Organizer of the Month – March
This leader is being recognized for her leadership on the Board of Directors of MVA.
- Lindsay ChurchPresident, Chief Executive Officer, Co-FounderSeattle, WALindsay ChurchPresident, Chief Executive Officer, 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.
- Katherine PrattChief Advocacy Officer, 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 WhiteChief Operating Officer
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.
- David KeenerDirector of Field Operations
David served in the U. S. Coast Guard for 10 years as an Avionics Electrical Technician and HH-65 search and rescue flight mechanic before separating under the now repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He has spent most of his life working with technology including the implementation of modern software and hardware deployments for the Georgia CrimeBuster Information System.
David attended school at Southern Crescent Technical College where he earned his Advanced EMT certification and a degree in programming covering a multitude of coding languages as well as web application design and development. During his time there he was also heavily involved in Student Life where he served as State President over all student government organizations under the Technical College System of Georgia and was nominated for the Georgia Occupational Award for Leadership.
Today, David works with many veteran organizations including The Mission Continues and Team RWB and continues to support his fellow veterans through Student Veterans of America. He is also continuing his education in communication and works with graphic design and branding.
- Heather NicholsonDeputy Director of Field OperationsColorado Springs, COHeather NicholsonDeputy Director of Field Operations
Heather is the Deputy Director of Field Operations for Minority Veterans of America and currently works as the Assistant Director for the Office of Veteran and Military Student Affairs and as a School Certifying Official at UCCS.
She served in the Military Police Corps for 21 years. Heather retired from the US Army in 2006 and held various duty positions overseas and stateside. She graduated from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs in 2013 with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.
She is originally from upstate New York and serves on various committees on the UCCS campus including the PRIDE committee, the Matrix Center Advisory Board, the UCCS Staff Association Board and Employee of the Quarter Board.
Heather is a board member of Rocky Mountain Cocker Rescue and currently enrolled in the University of Denver Animals and Human Health Certificate Program. Heather enjoys hiking with her friends and pups in her off time
- Will BoothLGBTQ Program Coordinator
Will, an Air Force and Gulf War Veteran, served in the Pacific Theater, Persian Gulf and Special Projects at the Pentagon (unknown at the time, was to lead the Administrative Support Team for what later became known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell).
With his background in Leadership and Organization, along with his cultural background as First Nation, he continues a degree in Cross Cultural Leadership at Antioch University Seattle.
Will continues to work with many organizations focused on supporting needs of local Seattle/Tacoma area Veterans as well as organizations supporting Elders within local Native Communities.
- Eric BallentineVeterans of Color Program Coordinator
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.
- Trina 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!
- Francheska SalazarPresident's 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.
- Loren LacyField Organizer
Loren Christopher Lacy served in the United States Navy as an Aviation Electrician's Mate from 2012-2017. During that time, he completed four deployments and left the Navy as a Petty Officer Third Class. Loren now is attending the State College of Florida and he is working on his Associate in Arts degree and plans to transfer to the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.
Loren is currently SCF's Student Veterans of America Venice Chapter President along with as a FO for Minority Veterans of America. Loren is passionate about intersecting his LGBT identity as well as his veteran identity through conversation and understanding. Loren wants to help all veterans feel comfortable in the Veteran Community as well as their respected identity.
- Tammy BarletField Organizer
Tammy Barlet served for over 8 years in the United States Coast Guard, beginning in 1995. As an Operations Specialist Third Class Petty Officer, she served on board the USCGC Chase and VTS Houston/Galveston.
Fourteen years after separating from the military, she graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor's degree in Public Health. To continue her mission to help others, she began a Master’s degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Policy from George Washington University.
Tammy also accepted a Mission Continues fellowship as a Policy Associate at Student Veterans of America in Washington, D.C. The fellowship provided the opportunity to continue her involvement with student veterans while reinforcing her confidence within the political arena.
Tammy is often labeled as a bumblebee because she pollinates her time and knowledge to those she meets and makes their lives a little sweeter. As a semi-finalist for Ms. Veteran America 2018, Tammy plans to promote her platform to motivate and empower women veterans to uplift each other and find their tribe.
While a member of countless VSOs, Tammy is supported and loved by her family and friends, who she finds time with her busy schedule to go hiking, kayaking, and even geocaching.
- Chuck TylerField OrganizerLos Angeles, CAChuck TylerField Organizer
Chuck Tyler is a US Army combat veteran and veteran campaign professional who volunteered for his first race after his honorable discharge in 2003.
He has since contributed to dozens of campaigns on local, state, and federal levels, including President Obama's two successful campaigns.
He is a regional facilitator for Western Organizing Workshop, where he leads participants in crafting concise and compelling public narratives; and a trainer for the National Democratic Training Committee, where he imparts efficient and effective tactics for candidates to win the ground game.
Originally from Charlottesville, VA, he now hangs out in Los Angeles because, food trucks.
- Jakeshyia “Keshawn” BallardField 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.
- Samantha FergusField Organizer
Samantha Fergus who formally goes by Fergie, is a United State Navy veteran that joined back in 2008 after she graduated highschool. Upon graduating for Culinary A school in great lakes Samantha went to her first duty station in Norfolk VA on the USS. Dwight D. Eisenhower CVN 69. During her time aboard she did 3 over sea's tours for Operation Enduring Freedom. On board she was known for being the "cake boss" which is where she spent most of her first enlistment.
Samantha identifies herself as a female womxn veteran of the LGBTQ community and served during DADT. Upon reenlisting for another 4 year Sam found herself and her career being turned upside down during and sexual assault incident that happen while the ship was doing a work-up getting ready for another deployment. " I lost myself completely, sam says." While getting to the tail end of her first enlistment sam found herself stuck in the military court system that would later take up almost 3 years of her service. Samantha put in orders to be moved off the ship and to another duty station which is where she landed at Naval Base Kitsap in Silverdale Washington. From 2011-2013 sam flew back and forth from Washington to Virginia to hopefully get justice for what had happen to her. However, during most of her court hearing DADT was still in effect. " Sitting on that stand for as many times as I did not being able to tell them I was a lesbian, was like being locked in a cage while I was being poked."
After those cases and being in Naval base Kitsap I had to find myself all over again. Looking for all the easy fixes, I lost a lot of friends, self medicated with drinking, not reaching out for help and entering a marriage based on lies that I told myself of who I thought I was." Samantha got out of the Navy in 2015 where she moved to Oregon and attended Oregon State University for Business management. Samantha is currently still perusing her education in hopes to get into the field of I/O psychology. Samantha is also talented and looking to be a licensed tattoo artist here by June of this year. " I want to fill really big shoes and get a degree in I/O psychology and open my own business where I can marry both Cakes & Ink.
At MVA Sam helps come up with artist/graphic design concepts with team but will be joining us a a field organizer in Chicago.
Board of Directors
- Michael YaguchiBoard of Directors
- Janell Norman
- Kiersten DownsBoard of Directors