescue workers. Many warriors note a sense of duty to volunteer for the military following these tragic events.  Sept. 11 also served as a stimulus for Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn. Operation Iraqi Freedom refers to military operations in Iraq that began March 19, 2003 and officially ended August 31, 2010. Operation Enduring Freedom refers to combat operations in Afghanistan and other regions in support of the Global War on Terror. Operation New Dawn refers to the conclusion of operations in Iraq beginning September 1, 2010 and ending December 15, 2011.  For WWP, there is a distinct difference between members and alumni; the term alumni indicates a mutual shared experience and denotes your place in an organization was earned. There are no dues here – those were paid by wearing the uniform and on the battlefield.


paulPaul Dillon | Dillon Consulting Services, LLC.

Paul A. Dillon is the president and CEO of Dillon Consulting Services LLC, a U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs certified Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, based in Durham, NC and Chicago, IL. He created and co-taught the highly successful course “Law and Veterans’ Issues: Policy Challenges and Best Practices” at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. Paul’s client engagements include a research assignment for Crain’s Chicago Business, for the highly acclaimed “Veterans in the Workplace” Focus section that was published in November, 2011.  Paul is also the creator of the concept for a successful and widely adapted veteran’s startup incubator in Chicago, called The Bunker.   He has been quoted in numerous publications about veterans issues, such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses newsletter (,, and USAA Magazine, and has been the subject of profiles, such as “A Veteran Fights Back”.  Paul holds an A.B. Degree from John Carroll University, an M.S. Degree from Northern Illinois University, and has done advanced graduate study in Systems Management at the University of Southern California, Ft. Rucker, AL branch.  He is a former trustee of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and a former Public Member and Commissioner of the national Commission for Case Manager Certification.  Read Paul’s recent Op-Ed in Forbes Magazine, entitled: “Memo to Employers: Veterans Aren’t PTSD Basketcases, They’re Disciplined and Committed!”  Mr. Dillon is a U.S. Army Reserve veteran, he served in Vietnam as a 1st Lieutenant, and was awarded 2 Bronze Star Medals.


StephWeaver1gold-star1 PROGRAM HONOREE | Stephanie Weaver, Public Health Analyst (Military Affairs)
Accepting on behalf of The Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration.

Stephanie Weaver recently retired from the military with over 22 years of service in the New Hampshire National Guard, Active Army, and the California National Guard.  She has been involved in substance use disorder reduction since 1999 and, in 2009, she accepted a position with the National Guard Bureau to assist all National Guard Soldiers and Airmen combat and prevent substance use disorder issues and in September of 2010 was selected as the National Guard Counterdrug Liaison to SAMHSA and continued on that capacity until her retirement in July 2014.  She is currently a Public Health Analyst focused on Military Affairs at SAMHSA.  Stephanie Weaver earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and is currently enrolled at the University of Baltimore for a Master in Public Administration degree.


2014-10-14 23_07_52-shawn jones - Windows Photo ViewerShawn Jones | Triage Director of Stop Soldier Suicides, Inc.

Stop Soldier Suicide is the first national civilian not-for-profit organization dedicated to preventing active duty and Veteran suicide.  Every day 22+ Veterans and 1 Active Duty Soldier take their own lives. Burdened with the stigma associated with mental health issues and the military “shame” surrounding PTS (Post Traumatic Stress), they instead turn to suicide as their only option to relieve suffering.  The organization consists of Veterans who understand the military mindset and training. That understanding, coupled with raising awareness of the issues and implementing a triage approach to help, is how Stop Soldier Suicide does the work of bringing fellow Veterans and Soldiers back from the edge during their greatest hour of need.  A Veteran of both Air Force and Army, Shawn deployed four times in his Army role to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Shawn received his Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a minor in military studies from Troy University and his Master of Social Work with a concentration in Mental Health and a sub-concentration in Military Social Work and Veteran Services from University of Southern California.  He will lead the creation of the organization’s Contact Center and the strategic formation of its case management system for our Assessment, Triage and Followup model of care.


4158732_GCONFERENCE MODERATOR | Valonda Calloway, WNCN

Valonda Calloway is a native of Onslow County, North Carolina. She graduated with cum laude honors from Winston-Salem State University.  She began her career in media as a writer and reporter at the Voice of America radio in Washington, DC. Valonda returned to North Carolina as a news reporter and anchor for WNCT, Channel 9 in Greenville. She was part of the team that won numerous awards, including the prestigious Edward R. Murrow for continuous coverage during Hurricane Floyd.  Valonda arrived in Raleigh in 2001 as a reporter for WRAL TV, where she also anchored the morning and noon news.  Valonda is a member of a number of public service organizations, including the Raleigh Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Wake County Chapter of the Winston-Salem State University Alumni Association.  Whether mentoring middle school girls, serving as a volunteer cheerleading coach or participating in fundraisers, Valonda embraces the verse, “To whom much is given, much is required.”  In 2013 Valonda was inducted into the first class of Winston-Salem State University’s 40 under 40 club in recognition of her public service and career milestones.  A dancer and cheerleader since her early years, Valonda cheered in college and professionally for the Washington Redskins.  She loves fashion and in 2013 Carolina Style Magazine named Valonda one of the 25 Most Stylish People In The Triangle.  Valonda lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughter.


