Campaign for Inclusion

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

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Campaign for Inclusion

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

TRAINING / FELLOWS

The DEPLOY (Diversify and Expand the Pipeline Of Leaders Of Your Military Community) Fellowship Program a key component of the Campaign for Inclusion. These racially-diverse leaders serve for one year in paid Blue Star Chapter-based or national roles at Blue Star Families while they receive training in military and Veteran service organization leadership curated by several  key partners. Their fellowship work focuses on improving experiences and increasing representation of military families of color in community settings across the country. Upon graduating, they become a pipeline of talent for eventual positions of leadership within the military and Veteran service organization space.

DEPLOY FELLOWSHIP VIDEO

THE 2022-2023 DEPLOY FELLOWS

Marla Bautista

Food Insecurity / Welcome Programs DEPLOY Fellow

Andrea Unzueta

USAA San Diego DEPLOY Fellow

Zanade Mann

Craig Newmark NY Tri-State DEPLOY Fellow

Laura Abubekr

Lockheed Martin NCR DEPLOY Fellow

Jerilyn Lim-Leonard

Chicagoland DEPLOY Fellow

Kimberly Gold

Housing Insecurity DEPLOY Fellow

Angela Alford

Technology DEPLOY Fellow

Mickia Freeman

USAA Tampa DEPLOY Fellow

Lydiah Owiti

JPMC Financial Wellness DEPLOY Fellow

Marla Bautista

Food Insecurity / Welcome Programs DEPLOY Fellow

Marla Bautista is an Army wife and the mother of three creative children. Her spouse, SFC Ulisses Bautista, is currently stationed at MacDill AFB in Tampa, FL. She is the author of "My Thoughts Abandoned" and co-author of "Brave Women, Strong Faith." Marla completed her first TEDx speech in December 2021. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Maryland University College.Marla also works on the Military Spouse Advisory Council for Caliber Home Loans; she educates, collaborates, and leads initiatives to prevent and eliminate Veteran homelessness. Her passion is helping people in need. She does so as the Co-founder and CEO of the Bautista Project Inc, a nonprofit organization providing for homeless community members in Tampa, FL.

Andrea Unzueta

USAA San Diego DEPLOY Fellow

Andrea R. Unzueta joins Blue Star Families as the USAA San Diego Chapter Delpoy Fellow. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, with a concentration in Relational and Organizational Communication from California State University San Bernardino.Andrea has previous law enforcement experience from volunteering as a Police Cadet to working as a Community Service Officer. She has always and continues to have a passion for helping others. For her community involvement, she was awarded the Good Citizenship Awards from Riverside County Bar Association in April 2017.Andrea is an active-duty Navy spouse. She currently resides in beautiful San Diego, California with her husband. In her free time, she enjoys exploring her community from trying out a new restaurant to learning how to kayak.

Zanade Mann

Craig Newmark NY Tri-State DEPLOY Fellow

Recently named, Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 100 Women of Impact, Zanade is a builder of strong communities. She has over fifteen years of industry experience in marketing and communications with a strong background in creative writing and strategic campaigns.Zanade holds a degree in Accounting, Political Science and a Master’s Degree in Education. A former New York City educator and mentor for new teachers, she has spent years serving students with disabilities while inspiring career changers to enter the urban classroom.It is her wish to help underserved people tap into their abilities and purpose through their health, wealth, and mindset so that they can live their best life. Her motto is, "Think big, listen carefully, and get to work!"

Laura Abubekr

Lockheed Martin NCR DEPLOY Fellow

Laura has been a military spouse for 12 years. Her husband is active-duty Army, currently living in Washington D.C. Her family of six includes a college student and a fur baby. As a result of experiencing five PCS (permanent change of station) moves, four of her husband's deployments including activations for Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Dorian, and many training exercises, Laura has learned the deep meaning of resiliency and shares a sacred space in her heart for military families and spouses.With an understanding of some of the challenges military families experience, Laura has volunteered as a Family Readiness Group Leader where she was honored with a Presidential Volunteer Award. In continuing her support for families and the community, she completed a Bachelor's in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and is currently pursuing a Master's in Public Health with a specialization in Health Policy and Management.

Jerilyn Lim-Leonard

Chicagoland DEPLOY Fellow

With a passion to help create resources and contribute to creating safe spaces for families of color within the military community, Jerilyn joins Blue Star Families' Campaign for Inclusion Fellowship program as the Robert R. McCormick Chicagoland DEPLOY Fellow. Serving on Advisory Councils and alongside District Equity Teams who work toward actively cultivating inclusive spaces through improvement goals around Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, Jerilyn has seen the positive impact these programs can have on a community and hopes to mimic those results for our military families.As a military spouse of 17 years, Jerilyn has experienced first-hand the difficulties military families face. As an advocate of transformative change, she hopes to connect and empower our military members with the tools they need to thrive. She attended National University San Diego and currently resides in the greater Chicagoland area with her husband HM1 Kenneth Leonard Jr., their four children, and three-year-old porkie, Rhaja. Jerilyn enjoys traveling, loves street fairs, serves as a head football coach for her local Jr. Football League, and remains an active volunteer in her local community as well as with military organizations.

