In over 70 episodes, Veteran Voices has heard a lot of reasons for people joining the military or picking a particular branch of service. In this episode we hear a brand new one… advice from one’s future father-in-law. In Brian Russel’s case, it was a win-win (win).
Brian recently retired after serving 27 years in the United States Marine Corps – an impressive feat to be sure. Brian is also an avid mountain biker, and that’s where his advice to “keep the rubber side down” comes from. Even in adventurous situations, he reminds us that it is important to stay safe and keep yourself on track.
In this interview, Brian speaks with host Mary Kate Soliva about:
• The humbling feeling he gets when he thinks of his fellow Marines, each of which is willing to give it all for the person on the left and the person on the right
• Why it is so important that post-transition jobs do more than just pay the bills for Veterans
• The value of organizations like the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League, where Brian currently serves as League Director
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 insights, perspective, and stories from serving. We talk 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 (00:49):
Hello everybody. Thank you for joining us again today. This is Mary Kate Soliva here with you Veteran Voices. I am your host and I’m so glad that you’re joining us today cuz we have a really great interview teed up with an incredible veteran who’s given back so much already while on active duty and off active duty. Just a quick programming note before we get started. This program is part of incredible supply chain now Family of Programming and today’s show is in conducted in partnership with the Guam Human Rights Initiative and Military Women’s Collective. Military Women’s Collective is doing incredible things out in California and nationwide for our women veterans everywhere. You can find out more at military women’s collective.org and for the Guam Human Rights Initiative, find out more about them in the great work they’re email@example.com and you can learn more about and tune in to Veteran Voices wherever you get your podcasts. So, okay, without further ado, I’m super excited to introduce you to a Marine Corps veteran. Our guest today served 27 years in the United States Marine Corps. I was just saying to him earlier that not too many make that achieve that feat. So I think that’s fantastic and I’m just really excited to introduce you to him cause he just retired recently. But not just that he’s continuing to serve beyond the uniform and that is why I’m so glad he’s joining us here on Veteran Voices. Brian Russell, thank you so much for joining us. Brian,
Brian Russell (02:25):
Mary Kate, thanks for having me on. It is an absolute pleasure to be here and I’m looking forward to our conversation.
Mary Kate Soliva (02:32):
Yes, absolutely. I know that once a Marine, always a Marine. So I said retired, I’m not gonna use past tense, but I’m super excited about having you pump us up with some motivation or what day of the week that our listeners are tuning in. Wanted to hear from you a favorite motivational quote saying song. You can sing us if you want, but I’m ready. I think our listeners are ready too.
Brian Russell (02:56):
Okay. I’ve actually got two great saying, I guess you, you can say two things that have been on my mind that you mentioned about continuing to give back and I’ve been toying around with this idea of starting a couple CK channels in independent writers platform. Uh, I enjoy writing and think I want to get some of my thoughts down. One about just my experiences 27 years in the Marine Corps has been in middle learning as you can imagine over those 27 years. And so the title of this subs, but kind of the saying that motivates me throughout the day, throughout my career, but even to today. Now the three key questions any officer asks himself or herself throughout the day, they are, what do I know? Who should know what I know and have I told them it’s, it gets back to that Marine Corps bias for action, trying to make decisions, trying to out cycle an adversary. Like information’s pretty important and so whenever you receive new information it usually prompts some type of action and that action is typically sharing that with someone else who needs to know that information. So just this idea of I know some things, I don’t mind sharing those things so maybe I ought to write those down and share those. So again, what do I know who should know what I know and have I told them? It’s just things, something I ask myself throughout the day like, and that includes my wife Mary Kate, like,
Mary Kate Soliva (04:07):
Don’t forget your wife.
Brian Russell (04:08):
This thing happened around the house today now. Yeah. And you can imagine I’m around the house a little bit more being retired May, maybe I should tell Kathy what is going on. So that’s one. And then the other relates to a passion of mine and I know we’ll talk more about that in the podcast is mountain biking, been mountain biking for almost all those 27 years, just really as a sport has done a world of good for me. But the phrase I always remind myself before a ride or maybe even the in the midst of a ride is keep the rubber side down. You can imagine if you see the rubber your tires up above you. Yes. Things are getting pretty exciting. Probably not for good exciting. So yeah, just keep the rubber side down is another thing I’m thinking about writing about how we approach a sport of mountain biking and keeping everyone safe out there. But having fun too, keeping the rubber side down keeps things kind of on track. Yes, pun intended.
Mary Kate Soliva (04:52):
Yes. I love the puns. Keep them coming. And one of the things, I’m glad you mentioned both of those scenes because I actually had not heard them and we haven’t had any other guests mention them. So I think that’s like where rubber meets the road and you just keep going. And as you alluded to, you’re doing incredible work with the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League and we talk about it, we call it the,
Brian Russell (05:15):
I usually introduce myself as the new director of the North Carolina Mountain Bike League. But yes, North Carolina inter Classic Cycling League is a lot to say. But because I grew up in the Marine Corps and everything turns into an acronym when you write down that acronym A tickle,
Mary Kate Soliva (05:30):
I’m trying to think of like, yes it giving you a mouthful, but it’s just incredible work that you’re doing. I know we’re gonna talk about it later in the episode, but for our listeners, new director here, Ryan’s spearheading the initiative on the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League and just excited to listen more. So stay tuned there And just wanted to know, I did mention 27 years of service in the US Marine Corps and I was like, we’re not gonna go way, way back. But we’re gonna kind of go way back to talk about your upbringing and if you could tell listeners a little bit about where you grew up. I just love taking this back of veterans. I feel like we learned so much about where we came from before we decided to serve our country.
