Campaign for Inclusion

Our Campaign for Inclusion addresses the inequities military families of color face in the areas where they live and work.

BSF_CampaignInclusion_Logo

Campaign for Inclusion

Our Campaign for Inclusion addresses the inequities military families of color face in the areas where they live and work.

LEADERSHIP

To root the Campaign for Inclusion in strong leadership, Blue Star Families enlisted the support of an extraordinary group of leaders and trusted advisors—men and women who have experienced life in a military family and who have important perspectives to share.  

The following committee of established leaders, composed of high-ranking military leaders from all branches, wounded warriors, caregivers, and military spouses,  helps inform strategies, programs, and outcomes of the Campaign for Inclusion, as well as provide thought leadership on racial equity and inclusion to the entire military and Veteran family support sector. 

Sheila Casey

Chair, Blue Star Families Board of Directors | Chief Operating Officer, The Hill

Kathy Roth-Douquet

Blue Star Families, CEO and Board President

Carlandra “CT” Moss

Director of Racial Equity & Inclusion Initiative

Lieutenant General Gwen Bingham, U.S. Army (Ret.), Co-Chair

Former Army Staff Principal for Installation Management

Staff Sergeant Charles Eggleston, U.S. Army (Ret.), Co-Chair

President & CEO, Three Seven Consulting

Ingrid Herrera-Yee, Ph.D., Co-Chair

Military Spouse and Suicide Prevention Expert

Major General Juan G. Ayala, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)

Director, Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, City of San Antonio

Lt. General Thomas P. Bostick, U.S. Army (Ret.)

53rd Chief of Engineers of the United States Army, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Michelle Brito

Financial Specialist, Military Family Program Advisor, and Army Spouse

Brigadier General Carol Eggert (Ret).

Comcast NBCUniversal, Senior VP Military and Veterans Affairs

Colonel Robert Gordon​, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy

Rear Admiral Sinclair Harris, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Former Vice Director for Operations to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Vice Admiral Mary M. Jackson, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Former Commander, Naval Installations Command

Koby Langley

Senior Vice President, American Red Cross

Val Nicholas

Senior Vice President Creative Director at SummitMediaCorp

Patricia Ochan, Ph.D.

Senior Consultant Cyber Policy and Military Spouse

Sergeant Major James K. Sims, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Former Army Materiel Command, Command Sergeant Major

Staff Sergeant Fernando Snowden-Lorence, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)

Vice President and Regional Director, Corporate Responsibility at JP Morgan Chase

General Larry Spencer, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Former Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force

Major General Antonio Taguba, U.S. Army (Ret.)

President, TDLS Consulting, LLC

Major General Suzanne P. Vares-Lum, U.S. Army (Ret.)

President, East-West Center

Master Sergeant Rob Wilkins, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Military Evangelist/Community Outreach at MilitaryTimes

Karla Ballard Williams

CEO & Co-Founder, YING, Inc.

Captain Anthony Woods

Iraq War Veteran, Army Reservist

Brigadier General Irene M. Zoppi (Rodríguez), Ph.D., U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.)

Former U.S. Army South, Deputy Commanding General & Director, U.S. Army Reserve Engagement Cell for Mobilization

Lieutenant General Lee Quintas

U.S. Army (Ret.)

Dr. William D. Rowe, Jr.

Community volunteer and leader

Major General Tammy S. Smith, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Major General (Ret.)

Rear Admiral Joanna M. Nunan

Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.)

Sheila Casey

Chair, Blue Star Families Board of Directors | Chief Operating Officer, The Hill

Sheila Casey is the Chief Operating Officer of The Hill, a top U.S. political publication available in print and online with a focus on The White House, Congress, policy, campaigns, lobbying, business and international news.  It is widely recognized as the leading source of congressional news. Prior to joining The Hill in 1997, she was the Director of Finance at the Texas Council on Family Violence in Austin, Texas.  Additionally, Sheila spent 7 years at Grant Thornton, a national CPA firm, where she was an audit manager.  She graduated with honors in accounting from the University of Colorado.

Sheila was a military spouse for over 41 years. She has lived throughout the United States, Europe and Egypt and had been an active member of military spouse organizations throughout her husband’s military career and since his retirement.

Sheila is the Chair of the Board of Governors of Blue Star Families, and the Washington Press Club Foundation. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Advisors for ThanksUSA, The Bob Woodruff Foundation, and The Military Child Education Coalition.  She is published in several national news outlets and speaks to audiences on military spouse and family issues.

Kathy Roth-Douquet

Blue Star Families, CEO and Board President

Kathy Roth-Douquet is an advocate for the role of the military in civil society; she is an author, nonprofit leader, attorney, and former government official. Kathy is the CEO of Blue Star Families, the largest Chapter-based nonprofit organization serving active duty of all branches, Guard and Reserve, wounded, and transitioning veterans and their families. Blue Star Families mission is to strengthen military families and our nation by connecting communities and fostering leadership to millions of people.Kathy Roth-Douquet received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, her MPA in International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University where she held a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, and a JD from the University of San Diego School of Law, Magna Cum Laude and the Order of the Coif. While serving at the Pentagon as Principal Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Acting) she received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service for her work on defense reform. She is also a recipient of President George H. W. Bush’s Daily Point of Light Award, and most recently received the Chief of Staff of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Award.Kathy is a commentator on patriotism, civil-military affairs, the value of service, and the experience of military families. She has appeared on the Today Show, Fox and Friends, CNN, NPR, has been a frequent contributor to USA Today, and is a frequent public speaker. She is an author, most notably of “AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service and How it Hurts Our Country” (Collins, 2006). She is a practicing attorney, a member of the Small Business Association Advisory Board, and is Co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center Defense Reform Task Force. She is a military spouse of 18 years, four deployments, and 9 moves. She lives with her husband and two children in Northern Virginia.

