Growing up in a bilingual home comes with challenges as well as opportunities. For this episode’s guest, it helped ease the transition into another ‘language’ altogether, distinguishing what submarines, torpedoes, whales, dolphins, surface ships, and supply ships sound like underwater.
Katherine Martinez is a U.S. Navy Veteran who spend her four years of active duty service as a Sonar Technician, STG2, stationed onboard the USS Winston S. Churchill. Even though she had served, she still had a hard time embracing her veteran’s status – until she discovered the Student Veterans of America.
In this interview, Katherine opens up to host Mary Kate Soliva about:
• Why an in-service injury that ended her military career made it hard to feel like she belonged in the veteran community
• How her multiple forms of service led her to be part of the Travis Manning Foundation, working with Gold Star families, veterans, and transitioning service members
• What it was like being selected as the Student Veterans of America Student of the Year in 2021, and passing the torch to another deserving student in 2022
Welcome to Veteran Voices, a podcast that 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 (00:40):
Hi everyone. Thank you for tuning into Veteran Voices. I’m your host, Mary Kate Soliva. Thank you so much for joining us today as we have an incredible veteran who is waiting soon to be coming on. I’ll gonna start with a quick programming note. First, this program is part of the supply chain now family of programming, and I’m super excited to say that we are in partnership with Military Women’s Collective. Shout out to my veterans sister Marina Ick, who’s a founder of Military Women’s Collective. You can learn more about the incredible organization and the work that they’re doing at military women’s collective.org. And of course, another partner of ours, uh, nonprofit, very near and dear to my heart, is the Guam Human Rights Initiative. You can find more about the work that they’re email@example.com. And shout out to all my veteran brother and sisters out on the island of Guam hk also today shows also going to be tuning in with a Navy veteran.
Mary Kate Soliva (01:38):
And I know that I’ve been in interviewing a lot of incredible veterans as of late, but I was like, oh my goodness. So many of my veteran brothers coming on here. But I need to start bringing back some of my veteran sisters. So I’m really excited to introduce our guest today. She’s a Navy veteran. She, okay. I have to just tell y’all folks that she served in the Navy for four years, but she is also earn the title of Student Veteran of the Year with Student Veterans of America. She’s on the board of Directors for the Student Veterans of America. You can see her speaking or maybe even chilling with the Vice President at the White House <laugh>. And she also works in the Travis Manning Foundation as the Mid-Atlantic Region Regional Manager. I’m so excited to welcome Catherine Martinez. Thank you for joining me, Katherine.
Katherine Martinez (02:29):
Hi Mary. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. You know, being a first gen American first gen college student and E s L learner and being the only person in my family to serve active duty, to be able to represent a lot in my community and amplify the voices. I’m just honored to be a part of Veteran Voices here today, <laugh>.
Mary Kate Soliva (02:50):
Oh, thank you so much. I know it’s like for, for those who are tuning in Veteran Voices the first time, uh, we’re a podcast that likes to amplify the voices of veterans serving beyond the uniform. And Katherine, I think you’re doing that. That’s why I’ve been so excited to bring you on the show and just this opportunity to just learn more about you and how you got to where you are today. Cuz I think it’s just incredible what you’ve accomplished in just a, a few years since you transitioned in 2019.
Mary Kate Soliva (03:18):
But I wanted to kick the show off with some motivation and some, I don’t know, I’m, you know, I’m Army, you’re Navy. I’m gonna do it a little differently there, but some pump up, some motivation <laugh> so you could share with our listeners a favorite motivational quote or lyric that you have.
Katherine Martinez (03:32):
One of my favorite motivational quotes of all time is actually by John F. Kennedy. He said, one person can make a difference in, everyone should try.
Mary Kate Soliva (03:40):
I love that. And that’s an incredible call to action, right? And even though he said that decades ago, that still rings true today. And I think that you’ve just been an incredible, or I know for a fact you’ve been incredible ambassador for student veterans all across the United States and whether they’re serving abroad and going to school, I, I just incredibly proud of you and the work that you’re, you’ve been doing and you’re still doing, you know, you haven’t stopped.
Mary Kate Soliva (04:08):
And any of your listeners can, can find you on LinkedIn and see that you, you’re wearing many hats right now. Um, I wanted to take the listeners back and get to know Katherine Martinez as a little girl where, and learn more a little bit about where you grew up.
Katherine Martinez (04:22):
So I actually grew up from Southern California. The city is called LaHabra, but it’s within Orange County. Um, my parents are Guatemalan, so being a first gen, I’m actually the middle child, but I grew up speaking Spanish. And for anyone who grew up in a household that speaks more than one language, I was pretty much a translator growing up. Not only am I trying to learn Spanish and English, but also translating little bits and pieces during parent teacher conferences or even as simple of a task of ordering pizza on the phone, um, <laugh>. But being, uh, the only girl in my family, my sister might be born until 2006, I was like in the boys club all the time, so I was being picked on and everything like that, but it gave me tough skin.
Katherine Martinez (05:08):
And so growing up I was super involved. I always loved helping out. Like even in high school I was in N J R O T C, which is the Navy Junior Reserve Officer training Corps. And just being a part of a community has just meant so much to me. Cuz sometimes I feel like when you have your specific intersections, you can get lost in trying to find your identity and who you wanna be in this world.
Mary Kate Soliva (05:32):
Oh, I I think that’s fantastic. And you mentioned about having thick skin and being tough, and I’m sure you, you were able to carry that with you when you joined the Navy. So is it something as far as, um, being the, the middle child in that little, the translation, did you, um, in school, did you have any kind of inspiration as far as a pathway to the military? Was there a J R T C or somebody who you met that’s military?