Brian Russell (06:12):
Yeah, I grew up in, I’ll call it Northern Virginia. My parents moved around a couple towns up there, Springfield, Burke, Fairfax, but generally stayed in the area and neither of my parents were in the military, but a lot of military personnel, a lot of my friends, their father or mother was in the military just being close to the nation’s capital and the Pentagon as you can understood kind of what the military lifestyle was about from their perspective. Cuz they would leave in two or three years, right? Yes. I wanna say the border. But really what inclined me to military service was my grandfather, Jim Hamilton, a World War II veteran. He flew torpedo bombers for the United States Navy in the South Pacific during World War ii. And he was just an admirable man, just was of that greatest generation that we talk about a lot and just, man, if I could grow up to be like Jim Hamilton, uh, that, that would be awesome.
Brian Russell (06:59):
And I thought his military service was probably a piece of that sacrifice and uh, working with others and giving back to the nation that that was something that was very attractive to me and I wanted to do, one, wanted to serve the nation and just a part of that growing up I, I’ll mention an organization, the Naval Sea Cadet Corps. I put my toe in the water for this military service thing there I am age of 14. I’m the Orlando Mary Kate when the Navy still ran a bootcamp down there. So your first kind of summer tour as a a sea cadet is going to Navy Bootcamp for two weeks. Like, oh my gosh, what am I doing? It was, it was interesting. It was eye-opening for this young man. But what I appreciated was the structure and the leadership and the camaraderie and that just sign signed me up. So going off to college, got a scholarship for the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at North Carolina State University and uh, was initially a Navy option midshipman. But then I started having conversations with, with my future father-in-law. So Kathy and I, my wife we met in high school.
Mary Kate Soliva (07:55):
Oh you did? Oh gosh, I wanna dig deeper on that story. Great.
Brian Russell (07:59):
Yeah, I’m about to a little bit. So yeah, we met her in northern Virginia. Again, father assigned headquarters Marine Corps. And so we met in high school, we decided to go to school in North Carolina together. So I went to, I jokingly say the premier academic institution in North Carolina. North Carolina State University. Kathy went to Chapel Hill, university of North Carolina Chapel Hill. So I married a tar heel and there’s a whole house divided aspect of our relationship but really it’s not a big deal. But anyway, so yeah, Kathy’s dad was serving as a colonel as as I’m in in school and joke about it with Kathy and say, I just wanna make sure I was guaranteed I could marry her. So I decided to join the Marine Corps. But it was really what, one
Mary Kate Soliva (08:37):
Way to put yourself
Brian Russell (08:38):
<laugh>. Yeah, there’s again, there’s some truth to that. Like take no chances Kathy’s dad’s a Marine, maybe I should join the Marine Corps. But really what Bob shared with me about the Marine Marine Corps’s approach to taking care of its people, it is about both the people and the mission, the emphasis on leadership, the emphasis on those type of things more than I was seeing out of the Navy side of things just became really attractive to me. So put in my application to change Marine option and uh, there I was December, 1995 getting commissioned as a second lieutenant. You states Marine Corps,
Mary Kate Soliva (09:08):
I love that with just the legacy there, even though your parents and sir, but you have, you talk about Grandpa Hamilton there and part of the greatest generation. I actually think that this morning almost positive that I ran into a World War II veteran from that I had seen at Ren Re Pennsylvania’s largest World War II air show. And just every time I see someone from the grace generation, I’m just like wow, just wanna talk to them and hear what I can about from them. And then of course being from Guam, I was like, when you mentioned the Pacific, I was like, yes, but even more so the fact that you had to put yourself through Marine Corps training for the sake of your future father-in-law <laugh> it just, I’m just imagining you as a young man doing that. But gosh, Kathy sure scooped up a good one that you’re willing to go in through all of that cuz we know out probably outta all the branches, I don’t know. They say arguably Marine Corps is probably one of the toughest trainings coming in straight with your, and so especially for those enlisted with their feet on the yellow footprints. So if you could tell just real quick, I’m just really curious about what that was like high school with young Brian and young Kathy. Did you all meet in like a English class or
Brian Russell (10:20):
Something? I think it was a math class actually. We were in class together and then we both went out for the track team at school and so started doing some workouts together, long runs, very romantic Mary Kay around the lake long run or whatever. Gosh. Yeah. And we just, we clicked and we kind of knew right then that uh, we were just would work out together. And while we’re on the topic of Kathy and you mentioned training, she’s obviously worth anything I ever went through. She is in fact the love of my life, but I was trained to do what I was brought in to do in the Marine Corps. I was always given training to do it. Kathy, not so much Marine Corps spouse, there’s a lot of on the job training and managing me being away. So Kathy probably had the toughest piece of those 27 years Absolutely. In terms of just keeping household together and she, she deserves a lot of credit for keeping the family together and yeah, I’m just very blessed that she is still with me after all those 27 years. But I wouldn’t have done it any other way without her by my side
Mary Kate Soliva (11:14):
Know. And I love that. Gosh, I even have goosebumps Dunno, well our listeners, but I think it’s just a true testament even though you mentioned Tar heels and the house divided just the strength there of the love from Kathy and holding the ground when they say behind every great man just a, a strong partner and spouse with you, the whole step of the way 27 years. But even more so if you count those romantic runs around the lake in high school. Sure. And so I don’t know why I’ve like all of a sudden envisioning like musical Greece here, but I just think that’s fantastic. And one of the lessons learned, like you mentioned Bob and your, and with regards to your father-in-law, would you say that there were, were some, any kind of lessons learned or words of wisdom that he shared with you before you embarked on this journey in the Marine Corps?
