Board of Directors
Neil A. Raaz, Chairman; Pilot, American Airlines & United States Navy Reserve
Neil Raaz became a second generation Army Aviator when he graduated pilot training as the Distinguished Honor Graduate in 1991. He has previously served on active duty as an Army helicopter and fixed-wing pilot, as well as currently serving as a Reserve Naval Aviator with VR-59, “The Lonestar Express”. In 1999 he began his career as a pilot with American Airlines where he has flown the MD-80 and the 737 while serving his fellow pilots in numerous leadership positions with the Allied Pilots Association. Neil has been a volunteer charter pilot for Snowball Express since 2007, the Airlift Coordinator from 2008-2011, and was nominated to the Board of Directors in 2010 where he currently serves as the Chairman. He holds a B.S. in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, an Airline Transport Pilot rating, and both Senior Army Aviator and Naval Aviator designations. He is the fourth of five generations that have continuously served our Nation’s armed forces since 1932. He and Shannon, his wife of over twenty years, call Ft. Worth, Texas, home.
Francis X.(Buck) Kern, Executive Director & Secretary; Past Director of Operations for Neiman Marcus in Dallas
Prior to joining Snowball Express full time as Executive Director, Francis X. Kern “Buck” was Director of Operations for Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Texas and was responsible for leading the support operations for the company’s Flagship store, Corporate Executive offices, and the Company’s Buying and Planning Organization. He also serves as Vice President, Board of Directors for the Neiman Marcus Employee’s Federal Credit Union. Buck has more than 30 years of executive management experience with extensive experience in retail operations, Corporate Loss Prevention/Security, and remodel operations. He has worked for Neiman Marcus for the past 17 years. Prior to working for Neiman Marcus, Buck was employed by Bullock’s Department stores and Macy’s in Los Angeles, where he held store and corporate management positions in both Operations and Loss Prevention. Career highlights include: In 2007, Buck was selected to receive Neiman Marcus’ most prestigious award, the “NM BEST” award. This honor is awarded to a very select few individuals nationwide who exemplify high standards and professional excellence. While working for Bullock’s Department stores in Los Angeles, Buck was selected to manage the most aggressive and complex store remodel ever undertaken by the company. He completed the project in record time and was honored with the CEO’s “Profiles in Excellence” award for his achievement. Buck is the son of the late Commander Francis X. Kern III (USN ret., served from 1942 to 1970). Cdr. Kern served as a Naval Intelligence officer for more that 25 years. Buck was privileged to witness the example of his father’s service to this great country, and to learn from the example he set. Buck resides in Richardson, Texas with his wife Nina.
Chris Schwarz, Vice Chairman & Treasurer; Owner, Chris Schwarz CPA
Chris has a broad base of experience in accounting and financial consulting for businesses ranging from local entities to Inc 500 enterprises. After graduating from St. Edward’s University in 2000, He started his career with a Dallas CPA firm, quickly rising through the ranks to become an officer of the firm, managing the Audit practice. Later Chris became a Partner in a top 10 National accounting firm where he continued to serve his clients with the highest professional and ethical standards. Realizing he wanted to work more closely with his clients, Chris began his own CPA practice in 2012. Chris’ experience and expertise in mergers and acquisitions, taxation, financial standards and budgetary consulting have made him an asset to many of his clients, as a contract CFO and Board consultant. Chris is active in the community, he Joined Snowball Express in May of 2012 as the volunteer CFO and Treasurer and became a board member in December of 2012. Chris also chairs a local golf tournament benefiting the Guns and Hoses Foundation of North Texas (honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice).
Brenda Collins, Volunteer and Donor Appreciation; National Purchasing Director, Thomas Reprographics Inc
Brenda Collins is currently the National Purchasing Director for Thomas Reprographics, a full service specialty document management, document communications and distribution company located in Dallas, Texas. She is a highly creative, self-motivatedprofessional with proven insight for facility operations, problem analysis and resolution, and customer relations. In her current role Brenda provides superior customer service to high profile clients such as Neiman Marcus and Wilson Associates, an Interior Design Firm. She trains purchasing agents nationwide, coordinates new location openings and location moves, negotiates service contracts, vehicle and equipment leases, and selects and establishes nationwide vendor partnerships. Prior to her current position at Thomas Reprographics, Brenda was the City Support Manager responsible for staffing and operations for 10 DFW locations. Before joining Thomas Reprographics in 2001, Brenda spent 12 years working for Ridgway’s, a multimillion-dollar reprographic service provider to the Design and Construction Industry. During her tenure she held several positions including Customer Service Manager, Facilities Manager, Store Manager and Branch Manager. Her client companies included NASA, Bechtel, Fluor Daniel, 3DI, CRSS, Continental Airlines and Amoco. Brenda trained and empowered employees to be solution providers. In 1992, she was responsible for the installation and implementation of the first Digital Press allowing transition of flight manuals to a digital workflow reducing production time from weeks to days. She managed various projects requiring one million copies in twenty-four hours with overnight distribution. Brenda provided 24-hour support to attorneys and government in confidential classified cases. She was responsible for consolidating operations of the underperforming Denver locations. Her restructure efforts resulted in the Denver operation achieving the number one ranking for the most profitable store. Brenda was responsible for developing budgets and projecting revenues and expense for three profit centers. She identified opportunities and collaborated with the technical team to train managers on accounting processes. She also implemented a digital workflow on-site facility for Amoco.
