Organizer of the Month
These leaders are being recognized for their leadership of the MVA Ugly Sweater Ball.
- Trina McDonaldP2P Program Coordinator
- Robert WhiteDirector of Community Impact
- Lindsay ChurchExecutive Director, Co-Founder
Lindsay is a Navy veteran who served from 2008-2012 as a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive (Linguist). During her time in the service, she attended language school at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA where she learned Persian-Farsi. After spending two years at a cyber intelligence command, she left the Navy and returned home to Seattle.
Upon returning home, Lindsay attended the University of Washington where she earned her BA in Near Eastern Language and Civilization and Islamic Studies and an MA in International Studies – Middle East. After grad school, Lindsay began to work with veterans, helping them successfully transition to higher education and on to meaningful employment. Through her work, she noticed that there were many people being left out of the narrative of the U.S. military veteran.
In 2017, Lindsay resigned her position as the Commander of an American Legion post to, along with Katherine Pratt, start the Minority Veterans of America to ensure that there is a community of support around the underrepresented veterans so that we may see the true diversity of the U.S. military reflected in our veteran communities.
- Eric BallentineChief of StaffSeattle, WAEric BallentineChief of Staff
Eric Ballentine served in the Army for five years as military police from 2000-2005. He is currently a senior at the University of Washington Tacoma majoring in urban planning and community development. Upon graduation, Eric hopes to work in the nonprofit sector to assist veterans and their families experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
He is the current platoon leader for The Mission Continues in Tacoma and also serves as the Director of Community Service within his SVA chapter. Eric enjoys serving the community and advocating for all veterans.
- Katherine PrattDirector of Advocacy, Co-FounderWashington, D.C.Katherine PrattDirector of Advocacy, Co-Founder
Katherine Pratt is an Electrical Engineering PhD student at the University of Washington. She served for four years in the Air Force, spending most of her time at Edwards AFB as an operational flight test engineer on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Her motivation to help establish MVA is strongly based in her own experience leaving the military.
When Katherine separated in 2012, she consciously decided to not identify as a veteran, solely because she didn’t conform to the veteran stereotype perpetuated in society. It was only after meeting Lindsay Church that she understood the only way to defeat the stereotype is to speak out and upend the stereotype that truly does not represent the diversity of the veteran community.
Katherine is now more vocal about her experiences in the military and hopes she can help others who were like her embrace their veteran identities.
- Robert WhiteDirector of Community ImpactRobert WhiteDirector of Community Impact
Robert A. White served for 20 years in the Army as both an Enlisted Engineer and a Field Artillery Commissioned Officer. He is a graduate of the Army Ranger School, Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School, and Strategic Broadening Seminar – Army Strategist. He currently is an Executive Master of Public Administration candidate at the University of Washington’s Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.
After separating from the Army, Robert continued his service in the nonprofit sector as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a startup veteran nonprofit. There he utilized his leadership and strategic expertise to launch their flagship program, secure corporate and grant funding, and scale nationally within the second year of operations. In his spare time, he provides pro-bono consulting to local & state agencies, nonprofits, corporations, and institutions of higher learning on veteran initiatives and public policies.
Robert believes in building strategic partnerships among nonprofits, the private sector, and government agencies to increase awareness and advocate social equity and justice for underrepresented communities.
- Christopher MalsburyDirector of OperationsChristopher MalsburyDirector of Operations
Christopher I. Malsbury served for four years in the US Navy as an Enlisted Storekeeper aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln located in Everett, Washington. During his time in the service he was in charge of the Provision Logistics work center, where he was responsible for 15 service members and $3.2 million in inventory. His management of the team and resources earned him a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (NAM) and a Flag Letter of Commendation (FLOC). After leaving the Navy he remained in Seattle to start his professional career.
After several years in corporate America he left to attend the University of Phoenix, where he earned his BS in Business Administration. Halfway through his program he returned to business as a Program Manager at Swedish/Providence Health Systems and continued to work there as until after.
In 2018, Christopher started working on his MBA at Seattle University's Albers School of Business and Economics, focusing on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. While working on his MBA he interned at Keiretsu Form and is currently managing the Albers Transfer Ambassador program, centered around assisting transfer students with their integration into Seattle University.
Christopher has the unique ability to see things at both the macro and micro level, allowing him to construct comprehensive programs that streamline how an organization functions.