Carlandra “CT” Moss

Director of Racial Equity & Inclusion Initiative

Carlandra “CT” Moss is an (Army Retired) First Sergeant with 24 years of experience in leadership, training, and community relations. She is a certified life coach, motivational speaker, and fitness influencer. CT Moss is the Director of Racial Equity & Inclusion (REI) Initiative for Blue Star Families, a not-for-profit organization that supports and serves military families. As the REI Director, she leads the multi-dimensional, cross-sector, collective-action effort to improve the service experiences of military families of color.CT Moss received her Bachelor Professional Studies in Business & Administration and her Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Social Media Management from Excelsior College. She is a native of Florida and enjoys volunteering in the community. She has a son currently serving in the Army and a daughter serving in the Air Force.

Lieutenant General Gwen Bingham, U.S. Army (Ret.), Co-Chair

Former Army Staff Principal for Installation Management

Lieutenant General (LTG) Gwen Bingham is a US Army retired 3-star General and a native of Troy, Alabama. She graduated from Army ROTC as a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Alabama in August 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce and Business Administration. She was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps. Lieutenant General Bingham has a Master’s degree in Administration from Central Michigan University and a Master’s degree in National Security Strategy and Resources from the National Defense University.

LTG Bingham has served in a myriad of staff and command positions throughout her 38-year Army career from Platoon Leader to Two-star Commanding General. She has deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and has served in assignments both in CONUS and overseas. She has been a trailblazer serving as the first woman to hold numerous positions as a General Officer. They include: The Army’s 51st Quartermaster General and Commandant of the US Army Quartermaster School; Commanding General, White Sands Missile Range; and Commanding General, Tank-automotive and Armaments Life Cycle Management Command. On 30 June 2016, she was confirmed by the Senate for promotion to Lieutenant General and assignment in the Pentagon as the Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management. She retired from the Army in 2019 having served more than 38 years.

LTG (R) Bingham’s professional affiliations include:  Council on Foreign Relations, member; National Association of Corporate Directors; Blue Star Families Board of Directors (Vice-Chair); Owens and Minor, Incorporated Board of Directors; Military Child Education Coalition, Life Member; Association of the United States Army, Life Member; ROCKS, Incorporated, Life Member; and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Life Member.

LTG (R) Bingham is the recipient of the 2019 White House Correspondents “Be Fearless” Award; the 2019 Joint Women’s Leadership in Excellence Meritorious Service Award; the 2018 Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the 2018 Women in Defense Service to the Flag award and the 2014 Rock of the Year award. She and her husband, Dr. Patrick J. Bingham, have two adult children: Dr. Tava M. Bingham and Mr. Phillip J. Bingham. She resides with her husband in Leander, Texas.

Staff Sergeant Charles Eggleston, U.S. Army (Ret.), Co-Chair

President & CEO, Three Seven Consulting

Army Staff Sergeant (Ret.) Charles Eggleston served for 16 years, including multiple tours in Iraq, on his last tour he was severely wounded from an IED blast. He is a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient who received treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) for over three years from wounds of war.While at WRAMC, he advocated for his fellow wounded servicemen from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Mr. Eggleston’s civilian career, he was a systems engineer for over 15 years – managing contracts with the Pentagon, White House Communications Agency, U.S. Senate, and U.S. Postal Service. Now he is currently is the CEO of Three Seven Consulting, a service-disabled, Veteran-owned small business. Mr. Eggleston also holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from Cornell University.In addition to serving as a member of Blue Star Families' Board of Directors, he also sit on the board of the Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA) - An organization that uses the game of golf to rehabilitate and mentor wounded warriors with TBIs and PTSD and other Injuries from War.

Ingrid Herrera-Yee, Ph.D., Co-Chair

Military Spouse and Suicide Prevention Expert

Dr. Ingrid Herrera-Yee received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in trauma from the University of Vermont and served as a clinical fellow for several years at Harvard University. Her pre- and post-doctoral work with Harvard University's mental health team allowed her to sharpen her skills in trauma-focused-therapy, in both Spanish and English, with a diverse community. Since that time, with her family's frequent military moves, she has worked as an educator, speaker, policy wonk, writer, and researcher. Her research has focused on preventing suicide among military service members as well as in resiliency among domestic violence survivors.

Ingrid is a military spouse and the founder of Military Spouse Behavioral Health Clinicians (MSBHC). MSBHC connects military spouse mental health clinicians with information and resources to support them through their journey toward their career in mental health. She was named the National Guard Spouse of the Year in 2014 and received the Edith Hendley Award for outstanding contributions to the lives of women through her clinical work, teaching, research, and advocacy. She serves on several advisory boards, including those for Give an Hour, Blue Star Families, and the Military Family Advisory Network. She has been published extensively and has been asked to speak on military and family mental health issues.

