Veteran Voices
Episode 38

Episode Summary

“We have to have a real picture of what a Veteran is. This program evolved out of a true social necessity and the fact that people were already doing the work, just under other disciplines. And it really took a group of people to say, let’s bring it all together.”
– Dr. Luke McCleese is their Director of Military Affairs and Services, St. Leo University

Diversity and Inclusion is a huge topic of discussion in corporate America these days, but many companies – and the people that work for them – often forget that being a Veteran is a recognized diversity category. Although each person is an individual on their own journey, the Veteran community does share certain characteristics based on the experiences they have had.

To better understand what it means to be a Veteran, a first-in-the-nation Veterans Studies program has been introduced at St. Leo University. Dr. Karen Hannel is their Chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and Dr. Luke McCleese is their Director of Military Affairs and Services as well as the co-creator of the Veteran Studies Major. This program is available to veterans and non-veterans alike and covers everything from legendary warriors from medieval worlds through military psychology and the role of military in the modern world.

In this episode of Veteran Voices, co-hosted by return guest Mary Kate Soliva from Vets2Industry and Scott Luton, Karen and Luke describe:

• Why it is important to have a dedicated Veteran Studies program available and what it entails

• Some of the inaccurate or non-representative stereotypes that exist about Veterans in the civilian population, and how Veterans Studies can address them

• The challenges associated with transitioning out of the military, regardless of the length of time served, and how Veterans can get the support they need

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:02):

Welcome to veteran voices, a podcast 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 taught 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.

Scott Luton (00:40):

Hey, good morning, Scott Luton and Mary Kate saliva with you here on veteran voices. Welcome to today’s show Mary Kate, how are you? I’m

Mary Kate Soliva (00:49):

Great, Scott. It’s so great to see you again,

Scott Luton (00:51):

You as well. Uh, you and your fellow military service members and your panelists and, and [inaudible], uh, volunteer leaders created quite a stir when you joined us for the live stream several months back. So it’s great to have you here kind of on the other side of the table as a special co-host. So thanks for your time here.

Mary Kate Soliva (01:09):

Absolutely. I’m super excited. Thank you.

Scott Luton (01:12):

Well, even more important than you being a co-host. I appreciate how you facilitated this podcast discussion, where we’ve got a couple of academic leaders that are part of a highly innovative troubling initiative that they really created a so-so standby for. What’s going to be an intriguing and informative conversation. Mary Kay, thanks for making that happen.

Mary Kate Soliva (01:32):

Absolutely. I’m super excited to hear from both of our guests today. We

Scott Luton (01:36):

Are too. So Hey, quick program in it. Before we get started, this program is part of our supply chain. Now family programming, you can find veteran voices wherever you get your podcasts from be sure to subscribe. So you’ll miss a single thing. And of course we conducted in partnership with our great friends over at vets to industry. You might have said V2 out earlier. We all love our acronyms, but vets to industry is nonprofit doing big things for the veteran community, and you can learn more@vetstoindustry.org. Okay, Mary Kay. We’re ready to introduce our two special guests.

Mary Kate Soliva (02:07):

Take it away, Scott.

Scott Luton (02:10):

Okay, let’s do it. All right. So we have with us today, we want to bring in our two featured guests, Dr. Karen Hannel chair of the department of interdisciplinary studies at St. Leo university. Karen, how are you doing?

Karen Hannel (02:24):

I’m doing great. It’s great to be here.

Scott Luton (02:26):

You as well, we’re doing our homework, uh, really looking forward to you, sharing some aspects of your journey. And of course is big news here. And with Dr. Hannah, we have her colleague, Dr. Luke McCleese director of military affairs and services, and co-creator of the veteran studies major at St. Leo university. Hey Luke, how are you doing?

Luke McClees (02:47):

Hey, Scott, thanks for having us so much. I appreciate it.

Scott Luton (02:50):

Absolutely. Well, we’re excited. Uh, as Mary Kate said, we’re super excited that that means even best as a world record level of excitement here at veteran voices, and really appreciate the initiative we’re going to be talking about here momentarily, but Hey, before we get there, let’s get to know our panel better, including Mary, Kate, and Karen and Luke. And Karen, we’ll start with you. So tell us just a little bit about yourself, including of course, where you’re from. Well,

Karen Hannel (03:16):

I’m actually not from very many places. I mean, not one place. My dad was a minister, so I moved around all over, mostly the south, but I’ve been living here, uh, in date city, which is just north of the campus, the main campus here on St. Leo, uh, for the last five years or so. Um, so I’m been an instructor for 27 years. Wow. Yeah, I know, but it’s been great. And the last 15 have been here at St. Leo. Uh, so as you said, I’m the chair, partly of interdisciplinary studies. Let me see a few other things. My area of expertise is, uh, the sort of nexus of conflict and creativity, the nexus

Scott Luton (03:59):

Of conflict and creativity.

Karen Hannel (04:01):

So I’m always interested in looking at literature and art and that sort of thing that’s produced during times of war. Wow,

Scott Luton (04:08):

Man, we could have a whole podcast series on some of your specialties there. Couldn’t we Mary Kate, one quick followup question. So 27 years in, in the academic industry and, and, you know, mentoring, powering, encouraging, uplifting, of course, informing and educating. What’s been your favorite part. One, one, if you had to pick one, what’s been your favorite part about your time, uh, instructing and teaching and being

Karen Hannel (04:34):

Would, I would get to work with other folks, whether it’s students, you know, helping them figure out what they want to do with their life, if they’re traditional students, or if they come to us as non traditional students, maybe they’ve, you know, maybe they’ve served in the military and then they’re coming back to school, helping them figure out what they want to do with all these skills that they’ve accumulated working with my fellow faculty members to create innovative programs and interesting classes. I just like working with great people that are excited to do with, you know, what they’re doing,

Scott Luton (05:04):

Love it, love it, probably a different something different every single day, uh, working with a wide variety of folks that, that seems like to me, you’re learning from them maybe as often as, as they’re learning from you, perhaps

Mary Kate Soliva (05:17):

I think that’s such a great way, Scott. Um, great answer, especially for someone starting up the veteran’s studies major, because one of the, what is it, one of the biggest things they say, veterans misses the comradery. So that aspect of really reaching back and helping those coming behind us. But that sense of like, we are that, that second family. So really people it’s all about helping people

Scott Luton (05:38):

Well said, um, Mary Kate, and, and I bet you’ve got before we switch over to Luke, I can only imagine it being the daughter of a minister, some stories that you’ve got.

Karen Hannel (05:49):

I was thinking the same thing, Scott,

Scott Luton (05:53):

We’ll save that for the second podcast, but, uh, thanks so much for time here today. Dr. Handel. Okay. So your colleague, Dr. McCleese, Luke McCleese, uh, Luke, tell us about yourself.

