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Advisory Council

KCVS Advisory Council

The KCVS Advisory Council is comprised of veterans' advocates, community leaders, and other external stakeholders who meet regularly to shape the direction of the Center. Each member has made a mark in their industry or their home community. They all offer unique perspectives and immeasurable talents. Eastern Kentucky University thanks them for their commitment to veterans and the success of the Kentucky Center for Veterans Studies. 

David Albright

David Albright, PhD

Dr. David L. Albright is a Distinguished Research Professor and the Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health Research at The University of Alabama. He is committed to public policy and administrative leadership aimed at improving the health, well-being, safety, and prosperity of vulnerable populations, rural and underserved communities, and our country’s military Veterans.

Dr. Albright is the Principal Investigator for the VitAL initiative. Its mission is to improve wellness in Alabama through engagement, collaboration, research, and education. The VitAL team currently works with community and organizational stakeholders within and across all of Alabama’s 67 counties.

Dr. Albright holds multiple gubernatorial appointments in the state of Alabama with the objective of advising strategies that address the social and community conditions that could improve health, life expectancy, and quality of life, while also reducing related health care costs and productivity losses. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. He serves on the Research Advisory Group for Mental Health First Aid USA. He was appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on the Well-Being of Military Families and SAMHSA expert panel on PTSD. During his career, he earned research fellowships with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Rural Health Association, and the RAND Corporation’s Center for Military Health Policy Research. Dr. Albright has been recognized for excellence and innovation in teaching and curriculum design and received the Outstanding Commitment to Advising award by The University of Alabama. He has also been recognized by the University with the Outstanding Community Engagement Effort and the President’s Faculty Research awards.

David Albright

LTC (Ret.) Whitney Allen

Whitney Allen is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel with 25 years of combined military service. He is the Deputy Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs and is an advocate for veteran inclusion in the workforce. 

LTC Allen has served in various military organizations and military locations. His assignments include three combat tours in Afghanistan/Kuwait (2005, 2009, 2013), peacekeeping mission in Bosnia (1996), training exercise in Kingdom of Jordan (2003), tour in Germany (1995-1998) and various assignments throughout the United States.

LTC Allen's military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC), Meritorious Service Medal (Silver OLC), Army Commendation Medal (two OLC), Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal (Bronze Star), Army Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Ribbon (#3 Device), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Medal (Bronze Star), Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Meritorious Unit Award, Army Superior Unit Award, Airborne Badge and the Military Intelligence Association Knowlton Award. He also received an award from the Afghanistan Minister of Interior for his work with Afghanistan local police.

He is a Louisville Week of Valor 2020 Honoree, Humana’s Boots on the Ground Honoree, Louisville Business First 2019 “Salute to Veterans” honoree, Kentucky Colonel, and holds membership/leadership positions in local and national veteran organizations to include Veterans Community Alliance of Louisville (VCAL), the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, and the NAACP Louisville Chapter’s Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.  He and his wife Yolanda have two daughters and currently reside in Louisville.

Beth AveyBeth Avey

Beth Avey is the Vice President of the Knox Regional Development Alliance (KRDA), a community-based non-profit focused on promoting and protecting Fort Knox and growing defense related business in the Greater Fort Knox Region. Prior to joining the KRDA team, Beth served as the President and CEO of Heartland Communications Consultants, Inc, an Elizabethtown, Kentucky full-service marketing communications firm that she co-founded. An Army veteran, Beth also co-founded Where Opportunity Knox, a bi-state regional initiative that worked to connect veterans and military spouses with job opportunities in the Greater Louisville Region.

Originally from Pittsburgh, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Syracuse University and her Masters of Business Administration from Western Kentucky University. After graduation from the Army’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Syracuse, Beth was commissioned as an Army Officer and served nearly 13 years on active duty, largely as a Public Affairs Officer. Her years of service included a tour at Fort Knox where she worked on the Army’s national advertising program, met a Captain named Derek and fell in love with him, and Central Kentucky.