Major General Juan G. Ayala, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)

Director, Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, City of San Antonio

Mr. Ayala retired as a Major General in the United States Marine Corps after 36 years of service. He has a proven record of success leading large, complex organizations. He is currently the Director, Office of Military and Veteran Affairs for the City of San Antonio. In this capacity, he serves as the City’s liaison to the military supporting the Mayor, City Council and city departments. He works closely with military and civilian partners to ensure military missions and installations continue to thrive and grow in the region. In addition, he was assigned as an Executive Temporary Loan to the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce from March to August 2020 where he concurrently served as the Chamber’s Interim President and CEO. Concurrently, he is serving as the City of San Antonio’s Operations Lead for the COVID –19 Response.Prior to his retirement, Major General Ayala commanded all 24 Marine Corps installations worldwide and was selected to lead the Department of Defense’s 2015 Warrior Games assisting the nation’s wounded, ill and injured warriors in their recuperative efforts. He is the former Inspector General of the Marine Corps, and his service includes 4 combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, to include a year as the Senior Advisor of a Military Transition Team, embedded with the 1st Iraqi Army Division.Past assignments include: Coordinated humanitarian assistance programs in 50 countries throughout Africa, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Baltic’s, and the former Soviet Union, served as the Chief of Staff at United States Southern Command leading a staff in the implementation of U.S. national security objectives in 31 countries throughout the Western Hemisphere, to include coordinating detainee operations in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, leda Marine Logistics Group that supported combat operations throughout Iraq, supported humanitarian relief operations after the Haiti Earthquake of 2010, supportedHaitian/Cuban refugee operations in Cuba, and coordinated civilian law enforcement counter drug efforts along the U.S. Southwest Border.Mr. Ayala received an MBA from Campbell University, a Masters Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso.A native of El Paso, Texas, Major General Ayala’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with “V” Combat Distinguishing Device, the Bronze Star Medal,Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal (4 stars), and the Combat Action Ribbon. He is the recipient of the 2007 Excellence in Military Service Award from the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC).Mr. Ayala currently serves on the Governor of Texas’ Advisory Council on Cultural Affairs and is a board member of Visit San Antonio and the National Veterans Outreach (GI Forum). He is the President of the Texas Mayors of Military Communities representing the 16 communities that host military installations in the state of Texas. Since 2016 he has taught Leadership and Ethics as a Visiting Instructor at the Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.An avid cyclist, hiker and reader, Mr. Ayala is married to the former Diane K. Reyes of El Paso,Texas. They have 3 daughters, a son, and 3 grandchildren.

Lt. General Thomas P. Bostick, U.S. Army (Ret.)

53rd Chief of Engineers of the United States Army, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Michelle Brito

Financial Specialist, Military Family Program Advisor, and Army Spouse

Michelle Brito is a seasoned financial specialist, military family program advisor, and spouse of a career Army soldier. Ms. Brito has worked in the fields of accounting, income tax preparation, mortgage lending, military finance, and government contracting. She currently serves as a member of the External Advisory Council for the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs of JP Morgan Chase & Co.

During her 34 years of marriage and 17 military moves, Ms. Brito has transported her career building skills and experience with each new opportunity. Recognized for her leadership as a thoughtful senior advisor, Ms. Brito dedicates volunteer time to building awareness and advancing networks which enable military families to engage and grow within their local communities. Michelle holds a degree in Economics from Penn State University and currently resides at Fort Myer, VA with her husband, Lieutenant General Gary Brito, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, Dept. of the Army. As a senior spouse, Michelle has devoted much of her time to advising and mentoring younger spouses as they travel their Army journey.

The Britos have two sons -Matthew, a Finance Manager, and Patrick, an active duty Captain, Apache helicopter pilot.

Brigadier General Carol Eggert (Ret).

Comcast NBCUniversal, Senior VP Military and Veterans Affairs

Carol Eggert is Senior Vice President of Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal. In this role, she leads a team that works across Comcast NBCUniversal to provide strategic leadership to all aspects of programs and outreach engaging the military and veteran community.Carol brings more than 30 years of military and civilian experience to Comcast. In her civilian role, she assisted various organizations in the private, government and non-profit sectors with their initiatives in knowledge management, strategic planning and project management. During her military career, she served in a variety of command and staff positions and completed numerous overseas deployments, including a 15- month combat tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as Chief of the Women’s Initiatives Division and Senior Liaison to the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad, where she conducted a full-scale analysis of women’s initiatives and developed a strategic plan for the economic and political empowerment of Iraqi women under the U.S. Secretary of State.She is the recipient of numerous awards and commendations in recognition of her contributions to the military, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and multiple awards of the Meritorious Service Medal.  Carol is a graduate of the prestigious U.S. Army War College, where she also served on the faculty and was later selected as the Deputy Commandant.  She holds two master’s degrees in instructional design and strategic international studies and a doctoral degree in organizational leadership. Carol serves on the Corporate Advisory Board for West Chester University, and the Boards of the Philly POPS, PsychArmor, Concussion Legacy Foundation and the Patton Veterans Project.In 2021, the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Women Veterans listed Carol on its annual Women Veteran Trailblazers list. Her leadership in the private sector has also been widely recognized, including by Variety’s 2020 Salute to Service Impact List, Cablefax’s 2020 Most Powerful Women, We Are The Mighty’s 2018 Influencers Supporting the Military Community, HillVets’ 2016 list of the 100 Most Influential Veterans in America, and the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2016 Veterans of Influence.

