Respect for other people should exist and be earned on an individual level, but that doesn’t mean differences of opinion and perspective based on things like appearance and gender don’t continue to present challenges.
In this Veteran Voices cross-over episode, we introduce you to the new Veteran Voices host Mary Kate Soliva as she welcomes Mary Bell, the Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for Team Themis and a Veteran of the United States Navy who joined at age 17. She spent her years in the Navy as a linguist, serving most of her time in Iraq but also being stationed in Africa and Afghanistan
In this episode the two “MKs” talk about Mary Bell’s 10 years of active duty and 13 years in the reserves:
Welcome to veteran voices. A podcast is dedicated to giving a voice to those that have served in the United States, armed forces on this series, jointly presented by supply chain now, and vets to industry. We sit down with a wide variety of veterans and veteran advocates to gain their insight perspective and stories from serving. We talked with many individuals about their challenging transition from active duty to the private sector, and we discuss some of the most vital issues facing veterans today. Join us for this episode of veteran voices.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:43):
Good morning, Mary Kay Soliva with you with veteran voices. Thanks for joining us today. As we’ve got wonderful conversation teed up with a veteran and an advocate, sat tuned for a great discussion conversation. Uh, we’re doing a quick programming note before we get started. This program is part of supply chain. Now family of programming is conducted in partnership with our friends at one of my personal favorites. Vets to industry learn more about this powerful nonprofit that is serving so many email@example.com and initiative near and dear to my heart, the Guam human rights initiative, find them on LinkedIn and the university of Guam under the regional center for public policy. Okay. I seriously have, I can’t wait any longer because this guest she’s my first guest, but also my very, very, very special friend. And this guest, she not only is the chief operating officer for team FEMA is also the co-founder and she is also a veteran of the United States Navy.
Mary Kate Soliva (01:49):
So without further ado, let’s welcome my very own favorite Mary Bell. ORAS I like to call her MK we’re double MKS today. Welcome. Welcome.
Mary Bell (01:59):
Thank you. Good morning, MK.
Mary Kate Soliva (02:01):
Good morning. I know. Was it, you said that it was like to talking to yourself earlier today. You let you saw a note. Yes. I thought I had texted myself and had I’m so busy. I thought for sure it had happened. I’d ripped myself a note, but it would know it was the other MK. It was you. So it was a nice surprise to start my day to remind me about our interview. I know I to think like looking down, like, I obviously want my first interview with myself. No, I’m just kidding. I was like, we’re gonna two MKS in the house. I’m just really excited everybody because I never ever meet another Mary Kay. And so like to meet another MK is just, you know, you, you just gotta take it for what it is when it happens.
Mary Kate Soliva (02:37):
So I really wanted to take this opportunity to introduce all of you to MK and get to know her a little bit better. So we’d like, I’d like to start know with a little bit of motivation, you know, since we’re both veterans here, I just, it took me back to thinking about basic training, getting that early motivation. I remember one time my drill instructor had me yell at somebody’s socks to get their socks for the morning. So even though this morning, my time late afternoon, MK, Tom, I wanted to start this out with a favorite quote by MK. So MK, can you start us off with a favorite motivational quote?
Mary Bell (03:12):
So one of my favorite motivational quotes is from the American revolutionary Thomas Payne. And if you’re not familiar were Thomas Payne. Um, he was recruited by American revolutionaries to come over from England. He was an Englishman and, um, he wrote common sense, which is one of the, um, the foregrounds for the American revolution. And he’s just an amazing human being. And one of my favorite quotes from him is that a real man, smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress and grows brave by reflection because it highlights all the things that we should do during the day. Even when our day is complete crap and things are going wrong, we smile through the pain. We gather our strength, cuz God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. And then afterwards we reflect on what we could have done better.
Mary Kate Soliva (03:52):
Oh my goodness. I love that. Now I feel amped. Do y’all feel pumped up? Cause I definitely do. I was like what, which aspect of that? The, the, the strength part is this, is this pre or post coffee for you? Are you a coffee drinker? MK.
Mary Bell (04:06):
Oh Lord. It’s three 30 in the afternoon where I am in Iman Jordan. I think I’m on cup of coffee number five. So yes, this is post decaffeinated, which everybody who knows me knows that’s dangerous, but yes, I’m highly motivated and awake right now.
Mary Kate Soliva (04:18):
I think it’s when they say that actually runs on coffee. So this is actually, that’s probably average five cup in a day. Um, but I really wanted to, to take this way back. Not way back, cuz you’re still, still, uh, the amazing MK that I know, but where did you grow up? I’m really excited to hear about your upbringing.
Mary Bell (04:40):
Oh wow. Yeah. We’ve never talked about this. Um, I am mil, I’m a military slash federal service brat. So I was kind of from all over, um, for the very beginnings of my life. I was born Indiana, so I’m a Hoosier, but I was raised for the most part in upstate New York, about an hour north of New York city. So I lived with my grandparents, um, after my parents divorced and uh, I was raised by them and they are two were two wonderful people, uh, that raised me. And that’s where I spent a majority of my life until I joined the Navy at 17
Mary Kate Soliva (05:06):
At 17. Wow. And how many my
Mary Bell (05:09):
Parents had to sign the paperwork that said, we agree to let her go. And they only did, like I said, if you don’t, I’m just gonna wait until I turn 18 and go anyway. So you might as well sign the paper.