General Paul William (Bill) Essex, Major General, USAF (Ret), Transportation; President, On-Time Supply and Logistics
Bill Essex and his wife Nancy have lived in Southlake, Texas since 2005, when the US Air Force assigned then Major General Essex to serve as CEO and Commanding General of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). AAFES is a $9 billion dollar multi-channel retail organization headquartered in Dallas, which serves military customers in 30 countries. Bill served 34 years in the USAF in a variety of jobs and locations around the world. An air mobility and logistics expert, Bill commanded large flying organizations, served in NATO, worked in the Pentagon, and was responsible for multi-billion dollar acquisition portfolios. Bill’s formal education includes an undergraduate degree in zoology and physiology, and two master’s degrees in business management and international security from Central Michigan and the US Naval War College, respectively. He is also a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School, Program for Executives, and from two senior executive programs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Bill is president of On-Time Supply and Logistics, Incorporated, a freight forwarding and product distribution company in the DFW area. He is a member of the Ft Worth Airpower Council and a passionate supporter of Snowball Express since 2008.
Tom Lee, Director Marketing & Innovation, Zodiac Aerospace
Tom develops new technologies for the commercial airline industry including galley equipment and inflight entertainment systems. Tom holds numerous U.S. and international patents and accepted the “President’s Award” for the development of the most innovative new equipment for commercial aircraft inflight operations during 1994. Tom flew on the inaugural flights of the two largest commercial aircraft in history including the Pan Am B747 flight from New York to London in January 1970 and the Singapore Airlines A380 from Singapore to Sydney in October 2007. Tom is a partner at Morale Entertainment that brings the “Best of America” overseas to build troop morale. During May 2008, five NCAA Head Football Coaches visited five bases in the Middle East. Tom and the coaches were greeted in the Oval Office by President Bush after their return to Andrews Air Force Base on Memorial Day 2008 (see picture). During 2009, Tom will be escorting seven Head Coaches to visit the troops in Afghanistan. Tom serves on the Board of Alumni Affairs of Tulane University. He is a member of Business Executives for National Security (BENS), the World Airline Entertainment Association and International Flight Catering Association.
Captain Jim Palmersheim, Pilot & Managing Director Veterans Initiatives, American Airlines
Jim earned his bachelors degree and received a Regular Army Commission in 1984 as a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Army ROTC Program at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was selected for follow-on training as an Aviation Intelligence Officer and subsequently transitioned to the RU-21H and OV-1D Reconnaissance aircraft. Jim left active duty in January 1990 to pursue a career as a pilot with American Airlines. With the exception of a recall to active duty in 1991 in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Jim served in the US Army Reserves until 1995, flying UH-1H Huey Helicopters. In 2002, Jim and a group of volunteers flew Vietnam-era Huey Helicopter 65-10091 in support of the documentary film, “In the Shadow of the Blade.” In 2004, Jim spearheaded the delivery and donation of Huey 091 to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where it is the largest artifact in a major 30-year exhibit, “The Price of Freedom, Americans at War.” Jim serves in an advisory role to the Huey 091 Foundation, whose purpose is to educate future generations about the Price of Freedom and to provide resources, such as the iBOT mobility device, to severely wounded service members. Jim serves on the board of Snowball Express, a non-profit organization whose mission is to create new memories for the children of fallen service members killed on active duty since September 11, 2001. American Airlines is the official airline of Snowball Express, donating the use of charter aircraft and airfare to transport nearly 1,500 family members to the annual event each December. Jim is an advisor to the Gary Sinise Foundation, established in 2011 to serve military service members and their families Jim served as Honorary Commander 457th Fighter Squadron, NAS JRB Fort Worth from 2010-2011 and in 2010 was named an Honorary Nightstalker with the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment based at Fort Campbell Kentucky. In 2007, Jim was named Managing Director – Veterans Initiatives at American Airlines and also flies as a Captain on the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft. Jim and his wife, Patricia, reside in Grapevine, Texas, with their now college co-ed daughter Lauren. Their son, Josh, is a Captain in the Army; has had multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, he is a Pilot in Command of the Army RC-12 aircraft.
Dan Ronan, Media Relations; Senior Director of Communications, American Bus Association
Dan joined the ABA in 2011 after three years with the American Automobile Association of Texas and New Mexico as the Manager of Corporate Communications and Community Affairs in Dallas. Prior to moving into corporate communications, he was a television correspondent and producer for 20 years with CNN, WFAA in Dallas, WAGA in Atlanta and CBS Newspath. Transportation issues have been Dan’s specialty as he has done hundreds of stories for CNN and the other stations about highway construction, safer buses and car and commercial and general aviation. Dan is a licensed commercial pilot and has been trained an advanced airplane crash investigator at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona. During his career he was awarded a National Emmy for his reporting of the Oklahoma City bombing, seven regional Emmys and two RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Awards, one for his reporting on the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Dan is on the Board of Directors of Snowball Express, a 501©3. Snowballexpress.org. Snowball is “The Charity for the Children of Our Fallen Military Heroes.” Each December Snowball Express holds an all-expenses paid, five day, four night gala for the surviving spouses and children of the men and women in uniform who died defending our nation since September 11th, 2001. A native of Chicago, Dan is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he met his wife Lori, a Manager with American Airlines.