Colonel Robert Gordon​, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy

An airborne ranger, Rob served in command and staff positions as an artillery officer in installations across the United States and Europe. After completing a 26 year career and retiring at the rank of Colonel, his subsequent opportunities included both senior government and corporate high tech positions, including Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (MCFP) in the Department of Defense; Special Assistant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Chief Strategy Officer for an augmented reality company, Chief Global Officer of a technology and services company; and consultant for an advanced artificial intelligence company. His experience includes creating, managing and overseeing both entrepreneurial ventures and large scale, multi-billion dollar initiatives.

Rear Admiral Sinclair Harris, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Former Vice Director for Operations to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Sinclair Harris serves as LMI’s director of business development for the Department of the Navy. He retired as a rear admiral after a 34-year career in the U.S. Navy. His service culminated as the vice director for operations to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During his distinguished career, he led joint, combined, multinational, and interagency organizations both at sea and ashore across all aspects of defense, including full spectrum operations, program management, strategic planning, and execution. He was also commander of the U.S. Fourth Fleet, leading U.S. Naval forces assigned to U.S. Southern Command.

Mr. Harris has been published in numerous journals on the topics of surface warfare, combat logistics, irregular warfare, and leadership. He earned a BS in economics from James Madison University, an MS in operations research from the Naval Postgraduate School, and an MS in defense and strategic studies from the University of Madras, India.

Mr. Harris voluntarily serves as president of the National Naval Officers Association, national vice president of the Navy League of the United States, past chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association Expeditionary Warfare Division, member of the board of directors for the Surface Navy Association, and member of the Northern Virginia Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

Vice Admiral Mary M. Jackson, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Former Commander, Naval Installations Command

Jackson retired in July 2020 after over three decades of service in the United States Navy. She began her career as a Surface Warfare Officer serving on and off Navy warships achieving command of USS McFAUL (DDG 74), an Arleigh Burke class destroyer. She subsequently went on to command the Navy’s largest Navy base, Naval Station Norfolk where she was the equivalent of a city manager or Mayor for a city with a population of 64,000 people, managing operational and service industries while managing the Navy’s relationship with local agencies, surrounding communities, regulators, and national media. Upon selection as a Flag Officer, she served in Shore installation Regional and Enterprise level (Navy Installations Command) assignments ultimately accountable for $7.5B and 53,000 personnel executing efficient and effective operational, material and personnel programs from facility management, utilities, port and air operations, security, crisis response, and Sailor/family support services (lodging, food services, childcare, fitness) for 71 Navy installations across 10 Regions providing global support to the Navy and Joint forces.Currently, Jackson remains engaged through a portfolio of activities, including service as an Independent Director, consulting as an advisor to clients, and serving as a board member for the Greater Jacksonville Area USO and the Surface Navy Association. Additionally, she is theChair of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone Jacksonville Advisory Council and serves on the Blue Star Families Racial Equity Committee.Jackson holds a Bachelors Degree in Physics (Oceanography emphasis) from the United States Naval Academy and a Masters of Engineering Management from George Washington University.Vice Admiral Jackson was raised in the Middle East, where her father worked for U.S. Geological Survey, and claims Texas as her home state. She and her family currently reside in Jacksonville, Florida.

Koby Langley

Senior Vice President, American Red Cross

Koby Langley serves as a Senior Vice President at the American Red Cross, overseeing worldwide operations of Services to the Armed Forces. He previously served as the Director of Wounded Warrior, Veteran and Military Family Engagement at the White House and the Senior Advisor for Wounded Warrior, Veteran and Military Family Initiatives for CNCS, leading their largest expansion of services to veterans and military families.

In 2010 he was appointed to the Senior Executive Service at DoD, where he worked as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Advisor for the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy. In 2009, Langley worked as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs, leading strategic communication and strategic planning portfolios for offices reporting directly to the Secretary.

Val Nicholas

Senior Vice President Creative Director at SummitMediaCorp

From his start in local television to his two decades at NBC Entertainment and NBC News, Val Nicholas has extensive experience in all aspects of media and marketing, with a unique talent for creative innovation designed to fit the audience, the product, the time and the place.

Nicholas is known in the industry for his vision and craft and his use of various media to attract attention in unique ways. He has produced a wide range of programming including news, talk shows, news magazines, syndicated programs, sporting events and live primetime specials for television on both the local and national level.

Patricia Ochan, Ph.D.

Senior Consultant Cyber Policy and Military Spouse

Patricia Ochan is a Senior Consultant for Cybersecurity Policy at Booz Allen Hamilton. Before she joined Booz Allen, Pat was a full-time caregiver to her husband—a veteran who was severely injured in combat. A cybersecurity expert with a law degree, she had to give up her career to care for him. She’s one of millions of “hidden heroes” across the U.S.— the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for our nation’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans.

Sergeant Major James K. Sims, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Former Army Materiel Command, Command Sergeant Major

James K. Sims retired as a Command Sergeant Major in the United States Army. Under his tutelage, he has accumulated over 33 years of active military service, which included more than 5 combat deployments. During his position as Command Sergeant Major, James never shied away from his duties and in fact, ensured that they were executed on every level. This included culminating as the former Senior Enlisted Advisor for the Commanding General of the Army Materiel Command, a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and the Army’s Senior Enlisted Logistician.

