Our Team

Executive Director

Todd DePastino

todd@veteransbreakfastclub.org

Todd DePastino is founding director of the Veterans Breakfast Club. Todd’s interest in veterans’ stories first grew out of his work as a historian. Todd is author and editor of seven books, including the award-winning Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front (W.W. Norton), a biography of the famed WWII cartoonist. He has a Ph.D. in American History from Yale University and has taught at Penn State Beaver and Waynesburg University, where he received the Lucas-Hathaway Award for Teaching Excellence.

Director of Programming

Shaun Hall

shaun@veteransbreakfastclub.org

Shaun is host and producer of VBC’s podcast, The Scuttlebutt. He is not a veteran but has a passion for veterans’ stories. Shaun received his BFA in Acting from Point Park University in 2004 and has spent over a decade in the non-profit sector supporting missions that focus on storytelling.

Community Outreach & Communications

Betty Karleski

betty@veteransbreakfastclub.org

Betty discovered the Veterans Breakfast Club in 2009 while marketing for a senior healthcare company. She jumped in to support the VBC as a Board Member and volunteer, working the sign-in table at VBC events. She now joins the team as the Community Outreach and Communications Specialist.

Board of Directors

Mike Cherock, VBC Board President, Founder and CEO of AE Works, Ltd. US Navy, 1989-1996

“I started out in the Navy as a nuclear-trained power plant operator aboard fast-attack submarines. That service provided examples of leadership and the value of acting with integrity. It shaped my belief system that everything in the world, including business, is about people. When I founded AE Works, I wanted it to be the kind of business whose purpose is beyond profit, a certified B Corporation focused on creating a world where everyone is relevant.”

“The magic of VBC is the people. Everyone at a VBC event has the opportunity to participate and to connect, learn, heal and inspire. It’s a community for veterans, but also for all citizens looking to celebrate and honor stories of service.”

Amber Spells, VBC Board Treasurer Corporate Tax Associate, Tyler Collier Associates, LLC, PA National Guard, 1996-2005 LinkedIn

“My military service opened me up to new ways of see- ing and experiencing the world. I’m forever grateful for the friendships created, the survival skills I learned, the travel, and the discipline. I still roll my t-shirts. My service on non-profit boards and work as a travel advisor and accountant, are all inspired by my service.”

“The Veterans Breakfast Club brings to light stories of service and sacrifice that might otherwise remain hidden from view. Many of us veterans travel through life without anyone asking or even knowing about our service. The VBC gives us the opportunity to share and even inspire.”

Bill Boswell, William P. Boswell, LLC US Air Force, 1964-1998

“My years as a JAG in the Air Force sent me all over the US and Europe and exposed me to people and situations I never would have encountered on my own – all starting at a young age with lots of responsibility and expectations to match. It made me a better attorney and, I hope, a better human being and left me with terrific memories of the people I served with. The people you meet are friends forever in a way not like other friendships.”

“I see the Veterans Breakfast Club as providing an import- ant service to history by encouraging all veterans, no matter where or when they served or what they did, to share their stories. The stories we hear at the VBC aren’t necessarily the ones that make it into the history books, but they have their own significance.”

Glenn Flickinger, Founder, The Alternative Board President, Flickinger & Consultants, LLC

“I come from a family of military service, which has instilled in me a passion for histo- ry and for serving the veterans’ community. I’ve worked my way through hundreds—if not thousands—of books about our nation’s various wars and to meet and talk with those who were there on the front lines of history is a thrill for me. Interviewing the remaining World War Two vets has been a tremendous experience for me and an hon- or to keep their stories alive The VBC brings these stories of service to life.”

Sharon George, President, The Sha’nini George Foundation

“My passion for history stems from my great grandmother, a Titanic survivor. Sha’nini George was on the second to last lifeboat to exit the Titanic–the last on the starboard side. If she would not have made it, I would not exist. Just as I honor my great-grandmother in sharing her story, the VBC provides the opportunity to all veterans and their families to share, record and preserve their stories for generations to come.”

Laura Goossen, Director of Product Management, Westinghouse Electric Company, US Military Academy (2001) US Army, 2005-2007 LinkedIn

“Growing up, I had many role models who led by example and showed me how to live a life of service and faith. I’m not sure what gave me the drive to challenge myself in a crazy way by going to West Point, when only 15% of cadets were female. It was such an honor and an amazing opportunity to serve our country at such a young age right after 9/11. My job was collecting intelligence so that we could do what we needed to protect the country.”

“The VBC is all about the people! And I’m proud to serve and maintain such an im- portant platform for our nation’s heroes to tell their stories in a unique way.”

Henry Lamont Gourdine, Managing Director, Victory Strategies, US Naval Academy, 1991-1995, US Navy, 1995-2019 LinkedIn

“As a teenager, I was told by an interviewer that based on going to an all-black high school, I would never get into the Naval Academy. At that moment, I determined that I would focus my efforts to define myself. Over my Navy career in aviation and other command and staff positions, I was surrounded, mentored, and supported by dedicated service members. Since retiring, I’ve focused on military consulting, business development, and leadership collaboration and education. I’m also passionate about community empowerment. My VBC service continues to fuel this passion. The VBC enables those of us who served in uniform to gain understanding and share memories of where we’ve been, where we would like to go, and how we can get there together.”

Mak Kelly, VBC Board Vice President, Property & Casualty Consultant, Henderson Brothers, Inc., United States Naval Academy (2010), US Marine Corps, 2010-2018 LinkedIn

“I was adopted and raised by a single mother in California and, later, a Vietnam Marine Corps veteran father. They instilled grit and a desire to serve. In the Marines, I served as an Aviation Maintenance Officer and Aerial Gunner for heavy lift helicopter squadrons, including an eight-month deployment in Africa. I concluded my career as a Captain with Marine Corps Recruiting Station Pittsburgh. So much of who I am I owe to the Academy and the Marine Corps.”

“When I got out of the military, I began mentoring prospective Midshipmen and transitioning veterans. Then I heard about the VBC and fell in love with the mission after attending several programs. I’m devoted to captur- ing more of our nation’s history through the unique lens of individual perspectives shared through VBC storytelling events.”

John Pippy, CEO of ADACEN, Brig. Gen., Pennsylvania Joint Force, Pennsylvania National Guard, US Military Academy, 1988-1992, US Army, 1992-present LinkedIn

“The Veterans Breakfast Club provides a vital link between the military community and the larger society. With so few serving in the Armed Forces, we need to make sure that all Americans remain connected to and supportive of those who serve and have served. The VBC’s mission is to make sure those connections remain alive and vital.”

Hughes Turner, Philanthropist & Venture Capitalist, Retired, US Department of Veterans Affairs US Army, 1975-2004 LinkedIn

“As a combat Army veteran of OEF and OIF, I transitioned to the civilian world with a commitment to public service and, specifically, serving our veterans. The VBC is one of the non-profit initiatives I support and serve because it provides a platform for our community of Veterans to express themselves and engage others. More importantly, it is a place where everyone’s service is valued and honored.”

Brad Washabaugh, VP of RTI International, Retired US Marine Corps, 1976-2005 LinkedIn

“My service to the Veterans Breakfast Club stems from my many years as a Marine Corps infantry officer from the Vietnam Era through the launch of OEF and OIF. VBC programs bring history to life in a powerful and entertaining way. In so doing, the VBC serves veterans by connecting them to the community and helping them to heal from trauma of war.”