2023 NATIONAL WOMEN VETERANS LEADERSHIP & DIVERSITY CONFERENCE

Presented by...

JOIN US:

NOVEMBER 9-12, 2023

LOCATION:

FALLS CHURCH MARRIOTT FAIRVIEW PARK, FALLS CHURCH, VA

JOIN US:

NOVEMBER 9-12, 2023

LOCATION:

FALLS CHURCH MARRIOTT FAIRVIEW PARK, FALLS CHURCH, VA

Schedule

We are excited to present a full weekend of interactive workshops, inspiring speakers, and motivating networking events!

Our full program is below, followed by a list of speakers. Download now!

Speakers

Ginger Milles Speaker for Women Veterans

Ginger Miller

Founder & CEO

Women Veterans Interactive Foundation

The Founder and CEO of the Women Veterans Interactive Foundation, Navy Veteran Ginger Miller is an experienced business woman, veterans advocate, subject matter expert, and industry leader. She is a presidential appointee, and she has been recognized by major community stakeholders across multiple sectors. Serving Women Veterans is the honor of her life — and for her, it’s personal.

When she was medically discharged from the Navy, Ginger discovered how difficult transitioning from military to civilian life can be for a woman veteran. Like many women veterans transitioning today, Ginger had no idea where to find the resources and help she so desperately needed. Like many women veterans post-military service, she was ashamed to ask for help when she became homeless with her husband, a Marine Corps Veteran suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and their young son.

Refusing to be defeated and with unrelenting drive and determination, Ginger worked three jobs while attending school full-time in an effort to end the family’s circumstance of homelessness. Deeply rooted in her determination to move forward, Ginger leveraged her experience to help others. She made a personal oath of service to dedicate her life to supporting other women who have served and sacrificed for our country – facing many of the challenges she knows all too well.

Michael F. Kelly

AVP, Military Affairs

USAA

Mike leads USAA’s Military Advocacy Group and serves as deputy of Military Affairs. His team builds collaborative relationships focusing on a national dialogue surrounding important veteran and spouse issues such as financial readiness, navigating successful transitions into the civilian workforce, entrepreneurship, and building supportive and impactful military spouse communities. He also manages enterprise-wide programs and projects that sustain relationships between USAA, strategic external partners and military leaders/influencers to promote and enhance USAA’s brand and reputation.

He’s been with USAA since 2003 when he established USAA’s military communications program, later building a comprehensive military influencer program and establishing USAA’s national leadership role as a military-friendly employer.

Mike spent 25 years in the Air Force, both as an NCO and officer before retiring in 2002. While in the military he served as a photojournalist, newspaper editor, chief of public affairs and staff officer at the base and major military command level. He also served as a communications associate professor for four years at DOD’s Defense Information School where he taught future military public affairs communicators. He has multiple deployments to the Former Yugoslav Republic for Operations Able Sentry and Joint Endeavor as a member of the implementation force and supported international communication efforts for Operations Deny Flight, Deliberate Force and Provide Promise.

Mike is a 2019 George W. Bush Veteran Leadership Program scholar and was selected as a 2018 We Are the Mighty – “Mighty 25” influencer for his work in the military-veteran community where he dedicates his time connecting, equipping, and inspiring opportunities that benefit the military community at large. He is also a recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s annual Hiring Our Heroes Colonel Michael Endres Leadership Award for Individual Excellence in Veteran Employment and currently serves on the national Hiring Our Heroes Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Councils, which focus on actions addressing the unique employment challenges veterans and military spouses face. He served for three years on the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce executive board where he was chairman of the Chamber’s Military Affairs Council. He now serves as a member of the Society of Human Resource Manager Foundation’s Military Advisory Committee focusing on helping employees build knowledge, awareness and change in the policies, practices and culture that can hinder the success of the military community in the civilian workplace.

He has a BAAS degree with an emphasis in journalism and public relations from Southwest Texas State University and a master’s degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma.

Joseph Montanaro, CFP

Relationship Director, Military Advocacy Group Military Affairs

USAA

Joseph Montanaro, CFP®, Relationship Director, Military Advocacy Group Military Affairs, Brand at USAA. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional (CFP®). He is a native of Kansas City and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. He is a member of the Financial Planning Association.

Montanaro has more than twenty years of experience in the financial services industry as a financial planner and joined USAA in 2002. Before entering the financial services industry, he served in the US Army for six years on active duty and in 2009 he retired as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Reserve.

JJ’s daily focus has been to help families realize their goals and his advice has appeared in numerous outlets including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNNMoney.com and the New York Times. He writes monthly personal finance columns for Military Spouse Magazine and American Legion Magazine and hosts the USAA Money Drill podcast.

Karen L. Brazell

Vice President

Department of Veterans Affairs Account at the Science Applications Technology Corporation (SAIC)

Karen Brazell serves as the Vice President for the Department of Veterans Affairs Account at the Science Applications Technology Corporation (SAIC). She is responsible for providing cybersecurity operations, financial management support, electronic data exchange transactions application suite, program integrity tool, consolidated corporate support services, and enhancement of the budget tracking tool providing DevSecOps. 