His extensive strategic leadership and logistics experience afforded him the ability to align personnel and resources with organizational initiatives. These initiatives delivered top-notch supply chain management and distribution solutions to improve standards in productivity, efficiency, and quality. James is the first Command Sergeant Major in the history of the Quartermaster Corps to rise from private E-1 to E-9 at the four-star level. His notable assignments ranged from 3rd U.S. Infantry “Old Guard”, 82nd Airborne Division, and 7th Special Forces Group.

Staff Sergeant Fernando Snowden-Lorence, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)

Vice President and Regional Director, Corporate Responsibility at JP Morgan Chase

A Vice President and Regional Director in Corporate Responsibility at JP Morgan Chase, Fernando has helped initiate and lead grant support for workforce training and military to civilian transition skill building. He has managed development and support of college and career readiness for youth of color in the Eastern Region of the United States. His work includes management of internal volunteer mentorship programming and philanthropic partnerships providing workforce training and skill building for the Military Veteran community.A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he served in the United States Marine Corps. and Marine Corps. Reserve for nine and a half years where he held the rank of Staff Sergeant.Fernando is a 2018 Council of Urban Professionals Fellow, and a 2020 Coro Workforce Systems Leadership Program participant as well as a Fellow in the Association of Black Funding Executives Connecting Leaders Program.

General Larry Spencer, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Former Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force

Larry Spencer spent more than 40 years in the Air Force, beginning his career in the enlisted ranks and rising to become a four-star general. General Spencer’s last assignment was as the Vice Chief of Staff of the US Air Force where he assisted the Chief of Staff in organizing, training and equipping 690,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces. After retiring from the Air Force in 2015, General Spencer served as President of the Air Force Association until 2019.General Spencer received his Bachelor of Science Degree in industrial engineering technology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and has two Master of Science degrees. He currently serves on the boards of Whirlpool Corporation, Triumph Group, Inc., and Haynes International, Inc. General Spencer became a member of the AFBA Board in February 2020. He was named AFBA President in March 2020 and 5Star Life Insurance Company President in June 2020.

Major General Antonio Taguba, U.S. Army (Ret.)

President, TDLS Consulting, LLC

Major General Antonio (Tony) Taguba retired on January 1, 2007 having served 34 years on Active Duty.

He is President, TDLS Consulting, LLC which provides business consulting services to corporate and nonprofit organizations. He is Chairman, Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM), a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit national, all volunteer, charitable, educational organization committed to mentoring and leadership development of military and civilian leaders. He also serves as Chairman, Filipino Veterans Education and Recognition Project, 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit, national, education, charitable group advocating for and supporting the Filipino and American Veterans of World War II.

He also serves as an AARP Community Ambassador for Military and Family Caregiving.

He was a former Vice President, Army Services, SERCOInc., a global services company based in North America and Great Britain.

Born in Manila, Philippines on October 31, 1950, Major General Taguba was commissioned as an Armor Officer and distinguished military graduate from Idaho State University in May 1972. He has served in numerous command and staff positions from infantry platoon to General officer level. His service tours included assignments in the United States, South Korea, Germany, and Kuwait.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he served as Deputy Commanding General for Support, Coalition Forces Land Component Command/Army Central Command/Third U.S. Army, forward deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. He was responsible for logistical support services to U.S. and Coalition Forces totaling over 150,000 troops conducting combat operations. His duty included support of U.S. troops and coordination of host nation support from the Government of Kuwait, and security/training support in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Qatar. Prior to his deployment, he served as Acting Director of Army Staff, Department of the Army, Pentagon.

Upon his redeployment, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Pentagon. He later served as Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command on his last assignment on active duty.

His military awards and decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal (2 awards), Legion of Merit (4 awards), Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (6 awards), Office of Secretary of Defense Identification Badge, and Army Staff Identification Badge.

He received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of San Francisco on May 17, 2008. Major General Taguba graduated from Idaho State University with a BA degree in History; Webster University with a MA degree in Public Administration; Salve Regina University with a MA degree in International Relations; and U.S. College of Naval Command and Staff with MA degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and U.S. Army War College.

He and wife of 40 years, Debra, have 2 adult children –Lindsay T. Keys and Major Sean T. Taguba, US Army. They have 3 granddaughters.

Major General Suzanne P. Vares-Lum, U.S. Army (Ret.)