Katherine Martinez (06:00):
So growing up I didn’t, since I didn’t really have somebody to look up to who served in the military, knowing my family had served active duty before. However, after nine 11 happened, I grew up every year in elementary school, middle school, high school afterwards. Um, we would always have a special ceremony to honor the lives of those who perished in nine 11. And just learning more about United States history, it’s like, well, what can I do? And what really like pushed me forward was N J R O tc, having the opportunity to wear the uniform, have pride behind it because we had had uniform inspections and getting the opportunity to go to air shows and attend special like presentations where you have high ranking officers pretty much giving you motivational speaking presentations.
Katherine Martinez (06:46):
And it just, it just struck me a certain kind of way. So by the time I hit my senior year in high school, I was just like, you know what, this is what I wanna do. This is how I’m going to give back after growing up and seeing so many people make sacrifices for myself and those around me.
Mary Kate Soliva (07:03):
And I think that I I love that pa that piece there, that you were a, you were inspired by something as as simple as the school putting on an, an annual, uh, remembrance ceremony and just being able to teach that. Cause I remember that as well in school and we had the American flag in each of the classrooms and just getting that opportunity to hear their names and the C sacrifice that they made. And so I love that what you said about, um, being part of J O T C as well. I was also in J r TC and in high school and I remember the, the uniform inspections and the competitions that we would do. Um, was there sort of a, would you say a lesson learned that you, you have from that time? Um, you know, in high school, I’ll say,
Katherine Martinez (07:50):
when you say a lesson, like something that I like hold to me now or like a leadership kind of learning experience, I’ll say lesson learned, I think from, uh, from your G R t, your time in J rtc, what I learned from being an N G R T C is the importance of being honest with those around you. If you’re having a hard time or you need help or don’t understand something, it’s better to say something right away versus waiting till the last second, um, part of N J R T C, some of the competitions we had in include rifle spinning and I was just excited to finally be on the rifle spinning team because it’s very competitive to get on there.
Katherine Martinez (08:26):
But there was just a move I couldn’t get, I would just always hit the butt of the rifle on like what people call the funny bone and it would hurt. Yeah, it just seemed to happen every single time. And rather than, um, ask for help, I would just kind of try to figure it out on my own until we were doing our run throughs before our competition that weekend and they’re like, Hey, you’re not getting it. Like, what’s going on? You can do everything but this part. And I was like, well, I’ve never been able to get this part. So the hard, uh, it was decided for the best for that specific competition that because I kept having that issue. I didn’t compete that weekend. I would go on to compete in other contests, but that was a lesson learned from me. Like, hey, just ask. Like it’s not gonna hurt you even though it really physically did <laugh> to just reach out for help and someone who could show you something that can just be an easy fix. And in my case it was just tucking my elbow a little bit more, which made all the difference. So that was a lesson learned that I took right away <laugh>.
Mary Kate Soliva (09:26):
No, it’s great. And I don’t, I I don’t think I’ve seen you spin any rifles as of late. So, uh, for your s v a family tuning in, uh, perhaps they can get you to two demonstration <laugh>. Oh my goodness. I did that too. And I, and it is, uh, no easy feat and I think just the, the weight of the rifle and just learning, learning the way that spins and the way that your body has to move or what position it has to be in to, to create a certain momentum is some, yep. I, I never thought of the lessons learned that can be pulled from that, but even if you have your individual skillsets, but then collectively bringing that as a team because you have to be very synchronized right. In those competitions. So yeah, <laugh>, gosh, and, and I may or may not have dropped a couple on my, uh, foot then at that time. Um, I really wanted to to get into the, the transition piece as well because your influence from N G R T C and being a part of a team and having that influence, um, you know, is um, I’m just imagining like senior, senior year of high school, was this something that, uh, a recruiter came to school or did you end up joining the Navy right away? Or did you have that thing or, I’m gonna go to college first for a bit.
Katherine Martinez (10:43):
I joined at 20 actually. So I graduated high school at 17. So there was a few years and the reason I didn’t join right away is cuz we did have recruiters and everything like that. I had seen people go before me and I was just like, I don’t know if I want to be gone all the time. You know, even though I mentioned earlier that like desire to wanna give back to the community, um, it really didn’t hit me until like I was in my college work. I was focusing on business administration at the time. I was like, this isn’t what’s making me happy. I had that desire to give back to the community and wanna do more and what better way to do that. But just to serve, so was sitting in an accounting class and was like, you know what next investor, I’m gonna be in the Navy. And I did <laugh>, it was spring semester and then that summer I just pushed to really push to meet the requirements and then Swo in July and left in November <laugh>.
Mary Kate Soliva (11:42):
Oh wow. And, and gosh, what was it, what was that like? Like going to getting shipped off to basic training as, and you’re a little bit older than probably some of these 18 year olds coming straight in?
Katherine Martinez (11:54):
Honestly, my, my group, there was a lot of people that were my age. So I felt like, like very comfortable. However, I did go to Great Lakes during the winter and that was a choice <laugh>,
Mary Kate Soliva (12:07):
I was gonna say, did you make that choice? It sounds like a not a good choice.
Katherine Martinez (12:13):
I didn’t know. So I was just like, you know what? I should get used to leaving and not being there for holidays. So I thought it was genius. Why not prepare myself by going on like the first big holiday, which was like Thanksgiving. Um, it, I had experienced negative degree weather for the first time in my life because growing in Southern Cal, growing up in southern California, we didn’t have negative weather. So it was quite the experience for sure <laugh> and I’m like,
Mary Kate Soliva (12:40):
did you end up seeing snow for the first time?