Brian Russell (12:00):
Yeah, there, there certainly were and but I, I think it, let’s get back to the family here. So my mother-in-law Mar Marty list and my father-in-law is Bob List. They were there for us throughout that entire 27 years one cuz I think they knew they walked that same type of journey and it’s pretty tough. And so their role of Bob and Marty visits to uh, the Russell family while I was away to help out with things, dogs in between PC S moves, those type of things is just, I think they knew and uh, they absolutely helped us throughout that entire 27 years. So more than words of wisdom action, <laugh> loving us through helping when we needed a lot of help to get through some of those tough times.
Mary Kate Soliva (12:38):
And, and I think that also with that Bob was able to understand that coming from a place where he was Marine Corp colonel and just understanding where you were coming from at every phase as you went up the ranks. So I think it’s just a true testament of just how you were able to be so successful right throughout your career, just having that strong bond with your family and so much support. So I absolutely love that and and definitely when we, as we go on through the episode later on and touch more on that advice and lesson learned, I would love to hear your thoughts too on keeping the family ties strong. And I know that’s not the a success story for every veteran out there, but I do think it’s important to touch on, especially for those who are transitioning but wanted to get into your military service here with the Marine Corps and wanted to hear about perhaps a favorite place that you were ever stationed at or sort of a favorite memory of yours during time and service.
Brian Russell (13:32):
Yeah, so I’ve already given a clue anywhere the Marine Corps stationed me where there were good mountain bike trails. Super awesome. So
Mary Kate Soliva (13:38):
<laugh>, so you looked into that like right away as soon as you got your orders
Brian Russell (13:42):
<laugh>? No. Yeah, yeah it was a consideration. How’s that? So a Quantico, Virginia crossroads of the Marine Corps. Several assignments, there were school assignments, great mountain bike trails in Quantico, just right inside the middle of the base there. Did a tour in southern California Camp Pendleton. We lived on base and sure enough, right outside our door was a trail to the trail system out in the training area and so just get out on the bike And those that have spent some time in Southern California know the weather’s always pretty nice. Never had to consider rain. Oh yeah. So yeah tho those places where we could get outside and spend time as a family and all my family members have done biking in some form or fashion were really good places for us.
Mary Kate Soliva (14:23):
No, I love that that’s an aspect. Now is this something that’s a whole family affair? Like does Cathy get out there and kids and when you were going out you’re like okay, I’m gonna find the trails or was it a lot really a solo so
Brian Russell (14:37):
Curricular, how much trouble I’ll be sharing this aspect of our relationship. It wasn’t maybe five or six years ago, Kathy thought I was a little bit crazy with my mountain biking. Mm-hmm <affirmative> because I think she had images of Red Bull Rampage if you’d watched some of the, the Red Bull mountain biking events. They’re going off of ramps and flipping upside down. Oh yeah, these like 50 foot or higher cliffs or No this is not the mountain biking Brian Russell does. Brian Russell gets on extreme sport, remember rubber side down um, on a trail and going maybe some fast and there’s a little bit of downhill but it’s really just pretty moderate trails through the woods. That’s my kind of riding. But anyway, now Kathy is a coach on our local mountain bike team here in uh, Jacksonville North and she works at a bike shop here in Jacksonville, <laugh>, North Carolina. And a recent financial decision we had to make about moving into our new house was maybe we get a new couch cuz you know, all the military veteran members will know you. Your stuff moves every couple years and it gets pretty beat up. So the Russell family couch is pretty beat up. So we’re thinking about getting a new couch. You know what Kathy got instead? Mary Kate a new mountain bike. So So Kathy has completely
Mary Kate Soliva (15:43):
<laugh>. Oh you converted her.
Brian Russell (15:46):
I think I did. I think I victory on this one. Can
Mary Kate Soliva (15:48):
I tell you that especially, I don’t know if it’s me, my mindset as a woman I find it’s like so hard even to find a gift for the men in my family. But it seems like it’s just so much so easy for people that love you and your family to just be like, I’m gonna get Brian and Kathy some like stuff <laugh> cause it, it does add up, right? But I’m sure for the holidays you all get some pretty sweet new bike here. Something like that.
Brian Russell (16:15):
How did you know I got Kathy a new mountain bike flannel shirt for uh, what Christmas for the cooler temperature riding that
Mary Kate Soliva (16:21):
Matching. Do y’all have like ma I’m just matching this all matching flannel.
Brian Russell (16:27):
So, so Kathy will tell you that matching attire is very important to her mountain biking, a style of riding and I’m talking jersey and sock and all that mean not so much <laugh>. Yeah, this takes
Mary Kate Soliva (16:37):
It very seriously. Brian takes it very seriously but I mean I, and yeah but and in all seriously I know we’re gonna touch on it but I love that we’re weaving it throughout the episode. The great work that both you and Kathy are doing with the North Carolina inters split fixed cycling league. It’s just in incredible cause we know it’s so much more than just the biking gear but it is a sport that everybody can participate in no matter what your skill level, no matter what your age. And you had mentioned that you’ve done it throughout the Marine Corps. Was this something that you felt like you could connect with your other, with fellow marines on? Did you find that you joined with them or sort of some of that leadership lessons that you took as an officer as leadership lessons for your Marines?
