USVCC Board of Directors
Paul Bucha | Chairman | Medal of Honor Recipient
Paul Bucha was born August 1, 1943, to Col. and Mrs. Paul Bucha. As a child he lived abroad in both Germany and Japan. He graduated from High School in Ladue, Missouri, a suburb of St Louis, and immediately entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. Paul Bucha received his BS in 1965 graduating academically in the top 2% of his West Point Class; number two in Military Order of Merit and a two time All American and Captain of the Swim Team.
Immediately upon graduation from West Point, he attended the Stanford University Graduate School of Business receiving his MBA in 1967 and completing his Airborne and Ranger training between academic years. After Stanford, Paul Bucha reported for duty with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky to prepare for deployment to Vietnam as part of Operation Eagle Thrust in November 1967. While a company commander in Vietnam, Paul Bucha received among other decorations, the Bronze Star with V and Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart and Medal of Honor. Upon his return to the United States, he reported for assignment as Assistant Professor of Managerial Economics at West Point. He resigned his Army commission in 1972.
Paul Bucha joined du Pont Glore Forgan as a special assistant to H. Ross Perot in 1972 and later moved to the Perot owned Electronic Data Systems Corporation (EDS) as Senior Vice President of International Operations. In 1973, Paul Bucha established the new EDS headquarters in Teheran, Iran, and remained in the Middle East until 1978 having expanded the operations throughout the Middle East and Europe. In 1978, he moved his headquarters to Paris, France, where he remained after leaving EDS to form his own international consulting company. Returning to the United States in 1980, Paul Bucha expanded his company to include real estate development building the environmentally acclaimed development Port Liberte, on New York Harbor.
As a member of the Board of Directors of WHX Corporation, he was asked to assume the title of Chairman of Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Corporation in 1996 to preside over the reorganization of the company. Completing his assignment in 1999 with Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel, Paul Bucha returned to real estate in 2003 establishing Terra Mark LLC in joint venture with Fisher Brothers of New York City and later, in 2005, his own firm, Terra Mark II, LLC which specializes in residential and mixed use development in environmentally sensitive locations. In addition to real estate, Paul Bucha served as CEO of Delta Frangible Ammunition, the worlds leading developer of lead free ammunition for military and law enforcement.
In addition to his corporate activities, Paul Bucha has been a frequent lecturer to military leaders of all branches on honor and leadership. Appointed Civilian Aide to Secretary of the Army, Paul Bucha worked with Accessions Command supporting the challenge of Army recruiting in a time of war. In addition, Paul Bucha has been active as a member of the Board and an officer of The Fisher House Foundation and Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund which support military families and wounded warriors. Paul Bucha has also been active supporting the activities of US Army National Guard and Reserve forces giving motivational and leadership presentations across the country. A frequent lecturer at all four national military academies, Paul Bucha has developed a close working relationship with the graduates of those academies including those in current leadership positions of the military. Paul Bucha is a Past President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society of the United States of America.
Besides his military honors, Paul Bucha is a Gold Medallion inductee of the International Swimming Hall of Fame; recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; an inductee of the US Army Ranger Hall of Fame. Paul Bucha has four children and three grandchildren and is married to the former Cynthia Carter Bell of Cornwall, New York. Together they reside in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Jason AraghiCEO, Elevate Gourmet Brands
Jason Araghi is the co-founder of Green Beans Coffee. He was inspired to start Green Beans Coffee while he was working in Saudi Arabia. He opened an American-style coffee café in Riyadh in 1997 and the café was frequented by US military in the area, prompting him to open the first Green Beans Café at a nearby military base offering espresso drinks, pastries and smoothies. He has been supporting deployed troops ever since, and regularly visit their foreign outposts, going where the soldiers go and the enterprise has grown to include cafes at American military bases around the world.
In 2007, the company was awarded the Ernst & Young Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and lauded for their “corporate social responsibility”. Green Beans Coffee donates a percentage of every sale to organizations that support our troops, Gold Star families and children, including The Snowball Express, which helps the children of soldiers who have died in active duty since 9/11.
San Rafael, CA
Chris DolemanNFL Hall of Fame Inductee
Chris Doleman was drafted as a linebacker out of the University of Pittsburgh by the Minnesota Vikings as the fourth player overall in the 1985 NFL Draft. He was moved to a starting defensive end position for the final three games of his second season before assuming the full-time role as starter at the spot in his third year. It was then that he unleashed his great pass rushing ability when he responded with a team-high 11 sacks in 1987. It marked the first of six sack titles with the Vikings. For his efforts he was named All-Pro, All-NFC and voted to his first Pro Bowl.
His finest season came two years later in 1989 when he led the NFL with 21 sacks, just one shy of the single-season record at the time. In 1992, he was named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Year after he led the Vikings with 14.5 sacks, had 64 tackles, returned an interception for a touchdown, forced six fumbles, recovered three fumbles, and had a safety.