Before joining SAIC, Ms. Brazell served as the Executive Vice President for BizFlow Corp., a low-code, no-code technology company supporting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and TriWest Healthcare in support of the Office of Community Care, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

On April 7, 2020, President Donald J. Trump directed Karen Brazell to Perform the Duties of the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Enterprise Integration (OEI). In this role, she focuses on enhancing Veteran and employee experiences through effective enterprise integration, emphasizing people, processes, technology, innovations, and management capabilities. Mrs. Brazell will lead the Departmental efforts in strategic planning, enterprise risk management, performance management, policy management and analysis, transformation and innovations, data analytics and statistics, data governance, and interagency coordination and collaboration. 

Mrs. Brazell previously served as the Principal Executive Director and the Department’s Chief Acquisition Officer in the Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction. There, she oversaw the acquisition, contract administration, supply-chain processes, and major construction and real property management with a budget of over $30B and over 1,700 employees for the Department. Before joining Veterans Affairs, Mrs. Brazell served as Chief of Staff for the White House Military Office, where she oversaw strategic planning, engagement planning, communication product development, staff coordination and integration, special projects, policy development, and resource management. She also served as Deputy Director of the Acquisition and Resource Integration, Naval Facilities Command, responsible for enterprise-wide acquisition and resource integration for the White House Military Office, Policy, Plans and Requirements directorate. 

Mrs. Brazell served on active duty in the United States Army from 1984-1988, then spent 17 years as a DoD contractor before joining the DoD civilian service in 2006. 

Mrs. Brazell earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Chapman University and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix. She is pursuing a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with Liberty University with an anticipated completion date of May 2025. She graduated from the Office of Personnel Management Federal Executive Institute and the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level III Program Manager. Mrs. Brazell holds an Executive Certificate in Strategic Leadership from Liberty University, a Certificate in Executive Leadership from the Federal Executive Institute, and a Certificate in Public Leadership from Brookings Institute. She also received the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Exceptional Service Award in 2021 and the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 2018. 

April D. Beldo-Lilley

Director, Enterprise Events and Protocol

USAA

April D. Beldo (born January 18, 1964) is a retired United States Navy sailor who served as the Fleet Master Chief forManpower, Personnel, Training and Education (MPT&E). Over the course of her 34-year career, she served as the first woman and first African-American in multiple Navy positions, including the first female Command Master Chief of an aircraft carrier and the first female Command Master Chief for recruit training.

Beldo was born in Kern County, California on January 18, 1964.She graduated from Desert High School, located on Edwards Air Force Base in 1982. Beldo graduated from Excelsior University with a Bachelor of Science degree and received her Master of Arts degree from American Military University in Management in August 2015.

Beldo received recruit training at the Recruit Training Center in Orlando, Florida in 1983. She completed Aviation Administration man “A” school in Meridian, Mississippi.[4] She served on board the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63).[5] Beldo served with theAviation Maintenance Management Teams (AMMT) atCommander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL), and also aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73). In 2002, Beldo was chosen for the Command Master Chiefprogram and graduated with honors. Her first assignment asCommand Master Chief was with the destroyer USS Bulkeley(DDG-84), which lasted from May 2003 to December 2005. From April 2006 to June 2008 she served as the Command Master Chief for Recruit Training Command, the first African-American female to fill this role. [7] In October 2009, she became the Command Master Chief for the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), the first female Command Master Chief for an aircraft carrier.

From April 2012 to February 2013, Beldo was the Force Master Chief for Naval Education and Training Command. Starting in March 2013, Beldo became the Fleet Master Chief for Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education. Beldo served in this position until her retirement from the Navy in January 2017.

 

Bridget Deary

Associate Partner

IBM Federal Consulting

Ms. Deary is an Associate Partner within IBM’s Federal Consulting business and a proud U.S. Navy Veteran, where she served as a Surface Warfare Officer, deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). With over 20 years of professional experience, she provides digital strategy consulting leadership to a variety of clients within the public sector, and has led several complex intelligent automation programs, providing services including: process analysis, automation implementation, strategic planning, training, strategic communication, and program management.  Ms. Deary has successfully delivered results in large and complex enterprise programs, managing all aspects of strategy formulation and related customer-focused reinvention processes. She routinely collaborates with internal partners and clients to help envision, define, and implement an aspirational digital future. Her current work is focused on delivering solutions to support the automation of claims for benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Administration (VA).   Ms. Deary holds a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Economics from The George Washington University; a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business; and a Master’s of Science (ScM) in Technology Leadership from Brown University. She resides in Falls Church, Virginia with her husband – an Army Veteran – and two daughters.

Pamela Meadows

Vice President, Octo an IBM Company

Certified Coach / #1 Best-Selling Author

Motivational Keynote Speaker, Pamela Meadows works with individuals and organizations to strengthen their communication, clarity and confidence so they can live a life that excites them and make an impact. Pamela coaches with heart, humor and a heap of actionable tactics, guiding her audience to effectively amplify and elevate their life to the next level. She knows all to well that a new level means new devils, between her numerous years of executive experience and coaching certifications, Pamela brings the insight and tactics to tackle the inner saboteur.