Luke McClees (06:05):

Yes, sir. So like Karen, I moved around a lot at a young age. I was born in the Midwest, but kind of move north east and then further down south, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, the finest fighting force on the face of the earth, I believe. And now it’s not, I believe it’s fact, um,

Mary Kate Soliva (06:25):

Of course, an army on the call to here, watch out what’s up

Luke McClees (06:30):

After that, got my education, went into secondary education where I taught world languages and then into higher education where I taught how to teach world languages and veteran studies program that had just been created at Eastern Kentucky university. And now my current role is the director of military affairs and services here at Saint Leo university.

Scott Luton (06:54):

I love it. And, and I’ll tell you, not only all of the, that role at St. Leo, but creating and innovating the educational space in the veterans industry. So to speak so more on that in just a second, but Luke, I got to ask you of all the places, uh, sound like you’ve got something in common with Karen, you know, y’all live in a bunch of different places. What was one of your favorite places that you lived during your, your upbringing? Uh,

Luke McClees (07:19):

Without a doubt, it was Richmond, Virginia. My mother was a history teacher and just the proximity to, you know, I, and growing up, I was kind of obsessed when she would read to me stories about the revolutionary war. So being able to go to Jamestown and Yorktown, but then also all the civil war sites, you know, going out west to, to monitor cello. It just, it was, it was huge. It was a part of my life that I reflect on often

Scott Luton (07:46):

Love that. And I bet it, that reflects in, in what you do today. I bet we’re all students of history, whether you like it or not. I agree with you. I think, you know, studying those, the older conflicts and wars and the various leadership lessons learned including mistakes. I mean, it’s really fascinating. So, but Luke, thanks so much for your time here today. Looking forward to diving deeper into your journey. Uh, and one final, you know, Mary Kay, you know, some folks may not have caught your earlier appearance here in veteran voices on the live stream and the replay, uh, in a nutshell, tell us about yourself. Yes.

Mary Kate Soliva (08:18):

So thanks Scott, I’m Mary Kate saliva, and I’m actually active duty with the army. I’m transitioning off of active duty right now. So I’m having that lived experience of what it means to transition. I am a Navy brat, even though I’m now army. So my dad was in the Navy. And so I did like Karen and Lou could just end up traveling and living in different states. But ironically, actually for us time, today’s liberation, YWAM, and Guam is where my family hails from. So yeah, that’s a that’s, uh, but I’m not, I’m actually gonna stay east coast. And I’m really fortunate that I’m starting school, a doctor criminal justice program at Saint Leo university coming up. So my tie-in with Karen and Luke. Um, so I’m really grateful to be on this panel with them today, or I should say co-hosting with you.

Karen Hannel (09:09):

That’s right. Co-host you’ve added some new merit badges. Mary Kay. Yes.

Mary Kate Soliva (09:14):

I’m on the I and C and I have to say, go army, come on Luke.

Scott Luton (09:21):

I’ll tell you, we, we were, uh, had such a great time, uh, with you last time and, and very thankful you could join us as a co-host and help create and facilitate this conversation today. So with that said, Mary Kay, where are we going next as part of our conversation today?

Mary Kate Soliva (09:36):

Well, I definitely want to ask Luke if he could give us a brief overview of his time military experience in the U S Marine Corps makes me almost want to say yet, but I know you’re yet. It’s probably a lot stronger than that.

Luke McClees (09:52):

Yeah. So, you know, I started out, I was an east coast Marine, so I was recruited actually out of Western Kentucky. So I ended up going to Paris island and, you know, as you might imagine, that was a lovely experience that you just want to do over and over again. Yes. But it, my time. So like you, Mary Kay, uh, I’m actually the son of a sailor, right? So my father was a much, much, much older gentlemen. He fought in the tail end of world war II. And so it was so much so whenever we would be traveling around those places in Virginia, that I mentioned people would see us at the gas station and say, oh, you’re on a road trip with your grandkids. That’s excellent. My dad didn’t know that was my shoulder so much to his dismay and much to my mother’s dismay. And this is partly their fault because they purchased me the GI Joe’s that fed this, you know, after high school, I was like, I’m going to join the Marine Corps that went over like a lead balloon in the household.

Luke McClees (10:56):

And my mother cried for about two weeks straight. And my father was like, no, you know, you’re not going to be in his words. You’re not going to be a C going bell hop. That’s what he said. So long story short. So back to Paris on after Paris island, I was, I was really stuck on one job and that was an infantry job. Cause that’s what I always, I was like, if you’re going to be in the Marines and it’s going to stink and it’s going to be a hard life, you might as well just do it all the way. So I went to the school of infantry after Paris island and I became, uh, my MOS was oh, 3 41. So I became a motorman. I was on the borderline. Uh, it was attractive to me because you did all the grunt dirty work, but there was some mathematics involved and some quick thinking involved. So I like that aspect. I was on the gun line for about a year and a half when I was approached to kind of do our tryouts to be afforded observant. So I went, uh, to try out to be afforded observer. And so after this, I made the tryout. I was afforded observer for the rest of my time in the Marine Corps. So Marine Corps to be

Scott Luton (12:06):

Pretty dangerous role in the Marines. It’s

Luke McClees (12:09):

A crazy dangerous role because one thing is, you know, we w we’re so small and the budget is so poor that for example, like I was supposed, it was supposed to be myself and a radio man. The whole time I was afforded observe, I never had a radio man. So, you know, I was on the front lines, calling fire, call my own fire, making the adjustments. And it’s really, it’s really interesting because I know the air force, the army they’ve got, you know, specific jobs will, even though my I, my MOS for mortars, I would call for 80 ones. I would call for 60 millimeter mortars, but I also called closer support. I also called for artillery fire. And I also called for Naval gunfire,

Mary Kate Soliva (12:56):

Tell your mom how dangerous this is. Did you know? No,

Luke McClees (13:03):

She, she asked me, she asked me if I, if I liked what I did. And, uh, you know, normally my answer was like, no, this is a hard life. What did I do? Why’d you let me do this. Right. But, you know, I had to tell her where, when it came to the job specifically, the aspect that I enjoyed, I enjoyed coordinated fire missions were mortars, close air support artillery was involved. Um, cause I really, I really felt then more like a conductor. I always thought of myself as like a symphony conductor. Cause like I had, I had certain times I could bring certain things into the battlefield, right. And different explosions and call for different, uh, Flybuys and get a different results. And they all had to be timed out perfectly. And I felt like it was more of a dance that way. So I don’t think I ever, I always imagined in my head, like I was in a tux with tales.