Katherine Martinez (12:43):
It was not the first time I’ve seen a snow, but it was the first time I had experienced black ice. If you catch mad drift <laugh>, oh my goodness. And that’s this thing with,
Mary Kate Soliva (12:55):
you know, of all times to go and for all reasons for your train, your initial training where you have people yelling at you and you’re having to be outside <laugh> with like early with the, before the sun rises. Goodness. So I just um, am just fashioning you doing that, but you’re resilient, you’re tough, like you said, thick skin from your uh, learning from your siblings growing up. Um, so wanted to to also ask about that that time early on in your career, did you know when you were in the Navy, like did you have different options you’re choosing from as far as a job goes or were you kind of dead set, this is what I wanna do in the Navy?
Katherine Martinez (13:35):
So thankfully I had a high Asfab test score, so I had plenty of options when I went. Um, but ultimately I had three different types of rating descriptions in front of me and they’re like, this one you stay in great legs afterwards. This one you stay in Great Lakes afterwards. This one you get a go back to San Diego. And I was just like, absolutely. I’m picking the one where I gotta go back to San Diego. <laugh> <laugh>. You’re like cold, cold, not cold. Exactly, exactly. So, um, took the four years SOAR technician surface contract and was, didn’t even know what it really did. Honestly. Like I said, I was focusing on where my school was gonna be because I was like, I can deal with being in another state for a couple months, but that was just like my leeway in. Um, but yeah, I picked this on our Tech Plus they have a cool rating badge, so our technician’s surface rating badge is a pair of headphones with an arrow through it. So that was also something that appealed to me. <laugh>,
Mary Kate Soliva (14:38):
I think you’re the first one that said that the way, cause you know, thinking Army, I’m like, I don’t know if I’ve met anybody that went off the patch, but that’s a <laugh> that’s a valid point. You know, I guess it was Marines, like they have the, the really nice sharp uniform. So I know some people are like, yeah, it was the uniform for me, but yours is the, the Raven Patch headphones. I love that. Yeah. And the, he the headphones with an arrow through it. I’m just thinking like three Stooges or something where it’s like one of those hats that looks like you got shot in the head with an arrow <laugh>, um, as a different, uh, picture for me. I appreciate it. Um, but gosh, I was a sonar technician. Um, and and how long’s the, the school training for that?
Katherine Martinez (15:17):
So there’s um, differences. So if you’re a six year sonar technician, you would actually stay in Great Lakes a little bit longer to get, um, a little bit background. But for Sonar Technician a school, I believe it was around, um, nine weeks for like initial coursework and then a couple weeks more for um, ops, which is a more specific course and then you get sent out to the fleet.
Mary Kate Soliva (15:41):
So, well I I’m thinking it was a smart decision. I would’ve probably made the same going to San Diego, but I also know that San Diego is an ex extremely large base, uh, comparatively to if you had stayed in um, great Lakes. So it was that kind of a, a shock for you going to San Diego in such a, a big location.
Katherine Martinez (16:01):
So San Diego is big and there are a lot of naval bases there. However, summer technician school is on a smaller base, um, and Weight Loma and yeah, you can walk the radius very fast because I think the radius is like around like two miles. I think it’s very small, very small, small, small <laugh>.
Mary Kate Soliva (16:23):
that’s really small. Um, so, and, and then so did you end up, um, facing any, any challenges then at that time from school, from your schooling or your first duty station I should say at San Diego?
Katherine Martinez (16:36):
So in the schoolhouse I had to learn how to, I’ve always been a learner. That was fast. I could hold information well, but the pace we were going at and the numbers that we had to remember cuz we would have to remember frequency, herz, so mm-hmm <affirmative> in order to identify different submarines, torpedoes, biologics like whales, dolphins, um, surface, other surface ships, like even the supply ships, you know, like we have to know what they sound like too. So it’s all these different types of things that could be underwater. And then learning how sound is impacted by being underwater is just a lot to retain because I’ve never had to learn something like that before because I’ve always been like, here’s a book, describe like the plot and what happened, like what was the lesson in the book? Or you know, here’s some math equations, like do this or here take an analysis of this. But here it’s, hey, we need you to remember that, remember these so you can recall it. So if it’s in real time, you’re not flipping the pages through a book, you’re like, Hey, I think it’s this because of X, Y and Z because of that memorization.
Mary Kate Soliva (17:47):
No, I, i I don’t know why, but if you’ve seen Finding Nemo, it’s like, the thing I’m thinking of is do you speak whale and <laugh>, like Dory’s just asking Nemo like do you speak or is it the other way around? But you know what I mean? And just being able, like the sounds that she makes to be able to speak whale, I will spare everybody’s ears and trying to tempt that myself. But that’s completely what I’m thinking. But it does sound, it actually sounds pretty bad what you’re doing cuz it does it just imagining to put your, your mind in the way that your learning style was in high school and the way that you have always learned and now you’re really challenging. I imagine the mental exhaustion of that is pretty taxing to try to, it’s it’s a whole new language that you’re learning essentially.
Katherine Martinez (18:32):
Oh yeah, absolutely. It pretty much was learning like another language, but I’m grateful that I’m an English second language learner because when you’re learning another language, you find the tricks and nuances to make it easier for yourself. So I was able to find patterns and be like, okay, this is this, this is what this is called. And just find those patterns similar to when I was trying to learn how to speak English was the same like phonetic patterns when you’re trying to learn how to enunciate word for the first time. So I would try to find patterns within the numbers and like make little categories to make it easier for myself.
Mary Kate Soliva (19:05):
Oh that’s, gosh. And I was thinking like hieroglyphics or you see people looking at symbols, but I think it’s important to, to highlight that you recognize patterns cuz that is, I, I’ve taken the D L P T for languages before and it really just looks like a, sounds like a caveman language, like a, just a bunch of sounds and noises that don’t make any sense, not part of a phonetic alphabet, but being able to recognize those patterns and, and placements of different sounds is really interesting to me. So I’m definitely gonna get now into your first, uh, the, with with your first team or I should say once you graduated, where did you end up going?
