Meet the Team

Our mission is to empower military and Veteran families to thrive by connecting them with their civilian neighbors — both people and organizations — to create strong communities of mutual support.

Blue Star Families Leadership Team

© 2020 | Kristina Sherk Photography | www.Kristinasherk.com

Kathy Roth-Douquet

Chief Executive Officer

Chief Executive Officer

Kathy Roth-Douquet

Chief Executive Officer

Kathy Roth-Douquet is a non-profit executive, author, commentator, strategist, and attorney.

As Co-Founder and CEO of Blue Star Families, she is a national spokesperson for military-connected families. 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, NPR, CNN, and other media outlets. Her work has appeared in magazines and newspapers across the country. She is a frequent speaker at universities, policy forums, military audiences, and civic groups. She is the co-author of two books, including AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service and How It Hurts Our Country, (HarperCollins, 2006), with Frank Schaeffer.

Kathy has served in the White House and in the Department of Defense. In the latter role, 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 received the Chief of Staff of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Award. She has served on a number of boards including Princeton University’s Board of Trustees, and was named the first nominee into the Ford Hall of Heroes at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

She currently holds appointments to three government boards or commissions - the Reserve Forces Policy Board at the Department of Defense reporting to the Secretary of Defense, the Commission to select the Under Secretary of Benefits for the Department of Veterans Affairs, reporting to the Secretary of the VA, and an advisory board to the Export-Import Bank of America, reporting to the Chair.

Kathy is also a military spouse of 24 years, four deployments, and 9 moves. She lives with her husband and two children in Northern Virginia.

Noeleen Tillman

Noeleen Tillman

Chief Operating Officer and Board Secretary

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Chief Operating Officer and Board Secretary
Air Force (ret.) Spouse

Noeleen Tillman

Chief Operating Officer and Board Secretary, Air Force (ret.) Spouse

Noeleen Tillman is COO of Blue Star Families (BSF), a not-for-profit organization that supports and serves military families. Ms. Tillman leads and oversees BSF’s operations as the nation’s largest military family support organization.

Prior to joining BSF in 2010, Ms. Tillman was Executive Vice President of the Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF), a non-profit devoted to promoting sustainable approaches for government and businesses. While at GETF, Ms. Tillman managed a portfolio in excess of $30M and founded the International Institute for Sustainable Seaports (I2S2), a non-profit that provides technical support to the global maritime industry. Additionally, Ms. Tillman was a principal at TEC, Inc. responsible for leading the company's seaport environmental sustainability/engineering practice. Early in her career, Ms. Tillman served as Chief of Environmental Compliance for the 21st Space Wing; US Space Command where she managed civilian and military personnel responsible for environmental engineering activities at 32 geographically separated units located around the world.

Brian Whiting

Brian Whiting

Chief Transformation Officer

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Chief Transformation Officer

Brian Whiting

Chief Transformation Officer

Brian Whiting joins Blue Star Families as the Chief Transformation Officer. He was previously the Chief Executive Officer of the Mediflix Veterans Channel, an online platform designed to be the single source for trusted information to address an expanding array of Veterans health and wellness issues.

Brian served by the side of our military and their families for 16 years, as Chief Executive Officer of the USO of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (USO). Prior to USO, he has held leadership positions in the U.S. and abroad with PricewaterhouseCoopers and a national trade association.

Brian is a passionate supporter of our military and their families, and he continues his service by volunteering with several military support organizations including serving on the board of Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Plaza. Brian was recognized with the US Coast Guard Public Service Commendation and is a recipient of the U.S. Army Freedom Salute Commendation. Brian has been a highly visible spokesperson for important military and Veterans issues, appearing in forums ranging from NBC’s Today, CBS’s This Morning, and Fox & Friends.

Jenny_Akin_1000x1250

Jennifer Akin

Chief of Staff

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Chief of Staff

Jennifer Akin, MPA

Chief of Staff

Jennifer Akin is Blue Star Families’ first Chief of Staff, serving as a trusted advisor and brainstorming partner to the CEO and executive team as they lead Blue Star Families through a critical high-growth period. In her former role as Senior Director of Policy and Social Impact Research, Jenny was responsible for overseeing Blue Star Families’ policy, social impact, member research, and program evaluation efforts. She is a national thought leader on military life issues and led groundbreaking, first of their kind research studies to understand the unique experiences of military and Veteran families of color, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on military and Veteran families, perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccine, and barriers to seeking financial assistance, among other things.