After nine seasons with Minnesota, Doleman was dealt to the Atlanta Falcons in 1994. He spent two seasons with Atlanta before signing with the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent in 1996. He played three seasons in San Francisco before returning for one final year with the Vikings in 1999.
He retired as the fourth-ranked sack leader of all-time with 150.5 sacks and was tied for third in the NFL Record Book with eight seasons in which he recorded 10 or more sacks. Aside from leading the Vikings in sacks six times, Doleman was also the Falcons' leading sacker in 1995 and led the 49ers with 15 sacks in 1998. He also intercepted eight passes, two of which he returned for touchdowns; recorded two safeties; and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery during his career.
Doleman was extremely durable as evidenced by him missing a mere two games due to injury during his 15-season, 232-game NFL career. In all, he was named to eight Pro Bowls, six with the Vikings and once each as a member of the Falcons and the 49ers. He was named first-team All-Pro in 1987, 1989, and 1992 and first-team All-NFC four times. Doleman is a member of the NFL's All- Decade Team of the 1990s.
Bruce FerrisPresident, Prudential Annuity Distributors (ret.)
Bruce Ferris is a proven business leader with strong financial acumen developing profitable, sustainable, organic growth in the retail asset management business. He is recognized as a leader of complex organizations who delivers results and generates value for stakeholders. Bruce has a demonstrated ability to develop sales and distribution relationships, and long term successful strategic partnerships evidenced by sustainability and resiliency through full market cycles. Additionally, he is an innovator of customized product design and delivery, architecting industry leading distribution franchises. Bruce is also a respected industry spokesperson, providing retirement thought leadership and guidance through numerous industry challenges.
Currently, Bruce is an Independent Trustee at Guardian Variable Products Trust. He is also an advisor to RightCapital. Bruce has served as a member of the Prudential Insurance Fund Board, and as a member of the Annuity Investment Committee, Senior Annuity Financial Risk Committee, and Business Risk Committee. Bruce has also served on the Insured Retirement Institute as Chairman of the Board, 2015; Executive Committee, 2013; Board of Directors, 2012; and as a member since 1989. Bruce was also a member of the Board of Directors for Hartford HLIKK-Japan, 2003 - 2005.
Bruce was formerly President and CEO at Prudential Annuities Distributors, Inc., Shelton CT., a wholesale broker-dealer responsible for distribution of Prudential Annuities product line. There, he led planning and execution for sales, product, marketing, strategic relationship management and the center for professional excellence for a four channel model - independent broker-dealer, wirehouse, financial institution and agency distribution. Bruce directed product, operational, sales and service delivery, regulatory, legal and compliance oversight for the Broker Dealer.
Bruce received his Bachelor of Science Degree at Stonehill College, North Easton, MA. He holds numerous professional designations and affiliations, including FINRA Series 26 Registered Principal, Series 6 and 63. He currently serves as a Faculty Member, EBV, Veterans Outreach at the University of Connecticut Business School. Additionally, Bruce has served as Member Representative, Forum For Investor Advice; Leadership Council Member, Bank Insurance and Securities Association; and Past Board Member, Simsbury Chamber of Commerce.
West Palm Beach, FL
Kim HarwellPresident & CEO, National Bid Network
Kim Harwell is a consummate entrepreneur. He maintains more than thirty years of business and technological expertise in the government, telecommunications, and marketing fields. Kim has founded and led organizations that have generated an aggregate of several billions of dollars in revenue. Kim regularly writes articles for United States Cyber Security Magazine, and has written articles for numerous other publications. Also, Kim has written numerous E-Books on government contracting and is in the process of writing his new book, “The Blueprint to Government Contracting”. Kim Harwell is a highly sought after speaker, trainer, sales coach and expert in the areas of sales, business, government relations, and technological advances.
Kim is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of National Bid Network (NBN) and its subsidiary GovPurchase. NBN’s mission is to provide user friendly research tools, business training, consulting services, and B2B business development tools for commercial businesses, government contractors, and government officials, in a profitable manner, at an affordable price. The results will be to save billions of tax dollars for the American people, provide more opportunity for small business, which in turn, will create more jobs, and boost the US economy. One of the primary ways we achieve this is by owning and providing the most comprehensive government contracting online data tool. GovPurchase is the largest databases on government contracting (www.govpurchase.com).
In 2014, National Bid Network was nominated for the Maryland Business of the Year, by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the Maryland Office of Military Affairs. Also in 2014, GovPurchase was a finalist for DC business of the year and Kim was a finalist for DC Businessman of the Year as nominated by the DC Chamber of Commerce.
Kim has one son, Kim, a graduate of Northwestern University and Detroit Country Day. Kim was also a four-year starting wide receiver at Northwestern, and had some professional football experience.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Scott HigginsLieutenant U.S. Army (ret.)