Brian Russell (17:16):
Throughout my career, certainly whether that was a lunchtime group ride with some of my fellow peers around the office or even right before I retired I was a commanding officer of two Marine Expeditionary Force information group. Uh, we were in the Marine Corps as a single marine program. So you know, the Marines are in the barracks and we’re trying to get some activities for them and bring them together and uh, focus on getting outside and doing some physical activity. We would use our single marine program funds to rent mountain bikes and bring them out on the trail before an activity for the single Marines and uh, found that really popular. The Marine Marine something they hadn’t done before. So we would give them a little bit of training then we go out on the trail. And so yeah, certainly I’ve woven that throughout my career as either a bonding opportunity for peers or just a leadership opportunity. We got the sport of mountain biking, we’ll we’ll probably talk about this more too. It’s just if you haven’t done it, it’s a bit of a challenge either mentally to I’ve never done this before or there are some physical challenges out on the trail. You gotta climb, you gotta get over an obstacle, something like that. I
Mary Kate Soliva (18:14):
Just think it’s, and St. Brian, when I see the hill I’m like, oh I try to do that with a, as a bonding e extracurricular activity with my better half. And there was a hill and I was like, I don’t know like am gonna do this hill on this bike or if I’m gonna be walking with this bike and just getting over it is quite a feat. But in the, on the army side of the house, we used, our leadership used to take us out on staff rides, whether that’s it was to like a civil war battlefield like out at Gettysburg or or to go golfing. So I find it so important in the bonding aspect but there’s so many life lessons I think especially since you started as an early age in a biking, just in cycling, just how much that’s influenced your leadership style and connecting with your fellow marines. So I think that’s great. So with regards to trails, I think that’s the first time that I’ve heard of somebody relating their duty stations to this. How could the trails outside
Brian Russell (19:05):
Mary Kate Soliva (19:09):
Safe, safe fit. I mean I knew, I know the Marines like to stay fit, physical fit is very important. But yeah, that’s a new one for me. I don’t know, I’m just still envisioning like your entire family, like even grandma being out there on the bike too. But that’s what I love about it. So with regards to your military career, I really want to hear, especially since you’ve done, you just finished off 27 years. Looking back now, do you see sort of a highlight? I’m sure it’s probably hard to pin down a highlight, but is there something that sticks out to you from that time?
Brian Russell (19:39):
That’s hard to pick a highlight but I will just say the blessing of military service and I’m obviously speaking about the Marine Corps is working with the Marines. We recruit some of the best and brightest young men and women from across the nation and they are just, it’s eye watering w the sacrifice they’re willing to go through. And this is many of my generation deployed, direct deployed Afghanistan and true sacrifice Mary Kay. Right, right. Like true everything on the line. And that is just incredibly humbling when you work with that type of spirit, that type of individual, just willing to give it all for the person on the left, the person on the right and just, they’re brilliant. They, you give ’em a problem and maybe the marine bias fragment, but they just, they solved the problem. You just turn ’em loose and you point ’em the right direction and give ’em some guidance and it’s just, that’s the blessing, that’s the highlight. Mary Kate, you’re just working with the Marines, they will never disappoint you from a mission perspective. They’re always trying to find a way to make that mission happen and it’s just, it is, it’s eye watering. So it’s a blessing.
Mary Kate Soliva (20:41):
Sorry. No I I love that you mentioned that I had the opportunity to deploy with Marines and it, it was just uh, I mean they’re tough but like you said, the spirit that they have that they’re, even though they fight and bicker like brothers and sisters do, they’ve got each other’s back and it’s like no one can pick on my brother except me kind of thing of like, don’t you dare try to, if you try to hurt one of our own, we’re gonna hurt you kind of thing. But it was something that, just to shout out, I have so many friends who are women in the Marine Corps or veterans and they just are some of the toughest people that I know and just the things that they have overcome, the things that they have sacrificed and it doesn’t leave them, I still see them doing that and going the extra mile burning, the midnight oil both ends.
Mary Kate Soliva (21:24):
It’s just incredible service and sacrifice. So I can definitely see where that’s a highlight, that it’s about all about the people. And I can see that now as a testament to what you’re doing, even hanging up the uniform, you haven’t stopped that. You’re still surrounding yourself with people who are giving more than themselves and continuing to devote that time. So I wanted to touch now on your transition since you’re in it right now, and just if you were to talk, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to talk to some marines since you hung up the uniform. I know it was we just coming outta the holidays, but if you were to talk to a room full of Marines now or transitioning service members, what sort of advice would you share with them? Oh
Brian Russell (22:05):
That, that’s a great question. I’ve got three main things on my mind cuz I, I just went through that and I think the first is own your transition. Approach it like any other mission the Marine Corps has given you or other services given you. And what I mean by that is we are doing probably the best job I’ve seen in 27 years of helping service members transition to civilian life. There are some phenomenal resources of phenomenal programs that are available to help with the transition, but it is still a big organization. It is still a big machine and is not going to tailor itself for your individual needs. So you have to own it and follow, make the process work for you I guess is the way I’m saying, right? Everyone has an individual desire, background, whatever it is. System is good, process is good, like I said some of the best that I’ve seen in my 27 years.