- Camden AdorDirector of Communications
Camden Ador is a US Navy veteran of transgender experience. For most of his time in service he identified as a lesbian. However, he eventually came to realize the female identity was not where he fell on the gender spectrum. He tried for the remaining year and a half on active-duty to begin his medical transition. Ultimately, he faced several barriers to gender affirming care and did not start his medical transition until after he became a civilian again. Because of this, Camden’s time in service left him feeling depressed and ostracized, and he often felt that he had to choose between being his authentic self or embracing his military identity. After separating, he rarely found himself in the company of other veterans, but when he did, he often retracted back into a false sense of self to “fit in” with the veteran archetype. It wasn’t until he found Minority Veterans of America that Camden was able to embrace this part of himself again and share his story. He hopes that sharing his story will help to affirm the identities and experiences of other minority vets.
He is currently working towards a degree in photography at Fordham University, and he plans to pursue a graduate degree in divinity. Growing up with a pastor for a father only further complicated his journey of self-realization. However, it is because of this that exploring the intersection of religion and gender/sexual identity, became a core tenant of Camden’s work.
Most of Camden’s photographic work is driven by gender and sexual identity, and he has three on-going portrait series where he visually discusses his community to bring awareness and education to the world. “Dysphoric Diary” is a self-portrait series which depicts the many physical and psychological struggles that trans men often face during their transitions. “Mirror Mirror on the Wall” is a LGBTQ+ portrait series that aims to show the wide variety of identities within our community, as well as how each person reckons with their own truth in a world that wants to force us into a mold. “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” is a combination of portraits and videos interviews of individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ and have found themselves in a household or geographic area where Christian fundamentalist thinking permeates all facets of life.
Camden’s commitment to storytelling will most certainly carry forward as he aims to provide a platform to share the personal accounts of minority vets. He believes it is absolutely imperative that we speak with these individuals and bring light to the particular struggles that each person goes through. Many of us, veterans and civilians alike, do not have the lived experiences of a woman, a person of color, or a trans person. Therefore, it is not possible to fully understand the triumphs and defeats unique to each individual without hearing these stories first hand. His hope is that by expanding the narrative on what it means to be a veteran, he can help other minority vets to begin to reconcile with their own identities. Camden also wishes to help civilians reconsider their ideas around the veteran experience. He hopes that by disseminating his work to veterans and civilians, he can help to promote a culture of understanding and inclusivity, which ultimately improves psychosocial and physical well-being of veterans as they transition back into civilian life.
- Janell NormanDirector of FinanceSeattle, WAJanell NormanDirector of Finance
- Trina McDonaldP2P Program CoordinatorPuyallup, WATrina McDonaldP2P Program Coordinator
Trina McDonald lives in Puyallup, WA and served in the Navy from 1988-1990. She was one of the subjects of the award-winning documentary The Invisible War, which focused on the crisis of sexual assault in the military. Trina worked as a Chemical Dependency Counselor in high risk communities including the justice system before her PTSD prevented her from continuing her career in Behavioral Science. Currently she is a part of the leadership team of Common Defense, a grassroot veterans organization focusing on prevention of hate against veterans and their families. She continues to use her experience as a survivor of Military Sexual Assault to empower other survivors and work towards reform of the military justice system pushing towards the passing of the Military Justice Improvement Act. She is also working on a biography and advocates for Suicide Prevention and Reduction of MST in the Female Veteran population. Some media appearances include; CNN with Jake Tapper, The Washington Post, PBS, NPR , LA Times and Democracy Now!
- Jakeshyia “Keshawn” BallardAtlanta City OrganizerAtlanta, GAJakeshyia “Keshawn” BallardAtlanta City Organizer
Jakeshyia “Keshawn” Ballard is a 13-year Army Veteran who works, lives, and loves People and Logistics. A Mississippi Delta native who now resides in the Metro Atlanta area. She has received her education from Simmons High school, attended Delta State University, graduated with her Bachelor of Science from Kaplan University. Her love for Contracts, Procurement, Logistics led her to want to pursue a higher education. She continued and pursued her Master of Business Administration at Strayer University. She is a Four Block Alumni.
While in the Military she served in various capacities. She served in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom, where she received the Bronze Star, being the only female in her unit to do so. She served until 2015, leaving with the rank of Sergeant First Class then moved to Georgia. She is an active member of Real Inspiration Ministries in Atlanta, GA, serving in a Leadership capacity.