Mary Kate Soliva (05:19):
That’s amazing. I, I see with this time of year, I, I don’t know about being in, in New York right now. Um, you know, having grown up in new England, my up in Maine, I was just, uh, I was ready to move south.
Mary Bell (05:32):
It is nice being in Mon Jordan because New York right now is still abominably cold. Um, and here in Jordan, it’s sunny and like 65 degrees outside.
Mary Kate Soliva (05:41):
Okay. I’m on the next,
Mary Bell (05:44):
Mary Kate Soliva (05:44):
Over to you. I wanna say. Um, what are some anecdotes or two, uh, from your upbringing?
Mary Bell (05:52):
So I mentioned, I was raised by my, mostly by my grandparents. My mom was a single mom and so she was there, but she was working two jobs gone all the time. And so my primary influences growing up were my two grandparents. Uh, my grandfather was a retiree from IBM. So he was with IBM from its very beginnings. And my grandmother was a retired maternity ward nurse at Vaser hospital. So two very accomplished, uh, persons. And I’d say the biggest thing I can remember as a general anecdote from my childhood is no matter who somebody was, whether they were mowing the grass or pumping gas or you know, a big up person in the mirror of the town. My, my grandparents treated everybody exactly the same. Um, the same level of respect, the same level of deference. Um, they didn’t care what they did. And I, I remember cuz you, you see things around certain people and people were act differently because in my opinion, aren’t raised right to people who are in what they would view as a lesser job.
Mary Bell (06:41):
And I wasn’t taught to, to do that. And if, if I ever had a question about it, I always got a response that was something very similar to doesn’t matter what somebody does, they deserve your respect until they prove they haven’t earned it. And so that’s how I treat everybody in my life. And um, that’s and the only anecdote I can think that like revolves around that is one time my brother and I were doing something we weren’t supposed to be doing in the back of a car. We were like making inappropriate hand gestures out the back window of our car. And we lived in a very small town. And um, the woman behind us got out at one of the few stoplights in our town and walked to the driver’s side of my grandfather’s car and told him what we were doing. And my grand grandpa, who is this kind respectful, loving person. I’ve never seen him so angry his entire life. And they took us home and it was very like reminiscent of your parents are so angry. They can’t find words. And they were just so floored that we would be so disrespectful to someone we didn’t know, like first time my life, I remember feeling like genuinely disappointed that I had hurt my grandparents. Um, but yeah, that, that lesson carried on that you respected anybody regardless and using inappropriate hand gestures while driving not a good go, not a good choice.
Mary Kate Soliva (07:46):
Oh, I love that about you, your anecdotes, especially from your, your grandparents, cuz I fortunately had, uh, I was able to grow up with both sets of mine or say all of mine. So really, and, and great grandmothers actually. So I got the really, um, wise, wise words or, you know, the wooden spoon came out. That was still a thing. And I
Mary Bell (08:08):
Don’t, I don’t know, know this, but my great-grandmother was from main, my family’s from Maine. So my, my grandfather grew up in Maine and my great-grandmother was an immigrant from Nova Scotia to Maine. And so I spent all my son in Maine and my great grandma with a wooden spoon was either for Macon cookies or whoop net. So like it was gonna be one of the two
Mary Kate Soliva (08:26):
I know like as long as the pancakes stay in the cast, iron frying pan were okay.
Mary Kate Soliva (08:33):
Gosh, what, I, I really love that, cuz that was something that I remember even from my aunt, um, she, she, um, works at at university and I remember just, she was vacuuming her office and like wrapping up her trash and I’m like, what are you doing? Don’t you have, um, aren’t there custodians here that will do that. And, and she’s like, you’re never beneath cleaning up after yourself. And I just remember like thinking of that, like, you know, fresh college kid and thinking like, what is she doing cuz she’s, you know, in her heels and her business outfit, I’m like, what are you doing? Um, but it was just a, you know, a real wake up call then to just, yeah, you just treat everybody with that kind of respect and dignity. Like we all end up having an important heart. So I really, I really love that. And especially, you know, coming in the milit, coming from the military where, what they like force us all to together, get along, even though we’ve got people from all across the country, some folks are from around the world and you’re just a melting pot together. So I wanna take this opportunity to talk about your time in of, you know, we got army veteran here, Navy veteran here. So, um, let’s talk about, um, you know, of course the branch that you served in and what did you do, where did you go?
Mary Bell (09:48):
So I served in the Navy, as you said. Um, my rate was we used words in the Navy. We’re the weird ones that don’t have numbers. And I was a cryptologic technician and interpretive was a really long winded way to say I was a linguist. Um, but they put that crypto logic part on the front because our jobs while we’re in are force protection, um, using technology to protect our forces forward. Um, so I spent my 20 years in doing exactly that I spent most of my time in Iraq. Um, a little bit of my time in Africa and then a little bit in Afghanistan, but most of the time I spent Iraq, I spent with group two in the Navy seals and some time with Navy seal development group and my primary job, um, for them while doing some interpretation, um, for detainees and other things like that, um, uh, field medical clinics, uh, interpreting for the people who were, um, unfortunately affected by the Warren in Iraq.