Following her assignment at Fort Knox, Beth was selected to participate in the Army’s coveted Training With Industry Program at Ketchum Public Relations. Then it was off to the Pentagon where she served as the Deputy Director and ultimately, the Director, of Army Marketing for the Army’s Chief of Public Affairs. In 2004, when Beth’s husband received an offer to come back to Fort Knox in a civilian capacity, the decision to return to Kentucky was an easy one. They have called the Greater Fort Knox Region home since then.

Deborah Lynn AlexanderDeborah Lynn Alexander, PhD

Deborah Alexander is a former U.S. Department of State senior advisor. She retired to Kentucky in 2017 and now focuses on higher education philanthropy, local justice, housing, interfaith initiatives, and women veterans; she also serves as a U.S. delegate on international election observation missions. She is Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) graduate and earned her PhD from the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University. 

After the U.S. attacks on September 11, Alexander requested assignment to Afghanistan, serving there for a decade; she has also worked in Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Pakistan, Somalia, and Ukraine. For most of her diplomatic career, she was posted as an advisor to senior military officers. Her diplomatic portfolio focused on elections, civil-military relations, rule of law, women's advancement, and countering violence. Prior to Deborah's overseas work, she was a local and state government official in New York state. After the Yugoslav War ended, she was recruited by the U.S. State Department to assist countries transitioning from communism, conflict or in political crises. 

U.S. Army Special Operations honored Alexander in 2018 with a lifetime membership in the Civil Affairs Regiment. She is a recipient of Syracuse University's Spirit of Public Service Award, two U.S. Department of State Expeditionary Service Awards, three Superior Honor Awards, two Meritorious Awards, NATO's Public Service Award, and the U.S. Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. 

As a social work undergraduate at EKU, Dr. Alexander was a Fulbright scholar in India, interning with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata - igniting her love of global humanitarian affairs. She currently serves as a trustee on EKU's Foundation Board and on the International Affairs Advisory Commission in Lexington. She's represented the U.S. as an election observer in North Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Belarus, and serves as an election sheriff in Lexington, She is on the board of both the Moondance Foundation and the Christian-Muslim Dialogue, and volunteers for God's Pantry and the Lexington Habitat for Humanity. In her spare time, she is developing her photography and hopes to write and teach.

Manuel G. Aviles-Santiago Manuel G. Aviles-Santiago, PhD

Manuel G. Aviles-Santiago is an associate professor of communication and culture at the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and Director of the Office of Veterans and Military Academic Engagement (OVMAE). He obtained his doctorate in media studies at the Department of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas-Austin. His most recent book, Puerto Rican Soldiers and Second-Class Citizenship: Representations in Media, examines the cultural history of the imaginary of the Puerto Rican soldier, from representations in traditional media to self-representations in digital/social media. He is a Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral and Post-doctoral Fellow, an award administered by the National Research Council (now the National Academies of the Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine). He has worked for several research centers such as the Center for Communication Research and the Center for the Study of Latino Media and Markets. 

Avilés-Santiago has worked as a research assistant and project manager for the Voces: Latino and Latina Oral History Project under the advisory of Professor Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez. He was invited by the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good, funded by the Carnegie Foundation, to research undocumented students in higher education. He has presented his works at conferences such as the International Communication Association, Race and Media, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Latino Studies, the Latin American Studies Association, and Veteran Studies conferences. 

His work has been published in journals like Communication, Culture and Critique, Journal of Latin American Communication Research (JLACR), Caribbean Studies Journal, Flow TV, and Revista Cruces. He is also an editorial columnist for El Nuevo Dia newspaper and host for PBS's segment, Break It Down

As director of the Office for Veteran and Military Academic Engagement, Avilés-Santiago has developed programs to bridge the military-civilian gap through teaching, research, and community engagement initiatives. He is the coordinator for the Veteran, Society, and Service certificate, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. At the moment, he is part of a grant-seeking initiative aimed at growing the number of veteran students from underserved populations in STEM degrees. 