Anita Luthra | Board Member, Triad Developer’s Guild of North Carolina (TDG)

Anita Luthra is a Director of the Triad Developers Guild of North Carolina, and is an industry advisory board member at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (UNCG). She holds an M.S. degree in Information Technology and Management from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a B.A. degree in Communications.  Anita has been involved in Information Technology for over 12 years across multiple industries; beginning her career as an Associate Professor and later as a Director of Training. This evolved into consulting and development of desktop and enterprise web applications. She has experience in systems architecture, n-tier web & database architecture, design and development across varied technologies; and has functioned in roles such as Information Architect & Systems Architect, Technical Lead, Technical Project Manager, developer/systems analyst for companies such as IBM, Wells Fargo, GMAC Insurance and Lucent. She speaks at various technology events, and aside for her passion for learning new things, she enjoys traveling, hiking, and photography.


Ron E. Armstead | Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust

In addition to being the Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust (CBCVB), Mr. Armstead is a past consultant for former Secretary Jesse Brown’s Veterans Administration’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans. He has served as Executive Director of the CBCVB since its inception in 1988, first under Rep. Charles B. Rangel (NY-13); a decorated Korean War combat veteran and Dean of the New York Congressional Delegation; and currently under the his and Representative Sanford Bishop Jr.’s leadership(GA-02); ranking member of Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies of the Appropriations Committee.  Under his oversight, the Veterans Braintrust has expanded from its small core group to become the premiere forum for policy debate between veterans and representatives of government in the country.  As well as being a Navy veteran, Mr. Armstead holds a Masters Degree in City Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a license in social work (LSW) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and is currently on an extended leave of absence from Howard University’s School of Social Work Doctoral Program.  Mr. Armstead began his activist career at Boston State College in September 1975, as a campus organizer and later President of Student Government Association. During his time at BSC, he and several classmates incorporated the Veterans Benefits Clearinghouse, Inc. as an outgrowth of the Veterans Club on campus. His extensive background includes but is not limited to issues of homelessness, mental health, social work, youth violence, affordable housing and community development.


2014-05-13 21_16_36-Veteran Champs-160 - Windows Photo ViewerMike Liguori | Author, and Regional Outreach Specialist at The Mission Continues

Mike Liguori is a Marine Veteran of the Iraq War, and is the author of “THE SANDBOX: Stories of Human Spirit and War;” a memoir expanding upon his return home from active-service, his personal battle with PTSD, and his dedication to launch a non-profit program dedicated to helping veterans successfully transition back into the workforce.  He is an active leader in the military community, whose contributions include both lobbying on Capitol Hill as a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), to speaking on numerous panels about tackling issues facing today’s veterans.  He’s been featured on CBS, Huff Post LIVE, San Josey Mercury NewsConscious Magazine, and NPR. 


Veteran Champs-162Dr. Kristen Shockley | Industrial Psychologist and Statistician, Baruch City College of NYC.

Professor Shockley is an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist and Statistician in the Department of Psychology at Baruch College, City University of New York, where she studies work/family relationships.  At the college, she directs the employment component of the “Veterans and Active Duty Service Member Initiative.”  In this position she has formed a partnership with the American Psychological Association in spearheading programs to address a number of critical areas, including: the struggle in identifying a new career path post-deployment, locating available jobs that meet veteran’s career needs, and translating military experiences to skills and abilities that are meaningful and attractive to civilian employers.  These services will be free of charge to all New York City veterans and their families, as well as active duty service members and their families.

Professor Shockley’s research interest has included examining the impact of PTSD and resiliency training simulation on the family members of returning veterans.  Specifically, she is interested in work/family dynamics as it is impacted by post-deployment stress including PTSD, depression, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse.  Related to this is her interest in examining the impact of gatekeeper training simulations that employ a newly developed technology where users role-play with intelligent virtual humans for the purpose of learning to manage difficult conversations in the areas of health & behavioral health.  Lastly, she has conducted data analysis for three gatekeeper training studies that were accepted by the National Registry of Evidence Programs and Practices (NREPP).


Veteran Champs-102Hakeem Moore | President of i-Suntari Social Innovation

Hakeem Moore is a retired combat veteran living with PTSD, and is President of i-Suntari Social Innovation, L3C.  i-Suntari is a veteran service organization that trains and equips wounded warriors with the education, skills, and capital resources to effectively lead their own enterprises!  The firm aims to create a network of military “veteran owned and operated” agri-businesses that extend food access and economic opportunities to vulnerable communities.  Mr. Moore brings 13 years of honorable military service, specific to supply chain management, operations management, executive training, and leadership development. He is experienced in delivering instructional support to senior-level executives tailored to their individual learning style, and believes education that encompasses empathy, music, art, and effective communication skills are essential components for critical systemic thinking.  His background in servant leadership permeates a foundation of empathy for people at all aspects of the process, and it is his belief that this approach is paramount for structuring solid alliances and true partnerships; which supports and encourages realigning the mind, body, spirit, and soul.


A special thanks to:

BlueCross Blue Shield of North Carolina | The Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club | Healing with CAARE, Inc. | Women Veterans Interactive | Kognito Interactive
Dryhootch of America | Veterans Empowerment Organization | HR Staffing Services at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs | Dillon Consulting Services, LLC | Veterans 360, Inc.
Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators (DISI) | Stop Soldier Suicides, Inc. | Triad Developer’s Guild (TDG) | United States Public Health Service
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans | The Wounded Warrior Project | The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration
Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust | The Soldiers Project | CNN Digital’s “The Uncounted” | NC Coalition to End Homelessness | US Congressman David Price (NC-4th District)

for contributing to the success of our past conferences.

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