Mary Bell (10:35):
But most of it was providing real time force protection for our forces on the ground, um, which was an amazing opportunity. It gave me an a chance to really see what it means and looks like to keep, um, the people who work for a military safe and to really understand the value behind that. Um, I think most people take for granted that they think the military goes forward and there’s like this team of people behind 18 monitors that keeps a team of 15 safe. That’s not how it works. Usually one person behind the computer with a radio and they’re praying to God that, you know, their plan works and everybody comes home safely. So you get a really good appreciation for just how difficult it is and just how worthwhile it is because at the end of the day, you get to sign that form that said a hundred percent, you know, service, accountability, no casualties.
Mary Bell (11:12):
So that’s what I did during my time in the military. I only spent 10 years active duty. I spent my remaining through 13 in the reserves and that’s when I spent most of my time in Afghanistan. And, um, I wasn’t using my language skills so much because I’m an Arabic linguist and they speak Darri, uh, fare and Pushtu in Afghanistan, but I was able to use the technical skills that I was very blessed to receive in the military in Afghanistan to help keep our forces safe in the same capacity, um, working for us contractor. So that’s my career in a nutshell, and now I’m happily retired and I’m on Jordan with my husband.
Mary Kate Soliva (11:43):
And that’s fantastic. And, and even though that you, you say that you only did 10 years and even with the, the rest of the time reserves, you’re generally still serving now. And, and you have you come from a military family, a, a service of, of even your own husband, you say, talk a little bit about your, your family service.
Mary Bell (12:01):
Absolutely. So my grandfather, uh, was the first, he was in the army air Corps during world war II. Um, he, he served primarily in the Philippines and, uh, got out after four years of service. He was our first military veteran and then came my dad. My dad was in the Navy as well. He served, uh, a little bit of stint in Vietnam before he came home as well. And, um, that’s it from my direct side. And then, uh, being married, I am married to retired us Navy seal from development group and, uh, proud to say our son just graduated buds. And he is now half assigned at team 10 at Virginia Beach. So we are a full military family.
Mary Kate Soliva (12:37):
I love that. I love that so much. And, and every it’s like they, he stuck Navy too. I’m sure your, your husband was saying you were of incredible influence, uh, in his decision to go that route. And, uh, so it was such a long career and meeting for people from all over world. I mean, some people end up their whole military career and they don’t actually leave the United States. So the fact that you’ve been out outside of the country and around the world’s pretty incredible, but are there a couple, one or two people that really stick out to you as major influences, uh, in your military career? I’m sure it’s gonna be difficult to choose just a couple, but who sticks out to you?
Mary Bell (13:14):
I would, I would love to say it’s hard, but it’s not there. There’s only there’s oh,
Mary Bell (13:18):
Very small handful who really made an impression on me. Um, I have a very high standard for someone I look up to and I, I take the word of mentor very seriously. And so, because I had such wonderful examples of humanity and people growing up and my grandparents, the bar was set pretty high. Um, so, but I, I do have that handful of wonderful people that I can look back on and I still talk to most of them today. Some of them are like family, um, because they’re just such wonderful influences. Uh, but the two I can think of that stand out the most. Uh, one is a retired, um, gunny from the Marine Corps. His name is Louis Monson and he has known me since I was 18 years old at the defense language to learning Arabic. And then we deployed to Iraq together several years later.
Mary Bell (13:59):
And he came into my deployment time at a, a really critical time. I was a deployed mother for the first time. My daughter was four months old and I was on my first deployment to Iraq. I was not happy that I was away from my child, but I was very committed to serving my country. And within 48 hours of being in country, my daughter came down with a hundred, four degree fever. They couldn’t get a hold of her dad and they’re reaching me in a rock to try to like figure out what to do with my daughter. And I about lost my cool in the worst way possible. You can in a military deployment and Louis was able to calm me down, reenter me and help me understand what a military chain of command and what a military like teamwork, not just your chain of command, what a real chain of command does.
Mary Bell (14:38):
They support their sailor. They support their Marines. They support their soldiers and make sure they get what they need. And within two hours, my daughter was picked up by somebody from the command. They made sure she was okay, gave me peace of mind. And they coordinated that from 5,000 miles away. And it was all through, you know, Louie calming me down, gunny calming me down and letting me know that we were gonna take care of it. So he set the example in the bar for me, for what I wanted to be when I became a senior leader. Cause I was only an E five at the time. So he let me know like, this is what you do. When someone has a problem, you don’t panic, you don’t freak out. You maintain your calm, you execute, execute the, the operating procedure, follow the chain of command and you get things done.
Mary Bell (15:16):
Um, so in the military, he was a shiny example of how to do that with kindness, um, and with a smile on his face. And he really meant it. He wasn’t doing it because he was in charge of me. He was doing it because he cared and because he was in charge of me. So he’s probably my first. And um, my second is a salt yield master chief, um, whose, uh, name is de Luki female master chief. Um, she was one of the first female CTS to be assigned to a boat, which was unheard of, um, in the early nineties. Um, so she, she blazed the trail for females being Hayes, gray and underway as a CT, which is a really big deal. And she was probably the firmest. No BS, give it to you straight. If you mess something up, she’s gonna light you up like the 4th of July because you earned it.
