Board of Special Advisors to the
U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
Special Advisors to the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission provide expert advice to the Commission. Special Advisors serve without pay.
The Special Advisors
Secretary Leon E. Panetta
Unanimously confirmed in 2011 by the U.S. Senate as the twenty-third Secretary of Defense, Leon E. Panetta has had a fifty year career in public service at the highest levels of government: as Secretary of Defense, he established a new defense strategy; as Director of the CIA, he successfully led the operation that brought Osama bin Ladin to justice.
Secretary Panetta began his public service career in 1964 as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, receiving the Army Commendation Medal, and then served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Tom Kuchel. In 1969, he was appointed Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, where he was responsible for enforcing equal education laws.
Elected to Congress in 1976, Secretary Panetta represented the California Central Coast district for sixteen years and created the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In 1993, he was sworn in as Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for the Clinton administration and later was appointed White House chief of staff, working to achieve a balanced federal budget.
In 1997, Secretary Panetta returned to his home town of Monterey to establish and co-direct The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, a non-partisan, not-for-profit study center that seeks to inspire men and women to lives of public service. He is currently Chairman of the institute.
He chronicles his life in public service in his best-selling memoir Worthy Fights, which was published by Penguin Press in the fall of 2014.
Secretary George P. Shultz
A native of New York, Mr. Shultz graduated from Princeton University in 1942. After serving in the Marine Corps (1942-45), he earned a PhD at MIT. Mr. Shultz taught at MIT and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, becoming dean in 1962.
He was appointed Secretary of Labor in 1969, Director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1970, and Secretary of the Treasury in 1972. From 1974 to 1982, he was President of Bechtel Group, Inc.
Mr. Shultz served in the Reagan administration as Chairman of the President’s Economic Policy Advisory Board (1981-82) and Secretary of State (1982-89).
Since 1989, he has been a Distinguished Fellow at the Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is honorary chairman of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, chair of the Precourt Institute Energy Advisory Council at Stanford University, chair of MIT’s Energy Initiative External Advisory Board, and chair of Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy.
The Honorable John W. Warner
John Warner is a senior advisor at the law firm of Hogan Lovells US LLP. Upon graduation, in 1953, from the law school at the University of Virginia, he served as a law clerk for Federal Circuit Judge Prettyman, then for 4 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and then joined the firm and became a junior partner.
In 1969 he received a Presidential appointment as Under Secretary of Navy and later became Secretary of Navy during the period of conflict in Vietnam. In 1979 he was elected to the U.S. Senate and served for five consecutive terms establishing a record of being the second longest-serving Senator in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He returned to the practice of law at Hogan Lovells in 2009.
At 17 years old, he enlisted in Navy during the last year of World War II and attained the rank of Petty Officer 3/c; subsequently, he re-enlisted in the Marine Corps, was commissioned, and served in Korea in 1951-52 as a First Lieutenant.
During all of his 30 years in the Senate, he served as a member on the Armed Services Committee; and during his final years the Committee members elected him to leadership positions: first as Ranking Republican, then for his last six years he was full Committee Chair.
Between 1974 and 1976, Senator Warner was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as Administrator for the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, where he administered federal programs and grants to all 50 states; and, coordinated with 22 foreign nations that participated in this historic 200-year anniversary of the founding of our nation.
"I am pleased to serve as one of several pro bono advisors to the WWI Centennial Commission. I draw on my vivid recollections of stories from my Father who volunteered for service in WWI as a U.S. Army medical doctor, was commissioned as a Captain, then promoted to Major, and was injured and decorated. His division, the Red Diamond 5th, was in major battles including Verdun, Saint-Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne. He was often stationed in dressing stations and other forward treatment facilities caring for the wounded, performing the difficult task of triage, as they were being evacuated from the battlefield. He was decorated by France with the Croix de Guerre.
"I have, off and on, studied this epochal War and made a personal tour in 1984, with the assistance of the Army historical section and the Battle Monuments Commission, to all of the areas in France where Father served, following the notes in his 'little diary.'”
General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.)
General Barry R. McCaffrey is President of his own consulting firm based in Arlington, Virginia (www.mccaffreyassociates.com). He serves as a national security and terrorism analyst for NBC News. The Washington Speakers Bureau exclusively represents his speeches.