Katherine Martinez (19:46):
So I got station aboard the USS Winston Church Show, which is d D G 81 and that’s how I ended up in Norfolk, Virginia. <laugh>.
Mary Kate Soliva (19:54):
Can you pronounce what you just said? Where, where is it? Ron, Norfolk, Virginia <laugh>. No, no, before that you said the name of the what, what was the name of the ship?
Katherine Martinez (20:04):
Oh, D D G 81. The USS Winston s Churchill.
Mary Kate Soliva (20:08):
Oh, Winston s Churchill. I don’t know, I heard it as one long thing. <laugh>, it sounded like a whole different word I’d never heard of before. So <laugh>, I do know that Winston’s Churchill. Oh gosh. And Norfolk. So you went from one, I know you said it was like a little piece of San Diego, but again, I, I guess thinking army in San Diego’s huge. Norfolk’s huge is massive for the Navy. So how, how was that? Was that a culture shock? Now you’re East coast where it’s cold again. <laugh>. So what time of year did you move? Now I’m thinking of the, the weather <laugh>.
Katherine Martinez (20:42):
Yeah, you know, I just seemed to get to places at the best time of year. I got to Norfolk in January, 2017 and I drove across the country. So driving in snow I will tell you is a task within itself, but relying on others to know how to drive in snow is just as much as a task. But surprisingly enough when I got here was the first time Hampton Roads had closed like several roads in years because of how bad the slick was. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So it was quite the journey because I remember finally getting to the base and asking the gate guard, Hey do you know where Pier?
Katherine Martinez (21:20):
So I can’t remember the number but whatever pier number it was. And he’s like, uh, I think it’s somewhere over there. And he points in this general direction and I was like, I’ve never been here before. He’s like, oh I’ve only been here for a months. So we’re both like, I dunno where I’m going. <laugh> if my sponsorship, no cell phone reception. So I’m there def like to my own devices trying to figure it out. <laugh>,
Mary Kate Soliva (21:42):
that’s the one thing with the Navy, I feel like there’s never any, any cell connection to like whatever you all are doing. Like the Skinners, they’re like blocking all cell service <laugh> cause there’s everything is just metal and <laugh> and like these this yeah. Massive device, massive equipment, massive ships everywhere. Um, I’ve navigated and there’s just so many exits even on that road of just Norfolk exits, um, or um, that you’re passing by. So, um, as far as your, so the first person you end up asking, he’s also lost. Yeah. Uh, did you end up coming across anybody that was able to take you under their wing and show you the ropes?
Katherine Martinez (22:24):
So what’s that? I figured out how to get to my ship eventually because I was just like, if I keep driving I’m bound to see something that says pierce something and then just naturally smoke signals <laugh>. But once smoke signals up like, or a flare, it’s like I’m here. No, honestly I don’t, that’d be funny but also not kind of funny <laugh> because I’d be like, where is that coming from? But uh, once I got to my ship I was very blessed to have a division that was very welcoming. Like, um, I had S t G two McNeil, I had SG one Moss who is now Chief Moss. Um, but my sponsor was Sstg two CSMs at the time and they were just also warm and welcoming to me. They’re like, Hey, like this is where your birthings gonna be. There’s not a lot of women in the sunar tech grad, but they were, yeah. So they were just like, Hey, like your birthings gonna be right here cuz um, we did have s g g two sack it who was grateful for, because she was the only other female at the time. And she’s like, Hey, this is where your rock’s gonna be. Like, showed me the ropes in that matter. But, uh, navigating how to get through the scuttle for the first time, which is like a little hole and like just kind of go down and everything was unique cause uh, I have really bad depth perception too and oh no, <laugh>, I go hit my head, who knows? But, uh, I had a great experience with my division, made me feel right at home. <laugh>. Oh my goodness. <laugh>.
Mary Kate Soliva (23:52):
I wanna touch on that, what you said about there not being that many women and there was only one other woman, um, at the time of your division. What, why do you think that is is as far as not having that many women?
Katherine Martinez (24:02):
So the sonar tech rating actually hadn’t been open up to women for a very long time. Like while I was at my schoolhouse, I felt I met some of the first senior enlisted females within my rating, like the first senior chiefs and master chief. Wow. Um, that’s pretty cool. I love that. Honestly. Yeah, like the legacies, I call ’em the pioneers. <laugh> Yeah. Trailblazers. Yeah. And so to look at them and see how far they’ve come and I think because it’s still a newer rating, it’s why, but while I was at school I did see a lot of women there. It’s just that, you know, since it’s a small rating, it’s like kind of like a small world. Like you see them, but yet to spread ’em out, <laugh> for the most part, you’re more likely to run into an all male divers uh, division versus an all female one. So I was just grateful there was another female in my division. <laugh>.