Scott Luton (14:03):

Yeah. Well, you know, that’s kinda make, uh, and first off I really appreciate your service and, and, and, and the nature of it, for sure. I was a lowly data analyst and air force, but it’s got, um, you know, Luke, I’ll tell ya, it’s got to make after doing that and, and making those calls, you know, on the radio, it’s got to make every other phone call ever since for rest of your life. Pretty boring to some degree, Luke.

Luke McClees (14:27):

Absolutely, absolutely.

Scott Luton (14:29):

Cause you don’t, you can’t really see the impact right there. Uh, you know, but, but regardless, you know, as we talked about pre-show is to, it’s tough to do what you, you know, give justice in, in a short amount of time, we’ll have to have you back and dive deeper into your, your time serving in the Marines, but, uh, really appreciate you sharing that today and how you’re acting on your experiences, which we’re gonna touch about touch on in just a minute. Um, now before I go back to Karen, we’re talking more about her academic journey. I understand Luke that you and Kay that you, uh, are really good at mentoring and you take it very seriously. So, um, Mary Kay, why don’t you maybe I’ll start with you. What as being a beneficiary of Luke’s mentorship, why is that important?

Mary Kate Soliva (15:14):

Oh, it’s, it’s so important. And I definitely wouldn’t, I don’t know where I would be right now in my transition from active duty, without the mentorship that I’ve I’ve gained. I really had a lot of doubts, whether I’d even get into a doctoral program. And I’m so glad that you mentioned best industry, because when I first started my transition last fall, I, it was in the midst of the pandemic. I felt really isolated. My guys were getting ready to deploy. So I was kind of, I left out, I felt like left out on my own to figure, sort of figure it out this next step of redefining my purpose, uh, surviving without the army, um, that sort of thing. And so, uh, reaching out and then finding out that St. Leo had this incredible program that was designed for working professionals. I, it fit, it hit every one of the boxes that I was looking for in a doctoral program.

Mary Kate Soliva (16:03):

Um, and the fact that I applied and got in, I actually got to speak with Dr. McCleese with Luke before I even, um, well, before I even found out I got accepted, which was incredible, how easily accessible to have that kind of a relationship. And to build that with a professor before you even start at the school, especially for who, um, locally, who you represent as, um, for, for representing the office for military affairs and me being someone that’s in service right now to easily reach you through LinkedIn, send you a message. You immediately responded, we set up a call and you just made me feel completely at ease that I was making the right decision with going with St. Leo university. And I guess, I, it as sort of sounding like an infomercial that go to St. Leo, but it’s like, but it was really, it was really something that was great for me because at the beginning of my transition, I actually had a retired Naval officer tell me it was a big waste of time to pursue my doctorate.

Mary Kate Soliva (16:59):

And I’ve had other people tell me that it was going to be, I was going to make myself over qualified that it was a waste of time and I’m also enlisted. So they’re like, what does an enlisted person need a doctorate for? What are you going to use that for? Um, and so I had so many, um, these different voices telling me that it was the wrong thing to do. When everything in me was telling me it was the right path for me. So having, um, Matt, Luke, and for him to really help, re-install ignite that fire and say, yes, you can do this. It really has helped put me on this path. And I’m so, so excited that I went for it. And I’m now enrolled. And I’m excited to get started that, gosh,

Scott Luton (17:40):

Karen and Luke, if I could have plenty emoticons, I think they’re called, you’d have a huge heart filling up the screen here, Mary Kay. I love that. I love when I, I don’t know about y’all, but I love when, when someone identifies that passion and despite all the naysayers, they find someone that, that supports that passion. And now you’re in the program pursuing that passion. So Luke that’s gotta make you feel pretty good.

Luke McClees (18:02):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I’ll tell you what here’s, here’s the thing is I talked to a lot of people, especially after big bets to industry event, right? So when I pop on there, I get a lot of people who want to connect afterwards and I’m happy to speak to everyone. However, you know, Mary Kate says like, I, oh, this it that’s that’s total hogwash. Because when she reached out to me, her enthusiasm and her, like, just even through the LinkedIn message, she was like, I’m going to get out in six months time. Here’s what I’m doing. You know, here’s what I plan to do. I was like, oh, well, I mean, she she’s, she’s got it figured out that’s who you want to, to help most of all, because you know, you’re doing the right steps being proactive. And it’s one of those things that when I talk to people like Mary Kay and I’ve talked to literally thousands in this position, it’s like, what she was doing is what I would tell someone else to do, you know, to, to make the transition go. Right. So it was really easy.

Mary Kate Soliva (19:08):

That’s a great point. Cause it’s that freedom of choice and I’m, and I still have some folks who’ve actually said, very K, you still have that active duty mindset. I’m like waiting for my non-commission officer, my commander to like, tell me which way to go. But it’s like, we really do have that freedom of choice. And sometimes it takes that one mentor that one person to believe that you’re capable to tell you, yes, you can do it. Um, when so many other people are telling you, you’re making a big mistake, you should just re-enlist you should just stay in. Right? Yeah, absolutely. So it definitely was a huge, huge help to hear that I could do it.

Scott Luton (19:41):

All right. So folks, if you’re keeping up count at home, Hey, don’t listen to the naysayers. Number one, number two, find a good mentor. Number three, sometimes get a second and maybe even a third opinion and, and certainly number four, chase your passions, whatever they are. So, okay. So Karen, uh, Dr. Handel, you, you were nodding your head a lot as through this last segment here, but first, before we talk more, you know, maybe get your take on the power of mentorship. I definitely wanna dive in a little deeper to your, to your academic journey. So, um, 27 years, uh, in the industry, so to speak in the field, I think 15 years at St. Leo, is that right? What, but what, um, what was, uh, the, uh, your impetus for becoming a professor and then later a PhD? Did you ha what, what inspired you early on in your, in your, in your life?

Karen Hannel (20:34):

You know, I, I don’t know that there was any other place for me. My dad was a minister, but he loved poetry. So when I was growing up, uh, he hated children’s movies and children’s, and so he taught me to read using William Blake. So, you know, tiger tiger right in the forest of the night, you know, the poetry runs strong in this family. So there was him and my mother was a geology, um, geography teacher. And, um, they were civil war, you know, just historian nuts. They loved going to the battlefields and they would drag me and my brother and they made it so much fun that it wasn’t dragging us. You know, they encouraged us to feel enthusiastic. And I always remember my dad telling me that the root word and enthusiasm is NPOs. That means moved by God. Right? And so when you see like Mary Kate’s enthusiasm, you want to be around that.

Karen Hannel (21:34):

I mean, it sets our souls on fire too, right. To be around these folks that have this big dream. So, you know, they made it fun to go to these places. And I remember one place we went to Andersonville if you’ve never been it’s worth going as hot summertime. And my brother and I were able to scramble down into some of the holes, you know, that the POW’s had dug and it was so hot. And then they had the spring that was right in the prison there. And we were able to drink from it too. And it was so cold. And even as a child, it just, you know, this vision of what it must have been like to, to be there. It was in my mind and other places, one of the, I didn’t go to this one, but my dad was telling me about it.