Jeffrey Hebig, Vice President/General Manager, Yum Brands Express
Jeffrey Hebig was appointed to the position of Vice President and General Manager of Yum! Brands Express in January 2001. He leads the Express team in the marketing, licensing and development of all YUM! Brands in non-traditional business venues. Before assuming his current role, Jeff worked for the Pizza Hut brand serving in a number of financial, development, marketing and operational roles. Prior to joining Pizza Hut, Jeff worked on the Strategic Planning team at PepsiCo in Purchase, NY. Jeff also worked for Bain & Company; a privately held management consulting firm in Boston, MA. Prior to his position at Bain & Company, Jeff was an Officer in the United States Navy. Jeff graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. He also received an MBA in Finance and Operations Management from Columbia Business School, Columbia University in New York City, NY. Jeff is very active in his community and he currently serves on the board of Ursuline Academy in Dallas, TX. Jeff resides in Plano, TX with his wife Lyne and his three children; Christopher, Kaitlyn and Lauren.
Marty Johnson, Director of Government Sales, Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery
Marty Johnson oversees all Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery systems related to sales, customer development, and government relations pertaining to the Military Re-sale systems. He is also the Chairman of the American Logistics Association’s Exchange Council. Marty began his career with E&J Gallo in 1994 as he entered the Gallo Management Development Program through Piedmont Wines in Greenville, SC. In 1997 Marty accepted the position of Field Market Manager in Mississippi where he was responsible for both private and controlled markets. In 1999 Marty accepted the position of Louisiana State Manager. During this time Marty successfully organized a new division of the Gallo of Louisiana wine distributor. This division was developed for the Baton Rouge market after the sale of Bologna Brothers Distributing in July of 1999. The model was successful until the sale of the distributor in 2006. In 2000 Marty accepted the position of Area Manager for Gallo of Louisiana. In 2001 Marty went back to Mississippi as an Assistant Division Manager where he was responsible for three divisions; Controlled Retail sales, On-Premise sales, and Private Distributor sales. In 2003 Marty accepted the position of Retail Sales Manager at Capital Wine and Beverage in Columbia SC. Marty was responsible for four divisions of the company; Grocery Division Columbia, Convenience Division Columbia, Liquor Division Columbia and the Retail Division Charleston. After a year as Retail Sales manager he was promoted to General Sales Manager. In 2006 Marty accepted the position that he is currently in as Director of Government Sales for the E&J Gallo Winery. Before joining the E&J Gallo Winery, Marty earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Catawba College, Salisbury NC in 1994. While at Catawba Marty was the President of Pi Sigma Epsilon Business Fraternity, a four year starter for the Catawba Football Team, a member of “The Order of The Blue and the White” men’s honor society, and a Resident Director. Marty and his wife Bobbi reside in McKinney, Texas, with their three children, Tyler, Cameron, and Jace. Marty’s favorite thing to do is spending time with his family. He coaches his son’s football and basketball teams and enjoys working with charity missions.
H. Jason Araghi, Snowflake Community Events Coordinator; CEO and Co-Founder, Green Beans Coffee Company
Since 1997, Jason Araghi’s Green Beans Coffee has supported deployed American Soldiers by bringing them “15 minutes of home” at coffeehouses positioned in war zones and deployed countries. It all started with a single café for the US Army, crafted from a converted 40ft sea container, and has grown to more than 75 cafes abroad and at home in the US. Green Beans was the first American food company to go to Afghanistan after the events of 9/11 to support the deployed troops. Green Beans is a classic story of entrepreneurship that started with the vision and passion of two individuals who saw their dream through to reality. Personal and financial risks, sacrifices, and long hours were all overcome with a never-ending belief that “failure is not an option.” The company’s most recent endeavor in support of military personnel is “Cup of Joe for a Joe” (COJ), an initiative that allows anyone, anywhere, to buy a cup of coffee online and have it delivered along with their own personal message of thanks into the hands of a Soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. “HONOR FIRST, COFFEE SECOND” Giving back to the communities they serve in is a pillar of the company’s mission. The phrase “Honor First, Coffee Second” speaks to our CSR commitment and has become the brand identifier for Green Beans within the military community. Through its COJ program, the company has raised funds for a number of organizations that support children and families of the fallen, as well as a number of wounded warrior programs. Last year, to kick off its new partnership with Snowball Express, COJ did a Veterans Day fundraising drive and raised over $12,000 in less than 24 hours for Snowball Express. Green Beans has received consecutive-year recognition on the Inc. 500 and was awarded the Ernst & Young Northern California Entrepreneur of the Year award for Corporate Social Responsibility in acknowledgment of the Company’s long-held commitment of financial support for military families and children of the fallen. It has been a personal honor for Jason to be involved with and support these charitable organizations that support the troops. Jason resides with his family in Northern California and holds a MBA in Global Business from NYU Stern and London School of Economics.
Rich Mentemeyer, Major General, Deputy Commander US SOUTHCOM USAF (Ret)
Maj. Gen. Rich Mentemeyer retired from the US Air Force (USAF) in 2006 after 32 years of distinguished service. He last served as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Southern Command, Miami, Fla. He was second-in-command of one of nine unified commands under the Department of Defense. US SOUTHCOM is responsible for all U.S. military activities, including Theater Security Cooperation, on the land mass of Latin America; the waters adjacent to Central and South America; the Caribbean Sea, with its 13 island nations. His previous military assignments included: Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations (AXO), Headquarters USAF/Pentagon; Director of Operations and Training, HQ USAF; Chief of Mobility Budget and Programs, HQ USAF; Commander 722nd Air Mobility Wing; Commander 12th Flying Training Wing; Commander 305th Air Mobility Wing; Commander 19th Operations Group; Commander 50th Tactical Airlift Squadron. During Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan (2001), General Mentemeyer was the initial Director of Mobility Forces. As such, he was responsible for providing all of the theater airlift and refueling capability for the combined joint force deployed to the Middle East. During Operation Provide Relief, the Somalia Humanitarian mission in 1992, the general was the Joint Task Force Director of Operations, in charge of the airlift of relief supplies. He also served as Ambassador Oakley’s military adviser when the U.S. mission moved into Mogadishu, Somalia. General Mentemeyer is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours in airlift, refueling and training aircraft.