Prior to joining Blue Star Families in 2018, Jenny acquired nearly a decade of experience in the private sector and academia, supporting national security-related programs at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, serving as a military policy fellow for the University of North Carolina system, and working in business development for a small defense contractor.

Megan Carthen-Jackson

Megan Carthen-Jackson

Vice President, Operations & Human Resources

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Vice President, Operations & Human Resources

Megan Carthen-Jackson

Vice President, Operations & Human Resources

Dr. Megan D. Carthen Jackson is an accomplished executive administrator and professor advocating lifelong learning with years honing a diverse array of experience in the public, private, education, and non-profit sector. With a doctorate and master’s degree in public administration and policy, Dr. Carthen Jackson finds passion in the processes implemented to promote the betterment of society for all. As a Pracademic (Practitioner and Academic), Dr. Carthen Jackson believes herself to be a facilitator and conduit for the promotion of best practices in organizational strategy and operations, leadership, investing in human capital, and educating the next group of diverse leaders for generations to come.

Her accomplishments include but are not limited to recognition for her extraordinary leadership skills, initiative, and commitment. Dr. Carthen Jackson believes in the importance of serving one’s community. She is the current President of the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated© Omega Omicron Omega Chapter North County San Diego, and serves as a board member for the Scholarly Pearls Foundation and the Women's Resource Center. Dr. Carthen Jackson is an active duty Navy spouse and enjoys spending time with her family and "furbabies" in Southern California Wine Country.

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Ryan Callahan

Executive Vice President, Digital Experience, Marketing and Growth

BSF-Ryan-Callahan

Executive Vice President, Digital Experience, Marketing and Growth

Ryan Callahan

Executive Vice President, Digital Experience, Marketing and Growth

Ryan joins Blue Star Families (BSF) as the Executive Vice President of Digital Experience, Marketing and Growth. He is a social impact leader who is passionate about connecting military families with information and resources. Before BSF, Ryan served as Vice President of Marketing at RallyPoint, the world's largest online military social network. He holds a Master of Science from Boston University in Advertising and a Bachelor of Arts from Fairfield University in New Media. Ryan is a 2022 graduate of the George W. Bush Institute’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program, where he honed his work to help veterans access VA health care, benefits, and services. Ryan is a mentor and board advisor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts, where he was recognized as Massachusetts Big Brother of the Year in 2020. He is a recipient of the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. He also serves on the board of directors for Kids in Tech. Ryan is the son of a USMC Veteran. He lives in the North Shore of Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

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Susan Messina

Vice President, Development

Susan Messina

Vice President, Development

Susan Messina

Vice President, Development

Susan Messina is a fundraising professional with a long career in health and human services. She joins Blue Star Families after 10 years in aging services, most recently at the Jewish Council for the Aging in Rockville, MD. Prior to her work in aging services, Susan worked at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association and the American Association of Health Plans and spent many years as a freelance grant writer.

A committed volunteer, Susan currently serves on the board of a hyperlocal aging services organization and on the executive board of the Bryn Mawr Alumnae Association. Susan graduated from Bryn Mawr College, holds two master’s degrees from the Bryn Mawr School of Social Work & Social Research, and earned a master’s in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Susan and her wife, Maryann, live in Washington, DC, and are empty nesters with their daughter graduating from college in May 2023. She and Maryann both have fathers who served: Susan’s father was a First Lieutenant in the Army in the early 1960s and Maryann’s father received a Purple Heart during his Army Air Corps service during WWII. Susan loves to read and is a reviewer of Young Adult literature for Kirkus Reviews.

Michael Kang

Michael Kang

Vice President, Finance & Technology

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Vice President, Finance & Technology

Michael Kang

Vice President, Finance & Technology

Michael Kang is the Vice President of Finance & Technology at Blue Star Families. Prior to BSF, Michael worked in the corporate sector for almost two decades in various roles such as technology implementations, project management, finance, process improvement, strategy, and analytics. Some of the companies he has worked for include IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Thomson Reuters, and Live Nation.

Michael received his bachelor’s degree in Economics with a Minor in Computer Science from UC Irvine and an MBA in Finance from the University of Southern California (USC). Michael lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.