Mary Bell (15:57):
And then she’s gonna tell you how to fix yourself after and help you grow into a leader that people can be proud to come to. So she set the bar for me for as far as like what it meant to not let the gender of, you know, I’m not a female chief, I’m not a female senior chief. I’m just a senior chief. And my job is to be senior chief to my sailors. It doesn’t matter that I’m a girl. It matters that I’m their leader. And she really helped define that for me. Um, and just knowing what she’d been through. And she did the whole thing with her hair held high and with these bouncy blonde, Shirley temple curls, like, and she just commanded respect in her room. And you’re like, how do you do that with like curly blonde hair? And she did. Um, so she was just a, an amazing example for me. And I, I think about her every time I have to deal with a really difficult situation, even now in the civilian world. And I have somebody who’s really upset and, and just not able to keep their calm, um, giving it to them a firm and fair answer that lets them know, you know, like, Hey, we’re here to support you, but you still have to do a job. Um, the knife hand, she was great for that. So I really love her. Yeah. And she was in the
Mary Kate Soliva (16:53):
That’s absolutely incredible. And I’m trying to imagine a smiling gutty. I, I don’t know how often I’ve seen that, but that’s, that’s pretty amazing. The fact you said
Mary Bell (17:03):
He’s from Alaska. I remember you just said you got back from Alaska six Alaskan. Who’s scary. Unless he smile.
Mary Kate Soliva (17:13):
Yeah. Actually everybody up there was so nice and, and uh, we ended up, um, watching the, the dog sledge race. So with the, I did rod, so it was really, really incredible, but that’s so cool. And then even with the, the fact that you said the, the bouncing blonde curls, now I’m imagining Shirley temple tapping, but the fact that she was able to command a room is, is absolutely incredible. Cause I, I think recently I had that conversation with some friends of mine about that about sometimes the women are tougher on other women when it comes to being in the military and I’m sure that’s in other workplaces as well, but being able to have that, um, role model at such an early stage in your career, I think is, is amazing.
Mary Bell (17:55):
One of, one of the things that was great about her too, was that it, it didn’t matter if you were a male or a female sailor, she gave you both guns the same way, which I know sometimes we see in our workforce, females are harder on other females and they are on their male counterpart because there’s this unannounced. Like you gotta be better. And I, I don’t describe that at all. You should treat everybody the same way regardless of what gender they are and, and base it off their skills and ability. And, you know, she was somebody who did that to a T and didn’t didn’t differentiate, differentiate, or make some kind of difference in how she treated people because they were a boy or a girl.
Mary Kate Soliva (18:29):
And, and did you see, did you see that you ended up, um, taking that to heart throughout your career? Was there a moment you, you can think on where that really came into play?
Mary Bell (18:39):
Hmm. So I primarily deploy with men. Um, there’s very rarely a female on deployment with me. And if anything, I deal with the opposite with, uh, I, I had deal with male sailors who didn’t feel like they needed to respect the authority of a female leader. Um, which is always interesting because I, you can tell like how we’re talking now. I always have a big smile on my face. I’m kind to everybody I meet until you mistake my kindness for weakness, and then you’re gonna have a bad day. Here we
Mary Kate Soliva (19:04):
Go. Here we go.
Mary Bell (19:07):
So I definitely had some times, uh, in my career where I was treat, treating somebody the same way I would treat anybody else, but they were treating me differently because I was a female. Um, and I had fortunately had to flip that switch where I was no longer Mary Bell. I was senior chief bell because I wasn’t about to have somebody think or act in a way that was contrary to military order and discipline because they thought because I was a female that changed the rules. So any of the specific examples I have are, are pretty boisterous and usually end with somebody yelling when they leave the room. Like I I’m, I was pretty sure twice during my interactions, I was gonna be sent home, um, for standing up for what was right. But thankfully I never was. Um, but yeah, I, I could just say in broad strokes, it usually was somebody underestimating me, not based on my rank position or my abilities, but because as they, they, they first saw me as a female before anything else.
Mary Bell (19:54):
Um, and I, I think there is, there is a little bit of truth to, you have to prove yourself as a female in the military world. Um, that is, that is, uh, I think an unfortunate reality in some aspects, the military’s getting much better about it. Um, but I’d be lying to say in my 20 plus year that didn’t experience some of that. But at no point when I did, was I not able to stand up up for myself and have the outcome be the right outcome? I never had to back down or like go tell somebody I couldn’t voice my opinions freely. And, and, and, and openly I used my chain of command. And when I used my chain of command, things went the way they were supposed to. I know that everybody can say that, but in my experience, that’s, that’s what I was had encountered. And I had positive outcomes after each one.
Mary Kate Soliva (20:32):
That’s fantastic. I, I mean, and you talk about, uh, we were talking just before we started recording about, about justice and like the, you know, and about your organization that you’re part of now. And I, I think that just in it’s, it’s so clear now about why you’re doing the work that you’re doing. I mean, you have like these great role models, even starting as early as your grandparents influence about treating everybody with respect and dignity. And if you see it not happening, the knife hands coming out and MK is slipping the switch and you really, really a keep for that justice for other people. But I wanna turn it around a little bit on, on just sort of the, your transition from the Navy into, um, and to being a civilian and just what that, what that looked like. Um, I am sure those role models stayed with you throughout that time as well. But do you have, um, if you were, are talking to, I’d say a room of, of active duty service members about the transition, uh, what are some, some points that you’d like to highlight about yours?