Brian Russell (22:52):
But you gotta make sure you are taking care of yourself through transition. Approach it like, like any other mission. The second one would be seek out and listen uh, to people who have gone through transition, read talk. A very good friend of mine, long-term mentor Hank Brown literally wrote a book on his transition process. I read it. It was a lot of good advice on there and what to expect both from the how to get through the process but even the emotional, what’s gonna be different as you transition. Now another uh, long-term mentor of mine, Mike Gr wrote a book on it called Orders to Nowhere. It’s kind of funny your last set of orders in the Marine Corps too. Not any Marine Corps.
Mary Kate Soliva (23:28):
Brian Russell (23:29):
Coming orders to nowhere. But yeah, rice writes it with a little bit of humor and it’s a very good read. But anyway, I would say like seek out those folks that have gone through transition and listen to them, take everything on board that they have to say. And then I think the third is a lot of service members will be looking for another job per se. I would reframe that and try and look for your next purpose. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, because I think that’s part of the veteran transition challenge is we are so purposeful in the Marine Corps, you have a very noble mission and we talked about working folks that are sacrificing on your behalf and you’re sacrificing and just, it’s so purposeful in what we do. It’s more than just getting a job that pays the bills. And that’s still important. There are still yes needs to be met, but finding a purpose, those veterans that find that purpose on the other side, I think do better than the ones that just find the first available thing. And so I just advise service members, if you’re thinking think early, look for purpose vice just the job so to speak.
Mary Kate Soliva (24:28):
I know that’s great advice. So it’s, I’ve got own your transition and then seek out others perhaps who’ve been there, done that, but who can help take you to that next step and then find your purpose. I think those are three really great highlights for even for me who I’ve been out over a year now off of active duty and I still feel like I’m transitioning <laugh>. So some people say that the transitioning doesn’t stop. So, and I’ll add, I think being kind to yourself, right? I think there’s a lot of pressure in having it all figured out, right when we hang up our uniform, like you said, being able to find that purpose and it doesn’t have to be your paid job, right? But I think even as we’re about to get into with your nonprofit, that there’s ways of volunteering and giving back and finding that purpose again without it being your paid position. So there’s definitely great ways to find your next mission and your next purpose. That’s which brings
Brian Russell (25:22):
That’s great point Mary Kay. That’s what led, that’s the basis of our relationship, right? I was seeking out mentorship, like I have no idea what I’m doing in the nonprofit space that’s foreign to a 27 year marine. So I’m willing to listen to everything you have to tell me about <laugh> nonprofit space.
Mary Kate Soliva (25:36):
We’re gonna touch on that part too is that I think on our first conversation, and I know our listeners are like, what are they talking about? Brian and I met through American Corp partners, incredible nonprofit out there, free to service members and their families with regards to mentorship and looking for you towards you Brian. I’m like, you’re a 27 year marine, you’ve gotta figure it out. What in the world could I possibly mentor you on? But I think it’s just humbling on both ends that you’re, we found that commonality with like where I’m living at now and being just the, our love and our purpose as far as giving back to others and surrounding ourselves with people who can just help us get to that next step. It doesn’t, it’s that continuous act of learning, right? It just love being an active learners. And so I think just that alone about how we met as a
Brian Russell (26:26):
Testament, testament to that. Well that, that’s so true. And so let me inject just over those 27 years of experience, you get some pretty cool opportunities. One, one of which was being certified as a level one CrossFit instructor. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, that opportunity came to me out at Fort Leavenworth at the army’s command and General Staff college. The marine colonel in charge of us out there was a big CrossFit guy convinced the army to pay for a level one certification for 60 majors in the class <laugh>. So he’s like, Hey Russell, you wanna be a level one CrossFit coach? Like you’re paying for it? Yes sir. Sign me up. Sure, let’s do it. This is 2008. I’d heard of CrossFit, didn’t really know it. So I went through level insert and uh, kind of became, came hooked on the CrossFit methodology just in terms of the variance of training working across all domains of fitness that is really the most fit person is one that can demonstrate competence if not mastery across all of those domains.
Brian Russell (27:16):
And boy, that that’s, that was really powerful to me. But here’s the one thing that I think this came from Greg Glassman founder, is you fail at the limits of your experience. So it, and he said he, I think he found a CrossFit on this notion that ultra marathoners were being built as the fittest people on earth. They’re very good at that domain, but can they bench any amount of weight? Maybe not. So, so he always said with CrossFit, we’re gonna make you very broad and capable across broad range of activities. But if you want to really master something in a domain, you have to practice in that domain. You have to get out and run 26 plus miles to be a marathoner. So you, yeah, again, you fail at the limits of your experience. So just stepping into my transition is like I have no experience running a nonprofit so who might have some experience that I can leverage.
Mary Kate Soliva (28:03):
No, and I, I love that. And it’s just super, it’s super humbling I think. And I just even learning that from you, cuz I think even in my transition I lacked that confidence to seek out, to be like who’s going to actually put myself out there as a mentor. Cuz I remember when my dear friend Leslie Coffee, who with is American Court partner, she was like when she signed up to be a mentor and I was like, do I have that experience? And so it’s just been really very rewarding for me to be able to share that knowledge. And you’re continuing to do that now with our listeners And I just really wanna to take this time as well to talk about the North Carolina Inters Cycling League because I know it’s part of a big, a wider nationwide league. But I was wondering if you could share a little bit more about the organization and the work that you were doing.
