Board of Directors

Military Veterans in Journalism’s six-member volunteer Board of Directors provides financial oversight and strategic guidance to ensure MVJ is fulfilling its mission and meeting the needs of its members.

Babee Garcia

CBS / Marine Corps Vet

Babee Garcia is an award-winning multimedia journalist with experience in print, digital, and broadcast television reporting. She has covered a wide range of stories involving LGBTQ+ rights, politics, body image acceptance, and military-related issues.

She used the post 9/11 GI Bill to earn a bachelor's degree in journalism at Montclair State University and completed the certificate program at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. After graduating from college, she was the Digital and Press Assistant for Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) for one year. She recently made the move to Charlottesville, VA to become a News Producer for CBS 19 News.

During spring break 2018, she traveled to Puerto Rico with student and faculty journalists to document recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria impacted the island. Her mini-documentary "Meals with Love" was featured for the special half-hour edition of "Montclair News Lab: Hurricane Recovery Mission to Puerto Rico." She and her team earned prestigious awards, including a collegiate Emmy from the Television Academy Foundation, Bricker Humanitarian Award, and a student Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Video Reporting from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).

Babee served on active-duty in the Marine Corps from 2013- 2016 as an Aviation Supply Specialist in MCAS New River, NC.

Jen Taylor-Paquette

The JPaq Group, CEO

Jen has been an advocate for veteran issues since shortly after 9/11. She is married to a traumatically injured Green Beret; is a mother of an active duty 2/75 Ranger; is a daughter of a 101st (A) Soldier, and a sister of a Marine and a Soldier.
Jen spent close to a year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center with her traumatically injured husband, Roland, as he fought the good fight - to live. He ended up giving both legs above the knees as a result of being hit by an Improvised Explosive Device while serving on a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha "A Team" during Operation Enduring Freedom. During this life changing experience, Jen was approached by USSOCOM leadership to join a founding team tasked with developing a program supporting wounded, ill & injured Special Operation Forces service members & their families.
During her years at USSOCOM, she discovered a gap in the care for Special Forces . Not long after that discovery, Jen was asked to join the founding team of the Green Beret Foundation--a particularly difficult endeavor supporting an all male unit as the only female. Jen served as GBF's COO, Board Treasurer and CEO & lastly as Board Member for close to a decade. She established all board committees.
Since Jen's husband's injury, she has successfully supported close to 5000 SOF members to include KIA families (when she was warned not to), transitioning service members & she raised over $15 million to support SOF members, their families & specifically Special Forces members. Aside from her SOF support, Jen also advocated, raised money for and served all branches of the United States military.

Her work with the SOF community got her recognized when she was awarded the Patriot Award-the highest honor USSOCOM awards to a civilian- by General Tony Thomas. She is the sixth female in history to be awarded a National Special Forces Association membership & honor and the fifth female in history to be honored and given membership to the Special Forces Association Chapter XV.Jen now runs The JPaq Group full time and sits on numerous boards. that had been tasked with developing a program with the objective of supporting wounded, ill & injured Special Operation Forces service members & their families. During her years at USSOCOM, she discovered a gap in the care for Special Forces where this unit sustained 60% of all of SOF casualties but had access to the least amount of support.

Jen, then was asked to join the founding team that created what is now the Green Beret Foundation--a particularly difficult endeavor supporting an all male unit. As you can imagine, Jen wasn't exactly accepted at first & she certainly ruffled feathers as she continued to prioritize the wounded & their families regardless of who was telling her otherwise. Jen served as COO, then CEO & Board Member for close to a decade. Since her husband's injury, Jen has successfully supported close to 5000 SOF members to include KIA families (when she was warned not to), transitioning service members & she raised over $15 million to support SOF members, their families & specifically Special Forces members. She put a strong focus on strengthening marriages and families. She founded the sorority, Steel Mags. Her work with the SOF community resulted in her being awarded the Patriot Award-the highest honor USSOCOM awards to a civilian- by General Tony Thomas. She is the sixth female in history to be awarded a National Special Forces Association award and the SFA Chapter XV award.

Jen now runs The JPaq Group which focuses on nonprofits and small for profits operational excellence ensuring good people achieve their purpose.

Mike Gentine

MVJ General Counsel / Keller and Heckman LLP

Mike Gentine counsels manufacturers, retailers, and other commercial clients on legal and regulatory matters particularly in the area of consumer goods and product safety. Drawing from his federal government, private practice, and in-house experience, Mike advises on compliance strategies and government relations, helping clients advance legislative and policy objectives at the state and federal levels. His experience in the product recall space includes having negotiated or collaborated on consumer product and motor vehicle recalls in multiple countries.