Kimberly Gold

Housing Insecurity DEPLOY Fellow

Born to a native Korean woman who would become the first Korean female Chief Warrant Officer Five in the United States Army, Kimberly prides herself on learning directly from her mother, her shero, who taught her firsthand how to turn obstacles into opportunities. Kimberly is fresh off the flying boat arriving in Colorado Springs from Korea in the Summer of 2021. She goes way outside the boxes people try to put her in by sharing her unique experiences growing up Black and Korean. Add in being married to a foreign-born spouse who currently serves in the United States Army and being the proud parent to a queer teenager, her world is all mixed in.Kimberly is a survivor of childhood trauma, sexual assault, and domestic violence. She shares that story as a motivational speaker and coach. Kimberly is an avid traveler, visiting 30 countries, and performs stand-up comedy whenever the opportunity presents itself. Though she holds a Master of Arts in Management with a concentration in Organizational Leadership, she lives by the Socratic wisdom, “the more I know, the more I realize I know nothing.” Learning and self-improvement should never stop, and Kimberly believes in applying the kaizen method to all parts of her life.Kimberly strongly believes that community changes everything and as a transient global citizen, she believes that it is our purpose to make communities and the people who live in them better even if we will only be a part of that community for a season. This attitude has allowed Kimberly to thrive in countries from Korea to Kuwait and drives her to be a better version of herself to serve her now home of Colorado Springs, Colorado.Kimberly is involved in the following community organizations: PolkaDot Powerhouse, Mountain Post Spouses Club, Leadership Pikes Peak, Elevating Leadership Development, United Way Pikes Peak, and Golden Lotus Foundation. In the words of Kimberly, "Make good choices!"

Angela Alford

Technology DEPLOY Fellow

Angela attended college at Fontbonne University where she completed a Master's Degree in Supply Chain. She is a Salesforce Professional with a passion for building efficient and accessible systems to solve organizational problems. With over 10 years of experience in training and project management, Angela has unique expertise in researching and analytical skills to make informed business decisions and support others in process implementation. Outside of her passion for Salesforce, Angela enjoys spending time with her husband Army (Retired) Captain Anthony Alford, sailing, camping, and giving back to her community.

Mickia Freeman

USAA Tampa DEPLOY Fellow

Mickia has a degree in behavioral health sciences and experience working in both corporate and nonprofit sectors delivering family-centered services for the past twenty years. As the spouse of a retired Marine, Mickia understands the need for military family resources and support. During her husband’s active-duty service, she was honored to assist her military family as a Key Wife, LINKS Trainer, and Red Cross Station Chairman. Mickia's husband is currently self-employed as a firearms instructor. Together, they have a grown daughter and son. In her free time, she loves to travel. Mickia also volunteers as a Guardian ad Litem, where she aids in protecting the best interests of children involved in the court system.

Lydiah Owiti

JPMC Financial Wellness DEPLOY Fellow

Lydiah is an attorney, international development practitioner, and project manager. She has been a military spouse for 11 years, raising a family while her husband served in different states, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. She has also continued pursuing her education and career interests in the corporate, government, and non-profit sectors.A Kenyan native, Lydiah pursued a law degree to help her protect the rights of children and advocate for the rights of women and minority populations. Because of the strides she made and her contributions to human rights advocacy, she was awarded a full scholarship to study international development management in London where she plans to expand her passion for serving humanity. The constant relocation with her husband's military career prompted her to pursue project management at Saint Mary’s University, which would enable her to continue working remotely.An avid humanitarian at heart, she embodies her favorite quote by Martin Luther King Jr. - Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?

DEPLOY At Work

Craig Newmark New York Tri-State DEPLOY Fellow Adriene Engstrom's (class of 2021-2022) primary objective was to be an advocate and example for military families. She spent a significant amount of time immersed in her surrounding communities, engaging with families, hosting inviting programs, and assisting partner organizations. During her fellowship year, Adriene had the privilege of working with the West Point Buffalo Soldier Association, participating in its inaugural Buffalo Soldier Parade, and supporting newcomers of the West Point community alongside Balfour Beatty. Adriene also hosted a series of events through the summer, including the two-part Grow Where You Go program and START reading program.

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Amazon Food Insecurity DEPLOY Fellow Kelley Klor (class of 2021-2022) focused on partnering with Blue Star Families’ staff to develop a comprehensive plan to increase awareness of food insecurity challenges based on research and outreach to partners and community members. She enhanced communication skills to destigmatize the issue of food insecurity, expanding knowledge and curating resources to share with Blue Star Families’ audience, and growing a deep understanding of the current pressure points facing military families nationwide. Kelley worked with Blue Star Families’ staff to activate and create content for the Food Insecurity Landing Page. She also worked with other DEPLOY Fellows to write posts highlighting their areas of expertise. Throughout her efforts, she made connections with other organizations working in the military food insecurity space and drafted MOUs to partner and share resources. She also assisted the Applied Research team with ideas of future survey fielding questions and supported data visualization for the Blue Star Families' Social Impact Research 2021: The Diverse Experiences of Military & Veteran Families of Color report.

USAA San Antonio / National Chapter DEPLOY Fellow Quiana Abner's (class of 2021-2022) racial equity and inclusion work involved amplifying the concerns of Veteran and military families of color by taking a bridge approach through connecting and collaborating with local thought leaders in the Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous communities of San Antonio. In alliance with the African American Chamber of Commerce, national entrepreneurship agencies, and local BIPOC military-connected business owners, Quiana focused on conducting extensive outreach to develop culturally-relevant social and respite care solutions and entrepreneurship resources that are impactful for military families of color and their businesses. At the national level, Quiana worked in partnership with the National Chapter Director to curate service projects that connect civilian neighbors and military families in non-Chapter communities through volunteerism.

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