Steven BullardBrigadier General (Ret.) Steven P. Bullard

Brigadier General (Retired) Steven P. “Steve” Bullard works with and advises the Governor, the General Assembly, and the Kentucky Congressional Delegation on military matters. In his position as the Executive Director, he strives to maximize the Commonwealth’s relationship with the Department of Defense, spur economic growth across the State, promote military veterans as a viable workforce solution, and improve the quality of life for service members, veterans, and their families.

As the Commissioner of Kentucky’s State Council on the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission, he advocates for the educational success of our military children.  General Bullard is the Commonwealth’s voice on circumstances pertaining to military children as they transition from one state/country to another, working to keep the educational process as seamless as possible.

General Bullard is a member of the following: The Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs Executive Committee, Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Board for Veterans Affairs, Kentucky Veteran’s Trust Fund Board of Directors, Kentucky Emergency Response Commission, Knox Regional Development Alliance, Kentucky Complete Count (Census) Task Force, Kentucky Works Workforce Collaborative, and Chair of the Military Heritage Commission.  Gen. Bullard is a life member of numerous military-related associations and The Retired Flag and General Officers’ Association. He serves as co-chair of the State Advisor Council for the Association of Defense Communities. 

General Bullard served in the Air Force and Air National Guard for 33 years, participating in Operations including Desert Shield, Provide Promise, Restore Hope, Joint Endeavor, Joint Forge, Southern Watch, Bright Star, Coronet Oak, Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom.  His leadership roles include Director of Mobility Forces and Joint Air Component Coordination Element (JACCE) for the Commander, 7th Air Force, Osan Air Base, South Korea; NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Senior Airfield Authority of Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan; Air Component Coordination Element (ACCE), Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan; and Chief of Operations for the Joint Intelligence and Operations Center, Headquarters, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.  Most recently, Bullard served as Chief of Staff for the Kentucky Air National Guard and Deputy Director of the Joint Staff of the Kentucky National Guard. He also has extensive experience in legislative affairs, representing the military and the manufacturing industry.

His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, NATO Medal (ISAF Afghanistan and Bosnia Service), Kuwaiti Liberation Medal Government of Kuwait, and Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal.  He is a graduate of the University of Maine, Air War College and Joint Forces Staff College.

General Bullard is married to the former Janice Nowacki from Louisville, Kentucky. They have three sons: Alex, Adam and Joshua; and one granddaughter, Eva Jane.

Jennifer DaneJennifer Dane

Jennifer Dane is a veteran of the United States Air Force who served as an intelligence analyst focused on geopolitical relations, terrorism, and threat vulnerability issues. Jennifer currently serves as the Executive Director of the Modern Military Association of America - the nation’s largest non-profit organization working to advance fairness and equality for the LGBTQ military and veteran community. She currently serves as a founding board member of Partners in PROMISE and is a Vet Policy Fellow.

She has earned a diversity and inclusion certificate from Cornell University, an associate degree in Intelligence Studies from the Community College of the Air Force, a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Bethel University, a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from Arizona State University, Master of Arts in Educational Policy from The Ohio State University and is a Public Policy and Social Change PhD student at Union Institute and University.

Jennifer also has a wide range of diversity, equity, and inclusion, consultancy and training experience having worked with the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Uber, Synchrony, Capgemini, HBO Max, NBCComcast, the National Diversity Council, and various organizations and people. She is passionate about her commitment to leaving the world a better place than it was before she was born..