Mike held multiple positions at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). He served as senior counsel for the Office of CPSC Commissioner Joseph P. Mohorovic from 2014-2017, where he advised on various policy, enforcement, and ethics issues. He led several efforts to reform rules and regulations, including an initiative to reduce the paperwork burden on CPSC-regulated companies. He also worked at the CPSC as a legal fellow and law clerk in the Office of Commissioner Nancy Nord.

Most recently, Mike advised a major recreational product and motor vehicle manufacturer on product safety and compliance strategies, representing the company in agency proceedings, stakeholder organizations, and trade associations. He also served in a government relations role, advancing legislative and policy objectives before federal, state, and local governments. His legal training included service with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.

Aided by a prior career in broadcast journalism, Mike is a frequent speaker at industry and other conferences on product safety, regulatory, compliance, and government affairs topics.

Priya Sridhar

NBC San Diego / Navy Reserves

Priya Sridhar is a reporter for NBC San Diego. She comes to San Diego from San Antonio, Texas where she worked as a general assignment and investigative reporter for KENS5, a CBS affiliate.

Priya began her journalism career as a multimedia journalist for the NBC affiliates in Maine. She went on to work as a Washington correspondent for RT, an international news channel. She went on to work as the South Asia bureau chief and correspondent based in New Delhi, India.

After returning to the U.S., Priya worked as a video journalist for the Associated Press based in Chicago. She has also worked as a D.C. correspondent and morning show co-host for an international news channel, Arise, headquartered in Nigeria.

Some of her most memorable stories in her ten year journalism career include covering the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO for the Associated Press and Nigeria’s historic 2015 presidential elections.

Priya has a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s in international relations and history from Bowdoin College. Priya is also an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and serves as a Board Member of Military Veterans in Journalism.

Russell Midori

CBS News / Marine Corps Vet

Russell Midori has worked in multimedia production for ten years, both as a freelancer and on newsroom staffs. He has held a staff position as a journalist and cinematographer for CBS News network since 2017, traveling overseas and around North America to produce breaking news, character-driven features and the occasional long-form broadcast. He relies on his documentary background to influence storytelling on CBS This Morning, Evening News with Jeff Glor, 48 Hours, and CBS Sunday Morning.

Russell is an Overseas Press Club Foundation board member, a frequent guest lecturer at colleges and universities, and he volunteers as an alumni mentor for students in the Brooklyn College Radio and Television department.

He used the post-9/11 GI Bill to earn a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Brooklyn College and a dual master’s degree in investigative journalism and documentary production from Columbia University. He has done field work in Iraq, Kurdistan, Korea, India, Mexico, Haiti and Standing Rock. He produced several segments for an Emmy-winning broadcast, and received an OPC award and a Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

He served on active-duty in the Marine Corps from 2008 - 2012, and was twice named an honor graduate of courses at the Defense Information School. During his enlistment he held the rank of sergeant and served as the NCOIC of the Parris Island Public Affairs Office. In 2014 he did a six-month tour at Marine Forces Europe and Africa as a reservist, working as the director of photography and editor for Marine Corps video content shot across both continents.

Zack Baddorf

Filmmaker / Navy Vet

Zack Baddorf is a journalist and filmmaker with more than 15 years of experience producing award-winning stories from more than 30 countries, including Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the West Bank, and Kashmir, as well as rebel-held territory in Sri Lanka and Burma.

His work has been published by the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Reuters, AP, The Guardian, CBS, ABC, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, VICE, RYOT, Al Jazeera English, and other publications in video, radio, photo, and print formats. His videos on social media alone have more than 30 million views.

While based in the Central African Republic, Baddorf broke the news of the American military ending its mission against the Lord’s Resistance Army. His in-depth reporting on the Syrian town of Moadamiyah contributed to humanitarian access being granted to besieged people there. Weeks before Russian troops invaded Crimea, his reporting from the peninsula highlighted its political importance in the conflict.

Baddorf works as director of video for the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, crafting anti-ISIS videos. For a year in Afghanistan, he worked on rural, remote bases for the U.S. Special Operations Command as a civilian videographer, alongside Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Afghan security forces.

He has also worked as an adjunct professor at New York University and New York Film Academy, teaching public relations and broadcast journalism. He has a master of fine arts degree in documentary studies, a master of arts degree in international relations, another master’s in public relations and a bachelor's in journalism.

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

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

The War Zone

Howard Altman is the former managing editor of Military Times. He currently writes for The War Zone as a Senior Staff Writer.

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 / Marine Corps 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.