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, CNN Pentagon Correspondent

Barbara Starr

Pentagon Correspondent, CNN

Barbara Starr is a Pentagon correspondent for CNN. She has appeared frequently on programs across the network to deliver coverage on US military affairs and global politics, and has reported from locations across the world.
Prior to joining CNN in 2001, Starr was a producer and reporter for national security and military affairs for ABC News. She was awarded an Emmy for her location production work on ABC News’s coverage of New Year 2000 from Moscow. She also provided coverage for Nightline, World News Now, and World News This Morning. Starr covered national security and defense for Jane’s Defence Weekly for nine years before her work for ABC News, and served as an energy correspondent for Business Week between 1979 and 1988..
Starr has provided on-site coverage of the war in Afghanistan since 2003. During the 2006 Lebanon War, she traveled with U.S. Marines to cover American evacuations. Starr also traveled with Lt. Gen. Russel Honore during hurricane relief efforts in Katrina’s aftermath. She has reported directly on international affairs from the Persian Gulf, Russia, Central America, and the Chinese-North Korean border, and updates viewers daily on the latest from the Pentagon.
Starr is an alumna of California State at Northridge.

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.