Jacob Eleazer

Jacob Eleazer, PhD

Dr. Jacob Eleazer (he/him) served in the Army National Guard for 12 years and was among the first actively serving transgender soldiers to come out publicly in 2014. He completed his doctorate in counseling psychology at the University of Louisville and postdoctoral clinical fellowship in LGBT Health and Psychosocial Rehabilitation at the Connecticut VA Healthcare System. Jacob is currently an Advanced Fellow in Health Services Research and Development at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and Yale School of Medicine. His research investigates the experiences of actively serving transgender military personnel, health disparities for LGBTQ+ Veterans, and patient-centered interventions to improve access to care for transgender Veterans. He currently serves on the American Psychological Association Task Force to update and revise the Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People. Jacob also advocates for inclusive military policy as the Director of Advocacy for SPARTA, A Transgender Military Advocacy Organization. 

Dr. John GregoryJohn C. Gregory, PhD

Dr. John C. Gregory currently serves as the Executive Director, Kentucky Skills U (Adult Education), Education and Workforce Development Cabinet for the State of Kentucky.

Dr. Gregory has a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), an M.S. in Criminal Justice also from VCU, and a B.A. in History from Virginia Military Institute (VMI).

Prior to his current position, Dr. Gregory was a Director and Assistant Professor in the School of Public Administration and Government at Kentucky State University. Dr. Gregory served 20 years on active duty in the Army retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. His army career included combat deployments to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the 25th Infantry Division. His military schools, badges and awards include: the Ranger tab, Command and General Staff Officers’ Course, Air Assault badge, Parachutist badge, Infantry Officer Basic Course, Quartermaster Advanced Course, Human Resources Management Qualification Course, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and the Bronze Star Medal. Dr. Gregory is also part-time faculty in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Louisville. He is a member of several professional and academic organizations, which include the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA), the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration. Dr. Gregory also serves on the Special Advisory Council for Military Affairs, Robert Morris University.  

Dr. Gregory is married to the former Alicia Burleigh, a retired Army Officer, and they have five adult children: Monique, Thomas, Antoine, Anthony, and Avonnia. 

Ken Keen

Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ken Keen

Lieutenant General (Ret) Ken Keen is a native of Hyden, Kentucky. Following graduation as a distinguished military graduate from Eastern Kentucky University, he was commissioned as a 2LT in the Infantry in December 1974. LTG (Ret) Keen retired from active duty on 1 March 2013.

LTG (Ret) Keen is currently the Associate Dean of Leadership Development and a Senior Lecturer in Organization and Management for Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, Georgia. In this role, he manages a school-wide leadership development program and teaches leadership courses, which includes teaching a Leadership Capstone course; implementing a Leadership Coaching Fellows Program and course; crisis leadership seminars; developing high performing teams seminars; and coaching in the Advanced Leadership Academy.

LTG (Ret) Keen served 38 years in the Army with over 11 years working and living abroad in the Republic of Panama, Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Germany, Egypt, and Pakistan. Ken commanded a SCUBA detachment in 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group; a company and Battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division; Joint Task Force – Haiti following the Jan 2010 earthquake; as well as serving on three U.S. Embassy Country Teams leading all military forces in Colombia, Haiti, and Pakistan during crisis periods. He participated in Operation JUST CAUSE in 1989 as the Assistant S3 of the 75th Ranger Regiment; commanded a Ranger Task Force during Operation DESERT STORM in 1990, as part of a Joint Special Operations Command, while serving as the S3 of the 1st Ranger Battalion; was the Executive Officer and Commander of 1st Ranger Battalion; and was the 11th Colonel of the 75th Ranger Regiment from 1999 to 2001.

LTG (Ret) Keen is a graduate of the Brazilian Command and General Staff College, Defense Language Institute - Portuguese Course, the University of Florida’s Master of Arts in Latin American Studies program, and U.S. Army War College.

LTG (Ret) Keen also serves on several non-profit Boards in support of military veterans, education, and international humanitarian organizations. Ken is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the U.S. Army War College Foundation; Senior Fellow for the National Defense University; Board member for the Witness to War Foundation; Board member of the Community Organized Relief Effort; President of the Ranger Hall of Fame Board; and serves as the Honorary Colonel of the 75th Ranger Regiment. LTG (Ret) Keen also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Kentucky Center for Veterans Studies (KCVS) at Eastern Kentucky University.