With over 15 years of corporate leadership experience, a knack for connect the dots that create impact and an insatiable appetite to help others move from surviving to thriving, Pamela knows how to bring the audience from “that’s relatable”, to insights, and action steps all while creating an environment for connection and laughter.

Pamela engages audiences from the moment she steps in front of them, especially the few times she has tripped, and leaves them feeling inspired and energized with empowering mindset shifts and tools that they can use in their personal and professional life.

Pamela is obsessed with helping people gain the clarity, communication skills and confidence they need to take their life and career to levels they didn’t even.

Pamela’s honors include being recognized as a #1 Best-Selling author, a recipient of ASQ Hartford’s Quality Person of the Year, and Fab over 40 contestant.

When not speaking, coaching or leading, Pamela can be found burning dinner, in a yoga studio or snuggled on the couch with her family and pets.

Nancy Ridge

President & Founder

Ridge Innovative

Nancy is an experienced thought leader in the technology channel ecosystem who has led from all sides of the table. She sets the culture, vision, strategy and business direction at Ridge Innovative. Her leadership is founded on her personal values of relationships, creativity, passion, innovation, accountability, gratitude and love. Nancy’s passion is delivering the best business outcomes to her clients in terms of technology, strategy, project management, leadership development and return on investment. Her motto is, “Be Curious.”
 
Previously, Nancy built the partner program for a leading national technology services broker. Ridge also led sales for a high-touch wholesale carrier where she was responsible for creating and managing the indirect sales channel. The company won #41 on the “Inc. 500” list of fastest growing companies with over 2,000% growth. She is the co-founder and past president of the Alliance of Channel Women, a certified WBENC, CA-AM Alliance Professional, Deeper Signals Coach, and she sits of the Boards of 3 non-profits. Nancy is an enthusiastic mentor for women and girls in both the workplace and her community.
 
Nancy lives in Costa Mesa, CA with her pets, Kona and Zipper and outside of work enjoys riding and competing as an equestrian with her horse Balou. Her son, Niko, is a lifeguard in Laguna Beach, CA where she enjoys time on the beach with him as well as visiting New York City where her daughter, Danielle, lives and works in the entertainment industry.

Claudia Kuzma

Managing Director

Global Ecosystem Program, Protiviti

“There is no greater gift than to lay down one’s life for a friend.” My parents were both in the Military and they taught me that honor, respect, and hard work will lay the foundation for life’s journey. I have a deep admiration for the women and men that serve our Country and admire the courage and strength it takes to transition from military to civilian life. Women Veterans are the minority, and this diverse group presents opportunity to organizations to embrace the talents, skills and discipline these women bring into the corporate landscape. “Ginger Miller, Founder of WVIF, exemplifies the key cornerstone of leadership in action, she is inclusive in her approach to serving the women veterans community to ensure they are ‘heard’ and taken care of in every stage of transition. She exemplifies an ethic of care that propels the mission of WVI forward collaboratively and with passion.”  I’m honored to be part of WVI Board to propel their Ecosystem strategies forward. 
 
Claudia brings over 25 years of experience in corporate alliance management and financial services. She has deep expertise in end-to-end alliance ecosystem strategy, planning, recruitment, and program management. She is the Global Ecosystem Leader at Protiviti, recognized by “TIME Magazine in 2023, as one of the top companies across the globe, based on employee satisfaction, revenue growth and sustainability efforts TIME Magazine World’s Best Companies.”
 
Claudia earned a master’s degree in liberal studies and a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication at North Central College. She also holds certification in Alliance Management from The Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals.

Anna Blanch Rabe

Program Manager, Entrepreneurship & Small Business

D'Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)

Dr. Anna Blanch Rabe is a social entrepreneur, advocate, and communicator. Anna leads the Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship (COE), Coalition for Veteran Owned Business (CVOB) and Private Public Partnership Initiative (P3) for the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. Anna holds a PhD from the University of New England, an MA from Baylor University, and an LLB and BA (First Class Honours) from the Australian National University. Anna grew up in rural Australia and is a first generation college student who saw military service as a path to education. 

Prior to working with IVMF, Anna, a lawyer and academic researcher by training, built an eponymous communications consultancy specializing in high-quality strategy and content services for Law firms and socially responsible businesses. She worked with clients across North America, Europe, and Australia as a location-independent company. Since 2021, she has increasingly turned her attention to investing in social impact companies that address well-articulated problems in innovative ways in the legaltech, agtech, medtech and education sectors.

A former non-profit executive director, Dr. Blanch Rabe has served on numerous advisory boards at local, state and national levels including the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association Legal and Advocacy Committee, the MOAA Currently Serving Spouse Council, and the Military Spouse J.D. Network rule change committee. She has published numerous academic and popular articles and been a guest on dozens of podcasts and radio shows. . An Australian Army veteran and proud United States Air Force Spouse, she is currently based in Northern Virginia.