Karen Hannel (22:23):

He had seen a great stone that a father had directed for the son who had died in the civil war. And he had his name there and he said buried with the tears of his father. And I thought that’s just the best poetry I’ve ever heard. And it’s on a great stone. And it’s just by people, you know, it’s not by William Shakespeare and all of this it’s by actual people having lived experiences. And so it just kind of seemed like the writing was on the wall. You know, I was gonna, I didn’t know it at the time, but I had a lot of really great professors. My dad, of course, was always there to sort of encouraging me to go on this path. He was a Navy man, by the way, how weird is that? I know we’ve got that all in common. Right. Um, my husband is a 21 year veteran Marine Corps. So, um, so we’ve got it all as a lot of American families do. We’ve got a lot of people that serve kindred

Scott Luton (23:20):

Spirits for sure. What, and clearly, I don’t know about you Luke and Mary Kay, but tons of passion that just in the, in the last few minutes, uh, to hear to hear from, from Karen. So it was certainly a calling, uh, and 27 years later. I mean, it sounds like you’re, you’re loving it as if it was your first year.

Karen Hannel (23:40):

Oh yeah. It gets better. That’s the thing. It always just gets better.

Scott Luton (23:45):

So, okay. So I am such the interview professional. Not exactly. I stole Mary Kate’s question. It just dawned on me, but Mary Kate, the second half of that question, we wanna, we wanna know more about St. Leo university,

Mary Kate Soliva (23:59):

Right? Yes, absolutely. And I’m, I was so excited. That’s why Scott, when you said, who, who should we invite? And I said, I already know exactly who I want to invite.

Scott Luton (24:10):

That is true. And, and made it happen just like that. But, you know, um, I know we’re going to talk about this exciting new program, uh, for the bulk of the rest of our conversation, but, but let’s make sure folks know about St. Leo and, and, uh, Karen, do you want to feel folks a little more about what SA uh, what St. Leo is?

Karen Hannel (24:29):

Sure, sure. Um, we’re a private Catholic university. Uh, we offer 57, I believe, undergraduate and graduate level programs. Uh, we have about 18,000 students spread from our main campus and online and some of our centers. And, uh, we’re located roughly, it’s easiest to think of us as located between Tampa and Orlando. We’re still in a very rural area, our main campus, but okay.

Scott Luton (24:56):

Down in Florida, we didn’t, we just spent some time down in, um, the St. Augustine area with family. Just a gorgeous talk about history. Yeah. Kidding. Okay. Well, so before we get into the program, you know, Mary, Kate, you’re one of the newest students at, uh, St. Leo university, anything that you want to add based on what Luke shared based on what Karen has shared, anything else you want to add before we talk more about the program, the trailblazing program itself?

Mary Kate Soliva (25:23):

Well, I definitely would say for those that are listening in that are veterans or currently serving to look at your opportunities for school, that is one of the greatest benefits of, of serving as well. Um, besides serving this great country is the fact that you get your schooling covered. And so I am actually using my post nine 11 GI bill, and there’s also something called the yellow ribbon program as well, to look into utilizing your tuition assistance, but make sure you go to your educational center, your educational office, speak with your command, and then finance. Once you get that information about your schooling, share it with your, your troops, you know, your soldiers, airmen, Marines, just let them know about all these opportunities, because I definitely wish I had started earlier. I have a huge gap now from my master’s degree in public administration at university of Guam to now starting with St.

Mary Kate Soliva (26:15):

Leo. Last time I was in school was 2013. And a big part of that is because I didn’t even know that I was able to pursue a doctorate I’m coming from the enlisted side. It was something I saw officers pursuing. And I didn’t know that I could use my post nine 11 for the GI bill. Like it looks like, like I know. So, so it was honestly like seeing Derek more, I’m giving him a shout out because I saw him on LinkedIn and that he’s a senior leader in the Marine Corps and he’s in his doc in the doctoral program at St. Leo. And I hit him up on LinkedIn and I said, hi, Derek, I’m Mary Kay. You don’t know me, but could you tell me how you’re in a doctoral program? And you’re in Lewis and you’re active duty. And so he told me all this things, and I was like, I had no idea. And so I, I really felt, you know, you don’t know what you don’t know. So definitely to reach, find that out and share that information.

Scott Luton (27:03):

I love that, you know, I know we’re banging the drum on mentorship and resources and, and, and your network and all that stuff, but those are, those are some proven ways of really filling in that blind spot you have, whether it’s education or otherwise. So I love that Mary Kate. So for the second time, I want to move forward into this big news, big news. So Saint Leo university became the first school in the nation to offer a bachelor’s degree in veterans studies. So, Luke, I want to start with you here, as we, as we kind of dissect this news a bit, how, how did y’all identify the need? Tell us

Luke McClees (27:36):

About, so here’s one thing when you get the headline, you know, it’s it’s, we started this major and Karen really, she was, she was genius to identify that Saint Leo could hop in on this game, right? Because this is a field, this is an established field. It’s a young field. You know, it started in 2011 at Eastern Kentucky university, where, where my former institution, there is a journal that is, uh, you know, solely for veterans studies, uh, there’s a conference series. However, the handful of programs that exist have never gone past a minor or a certificate. So it’s like, we’ve been a decade. And, you know, it’s exciting to see these programs pop up, but they’ve kind of stayed there stagnant. And so the need really has arisen from, from people doing this work already, you know, people were researching these intersections of the veteran identity and other aspects, health education, sociology, anthropology, you know, these things were going on, but it really was, you know, at that time, that kind of coming home from the first push of Iraq time, where, where people were like, okay, this can be a standalone field. We need to know more about this population, right. It can’t be, it can’t be the stereotype anymore of like the old white guy with this Korean war hat on complaining about everything on the front porch, right? Like we have to have the real picture of what a veteran is and their experience match their reality. And so it really has evolved out of a true social necessity and the fact that people were already doing this work, uh, just under other disciplines. And it really took a group of people and saying, let’s bring it all together.

Scott Luton (29:32):

Love it, really. So formalizing all, everything that’s going on, formalizing it kind of creating an academic community around it, an opportunity, a credential, uh, and, and then some, so I love how you described that. Let’s talk about the planning process, uh, Karen. So, so once that need was identified and, and yet you ran the team rallied around that, how did the planning process play

Karen Hannel (29:52):

Out? You know, it started really in 2017. And I started talking to my bosses about getting a department of interdisciplinary studies together because there wasn’t going to be a department that could handle some of the programs that we were envisioning, and they took a chance on it. I was really proud of them, the first new department that we’d had in college of arts and sciences, and more than 20 years, you know, you asked for a new department and then they make you chair. I’m so glad you took it, you shall receive. Um, but the first degree that we launched was medical humanities. And that one was a little easier because the degree, the, the field was a little older and people were familiar with it. We got veterans studies started really working on that. And I guess I started working on that in 2018 beginning, but it was really the last two years.