In 2016, LTG (Ret) Keen was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame and the National Reserve Officer Training Corps Hall of Fame.

Barbara Kent

Barbara Kent 

Former Army Sergeant Barbara Kent served on active duty from 1982 to 1991 as a member of the Judge Advocate General's Corps.  Her duty assignments include 2nd Armored Division and 1st Calvary Division at Fort Hood Texas, and 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Casey, Korea.  Her military awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, and Army Commendation Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters.    Her experience in higher education include staff positions at the University of Oregon and the United States Military Academy at West Point.  She graduated summa cum laude in 2017 and awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a Minor in Political Science, and awarded a Master of Public Administration degree in 2019.

As a United States Army veteran with proven leadership and technical skills, she successfully leverages her experience in higher education and education as EKU's Director of Military and Veterans Affairs, leading a team of staff and responsible for initiating, evaluating, and directing all aspects of programming and delivery of services for approximately 1,400 veteran and military students.

Leonard Lira

Leonard Lira, PhD

Dr. Leonard L. Lira is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Political Science at San Jose State University.  He teaches Public Administration at the graduate level in the MPA program and Political Science at the undergraduate level.   His current research effort is on collaboration and its impact on organizational performance and Veteran studies and policy.  He retired from the US Army in 2017 after 28 years of military service.  While on active duty he served in several positions at the tactical, operational, and strategic level.  Prior to retiring, he was the founding Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence at the Army University where he also taught Strategic and Operational Studies, Enterprise Leadership and Management for ArmyU's Army Command and General Staff College and the Army Management Staff College.   Len is also a Faculty Fellow for the SJSU Veterans Resource Center, where he advises Veteran and Military connected students for the University.

LaSheka MasonLaSheka Mason

LaSheka Mason enlisted in the US Army in 2009 as a Unit Supply Specialist, earning the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-6) before receiving an Honorable Discharge in 2016. She attended Basic Combat Training in Ft. Jackson, SC and Advanced Individual Training in Ft. Lee, VA. Her major duty stations included Ft. Myer, Ft. Lee, Ft. Carson, and Camp Walker in South Korea. Mason also volunteered for a deployment to Bagram Airbase in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2013. In addition to her official duties, Mason served as a New Soldier Mentorship Leader, MWR representative for single soldiers, barracks manager, and training instructor. Mason’s major awards included two Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, six Army Certificates of Achievement, and several campaign and service ribbons. After her discharge, Mason worked in supply chain distribution from 2016 to 2019. She moved to Kentucky to pursue a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a University-level Certificate in Veterans Studies. She is a mother of 5 children: Adrain, Aniya, Ayden, Devon, and Dionne.  After graduation, she plans to enter into government service as a logistician. Currently, Mason serves as the EKU Student Representative on the Kentucky Center for Veterans Studies Advisory Council.

Brett MorrisBrett Morris, EdD

Dr. Brett Morris is the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at the University of North Georgia where he oversees Undergraduate, Cadet, and Graduate Admissions as well as Financial Aid and the Registrar’s offices.  Dr. Morris most recently served as the Executive Director for Enrollment Management at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU).  Dr. Morris retired from the U.S. Army after 24 years of active duty, serving his last tour of duty as the Professor of Military Science and Leadership at Eastern Kentucky University from 1999-2004. Subsequent to his military retirement in 2005 he established and taught the Junior ROTC at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, Kentucky. In 2010 he returned to EKU to serve as the Associate Director for Veterans Affairs; launching Operation Veteran Success which established Eastern Kentucky University as one of the preeminent providers of educational services to military personnel and veterans. Dr. Morris and Dr. Travis Martin collaborated to create the concept and structure for the Veterans Studies program at EKU.  Dr. Martin has continued that work which served as the foundation for forming the Kentucky Center for Veterans Studies at EKU. 