Mary Kate Soliva (24:48):
well that, well I, I think that that means something, you know, and I’ve, I’ve had that before. Tears show up to, we call ’em like our units on the army side of the house and show up to the unit and there’s like hard, there’s maybe one other woman that’s got the same, uh, m o s same job as me. Um, but yeah, it’s just really interesting. I, I like to do that as far as thinking why that is. But I also think it’s a very cool time as a, a woman to serve because those who we call the pioneers, the trailblazers, the the first to do things are still around. You know, we, they’re not something we’re just reading people that we’re just reading about a history book. Like these are women that are still around and we can reach out to them and talk to them and, and I think it’s incredible, like you said, to learn from how far they’ve come. A true testament there. Um, so as far as you mentioned earlier about the, is it s sg two,
Katherine Martinez (25:42):
uh, sstg two, yeah. The rate is S G G, um, that’s center Technician service and then the two part is petty officer second class. So just combine the two SDG two,
Mary Kate Soliva (25:53):
like y’all are, I was like, what are these letters just putting together? I know. Trying to, trying to follow, see again, like Army, Navy we’re speaking, we’re like, how can we make it vastly different? So speaking in a completely different language, um, again on the topic of languages <laugh>. Um, but so I wanna get into your, uh, transition cuz I, I think it’s interesting about, you know, we talked about why you served and having in, in that time as young Katherine Martinez looking at the influence of, of just nine 11 and the service and sacrifice. But I think why people stay is sometimes is oftentimes a different reason than why we joined in the first place. And, and you served, uh, four years active service and just want to kind of, if you could take us through that kind of process as to what made you decide this is time for me to, to get out.
Katherine Martinez (26:44):
So, um, a unique part of my story is I unfortunately didn’t have the choice. I was injured in the line of duty while stationed aboard my ship. I fell off of a vertical ladder. Well and due to lack of proper treatment, um, I was the sufferer of those consequences. Um, long story short, I, even though I got injured, I wouldn’t get any medical diagnostic screening for said injury until 11 months after my initial accident. And so, um, you know, there are instructions when it comes to being limited duty and all those things, but because I didn’t have the time, I was just a matter of circumstance. I loved my time in would’ve continued serving if I had the choice to. But since I didn’t, I wanted to be prepared as possible, but also make it so others in my shoes wouldn’t have to experience exactly what I had to because there’s someone in your corner saying like, Hey, I’ve been there, here’s some advice I have for you. So you don’t have to have it as hard as I did.
Mary Kate Soliva (27:44):
No. And I, and I still see you doing that now, just advocating for veterans and ensuring that they’re not having to go through, cuz 11 months after for your initial screens, just unacceptable that you had to wait that long. And that’s sometimes even just for an initial, you need that diagnosis and, and to be able to plan that treatment of care, both physically but also um, mentally as well. Just the fact of what we go through when we realize that we are gonna get pushed out for medical reasons. So I thank you for sharing that, that piece. Um, as far as when when you were transitioning, did you find that even though you weren’t getting the support on the, the medical side, was there anybody there to help you through the transition process in general?
Katherine Martinez (28:29):
So I started my journey with Student Veterans America while I was still active duty. Once I got my out date, it would be October 29th, 2019. Um, I was like, cool, I can start going back to school. And I enrolled at Tidewater Community College in Chesapeake, Virginia and was introduced to Student Veterans of America by their veterans liaison. And she’s like, Hey, like they help veterans like in higher ed. And since my pathway was higher ed, um, s v a was that leeway in for me, but I will be honest, I didn’t think I was a veteran because I, I’m getting out because of an injury. I didn’t technically like do my full obligation like the I r R portion of my contract. So it was hard for me to accept that I could be a part of an organization that said veteran when uh, everybody has different connotations of what is a veteran. But at the time I didn’t feel like one and wouldn’t feel like one until I went to NACON 2020. And Jared Lyon, who’s the c e o and president, he’s like, Hey, we had a short conversation cuz obviously everyone wants to talk to Jared, but, uh, he let me know like, Hey, you are a veteran and you belong in this space. And that’s what made me feel more comfortable being a part of S V A and really, um, embrace my veteran’s status and get prepared for that next part of life, which is transitioning from military to civilian.
Mary Kate Soliva (29:50):
Well it’s like you almost like making my eyes water. Cause I, I’ve, you know, I’ve met Jared before and um, those words that he said to you are so true. Like we’re just so I know I I don’t speak alone to just say how proud we are of you and that you are a veteran and you do belong in this space and you’ve done so much to, and you’ve accomplished so much. And this is the last few years. Like you said, you transitioned in 2019 without any help. You wanted to continue serving and it wasn’t your fault why you were pushed out and the treatment that you received was unacceptable.
Mary Kate Soliva (30:25):
But I am so grateful that student Veterans America took you under their wing and gave you that spark that, you know, is now a flaming fire that’s not gonna go out anytime soon. You’re literally blazing another trail. Um, and I can say that even um, my time in Student Veterans of America, cuz I came off of active duty after you in 2021. Um, and seeing your journey and seeing like I need to do more. Like I need to do more to rally up my R S V A at, at, uh, St. Leon University. My university is, was kind of dwindling down and we were trying to reignite it. So having that inspiration to see like how far you’ve come has, has been incredible. But you are totally part of this fam Katherine and you <laugh>, we’re not gonna let you go anywhere <laugh>.
Katherine Martinez (31:13):
Uh, it odd to hear you say that honestly. Um, like I said, I didn’t view myself being in this position back in 2019 because I was still navigating where am I gonna go, what’s next from here? And it just means a lot to hear you say that, but can’t say enough to others. Like, hey, like don’t be afraid to like reach out and say like, Hey, do you have any advice? Can you help me with this? Do you know someone who’s been something similar of what I have? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> being able to make those bridges in connections to this bring each other up just makes all the difference honestly.
Mary Kate Soliva (31:45):
Yeah. And I can, I can understand why you would’ve felt that way to not identify, but the reality is that we were still at a time of war when you raised your right hand. You know, our country was still at a time of war and you chose to serve, uh, regardless of knowing that, you know, and, and regardless of knowing like where you could have been sent off or what could have happened and you know, and, and that alone to me, I, you know, it’s just one of us, you know, <laugh>, if you could just chanting one of us, one of us. But I think with as far as your transition piece goes, um, I I’ve heard it so many times from other veterans and I wonder if you feel this way too, that we’re in a constant state of transition. Uh, do you feel that way that you you’re still transitioning?