CEO, Veterans Advantage
Scott Higgins is the founder and CEO of Veterans Advantage, the nation’s leading advocate for greater respect, recognition and rewards for all who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Founded in 2000, Veterans Advantage and its coalition of partner companies create new service-related benefits for current and former military members and their families. Mr. Higgins served as an officer in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Appointed by the Mayor of the City of New York, he co-chaired the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission.
For eighteen years, Mr. Higgins was a partner and director of Ark Asset Management, formerly Lehman Management Company, the investment management subsidiary of Lehman Brothers. Prior to Ark, he was a Senior Vice President of A.G. Becker, serving as a senior financial consultant to some of the country’s largest banks, insurance companies and investment counselling firms.
Mr. Higgins also served as a trustee and co-chair of the New York Shakespeare Festival and The Public Theatre. He currently serves on the Board of the Mako Funds, European hedge funds and is a Trustee Emeritus of Gettysburg College. Mr. Higgins is a distinguished graduate of Gettysburg College, an NCAA All-American wrestler and a member of the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He received his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Kathy HomeyerSupplier Diversity, UPS (ret.)
Kathryn “Kathy” Homeyer retired from UPS in June 2015. Since, her retirement she has been involved with mentoring MWBE company in Atlanta, Georgia. Kathy is also a member of the “Encore Leadership Group” for WBENC.
Homeyer was appointed to the UPS Corporate Supplier Diversity team in August 2002. As director, she worked with UPS managers nationwide to implement initiatives that identify potential suppliers and provide them with critical information and access to UPS’s purchasing process. She was responsible for the establishment of new, and the development of existing, UPS relationships with veterans, small, women, and minority business organizations.
Homeyer began her UPS career in accounting in 1980 in Missouri. During her nearly 35-year career, she held a number of increasingly responsible positions, including district controller in Colorado, California and Texas. In that capacity, she managed purchasing, supplier relations and technical support, as well as other aspects of finance.
As a member of UPS’s Supplier Diversity team, Homeyer has collected numerous accolades for her outstanding leadership. WBENC honored her with the William J. Alcorn Leadership Award in 2014 (Which is the highest honor given to an individual at WBENC). Kathy received awards like the President’s award and Advocate of the Year award from the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC). She has also been honored by different magazines such as MBN USA, WE (Women’s Enterprise) USA, and DiversityBusiness.com . Homeyer has been recognized for making a difference in supplier diversity and received other awards like, “Best of the Decade”, Top 30 in Supplier Diversity and Champions of Diversity to name a few. She was also enlisted in the Continental Who’s Who registry for her involvement, leadership and passion. In the first quarter of 2014, WE USA also listed her among the Top 100 Leaders in Corporate Supplier Diversity, and DiversityPlus magazine named her one of the Top 25 Women in Power Impacting Diversity.
In addition to her corporate responsibilities, Homeyer served as Treasurer and board member for the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and Women’s Business Council, Southwest. She was also an advisory board member for Enterprising Women magazine, and has served as a board member for the Georgia Women’s Business Council (GWBC).
Prior to working for UPS, Homeyer was a manager and buyer in the retail clothing industry. A native of Washington, Missouri, she received her BS degree in Business Administration:Finance from Regis University in Denver.
Homeyer resides in Naples, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and daughter.
Wayne PetroCMSgt, U.S. Air Force (ret.)
Director, GEICO Military Team
Wayne Petro is currently employed with GEICO as Director of Sales for their agency program. He officially retired on 1 October 1998 after serving the Air Force for just over 24 years.
Prior to retiring, Chief Petro served as the Command Chief Master Sergeant for the11th Wing at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C. He had MAJCOM responsibility for providing the commander with advice on an active duty force of 4,354 in the National Capital Region and over 28,000 active duty personnel throughout the Air Force in a Field Operating Agency capacity, with emphasis on health, welfare and morale.
Chief Petro enlisted in the Air Force September 5, 1974 and completed Basic Military Training and the Security Police Technical School while stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. His first duty assignment was Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Here he performed duties as a gate guard, patrolman and desk sergeant. During this assignment, he was singled out for recognition for composure under pressure when he served as desk sergeant during a tragic fire that killed the base commander, fire chief and assistant fire chief. His efforts during a crucial 16-hour period averted further loss of life and identified him as a natural leader and a person to be relied on in a crisis.
In June 1978, Chief Petro was assigned to Hellenikon Air Base, Greece as a desk sergeant and later a flight chief. While assigned to Hellenikon, he volunteered to guard VIP aircraft carrying State Department negotiators who were seeking the release of American hostages held by Iran. He also volunteered his time and home in support of repatriating American families from Iran enroute back to the United States. He was then assigned to England AFB, Louisiana where he served as the NCOIC of Resource Protection. Based upon his proven capability in handling crisis situations, Chief Petro was handpicked for a then classified deployment to the Caribbean in support of the invasion of Grenada.