Larry Duncan, Dallas County Schools Board President
Larry Duncan has combined a successful hi-tech career as a computer consultant with a unique leadership role in public service. A long-time Democratic precinct chair, four-term Dallas City Councilmember, former president of the Dallas Homeowners League, and veteran of numerous boards, commissions, and special committees for the City of Dallas and Dallas County, Duncan has a long history of getting things done in local government. According to the Dallas Morning News, Larry Duncan is known by colleagues in local government as “extremely consistent,” “you can trust him,” and “independent.” The Dallas Observer raved of his service on the Dallas City Council, “He is … getting things done. Among many at City Hall, he has earned the reputation as the hardest-working councilmember,” choosing Duncan as “Best Councilmember” twice. While on the Dallas City Council, Larry revived Dallas Veterans Day Celebration after 49 years of neglect, provided for the Joppa overpass saving numerous lives, and led the neighborhoods of his district in 8 years of unprecedented progress. Larry served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System. Larry emerged as the leader in flood prevention and control, representing the City on the North Central Texas Council of Governments Trinity River Steering Committee, testifying before U.S. House and Senate to obtain federal flood prevention funds. Duncan was appointed chair of the 400-member Trinity River Corridor Citizens Committee, which, under his leadership reached consensus on a comprehensive plan for the City’s greatest potential asset, a plan lauded by the Dallas Morning News, adopted by unanimously by the City Council, and passed in a landslide by Dallas voters. First elected countywide in 2003 to the Dallas County Schools Board of Trustees, elected President of the Board by his peers, and reelected in a countywide landslide in May of 2009, Larry’s leadership turned another dysfunctional government into a model for the entire state. He slashed skyrocketing fuel costs, choking air pollution, and dependence on foreign oil through converting gasoline engine buses to natural gas, and converting the DCS diesel fleet to run on donated waste vegetable oil. Under Larry’s guidance, DCS added a variety of services to its offerings, including teacher recertification courses at no cost to teachers in Dallas County ISDs, a worker’s comp network, and emergency evacuations from every hurricane affecting Texas and bordering states since Rita. Another of Larry’s innovations has been extending DCS’ services to other government entities and to ISDs outside Dallas County, thereby reducing Dallas County taxes by sharing development costs, economies of scale, and other efficiencies, while improving services and reducing expenses for the “customer” agencies. A 38-year resident at his current Dallas County address, he is involved in numerous church, civic and school activities. These include membership in Chapter 137 of Vietnam Veterans of America, work with the homeless, Crime Watch, and affordable housing. Duncan received his BA from Drake University and his MLA from Southern Methodist University. The US Army awarded him the Bronze Star medal for his service in Vietnam and he is a member of the National Association of Eagle Scouts. Duncan resides in Buckner Terrace with Susan, his wife of 46 years.
Currently, Sheila is the Chief Operating Officer of The Hill Newspaper, a paper that report on the US Congress. Prior to joining The Hill in 1997, she was the Director of Finance at the Texas Council on Family Violence in Austin, Texas. Additionally, Sheila spent 7 years at Grant Thornton, a national CPA firm, where she was an audit manager. She graduated with honors in accounting from the University of Colorado. One of seven children born and raised in New York, Sheila was a military spouse for over 41 years. She has lived throughout the United States, Europe and Egypt and had been an active member of military spouse organizations throughout her husband’s military career. Sheila is a member of the Board of Governors of the National Military Families Association, a nonprofit organization that is the voice for military families, Blue Star Families, Parents as Teachers, The National Coalition on Domestic Violence, Snowball Express and the Washington Press Club Foundation. Additionally she is a member of the Board of Advisors for ThanksUSA, The Bob Woodruff Foundation, The Military Child Education Coalition, and the GI Film Festival. She and her husband have two sons, Sean, and Ryan, two wonderful daughters-in-law and six grandchildren.
Major Bill Mimiaga USMC (Ret)
A Marine for 31 years, Bill Mimiaga started as a Private and retired as a Major. A combat veteran decorated for valor, he feels that for the past seven years he has been in his toughest assignment… a special education teacher at Stephens Middle School. Bill was nominated for a second year as California State Teacher of the Year for Middle Schools and received the coveted honor in 2006. For 2008, Bill was nominated and received the Council for Exceptional Children Star Award for Teacher of the Year. Bill is a dedicated advocate for veterans and their families in need. He strongly believes that it is a community responsibility to come together in support for the wives and children of our fallen American heroes. As a Trustee, Bill welcomes and challenges everyone to provide whatever support that they can to make this year’s Snowball event a success. Bill joined the Snowball Express BOD in February 2007.
Lt. Col. Tom Mackie
Tom Mackie works for Northrop Grumman developing the next generation of Unmanned Aircraft for the U.S. Navy. Tom is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves and continues to fly F/A-18 Hornets out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in support of Global Operations. Tom serves as a Trustee because of his desire to support the families of our fallen heroes and the extensive community work in which he has been involved over the years. His 18 years of service (and having lost many friends along the way) allows him to identify first-hand with this great cause and provide continuity between the military services and the families. Tom is proud to be among those to further the vision and outreach of Snowball Express for the spouses and children of our nation’s heroes.