Mary Bell (21:38):
Well, I had two transitions, really. I had my transition from active duty to reserve time, which was quite a gut punch. Uh, no one, nothing can prepare you for the transition from active to reserve. And then I had my, my transition from reserve to retirement, uh, 13 years later. And I would say the biggest takeaway I have from either one of those is don’t ever let anybody who hasn’t transitioned tell you how to transition. Um, it it’s like someone, who’s not a doctor telling you how to treat like bronchitis. Like you’re not a doctor. Um, so if somebody comes into the room and like, it doesn’t matter what rank they’re, but they they’ve never left the military. They don’t know what the civilian job looks like. And they’re trying to give you advice on how to carve your future. After you leave, you need to find someone else to talk to.
Mary Bell (22:19):
There’s so many wonderful resources for transitioning veterans. Now, uh, we’re so fortunate to live in an age where, um, all you have to do is a stone throw, be a link or one of your contacts to your command. And you’re gonna find somebody who has been through what you’re going through and is gonna have Sage advice for your transition. And they’re gonna be happy to provide it because that, I really feel that culture of mentorship and leadership stays with you when you leave the military. And there’s so many people who wanna help now, and they’ve been wonderful and lucky enough to be able to channel that energy and those efforts into veterans transitions organizations. So I would say my best advice to them is find one of those organizations. Um, you’re, you’re having one right here. I’m sure there’ll be links below and links above for previous videos, for resources, for veterans who are making that transition, utilize those resources.
Mary Bell (23:02):
We’re trained in the military to kind of get things done yourself, but the good news is, is a veteran. Everybody wants to help you. So let, let them help you reach out. Use those resources. Literally, if you just Google veterans transition, you’re gonna have pages of sheets to go through of organizations who are literally there to make your life easier. Um, so go ahead and do that. And then I say the second point would be something I have heard a resounding tone, uh, throughout my civilian life. After leaving active duty was a negative connotation with having being previously military. Um, that’s in that, that connotation in some way, shape or form diminished my capability to do my job. And I always found that so perplexing, because anybody I’d worked with a civilian that was prior military was super easy to work with. They met deadlines, they were on time for work.
Mary Bell (23:50):
They were personable. They got along with everybody. Uh, the things we were talking about earlier were this melting pot from all over and were forced to get along. And that, that ethos travels with you when you leave the military. So I was dumbfounded by why people would think being military had some kind of negative connotation. So I would say, as you transition in a civilian life, if you are interviewing with a company or you’re talking to somebody and they’re viewing your time in the military as a weakness, it doesn’t add to your value. Then don’t work for that company. Cause they don’t understand what you bring to the table. They are literally getting a molded form discipline person who is ready to come to work and ready to get a job done, which in this day and age with, with, you know, the millennials, like you don’t find that every day. So you’re getting an asset with that person. So if you find one of those companies and they look at you and go, oh, you were military, it’s time to close that door and find somebody else because there’s so many companies out there that are itching to get somebody just like you, and they’re excited for your military service. So find somebody that’s just as excited as you are about having been in the military and served your country.
Mary Kate Soliva (24:51):
Yes, yes, yes, yes. To all of that. Um, I, I think is, and, and that was from your, your time even coming from active duty, but you also have experience coming off of, out of the reserves. And I started followed in that footsteps of yours because now I am in, in the reserves and coming off of active duty. And so I just transitioned last year in the middle of a pandemic. So a lot of your, the points that you made really hit home for me, even as I was trying to figure out what company do I wanna go for. And I was really trying to fit the mold of the companies that I was talking to, um, and putting a lot less emphasis on in my military career, but it turned out that, you know, a big part of why they won me in my current role is because of my military background.
Mary Kate Soliva (25:34):
So I think you’re absolutely right about being yourself and, and it, you know, shame on me if I don’t bring this up, but I have to, we have to highlight the very organization that brought us together. So like we do, we need to talk about them because Holt’s gonna come after us. Lindsay’s gonna say what in the world. So we gotta, we gotta talk about our beloved. The honor foundation is that’s really where, you know, going back at where MK and I really met up right, still with this ongoing pandemic. Um, and to your point about, uh, women, uh, female mentors, that was something that I felt like I, I greatly lacked as well in my military career being predominantly, uh, in roles were, uh, mainly men. And so having an opportunity in my transition to meet women like yourself, who, you know, without lack of better term, bad asses y’all are bad asses. And so to have the honor foundation, if you could tell us a little bit about that and then the role of, of, uh, what your peer voted for, um, let our audience know about that.
Mary Bell (26:41):
Sure. Uh, well, we should remind them at the end that they peer voted for both of us. So we’re just make, that’s an important port for us to bring up during this conversation. Um, so for our, about that, I, I highly doubt it. Um, so for our watch and viewers that don’t know what we’re talking about. The honor foundation is a wonderful resource for transitioning, a special operation port and operators who are getting ready to make that big life jump between the military time and civilian time. Um, I have never seen either my time in the military or since a program that better prepares people for making that transition and not feeling like they’re grabbing for straws or working, walking in a dark room. It is a group of, uh, former military operators, support volunteers who are so vested in making sure that the people who spent so much time and love giving to their country are given back by securing, um, opportunities for them in civilian employment and making sure they’re ready for those opportunities.