President, East-West Center

Ms. Suzanne (Suzy) Puanani Vares-Lum, a Native Hawaiian, born and raised in Wahiawa, Hawaii, was selected as the next President of the East-West Center. She is the first woman, Native Hawaiian, and University of Hawaii graduate, and Hawaii resident to be chosen for this role since the center was established by Congress in 1960. Beginning January 1, 2022, Ms. Vares-Lum succeeded Dr. Richard R. Vuylsteke who served as the President for the past 5 years.Vares-Lum brings influential executive leadership and planning experience spanning the past several decades, culminating in the past five years serving with and advising the most senior officials at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, where she cultivated and maintained key relationships among nations within the Asia Pacific Region.As a retired Major General, who served 34 years in the service, Vares-Lum has held key roles in addressing priority national security challenges in the region. She is an influential executive with leadership and planning experience spanning the past several decades, culminating in the past five years serving with and advising the most senior officials at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, which is the largest and oldest U.S. Combatant Command, spans 52% of the earth’s surface, and encompasses over 377K military personnel. She held key roles in addressing priority national security challenges in the region, including those related to the People's Republic of China, Russia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and violent extremist organizations, as well as natural disasters. She possesses comprehensive knowledge of Indo-Pacific posture, policies, relationships, emerging trends/threats, and long-term objectives in order to support ongoing operations and ultimately foster peace, equity, and cooperation throughout the region. Most recently, she led collaboration efforts in a range of Pacific Homeland (Hawaii, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands) initiatives. She cultivated and maintained key relationships among 36 nations within the Indo-Pacific region, engaging with senior leaders in the Department of Defense, local government, local communities, and Members of Congress.Post retirement, she formed Vares-Lum Indo-Pacific Consulting, LLC to provide consulting and advising on Indo-Asia-Pacific issues. She is a seasoned keynote speaker and advocate on regional issues; leadership and mentorship; and Women, Peace and Security. She led collaborative initiatives in the Pacific, including Hawaii, Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.As a community leader, Ms. Vares-Lum serves on a variety of non-profit boards, including the American Red Cross Pacific Islands Region. She has also served on committees that promote Hawaii’s economic diversification, workforce development, and community dialogues on issues regarding land and water. She has also served as a Strategic Advisor to the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council.She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 1989 and her Master of Education in Teaching from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1996. As a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, she earned a Master of Strategic Studies degree in 2011. In 2019, she became a National Security Fellow of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is also an alumni of the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies.In 2017, she was a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Additionally, the State of Hawaii House of Representatives and the Governor of the State of Hawaii, and the Hawaii Congressional Delegation presented Ms. Vares-Lum with certificates of recognition for outstanding service to the State of Hawaii in 2021.

Master Sergeant Rob Wilkins, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Military Evangelist/Community Outreach at MilitaryTimes

The Honorable Rob Wilkins, appointed by President Donald J. Trump to the President's Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition (PCSFN) is a retired US Air Force Master Sergeant and a fitness expert. A native of Linden, New Jersey, Wilkins serves as the Military Evangelist at Sightline Media Group, the leading news organization covering military, defense, public sector, federal technology, C4ISR and cyber defense. Some of his key military assignments included serving on the staff of The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) and Legislative Liaison Office, Secretary of the Air Force, where he was responsible for organizing, coordinating, and escorting Congressional delegations worldwide.

An avid advocate for military veterans, Wilkins is a lifetime Air Force Association member, lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), lifetime member of the American Legion and serves on military focused boards to include the American Veterans Center, Boulder Crest (retreat for military veterans) and Blue Star Families. In addition, he is the President of Rolling Thunder Washington, DC and President of the RedCon1 Foundation, focused on assisting military families in need of financial assistance.

Karla Ballard Williams

CEO & Co-Founder, YING, Inc.

Karla Ballard Williams is Co-Founder and CEO of YING, a peer to peer skill sharing and global time sharing platform (IOS /Android App) engaging members and organizations in a complimentary currency that supports community and individual benefits. YING helps groups and communities to facilitate on demand skill exchanges to assist with tasks between members. The platform has a b2b enterprise engagement for NGO's and Corporations as well creating a plug in play skill-sharing ecosystem for any affinity group. Many have compared it to the VENMO for skill sharing transactions backed by social capital.

Captain Anthony Woods

Iraq War Veteran, Army Reservist

Tony Woods is the Director and Head of Talent for Schmidt Futures. In this role he is overall responsible for identifying and recruiting top talent, creating robust learning and development opportunities, and overseeing the organization’s Human Resource function. Tony also leads Schmidt Futures’ Center for Digital Talent whose mandate is to expand and enrich the US National Security technical workforce so it is able to confront the threats posed by emerging technologies. Previously, he worked for The Boston Consulting Group and served as a White House Fellow in the Obama Administration. He served as an aide to the Governor of New York, ran for Congress, and worked to develop volunteer driven solutions for American cities at ServiceNation.As an officer in the Army, Tony deployed twice to Iraq and earned the Bronze Star for his service. He currently serves as an intelligence analyst in the Army Reserves assigned to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. Tony holds an Executive MBA from the University of Maryland, MPP from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and B.S. from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Brigadier General Irene M. Zoppi (Rodríguez), Ph.D., U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.)

Former U.S. Army South, Deputy Commanding General & Director, U.S. Army Reserve Engagement Cell for Mobilization