Karen Hannel (30:48):

And part of the reason that it took a little bit more was that Luke and I, and the eight other faculty members that were putting this together, I had to not only create the proposal and the curriculum and everything we had to, in many ways, educate our colleagues around us as to what veterans studies is, you know, and, and that was, that took some time. And I’m really grateful to St. Louis Leo and an end to our colleagues who had an open mind, you know, to be able to discuss works that maybe they had, you know, taught for years, decades even. And I’m saying, can we put a new lens on this? And they said, yeah, let’s try it. You know, so I love that.

Scott Luton (31:31):

And, you know, Luke you’re right. I think, I think veteran, and there’s a handful of words like it, where maybe there’s some long hill assumptions about, about what that is and what that means. And as you and Mary Kate, and really caring to all have spoken to at various points so far is, is that definition continues to evolve and it really represents wide-scale diversity. And it’s a beautiful thing. So I wanna, uh, Carrie, Karen, we’re going to keep going with you as we talk about some of the core components before we do that. Mary Kay. When you think civilians hear the word veteran, I mean, do you think, do you think that, that we still have work to do, to, to make sure the inaccurate version of that definition comes to mind?

Mary Kate Soliva (32:12):

Absolutely. I think they’re still, I even have some of my colleagues that don’t even want to file for a disability claim because of the stigma that’s surrounded, where you say you’re a veteran, you must automatically have PTSD post traumatic stress and the, you might come in and shoot everybody at work. And it’s not to say that everybody thinks that way, but there’s still some connotation, um, negative connotations associated with, oh, you’re a veteran specifically a and they see me, you’re a combat veteran. Um, you must have been in Afghanistan. And, and what have you seen? What have you been exposed to? And so I do think, and even in the media, how media pub culture, I think those are important factors to take into of how they portray veterans. Right. Absolutely

Scott Luton (32:57):

Good points, great points. We’ve got, we got a bunch, we got a whole lot more heavy lifting to do, which is one of the reasons why I’m so excited about this, this program first of its kind and nation. So Karen, can you shed a little more light on what are some of the core components that make up this new first nation major?

Karen Hannel (33:14):

Absolutely. Well, the first thing is everybody know this is open for veterans and non-veterans alike. Uh, so you don’t have to have served to get this degree, uh, folks that come to this degree, you know, maybe they’re in ROTC, maybe they’ve served, uh, maybe they were like me. I mean, I’m, I’m not a veteran. I was just always interested in the connection between, you know, conflict in society. It might be those folks, you know, that are interested in going into, um, a career that serves veterans, whatever the case may be, this degree is going to allow them to sort of analyze human experience through the lens of military life and post-service experiences. And what they’ll do with that is they’ll take five core courses. Things like introduction to veterans studies, which Dr. McQueen is going to be teaching course in the fall. Yeah. Legendary warriors of the ancient, medieval worlds, uh, selected topics so that we can be really topical if something comes up, uh, native American warriors and veterans, and then a senior seminar. So they take those five core courses, but then they also choose eight elective courses, uh, from a list approved lists. So those things might be like military psychology, uh, the role of military in the modern world, that sort of thing. Yeah.

Scott Luton (34:35):

Um, I might have to become the latest St. Leo student that, that sounds like

Karen Hannel (34:39):

Really let’s do it. Well, the Welby lions I’ll let,

Scott Luton (34:43):

I’ll let you all smart people, uh, to do the PhD program, but I love that well-roundedness is what I’m hearing, uh, that make up the major. Um, okay. So want to talk about impact for a second, and I want to get all three in America, you got this hybrid role that you’re your co-host, but also I want to get your take on some of these things. So, um, but I want to start with you, Luke, let’s talk about impact for a second. So as a veteran and even taking the veteran hat off as an educator, as an academic professional, um, as a, as a community leader, you know, w w what speak to the impact you think this program

Luke McClees (35:17):

Will have wow. The potential impact for this program, and honestly, not, not because it’s coming from us. I mean, really the outcome could potentially be enormous. And let me give you a few examples, why number one, highlighting the attributes of veterans and that experience. And as you stood before Scott, you know, the individual kind of aspect of that experience, but just like what Mary Kay was talking about earlier, you know, showing that, Hey, look, there are veterans that are getting doctoral degrees. There are veterans that are leading fortune 500 companies. There are veterans that are leading their community in politics and volunteerism and all these things. And I think that’s one of those things. And Karen and I have talked about it a lot. The spectacle of the veteran has been left as Mary Kay was saying by me, the media, and kind of just pop, pop culture as, Hey, you’re a hero, or, Hey, you’re broken.

Luke McClees (36:19):

There’s no in between. Right. And so sharing with everyone, the in-between and the importance there is, can you imagine, can you imagine a politician who is informed of the outcomes of military service before choosing to send troops somewhere? Can you imagine a VA worker who may be never served in the military and before I walk in the doors, and I’m the first veteran that I’ve ever met in their life, they would at least know about the experience, right. And have an idea of the good, bad, the, you know, all the in between. Can you imagine, you know, um, public safety workers being informed in, in this major and, and knowing exactly when they meet this minority of veterans on the street, like what the experience is like past the Rambo movie passed a book pass, you know, a mixture of, of grandpa’s stories. You know, I think the social implications of this could be enormous

Scott Luton (37:28):

Said, uh, you know, Luke mentioned all the imagine, you know, imagine this, imagine that I mentioned that I imagine these 45,000 organizations and then some, because you’ve got those, those, those volunteer service organizations, but then you have all these organizations that hire veterans and, or have veteran programs within, you know, a program like this could be a differentiator in terms of, uh, effectiveness, as you’re speaking to Mary Kay, just awareness, you know, more informed leadership as part of these organizations and these departments initiatives. So, uh, the impact, uh, Luke, uh, is, is going to be huge. Um, but Karen, I wanna get your, take your take on the overall impact of this program.

Karen Hannel (38:08):

I think anytime you can crack open a stereotype, you’re on the right track. And so you’re going to hopefully with this program here, and hopefully they will sweep, you know, end up with lots of universities with these, we’ll get rid of that. Just really flattened identity, where it lists the veteran as a powder keg, or as somehow broken. And instead, you know, you get rid of that. You start saying that there’s this, there’s all these different people in here, and they have all these skills and all these experiences. And instead of saying, oh, you poor thing, you start to say, how can you, your skills make my organization stronger because man, they do have the skills, they have the experiences. And I think too often, that’s just overlooked in favor of this kind of, oh, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re fragile. Right. Uh, and then, uh, in terms of, I mean, just interest since twenty seventeen, three hundred and sixty three dissertations have been written on veteran issues. So yeah, I mean, it’s out there and we just, this needed to happen. We needed a BA and we really need an ma and a PhD out there.