Mary Bell (27:37):
I got involved in THF through another one of my, uh, military Brelin brethren, his names, Ry Bower, Schmidt, look him up on LinkedIn. He convinced me to do the THF it’s meant for transitioning people. And I was like, technically transitioning. I was doing that, you know, reserve to retirement thing. And I remember he told me about the program and in my head, I was like, Ryan, I have a job. I’m like, I feel like I’m taking a spot from somebody else. And he’s like, no, no, you should do this. And I, I think within my first two meetings, they assigned me a female mentor. And I think I told you that bar is set pretty high in the back of my head. And I was like, mm, female mentor, this will be great. And I met with my coach and within like 30 minute, no three minutes, she had me dialed in like a book, like knew exactly my personality.
Mary Bell (28:22):
I had issues with like giving up control. I was an overachiever. I wasn’t sure why I was there and like in the best way possible, she let me know. I needed to let this THF process work for me to help me on my next step forward. And if I hadn’t gone through the, the honor foundation program, I literally wouldn’t be in the position that I am now doing the amazing things that I’m doing right now for refugees without them. Um, they, they do this wonderful program where they help you look at like your why, like, why are you who you are and why do you wanna do what you wanna do? And you come out of this program with this why statement? And a lot of military people go, oh, that’s kind of, kind of touchy, feely, uh, it’s effective. And it’s what huge companies use to make huge revenues.
Mary Bell (29:05):
So might be really touchy, feely, but it works. Um, and I came out of the program with my why and my why drives me every day to help more people to make connections, to continue doing what I’m doing. And, um, through that program, um, I was able to make friends that I will have for a lifetime and connections that will last me, my entire rest of my career and into my retirement. And I was very blessed during that process to have, um, the cohorts, mostly men, I think there was four women in my group. I think MK can probably say the same for hers. Yeah. About the same. And at the end of the cohort, they vote for an honor man or an honored woman. And it’s the person that, to them embodies what the honor foundation is supposed to be about mentorship, networking, supporting other veterans.
Mary Bell (29:48):
And I was so blessed to be selected by my peers and as was MK as the honor woman for my cohort, which was just, uh, and I can’t, I still can’t get over the fact that, that, uh, that they felt that way about me. And I I’m like, you know, what, and my why is about creating relationships, making meaningful contact and, and creating change in my world. And I did it with the honor foundation, not even knowing it, and then I’m doing it every day. It’s a, uh, it’s a wonderful thing that, uh, we were able to do together. And Mary Kate, and I shared that. And it’s, it’s a wonderful bond that I know her and I will probably have and old and gray and rock and on rock chairs in Maine.
Mary Kate Soliva (30:22):
Yes. Uh y’all yeah. Don’t forget what the rocking chairs in Maine. And I think that’s so amazing cuz when they connected me with you, they had also connected me, uh, was Shirley bias. Who’s also, um, she retired, retired for Sergeant who also was pure voted to be honor woman. And I think like to your point about it, it really felt special to have our peers who again, are also badass, like the special operators in the respective communities and here they are composting for us. And so, but it really, uh, speaks volumes to the, the amount of work that you put into the program. You really invest Sid yourself into it. And I think that those who do that really get the full benefits and reap the benefits of the honor foundation. And just again, like you said, friends for life a hundred percent, uh, I mean we even created our own group of, uh, just getting to connect with the other honor women.
Mary Kate Soliva (31:19):
So that’s fantastic. And I was say that finding my why was a huge part of that, of just being able to empower the next generation to, you know, to change their world. And I emphasize, emphasize their world when I was thinking about my why, because instead I really thought it was important to, instead of trying to fit in the mold of the rest of the society, that when you stand out and if you carry that short torch, like I know in the service we sheep dogs, we’re the defenders. But I think that opportunity when you get to step out and really figure out what you wanna do and you leverage those skills like you did with your, with your language skills and being able to use that as a force for good and a force for positive change in the world. And which is, is leads me to like really the, this is the meat and potatoes, what I’ve been waiting this whole conversation for us to talk about the work that you’re doing now, because I have to let the listeners know that you and I were scheduled to meet like a week ago, but you’re like messaging me that you’re on the plane.
Mary Kate Soliva (32:20):
Like you’re like at the airport about to get on the plane because you got to save some people out there in the world doing some incredible things. And I’d love for everybody to hear what you’re doing now.
Mary Bell (32:31):
I I’m happy to share. Uh, so as I know, everybody watching knows the American forces withdrew from Afghanistan in the middle of 2021 last year. And it created one of the largest humanitarian crisis of our century. And uh, that crisis is still occurring now. And there were several veterans. I was one of ’em who were very taken aback and just wanted to help. We had friends there. We had coworkers who had family there and we all felt our hands were tied and we didn’t think we could do anything. And to our surprise, tens of thousands of veterans stepped forward, use personal relationships, network capital to move mountains in Afghanistan and get people inside of the wall. So the international airport get them on flights for the state department. And then after the state department left continued to, to provide support for housing and food and just anything to support their allies, they didn’t leave them stranded.