Lindsay Knight

Lindsay Knight

Executive Vice President, Social Impact

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Executive Vice President of Social Impact

Lindsay Knight, PhD

Executive Vice President of Social Impact

Lindsay is an applied social impact geek and leader with over ten years of on-the-ground expertise in strategic planning and implementation; youth and community engagement; applied research; pilot program design, scaling, and evaluation—and spends most days figuring out how to design and embed equity practices within organizational structures. Her niche area of expertise is creating ways for public, non-profit, philanthropic, and private sector stakeholders to discover and achieve collective ends. She comes to Blue Star Families most recently from the private sector where she was responsible for designing and leading a Global Equity Strategy at a multinational firm.

She has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago, with an area focus on civic responsibility and duty, institutional change, and research methodologies. Lindsay is a mentor in the Institute of Politics’ Women in Public Service program, and serves on advisory boards for SXSWedu, People for Bikes, and Future Founders. Her work has been recognized with awards and fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, and the United Nations Association - Chicago for achievements in “Innovation, Industry, and Infrastructure” in social development. Though a midwesterner at heart, Lindsay lives in Santa Cruz Mountains near Woodside, CA. with her husband, David—where they ride and race bicycles... a lot.

Tom Porter, Blue Star Families Vice President, Government Affairs

Tom Porter

Vice President, Government Affairs

Tom Porter, Blue Star Families Vice President, Government Affairs

Vice President, Government Affairs

Tom Porter

Vice President, Government Affairs

Tom Porter is Vice President, Government Affairs at Blue Star Families in Washington, DC. He leads the organization’s national advocacy to empower and improve the lives of military and veteran families.

Porter comes to BSF with nearly three decades of Washington, DC experience as Congressional staff and as a government relations leader. Focusing first on national energy, water supply, and natural resources policy, he has spent the last nine years exclusively representing the interests of veterans and military families, primarily for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Porter played a lead role in passing significant legislation benefitting veterans and servicemembers, including the Honoring Our PACT Act to establish unprecedented new benefits for those who suffered military toxic exposures and their families, the Deborah Sampson Act which was the most comprehensive women veterans legislation in history, and reforms to the military justice system to protect victims of sexual assault and other serious crimes. He also was instrumental in defending the Post-9/11 GI Bill from cuts and abuse, among other accomplishments.

In addition to being a longtime Washington advocate on Capitol Hill and in front of federal agency leaders, Porter has also communicated on behalf of the military and veteran community through national, regional, and local media, including CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, Washington Post, NPR, and many others. He has testified numerous times before House and Senate veterans and armed services committees.

Porter is also a US Navy Captain (Ret.) with 27 years of reserve and active service around the world as a public affairs officer for US and Coalition forces, including during deployments to Afghanistan and the Middle East.

He is married to Northern Virginia attorney Jennifer Porter and has three teenage daughters.

Blue Star Families Staff

All
  • All
  • Chapter Impact
  • Development
  • Executive Administration
  • Finance & Technology
  • Operations & HR
  • Social Impact
  • Storytelling & Experience
BSF-Rachel-Carpenter

Rachel Carpenter

Program Manager, Puget Sound Chapter
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Angie Cherikos

Lockheed Martin DEPLOY National Capital Region Fellow
BSF-Jeffrey-Chin

Jeffrey Chin

Executive Director, New England Chapter
BSF-Gina-Colon

Gina Colon

Program Manager, New England Chapter
BSF-Sonia-Garza

Sonia Garza

Executive Director, Puget Sound
BSF-Benjamin-Gould

Benjamin Gould

Chicago Chapter Director
BSF-Emily-Harrison

Emily Harrison

Utah Chapter Director
BSF-Tosombra-Kimes

Tosombra “Tai” Kimes

Missouri Chapter Director
BSF-Wendy-Layton

Wendy Layton

Jacksonville Chapter Director
BSF-Suzy-Malloy

Suzy Malloy

Tampa Chapter Director
BSF-Geri-Maples

Geri Maples

Dayton Chapter Director
BSF-Maggie-Meza

Maggie Meza

San Diego Chapter Director
BSF-Erica-Newhouse

Erica Newhouse

Executive Director, New York-Tri-State
BSF-Krysti-Pereira

Krysti Pereira

Program Manager, Sheila and George Casey National Capital Region Chapter
BSF-Karissa-Poe

Karissa Poe

Tennessee Chapter Director
BSF-Yolanda-Rayford

Yolanda Rayford

Baltimore Chapter Director
BSF-Julie-Riggs

Julie Riggs

Executive Director, Sheila and George Casey National Capital Region Chapter
BSF-Consuela-Rodriguez

Consuela Rodriguez

Program Manager, New York Tri-State
BSF-Shelia-Stevens

Sheila Stevens

Senior Director, Chapter Impact