From humble beginnings, the second of five siblings, BG Zoppi was born and raised in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico. Her military career started on 11 December 1985 when she enlisted as a Private First Class (E3), Military Police Corps. In 1988, she received her commission as a Second Lieutenant, Military Intelligence, after graduating from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, as a Distinguished Military Student and Graduate. As a native Spanish-speaker, she was selected and graduated from the renowned Defense Language Institute (DLI), English Language Military Program, English as a Second Language Speakers (ESL), which prepared her for success.
BG Zoppi is a subject matter expertise on Strategic Intelligence, Humanitarian Assistance, Unity of Nations, and Diplomatic Military Affairs. Her distinguished service reflects her passion for the Western Hemisphere and the Caribbean, at the following key assignments: (1)U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH), Deputy Commanding General & Director, U.S. Army Reserve Engagement Cell (AREC) for Mobilization, Fort Sam, Texas; (2) 200th Military Police Command, Deputy Commanding Generalfor Support, Fort Meade, Maryland; and (3)U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM),Commander/J2, Army Reserve Elements, 76th Operational Response Command, Doral, Florida; therein, serving with Distinguished Senior Level Officials throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
Her numerous leadership assignments are, but not limited to:Deputy Commander for Readiness, Mission Support Element under the 200th Military Police Command; Deputy Commander & Chief of Staff, 1st Mission Support Command; Group/Brigade Commander, Strategic Intelligence Group; Battalion Commander, 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion (Technical Intelligence); Assistant J2, Chief Intelligence Officer, Joint Task Force, National Capital Region, NORTHCOM; Battalion Commander, 11th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 104th Division (Leadership Development) and other critical joint assignments including a deployment with the 3rd Armored Division (SPEARHEAD) under her mentors MG Paul Funk and CSM Joe Hill during the Gulf War–OPERATION DESERT SHIELD, STORM, and CALM.
BG Zoppi is a graduate of numerous prestigious military institutions: the U.S. Army War College, Advanced Joint Professional Military Education, the Command and General Staff College, the Combined Arms Service Staff School, and Airborne School. Hereto, she is also branched qualified in Military Intelligence, Civil Affairs, Public Affairs, and Military Police.She holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Maryland, a Master of Strategic Studies Degree from the U.S. Army War College, a Master of Business Administration, and a Master of Science in Business, Marketing from Johns Hopkins University. BG Zoppi received a Women’s Leadership Certificate from Harvard Business School.She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages: Spanish, Italian, French, and German from the University of Puerto Rico.
BG Zoppi’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (with 3 oak leaf clusters), the Army Commendation Medal (with 6 oak leaf clusters), the Southwest Asia Service Medal (with 3 bronze stars), the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Government of Kuwait),the U.S. Army Parachutist Badge, and Medal of Valor, Republic of Columbia, Bogota, South America.BG Zoppi also received the Knowlton Award for Excellence in Military Intelligence.
As a civilian, Dr. Zoppi serves as the Chief, Executive Branch & Non-Title 50 Agencies serving under the Customer Outreach and Advocacy, National Security Agency. She is the former Program Director for the National Intelligence University, Bethesda, MD. Moreover, Dr. Zoppi serves as an Adjunct Faculty Member for the U.S.Army War College, Distance Department of Education, where she pioneered the first course on “Latin America, Central America,and the Caribbean: U.S. National Interests.”Likewise, she is an Adjunct Professor for the College of Business, Strayer University. She is a preceding visiting Adjunct Professor for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), Fort Benning, Georgia.
Her teaching, mentoring, coaching, motivating, and public speaking skills reach out to others while making a difference in Academia. Dr. Zoppi is a former Adjunct Professor from various higher education institutions such as College of Notre Dame, ROTCBowie State University, and Research Associate for the Maryland Institute of Minority Achievement and Urban Education, University of Maryland, College Park; and Howard University. Moreover, she was selected for admission to two international academic honorary societies, Phi Kappa Phi and Kappa Delta Pi.
Currently serving as a volunteer as a Member of Directors and Advisory Board in the Prestigious Blue Star Families, Washington, DC, and Member of Board of Trustees, Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, MD.Formally, Dr. Zoppi was nominated by the Governor of Maryland and appointed by Maryland State Senate to: (1) Maryland State Board of Education, EthicCommittee, Baltimore, MD; (2) Maryland Board of Trustees, Education of the State of Maryland; and (3) Co-Chair and Commissioner for the State of Maryland on the Commission on the Establishment of Maryland’s Women in the Military Service Monument and (4) Member of Maryland Workforce Corporation Board, Annapolis, MD.
Her civilian awards, certifications, and decorations include theLatina of the Year, Latina Style Inc (2020), Latina of Influence Award by the Hispanic Lifestyle (2015); Faculty of Excellence Award, Strayer University, 120th Commencement, Baltimore, Maryland (2012); Maryland’s Top 100 Women (2009), Kentucky Colonel, Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels (2000).
In military heritage,BG Zoppi is a member of the American Revolution’s Daughters, #845972, with ancestry to former President Abraham Lincoln.
BG Zoppi is married to Sergeant Thomas J. Zoppi, who serves as a Law Enforcement Officer at, County Police. They have four fully-grown offspring with four grandchildren. Her mantra is simple: “Culture is the heart of an organization. Without a heart, there is no pulse. Therefore, take care of PEOPLE, and MISSION will be innovatively VICTORIOUS.”

Lieutenant General Lee Quintas

U.S. Army (Ret.)

During his 35-year military career, Lee Quintas led units at every level from platoon through division command. He is a veteran with tours in Germany, Iraq, and Afghanistan. As the 3-star Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Forces Command, Lee had responsibility for day-to-day operations for the Army’s largest organization, comprised of more than 750,000 soldiers and civilians. During his tenure, the command deployed more than 1,500 subordinate units comprised of 140,000 soldiers, including contingency responses to defend the American Embassy in Iraq, the COVID-19 pandemic, and evacuation operations in Kabul. To address the growing cyber threat, Lee was part of a senior-level effort to modernize and protect Army systems. As part of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, he oversaw the leadership training for the successful assignment of women into combat formations, including Infantry, Armor, and Cavalry, and chaired the first DEI Council to develop governance and strategy for positive change. To improve safety, Lee led audits and supervised the revitalization of vehicle operator training and licensing.As the commander of the Third Infantry Division, Lee was responsible for preparing and deploying more than 15,000 soldiers, maintaining an installation, providing care for families, and establishing positive relationships with local communities and state government. While in command, Lee led joint and multinational operations in Afghanistan. This included developing strategies to reorganize forces across the country while sustaining high-tempo operations against the Taliban and terrorist organizations. At Fort Stewart, Lee oversaw garrison efforts to improve environmental, energy, and water conservation as well as the quality of life, resulting in Army Energy and Water Management, Army Community, and Commander-in-Chief Installation Awards for Excellence.Lee Quintas is the son of a Philippine-born, U.S. Coast Guard Vietnam War veteran. Lee and his wife, Lori, have two children, Samuel and Emma.