Greg served in the US Army and was a flying crew chief on the OV-1A Mohawk gunship where he served with honor and distinction. Upon returning to his home after Vietnam, Greg served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and retired as a Detective. He then worked as a security consultant until his recent retirement. He is past President of the Vietnam Veterans Association 785 in Orange County and has provided voluntary assistance to many veterans and their families over the years. Greg was instrumental in last year’s event by providing logistical support in moving families around as well as exposure to other veteran groups to the value of the Snowball Express. Many volunteers were convinced to help with this wonderful event thanks to his efforts. We are pleased to have him on our team.
Born and raised in Orange County, Alfredo was named after his grandfather, Alfredo F. Garcia, U.S. Army, who served in World War II. As Director of Operations of the prestigious Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel, Costa Mesa, California, Alfredo was a welcoming face to 75 Snowball Express families in 2006. “My heart was warmed by the appreciation expressed and felt by the families and all volunteers involved in the event. It is my honor to dedicate my services again this year and lend my expertise to the logistical challenges of this amazing operation. It’s a privilege to serve these deserving families who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Although nothing can make their pain go away, providing new memories and a network of support is a step towards continued recovery.”
Brigadier General Albert E. Brewster USMC (Ret)
Brigadier General Albert E. Brewster USMC (Ret) served in the Korean War as a Platoon Leader, flew 105 combat missions in Vietnam, and served in all levels of command, before retiring in 1980 after 3 years as the Legislative Assistant to the Commandant in Washington, D.C. He was then employed by the Northrop Corporation as Vice President, Legislative Affairs, to obtain Congressional funding for Northrop’s military programs. He retired from Northrop in 1989 and he and his wife spent several years sailing in the Caribbean and South America before returning and settling in St. Leonard, Maryland. There, he became deeply involved in volunteering for service to the community, joining Rotary, taking leadership positions in the Red Cross, Literacy Council, volunteer teaching, and was appointed by County Commissioners to serve on the Board of the County’s multi- million dollar Sculpture Garden. In 2000, they moved to Virginia to be closer to their children, and in 2005, to California to be with his wife’s aging mother. Upon her death in 2006, they moved to Frisco, Texas. General Brewster holds a Bachelor Degree in Business from the University of New Mexico and a Masters Degree in Education from Pepperdine University. Gen Brewster first learned of the Snowball in September 2007 and immediately began volunteering. He joined the BOD in January 2008.
With over 35 years in the hospitality industry, John is a well-recognized and respected leader, both in business and the various communities he has lived in. He has been President of Preferred Hotel Management for the last thirteen years, prior to which he held multiple high-level luxury hotel management positions in Europe and Asia. His international experience and service to those in need as a Rotarian expanded his understanding of how the world views the USA.
Gary Sinise, National Spokesman, Strategic Planning, Recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal
Gary Sinise began acting at the age of 16 during his sophomore year in high school but it was his portrayal of Lt. Dan in the Oscar winning film Forrest Gump that brought him mainstream attention and earned him nominations for an Academy Award, Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award. He received the Best Supporting Actor Award from the National Board of Review, and the Commander’s Award from the Disabled American Veterans for the role as well. He then went on to take starring roles in the acclaimed Apollo 13 opposite Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon; the thriller Ransom with Mel Gibson and Rene Russo; and Brian DePalma’s psychological thriller Snake Eyes. Currently, Gary stars as Detective “Mac” Taylor and is also producer of CBS’s highly successful CSI: NY. He was last seen on the big screen in Columbia Pictures’ The Forgotten with Julianne Moore, and The Human Stain opposite Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman and Ed Harris. He also provided the voice of Shaw in Sony’s animated feature Open Season. Gary was born in Blue Island, Illinois, to a family who supported his artistic endeavors, and encouraged his drive to create. After graduating from high school in Highland Park, at the age of 18, he co-founded Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago along with friends Terry Kinney and Jeff Perry, where he served as Artistic Director for seven years. He has since starred in over a dozen productions at the renowned theatre including the role of Tom Joad in The Grapes Of Wrath, for which he garnered a Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk Award; True West, Balm In Gilead, Streamers and The Caretaker. He received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Marsha Norman’s Getting Out at Chicago’s Wisdom Theatre. He starred as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Randle Patrick McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest at Steppenwolf, the Barbican Theatre in London, and then on Broadway, earning him another Tony nomination for Best Actor. Sinise Directed and co-starred with John Malkovich in the landmark production of Sam Shepard’s True West at Steppenwolf and off Broadway, where he won an Obie Award for Best Director. He also Directed Sam Shepard’s Buried Child which kicked off Steppenwolf’s 20th Anniversary and continued with a successful run on Broadway where it was nominated for five Tony Awards, including one for Sinise for Best Director. His other Directing credits include Tracers, Frank’s Wild Years, The Miss Firecracker Contest, Waiting for Parade, Action, Road To Nirvana and Landscape Of The Body. He received a Joseph Jefferson Award for his direction of Lyle Kessler’s Orphans, which also played off-Broadway and in London with Albert Finney. Since its founding, Steppenwolf has showcased the talents of many notable actors, and now in its fourth decade as a professional theatre company, has received unprecedented national and international recognition from the media, theatre critics, and audiences alike. Sinise also made his mark as a feature film Director with Of Mice And Men, which he co-produced and co-starred in with John Malkovich, as well as Miles From Home starring Richard Gere, Kevin Anderson, Helen Hunt and John Malkovich. Both were screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. A four-time SAG Award nominee, on television, he acted in Path To War Directed by John Frankenheimer on HBO, Showtime’s adaptation of Jason Miller’s Pulitzer Prize winning play That Championship Season Directed by Paul Sorvino, gave award-winning performances in Truman (Golden Globe, CableACE and Screen Actors Guild) and John Frankenheimer’s George Wallace (Screen Actors Guild, Emmy and CableACE). He also starred in My Name Is Bill W with James Woods, in Stephen King’s The Stand, and in CBS/Hallmark’s Fallen Angel. His other film credits include Gary Fleder’s sci-fi thriller Imposter, It’s The Rage, John Frankenheimer’s Reindeer Games, Brian DePalma’s Mission To Mars, Frank Darabont’s The Green Mile, A Midnight