Thank you to our volunteer advisory board members who give us great advice and recommendations. They contribute knowledge, skills, and expertise that complement our team and mission. We are very proud to have you all on board.
The terrorist attacks in September of 2001 then prompted Mr. Barrett to join the United States Marine Corps in December of that year. He entered the Officer Candidate Course 179 in January 2002 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in April. After completing The Basic School, Mr. Barrett served as a Judge Advocate until 2008 when he completed his service. He was honorably discharged attaining the rank of Major, receiving the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his service.
In 2008, Major Barrett was offered an adjunct instructor position with Averett University’s Masters in Business Administration program, teaching business law with a focus on ethics. In that same year, he created a limited liability company, ACS Capital Investors, LLC (ACS) doing business as Premier Stays Executive Suites. His company specialized in providing housing for transient professionals relocating to the National Capital Region. The company focused on servicing mobilized Reservists who were called to active duty in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Leveraging his legal background, his knowledge of Military Reserve Policy, and his expertise in the current housing market, Mr. Barrett was able to support an under-served population of service-members during their transition from civilian to active duty service. During his company’s first two years of business ACS provided transition support, career counseling, and housing to over 20 service members for the duration of their mobilization orders, which in many cases was over a two year period.
His passion to serve those who have served our country continues, and he has expanded his commitment and service to include Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to ensure they have access to the resources and support they have earned.
With a combined experience of 18 years, Mr. Bell is an expert in federal business development, leading edge technologies, strategic marketing, tactical sales and key account management.
Prior to joining Newmark Knight Frank, Mr. Bell held senior-level executive positions with corporate and commercial real estate service firms, such as Capitol CREAG, LLC, and, most recently, with UGL Equis as senior vice president to the Government Services Group, where he managed key account relationships with agencies such as DOD, GSA, FBI, IRS, IMF, the Census Bureau, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State.
Mr. Bell started his career as manager of government contracts for the US Department of Defense as a warrant officer in 1990, where he succeeded in saving $30 million in maintenance costs by implementing a new quality assurance program and $3 million in annual aircraft repair and overhaul costs by limiting demand for contractor maintenance.
Early in his career, Mr. Bell assumed the position of executive director/owner at Powerhouse Gym, where he managed 13 facilities and raised capital through promotional and venture capital funding to expand the business to from 2 to 42 employees. He also drove up client satisfaction and revenue by 800%, by identifying areas of concern and creating proactive solutions to exceed expectations.
Mr. Bell also closed $1.5 million in sales for Wilsonart International, and in 2001, he secured over $3 million in new business for Formica with estimated sales of $29.3 million over the next four years. Among several other accomplishments, most recently, Mr. Bell sourced and participated in the proposal development for the $10 million U.S. Census Bureau Real Estate Services Contract and the NASA Lease Prospectus Development Services contract worth an undisclosed amount.
Mr. Bell is a frequent speaker and resource for those covering GSA real property leasing. As a board member and vice president of programs, he actively develops educational topics and trains GSA asset managers, who are members of the Federal Real Property Association.
- Board Member, National Federal Development Association (NFDA)
- Past President & Executive Board Member, Federal Real Property Association (FRPA)
- Howard County Council Representative, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Task Force
- Board Member & Sponsorship Committee Chairman, CoreNet Mid Atlantic Chapter
- Advisory Board Member, Luke’s Wings
Mr. Bell graduated cum laude from Riddle Aeronautical University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Aeronautics.
Since 2010 she served as a consultant in the areas of community affairs, veterans housing, and not-for-profit organizations. In 2011 she partnered with two women to establish a for-profit business called Epilogue LLC, which offered support groups to help men and women over age 50 reinvent themselves in retirement. Currently, she serves as Public Relations Manager for the Wounded Warrior Mentor Program, a not-for-profit volunteer organization that recruits and assigns mentors to work one-on-one with wounded men and women warriors recovering at military installations, helping them to transition to productive and meaningful lives.
Ms. Beversdorf is the former President/CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), which represents community-based homeless veteran service providers in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Following her employment at NCHV she worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs on homeless veteran issues and a project that helped veterans and their families lead healthier lives.
Cheryl served as chief staff executive for three national not-for-profit health organizations including the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and Sister to Sister- Everyone Has A Heart Foundation. She is also a former U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs staff member and worked on a wide range of veterans issues including Agent Orange, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, spinal cord injury and VA medical center nursing issues.
From 2001-2005, she founded, managed and performed with HealthonStage, a health communications company, which produced educational events focusing on health promotion and disease prevention, especially among women. Before HealthonStage, she was a senior member of a world wide public affairs/public relations agency where she developed and implemented public affairs and communications programs for health clients.