Scott Luton (39:26):

Love it. Hey. Hey, appreciate it. Hmm, love it. Okay. So I’m going to ask one more question, and then we’re going to kind of start to wrap as Mary Kay is, can talk about a transition and get y’all’s take there, but, um, I’m not sure how this works. Uh, I am not, um, they barely let me in the college, so they certainly not gonna let me teach. Um, how, so if a company, you know, fortunately as we’ve seen corporate America make some strides in the last decade or so, and we’re seeing real action behind hiring initiatives and other real support where, where companies are making investments. If, if a company listening would want to create a scholarship fund or a whatever, whatever that’s called to help students that may not can afford, um, tuition stuff, could they create those things where the entire it to the veteran studies major

Karen Hannel (41:20):

Donors do that. Okay. And this reach out to one of y’all. Yeah. They can contact them. No.

Scott Luton (41:25):

Okay. Wonderful. All right. Okay. So at Mary Kay, as much as I hate to leave that big news and we’ll keep our finger on the, and as it continues to grow and evolve and develop, we’ll get an update, but, you know, veteran transit veterans and transitions a big topic here, right? Oh,

Mary Kate Soliva (41:41):

Yes. Yeah. So let’s talk about, um, the veteran transition, cause that is what I am going through right now. I’m having to lived experience transitioning. I’m not retiring, I’m getting out and, uh, at the halfway point. And so I really would love to hear your thoughts. Um, any important advice that you may have, uh, Luke for our listeners tuning in today, um, that you’d care to offer about the military transition. Yeah, absolutely.

Luke McClees (42:08):

So I want, you know, I think this is vitally important is not to give the negative energy that so many people give to the word transition, especially coming out of the military, because no matter if you do 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 years, plus there is a time in your career where you’re going to undergo that transition, right. I mean, it’s just going to happen. What we’ve done as a society is we’ve kind of over fetishize, this idea of transition that just because someone is living in the military, like it has to be negative. It doesn’t have to be negative at all. Right. We can, we can grow on our experiences. We can add to our new experiences. We can take those tools where they’re hard skills or soft skills from military and make them work in the civilian space. The thing is, you just have to be conscious about it and everything that goes wrong.

Luke McClees (43:07):

You can’t say, oh, this is because I’m transitioning. And you know, no, no civilian understands me. You know, I think, I mean, and me, and it definitely happens, but you know, what, what happens when you get in that situation, you need to be like, okay, well I’m in a new space. Someone doesn’t understand me. What do I need to tell them? So they understand me, right? What, what, what do you, what are your needs? And then you can move past it. But it’s definitely, don’t, don’t give that word the negative connotation, right? Don’t overdo it.

Mary Kate Soliva (43:40):

Well, that was me this morning, right?

Scott Luton (43:47):

Or, or it will be a bad experience. You know, if, if you, if you believe, if you, if you, if you allow your mind to wrap your head around that it will be. And just like, if you, you know, if you don’t plan, you know, if you don’t plan and, and, and be proactive about it, chances are, it could be much more challenging, right. And take

Mary Kate Soliva (44:05):

Care of yourself. Right. And include your families because your family’s going through the transition too. And I definitely wish I had realized that like, day one, really, your family’s transitioning as well, your spouse, your kids. So include them in this, in this process, on this journey. And, and, and don’t be too hard on yourself because I’ve had some of those days. Um, but look at, look at what’s happening. Now. I met Scott through my transition, Karen, Luke. I met them in the midst of my incredible,

Scott Luton (44:33):

Hey, it’s, it’s right there. It’s the art of the possible, right? Yes. So I love that. What you just shared there, Mary Kay, KA, Karen, I want to get your take too. Um, you know, what are, what would you, how would you advise the veterans that are, uh, entering their very positive, successful transition phases? What would be some advice

Karen Hannel (44:50):

For you? You know, I’d give them the same advice that I give any of my students, which is reach out to your professors. We have office hours, we’re in our offices. Even if it’s by zoom and not in person, go talk to them. And if you don’t click with one of them, that’s fine. Keep shopping, you know, talk to more of them, sit in their offices because you don’t know what you don’t know. Right. You don’t have to just come and say, I don’t understand chapter 17, just come and shoot the breeze with us and we’ll help you and your journey. And that’s so important. I had a student one time was pulling a, B, she grabbed, she finished my class with a D a year later, I ran across her. And I said, what happened in there by the way? And she said, oh, that was the semester my dad died. I was like, why didn’t you tell me, work with us, help us, help us, help you. You know, so you have to have those conversations, just stop by. You don’t have to have a name, just say, hello and open that conversation. And you find the support you need,

Scott Luton (45:56):

You gotta be bold. And if you don’t ask the question, you know, the answer and, and Mary Kay, you, you, you’re kind of, uh, as you share yourself on the front end of today’s conversation, you’re kind of illustrating that, right? You had naysayers, uh, you kind of have some mental assumptions or, or decisions that you made kind of based on some assumptions, perhaps, but then you found, and you connected with Luke and it opened up that door and it kind of filled in that blind spot of, of clearly yes, you can pursue your passion and, and you can, um, can you imagine 10 years from now, or five years from now, you know, that that was a, that’s a powerful connection and conversation to have had, but what you going to do and the difference you’re going to make and the need and how far you move that needle all stemming to some degree to y’all’s conversation. That that’s a wonderful story

Mary Kate Soliva (46:46):

It’s gone. If you, if you knew what the bonus right now was to reenlist, you might look at me a little crazy too, but I was, but I really, it really helped change the trajectory of my transition and realize that, okay, I’m not retiring. I know it’s, you know, not that far to go, but it’s, I really do feel this other calling that I can do greater work on the, on the outside. Um, and so this is kind of like a great segue too, because I didn’t even know about like the student veteran association. So it was like, even talking about that, um, with, if Lou can give like a brief thing about the SBA, but that was something that I wasn’t familiar with, that universities had. So Luke, I’m going to throw that one at you if you want to about that. Absolutely.

Luke McClees (47:30):

So when I took over this office, we had a smallest VA chapter and we’ve grown it over the past almost two years. And, uh, it’s just an excellent opportunity for student veterans to have leadership opportunities for them to eat. You know, they’re coming from different majors to come together and have a little bit of that comradery and, you know, same talk and all that stuff. So it’s a big social outlet. It can lead to good physical outlets. You know, we’ve had a group of people who do PT together, you know, they’re going and running and, and taking care of themselves through the pandemic. And then we’re also going places, uh, SBA conferences. And then that leads to humongous networking opportunities. And we’ve had a lot of students who landed some nice internships and jobs as a result of that. So that was, that was, that was a group of people they don’t like to do. That sounds like definitely not mandatory. It’s definitely, might not w I’m not a part of that.