General McCaffrey served as the Bradley Distinguished Professor of International Security Studies from January 2001 to May 2005; and then as an Adjunct Professor of International Security Studies from May 2005 to December 2010 at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. General McCaffrey graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He holds a Master of Arts degree in civil government from American University. He attended the Harvard University National Security Program as well as the Business School Executive Education Program. In May 2010, he was honored as a Distinguished Graduate by the West Point Association of Graduates at the United States Military Academy.
General McCaffrey has been elected to the Board of Directors of CRC Health Corporation and the Atlantic Council of the United States. He is also: a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; an Associate of the InterAmerican Dialogue; Chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Education Center Advisory Board; and a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Infantry Foundation, as well as the National Armor & Cavalry Heritage Foundation. General McCaffrey has had a long association with the Phoenix House Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to drug and alcohol abuse treatment, prevention and therapy.
Admiral Mike Mullen, USN (Ret.)
Admiral Mike Mullen spent four years as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military advisor to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He brought bold and original thinking to the work of strengthening the U.S. military and advocating for those who serve.
Mullen oversaw the end of the combat mission in Iraq and the development of a new military strategy for Afghanistan, while promoting international partnerships, new technologies and new counter-terrorism tactics culminating in the killing of Osama bin Laden.
A 1968 graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Mullen sought challenging positions including command at every level to develop his leadership skills during his naval career. He rose to be Chief of Naval Operations prior to assuming duties as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In an unprecedented in-depth feature article, Fast Company called Mullen “not just a new model for military officers-and a new kind of business titan-but also a case study in 21st Century leadership”.
Since retiring from the Navy, Mullen has joined the boards of General Motors, Sprint and the Bloomberg Family Foundation. He teaches at the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He is also known for his efforts on behalf of service members, veterans and their families.
General Gordon R. Sullivan, USA (Ret.)
General Sullivan is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of the United States Army, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. Since assuming his position in 1998, General Sullivan has overseen the transformation of the Association into a dynamic member-based organization that represents Soldiers, families, and the defense industry.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in Quincy, he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Norwich University and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Armor in 1959. General Sullivan retired from the Army on 31 July 1995 after more than 36 years of active service. He culminated his service in uniform as the 32nd Chief of Staff—the senior general officer in the Army—and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Sullivan currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Norwich University, the Army Historical Foundation, and the Marshall Legacy Institute, as well as a member of the MITRE Army Advisory Board, the MIT Lincoln Labs Advisory Board, and a Life Trustee of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
Sandra Sinclair Pershing
Sandra Sinclair Pershing is the granddaughter-in-law of General of the Armies John J. Pershing. She is Director Emeritus of the Pershing Rifles Group.
After a long career in the real estate field, Pershing now does volunteer work in the New York area. She is a volunteer at Phoenix House, where she provides special support of Phoenix House’s national Military Service Programs, which deal with PTSD and other military service related experiences and injuries. She also works with the Board of Women’s Prison Association.
Widow of Colonel John Warren Pershing, USA, she has two children, one grandchild, and one great grandchild.
Helen Ayer Patton
Helen Ayer Patton is the granddaughter of WWII hero General George S. Patton, and Brigadier Gen. Willard Ames “Hunk" Holbrook. Her family’s military heritage spans 300 years and forebears include one of America’s first business magnates, Frederick Ayer; an actress of the “belle époque” Ellen Banning; and Benjamin “Don Benito” Wilson, the first deed holder and mayor of Los Angeles.
Married to a German and inspired by her family’s unlikely friendship with the family of Irwin Rommel, Helen became fascinated with healing the wounds of war through shared experiences and thus founded The Patton Trust in Saabrücken, Germany in 2004, followed by The Patton Foundation of America in 2009, and most recently The Patton ASBL of Luxembourg in 2014, now all members of The Patton Alliance, sharing a mission to connect Helen's famous family’s legacy to the contemporary study and practice of leadership, to provide assistance to Veterans’ causes, and to foster a cultural awareness that helps prevent the seeds of war from taking root.
Helen holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in directing from Northwestern University in Chicago, a screen writing diploma from UCLA, and is a graduate of The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She produced and performed in America’s first RAP musical, “Sanctuary DC” nominated for a Helen Hayes Award, and has directed plays by Vaclav Havel, Max Frisch, Shakespeare and David Mamet. She is currently partnering with Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Kirk Ellis on a television series covering the heritage and life of her famous grandfather George S. Patton's early years, including his exploits during WW1.