She is a is a frequent motivational friend, inspiration to those that she may encounter her bright personality. Her motto in life is to Live, Laugh, and Love then do it all over again. She lives life according and continues to go towards achieving marks as she strives for excellence. Her hobbies include community service within the Sorority/Fraternity she serves in, helping around her church, being with family, playing sports, and just enjoying the adventures of life. She currently works as a Drayage Operations Coordinator for Nolan Transportation Group, located in Alpharetta.
EDUCATION & CREDENTIALS
M.B.A, (Business Administration), Strayer University, 2016
B.S., Honors,Kaplan University-Fort Lauderdale, 2012
- Francheska SalazarExecutive TeamWashington, D.C.Francheska SalazarExecutive Team
Francheska, a Navy veteran of 13 years, followed in the footsteps of her father who was a Navy Corpsman. During her three year deployments in Latin America, Francheska served as a translator for the ship’s medical teams on humanitarian missions. These missions solidified her passion to serve, beyond active duty, and led her to seek out veteran service organizations committed to making positive changes for veterans, military members, and the community.
After being Honorably Discharged, Francheska attended a community college for the small and supportive environment. While going to school, she discovered Student Veterans of America (SVA) and found a tribe of veterans who advocate and provide a network of support for the veteran and military community. This chance encounter changed her career path from medicine to advocacy.
As a The Mission Continues Fellow, she had the opportunity to serve as a SVA Chapter Ambassador and learned how to empower and advocate for SVA Leaders and Chapters. This experience resulted in her acceptance as a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Student Veterans of America (SVA) Legislative Fellow (2018). She continues to work to help others serving as the VFW Maryland Legislative Co-Chair.
Recently, Francheska graduated with a dual associate degree in Paralegal Studies and Law & Jurisprudence. Her future endeavors are to attend a four-year university to major in International Relations and eventually apply to law school.
- Sajni VoraCity Organizer - RichmondSajni VoraCity Organizer - Richmond
Sajni was raised in New Jersey and currently resides in Richmond. Last year, she completed her undergraduate studies in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at UCLA. She now works as a researcher at the Veteran's Affairs Hospital, which increased her awareness of the specific needs in this community. Thus, she serves as an ally to connect and support underrepresented veterans. In her free time, Sajni likes to hike, spin and do yoga.
Board of Directors
- Michael YaguchiChair - Board of DirectorsSeattle, WAMichael YaguchiChair - Board of Directors
Mr. Yaguchi served 27 years in the military and retired from the U.S. Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel. Post military he was appointed to be the Director, Nuclear Policy in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and supported the intra- and inter-agency efforts to develop a new strategic nuclear arms control treaty with the Russian Federation. He later served as Director, Human Capital for Policy.
Mr. Yaguchi also served as the Deputy Director for Strategic Planning, Office of Strategic Planning, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
He later served as a Director, Veterans Affairs Programs; program and project manager with SRA Inc, and CSRA, Inc. He is currently a member of the board of directors with Armed Forces Insurance (AFI), Leavenworth, KS and is the chairman of AFI’s Innovation in Information Technology Subcommittee.
Mr. Yaguchi has served on the Board of Director for many non-profit organizations such as the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation; The Alzheimer’s Association-NE Chapter; Japanese American Veterans Association; Board of Governors, Go For Broke National Education Center. He was a founding member and former Executive Director for the Pan-Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM) organization from 2006 to 2015.
He is also a recipient of the 2016 Who’s Who in Asian American Communities PPALM Leaders and Legends award, as well as numerous other Department of Defense civilian and military awards and decorations.
- Kiersten DownsVice Chair - Board of DirectorsTampa, FLKiersten DownsVice Chair - Board of Directors
Dr. Kiersten Downs is a Qualitative Researcher and Applied Anthropologist. Currently, Dr. Downs serves as the Research Director and program lead for Scout Insight, market research division with ScoutComms, a Certified B Corporation, and the nation's leading communications and marketing firm dedicated to providing services that support veterans and military families. She has over a decade of experience managing projects that focus on Veteran policy, transition and integration, suicide prevention, military sexual trauma, and employment needs. Dr. Downs is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and New York Air National Guard.