In November 1985, Chief Petro was assigned to Rimini, Italy where he was the only Law Enforcement support for the site. After serving two years there, he applied for retraining into the First Sergeant Career field and was subsequently assigned to Andrews AFB, Maryland in January 1987. He served as the First Sergeant for a test program called the Mission Support Sq and also as the First Sergeant for the Security Police Sq whose motto aptly describes their task: “Guardians of the President and Peace.”
In January 1990, he was assigned to Pirinclik Air Station, Turkey where he was responsible for all enlisted issues at this GSU. He led a base-wide dormitory project, moving over 120 military members from numerous aged buildings to a new facility and realigned over 120 civilian billets. The base commander singled him out for his base preparation efforts, which directly influenced the success of visits by the Secretary of the Air Force, House Armed Services Committee members and several senior commanders. Chief Petro also had assignments at Bolling AFB with HQ AFOSI and the Pentagon with the Pentagon Communications Agency as a First Sergeant. He proudly wore the First Sergeant diamonds for over 10 years!
Chief Master Sergeant Petro was born in Neptune, New Jersey on June 13, 1956. He and his wife Anna, also of Neptune, New Jersey, have been married for over 40 years and have two boys, Wayne Jr. and Vinny and also a grandson, Ethan and granddaughter Isabella.
Virginia Beach, VA
Dr. Linda SchwartzNurse, U.S. Air Force (ret.)
VA Assistant Secretary for Policy & Planning (ret.)
Dr. Linda Spoonster Schwartz, MSN, RN, DrPH, FAAN, retired from the US Air Force after 16 years of service, both active duty and reserves, during the Viet Nam Era. She retired with the rank of Colonel, after sustaining injuries in a USAF Air Craft accident. From 1979 to 1980, she was a caseworker in the Office of the Field Director of the American Red Cross at Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany. From 1980 to 1993, she taught at several University and College Schools of Nursing and held leadership roles in nursing organizations in Connecticut. After years of veteran advocacy, she was appointed Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs in 2003 and was known for her strong advocacy for homeless veterans, veteran suicide prevention and women veteran issues. She also served as the President of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs. She concurrently served as an Associate Clinical Professor of Nursing at the Yale School of Nursing and was appointed Associate Research Scientist and Scholar. In 2014, she was confirmed as Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning. In this role she oversaw the Office of Policy and Planning’s mission to serve as VA’s principal advisor on all matters of policy and organizational strategy; providing VA decision makers with the advice, counsel and support necessary to fulfill the VA mission. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in nursing from the University of Maryland School Of Nursing; a Master’s of Science degree from Yale University School of Nursing; and a Dr. Public Health from the Yale University School of Medicine. She has been inducted into the OH and CT Veterans Hall of Fames.
Captain Travis SchweizerUS Navy (ret.)
Captain (ret) Travis Schweizer is a native of Mountain View, California. He was commissioned into the U.S. Navy in 1990. Over the course of a 25-year Navy career, Schweizer served at numerous SEAL Teams on both the west and east coast. He was the Commanding Officer of SEAL Team FOUR and the Commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group THREE; a 650-member major command that focused on clandestine operations globally.
His operational highlights include spending over two years in Iraq and over one year in Afghanistan conducting hundreds of combat operations in various leadership positions. Additionally, from 2012-2014, he was the senior SEAL on the Navy staff at the Pentagon, wherein he was able to plan and influence current operations and assist in the shaping of the Special Operations community for years to come.
Schweizer holds a master’s degree in Information Systems and Operations from the Naval Post-Graduate School (NPS) in Monterey, CA and a master’s degree in National Security & Strategy from the Naval War College in Newport, RI. His decorations include two Legions of Merit, four Bronze Stars (one with combat Valor device), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, as well as various deployment, unit, and campaign medals.
In the fall of 2016, he retired from the Navy and moved to Connecticut. He now fuels his passion for giving back to the military community as a member of the USVCC team.
His wife and two children are the loves of his life. Together they are enjoying all that Connecticut and the northeast have to offer.
Rick Weidman1-A-O Army Medical Corpsman (ret.)
Executive Director of Policy & Government Affairs, VVA
Rick Weidman continues to be one of the most respected veteran advocates on Capitol Hill. As a co-founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America, and its primary spokesperson in Washington, D.C., Mr. Weidman has long advocated for a host of issues for veterans across the board to include Agent Orange, access to quality mental health care, and employment and small business issues. His efforts have resulted in significant positive results for veterans over numerous decades. Weidman served as a 1-A-O Army Medical Corpsman during the Vietnam War, including service with Company C, 23rd Med, AMERICAL Division, located in I Corps of Vietnam in 1969.
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