Brian Russell (28:51):
Yeah, I would love to, let me start with a story about my first involvement with this mountain biking organization. It is the National National Elastic Cycling Association. It’s a national organization, the mission, Mary Kay is building strong minds, strong bodies and strong character through mountain biking. We just used two wheels to do all of those things for middle school and high school students across the nation. So there’s multiple state leagues. I am the director of the North Carolina League and I’ll talk more about that. But just think about that youth development, youth character like yes, sign me up right away to do that. But here’s why. Here’s why I jumped at this opportunity. I first got associated with this organization in Maryland. We were assigned up there 2018 Maryland decided to start their state league and I helped form a team there and I became the head coach in the second season.
Brian Russell (29:41):
And I just saw the impact the sport had on these young student athletes from the confidence building. We got reports, they started doing better in school. We saw it bring families together. This is with this sport of mountain biking. The hashtag for the national league is more kids on bikes, which is absolutely true. That’s our goal. Let’s get more kids on bikes, turn them into lifelong mountain bike enthusiasts. But really outdoor enthusiasts and being part of a community that just appreciates the outdoors. That’s the strategic vision. But really my hashtags is hashtag no bench. Every kid that signs up gets to ride their bike. Every kid if they want to, they can race. There’s no bench like everyone participates. And my second hashtag is hashtag more families on bikes. Cause this is really, think about this Mary Kay, what other sport are you aware of where you as a parent can get on the field with your kid and participate?
Brian Russell (30:35):
So with a little bit of training you can become a coach for the team and you’re out there with your kid on the trail during practice. That’s pretty cool. And so that was we we say anikka, what’s your why again? Remember purpose, what’s your why? Initially my why was just being more involved with my son. Again, military service spending a lot of time away. I want to spend time with my second son, Ian, who was our mountain biker and oh, I get to be right there with him and spend all that time on the bike with Ian. That’s what brought me into to the Maryland League. And so 2020 get a set orders down here to North Carolina and 2020 was the year of Covid. That wasn’t, wasn’t a fun PCs move for us. Mary Kay. That was no. Yeah. Fraught with a challenge for Team Russell in here.
Brian Russell (31:18):
Let me describe this. My son was a senior in high school in Maryland, no graduation, no prom for him, no traditional right of passage. My daughter who was spent, we spent five years in Maryland, no going away parties, no seeing her friends before we left Maryland. So it, it was pretty rough. But the silver lining is when we got here to North Carolina, there was a Nike team, there was a mountain bike team, Mary Kay. Literally the first thing we did, the very next day we moved down here, I was out on a mountain bike trail with my two boys with a family that was on the local mountain bike team here, engaging with the community immediately, immediate familiarity with an activity, immediate familiarity with quote unquote rules for how we do it. And so we fill in on that team and it was just, it was like a virtual hug.
Brian Russell (32:06):
Mary Kay from that team to my family to help us work absolutely through all of the dynamics of what was a crazy year for everybody. This league, this sport helped reduce some of the crazy for my family. So when the opportunity came several months ago, the director position for the North Carolina League, we’ve got 64 teams right now for our 2023 season. 800 student athletes, over 400 coaches again, over 400 parents out there spending time with their kids local community. And I said, oh again, back to the transition point, find some purpose, mission oriented, service oriented. Let’s, okay, I’ve spent 27 years helping develop, if you will, young men and women with a one mission of mine. I’ll spend my next set of however many years developing character and competency and strong mind, strong body in the youth of North Carolina. Sound sounds
Mary Kate Soliva (33:01):
Like I love that. Hashtag Can you hashtag, can you touch on that? What’s that? Hashtag, what’s that?
Brian Russell (33:05):
Hashtag Dream job.
Mary Kate Soliva (33:06):
Dream job, yeah. Hashtag dream job. Found your purpose. Next mission. And I love that it’s a family affair, a whole family event. You mentioned about what your kids went through during the pandemic and I think there’s a lot of similar stories probably from our listeners about how their families coped with covid 19 in that quarantine and isolation and things being shut down and not having, trying to that post new normal <laugh>, I know some people ate that term, but this new normal that we are living in now. I knew with the mountain biking it’s so much more than the physical aspect and you had just touched on it real quickly about the mind and just that family, that virtual hug that you all were able to get even from folks that you may not know that well, but you have that instant connection. Can you talk a little bit more about what your organization doesn’t as far as helping with mental health and confidence and things like that?
Brian Russell (33:55):
I think it gets to the core values of the leagues. Let me share those with you. And fun is up there. So people want to participate. Inclusivity, I already talked about that. It’s like everyone gets the ride, it doesn’t matter your background. Gender ra, like we don’t, that doesn’t matter. Even ability level will train you. Equity, everyone gets a fair shot at the, in their and then the last two, respect and community. And so that’s what you experience, right? When you come to one of our teams, it’s not all about the racing, but here’s where the character development comes in and the strong mind, the strong body is mountain biking like we shared is can be a challenge but you set your own challenge, right? It the student athlete that comes to that first practice, never having rid mountain bike. The challenge might just be to get on the bike and be able to stop and you just continue to build the skills and we’re not even talking about racing.
