Press Release

Bush Institute Announces 2021 Class of Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program

51 Scholars who are serving our nation’s veterans selected to begin next week.

Dallas, Texas – Today, the George W. Bush Institute announced the 2021 class selected to participate in the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program, a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at individuals serving our nation’s veterans who are motivated to broaden their skillsets, knowledge, and influence across the country.

Scholars will participate in an opening session virtually on June 9, where they will hear from Former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Bush Institute April and Jay Graham Fellow Bob McDonald, Lt. General Nadja West, and Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program Alumni, among others.

Throughout the five-month program, participants will meet with a variety of nationally known and distinguished professionals, educators, and experts in post-9/11 veteran transition and leadership development. They will attend the first two sessions virtually, and then meet in Dallas for their final three sessions. The program will conclude with a final session and capstone event at the Bush Center in October.

Participants were selected after a rigorous application and review process. They join a growing network of 76 scholars from two previous classes who are rising leaders – both veterans and non-veterans – from a wide range of sectors who are working to improve post-9/11 veteran outcomes. They hold a variety of roles including business and community leaders, members of veteran-serving non-profits, as well as leaders in government, academia, and active and reserve military service members.

The program is part of the Bush Institute’s commitment to developing and supporting effective leaders. It builds on the Bush Institute’s extensive body of work on veteran transition issues, and each participant joins the program with a personal leadership project, which allows them to implement what they learn in the program in service of improving veteran outcomes across the United States. The Bush Center gratefully acknowledges the support of The Boeing Company as the Founding Program Underwriter.

The 2021 Class of the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program includes:

Tina Atherall, Chief Executive Officer, Psycharmor; Cardiff by the Sea, CA

Zach Baddorf, Executive Director, Military Veterans in Journalism; Silver Spring, MD

James Baehr, Counsel, Wentworth Management Services; New Orleans, LA

Aimee Bateman, Senior Defense Counsel, U.S. Army; Leavenworth, KS

Jim Beamesderfer, Vice President, Veterans Initiatives, Prudential Financial; Morris Plains, NJ

Lacey Beaty, Mayor, City of Beaverton; Beaverton, OR

Adelle Bish, Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; Greensboro, NC

Elisa Borah, Research Associate Professor and Director, The University of Texas at Austin; Austin, TX

Thomas Brennan, Executive Director, The War Horse News; Culpeper, VA

Derren Burrell, President and Founder, Veteran Venture Capital; Knoxville, TN

Verenice Castillo, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Military Spouse Advocacy Network; San Antonio, TX

Jaime Chapman, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce; Fort Hood, TX

Babs Chase, Vice President, Military and Veterans Programs, The Manufacturing Institute; Alexandria, VA

Leah Christensen, National Clinical Program Coordinator, Caregiver Support Program, US Department of Veterans Affairs; Portland, OR

Crystal Cochran, Director, Fellows Programs, Hiring Our Heroes, US Chamber of Commerce; Springfield, VA

Beth Conlin, Program Manager, Amazon; Arlington, VA

Andrew Davenport, Owner and Certified Home Inspector, A Good Look Home Inspection; Gainesville, GA

Ross Dickman, Chief Operating Officer, Hire Heroes USA; New Fairfield, CT 

Jay Garcia, Global Veterans Program Manager, Fortinet Inc.; Vista, CA

Frank Goertner, Director, Military and Veteran Affairs, University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business; Rockville, MD

Eric Golnick, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Forge Veteran and First Responder Health; Alexandria, VA

Quincy Harper, Military Recruiting Liaison Lead, Accenture Federal Services; San Antonio, TX

LeNaya Hezel, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, NayceQuest LLC; Springfield, VA

Julie Kangas, Psychologist, Veterans Health Association, San Diego; San Diego, CA

Chris Lancia, Public Affairs Officer, United States Army; Clarksville, TN

Umar Latif, National Medical Director Help for Heroes, Springstone; Carrollton, TX 

Annette Maldonado, Program Manager, GSA; Alexandria, VA

Bana Miller, Director of Marketing and Communications, Team Red White and Blue; Alexandria, VA

Dennis Miller, President and Founder, Greater Philadelphia Veteran Chamber of Commerce; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ

Derek Moore, Commander, United States Army; Akron, OH

Rebecca Moynihan, Vice President of Operations, Cohen Veterans Network; Mount Kisco, NY

Chris Mulder, Air Force Officer, United States Air Force; Alexandria, VA

Eden Murrie, Chief Executive Officer, Operation Stand Down Tennessee; Nashville, TN

Janaia Nash, Chief Program Officer, Travis Manion Foundation; College Park, GA

Jeremy Nelson, Deputy Director, Military Health Institute, UT Health San Antonio; San Antonio, TX

Andrew Newby, Assistant Director, Veteran and Military Services, The University of Mississippi; Oxford, MS

Phaly Pichota, Chief Executive Officer and Cofounder, Cibus Health; Carlsbad, CA

Danielle Pope, Director, Innovative Technology, America’s Warrior Partnership; Morrisville, NC

Lauren Postler, Founder and Managing Partner, Military Connected Capital; Houston, TX

Betty Rhoades, Executive Director, HillVets Foundation; Washington, DC

Dan Rickert, Chief of Staff, Veteran Affinity Group Lead, Palantir Technologies; Arvada, CO

Margaret Riley, Chief Operating Officer, The COMMIT Foundation; Saint Johns, FL 

Brian Ritter, HR Program Manager, The Boeing Company; Snohomish, WA

Melissa Stirling, Senior Director, Diversity and Inclusion and Head of Military Programs, Hilton; Charlottesville, VA

Kim Tapia, Entrepreneur, Polanko Group; Columbus, OH

Dylan Tete, Executive Director, Bastion; New Orleans, LA

Jesse Tossetti, Director of Outreach and Admissions, Warrior-Scholar Project; Englishtown, NJ

Larry Vasquez, Director, Military and Veterans Affairs, Office of the Mayor, City of Los Angeles; Pasadena, CA

Andrew Ward, Founder and President, Acadiana Veteran Alliance; Lafayette, LA

Jimmy White IV, Professional Speaker, Jimmy White Speaks LLC; Exton, PA

Casey Woods, Founder and Executive Director, FORGE Foundation; Surfside, FL

To learn more about the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program, please visit

George W. Bush Institute

Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan, policy organization with the mission of developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges. Through three Impact Centers — Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and an Engagement Agenda — the Bush Institute delivers measurable results that save and improve lives. To learn more, visit