Currently, Cheryl serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors and is a singer with the Washington Master Chorale, a semiprofessional chorus that performs American and European choral music at venues throughout the metropolitan Washington, DC area. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Transitional Housing Corporation, a faith-based homeless service organization located in Washington, DC.
Ms. Beversdorf has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Maryland, a Master of Health Science degree in health services administration and health planning from The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, and a Master of Arts degree in public communication from American University.
Prior to joining MSNBC in January 2007, Brzezinski was an anchor of the “CBS Evening News Weekend Edition” and a CBS News correspondent who frequently contributed to “CBS Sunday Morning” and “60 Minutes.” She reported live from Lower Manhattan for CBS News during the September 11, 2001 attacks.
A native of New York City, Brzezinski is the daughter of Foreign Policy Expert and Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. She is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and a Williams College alum. Brzezinski lives in New York with her husband and two daughters.
Carafano served as a member of the National Academy’s Board on Army Science and Technology, the Department of the Army Historical Advisory Committee, and is a Senior Fellow at the George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute and the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Advisory Committee. He was the creative director for the feature-length documentary 33 Minutes: Protecting America in the New Missile Age.
An accomplished historian and teacher, Carafano is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and has served as a visiting professor at National Defense University. He previously served as an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and as director of military studies at the Army’s Center of Military History. He taught at Mount Saint Mary College in New York and was a fleet professor at the U.S. Naval War College.
He is the author of many books and studies. His most recent book is Wiki at War: Conflict in a Socially Networked World(Texas A&M University Press, 2012), a survey of the revolutionary impact of the Internet age on national security. Carafano coauthored Winning the Long War: Lessons from the Cold War for Defeating Terrorism and Preserving Freedom. The first to coin the term, the “long war,” the authors argue that a successful strategy requires a balance of prudent military and security measures, continued economic growth, the zealous protection of civil liberties and winning the “war of ideas” against terrorist ideologies. Carafano joined Heritage in 2003. Before becoming a policy expert, he served 25 years in the Army. Carafano rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He served in Europe, Korea and the United States. His assignments included head speechwriter for the Army Chief of Staff, the service’s highest-ranking officer. Before retiring, Carafano was executive editor of Joint Force Quarterly, the Defense Department’s premiere professional military journal.
A graduate of West Point, Carafano also has a master’s degree and a doctorate from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in strategy from the U.S. Army War College.
Ed is also a physician executive and practitioner with over 3 decades of diverse clinical and healthcare management experience; especially skilled in the use of complex healthcare data analyses and clinical informatics. Demonstrated expertise in creating, effectively deploying and managing population health programs including Integrated Medical-Behavioral health management, complex case management and preventive-health/wellness/health promotion. Several of these programs have won awards for clinical achievement and innovation. Ed has published articles in national healthcare journals, written many “Ask the Doctor” columns and has frequently spoken at national healthcare forums. Ed Dasso, MD on LinkedIn | Ed Dasso, MD Amazon author page
Ms. Duckworth was elected to the House by voters in Illinois’ 8th District.
Ms. Duckworth is a graduate of the University of Hawaii and received a Masters of Arts in International Affairs from the George Washington University. She and her husband Bryan, an Army Major, live in Hoffman Estates where their home was rebuilt for wheelchair access in 2005 by her fellow Soldiers and friends. Despite her injuries, she declined a military medical retirement and continues to drill as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.
Jonathan Elias is an award winning journalist and has been recognized both nationally and locally for covering and reporting stories. Right now Elias anchors our 4, 6, and 11 p.m. on ABC7 News, as well as our 10 p.m. on NewsChannel8.
He also heads up the 7Salutes beat, where he is constantly looking for stories about our men and women who are serving or have served in the military.
Elias joins ABC7/WJLA-TV from WBZ in Boston where he was a primary anchor and a lead reporter. On the day of the Boston Marathon bombings he was the only reporter to be standing on the finish line. His coverage earned him the highest journalism awards in the business, a DuPont, a Peabody, and a National Emmy Award. While in Boston Elias earned Emmy Awards for being the best anchor, writer, and for four years in a row the best general assignment reporter. He covered blizzards, hurricanes and parades for the Bruins, Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots.
Before Boston, Elias was the main anchor at KNXV in Phoenix. He traveled the country covering big stories including Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and the Washington D.C. sniper case. His investigative work exposed a gaping hole in the T.S.A. screening process earned him a national Peabody Award. Elias also started the Welcome Home Project — a group that worked to recognize and thank returning Purple Heart Veterans.