Laurine Carson

Acting Executive Director

Office of Equity Assurance

Veterans Benefits Administration

Ms. Carson is the Acting Executive Director of the Office of Equity Assurance and the Veterans Benefits Administration. She is a 34-year Veterans Benefits Administration employee who has risen through the ranks from GS-3 to the Senior Executive Service.  She is the Deputy Executive Director for the Policy and Procedures Staff in Compensation Service at the Veterans Administration, Washington D.C. In this capacity, she is responsible for several staff, including the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities Staff, the Procedures and Interagency Collaborations Staff, the Policy Staff, and the Military Exposures Team. She is responsible for engaging with stakeholders and Congress to propose legislation, establish administrative rulemaking for Veterans’ disability benefits, modernize the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities, update the Compensation Adjudication Procedures Manual (M21-1), facilitate interagency data matching agreements and military pay adjustments, develop policy for military environmental exposures, and to provide policy oversight / procedural guidance for the 56 VA Regional Offices for disability claims processors that administer more than $116B to over 5.7 million Veterans and their families.
 
Laurine was hand-selected to serve as the Acting Executive Director to stand up the new VBA Office of Equity Assurance. In this capacity, she works to identify disparities in the VA benefits programs and to determine their root causes in order to implement actions that will eliminate them.
 
Laurine is the recipient of several awards and recognitions at the local and departmental levels. Her most recent distinguishing awards were a VA Secretary’s Commendation for her outstanding work on VA’s Mental Health Initiative and her nomination for the 2022 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals for Leadership Excellence. She is a graduate of Rutgers University with a BA in English, and a graduate of the University of Phoenix with a Master of Management in Public Administration.  

Danielle Carosello

Vice President, Government

BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company)

Danielle Carosello serves as the Vice President of Government of BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), a global medical technology company headquartered in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. She also leads the VETS Affinity Group, aligned to supporting transitioning service members, veterans and military families.  Danielle Carosello joined BD in 2022, after standing up Honeywell’s PPE Government Team for US and Canada during the pandemic.

Danielle served as a Captain in the United States Army, Medical Service Corps branch supporting Health Care Operations. Danielle’s roles while on active duty were diverse to include but not limited to: Deputy Director and Chief of Patient Administration, US Army Pacific Command Medical Liaison and  Medical Operations Officer in the 25th Infantry Division.

After her service, she joined and spent over 10 years at GE Healthcare as a Director of Service, managing the Field Service Engineers responsible for maintaining the High-Tech Medical Equipment, along with national service contracts.  Following this she transitioned into the world of sales where she held numerous roles on the Government team from 1) Government Account Executive, responsible for  managing the relationships with the Department of Defense, Department of Veteran Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons to 2) Government GM where she led a team of sales executives, contract sales directors, service and channel leaders to expand market share and penetrate the Federal Government market. During her time at GE, she expanded presence in the DoD and VA through 3D printing initiative and Women’s Health education campaign. 

 In 2020, Danielle joined Honeywell, as their VP, PPE Government Sales for US & Canada, growing their Government revenues by aligning their channel partnership model and standing up their contracting team to ensure contract compliance and fulfillment. 

Danielle is also currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Organization, Culture and Behavior , she holds a MBA from Webster University and a BS in Biology and Chemistry. 

Michelle Gardner-Ince

Director, Women Veteran-Owned Small Business Initiative

U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

With a background as a military brat, military spouse, and military veteran, Michelle Gardner-Ince has never known life without a military ID card, embodying unwavering dedication to leadership, business excellence, and America’s Veterans.
 
Recognized as one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices for championing women veterans, blazing trails, and earning local national and international accolades, her mission is clear: “About the Business of America’s Veteran Entrepreneurs – serving those who continue to serve America.”
 
As Director of the Women Veteran-Owned Small Business Initiative, she pioneers the “VetBizLady” program, uniting female veterans and dismantling barriers to their success.
 
During her tenure as Director of the Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE), VetBiz.gov ascended to the “Gold Standard” for Veteran Small Business certifications.
 
Ms. “G-I” holds degrees from Tuskegee University and Troy State University, is a graduate of Tuck School’s Executive Program, and is a CEO Roundtable and John Maxwell-trained leadership coach. Her legacy continues to advance Women, Veterans, and minority-owned businesses, leaving an indelible mark on their journey to success.
 

Latoya Roberts

Vice President, DE&I Lead for Military & Veterans Affairs

JPMorgan Chase & Co 

Ms. Roberts is responsible for developing and executing programs and initiatives geared towards the professional growth and development of veteran talent at the firm.
 
She is a New York University graduate. She is a Navy Reservist and serves as a Senior Enlisted Leader.
 
She lives in New York with her husband and their two children. 

Diedre Windsor

Owner & President

Windsor Group LLC

Diedre Windsor, a retired US Army Officer, and former career member of the federal government Senior Executive Service (SES), is the Owner and President of Windsor Group LLC, an award-winning professional services company based in Bethesda, Maryland.

In October 2009 Diedre retired from the military after 22 years of active-duty service. She continued on her public service path by joining the federal government in 2010 where she served in senior leadership roles in both the US Department of Education and Justice through the end of 2016.