Dr. Morris began his post-secondary education as a cadet at New Mexico Military Institute where he earned his Associates Degree and Commission into the United States Army Reserves.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising from Texas Tech University, with a minor in Marketing, Masters in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Eastern Kentucky University.  His military education includes the Army Command and General Staff College and a certificate in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.  During his Army tenure he served as a Field Artillery officer in the 8th Infantry and 101st Airborne Divisions and as a Foreign Area Officer in Bogota, Colombia.  Dr. Morris is married to Cynthia Carter Morris of Atlanta. 

Autumn Sherry McCaneAutumn Sherry McCane, PhD

Dr. McCane serves as the Chief of the Mental Health Service at the Lexington VA Health Care System. Prior to this position, she served as Assistant Chief of Mental Health and as Acting Clinical Coordinator for the residential PTSD and substance abuse unit. Her clinical interests include trauma, treatment of PTSD,  and working with Veteran families coping with transitional stressors. As a leader, Dr. McCane enjoys quality improvement, innovations, and developing leaders in the field. Dr. McCane is an EKU graduate (go Colonels!) and a former adjunct instructor at EKU’s Psychology Department.

Jeff NorwitzJeffrey H. Norwitz

Jeffrey H. Norwitz has nearly five decades of law enforcement experience at the military, municipal, federal levels and as an author and educator.  He completed a BS in Criminal Justice at Eastern Kentucky University in 1974.  Thereafter was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps serving three years with the 4th Infantry Division guarding nuclear weapons.  He then became an El Paso County Deputy Sheriff in Colorado Springs for seven years where his specialty assignments included SWAT team sniper, firearms instructor, traffic accident reconstruction, DUI enforcement, as well as Commander of the Bomb Squad.

He joined the civilian ranks of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in 1985 and served tours of duty stateside and overseas specializing in counterintelligence, counterespionage, and counterterrorism.  This included an assignment at Camp Delta, Guantanamo interviewing al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters.  His last assignment was as NCIS supervisory special agent responsible for counterintelligence throughout New England.

In 2001, Mr. Norwitz earned an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College and subsequently joined the faculty for eight years as Professor of National Security Studies and the NCIS advisor.  He held the John Nicholas Brown Chair of Counterterrorism and lectured domestically and for allied militaries on matters relating to terrorism, intelligence, and homeland security.  Mr. Norwitz was selected 2006 Distinguished Alumnus, EKU Department of Military Science and Leadership.  Mr. Norwitz was a visiting professor at Harvard University, Qatar International Academy for Security Studies and lectured at the United Nations and The Geneva Centre for Security Policy.  Mr. Norwitz authored two edited collections, three book chapters, six peer-reviewed journal articles, and two book forewords.  After retiring from NCIS in 2009, Mr. Norwitz was a Senior Instructor with the Counterterrorism Division at Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Brunswick, Georgia.  He presently teaches nationwide on matters of Homeland Security.

He has three grown children, one of whom serves in the United States Air Force.  Jeff and his wife live in Kentucky.  He maintains a web site at

Richard Osbaldiston

Richard Osbaldiston, PhD 

Dr. Richard Osbaldiston is the Chair and Professor in the Department of Psychology at Eastern Kentucky University.  He teaches graduate level courses in research, statistics, and program evaluation, and he teaches undergraduate courses in personality psychology, research methods, statistics, and scientific literacy.  In terms of research, his favorite method of research is meta-analysis, or the systematic synthesis of similar research findings.  He has worked with over 200 students on meta-analysis projects, all of which have centered around the students’ own interests and goals, and many of these projects have resulted in conference presentations.  He also works as an advisor and mentor for students who are interested in pursuing graduate study. 