Clear, Kevin Spacey’s Directorial debut Albino Alligator, Jack The Bear, The Quick And The Dead and The Big Bounce. Gary executive produced the film Brothers At War, a rare look at the bonds and service of our soldiers on the frontlines, and the profound effects their service has on the loved ones they leave behind. Gary was the subject of the Fox News documentary, On The Road In Iraq With Our Troops And Gary Sinise, which highlighted his 4th USO tour to the country. He is also the subject of the feature length documentary, Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good, a film about remembering those who serve, those who are willing to lay down their lives for others, and those who are left behind. He narrated the Discovery Channel mini-series When We Left Earth, The Military Channel’s Missions That Changed The War, The History Channel’s 10-part docudrama WWII In HD, the Chicago Cubs documentary We Believe, and the audio books for John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley and Of Mice And Men. He received an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters for his work in theatre and film as a Producer, Director and Actor from Amherst College, and an Honorary Degree of the Doctor of Fine Arts from CSU Stanislaus. Apart from his television and film work, Gary hosts via video the Epcot ride Mission: Space at Walt Disney World in Florida. Gary has been married to actress Moira Harris since 1981, and they have three children: Sophia, McCanna and Ella. Gary’s Humanitarian Work: In addition to his acting, and supporting Snowball Express, Gary devotes a tremendous amount of time to other humanitarian efforts that support our nation’s defenders and their families. On July 4, 2011 Gary launched the Gary Sinise Foundation to honor the Nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. The foundation will provide and support unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities. Some of the many programs include relief for wounded warriors, entertainment for service members and their families, school supplies for children where U.S. troops are deployed, and scholarships for veterans. The foundation will also support and promote several quality organizations, some of which include The United Service Organization (USO), Operation International Children, Snowball Express, Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial, Fisher House Foundation, People to People International, Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, TAPS-Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, The FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation, Hope For The Warriors, The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, The Navy Seal Foundation, and Disabled American Veterans. “The Foundation is a strong, dependable resource to spread the ‘give-back goodness’.” That’s what Gary Sinise wants his Foundation to do, “provide opportunities for people to give back.” In 2008 Gary received the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation. He is only the second actor, and one of only 110 people in history to have received the honor. Other awards include The Medal of Honor’s Bob Hope Excellence in Entertainment Award, The Spirit of the USO Award, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, The Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Award, and the Heart of a Patriot Award from USO of Illinois. In April 2011 he received the USC School of Social Work’s Crystal Heart, the school’s highest honor for his outstanding community service, and the university established the Gary Sinise Endowed Scholarship in the School of Social Work in his name to support further education in the area of military social work. Sinise has done hundreds of personal appearances and concerts with the Lt. Dan Band worldwide, mostly for military related organizations. He has participated in over 40 tours and made over 150 appearances for the USO alone, and traveled to bases in Alaska and throughout the US, and overseas to locations such as Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Belgium, The UK, The Netherlands, Italy, UAE, As a result of Sinise’s first two trips to Iraq, he started Operation International Children with Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand, which has worked with schools in the U.S., corporate sponsors and People to People International to supply the military with well over a quarter of a million school supply kits, along with more than half a million toys and thousands of blankets, backpacks, pairs of shoes, Arabic-language books, and sets of sports equipment to provide to children in conflict areas.
General Peter Pace, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, USMC(Ret)
General Peter Pace retired from active duty on 1 October, 2007, after more than 40 years of service in the United States Marine Corps. General Pace was sworn in as sixteenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sep. 30, 2005. In this capacity, he served as the principal military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council. Prior to becoming Chairman, he served as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Pace holds the distinction of being the first Marine to have served in either of these positions. General Pace was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Teaneck, NJ. A 1967 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from George Washington University and attended Harvard University for the Senior Executives in National and International Security program. The General is also a graduate of the Infantry Officers’ Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Ga.; the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, in Quantico, VA; and the National War College, at Ft. McNair, Washington, DC. Upon completion of The Basic School, Quantico, Va., in 1968, he was assigned to the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam, serving first as a Rifle Platoon Leader and subsequently as Assistant Operations Officer. Returning from overseas in March 1969, he reported to Marine Barracks, Washington, D. C. During this tour, he served as Head, Infantry Writer Unit, Marine Corps Institute; Platoon Leader, Guard Company; Security Detachment Commander, Camp David; White House Social Aide; and Platoon Leader, Special Ceremonial Platoon. He was promoted to Captain in April 1971. In September 1971, General Pace attended the Infantry Officers’ Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Ga. Returning overseas in October 1972, he was assigned to the Security Element, Marine Aircraft Group 15, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Nam Phong, Thailand, where he served as Operations Officer and then Executive Officer. In October 1973, he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D. C., for duty as the Assistant Majors’ Monitor. During October 1976, he reported to the 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Ca., where he served as Operations Officer, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines; Executive Officer, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines; and Division Staff Secretary. He was promoted to Major in November 1977. In August 1979, he reported to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College as a student. Upon completion of school in June 1980, he was assigned duty as Commanding Officer, Marine Corps Recruiting Station, Buffalo, N. Y. While in this assignment, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in October 1982. Reassigned to the 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, General Pace served from June 1983 until June 1985 as Commanding