Helen has received numerous citations, including: the St. Maurice Medal issued by The National Infantry Association; the U.S. Army’s Freedom Prize; Knights of the Cross With the Red Heart from the Czech Republic; and the Légion d'Honneur from the Republic of France. She is especially proud of her special membership in The Chapel of Four Chaplains, which recognizes “persons who have rendered service to humanity without regard to race, religion or creed.” She resides in Europe, and is the mother of Ingmar Neils (18) & Ragnar Benjamin (16).
Colonel Gerald E. York, USA (Ret.)
Gerald York is the Grandson of Sgt Alvin C. York, Medal of Honor recipient in World War One. He currently is the Chairman, Sgt York Patriotic Foundation, a rebirth of his Grandfather’s Foundation started in the 1920’s to bring education to his community in Tennessee. The Foundation is currently restoring the original school building built by Sgt York in 1926, www.sgtyork.org.
He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant from Vanderbilt University Army ROTC program in 1969 and has over 31 years of experience in the US Army serving in a variety of positions at both the operational and headquarters levels. He served in Vietnam as an Adviser, as a staff officer with the XVIII Abn Corps, as Base Commander in Korea and various other positions during his career. He retired in December of 2000 as Chief of Operations for the Defense HUMINT Service.
After retirement he was Vice President and later President of Phoenix Consulting Group which provided specialized training to DoD personnel.
For over thirty years, Gary Sinise has stood as an advocate of America’s servicemen and women. It began in the early 80’s with his support of Vietnam Veterans groups and the creation of Vets Night, a program offering free dinners and performances to veterans at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. His commitment continued into the 90’s working on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans organization which he continues to actively support. Since the attacks of September 11th, 2001, his dedication to our nation’s active duty defenders, veterans and first responders has become a tireless crusade of support, service and gratitude to all those who protect our freedom and serve our country.
His portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the landmark film Forrest Gump formed an enduring connection with servicemen and women throughout the military community. After several USO handshake tours in 2003, Sinise formed the “Lt. Dan Band” in early 2004 and began entertaining troops serving at home and abroad. The band now performs close to 50 shows a year for military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting wounded warriors, Gold Star families, veterans and troops around the world.
Sinise serves as spokesperson for both the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Foundation and Disabled American Veterans, and was instrumental in raising funds for the Pentagon Memorial in Washington, D.C. and The Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance in NYC. He serves on executive councils for The Medal of Honor Foundation and the USO, and is an advisory board member for Hope for the Warriors. In recognition of his humanitarian work on behalf of our troops and veterans, Mr. Sinise has received many distinguished awards including The Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment from the Medal of Honor Society, the Spirit of the USO Award, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and in 2008 he was a recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation, only the third actor ever to receive this honor. In 2012, Sinise was presented with the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense and was named an honorary Chief Petty Officer by the Navy.
In 2011, to expand upon his individual efforts, Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. Its mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs that entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities. Of its many outreach efforts, the Gary Sinise Foundation is building custom Smart Homes for severely wounded veterans, serving hearty meals to deploying troops and hosting spirit-boosting festivals for patients, families and medical staff at military hospitals. Through its partnership with GE, the Gary Sinise Foundation also helped launch GetSkillstoWork.org, a program designed to help veterans put their military experience to use in civilian jobs.
Vinton G. Cerf is vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google. He contributes to global policy development and continued spread of the Internet. Widely known as one of the "Fathers of the Internet," Cerf is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet. He has served in executive positions at MCI, the Corporation for National Research Initiatives and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and on the faculty of Stanford University.
Vint Cerf served as chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) from 2000-2007 and has been a Visiting Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1998. Cerf served as founding president of the Internet Society (ISOC) from 1992-1995. Cerf is a Fellow of the IEEE, ACM, and American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the International Engineering Consortium, the Computer History Museum, the British Computer Society, the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, the Worshipful Company of Stationers and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He currently serves as Past President of the Association for Computing Machinery, chairman of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) and completed a term as Chairman of the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology for the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. President Obama appointed him to the National Science Board in 2012.