Dr. William D. Rowe, Jr.

Community volunteer and leader

Will has over 40 years of professional experience working for the federal government and in the private sector in support of infrastructure, energy, and environmental (IEE) programs. For 26 years at Booz Allen Hamilton, he provided market leadership for IEE programs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, and Department of Interior. He supported civilian agency and international IEE markets and led cross cutting business thrusts in public-public and public-private partnerships, military test and training ranges, water infrastructure and security, and Base Realignment and Closure. He also led Booz Allen’s IEE functional community, coordinated the firm’s IEE industry engagements, and volunteered extensively to support community & military partnership programs focused on workforce development, sustainability, resilience, shared services and diversity, equity and inclusion. Will more recently took on a people leadership role in the firm and helped lead talent acquisition, retention, employee engagement, and diversity, equity, and inclusion work streams for the 3400-person Joint Combatant Command business.Prior to joining Booz Allen, Will held a variety of management, leadership, and academic positions at MITRE Corporation, MITRETEK, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U. S. Geological Survey, the University of Texas, and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He worked on a broad range of assignments, including strategic visioning, strategic planning, policy and guidance development, program management, facilitation, stakeholder engagement and partnering, natural and built asset management, mineral resource assessment, environmental restoration, and environmental management.Will earned his Ph.D. in Geology at the University of Texas at Dallas in 1987, and B.A. in Environmental Science in 1980 from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. In addition, he was an instructor at the Air Force Institute of Technology in environmental restoration project management from 1991 to 2012, has authored over 20 articles and publications, and managed large and diverse teams.He is married, has two grown children, and volunteers his time to support regional government, local government, non-government, and faith-based organizations to forge partnerships for social impact.

Major General Tammy S. Smith, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Major General (Ret.)

Tammy Smith is a retired Army Major General. At the conclusion of her 35 year career she served at the Pentagon as the Military Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), responsible for the Army Quality of Life and Military Family policy. Her numerous assignments include overseas duty in Panama, Afghanistan and South Korea. 

Upon her promotion to Brigadier General in 2012, mere months after the repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT), then BG Smith gained unexpected visibility as the US military’s first openly LGBT General/Flag officer. Rather than downplaying the significance of this unanticipated status MG Smith chose to be a visible role model for an inclusive military that is representative of the nation’s all-volunteer force, contributing to a culture of trust and understanding in a post-DADT military. MG Smith was awarded the Secretary of the Army Diversity in Leadership award for her contributions to Army inclusion efforts. 

Tammy recently joined the Toyota Motors North America (TMNA) Diversity Advisory Board. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the VetVoice Foundation and volunteers as an Ambassador for Out and Equal Workplace Advocates. 

Rear Admiral Joanna M. Nunan

Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.)

Rear Admiral Joanna Nunan served 35 years on active duty in the U. S. Coast Guard from 1987 to 2022.  Her final assignment was as the Deputy Commandant for Mission Support organization’s Deputy for Personnel Readiness (DCMS-DPR) at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC.  In this capacity, she was responsible for optimizing the contributions of Human Resources, force readiness training, and the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in providing a mission ready workforce.  She also chaired the Academy’s Board of Trustees and was the Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Headquarters.A Bridgeport, Connecticut native, Rear Admiral Nunan graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1987.  Her early sea duty was in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Western Pacific before she became the last commanding officer of the WWII era USCGC IRONWOOD in Kodiak, Alaska, and subsequently the first commanding officer of its state of the art replacement, the 225-foot SPAR.Ashore, she has held senior positions in two different Cabinet offices:  Military Advisor to the Secretary of Homeland Security and Military Assistant to the Secretary of Transportation.  She commanded the Coast Guard’s Ninth District, which encompasses the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaways Region and has been Chief of Staff at the Force Readiness Command, Sector Commander in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Deputy Sector Commander in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  

During her recent tenure as Assistant Commandant for Human Resources, RADM Nunan presided over the most far reaching Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in the Service’s history, as well as the enormous policy overhaul necessary to face the COVID-19 crisis.

Her professional studies range from a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to a Master Merchant Mariner license and fellowship at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, DC. She has attended a number of courses on national and international security at Harvard University and the Naval Post Graduate School.

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“After a career of breaking barriers in the Army, this retired General is now fighting for military families of color. CNN's Brianna Keilar, whose husband is an Army Special Forces Officer, introduces us to Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Gwen Bingham, co-chair of Blue Star Families' Racial Equity and Inclusion Initiative that strives to support military families of color.” Source: CNN 

Watch the video about our Racial Equity and Inclusion Committee that was featured during our 2022 Blue Star Families on Facial Inclusion: Understanding Experiences of Military Families of Color event.