During his career Elias worked as a primary anchor at KCBS in Los Angeles, WCCO in Minneapolis and as a reporter in Birmingham and Joplin.
He has reported from important stories including the L.A. Riots, Oklahoma City bombing, the crash of TWA 800, and the Oakland Hills fire. He’s covered hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and politics.
His work has been recognized with three George Foster Peabody Awards, an Alfred I. DuPont Award, a National Emmy, and 25 Regional Emmys.
In addition to his work as a journalist Jonathan has served as an Honorary Commander at Hanscom Air Force Base for three years, and for nearly a decade has served as an instructor at the U.S. Army War College.
Elias graduated from California State University at Northridge as a history major. He married his high school sweetheart, but the two first met in kindergarten. They have two children and a cattle dog named Beau. In his free time he enjoys golfing, traveling, reading, working out and searching for the perfect BBQ.
Prior to her job at CACI, Erika was the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the Air Force District of Washington (AFDW) at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, where she was the Air Force public relations lead for National Special Security Events such as Inauguration, State Funerals and Contingency Response. In 2016, Erika was selected to participate in the Secretary of Defense’s Education with Industry Fellowship Program, where she spent 10 months in Coca-Cola’s Government Relations Office in Washington, D.C.
Erika has held positions as the Chief of Community Relations, Chief of Media Relations, and Deputy Director of the Commander’s Action Group at AFDW. She has also worked as a conference planner for the Office of Secretary of Defense, program analyst for Headquarters Security Forces, and Chief of Strategic Communications for Headquarters Air Force.
Erika spent 13 years in the Air National Guard as a Security Forces Officer, and after 9/11 was activated to support both Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Erika lives in Woodbridge with her husband, Ben, and two children, Hunter and Charlotte. She enjoys teaching cycle classes at her local fitness center and competing in ballroom dance. She has danced on behalf of ORHF in 2017 and 2018 in the DC’s Dancing With the Stars competition as a Corporate Dancer, raising over $110,000 for ORHF. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, and a master’s degree in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University in 2012.
Ms. Jaklitsch has also worked as a Corporate Communications Specialist, implementing the communication strategy at the Education Division and the Integration and Trade Sector of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Here, she coordinated the editorial process, social media strategy, newsletter and media relations, as well as organizing marketing campaigns and events. She has worked as a communication consultant in communication agencies and international organizations, such as the Organization of the American States (OAS) and the Panamerican Development Foundation (PADF) following the earthquake in Haiti in 2011.
Ms. Jaklitsch co-founded ‘DCSpaniards’, the first digital platform for Spanish nationals in Washington D.C. She has a BA in Journalism and a Master’s degree in Business from the University of Navarre, and she is certified as a Specialist in Social Media Management by Georgetown University.
MG Tony Taguba retired on 1 January 2007 having served 34 years on Active Duty. He is President, TDLS Consulting LLC, which provides business consulting services to small companies – disabled veteran owned and economically disadvantaged. He is the Chairman, Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM), a national, all volunteer, nonprofit, 501(c)3 tax exempt organization committed to mentoring and professional development of military and civilian leaders. He served as Vice President for Army Account, SERCO Inc., a leading global services company from July 2007 to Nov 2008. As a community service advocate, he provides assistance to Veterans with their benefits issues, help raise funds for college scholarships, and as a volunteer to the United Services Organization.
Raquel Riley Thomas is a Pageant Owner, Pageant Queen, and Beauty/Fashion Expert. She is the Owner of An Officer and Gentlewoman, LLC, which has the following 8 subsidiaries: Miss DC/PA/DE for America, Mrs. DC/PA/DE America, Little Miss North America (all 50 states plus the District of Columbia) and AOAGWLLC Casting. She is also Mrs. America 2011 (1st Runner-Up) and Mrs. Maryland America 2010. Currently, you can also see her on television as a re-occurring beauty and fashion expert.
Raquel is a decorated military veteran, having served nine years in the U.S. Army (5-years Enlisted photojournalist; 4-years Ordnance Officer). She is a graduate of Hampton University with a degree in Psychology. After she completed her tour of duty in the military, she became an entrepreneur. She built a successful photography company and became the first African-American woman to photograph Jet magazines centerfolds for nine years (2000-2009). While meeting with Elite Models (Atlanta) for a discussion on her photography services, the agents decided they wanted to sign with the 5’9” photographer as a commercial model instead. She later signed with Ford Models (New York) and modeled for nine years for Fortune 500 companies.