In November 2016 Diedre made the leap from the workforce to entrepreneurship full time. Her company, Windsor Group LLC (Windsor), provides best-in-class solutions to both public and private sector clients, identifying areas of weakness and helping resolve challenging issues to ensure optimal success and growth. Windsor supports its clients in the areas of program and project management, professional and technical staffing solutions, IT support, training and professional development and management consulting.

Under Diedre’s leadership and in a five-year time span, Windsor grew exponentially. In 2021, the young company landed at No. 191 on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies touting 2,225% growth. This feat resulted in Windsor being named No. 17 on the 2022 Vet100, a compilation of the nation’s fastest growing veteran-owned businesses. Both accomplishments were repeated in 2022 and 2023 respectively. Windsor is a woman, minority and service-disabled veteran owned small business, as well as a SBA 8(a) Business Development program participant and GSA Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) contract holder. 

Diedre sees Windsor’s growth as an avenue to helping people. A strong believer in community and giving back, Diedre donates countless hours and financial resources to several nonprofit organizations including ROCKS, Inc., Code of Support Foundation (COSF), Veterans Institute for Procurement, Military Women’s Memorial, Women Veterans Interactive Foundation, Army Women’s Foundation, Sallie Eaton Benevolence Foundation, Agape Love in Action and Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Diedre is a proud member of the Women Presidents Organization, The BOW Collective, Women’s Business Enterprise Council Greater DMV, CEO Roundtable, Military Officers Association (MOAA), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and serves as Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the Code of Support Foundation.

Diedre was selected and named to the Daily Record’s 2023 list of Maryland’s Top 100 Women. She was also named a 2023 “Enterprising Women of the Year” Award Winner by Enterprising Women Magazine.

Diedre graduated from Methodist University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and from Webster University in 2011 with a master’s degree in human resource management. In 2015 Ms. Windsor authored her first book, Leadership begins with Hello! Practical Principles of Leadership ~ A Hip-pocket Guide which focuses on practical principles of leadership. Ms. Windsor resides in Bethesda with her family.

Andrea Le

Social Science Analyst

Community-Based Interventions for Suicide Prevention

Veterans Health Administration

Ms. Le is a Social Science Analyst, Community-Based Interventions for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Prevention Program, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Veterans Health Administration
 
Ms. Le is a Social Science Analyst with the Suicide Prevention Program (SPP) in the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). As a member of the SPP Community team, Ms. Le leads coordination for the Mayor’s and Governor’s Challenges to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families. Prior to joining VHA, Ms. Le led local public health programs for the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health Department, collaborating with a diverse group of partners to build community coalitions. She also led outreach and process improvement efforts during her time with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
 
Ms. Le received her B.S. in Decision Science from Carnegie Mellon University and her M.P.H. in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science from the University of Texas School of Public Health San Antonio Campus. She is a proud military spouse and resides in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband and two children.

Jill Castilla

President & CEO, Citizens Bank of Edmond

Chairman, Citizens Bancshares, Inc.

Founder, ROGER

As President & CEO of Citizens Bank of Edmond and Chairman of Citizens Bancshares, Inc. and founder of its digital military bank ROGER, Jill Castilla is a nationally recognized innovator in financial technology. 
 
Jill currently serves on the 12-member Federal Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors representing the 10th District. She is a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army and chairs the SW Graduate School of Banking at SMU. Jill serves on the boards of Association of Military Banks of America, MetaFund, Oklahoma Hall of Fame, Castle Creek Capital, Port Authority of Oklahoma City, Mercy West, and Humphreys REIF. She recently served on the American Bankers Association Board of Directors. Jill is a previous Chairman of the Community Bankers Association of Oklahoma and an Honorary Commander at Tinker AFB. She received national acclaim for projects with billionaire Mark Cuban during the COVID-19 crisis, helping thousands of small businesses and families.
 
Jill served in the U.S. Army and Oklahoma Army National Guard and management roles at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. She holds a master’s in economics from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s in finance from Hawaii Pacific University, where she serves on its Board of Trustees. She attended the University of Wisconsin Graduate School of Banking and Wharton School. 
 
Jill’s leadership has earned the industry’s highest accolades including: American Banker’s 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking, Community Banker of the Year and Top Team in Banking, Cornerstone’s Banker of the Year, Finovate’s Best Fintech Partnership Award and Oklahoma Venture Forum’s Economic Impact Award. She has been featured on Bloomberg, Fox News and Yahoo Finance. She and her husband, LTC (retired) Marcus Castilla, are parents of an Army officer, Naval Academy midshipman & a recent high school graduate.

The Honorable Tanya Bradsher

Deputy Secretary

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The Honorable Tanya Bradsher was nominated by President Biden to serve as the 10th Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Ms. Bradsher’s nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 14, 2023, and she was sworn in on September 20, 2023. In this role, Deputy Secretary Bradsher helps lead the Department of Veterans Affairs as it continues to deliver more care and more benefits to more Veterans than ever before in the nation’s history. 

Upon her confirmation, Ms. Bradsher said, “As deputy secretary, I promise to do everything in my power to ensure that every Veteran gets the world-class care and benefits they deserve. This is the honor of a lifetime, and I am forever grateful to President Biden and Secretary McDonough for this opportunity to serve our nation’s heroes.”