Katherine Martinez (32:31):
I absolutely do. So, um, when I went on terminal leave, I started work as a government contractor, did that for two years and then was a federal employee under the department of the Navy for a year. And then now I’m working in the nonprofit sector, which is totally different from the previous thing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I feel like it’s constant transition in terms of career but also of education and where you’re going next. It’s, I agree with that sentiment. Fullheartedly.
Mary Kate Soliva (32:59):
Yeah. I think that we’re, we’re very hard on ourselves, right? As veterans or even student veterans we’re, we’re hard on ourselves. Think we should have been doing more by this point in our life or we should be doing more. And so I, I think it’s like every veteran is like wearing multiple hats. <laugh>. And you, we talked earlier about your business cards, how you said you haven’t had the business cards made. Cuz you’re like, what title do I put on my business card? Because you have so many titles right now, but it’s inc I mean those are fantastic titles and, and the fact that you still, that you work with the Travis Manning Foundation, it just goes to show that even though you didn’t identify as a veteran then like look how much you are doing to give back to veterans in your full-time job, in your role board of directors at S V A. Um, and I’d love for you to, to touch on how you went about earning the title of student Veteran of the Year. Cuz for those that don’t know, there are thousands <laugh> of student veterans nationwide and Catherine here war is wearing the crowd <laugh>.
Katherine Martinez (34:00):
So honestly, um, it was a lot of work, but I’ll tell you that, um, the premise behind it is I do what I do because I love what I do. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> it, my stemming from winning the 2021 student veteran of the year goes back to 2020 a little bit because um, I was at a hard part in my life. I decided to end an 11 year relationship and being in a relationship that long from the ages of 14 to 25, that person was a part of my identity. So I was like, who is Katherine? Who is she gonna be? Who, what direction is she headed in now? Because all my future plans involve this person. So I felt lost as anybody would. And I just, you know, natural, like felt upset, didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere because again, that was a big part of my identity even though I was Katherine.
Katherine Martinez (34:53):
I also was this other person with this person. And so, um, Dr. Abby kin from s v, she sent a reminder email like saying like, Hey, we’re still accepting applications for the leadership institute. And normally I wouldn’t respond to mass emails, but I’ll just like, Abby, I really appreciate you like thinking of me and like sending this out, but I don’t think I deserve it. And I remember her calling and she is all like, you do deserve this. Like, what are you talking about? And it was a very like, brief conversation, but her words stuck with me. So, um, even though I felt pretty low, um, at the time I used uh, Snapchat. So I felt very insecure with with how I looked. Also used a filtered video thing, made the video on what it meant to me to go to Leadership Institute, posted it on LinkedIn. Was I happy about how it looked? It didn’t look professional, but I was like, no, but did I feel like I got my message across? Yes. So I just hoped for the best. And then I got notified that I was accepted for a leadership institute and this would be virtual that would take place all throughout the month of November. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I got to be mentored by Kate Logan and Jonathan and it just meant so much to me to learn from them because I told them my circumstance. I’m like, Hey, this is what I’m going through right now. And they’re all like, Hey, like you’re okay. Like we don’t see you anything different. We see you as you and a part of SVA a’s Leadership Institute is honing in on your brand and who you are. So the past couple weeks we’re doing assignments, we’re getting to know like who we wanna become within our communities and what type of environment we wanna foster.
Katherine Martinez (36:40):
And then I did make a like pretty much my best friend now, his name is Cameron Zbikowski, he’s now part of the program team of sba. But back then we’re just both chapter leaders. Um, but he was <laugh> when I was just like struggling or would space out he, in our little Zoom chat thing, he’d be like, Hey, are you okay? Like he’d just like check in on me and then pretty much made it to the finish line because my mentors and my now best friend, he would, they all just would be like, Hey, you are valid. Like you are here. Like you are deserving of this. Those reminders that I needed at the time. And by the time I graduated I fully grasped like I am a leader and I want, I’m somebody who wants to continue serving after service. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So all of 2021, I became very intentional about what I was doing, who I was working with and what I wanted these to mean.
Katherine Martinez (37:31):
And a big part of that is the Travis Manning Foundation. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they have several programming like character does matter and the Operation Legacy Project and being a character does matter. Mentor and organizing Operation Legacy projects was very much a part of my 2021 year of being intentional and what I wanna do in the community. Their ethos is if not me, then who. So even when I was like feeling tired or felt like I should stop that quote, if not me, then who just kept with me and was a message I wanted to share with others within my lines of work. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So working with projects with Travis Manning Foundation, continuing my work with S V A in that 2021 year, I actually became the first female president at Wal Dominion University history for being entire. So I just kept really pushing it. Um, and so I just wanted to be something that other people could resonate with.
Katherine Martinez (38:28):
I’m very realistic and, um, vulnerable in sharing my story with others. So, um, just kept doing, doing the work throughout 2021 and I was actually getting ready. Um, odu, our SBA chapter does something very unique. We have like pretty much an all branches ball at the end of the year where we celebrate and recognize the work of all of our student veterans. That includes like veterans, active duty, reservists, military spouses and children. Anyone who is involved with our chapter, we celebrate the work that they’ve done all year long. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I was getting ready for it. I’m scrambling everywhere because I had to get the earliest set up and I get a call from the programs team letting me know I was selected as a finalist and that just meant everything to me. Cuz I was like, oh man, one year ago I wasn’t in the same place. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> at all. I was a com I was just like, um, I was not in the best of places emotionally. So to come a year later, and this is where I’m at, um, being named a finalist, I felt I already won. So, um, Hans 2022 theme would be S v A has Soul, which stands for Service Opportunity, unity and Leadership. And because I think my story fits so well with the theme is why I won, I will truly never understand why because I went into thinking it, I already won being named a finalist if I won overall, uh, I didn’t think I was gonna win. I didn’t even have a speech ready. I thought a very good friend of mine who was also a finalist was gonna win. Um, we still are very close, uh, Fatima, if you watch this hi <laugh>, but Fatima Seri is amazing and I thought she was gonna win and she knows that I thought that highly of her.