Scott Luton (48:46):

So listeners, if you’re a veteran in transition planning, transition, or if you’re just, you know, you’re already out and, and, and you’re looking at educational opportunities, you name it, it sounds like these veteran, what, what what’d, y’all call it VSA veteran,

Luke McClees (49:02):

Uh, SBA student veterans of America

Scott Luton (49:05):

SVA. So it sounds like another great resource to add to your laundry list of things, to check out and fill in that, that blind spot. Okay. So Eureka moments, one of our favorite questions around here, as we talked about pre-show, I don’t know about y’all, but some of these days it feels like I’m having a Eureka moment by the hour, uh, other days, little bit easier, but we’re all, we’re all fighting through this, this, this crazy time, this, uh, that we’ve never experienced. If you’re parents, gosh, if you’re like us, you, you have to become, um, remote teachers and technologists, and you gotta be the at T team at home, which is crazy sometimes, but you’re all, you know, we’re all fighting through to get into this post pandemic, but along the way, we’re learning a ton of things. And one of the silver linings here is, is we’re working towards a more resilient supply chain. Certainly we’re big, big supply chain nerds here, more resilient society, hopefully more resilient, um, government amongst other things. And that’s, that’s some of the silver linings as part of this journey, but Eureka moments. I want to start with you, Karen. So any Eureka moments that really came to mind that really, um, maybe were more powerful than others for you lately?

Karen Hannel (50:11):

You know, several years ago I was walking through an airport and I saw a university. I don’t remember the name, it’s an advertisement. And it said they were veteran friendly. My husband and I were walking at the same time. We just kind of like went boom, veteran friendly. Like, what does that mean? You know, are there universities tagged themselves as not veteran friendly and, and it stuck in our minds. And when the, you know, it occurred to me like, you know, it was a light bulb going off as a Eureka moment. This degree, this changes the conversation from veteran friendly to veteran embracing, you know, it, it, it really, it turns it from being a one-way street where you’re sort of saving the veteran to a collaborative agreement where we learn together. And I thought, that’s it. That’s how you break through veteran friendly. Okay. I mean, something

Scott Luton (51:03):

There’s value. There’s a definition I love that never, I’ve never stopped thinking about that. Do folks, as you said to folks advertise as being non veteran friendly as a differentiator, that’s, that’s a great, thank you very much for sharing. That’s important. So if you’re business leaders listening to this podcast, what is it? Business leaders,

Karen Hannel (51:25):

If you, yeah. If you look for veteran friendly on Google, you get 863,000 results.

Karen Hannel (51:32):

Yeah. It’s a tidal wave

Scott Luton (51:35):

Of meaningless term. There’s no value to the definition there. So if you’re a business leader listening to this conversation and you’re using jargon like that, you know, you might want to call a timeout and get with your team and say, Hey, what does, what does this mean? How are we acting on this? Love that, uh, Karen, is that worth the price of admission that, and at the house, what you shared from the front end. Yeah. I saw you taking notes. Um, right now I’m ready now, but, uh, regardless Luke, same question for you. Eureka moments. What’s been a powerful one for you lately.

Luke McClees (52:11):

So, um, maybe not necessarily lately, but I will say this. It took me a long time to get to this. And I think it applies nicely to anyone’s transition, not even only on the military, but any phase of life that is, you absolutely can do anyone can do anything. Right. I firmly believe that I have a growth mindset and I know I’ve seen it time and time again. You just have to start where you are.

Scott Luton (52:36):

I love that Luke, you got me ready to run through this wall back behind me here. I’m telling you, there is abundance in the universe. There is abundance in the universe. And, uh, you said it very well there, Luke. Okay. Mary Kate, you’re not getting out of this question. Uh, I bet you’ve got thousands of Eureka moments, but what’s been a, whether a current one or, or one from a while back, what’s been a powerful one for you.

Mary Kate Soliva (52:58):

The one that I immediately thought of right before we started, you had mentioned to Karen about how to address her because she wears many hats and has the different titles. And that was, I think something that I was putting myself in a box as someone, um, on active duty, I was like on the, I’m a non-commissioned officer of a staff, Sergeant I, this is my, my box. This is my lane. I’m in PSYOP, psychological operations. And this is my lane. But to realize that I could volunteer for a veteran service organization and I can volunteer to combat human trafficking, which is a passion of mine. And I can be a Rotarian. I could do other things and still wear multiple hats. And so I, I think that that was a big Eureka moment for me, that I had some colleagues from the outside looking in like Mary, Kate, you’ve been doing this, but now you’re just going to have more time.

Mary Kate Soliva (53:44):

You have the freedom of choice is that we actually, um, I remember hearing one of my colleagues at my unit say one time that he was like, we really don’t have our first amendment. Right. You know, as a, as an act, when you’re in active duty, you didn’t have to be very careful with what you said and you really can’t. And especially when you’re in uniform of what you can and cannot say, there’s things you can and cannot say. And so now that you’re stepping out of that role, stepping out of uniform and you, you do have that, um, ability as Luke said, to really chase after what she wants to chase after, and, uh, despite the naysayers, because they will always be out there. But if anything, I’m trying to turn that into, let it fire you up and show them how it’s done.

Scott Luton (54:28):

You don’t have to get any commander to sign off on anything you want to do once you get out of uniform. So

Mary Kate Soliva (54:35):

I can leave state. There you go. Yeah, that’s right. AWOL

Scott Luton (54:41):

Folks. This is, uh, I really appreciate all of y’all’s time here today. I know we’ve run over a little bit here, but, uh, really appreciate that. Appreciate what you’re doing. Most importantly, you’re changing. You’re no longer doing business as usual. Uh, you’re changing the game and that, you know, whether you’re in supply chain or academia, or just anywhere, any aspect of business, that is a really important thing that leaders have to embrace. And that’s what the innovators do. So I really admire what you are doing. Let’s make sure folks know how to connect with you in case they’re interested in, in St. Leo or the program, or, or even Mary Kay. What’s your, what’s your doing? Let’s start with, uh, Dr. Karen Handel. So how can folks connect with you? Karen?