Ms. Bradsher is a combat Veteran who served for 20 years in the United States Army. She enlisted in 1993 and was commissioned in 1994 from the Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Her major assignments included Spokesperson on the White House National Security Council for the Department of Defense, Asia, Africa, Western Hemisphere, counter-terrorism, and detainee policies; Defense Press Officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs at the Pentagon; Brigade Public Affairs Officer during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Deputy Public Affairs officer, 8th U.S. Army; Commander, Delta Company 516th Battalion, and Executive Officer, 1st Replacement Company, 8th Personnel Support Command.

In March 2021, Ms. Tanya Bradsher was selected by Secretary McDonough to serve as the Chief of Staff for Veterans Affairs. Prior to being named VA’s Chief of Staff, Ms. Bradsher served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Partnerships and Global Engagement on the National Security Staff in the Executive Office of the President. She previously served as the Chief of Staff to Congressman Don Beyer in Virginia’s 8th District. Before working on the Hill, Ms. Bradsher was the Chief of Communications for the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Prior to joining APA, she served at the Defense Health Agency as the Chief for Communications Plans and Operation in the Office of Public Affairs.

During the Obama Administration, Ms. Bradsher served as the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security where she oversaw public outreach, media, and incident communications efforts and served as the principal communications advisor to the Secretary. Prior to joining DHS, she served at the White House as the Assistant Director, Office of Public Engagement, where she led Veteran, Wounded Warrior, and Military Family Outreach initiatives. Ms. Bradsher earned her M.A. in Strategic Communications from George Washington University and her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received numerous military awards, including the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star. She and her husband, Colonel (Retired) John Bradsher, have three children.

Latecia Rodriguez

Senior Consultant, Technical Assent

Senior Trainer, VA Women’s Health Reengagement Training Program

Latecia serves as a Senior Consultant at Technical Assent, where she provides a diverse range of services to government organizations. Throughout her illustrious 21-year career in the Marine Corps, including deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), she accrued valuable experience while serving in the following roles: Basic Electrician, Communications & Electronics Technician, Recruiter, Professional Military Education Instructor, and Human Resources Generalist.
 
Following her retirement from the Marine Corps in 2019, Latecia assumed the role of an Adjunct Instructor with Davis Defense Group, where she delivered instruction on various military, leadership, and managerial subjects to intermediate-level managers in the Marine Corps. Her contributions significantly impacted the professional development of her students.
 
Presently, Latecia occupies the position of Senior Consultant at Technical Assent, where she has provided services to various offices within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), including the Bureau of Veterans Appeals, Office of Patient Advocacy, and the Office of Women’s Health. She has successfully led teams in the design, development, and delivery of professional training to over 1000 VHA employees. Furthermore, Latecia played a pivotal role in the creation of an Onboarding Program designed to enhance Employee Experience. Currently, she is collaborating with the Office of Women’s Health to increase engagement and awareness of healthcare services for Women Veterans.
 
Latecia holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resources from Park University, as well as a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from the University of Redlands. In her free time, Latecia enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and playing with her three dogs.

Donna Southwood-Smith

Consultant, Technical Assent

Senior Trainer, VA Women’s Health Reengagement Training Program

Donna is a Consultant with Technical Assent, and is the Senior Trainer for the VA Women’s Health Reengagement Training Program. She is a Retired Air Force Veteran who served both on Active Duty and in the Reserves.
 
Having spent most of her 30-year Air Force career in a heavy construction career, and deploying frequently to the Middle East and Central America, she is intimately familiar with the challenges women Veterans face during and after deployment. Donna’s background is in Language Training, Curriculum Development, and Construction Project Management.
 
A dynamic and engaging training professional, she was also Senior Trainer for the VA Women’s Health Transition Training Pilot Program, and the DoD/Dept. of Labor Transition Assistance Program. She holds an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language and has taught at the College level and in private language schools.  

Chyanne Thomas

Program Manager

Octo, an IBM Company

Chyanne is a remarkable individual who embodies the spirit of resilience, determination, and passion. A loving mother, accomplished veteran, and driven professional, she has found her calling in empowering others and creating opportunities for those who have served their country.
 
With a distinguished military career of 12.5 years in the U.S. Army, Chyanne has showcased her unwavering dedication to her country. During her time in the army, she learned the true meaning of discipline, camaraderie, and leadership. Her commitment to excellence led her to achieve a Masters in Project Management and an MBA, further solidifying her expertise in driving impactful initiatives.
 
Currently, Chyanne serves as a program manager at Octo, an IBM Company. In this role, she manages and oversees two teams that focus on policy research and application development. Her contributions play a pivotal role in supporting data sharing capabilities within the Decentralized Common Ground Systems (DCGS) and the Department of Defense/Intelligence Community (DOD/IC). Chyanne’s dedication and expertise ensure that these vital systems operate efficiently, enabling seamless communication and collaboration.
 
Chyanne’s transition up new opportunities and avenues for personal and professional growth. During this time, she became deeply involved in various IT programs, which sparked her interest in the critical field of cybersecurity, particularly in information systems accreditation and compliance. Demonstrating her relentless pursuit of knowledge and improvement, Chyanne is currently pursuing her Security+ certification before setting her sights on the highly coveted CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) credential.
 
