TRAINING / FELLOWS

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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.

THE 2021 DEPLOY FELLOWS

Leslie Wightman

Salesforce Technology DEPLOY Fellow

Nicole Rawlinson

Blue Star Outdoors DEPLOY Fellow

Anicia Myers

Robert R. McCormick Foundation DEPLOY Fellow, Chicagoland

Tonya Murphy

Lockheed Martin DEPLOY Fellow, National Capital Region

Kelley Klor

Amazon Food Insecurity DEPLOY Fellow

Adriene Engstrom

Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund DEPLOY Fellow, New York Tri-State

Charo Bates

USAA Policy & Social Impact DEPLOY Fellow

Brittney Aladetohun

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Financial Wellness DEPLOY Fellow

Quiana Abner

USAA National Chapter DEPLOY Fellow

Leslie Wightman

Salesforce Technology DEPLOY Fellow

Leslie Wightman joins Blue Star Families as the Technology DEPLOY Fellow, with support from Salesforce. Returning to the workforce in 2018, Leslie has been striving to return to her technology roots.Raised in Richmond, Virginia, Leslie earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Information Systems from Virginia Commonwealth University and worked as Data Analyst and Database Administrator for nearly eight(8) years before marrying her Sailor and starting a family. While Leslie stayed home to raise her family, she served as an engaged member of her Military community as a board member of the Enlisted Spouses Club, volunteering at the Post Thrift Store, and serving as Ombudsman for her husband’s Command (CWMA-61). Once her youngest of four reached school age Leslie returned to the workforce as a Cyber Intelligence Recruiter. An opportunity that began as a fellowship through Hiring Our Heroes.Leslie loves cooking and baking, and enjoys trying new recipes. Her family enjoys spending time together traveling and exploring new places. Leslie and her Sailor have been blissfully married for 16 years, have four beautiful children, and have thrived through 8 moves between 6 states and 2 Countries. They are currently Stationed in Georgia.

Nicole Rawlinson

Blue Star Outdoors DEPLOY Fellow

Nicole joins Blue Star Families as the Blue Star Outdoors DEPLOY Fellow. With a background in community-focused services to youth and families, Nicole leads with her passion for creating relationships and connecting communities. She has spent her career developing and supporting programs that drive equity through community voice, inspiring young people, and building up resilient future leaders. She has focused on supporting youth and community through community-empowered approaches to programming, services, and professional development within the museum and library services field. As the Outdoors DEPLOY Fellow, she is excited to continue serving families and communities by engaging the military family community through outdoor interpretation, education, and recreation opportunities.Nicole holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cleveland State University and a Master of Library and Information Science from Kent State University, both in her home state of Ohio. She currently resides in the greater Washington, D.C. area with her husband, Lieutenant Commander Patrick Rawlinson, their two children, and their adopted pets.

Anicia Myers

Robert R. McCormick Foundation DEPLOY Fellow, Chicagoland

Anicia Myers joins Blue Star Families as the Chicagoland DEPLOY Fellow, with support from Robert R. McCormick Foundation. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Communication and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. Anicia is South African and a former teacher. She has taught in South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
She is passionate about helping people and has a passion for ethnic and racial diversity and hopes to make a positive impact in the military community. She enjoys traveling, baking, reading and spending time with family. Anicia and her husband GM2 Myers are currently stationed in the Great Lakes Region, Illinois.

Tonya Murphy

Lockheed Martin DEPLOY Fellow, National Capital Region

Tonya Murphy joins Blue Star Families as the National Capital Region DEPLOY Fellow, with support from Lockheed Martin. She brings over 15 years of experience serving military families through volunteering with Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, COMPASS, the Military Child Education Coalition, and various commands.Tonya earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, a Master of Science degree in Counseling from University of Memphis, and is currently completing a Post-Master’s Certificate Program in Counseling at the George Washington University. Of all the roles that Tonya has filled, she believes her most important one is being a helper. She strives to help educate and empower those around her through her work. She currently resides just outside of DC with her submariner husband, three sons, two goldendoodles, and one highbrow cat they adopted as a stray in Naples, Italy.

Kelley Klor

Amazon Food Insecurity DEPLOY Fellow

Amazon Food Insecurity DEPLOY Fellow, Kelley Klor, has been an active duty Air Force spouse for over 13 years and is from Missouri. Kelley has a passion for helping military spouses navigate the world of military life, to include experience ranges from serving as a Key Spouse in a previous squadron to program management. During her fellowship, Kelley started Nourish the Service, a resource page and blog dedicated to sharing information regarding food and financial resources, educational resources, current legislative action, and current research around food insecurity. The Nourish the Service blog highlights different topics within military food insecurity with a goal to destigmatize and elevate awareness around the issue. Kelley has a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science from Missouri University of Science and Technology and is pursuing a Masters degree in Library and Information Science from University of Missouri.Kelley and her husband have two daughters and two cats and recently moved to Virginia. In her spare time, Kelley enjoys hiking and exploring new areas with her family and volunteering with local animal rescues.