- Uma Mishra-NewberySecretary - Board of DirectorsGeneva, SwitzerlandUma Mishra-NewberySecretary - Board of Directors
Uma Mishra-Newbery is the Executive Director of Women’s March Global. Uma has been with Women’s March Global since March 2017, initially as a volunteer and then as the former Director of Global Community. Prior to Women’s March Global, Uma was a high-school Chemistry teacher, worked in the medical field as a Medical Lab Technologist and served in the United States Army as an active duty soldier (E5/SGT) for nearly six years. Uma has been awarded numerous commendations and achievement awards for her leadership and duty during her time in service. She is a proud first generation Indian American, U.S. Army veteran, and forever will be a Science nerd.
Uma has spoken at conferences, TedX and has been interviewed on CNN, Aljazeera and other international outlets. (Strategic Advocacy for Human Rights) a grassroots group of legal defenders working to support and defend survivors of sexual violence in the Middle East and and South Asia. The motto that fuels Uma as an activist and community builder is by Alice Walker: “Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet.” Uma is excited to join the Board of Directors for MVA because even though she resides in Switzerland - investing in, advocating for and supporting minority veterans is a necessary part of her activism.
- Andy BlevinsTreasurer - Board of DirectorsWashington, D.C.Andy BlevinsTreasurer - Board of Directors
Andy Blevins (he/him) is the Executive Director of the Modern Military Association of America, the nation’s leading association for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) military and veteran community. A key member of the organization’s staff for the past several years, Andy originally joined the organization as the founding Chapter Leader for Guam and the Marianas Islands before working with the national conference and legal departments. Andy also serves on the Board of Directors for Minority Veterans of America and on the Executive Advisory Committee for the KindRED Pride Foundation.
Prior to joining MMAA, Andy served as a law clerk for Military Disability Lawyer, LLC and the child advocacy section of Oregon’s Justice Department. He also had the opportunity to work as the First Lady’s scheduling and advance associate under the Obama White House. A Navy veteran, Andy spent most of his career working as a cryptologic technician in Guam, where he would ultimately end up reaching out to OutServe-SLDN for assistance while being investigated under the now-defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military law. Andy studied law and business administration at Willamette University’s College of Law and Atkinson Graduate School of Management, as well as writing, with an emphasis in community-based pedagogy, at the University of Colorado.
While in graduate school, Andy helped to found, and eventually serve as the Editor-in-Chief, for the Pacific Northwest’s first law journal focuses exclusively on social justice and equity issues. He also had the honor of being named the first runner-up for the National LGBT Bar Association's 2017 Student Leadership Award, a Shepherd Scholar through OGALLA: The LGBT Bar Association of Oregon, and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management's first ReachingOut MBA Scholar.
In his free time, Andy likes to spend as much time as possible with his partner, Kai, and their fur-child, a dachshund and basset hound mix aptly named “Sir Reginald, the Earl of Puppydom.” Ever proud of his partner’s Army career, he can’t help but ALWAYS root for Navy!
- Perry GruberBoard of DirectorsPortland, ORPerry GruberBoard of Directors
Perry Gruber’s lively career compliments an equally lively personal and public life. In the last 30+ years, they were a US Marine print journalist for nine years, a spokesperson for the Bonneville Power Administration, and a seven-year executive at Intel Corporation. An identity crises in 2008 had Perry leave behind their financially rewarding career path to pursue purposes aligned with their passion to make the world a better place.
They launch several social enterprises designed to have a massive effect on human society: Copiosis, a socially responsible organization designed to transform global socioeconomics, The Transamorous Network, designed to transform human relationships in the transgender community, the Tiny House Podcast, a media company focusing on housing and Positively Focused, an organization designed to transform personal consciousness.
Early in their life, Perry’s fascination with where matter and consciousness come from drove their private interest in meditation, esoteric budo lineages, Ayahuasca ceremonial practice and the development of connections with non-physical intelligence. Through these disciplines, Perry received their matter and consciousness-related answers. Insights from these personal interests guide Perry’s entrepreneurial approach.
In addition to their non-traditional background, Perry earned their MBA in Business Ethics and Organizational Leadership from George Fox University, has extensive ontological study through Landmark Education. They are thrilled to bring all their expertise to MVA. That’s because it represents an opportunity to bridge and reintegrate much of their personal experiences in a way that also gives back to Minority Veterans.