Katherine Martinez (40:09):
But um, that’s not to say all the other finalists weren’t deserving to be named Top 10 in the entire country is absolutely amazing. Like Tiana Panovich, Alex Ortiz mm-hmm. <affirmative>, juvie, like all these am um, Steven Westby, all these people are amazing and do amazing work within the communities that they’re a part of. And it, I’m so glad I have nothing to do with the decision making of student Veteran of the year because it’s so hard when you really look at what these veterans are doing and that’s just who these finalists are. Imagine looking at all the work that all these passionate student veterans are doing every single day to make a difference on campus in their communities. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But, uh, I will never be able, truly able to say like, this is the defined reason why I think I won. I just think it’s a culmination of my story, um, that made it possible for me.
Katherine Martinez (40:59):
But I couldn’t be more humbled and grateful to have been able to represent, uh, S V A and student veterans across the country. And then this past, uh, earlier this month, I gotta pass on the torch to the 2022 winner and it’s just like, yeah. Beautiful. Amazing feeling.
Mary Kate Soliva (41:14):
Well, it’s such an honor to, to have been in the audience cuz I remember even like the Toy Story soldiers that they had brought out, <laugh>, the little, little Green Toy Soldiers, um, from Andy’s room <laugh> Toy Story, um, came up on the stage. But I it was so great to see you, uh, to, to take that title is and you can have continued to advocate for others and to continue sharing your story and being that vulnerable. Um, because even, even sharing the relationship challenges, that’s, that’s the vulnerability and something that we wouldn’t know, you know, if you didn’t give us a glimpse into that, into your, into your personal life. But there’s so much more that’s going on behind the scenes a lot of times with, with any veteran or anybody who’s, who’s serving or transitioning that there’s things going on at home life that absolutely impacts, because I think we’re ingrained in us, right? That we are a, we’re a soldier 24 7, we’re a Sailor 24 7. I know. And Airman or, or whatever it is, what branch who served is that, that sense of service. It’s like that doesn’t, we don’t hang that up, you know, it’s like that’s still innately in us somehow. But I was so proud of you when you got up there and you won and your great public speaker and I can just see that s v a is gonna see Veterans America are gonna amplify your voice for years to come and your story, you’ve overcome so much. Um, I wanted to just, you know, for our listeners about what’s next for you. What, what do you got going on or what’s next?
Katherine Martinez (42:46):
Um, I recently took on the role of being the Mid-Atlantic Reading manager with Jar What the Travis Manion Foundation. So I’m very excited to work with Gold Star families, veterans, and transitioning service members. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> within the region. Um, but other than that, I’m very excited. I’ll be graduating from the Mission Continues Women Veterans Leadership Program. Um, I’m, they’re part of their fifth cohort for any female vets out there. The application window for the next cohort opens soon. So look out for that. It’s a beautiful program to be a part of and really embrace that sisterhood part of being surrounded by your fellow female vets. And then otherwise, I’m just really excited to, um, be supportive of initiatives of my fellow veterans, um, the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, but will be making updates throughout the year as well.
Katherine Martinez (43:31):
Um, Michael Rod Rodriguez, who is the c e o and president just made a recent update, which is available on LinkedIn, but mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, I’ll be hopefully starting grad school in the fall. And <laugh> really hoping to hone in on diversifying medical research to be inclusive of people of color as, and women and other underrepresented minority groups. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because I have belief that because of the lack of inclusion, it leads to delayed diagnosis. So really just hoping in to further my education there, but being involved in my community by still volunteering and then just learning my new role. <laugh>. I love it. And I can just see you’ve got like this light <laugh> just surround surrounding you that you’re ready to take on 2023. I’m very excited for you. Um, you were, you were doing, you went, you got to go to the White House, right? And you got to do the black rifle co coffee companies, uh, veteran highlight <laugh>.
Mary Kate Soliva (44:28):
Yeah. How were, how were those? Was your just your heart racing and beating out of your chest?
Katherine Martinez (44:33):
Oh man. So I had the unique opportunity to attend the White House Veterans Day breakfast and, you know, um, being able people go on White House tours, all the ropes are up, this is a unique circumstance, but that is not the case. And to be able to walk in and people are like, oh, who are you trying to get to know you? And you’re amongst some of the most powerful people within the veterans space aiming to make a difference, whether it’s in the p uh, policy space, whether it’s, um, medical accessibility, higher education, accessibility, making it for expansion and job opportunities, like expanding the Skill Bridge program to include spouses, um, all the different branches represented it. I feel so honored to be considered a person that belongs in that room with other people.
Katherine Martinez (45:24):
Um, and then I got to meet the vice president, the second gentleman and the First Lady. And it’s just an unreal experience to be able to shake their hand them kind of like, I know they’re briefed, but <laugh>, they know your name, <laugh> <laugh>, but also have an opportunity of a brief exchange of like, hello, how are you? Like, what are you, um, can you tell us something about yourself that most people wouldn’t know about you? Um, it was,
Mary Kate Soliva (45:51):
I’m sure it was their best meeting of the day. I get Katherine, I bet you we’re a breath of fresh air to the First Lady and second gentleman and Vice President Harris. I bet it was just, you know, you’re, you, you have like a life that you just naturally have. But I, I think for them with all the other stuff that they do with, I’m sure it was a breath of fresh air to meet you and they’re lucky to meet you as opposed to I know the other way around. I’m sure you’re thinking. Um, and then the Black Rifle Coffee Company, you were also invited to go on to what football field?