In June 2010, Raquel switched gears and entered a beauty pageant contest because her young daughter wanted to see a “princess that looked like her.” Raquel stepped up to the challenge. She competed and won the state title of Mrs. Maryland America 2010. She then advanced to the national level and won the title of Mrs. America 2011 (1st Runner-Up). She is only one of two African-American women who have achieved the title in the history of the Mrs. America organization.
In September 2011, Raquel started her Veteran-owned production company, An Officer and Gentlewoman LLC, (AOAGWLLC). She bought the rights to Mrs. DC America, a preliminary pageant to Mrs. America. In December 2015, she acquired the rights to Mrs. Pennsylvania America and then later she acquired Mrs. Delaware America. She is the first and only African-American woman to own three pageants within the Mrs. America organization. She also owns the rights to Little Miss North America (State and National), an online contest for girls ages 7-12 years old. Because of her efforts in highlighting women’s achievements, Raquel received the “Director of the Year 2017″ award from the Mrs. America, Inc.
Raquel is also committed to her community through service and philanthropy. She is a member of: Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., Military Officers Association of America and Women in Media. Raquel is also involved in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in honor of her Army-veteran mother who unfortunately took her own life in March 2013. As a military Veteran, Raquel makes it a point to give a portion of pageant proceeds to military-focused charities such as Women Veteran’s Rock, Luke’s Wings and Vetsports.
Raquel’s accomplishments have been noted in both her military and civilian career. In the Army, she was awarded the Army Commendation Medal (2x) and the Army Achievement Medal (3x). Recently, Marquis Who’s Who of America awarded Raquel the “Lifetime Achievement Award.” For her commitment to fighting for military Veteran’s rights, Raquel was selected as the “Veteran of the Year” 2011, by Women Veteran’s Rock. Raquel was also titled a “Leader of the Future,” by Ebony Magazine, Marquis “Who’s Who of America,” (5-consecutive years), and Washington Business Journal “People on the Move.” She was inducted into the Library of Congress under the “Veterans History Project” where her military history is now stored in video and pictures. She most recently was appointed to the Ethics, Standards and Procedures Board for Mrs. America, Inc.
Raquel is married to West Point grad Ron Thomas, Esq. with four children, a cat and six robots in their blended family.
Mark participates in various community, civic, charitable, business and professional organizations and services.
Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mark served as an officer in the 1st Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army, in Texas and the Persian Gulf region.
In 2011, the National Chamber of Commerce recognized VSE Corporation as one of the top five large businesses engaging in Hiring Our Heroes and veterans’ employment. Previously, Mr. Wickersham served as Assistant Vice President of VSE Corporation, Program Manager of Tanker Ballistic Protection System (TBPS), a start-up, internationally deployed ballistic protection program (Iraq/Kuwait), Field Support Team Project Manager for field inspection of all TBPS tankers deployed throughout Iraq, Director of Field Service Support Division for the specific purpose of managing Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) field maintenance support in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. In addition, from 2003 to 2009, Mr. Wickersham provided program support to Communications & Engineering Division for large U.S. Army contract (R2) requiring oversight and coordination with over 70 large business subcontractors and vendors.
Serving in the United States Marine Corps, Mr. Wickersham held a variety of positions to include: Fleet Marine Officer/Special Staff Officer to Commander Naval Forces Central Command and Commander U.S. 7th Fleet (Gulf War); Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, Human Resources, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing; Director, Joint Strategic Branch, Plans, Policies and Operations, Headquarters Marine Corps; Special Advisor/Trusted Agent to Commandant of the Marine Corps on International Treaties and Arms Control; Marine Corps SIOP/RISOP Officer; Deputy Commander, Air Combat Element, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (Somalia); Commander, Marine Observation Squadron Two; Commander, Marine Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 29; Commander, Marine Corps Air Facility, Camp Pendleton; Brigade Air Officer, 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (NATO/Cuba); Marine Corps Foreign Military Sales Project Officer (Morocco), Fleet Test Pilot/Maintenance Officer, Cobra Combat Test and Evaluation Team (Pax River/Vietnam); Marine Corps Officer Selection Officer; Squadron Operations Officer, Squadron Strike/Flight Leader (Vietnam), Aircraft Maintenance Officer, Instructor Pilot and Post-maintenance Test Pilot.
Mr. Wickersham graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Social Sciences in 1965. He earned his Master of Arts in International Affairs in 1987 and his PhD in World Politics/Legislative Affairs in 1998 from Catholic University of America.
His awards and commendations include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal – Single Mission Award, the Air Medal – Strike Flight Award, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V,” the Navy Achievement Medal with Combat “V,” the Purple Heart and the Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon.