Advisory Board

Our volunteer Advisory Board provides strategic guidance drawing on their decades of experience in journalism, non-profit management, and veterans issues.

Barbara Starr


Barbara Starr is CNN's Pentagon correspondent, based in Washington, D.C. Starr provides viewers with the latest national security news each day from the Pentagon, working her sources to report on the military campaigns against ISIS, investigations in terror attacks and military and intelligence operations. Starr appears regularly on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, New Day and other shows across the network regularly breaking big news and delivering exclusive coverage on the U.S. military and political situation on a global scale.

In 2014, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy honored Starr with a Jefferson-Lincoln Award for her work in journalism. Since 2003, Starr has made repeated trips to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, where she has been embedded with U.S. troops. She traveled to Beirut, Lebanon in 2006 with U.S. Marines tasked with evacuating Americans during Israel's war with Hezbollah. Starr has also reported directly from the Persian Gulf, Russia, Central America and the Chinese-North Korean border. In 2016, Starr was the only broadcast journalist to travel to Iraq and Syria with commanding general of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, the highest-ranking U.S. military official to travel into Syria during the war, to report on the global fight and special operations training of local forces to combat ISIS.

Throughout her career, Starr has profiled numerous wounded troops, the plight of homeless veterans and reported on the fallen regularly from Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Starr joined CNN in 2001 from ABC News where she had worked since 1998 as a producer for the network's news originating from the Pentagon, providing on- and off-air reporting on military and national security affairs. She also reported for Nightline, World News This Morning, World News Now, ABC Radio and Previously, Starr was the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Jane's Defence Weekly, a London-based weekly newsmagazine, where for nine years she covered all aspects of national security, the intelligence community, defense and military policy. During this time, she conducted numerous one-on-one interviews with current secretaries of defense and directors of central intelligence. She also traveled to the Balkans, the Persian Gulf and NATO headquarters in Brussels. Before Jane's, Starr worked as a correspondent for Business Week from 1979-1988. Based in the magazine's Washington, D.C., bureau, she served as energy correspondent, covering OPEC and other environmental and economic matters.

While at ABC News, she won an Emmy Award as a location producer at NORAD/Cheyenne Mountain, covering the transition to the new millennium at Moscow rollover time.

Starr graduated from California State at Northridge with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.

Dan Clare

Disabled American Veterans / Marine Corps & Air Force Vet

Dan Clare, a Marine Corps veteran of the Persian Gulf era and an Air Force veteran of the Iraq War, was appointed chief communications and outreach officer for the more than 1 million-member Disabled American Veterans in August 2019. Clare first joined DAV’s professional staff in November 2004 as a senior
communications specialist with the National Communications Department at the organization’s national headquarters in Cold Spring, Kentucky. Prior to his current appointment, Clare served as the national communications director. In his position, Clare oversees DAV’s Voluntary Services, Employment and Communications Departments, and is responsible for ensuring outreach support, collaboration and DAV’s ability to
serve and empower its members. Clare enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1994. Following his formal military education at the Defense
Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, he was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro, California, where he served as a journalist and later as a broadcaster at American Forces Network, Okinawa, Japan. He was recognized for the Marine feature broadcast of the year in 1997. He joined the California Air National Guard in 2001, and supported the airlift of Federal Emergency Management Agency teams to McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, on Sept. 11, 2001. Clare transferred to the Ohio Air National Guard in 2005. He was called to active duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployed to Balad Air Base in September 2007. During his deployment he directed news production and helped manage media relations for the Air Force in Iraq. Additionally, he wrote for DAV’s website while acting as the organization’s liaison for the Air Force Theater Hospital.
Clare was named the Air National Guard Print Journalist of the Year for 2007 for coverage of the hospital and combat operations in Iraq. He transferred to the Kentucky Air National Guard in June 2008. Clare’s awards include the Air Force Commendation Medal (with two oak leaf clusters), Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal (with two oak leaf clusters), Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Service Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal. He is the national president for the Marine Combat Correspondents Association. Clare is a member of Chapter 19 in Cold Spring, Kentucky.

Geoffrey Ingersoll

The Daily Caller / Marine Corps Vet

Geoffrey Ingersoll is the editor in chief of The Daily Caller.

Geoffrey graduated from Penn State with an English degree in 2004. He then quickly achieved becoming a Teach For America reject, and enlisted in the Marines instead. He served honorably from 2005 to 2009, and ended active service as an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. He attended New York University's graduate j-school, studying documentary film and long-form reporting.

Geoffrey has reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, the Korean DMZ, and New Jersey.

Howard Altman

Military Times

Howard Altman is the managing editor of Military Times.

Jake Tapper

Host of The Lead with Jake Tapper, CNN

Jake Tapper joined the CNN in January 2013 and currently anchors a two-hour weekday program, The Lead with Jake Tapper, which debuted in March of that same year. He has hosted CNN's Sunday morning show, State of the Union, since June 2015. In April 2021, he became the lead anchor for CNN for Washington, D.C. events.

LaSharah Bunting

Vice President and Executive Editor, Simon & Schuster

LaSharah S. Bunting is the Vice President and Executive Editor of Simon & Schuster’s adult trade publishing imprint, acquiring nonfiction and fiction.

Most recently, Bunting served as the Director/Journalism at John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where she started in 2017 and managed a multimillion-dollar portfolio of grants and initiatives focused on advancing organizational transformation, equity and diversity, and high-quality storytelling in journalism. She oversaw the execution of one of Knight’s biggest efforts in local news sustainability: the Table Stakes Local News Transformation initiative.

Prior to her work at Knight, Bunting worked for 13 years at The New York Times, where she served in various editing roles. In her final role at The Times, she was Senior Editor, leading digital and organizational transformation across the newsroom. Bunting also worked as an editor on The Times’ National desk, where she directed breaking news and oversaw the department’s daily report, multimedia projects and audience engagement. She led multimedia projects that included “The Way North,” a monthlong, day-by-day journey along Interstate 35, from Texas to Minnesota, chronicling how immigration has shaped the United States. She was an assignment editor on the Metro and Arts and Culture desks as well as editor for Frank Rich’s Sunday Op-Ed column. Bunting also served for many years as senior faculty for the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, an intensive two-week program for college journalists.

Before coming to The Times in 2004, Bunting was an editor at The Dallas Morning News and is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is also an alumna of Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program at Columbia University; Diverse Future Executive Program; and the Maynard Media Academy at Harvard University. She serves on the board of directors of Dow Jones News Fund and the Digital Diversity Network, and serves as a thought leader on diversity and equity in journalism and philanthropy. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and lives in Miami.

Martin Baron

Former Editor of the Washington Post

Martin Baron is an American journalist who was editor of The Washington Post from December 31, 2012, until his retirement on February 28, 2021. He was previously the editor of The Boston Globe from 2001 to 2012.

Melissa Pucino

The JPaq Group / Gold Star Sister

With over 15 years of business experience, Melissa Pucino has worked in the finance sector for various industries. Over the past 10 years, Melissa has served on the board for her brother’s foundation, SSG Matthew A. Pucino Memorial Foundation, Ltd., assisting wounded service members and keeping Matthew’s legacy alive. She possesses vast experience in nonprofit accounting, financial management, human resources management, event planning and production, and operations management. As COO for the JPaq Group, she assists businesses and non-profits in all of these areas. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Suffolk University and is a Certified Project Master.

Michael Phelps

Navy & Massachusetts Air National Guard Vet

Michael Phelps is managing principal of Amapola Marketing Communications LLC, based in Norfolk, Virginia, taking on interim executive assignments and providing counsel in media strategy, press relations, promotion and advertising sales and fielding professional writing and editing and moderating/facilitation assignments. Recent clients include the CEOs of the Washingtonian, PenFed Credit Union, Virginia News Group, Falmouth (MA) Publishing Inc (fractional assistant to the publisher), the Wenatchee (WA) World and the Old Dominion University Center for Economic Analysis and Policy.

His career began as a reporter for a twice-weekly Cape Cod newspaper and most recently included a seven-year tour as publisher, president and CEO of The Washington Examiner, a daily newspaper and website.

Just before that, he was publisher for The Baltimore Examiner, a metropolitan daily newspaper started from scratch under his leadership.