Chyanne is not content with merely achieving personal success; her vision extends far beyond herself. With her background and expertise, she aspires to build her own management consulting firm. This endeavor will serve two noble purposes: providing valuable services in the field of management consulting and creating opportunities specifically for veterans. Through her firm, Chyanne aims to equip fellow veterans with the skills, resources, and support they need to flourish in the professional world.
 
As an aspiring author, Chyanne also seeks to share her experiences, wisdom, and insights with others. Through her writing, she intends to uplift and inspire individuals, particularly women, encouraging them to embrace their own unique strengths and capabilities.

Maria Hallett

Program Manager

Octo, an IBM Company

Maria’s nine-year tenure as an Information Systems Analyst in the Army served as the cornerstone for her transition into the private sector. Over the past twenty years, she has dedicated herself to serving the federal government through pivotal roles in tech companies, contributing to crucial government contracts. Leveraging the GI Bill, she earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees, showcasing unwavering dedication to personal and professional growth.
 
Maria’s expertise spans cybersecurity and Project Management, bolstered by her earned certificates. As a Program Manager thriving in the IT world, she goes beyond her career, actively supporting her daughter’s academic and extracurricular pursuits while emphasizing the significance of self-care. With a fervent passion for music and dance, Maria actively participates in classes and social dancing.
 
Her journey epitomizes the vast potential for women veterans in IT, urging them to pursue and excel in this dynamic field.

Jawanda Becton

Senior Project Client Services Lead

Octo, an IBM Company

Jawanda is a dedicated Senior Project Manager at the forefront of healthcare transformation. Leading the Health Data and Analytics Platform (HDAP), she empowers the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to make evidence-based decisions for veterans and their families. HDAP, a cloud-based data analytics platform, grants VA analysts access to a comprehensive data lake and modern analytics tools.
 
Jawanda adeptly manages two vital HDAP projects, ensuring efficient resource allocation, on-time delivery, budget adherence, and stakeholder satisfaction. Her unwavering commitment to healthcare innovation and data analytics has made her a standout leader, improving the lives of countless veterans and their families.

Whitney Miller

Policy Research Specialist

Octo, and IBM Company

Whitney Miller is a small-town girl from Glennville, Georgia. At the tender age of 18, Ms. Miller joined the US Army. During her 14 years of military service, she served as a paralegal for JAG attorneys for 14 years. Miss Miller had the opportunity to assist in a variety of impactful operations, to include 335th Signal Command, where she served for 6 years and was introduced to the field of Information Technology. After separating from the Army in 2020, Whitney began to pursue a career in Cybersecurity through the VA’s “Vet Tech” program. Through the Vet Tech program, she completed a rigorous Cybersecurity course at Fullstack Academy in New York City and later obtained her Comptia Security Plus certification. With over 16 years in legal research experience, Whitney landed her first and current position in technology as a Policy Research Specialist for Octo Consulting in April 2023.
 
One word to best describe Whitney, is “lion-hearted”. Although she has fears, she doesn’t allow them to paralyze her and remains courageous in the midst of adversities. She is a fashion enthusiast, truth-teller, and faith advocate who believes that God continually covers her in all walks of life. She mothers two wonderful children, Elijah and Egypt, who serve as motivation for her self-progression every day. Whitney plans to utilize her many skills and experiences to create an enjoyable career and purposeful life.

Kyle Arrington

Super Bowl Champion, Author

Fox 5 Contributor, Community Leader 

If there are two words that best align with Super Bowl Champion Kyle Arrington, they are “family” and “community.” Being an undrafted free agent from the University of Hofstra, Kyle surpassed all odds, by remaining committed to his conviction and drive, which earned him a starting position in the National Football League (NFL) for many years. Kyle exudes an almost indescribable, yet infectious attitude, in always striving to become the best version of himself. 
 
It has been that very same mindset and belief system that has been instilled in The E.V.O.L.V.E. Foundation and its mission. To teach the next generation that there is no finite amount of abilities that they possess. That through commitment, sacrifice, and dedication to oneself and to each other, the possibilities are endless.

Cliff Crosby

Super Bowl Champion

Motivational Speaker

Super Bowl Champ Cliff Crosby played defensive back with the Saint Louis Rams and Indianapolis Colts. After retiring from the NFL in 2004, Cliff became a motivational speaker and youth advocate. Cliff discusses with teens his life and the life skills and choices needed to be successful. Cliff engages students from all walks of life.
 
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Cliff now lives in the Maryland-Washington, DC area and is a proud father to a teenage son. In addition to being the first in his family to graduate from high school and college, Cliff has received many accolades for his hard work, including: 
 
  •  the Heroes of Public Housing Award; 
  •  an invitation to speak at the White House in 2012;
  • the Erie Pennsylvania Sports Chapter Hall of Fame in 2012; 
  • the Dallas Star Morning News Special Teams Player of the Year 2004; and 
  • Ten Game Balls during his six year NFL career. 
Actions Create your Tomorrow (ACT), a program Cliff created, has reached more than 20,000 elementary, middle, and high school students on the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Florida. The ACT Program highlights insightful and valuable messages focusing on goal setting and encourages students to be accountable by being involved in extracurricular activities, asking for help when needed and gaining trust from adults by being where they are supposed to be. 
 