Officer, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines. In June 1985, he was selected to attend the National War College in Washington D.C. After graduation the following June, he was assigned to the Combined/Joint Staff in Seoul, Korea. He served as Chief, Ground Forces Branch until April 1987, when he became Executive Officer to the Assistant Chief of Staff, C/J/G3, United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea/Eighth United States Army. General Pace returned to Marine Barracks in Washington D.C. in August 1988 for duty as Commanding Officer. He was promoted to Colonel in October 1988. In August 1991, he was assigned duty as Chief of Staff, 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune. During February 1992, he was assigned duty as Assistant Division Commander. He was advanced to Brigadier General on April 6, 1992, and was assigned duty as the President, Marine Corps University/Commanding General, Marine Corps Schools, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Va., on July 13, 1992. While serving in this capacity, he also served as Deputy Commander, Marine Forces, Somalia, from December 1992 – February 1993, and as the Deputy Commander, Joint Task Force – Somalia from October 1993 – March 1994. General Pace was advanced to Major General on June 21, 1994, and was assigned as the Deputy Commander/Chief of Staff, U. S. Forces, Japan. He was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned as the Director for Operations (J-3), Joint Staff, Washington D.C. on August 5, 1996. General Pace served as the Commander, U. S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic/Europe/South from 23 November 1997 to 8 September 2000. He was promoted to General and assumed duties as the Commander in Chief, United States Southern Command on 8 September 2000 until 30 September 2001. As the Vice Chairman from October 2001 to August 2005, General Pace served as the Chairman of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, Vice Chairman of the Defense Acquisition Board, and as a member of the National Security Council Deputies Committee and the Nuclear Weapons Council. General Pace’s personal decorations include: Defense Distinguished Service Medal, with three oak leaf clusters; the Navy Distinguished Service Medal; the Army Distinguished Service Medal; the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal; the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal; the Defense Superior Service Medal; the Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”; the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal with gold star; Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”; Navy Achievement Medal with gold star; and the Combat Action Ribbon. In June, 2008, General Pace was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor a President can bestow. General Pace is currently serving on the Board of Directors of several corporate entities involved in management consulting, private equity, and IT security. He served on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, and is currently on the Secretary of Defense’s Defense Policy Board. General Pace has been named a leader-in-residence and the Poling Chair of Business and Government, for the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University for the 2008-2010 tenure. He is a long-standing member of the Board of Directors for the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation – a charity that provides scholarship bonds to children of Marines or Federal law enforcement personnel who were killed while serving our country. He also heads up the advisory board to the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation, a nonprofit charity that provides vocational assessment, training support and job placement services for disabled military veterans interested in careers in the financial services industry. He and his wife Lynne are on the advisory board for Our Military Kids, an organization that supports children of deployed Guard and Reserve personnel with tutoring and enrichment activities. General Pace and his wife, Lynne, have a son, Peter, a daughter, Tiffany Marie, a daughter-in-law, Lynsey Olczak Pace, and a granddaughter, Linden Elyse.
E.V. Di Massa, Jr., President, TriWest Entertainment
Snowball Express is honored to have Ernni Di Massa, Jr. join our Advisory Board team to provide guidance and energy to this year’s project. ‘Erni’ brings over three decades of experience as an EMMY® winning producer, writer and television executive to the organization. As Senior Vice President of the most successful independent syndication company in the history of television, KingWolrd he was in charge of all programming and development for shows from Oprah to Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! as well as several shows he helped create including Inside Edition. He also produced, The Mike Douglas Show, The Regis Philbin Show, Hollywood Squares and shows for NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox. He is an active member of the Writer Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and has been named to Who’s Who In America every year since 2000.
Al Krueger, Director - Government Affairs, Oakley
Al Krueger has graciously offered to serve on the Advisory Board. Al has been the key Snowball Express contact for Oakley Corporation and he currently serves as Director – Government Affairs. Al actively gives back to his community in many other non-profit organizations. Currently the President of the Foothill Business Association, he has served on many other community and charitable foundations boards. Al is an avid skydiver and was awarded in 2003 with the United States Parachuting Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He inspires others with his incredible powers to overcome adversity. A Vietnam veteran, Al believes strongly in the Snowball Express and its mission.
Bonnie Carroll, President, TAPS
Ms. Carroll is currently the President of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS is the national non-profit peer-based veterans’ service organization addressing the emotional, psychological, and administrative needs of military survivors. Ms Carroll also serves as the civilian Co-Chair of the Department of Defense (DoD) Task Force on Suicide Prevention by Members of the Armed Forces. Ms. Carroll is an Army widow and a Reserve Major in the U.S. Air Force. In her civilian career, she has served as Deputy Senior Advisor for Programs, Ministry of Communications, Baghdad, Iraq; Deputy White House Liaison, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); Deputy Director, Governor’s Office, Anchorage, Alaska; and Executive Assistant for Cabinet Affairs, West Wing, The White House. She is a graduate of several Service schools, including the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute and USAF Logistics Officer Course. Ms. Carroll holds a B.A. in Public Administration/Political Science from American University in Washington, DC, and completed the JFK School of Government Executive Leadership Program at Harvard University (2003). Her military experience includes service as Chief, HQ USAF Casualty Operations. Ms Carroll also serves on the DoD Military Family Readiness Council, Board of the Association of Death Education and Counseling, VA Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation, and Sesame Street Advisory Board for the national “Talk, Listen, Learn” campaign. She has co-authored several books that address coping with traumatic loss, including Living with Grief After Sudden Loss; Living with Grief, Children and Adolescents; and Living with Grief, Who We Are, How We Grieve.