Phelps was vice president, publishing for Lee Enterprises, a publicly held news media company, responsible for newspapers and their websites in Iowa, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. Previously, he worked as a reporter, news editor, managing editor, newspaper owner and consultant to newspaper CEOS and publishers (Newsday, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Thomson Newspapers, Editor & Publisher, Howard Publishing et al).

He has taught journalism as editor-in-residence at Michigan State University and graduate media economics at Emerson College.

Phelps has led seminars for the American Press Institute, the International News Media Association (for which he also served as president), the National Newspaper Association, the Inter-American Press Association, the International Media Fund and The Freedom Forum. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, he visited Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union on five occasions to train newspaper industry executives on the path to free market operations.
His military service (Navy & Massachusetts Air National Guard) spanned 21 years, active and reserve, included both line and public affairs assignments and he retired as lieutenant colonel. He is a graduate of both the junior and senior public affairs officer courses of the Department of Defense Information School. He has served the USO Board of Governors and also has university, hospital and museum board experience,
He now serves as a board member for two start-up companies, one of which is in publishing.
He lives in East Beach, Norfolk, with his wife, Adrienne, and their 13-year-old twins.

Paul Szoldra

Duffel Blog / Task & Purpose / Marine Corps Vet

My name is Paul Szoldra (pronounced ZOAL-druh). I am a reporter and editor based in southern California, mainly focused on national security issues. My byline can be found at Task & Purpose, Business Insider, and We Are The Mighty.

Me or my work have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, MSNBC, CBS News, USA Today, ABC News, Huffington Post, and the Columbia Journalism Review. It has also been cited by the Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Army Cyber Institute, House Armed Services Committee, House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and in various books.

Prior to becoming a journalist, I served as a U.S. Marine infantryman for eight years. I deployed to the Asia-Pacific region and Afghanistan and served as a combat instructor at the Corps' School of Infantry.

Phoebe Gavin

Quartz / Army Vet

Phoebe is a 26-year-old combat veteran of the US Army. She served on active duty for four and a half years while stationed at Fort Lewis, WA, and was deployed for a 15-month tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Phoebe holds a Bachelors Degree in Management which she acquired using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. She is currently Growth Editor at Quartz, a global business news site.

Sara Samora

Houston Business Journal / Marine Corps Vet

I am a Marine Corps veteran working at the Houston Business Journal. I earned a dual degree at the University of Houston in English Literature and print journalism in 2016. I also co-founded the Student Veterans of America UH chapter in 2014. In May 2018, I earned a Master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School in New York City.

Sylvester Smith

National Association of Broadcasters / Army Vet

Sylvester A Smith Jr is currently the Manager of Member and Partner Revenue Development for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and consults with technology experts creating marketing strategies to engage with broadcast and media organizations. Sylvester also champions collaboration by creating value for strategic key radio, television, international and associate members of the NAB.

Serving in the US Army from 1999-2005, Sylvester understands the challenges for veteran’s separating from active duty and the importance of having a network. Outside of his passion for broadcast and media, Sylvester is a frequent volunteer, mentor, and trustee of the Wakefield High School Education Foundation’s Career and Technical Training scholarship. These experiences led to Sylvester working with MVJ earlier this year to help bring 10 emerging veterans in journalism to the NAB Show in Las Vegas. However, due to the coronavirus and protecting the safety of all participants, it has been delayed until further notice.

Tawnell Hobbs

Wall Street Journal / Air Force Vet

Tawnell Hobbs is the national K-12 education reporter at The Wall Street Journal. Experienced newspaper reporter with a focus on education writing. Adjunct Professor with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Headline Writing, Breaking News, Journalism, Media Relations, and Leadership. Strong education professional with a Bachelor's degree in communications focused in Journalism from The University of Texas at Arlington.
Thomas Brennan

Thomas Brennan

Executive Director, The War Horse / USMC Vet

Thomas Brennan is the Founder of and Executive Director for The War Horse. Prior to studying journalism at Columbia University, he was a sergeant in the Marine Corps and served as an infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thomas is the co-author of Shooting Ghosts—A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back from War. His bylines have appeared in Vanity Fair, Center for Investigative Reporting, and The New York Times.