Cliff has a Master’s Degree in Psychology – Behavioral Health. He works in the following fields: 1. Intelligence Community; 2. One of 10 former NFL Players called a Captain for The Trust Powered by the NFLPA (helping former NFL Players Transition); 3. Motivational Speaker for Caron Treatment Centers; 4. Community advocate for underserved communities 

Annette Y. Harris, MBA

President & Founder, ShowUp!

What started for Annette Y. Harris more than 20 years ago as a drive to climb the corporate ladder; managing global
marketing programs and leading teams for multi-million dollar federal government RFP proposal efforts— transformed into a passion to help leaders and aspiring leaders, managers, and high potential professionals get noticed, get known, and get ahead.
Annette launched ShowUp!, a Washington D.C. area based professional development firm providing leadership training and one-on-one coaching services, for
organizations committed to creating opportunities for their people to SHOW UP and develop into effective, high contributing,
and engaged professionals and leaders. Her corporate clients include
organizations like Merck, TIAA, Deloitte & Touch, Viking Cruises, Freddie Mac, BDO,
and Marriott, just to name a few.
 
Annette earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from James Madison
University, her Master of Business Administration from George Mason University, and
was later certified by the leading accreditation organizations in her field. Annette has
been a featured expert guest on local Washington D.C. are news and contributor to
nationally recognized online and print publications.

Latonia Parks

Top Bragg Realty & Property Management

Cape Fear Home Solutions

Owner

Latonia Parks Is a native of Goldsboro, NC.  After graduating high school, she entered the military and retired after 20 years.  The leadership and training throughout that time gifted her a spirit for entrepreneurship. She has embraced her role in the community as Owner of Top Bragg Realty & Property Management, a Real Estate Firm, and Cape Fear Home Solutions, a home renovations company both in the Fayetteville/Ft. Liberty, NC area.  Her focus is to help others sensibly achieve the dream of home ownership as it is still an attainable goal. 
 
She and her husband also own a Cold Stone Creamery franchise in Hope Mills, NC. Most recently they opened a UPS Store franchise (and hired and moved her oldest daughter back to the area to be the store manager). Both businesses serve as additional means to serve our military and community at large since she’s always at work to give back to enhance the community.
 
Latonia has been married to King O. Parks for 32 years and they have 2 girls. In her available time, she enjoys serving in her church, community and traveling.

Cliff Crosby

Super Bowl Champion

Motivational Speaker

Super Bowl Champ Cliff Crosby played defensive back with the Saint Louis Rams and Indianapolis Colts. After retiring from the NFL in 2004, Cliff became a motivational speaker and youth advocate. Cliff discusses with teens his life and the life skills and choices needed to be successful. Cliff engages students from all walks of life.
 
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Cliff now lives in the Maryland-Washington, DC area and is a proud father to a teenage son. In addition to being the first in his family to graduate from high school and college, Cliff has received many accolades for his hard work, including: 
 
  •  the Heroes of Public Housing Award; 
  •  an invitation to speak at the White House in 2012;
  • the Erie Pennsylvania Sports Chapter Hall of Fame in 2012; 
  • the Dallas Star Morning News Special Teams Player of the Year 2004; and 
  • Ten Game Balls during his six year NFL career. 
Actions Create your Tomorrow (ACT), a program Cliff created, has reached more than 20,000 elementary, middle, and high school students on the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Florida. The ACT Program highlights insightful and valuable messages focusing on goal setting and encourages students to be accountable by being involved in extracurricular activities, asking for help when needed and gaining trust from adults by being where they are supposed to be. 
 
Cliff has a Master’s Degree in Psychology – Behavioral Health. He works in the following fields: 1. Intelligence Community; 2. One of 10 former NFL Players called a Captain for The Trust Powered by the NFLPA (helping former NFL Players Transition); 3. Motivational Speaker for Caron Treatment Centers; 4. Community advocate for underserved communities 

Annette J. Harris, MBA

President & Founder, ShowUp!

What started for Annette Y. Harris more than 20 years ago as a drive to climb the corporate ladder; managing global
marketing programs and leading teams for multi-million dollar federal government RFP proposal efforts— transformed into a passion to help leaders and aspiring leaders, managers, and high potential professionals get noticed, get known, and get ahead.
Annette launched ShowUp!, a Washington D.C. area based professional development firm providing leadership training and one-on-one coaching services, for
organizations committed to creating opportunities for their people to SHOW UP and develop into effective, high contributing,
and engaged professionals and leaders. Her corporate clients include
organizations like Merck, TIAA, Deloitte & Touch, Viking Cruises, Freddie Mac, BDO,
and Marriott, just to name a few.
 
Annette earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from James Madison
University, her Master of Business Administration from George Mason University, and
was later certified by the leading accreditation organizations in her field. Annette has
been a featured expert guest on local Washington D.C. are news and contributor to
nationally recognized online and print publications.

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