Cerf is a recipient of numerous awards and commendations in connection with his work on the Internet, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, US National Medal of Technology, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the Prince of Asturias Award, the Tunisian National Medal of Science, the Japan Prize, the Charles Stark Draper award, the ACM Turing Award, Officer of the Legion d’Honneur and 25 honorary degrees. In December 1994, People magazine identified Cerf as one of that year's "25 Most Intriguing People."
His personal interests include fine wine, gourmet cooking and science fiction. Cerf and his wife, Sigrid, were married in 1966 and have two sons, David and Bennett.
Raymond W. Kelly
Ray Kelly is a distinguished leader and protector and was New York City’s longest-serving police commissioner. Under his leadership the NYPD was described as the premier domestic public-safety agency in the United States. He is now Vice Chairman of K2 Intelligence.
Ray’s almost 50 year-career in public service includes serving as Commissioner of the US Customs Service and as Undersecretary of Enforcement at the US Treasury Department. He served as a Vice President of Interpol and directed the International Police Force in Haiti, where he was awarded the exceptionally meritorious service commendation from the President of the United States. Ray is also a retired United States Marine Corps Reserves Colonel with 30 years of service in the United States Marine Corps Reserves, including serving a combat tour in Vietnam.
In the private sector, Ray was President of the Cushman & Wakefield firm’s Risk Management Services group. He has also served as President of Investigative Group International and as Chief of Security at Bear Stearns. Ray is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an ABC News consultant.
Ray received his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law, his LLM from New York University Graduate School of Law, his MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and his BBA from Manhattan College. He is an attorney and a member of the New York State Bar. He also been awarded a number of honorary degrees. He received 14 citations of merit for outstanding police work during his tenure at NYPD and was awarded France’s highest decoration, the Legion d’Honneur. Ray is the author of the best-selling book “Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City” from Hachette Books Group USA.
Sergeant Major Bryan B. Battaglia, USMC (Ret.)
Bryan B. Battaglia is the former Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, swearing into office on 30 September 2011. He held the position until December 11, 2015.
In this office, Battaglia served as the most senior ranking Noncommissioned Officer of the U.S. Armed Forces and principal military advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Generals Martin Dempsey and Joseph Dunford and to Secretaries of Defense Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, and Ashton Carter on all matters involving the joint and combined total force integration, utilization, health of the force and joint development for enlisted personnel and families.
Prior to this assignment, Battaglia served as the senior enlisted advisor at U.S. Joint Forces Command under Gen. James Mattis and Gen. Raymond Odierno.
Battaglia was born in New Orleans, La., on April 6, 1961 and joined the Marine Corps in September 1979. Completing Basic Training and Infantry Training School at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, PFC. Battaglia served as a Security Guard at Marine Barracks London, England at RAF St. Mawgan.
Meritoriously promoted to Corporal in November 1981, he was transferred to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines as an infantry fire team leader. Completing Squad Leaders School, Water Survival Instructor School and Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense School, he was reassigned as a Squad Leader. Meritoriously promoted on October 2, 1982, he was relocated to Weapons Platoon as the 60mm Mortar Section Leader. Completing various deployments, in February 1984, he was transferred to Parris Island, S.C., for duty as a Drill Instructor assigned to Company I, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion and the Field Training Unit.
In June 1986, he returned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, as a Platoon Sergeant completing various Landing Force 6th Fleet and Unit Deployments and in October 1987, attended the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Career Course, served as the Battalion Career Planner and Regimental Career Planner for the 2d Marine Regiment.
In January 1990, he deployed to Norway followed by an August 1990 deployment to Southwest Asia. Combat meritoriously promoted to gunnery sergeant on December 2, 1990 and upon return from the Persian Gulf War in April 1991, completed the SNCO Advanced Course, Airborne Parachutist School and assumed duties as Company Gunnery Sergeant. In March 1993, he transferred to the United Kingdom to the British Royal Marine Exchange Program where he completed the Royal Marines Commando Course and served at the Commando Training Centre, Lympstone, England.
In July 1995, First Sergeant Battaglia was transferred to 2d Force Service Support Group for duty with Headquarters Battalion and in October 1996, he deployed with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines to Cuba in support of Joint Task Force 160. Returning during December 1995, he was reassigned as the First Sergeant, Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 26 from April 1996 to July 1998.