Mary Bell (33:25):
Um, it’s been such an amazing response, um, to see. And then during that time I was able to connect to some really amazing and impactful people. And, uh, one of those people was a young, uh, I shouldn’t say young lady, young woman by the name of Sarah Lang. Uh, she has run successfully three NGOs prior to her and I starting her own NGO together. And her specialty is a civil rights activist and journalists who are in, um, less than ideal countries, um, for them being there and ensuring that if their safety was threatened, they could safely get across the border to another third party country. So she has a lot out of experience in operations, but the operations are a little more civilian oriented. And then, uh, we met while trying to secure some safe houses for some folks in Northern Afghanistan. And we realized very quickly between her skills and, uh, NGOs and my previous experience in operations.
Mary Bell (34:16):
We had a marriage made in heaven and, uh, we partnered forces and uh, we decided that we wanted to focus on women and children because in Afghanistan right now, if you do not have a male head of household, you can’t leave the house. You can’t have a job, you can’t even shop for food. So, uh, literally a crisis of starvation and just survival has begun for these women and they have no contacts. So thankfully, uh, we’ve been able to get word out there to a large group of women. We now supply daily food drops to these groups of women. Um, it’s we joke about it. Uh, but we have like, in-country Amazon, that’s all through signal and we’re able to get food packages to families, usually within 12 to 24 hours of requests to include everything from their basic food needs, um, feminine needs for, um, feminine things and baby these milk and diapers.
Mary Bell (35:02):
So we’re able to keep these women afloat when their husbands have either been killed by the regime or they’ve just disappeared or they’ve been able to evacuate, but they were forced to leave their families behind. So, uh, that’s primarily what we do is, um, supply sustainment to these women in country. But then also we have severe cases of women who have been raped, women who have been brutalized, um, through, uh, their families who have reached out to us and we’ve been able to safely and legally get them across the border into Pakistan and then get them onward visas to third party countries who take them as refugees from domestic violence. So we’ve had several cases, unfortunately meet that criteria, but fortunately enough, we’ve been able to give them safe Haven and get them safely out of Afghanistan. So that’s our primary focus. Uh, we also have a large group of refugees in a third party country that we’re looking for a final place for them to rest.
Mary Bell (35:49):
I just visited them last week. Uh, Mary Kate was saying on the flight, she caught me while I was on the flight to go help these individuals. And I was able to meet some of the families that we evacuated, um, and share some wonderful moments, um, sitting on the floor, drinking tea, meeting, little girls, um, who didn’t know who the benefactor was or the, or the moving force behind the flight they got on and being able to meet those girls and just let them know that they aren’t forgotten. There’s a human being behind that keyboard. Who’s working day and night to make sure we secure them with a better future. Um, I could didn’t think of a better realization of my why from THF if you asked me to, um, so that’s our mission. It’s what we work 12 to 16 hours a day doing right now. And I couldn’t be more blessed to be where I’m at.
Mary Kate Soliva (36:26):
Gosh, I’m so honored to know you. Mkay. Like, thank, thank you so much for, for what you do and what your team does. And I really, when you were, when you were messaging me, like, you know, I’m, I’m sitting here, I’m like, I’m ready to do this podcast with MK. And you’re like, I’m at, at the airport and I’m like, you go, you go, go, go. Cuz I just, I just know that the work that you’re doing re legitimately is helping, helping these women, helping these girls, helping these families and truly a blessing. I’m so grateful that you’re able to use utilize your gifts. And you found your why, and you you’ve taken that on probably more than, than most anybody that I know. So thank you for that. And is there something I, I know that we had talked earlier as well about sometimes people think that you, you might have the, the button and the answer to everything to be able to help, uh, get families out. So just wanted to, I guess maybe take a, a note about what you, your organization possibly, probably can’t do. Just so you’re not flooded after this, um, interview with, with asks.
Mary Bell (37:35):
We, we will be anyway, it happens every time, but it’s okay. In the slew of requests, there’s usually one female who really needs our help. So it’s okay. But you bring up a really good point. Um, a lot of people here at Afghanistan aid, and even though I don’t say evacuation, they hear evacuation and I, I’m very sorry to report that the evacuation flights have stopped. The Taliban government has come out and said that they want very much to be able to adhere to international standards for travel, which means everybody has to have a passport. So prior to this evacuation flights were able to leave with just some form of identification, like an identity card, a birth certificate. Um, but unfortunately those days have ended, um, as the Taliban works to gain their international recognition. So unfortunately those massive evacuations will not be continuing and private funding for those flights has gone down dramatically.
Mary Bell (38:25):
So there are still avenues for people, not through our organization, but people who serve the us government or other governments like Canada, Australia, there are programs available. And what’s wonderful is the, country’s been really good about publishing the information, how to apply for those programs on both the us Canadian and Australian sites. So if you are in someone in need of evacuation or you have a family who is, I implore you to go to those websites and see if you qualify for one of those categories, because that right now is your best chance, even though it may be a while, um, to get out out, that’s your best chance to get, um, some kind of opportunity to evacuate if you still need it, need it. The flip side to that is as the government begins to stabilize or we hope to stabilize in Afghanistan. Uh, our focus at team theists is more on sustainment of those people in country.