Adriene Engstrom

Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund DEPLOY Fellow, New York Tri-State

Adriene Engstrom joins Blue Star Families as the New York Tri-State DEPLOY Fellow, with support from Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund. As an active-duty Army spouse and former Air Force dependent, she hopes to integrate BSF survey findings and REI initiatives to better assist military families of color in her area. Further, she works to build bridges between existing community services and those families.Adriene Engstrom earned her Bachelor of Arts in Speech; Communications from Kansas Wesleyan University and her Masters of Science in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University. She has served on several corporate boards including Employee Engagement and Inclusion and LGBT Business Resource Groups. Likewise, she has enjoyed volunteering for the military community since her youth. She is active in the West Point Spouses Club and is the mother of two girls.

Charo Bates

USAA Policy & Social Impact DEPLOY Fellow

Charo Bates joins Blue Star Families as the Applied Research & Social Impact DEPLOY Fellow, with support from USAA. Charo has spent the majority of her professional and educational career servicing military families as a Program and Project Manager over clinical operations with Military Treatment facilities in the NCR and working with the Wounded, Ill and Injured at the Wounded Warrior Regiment. Charo has committed over 10 years ensuring that military families receive the most comprehensive and supportive treatment during some of their more challenging chapters in their life.Charo is a mother to two incredible children, two spunky dogs, and is the spouse of hard charging Marine. Charo is actively pursuing her doctoral degree focused on clinical mental health counseling. Her long-term goal is to change the DOD policy and procedures that have often created barriers for families and active duty service member receiving mental health/medical treatment.

Brittney Aladetohun

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Financial Wellness DEPLOY Fellow

Brittney Aladetohun joins Blue Star Families as the Financial Wellness DEPLOY Fellow, with support from JPMorgan Chase & Co. She holds a MS.Ed in Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling from Old Dominion University and is a proud Spelman College alumna. Mrs. Aladetohun is also a proud USMC Officer Spouse and mom to two beautiful daughters.She is a former National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Minority Fellow and Teach for America (TFA) Alumna. During her tenure for TFA, she served as a middle and high school educator throughout Louisiana. This is where she found her passion for counseling youth and adolescents. Prior to her selection as a DEPLOY Fellow, Mrs. Aladetohun was a DC and Northern VA School Counselor serving underserved communities.

Quiana Abner

USAA National Chapter DEPLOY Fellow

Quiana Abner joins Blue Star Families as the National Chapter DEPLOY Fellow, with support from USAA. Quiana is a champion and advocate for a healthy military family and community. Her gifts are connecting and celebrating people. She has dedicated her service to leading projects and providing impact statements that have positively impacted military service members and dependents around the globe.As a seasoned military spouse of over 24 years, Quiana brings a diverse background across corporate, non-profit, government and entrepreneurial sectors to the organization. She fulfilled her passion to advocate for the military community by volunteering with other military service organizations such as the USO, Navy COMPASS, Navy- Marine Corps Relief Society and Airman and Family Readiness.Her support and advocacy for military families stateside and internationally as a Relocation Specialist, a Master Trainer for the Army Resilience Program, an Educator teaching Domestic Violence Prevention and Child Abuse Education life skills, and as a School Liaison Officer for the Child and Youth Program left the community stronger. For her outstanding work in academia and volunteer service, she is lauded with several awards for her commitment to mentoring military spouses, economic impact research and public speaking. Quiana holds a Bachelor of Political Science with a minor in Public Administration from Elizabeth City State University, a Master of Science in Management and Master of Public Administration from University of Phoenix.She is married to her husband of 24 years, Senior Chief Petty Officer, Melvin Abner, USN (Ret) and they share three children; a son who is an active US Navy veteran in pilot training, a daughter who is a college sophomore and a daughter who is rising to middle school.

Meet The Fellows

DEPLOY At Work

Craig Newmark New York Tri-State DEPLOY Fellow Adriene Engstrom's primary objective is to be an advocate and example for military families. She spends a significant amount of time immersed in her surrounding communities, engaging with families, hosting inviting programs, and assisting partner organizations. This year, Adriene has 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 focuses 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 has been enhancing 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 is also working with other DEPLOY Fellows to write future posts highlighting their areas of expertise. Throughout her efforts, she has made connections with other organizations working in the military food insecurity space and drafted MOUs to partner and share resources. Not to mention, she has 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 racial equity and inclusion work involves 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 is 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 works 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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