Press Release

Bush Institute Announces 2023 Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program Class

34 Scholars serving our Nation’s veterans selected to begin next month

DALLAS – Today, the George W. Bush Institute announced the 2023 class selected to participate in the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program, a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at bold leaders from diverse sectors across the country – including civilians, veterans, and active military – who are supporting our Nation’s veterans and their families.

The 34 Scholars will gather at the George W. Bush Presidential Center next month for their opening session. They will hear from inspiring leaders such as U.S. Navy Captain and NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy, the eighth United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald, retired United States Air Force General Alfred Flowers, and Bush Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Deborah Birx, among others.

Throughout the five-month program, participants will meet with a variety of nationally-known and distinguished professionals, educators, and experts in veteran transition and leadership development. They will attend the first three sessions at the Bush Center and will travel to Washington, D.C. for the fourth session. The program will conclude at the Bush Center in November.

Participants were selected after a rigorous application and review process. They join an active network of more than 170 alumni from four previous classes who are rising leaders – both veterans and non-veterans – from a wide range of sectors who are working to improve veteran outcomes. They hold a variety of leadership roles in business, community involvement, veteran-serving nonprofits, government, and academia; many are active and reserve military service members.

The program is part of the Bush Institute’s commitment to developing and supporting effective leaders, and it builds on the organization’s extensive body of work on veteran transition issues. 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 and military family outcomes across the United States.

The 2023 class of the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program includes:

  • Quiana Abner, Program Manager of Onward to Opportunity in the Texas Region, D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), San Antonio, Texas
  • Kellie Artis, Director of Communications, Virtual Veterans Communities, Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Jennifer Barnhill, Freelance Journalist and Lead Researcher, and Partners in PROMISE, Pacific Grove, California
  • Bobby Ehrig, Executive Director, Citizens for Progress, Bulverde, Texas
  • Pete Faerber, Founder and President, The Warriors’ Lawyer, Lithia, Florida
  • Victoria Harvey, Deputy Director, Hiring Our Heroes, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Kapolei, Hawaii
  • Marnie Holder, Veteran Services Program Officer, National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Columbus, Ohio
  • Desiree Holley, Director of Operations, Operation Healing Forces, Brandon, Florida
  • Seth Kastle, Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies and Director of Military Program Innovation, Fort Hays State University, WaKeeney, Kansas
  • Jermaine King, Chief, Public Protection and Safety (Senior Enlisted Leader), United States Air Force, Edwards Air Force Base, California
  • Stan Kurtz, Programs Director of Office of Veterans Business Development, U.S. Small Business Administration, Dumfries, Virginia
  • Michael Logan, Senior Director for Veteran and Military Affairs, The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
  • Mollie Marti, Chief Executive Officer, Worldmaker International, Mount Vernon, Iowa
  • Selene Martin, Associate Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Military & Veterans, CareSource, Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas
  • Jessica Lynn McNulty, Commander, United States Navy, Clifton, Virginia
  • Josh Michael, Clinical Sales Associate, Intuitive Surgical, Argyle, Texas
  • Michelle Mills, Senior Recruiter, Amazon, Tucson, Arizona
  • Rachel Moyal-Smith, Senior Clinical Implementation Specialist, Ariadne Labs, Slingerlands, New York
  • Reggie Ordonez, Chief Operations Officer, Bunker Labs, White House, Tennessee
  • Jennifer Pluta, Director of Veteran Career Services, Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, Syracuse University, Brewerton, New York
  • Taheesha Quarells, Director of Troops to Teachers, Department of Defense Military to Civilian Transition Office, Pensacola, Florida
  • Kris Rick, Veterans Employment and Training Services – Training and Partnership Lead, U.S. Department of Labor, Oakton, Virginia
  • Curtez Riggs, Director of Military Events, Recurrent Ventures, Live Oak, Texas
  • DeLisa Duncan Russell, Senior Vice President, Group CEO Texas, Astara Health, Spring, Texas
  • Gilbert Saguid, Founder, Veterans Franchise Group, San Diego, California
  • Abi Scott, Chief, Enlisted Force Development, U.S. Space Force, Fort Belvoir, Virginia
  • Jackson Smith, Executive Director, Bastion Community of Resilience, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Sarah Streyder, Executive Director, Secure Families Initiative, Alexandria, Virginia
  • Cappy Surette, Senior Manager, External Communications for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, The Walt Disney Company, Windermere, Florida
  • Chi Szeto, Management Analyst, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Torrance, California
  • Eric Templeton, Cybersecurity Business Development Manager, Cisco, Garner, North Carolina
  • Susan Thaxton, Chief Strategy Officer, The Mission Continues, Annapolis, Maryland
  • Tracy Threatt, Counselor, Central Piedmont Community College, Concord, North Carolina
  • Olivia Valerio, Military Bridges Program Project Manager, H-E-B, San Antonio, Texas

The Bush Center gratefully acknowledges the support of The Boeing Company as the founding program underwriter.

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


George W. Bush Institute

The George W. Bush Institute is a solution-oriented nonpartisan policy organization focused on ensuring opportunity for all, strengthening democracy, and advancing free societies. Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Bush Institute is rooted in compassionate conservative values and committed to creating positive, meaningful, and lasting change at home and abroad. We utilize our unique platform and convening power to advance solutions to national and global issues of the day. Learn more at