Katherine Martinez (46:25):
So is FedEx Field, home of the Washington Commanders. So gotta be the veteran of the game, sponsored by Black Rifle Coffee. I was nominated by Travis Manning Foundation and he was so cool. I got it on the game, uh, on the field experience before the game started and then during the second quarter. So it was just so cool to be able to have that experience. Also, they revealed their mascot that day, so that was pretty cool as well.
Mary Kate Soliva (46:51):
Yeah, you’re like literally there as history was in the making <laugh> and you’re continuing to make history yourself. Um, did you have any, any last awards as we, we close up our interview today? I know I could talk to you all day, um, but do you have any sort of knowledge share that you wanna drop to any of our brothers and sisters that are transitioning right now.
Katherine Martinez (47:13):
to anybody that’s looking to get help, ask for help? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because I know it’s a hard thing to do, but what I can promise you is that there are so many veteran con interconnected networks that if one person doesn’t know, know, they know somebody that might be able to help you further. Or if they don’t know, they’ll keep connecting you until we get you to the right person to speak with. Whether it’s education assistance, job assistance, assistance, getting medical care for your children or your spouse. We, there’s so many opportunities to succeed and we just wanna help you get there. So just don’t be afraid to reach out. And other than that, Mary, thank you so much for having me. It’s been such a pleasure to also watch your journey via LinkedIn and to finally share a conversation with you is just an honor and a privilege in of itself. <laugh>,
Mary Kate Soliva (48:03):
thank you. I you took the words outta my mouth. It’s, I’m just honestly honored to, you know, as someone who, as president of my s v a this past year, but I re I recognize that miss many of the student veterans in my chapter are also online students. So again, we talked about navigating that remote space and as they call this new normal post covid, um, there’s still so many student veterans and veterans out there that are needing support and just need to navigate where to start. And I get that question all the time. It’s just, where do I start? But you said there’s those of us who’ve been there before and we are still transitioning even a few years later. So be easy, you know, don’t be so hard on yourselves, our listeners who are in transition. And even if you’ve been out for a while and you wanna pivot, um, you know, please reach out to Katherine. Katherine, how can they, what’s the best way for them to get ahold of you if they wanna pick your brain and learn some more?
Katherine Martinez (49:01):
LinkedIn. LinkedIn is best LinkedIn ahold of me. <laugh>? Yes.
Mary Kate Soliva (49:05):
And that’s Katherine Martinez. So k a t h e r i n e. That’s the same way I spell my middle name Katherine Best Way. And then Martinez, m a r t i n e z on LinkedIn. Katherine Martinez. So thank you Katherine, for joining me again on Veteran Voices where we amplify the voices of veterans serving beyond the uniform. On behalf of the entire team, I wanna say thank you to all our listeners and subscribers. We invite you to join and tune in on Veteran Voices wherever you get your podcast from. And check out our partners again at the Guam Human Rights firstname.lastname@example.org and our great partners at the military, women’s collective, military women’s collective.org. So this is Mary Kate Saliva, wishing you all well do good, pay it forward and be the change that’s needed right now. So on that note, we’ll see you next time. Take care everybody.
Katherine Martinez, A U.S Navy veteran served four years of active duty service as a Sonar Technician, STG2, stationed onboard the USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC). Martinez believes that community collaboration and providing resources to our military community are some of the best ways to achieve success in higher education. She has served as the first-female President of Old Dominion University’s SVA chapter 2021-2022 as well as their Community Outreach Officer 2020-2021; previously, she served as the President of the SVA chapter at Tidewater Community College 2019-2020. Katherine was named the 2021 Student Veteran of the Year due to her accomplishments and dedication at each college she attended. Her efforts have included strategies to increase diversity, equity, inclusion and cultural awareness to and for student veterans; establishing relationships to help student veterans as well as the veteran community-at-large tackle the many hurdles they face on a daily basis. Katherine brings a unique perspective to the Board of Directors at Student Veterans of America through her work in the local community and as a recent graduate. She received her bachelor’s degree with a dual major of Sociology and Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University. She completed work with INNOVATE Monarchs to help design a student-ready college (supported by the Lumina Grant), is a member of the Theta Eta chapter of Kappa Delta Sorority and was mentioned in the 2020 GI Jobs Magazine as a part of their Inaugural Student Veteran Leadership awards. She is an active Character Does Matter mentor and Operation Legacy project coordinator with the Travis Manion Foundation. Through her personal enrollment in Project Achieve, through Virginia Commonwealth University, she has also presented a webcast about her experience in the program and the benefits of cognitive support technology while in college. Connect with Katherine on 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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
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.
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, 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vice President, Production
Amanda is a production and marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Amanda currently manages, produces, and develops modern digital content for Supply Chain Now and their clients. Amanda has previously served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah, and founded and managed her own successful digital marketing firm, Magnolia Marketing Group. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now production team, you can find Amanda in the kitchen, reading, listening to podcasts, or enjoying time with family.
Constantine Limberakis is a thought leader in the area of procurement and supply management. He has over 20 years of international experience, playing strategic roles in a wide spectrum of organizations related to analyst advisory, consulting, product marketing, product development, and market research. Throughout his career, he's been passionate about engaging global business leaders and the broader analyst and technology community with strategic content, speaking engagements, podcasts, research, webinars, and industry articles.Constantine holds a BA in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA in Finance & Marketing / Masters in Public & International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.
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.
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 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 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.
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!
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.
Principal & CMO, 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.
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.