Promoted to Sergeant Major, he transferred to 2d Marine Aircraft Wing and was assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252. In September 2001, he assumed duties as Battalion Sergeant Major, Weapons Training Battalion, Quantico, Va., and further assigned to Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., from 2002 to 2004. He was later ordered to 2nd Marine Division and served as the Sergeant Major 8th Marines and Regimental Combat Team 8 during Operation Iraqi Freedom from November 2004 to May 2006.
On June 9, 2006 he assumed his duties as Sergeant Major, 2d Marine Division and Multi-National Force West-Iraq, from February 2007 to February 2008. During March 2008, he was transferred to Norfolk, Va., where he assumed his duties as the Command Senior Enlisted Leader, U.S. Joint Forces Command, from April 2008 to August 2011.
Battaglia was honorably retired from the U.S. Marines on 31 August, 2016 having served over 36 and a half years of active service.
John L. Nau
John L. Nau III is President and Chief Executive Officer of Silver Eagle Distributors, L.P., the nation’s largest distributor of Anheuser-Busch products, a position he has held since 1990.
Nau has participated in civic, community, and philanthropic organizations in Houston and throughout the United States. His current involvement includes Vice Chairman of the National Park Foundation Board of Directors, Civil War Trust Board of Directors and Chairman Emeritus, Baylor College of Medicine Board of Trustees, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Board of Trustees, Honorary Trustee of the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, Honorary Trustee of The Texas Heart Institute, Honorary State Trustee of San Antonio Parks Foundation, Director and Executive Committee member of the Greater Houston Partnership and Advisory Council member to the Center for Big Bend Studies. He also serves as a Board Member for the Center for Houston’s Future, Discovery Green Conservancy in Houston, Friends of the Texas Historical Commission, Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park, Houston Police Foundation, The Admiral Nimitz Foundation, and the Texas State Historical Association. Additionally, he is Chairman of the Capital Campaign for The Center for Texas Cultural Heritage and Chairman of the Steering Committee for the proposed Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area. He is founder and President of The Nau Foundation.
Nau has a personal interest in American history, and he has served as chairman of the national Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, 2001-2010, a position appointed by the President of the United States. He also served as chairman of the Texas Historical Commission, 1995-2009, a position appointed by the Governor of Texas.
He is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and formerly served on the Board of Visitors, a position appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He also serves as Vice Chairman and on the Executive Committee for the University of Virginia Capital Campaign.
Nau and his wife, Bobbie, reside in Houston, Texas. Their family includes two daughters, Elizabeth Nau Stepanian and husband Andy, Victoria Nau Johnson and husband Parker, and five grandchildren, Katharine, Reese and Driggs Stepanian, and Liston and Case Johnson.
Joseph T.N. Suarez
Joseph T.N. Suarez serves as an Executive Advisor to the global technology firm, Booz Allen Hamilton, as well as an independent consultant to nonprofit organizations and corporations in the areas of philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, employee engagement, marketing, community relations and public/private partnerships. At Booz Allen, Suarez advises the firm on philanthropic and employee volunteer programs worldwide, and helps develop and implement strategies around high impact corporate-nonprofit partnerships and nonprofit Board engagement. In addition, Suarez directs the firm’s knowledge partnership with the US Naval Academy Cyber Center.
Prior to joining Booz Allen, Suarez spent over 25 years in management positions in the nonprofit sector and was responsible for raising over one billion dollars for a wide range of organizations. Suarez served as Director of The National Air and Space Society and Deputy Director of Development for the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, where he directed, managed and coordinated the Museum’s $311 million-dollar capital campaign. Suarez is a published historian with an expertise on early military aviation in the Philippines and the Philippine Constabulary during the Insular and Commonwealth periods.
Suarez is the recipient of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Washington D.C. Diversity Award, the COMPASS Leadership Award, the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund Award of Excellence, The Smithsonian Institution Robert Mills Medal, The American Red Cross Tiffany Manager’s Award, and was awarded the Order of Malta in recognition of his work for the American Red Cross’ international disaster relief efforts.
Suarez serves as an Advisory Board Member of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Executive Committee of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Board Member of National History Day, Advisory Committee Member of the German American Aviation Heritage Foundation, member of the Board of Visitors for the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science, and as Chairman of the Maryland World War I Commission, appointed by Governor Larry Hogan.
Recognized for his entrepreneurship and servant leadership, Howard Schultz built Starbucks Coffee Company into one of the world’s most recognized and respected businesses, a company committed to strengthening communities through human connection and social innovation.