Mary Bell (39:08):
We wait for the regime, um, to clarify its goals and its intentions. Um, so we are looking at programs for employing people locally out jobs that are becoming available for the local popule, um, because they are starting to happen. So if you are stuck in Afghanistan and you don’t fall into the, one of the categories we, um, which we help, which is mainly women and children, um, keep your eye out on LinkedIn on Facebook. There’s lots of opportunities getting pushed there and we find them, we push them out as well. Um, so yes, unfortunately those evacuation routes are almost impossible. We can only do one or, or two off cases that have to do with domestic violence.
Mary Kate Soliva (39:39):
Well, thank you so much. Mkay. For sharing that again, I’m just in all of the work that you are, you’re doing and your team’s doing, and I’d like to say about how, how can they get ahold of you? Is there you have a, a website that people can, can reach you at, or what’s the best way for folks to contact you? You,
Mary Bell (39:57):
We do. We have a website it’s, uh, www.team themus.org. And I’m sure you can put it in the comments below as well. Um, we have, we have an intake on that site, uh, where you can email us, um, send us the details of what you’re dealing with, who you are, where you are, what you need help with. Uh, we get a lot of emails just say, I’m in danger, help me. And we can’t do a lot with that. So give us the details for the danger you’re in the help that you need. And we’ll see if we can help. And if we can’t, we’ll try to, we’ll try to forward your email to an organization that can, and then secondly, I am on LinkedIn. Thankfully the load on LinkedIn on DMing me has not gotten out of control yet. So I personally respond to every message that I get either saying that we are in a position to help are providing them resources to look somewhere else. And we will continue to do that. I’m hoping to hire some interns here in the next couple weeks to help manage that. Um, but right now DMing me in on my LinkedIn is a perfect way to get in touch with me.
Mary Kate Soliva (40:48):
Awesome. Great. And you said, you said interns, is there opportunity here for, for maybe some folks that are here in the United States that wanna help and wanna do more? Is there something that they can do?
Mary Bell (40:59):
Absolutely. Uh, the interim position we have open right now is for our social media coordinator. We need someone to manage our social media feeds. We try to push that on the daily, the food drops we’re doing, uh, the sustainment planning we’re doing are education opportunities, and we really need somebody to manage that. Um, I’ve had some wonderful applications that we get to the second you, and then they just fizzle out and we really need some help. Um, it’s just me and Sarah and five volunteers right now, and the volunteers all have full-time jobs. Uh, so we’re looking for college juniors, college seniors, and, uh, newly graduated college applicants to, to apply to the program. And we also are starting up our inaugural board of directors. We have some wonderful applications in our ready, um, from some real high power individuals. And we really think are gonna take team theists to the next level in helping people in Afghanistan. Uh, the board applications are closed for right now. Um, but I highly encourage anybody that has any skill, especially in supporting people in Afghanistan or connections to women’s organizations, please reach out to us. We’re always trying to connect and grow our network to be able to help more women and children in country.
Mary Kate Soliva (41:58):
Fantastic. I love that you, you highlighted that the network that’s really what this is all about the introductions and, and stepping out of that out of the military uniform, into the civilian life, learning how to leverage connections and your network is huge. And so in the work that you’re doing, I think that’s amazing if you’re out there and you, you fit that scope of what MK and our team are looking for, please reach out. Uh, we definitely, they let’s send them all the, the help that they need. Um, so thank you so much, MK for your time today. Again, I was so, so excited to do this. I wanted to wait till the, the sun came up so I could get start off my day in speaking with you. And, um, I just, uh, on behalf of the entire team here at veteran voices. Thank you. Thank you team Themus and thank you. We would love to invite everybody listening today to subscribe wherever you get your podcast from in a big thank you to our partners at vets industry. Uh, this is Mary Kay saliva wishing all of our listeners an incredible day, incredible rest of your week. Stay motivated, do good, give forward and be the change that’s needed like MK and her team were doing. And on that note, we’ll see y’all next time. Thanks.
Mary Bell is a 24-year US Navy veteran. She’s currently living and working remotely in the Middle East in humanitarian aid and anti-human trafficking. She has extensive experience working abroad and is excited to bring her energy, dedication and desire to improve the lives of others to the COO position with Team Themis. She left Afghanistan in February 2021, having no idea it would be the last time she would be in Kabul. In August of the same year, everything changed. The country Mary had spent years trying to help rebuild was falling apart. A place she hoped would continue to grow into a country where women and children could live, grow up and be educated was gone. She would spend the next five months working with the Marines, other U.S. forces and veteran volunteer groups to get American citizens and our allies into HKIA for Department of State evacuations flights, manifesting those left behind on charter flights and arranging safe housing and food for those who couldn’t yet escape. As 2022 begins, Mary now has a unique and wonderful opportunity to continue to serve the people of Afghanistan as the Chief Operating Officer for Team Themis. She is committed to realizing the goals of successful resettlement of those they have already evacuated and the evacuation of 1,000 more from the most vulnerable female groups that remain: judges and lawyers, journalists, civil society and human rights activists, students and athletes, LGBTQI individuals, families with critical medical needs and victims of gender-based violence. Connect with Mary on LinkedIn.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Host of TEKTOK
If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.
With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.