Mary Eisenhower, President / CEO, People to People International
Mary Jean Eisenhower, President and CEO of People to People International (PTPI), was born in Washington, DC during her grandfather, Dwight Eisenhower’s first term as US President. Her PTPI experiences have included everything from meeting first families to diverse cultural, educational and humanitarian exchanges at home and abroad. In 1999, she established PTPI’s International Friendship Fund, inspired by a visit to an orphanage in Morocco. The Fund is a way to assist PTPI in global humanitarian efforts. Mary received an Honorary Doctorate in Letter of Humane from Schiller International University. She also was awarded the Knight of Peace Award from the International University in Assisi, Italy.
Mark Kelsey, Event Coordination & Survivor Outreach, USA Reserve Ret.
Mark retired from American Airlines as a Supervisor in Weight & Balance Planning in 2004. In 2006, Mark was mobilized on Active Duty with the Army where he served as a Casualty Notification/Casualty Assistance Officer for the Fort Hood Casualty Assistance Center at Fort Hood, TX, until his retirement in July, 2010. Prior to joining the Advisory Board, Mark served on the Snowball Express Board of Directors as the Volunteer Coordinator. In his civilian career, Mark currently works with our surviving military family members gathering data in support of The National Military Family Bereavement Study. During Mark’s 33 year career in the U. S. Army Reserves he was honored with many awards and special recognition. In 2007, Mark was named as an Honorable Mention in the Army Times Soldier of the Year competition for his work in the casualty field. In 2008, Mark was presented with The Ancient Order of Saint Christopher award for his distinguished career in the Transportation Corps, and in 2009, the Honorable Governor Rick Perry, recognizing Mark’s work with our surviving family members in the North Texas area, commissioned him an Admiral in the Texas Navy. Mark is a proud member of the Patriot Guard Riders of North Texas, works on lowering his handicap at Rolling Hills Golf Club, is a Board of Director of the Eagle Mountain Classic Boat Club, and serves as the Commander of the Chester W. Nimitz Squadron of the Texas Navy. Mark resides in Pantego, TX with his wife Michele, daughter Molly, and dog Kirby.
Jack H. Jacobs, Medal of Honor Recipient
Colonel Jack Jacobs, who entered military service through Rutgers ROTC, earned the Medal of Honor for exceptional heroism on the battlefields of Vietnam. He also holds three Bronze Stars and two Silver Stars. Jacobs was an adviser to a Vietnamese infantry battalion when it came under a devastating fire that disabled the commander. Although bleeding from severe head wounds, then-First Lieutenant Jacobs took command, withdrew the unit to safety, and returned again and again under intense fire to rescue the wounded and perform life-saving first aid. He saved the lives of a U.S. adviser and 13 allied soldiers. Jacobs served on the faculty of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the National War College in Washington, D.C. After retirement, he founded and was chief operating officer of Auto Finance Group. As a managing director of Bankers Trust Co., he led Global Investment Management to $2.2 billion in assets and later co-founded a similar business for Lehman Brothers. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a director of the Medal of Honor Foundation. He is also a military analyst for NBC/MSNBC.
Mark “Dill” Driscoll is the internationally recognized marketing pioneer and entrepreneur behind some of the world’s most recognizable events, including Blue Planet Run, the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy Tour and the Coca-Cola Olympic Torch Relay. His legendary work spans 190 countries on five continents. In 1997, he and his wife and business partner Susan founded ignition, a global experience-based marketing company created on their shared vision to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Through ignition, he continues his impressive record of forecasting trends and incorporating them into trailblazing activations that connect brands and consumers. With more than 35 years of experience, he has been blessed to work with the world’s biggest brands. He currently brings to life the brands of Aircell, American Express, British Petroleum, Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, ESPN and the United Nations Foundation. He has founded eight companies, many of which stand today as the leaders in their respective fields, including Momentum. Dill’s combination of can-do attitude, groundbreaking thinking and exemplary leadership has secured his place in marketing history. But if asked, his greatest accomplishments are the opportunities he and his wife create for young people around the world. He is currently the entrepreneur in residence at the University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business. Dill was named an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, where he works with the faculty to add his input to the entrepreneurship department, providing opportunities for students who wish to learn more about starting their own business. Dill’s latest endeavor is founding Relay of Heroes. Relay of Heroes is an organization that helps create events for deserving not-for-profits to create awareness and drive fundraising.
Chief Master Sergeant Anthony L. Pearson
Chief Master Sergeant Anthony L. Pearson is the Senior Enlisted Advisor for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. The Exchange is the 47th largest retail organization in the U.S. with annual revenue of $10B, employing more than 43,000 civilians. The Exchange operates department and convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, theaters, vending and other businesses on military installations in all 50 states, five U.S. territories, and more than 30 countries. Chief Pearson was born in Newark, New Jersey, yet graduated from Aiken High School, Cincinnati, Ohio, in June 1984. He entered the U.S. Air Force in January 1985. His background includes various positions in the aviation resource management career field. During his career, he has deployed in support of Operations ASSURED LIFT, ALLIED FORCE, SOUTHERN WATCH, ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. Additionally, Chief Pearson has served as a combat Air Advisor with the Coalition Air Force Transition/Training Team, Kirkuk Iraq.