Brian Russell (34:46):
Another student athlete, been there a year or two, just wants to complete a race for the first time. Great. Awesome. Set that as a goal. We’ll just keep tracking you. And it just, I think this is something about the mountain bike community at large that I’ve noticed throughout my time with it. Everyone just wants you to have a good ride. That’s my description of the mountain bike community. You’re out on a trail, you get a flat like the next mountain biker is typically gonna stop and try and help you get back on your bike. Everyone just wants you to have a good ride. And so that’s the culture we’re creating here in this league where you do you join, whatever that challenge is in your life, you’re gonna find a coach, a parent, someone that’s gonna help you through that challenge. It may not be related to mountain biking, but they’re gonna know that you care about them.
Mary Kate Soliva (35:27):
No, I love that. And again, caring about people like you did, you spent 27 years caring for Marines and now you’re doing it further with all ages people from all walks of life. And I, I love that the bikes can be adapted to braless if they’re an amputee or they have an injury or depending on their skill level or age that there’s those bikes can be adapted to something that suits them in custom made. It’s not this cookie cutter and like you said, nobody gets benched. So I love that aspect. Would you touch on maybe taking this opportunity to highlight a success story where one of your writers perhaps changed their life or impacted them in a significant way?
Brian Russell (36:03):
I think beyond just an individual writer, I’ll talk about maybe a, a demographic that maybe when you say mountain biking isn’t immediately thought of and that’s our female student athletes. We have a specific program called Girls Riding Together and oh hey check this out. What’s cool acronym Grit <laugh> Girls Riding Together just like
Mary Kate Soliva (36:22):
Brian Russell (36:23):
Yeah. So it’s a program dedicated to making sure we focus on that core value of inclusivity. You can imagine as maybe a female student athlete, you’re the one girl on that team. And so build programs to help bring them into the sport and into the community, make sure they feel supported and pretty proud of the fact that we’re upwards of 22% female student athletes in this league in North Carolina, which is pretty impressive having started. Love that. Not lower than that. And our goal nationally, I think it’s 30%, but really it’s uh, we invited one of our senior, uh, female student athletes to our league summit a couple months ago. So we brought coaches, team directors from across the state in what are we doing, who we need to do better. And we closed with a student athlete panel and Amelia a one female student athlete, I think she, she had the mic drop moment and this is what we’re doing with our grit program and is that she says not all writers want to race, but all writers want to belong and that’s why she’s still in the league. It’s not the racing, it’s the program that supported her being part of this community. And so that’s I think one of our success stories Mary Kay is just, we’re absolutely focused on a demographic that sometimes isn’t the first thing you think about when you say mountain biking. They feel a little marginalized, small numbers coming onto a team. We’re trying to counter that and just make this an all-inclusive family and community sport for
Mary Kate Soliva (37:38):
Everybody. I love that. And then with you at the helm as director, I’m excited to see what’s to come for your organization with regards to getting, maybe eliminating that, that margin there and just getting more of those girls, young women to, to feel inspired and get on a bike. So again, I love that too and I think there’s just so, so much to say that when they get, when they’re part of that race or that level of achievement and that feeling once they do cross the line. Before I forget the thought, it slipped my mind earlier, but how young were you when you first started riding a bike? What’s your earliest memory I should say of of you on a bike?
Brian Russell (38:14):
Oh, like the one that’s seared into my mind again, rubber side down is always best is probably riding my huffy B M X bike and I can’t remember how old I was but elementary school off the homemade ramp one of my friends had built and oh gosh, planning in the asphalt and just road rash across half of my face. You can imagine why I still remember that
Mary Kate Soliva (38:34):
Be honest, like straight out of a a movie <laugh>, they’re like one of my earliest memories with the bike myself, it was my parents bought me a bike that was an act actual, it was actually an adult bike and I think that they were just like, oh you’re gonna grow into it and instead of buy buying a bike as you get older we’ll just get you a big one. So I literally had to fall off the bike just to like get off a bit off of it. But I remember my pedals actually falling off one time and as I was going downhill. So I can relate to the crash and thing you experienced. But again, I just love the lessons learned and the confidence, the self-esteem, building the teamwork and that everybody can take part and be part of the race. Just great analogy and parallels there with just life in general, right? And just giving everybody that opportunity to grow and be on that pathway, on that path. I know we’re nearing the end of our time together, but I wanted to hear from you if you, how folks can connect with you with your organization. How can we reach out and get involved and volunteer?
Brian Russell (39:35):
Yeah and boy we’d be happy to have anybody’s support to get hashtag more Kids on Bikes, but website is us North Carolina mtb.org. You can find information about all of our programs I mentioned just the one the girls riding together. We have another program we’re reinvigorating this year called Teen Trail Core. None of this mountain biking happens without trail systems. And so since 2023 is the North Carolina year of the trail, we’re encouraging our team student athletes, coaches to get out there and help fix up the trails, be good stewards of the environments. And so that Team Trail Core is a program where we incentivize both the student athletes and the coaches putting in some hours to fixing up the trails out there. But uh, you can see on our website opportunities to volunteer at our race events. We’re a spring league so we will race six times March through May love to have you out and come check us out.