Karen Hannel (55:17):

You can reach me by email. If you like. It’s Karen dot handle@saintleo.edu. If you can’t remember my name, I’m also at IDs at Saint Leo and we’re on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Scott Luton (55:33):

We’re going, gonna make it easy. We’re going to include those links in the show notes one-click and if you, if you can’t find anything, you’re looking for a course bookstore, disclaimer, reach out to our team here at supply chain now and better voices. Okay. So Dr. Luke McCleese, how can folks connect with you,

Luke McClees (55:50):

Uh, email as well? Ernest Stott, McCleese at St. leo.edu, also military services at St. leo.edu, uh, personal LinkedIn, or Dr. Lou McCleese Jr. Uh, and then Twitter McCleese loop and I’m available through any of this. You can also do smoke signals

Scott Luton (56:16):

Well and clearly access. I mean, it it’s proof in the pudding with what Mary Kay shared earlier easily accessible. I love that. And Mary Kay last, but certainly not least. How can folks connect with you,

Mary Kate Soliva (56:26):

LinkedIn, Mary, Kate saliva. And I will say for those of you, I know a lot of us have clearances. I was terrified even put my last name out there, but I have to say, be your genuine self. The more you put out there about yourself, people want to connect with you. And now when people see things regarding anti-human trafficking, they send it my way because I built my brand. So as a service member, don’t be afraid to be your authentic, genuine self and step out of that. But Scott, I really wanted to throw it at you. Cause I, I feel like I missed the mark and asking about your lessons, learned of your transition. What do you got for me? What do you got for our listeners?

Scott Luton (57:02):

Well, I’ll tell ya. Um, th this, this is one of the central themes of this whole conversation is, is when I look back, I wish I had embraced that. You know, I think all of us lead the service with a little bit at chain of command, a little bit of that, you know, can do I need to ask permission? You know, you’ve got that. Um, it’s just this part of what is leftover, you know, from wearing a uniform and, you know, once it dawns on, once you have that day, that epiphany, that Eureka moment that I can do whatever I want to do, right. That’s why we’re here. I think the sooner you can embrace that and some folks embrace that early in life. Other folks are, or, you know, late bloomers or nothing wrong with that. And we’re all on our own, our own schedule and cadence and timing, but life changes when you embrace that, but you can do exactly whatever you want to do.

Scott Luton (57:44):

And it is inspiring to me to hear this conversation and Mary Kay, you know how you had that Eureka moment that you shared earlier, and now you’re pursuing your passion. That is, is a huge lesson learned for me. So it, hopefully anyone listening to this, if you haven’t already had that day of reckoning and, and empowering, and, and when that really dawns on you and you, you take control of your destiny, hopefully you have it soon. And if not, if you can’t find it, reach out to this incredible panel here, reach out to Karen or Luke or Mary Kate. So you’re

Mary Kate Soliva (58:15):

Not alone. I say, going to say, you’re not alone in this space.

Scott Luton (58:19):

Well set. So on that note, huge, thanks to our panel here, Dr. Karen Handel, chair of department of interdisciplinary studies at St. Leo university and our colleague, Dr. Luke McCleese director of military affairs and services, and also co-creator of the veteran studies major. And then of course my esteem cohost park, co-host part guests today. Uh, but loved your, uh, take care today, Mary Kate saliva, best of luck as you pursue what’s next for you and become Dr. Mary Kate Sliva down the road a little bit, right? That’s right. So stay tuned. All right, folks, hopefully you enjoy this conversation. As much as I have really enjoyed the transparent Frank and real conversation, we’ve had tons of best practices on behalf of our entire team here at veteran voices. Hey, we’re wishing you nothing, but the best as you continue to work down your journey, fondness across social media, make sure you find a subscribers. You don’t miss future conversations, just like this one, but most importantly, if you’re anything here, do good. Give forward, be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time right here at veteran voices.

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Mary Kate Soliva is a US Army veteran with special operations experience in South East Asia. She is a veteran advocate and currently spearheads the monthly newsletter for Vets2Industry. She is passionate about educating veterans and their families about available resources across the country. In addition, she is a human trafficking victim advocate and provides training to other service members and the community. She loves to travel, antique and spend time with her loved ones.

Dr. Luke McClees is the director of Military Affairs and Services at Saint Leo University. He is responsible for overseeing the success and quality of life for all military, veterans, and their families. He also advises the university on changing legislation and policies that might impact university stakeholders. Dr. McClees has just completed co-creating the first-ever Veteran Studies major that will start Fall of 2021.

Dr. McClees is the CEO of an Education Technology business and hosts a podcast titled Veterans in Academics. Before being the director of Military Affairs and Services, he taught, presented, and published for nearly a decade for the College of Education and Veteran Studies Program at Eastern Kentucky University.
His work in the field of Veterans Studies helped the field grow and become recognized nationally. He has been involved in every space where academics and military veterans intersect, and he is considered a Thought Leader in this area.

Before studying and working in academics, Dr. McClees served as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps with the Third Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. During his enlistment, Dr. McClees served in both mission-oriented and rotational deployments. This included a combat action deployment to help end the genocide during the Kosovo War. His mission deployments included: Operation Assured Response, Operation Quick Response, security operations in Guantanamo, Cuba, Haiti, Operation Noble Anvil, Operation Shining Hope, and Operation Joint Guardian.

Dr. Karen Hannel is the founding chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Saint Leo University. She has been with Saint Leo for more than fourteen years and has taught a wide variety of courses in the Humanities, developed numerous interdisciplinary courses, contributed to the creation of other programs including the Women’s and Gender Studies minor, Medical Humanities major, and Veteran Studies major.

Hosts

Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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Learn more about Veteran Voices here

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Adrian Purtill

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.

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

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.

Patch Reilly

Data Analytics and Metrics Intern

Patch is a fourth-year Management Information Systems and Marketing major at the University of Georgia. He is working with Supply Chain Now in data analysis, finding insights and best practices to increase company efficiency. Patch previously worked as an intern at AnswerRocket, a data analytics company where he gained invaluable knowledge about analytics, webpage SEO and B2B marketing best practices. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, going to concerts, and watching movies.

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Vicki White

Controller

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.

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Scott W. Luton

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.

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Allison Giddens

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.

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Greg White

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.

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Chris Barnes

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.

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Karin Bursa

Host of TEKTOK

If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.

With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.

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Kevin L. Jackson

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 CiscoMicrosoft, 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 UniversityO’Reilly MediaLinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.  Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems EngineeringCarrier 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.

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Enrique Alvarez

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.

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Kelly Barner

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’.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.

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Jeff Miller

Host

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.

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Amanda Luton

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.

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Clay Phillips

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.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

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.

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Billy Taylor

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.

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Chantel King

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.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

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.

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Katherine Hintz

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.

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Ben Harris

Host

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.

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Page Siplon

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).

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Kristi Porter

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.

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Kevin Brown

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.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

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.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

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.

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Demo Perez

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.

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Kim Winter

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).

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Nick Roemer

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.

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Alex Bramley

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.

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