Howard grew up in public housing and was the first in his family to graduate college. As a young entrepreneur, he set out to build a different kind of company, one that delivers business excellence through a culture of compassion. Under his leadership, Starbucks has delivered approximately 18,000 percent in shareholder returns since its Initial Public Offering in 1992, while pioneering programs like comprehensive healthcare, stock ownership and free college tuition for all eligible employees. Today, Starbucks has 26,000 stores in 75 countries and ranks third on Fortune’s list of “World’s Most Admired Companies.”
On April 3, 2017, Howard transitioned from ceo to executive chairman, shifting his full-time focus to social impact initiatives as well as innovation and global development of Starbucks Reserve® Roasteries and Starbucks Reserve® retail store formats.
Along with his wife, Sheri, Howard is co-founder of the Schultz Family Foundation. He is also the best-selling author of “For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice” (2014), “Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul” (2011), and “Pour Your Heart Into It” (1997).
Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northern Michigan University. Before joining Starbucks, he worked three years in sales and marketing with Xerox Corporation and served as vice president and general manager of Hammarplast U.S.A. He is co-founder of Maveron LLC, a venture capital group.
Sheri Kersch Schultz
Sheri Kersch Schultz is president of the Schultz Family Foundation, which she co-founded in 1996 with her husband, Howard Schultz, executive chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company.
Guided by a belief that the right opportunities at the right time can unleash human potential—and that “inequality of opportunity” is stifling America’s own potential—the Foundation invests in innovative solutions and collaborative partnerships that create new pathways to opportunity so disconnected populations can overcome barriers to success.
Refusing to accept the status quo, Sheri, Howard, and the Foundation decided to concentrate their efforts on two groups: Opportunity Youth, the 4.9 million 16- to 24-year-olds in the country who are not in school and not working, and America’s 3.9 million Post 9/11 Veterans, heroic individuals whose valuable skills and experience are often misunderstood and undervalued when they return to civilian life.
Under Sheri’s leadership, the Foundation has launched two national initiatives: Onward Youth, which is a portfolio of programs and investments that put Opportunity Youth on a path towards skills training and employment, and Onward Veterans, which helps returning military service members and their families successfully transition into civilian jobs and professional careers. Each program actively engages the business community, bringing together leaders from the private and public sectors, whose collaboration is key to sustaining each program’s success.
Sheri holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Denver. A native of Ohio, Sheri is a longtime resident of Seattle where she and Howard raised their children.
Colonel Robert J. Dalessandro, USA (Ret.)
Rob Dalessandro currently the Acting Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). He was appointed as the deputy secretary for Headquarters Operations at ABMC on September 8, 2014. Previously he was selected as a member of the Senior Executive Service and appointed as Executive Director/Chief of Military History, U.S. Army Center of Military History, on 13 February 2011.
He has over 31 years of experience in the Department of Defense serving in a variety of command and staff positions at both the operational and headquarters levels. After beginning his Federal career in 1980 as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Dalessandro served in a wide variety of leadership and staff assignments, including commands at the company, depot, and battalion levels and staff assignments at echelons of command from battalion through Department of the Army level.
Dalessandro retired from the U.S. Army in June 2009 after serving as the Director of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA. Since then, he has served as the Assistant Chief of Military History at the Center of Military History, working a wide range of administrative, technical, museum, and policy issues.
Rob was commissioned in the U.S. Army after graduating from the Virginia Military Institute with a degree in history. His graduate studies include work at the College of William and Mary, where he studied historical archeology; a master's degree in Military Arts and Science in history from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; a master's degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College; and a graduate certificate in museum collections management and care from George Washington University.
Considered one of the Army's foremost experts on battlefield interpretation, Mr. Dalessandro is widely published on the lifeways and material culture of the American Soldier.
He is editor of the Army Officer's Guide, and coauthor of Organization and Insignia of the American Expeditionary Force, 1917-1923; Willing Patriots: Men of Color in the First World War; and American Lions: The 332nd Infantry Regiment in Italy in World War One. He is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the Society for Military History, American Association of Museums, and the Company of Military Historians. He has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Parachutist Badge.
Mr. Dalessandro previously served as a Commissioner and Chair of the United States World War One Centennial Commission. He was appointed to the Commission by the then-House Minority Leader, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California.