Brian Russell (40:23):
But yeah, but you just can’t kind of find that same type of vibe anywhere else that I’ve found in the Youth Sports Organization team set up and what we call the pit zone, they’re maybe decorating their tents and families coming together, preparing for the race and then just seeing the smiles across the finish line. Mary Kate or like the resiliency, you talk about true grit. Yes, I’ve seen this in both leagues now. Poor kids bike breaks half a mile from the finish line. You know what most of our kids do? They pick up that bike and they run it across the finish line and just with
Mary Kate Soliva (40:53):
Big smiles, right? Big smiles on their faces.
Brian Russell (40:55):
Big smiles are, yeah, just that determination and again, just everyone cheering for all ’em out there. It’s a wonderful venue. So yeah, if you wanna volunteer for that, there’s a volunteer link on our website and come out and help us with parking or the course market unit admits. Yeah, plenty of opportunities to to support the league. So would love to get in touch with folks if they wanna reach out to me.
Mary Kate Soliva (41:14):
Yes, that’s great. And just cuz I know you’re so humble, but as far as financial support, you can also ensure our listeners can also donate through same website. Correct.
Brian Russell (41:25):
Next volunteer link is the donation link. Yes. Mary,
Mary Kate Soliva (41:28):
Brian Russell (41:29):
Plenty of opportunity
Mary Kate Soliva (41:31):
Yes, for financial support to help help this great organization, the North Carolina Inters Cycling League. And I love again that it’s the whole family affair. So if you’re looking for opportunities to support
Brian Russell (41:42):
Yeah, and I’ll just, I’ll share a little bit about that too. Like we’re, again, we more kids on bikes, we’re trying to reach everybody and give them an opportunity in North Carolina to get on a bike. So just this season this league has awarded over $4,000 in scholarships and a scholarship. Mm-hmm. Pays for registration fees and the like for families or having some financial difficulty or a certain demographic. We have a loaner bike program, so we purchase bikes and if that kid can’t get access to a bike for that season, we will loan a bike. Uh, just to be able to get them out there. So yeah, the financial support is Oh, that’s great. Very important as well. But I just wanted to share what we’re using it for. Mary Kay is really, it’s getting more kids on bikes.
Mary Kate Soliva (42:19):
I think that’s such an important note. I know this is a, especially coming out of the holiday season, it’s a really hard time for a lot of folks and even coming out of the pandemic. So again, for financial support, the fact that we’re, you’re able to provide that service for these kids is incredible. So, and again, on LinkedIn, you’re also out there on LinkedIn. So Brian Russell, that’s r u e l l, so you connect with Brian there. Any final thoughts, Brian, for, uh, close us out here?
Brian Russell (42:47):
No, I just want to thank you for what you’re doing, Mary Kate with the podcast, with your mentorship, what a wonderful thing you’re doing is helping these, uh, veterans through their transition. This helps me, right? I get to talk about what else. Absolutely. I mean there, there’s an aspect of that Mary Kay. So I really appreciate what you’re doing for the veterans
Mary Kate Soliva (43:02):
And uh, thank you again for your 27 years of service and your continued service beyond the uniform. That’s what Veteran voices and why I love doing what I do to be able to amplify your efforts. I know, know, we’re kind of like side chuckling before our listeners, my nonprofits, the Guam Human Rights Initiative. And so when you add the tea in there for our team, we are also grit. So every time Brian’s saying grit, we’re sort of like private chuckling back over here. But there’s a reason for that and I just love that grit. So on behalf of the entire team here at Veteran Voices, we invite you to find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcast from. A big thanks to our partners at military women’s collective.org and the Guam Human Rights firstname.lastname@example.org. Two great incredible organizations. You can find more about them there. Again, don’t forget to check out North Carolina Inters Cycling League. I will get it one of these days. Brian, I’m so sorry, <laugh>, but could you say Brian real quick, the website again,
Brian Russell (44:00):
North Carolina MTB all one word.org,
Mary Kate Soliva (44:05):
North Carolina mtb.org. Check out, learn more there. Thank you again so much for joining us. Brian, this is Mary Kate Saliva wishing all of our listeners nothing but the best. So do good, give forward and be the change that’s needed. On that note, we’ll see you next time. Thank you everybody.
Brian Russell started his journey with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) in 2018 by helping build and lead a team in Maryland during their inaugural season. When the Marine Corps transferred his family to North Carolina in 2020, that state league and the team his family joined provided an incredible sense of stability for them through that transition in what was a really crazy year (COVID) for all of us. Having worked as a coach supporter across both leagues, and coached other sports for his kids, he believes without a doubt that NICA is the best youth sports organization in existence. When the Director position for the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League became available in August of 2022, Brian left a 27 year career in the United States Marine Corps and an artillery officer and information warfare subject matter expert to lead North Carolina’s league. He believes the sport of mountain biking is an incredible platform to develop character and resilience in young women and men across the state while also strengthening families and building communities. Connect with Brian 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.
Director of Sales
Tyler Ward serves as Supply Chain Now's Director of Sales. Born and raised in Mid-Atlantic, Tyler is a proud graduate of Shippensburg University where he earned his degree in Communications. After college, he made his way to the beautiful state of Oregon, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.
With over a decade of experience in sales, Tyler has a proven track record of exceeding targets and leading high-performing teams. He credits his success to his ability to communicate effectively with customers and team members alike, as well as his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.
When he's not closing deals, you can find Tyler on the links or cheering on his favorite football and basketball teams. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing pick-up basketball, and traveling back to Ocean City, Maryland, his favorite place!
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 a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. 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.