Christopher StanfieldChristopher Stanfield

Christopher Stanfield was born in Winchester, KY and graduated from George Rogers Clark High School in 2005.   After graduation, Chris joined the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Wainwright, AK.   During his time in uniform he served as an Infantry team leader and deployed twice to Iraq.  After leaving the service in 2009, he returned home to Winchester and quickly decided to pursue higher education.

In 2010, Chris was accepted to Eastern Kentucky University where he majored in Political Science and minored in Veteran Studies.  He also received a certificate in Women and Gender Studies from Eastern.   As part of his senior capstone project, Chris founded Stem the Tide Kentucky,  a grassroots campaign that engaged the public and lawmakers about veteran suicide.  While at Eastern, he had the honor of being selected by the Pat Tillman Foundation as a Tillman Scholar for the 2013 class.

After graduating from Eastern in 2013,  Chris worked for Kentucky River Foothills as a case manger for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant, which focused on veteran homelessness prevention.   He has also worked for the Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs as a Benefits Representative and the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services as a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Specialist.   In both of those positions he furthered his experience and understanding of veteran benefits across state and federal agencies. 

Currently Chris resides in Ohio and works for the Department of Veteran Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration.  In his current duties as a Military Services Coordinator, he assists separating servicemembers with VA benefits claims and transitioning into civilian life. As part of the Advisory Council, Chris hopes to help students understand the complexities and nuances of the veteran space. He hopes that his involvement helps to ensure that students are presented with opportunities to help them impact the lives of our nation’s veterans for years to come.

Manuel G. Aviles-Santiago James R. Tongate

Previously, James served as Marsh and McLennan Companies’ Senior HR Military Affairs Program Leader where he created, executed, led and cultivated an unprecedented diverse military veteran talent program. James strategically leveraged key stakeholders, human resource functions, technology, and processes relating to the design, implementation, and integration of diverse human capital dogmas through business actions. He is considered a national subject matter expert in the veteran talent space through consult and engagement in several national panels/forums including the Veteran Jobs Mission, the American Legion and at Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) sponsored events.

Prior to Marsh & McLennan Companies, James served at Humana over 17 years as a successful business leader in various functions to include the HR Program Leader for Humana’s Veteran & Military Spouse Hiring Program. He solidified the national award-winning program through sourcing, innovation, and implementation of outreach strategies recruiting National Guard, Reservists, Military Retirees, Wounded Warriors, Transitioning Veterans and Military Spouses. James’ efforts were crucial to Humana being recognized as a Top 100 Military Friendly® Employer in the US.

Currently, James also proudly serves as the tenth State Command Chief Master Sergeant for the Kentucky National Guard. Chief Tongate is the key advisor to Kentucky’s Adjutant General and his staff on all matters influencing mission readiness, training, promotion, retention, professional development, utilization, health, morale, welfare, and assignment policy affecting the entire enlisted Airmen and their families. Prior to this role, James served as the Human Resource Advisor and was a C-130H Tactical Loadmaster with three combat tours to Afghanistan along with many other global operations earning him four commendation medals. James initially began his service in 1986–1991 with the active-duty US Air Force, then served in the KY Army National Guard as a Military Intelligence Analyst before transferring into the KY Air National Guard in December 1997 where remains today.

James has been married over 24 years with 3 adult children and 2 grandchildren.

Catherine Trombley

Catherine Trombley

As the Public Affairs Officer of the Lexington VA Health Care System, Catherine Trombley, or Cat as she prefers, is responsible for the reputation of the health care system. That includes managing employee and volunteer communications, media relations, and stakeholder and community engagement, outreach and marketing.

Cat has more than 20 years of communications experience, most of it in the military and Veterans space. Prior to joining the Lexington VA Health Care System, she was a consultant on a tech project for the White House. She has held various positions in VA Central Office in Washington, D.C. including as a special advisor on transformative initiatives to the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and as communications policy, strategy and crisis lead in the Veterans Benefits Administration.

While originally from the Detroit-metro area, Cat moved to Lexington, KY as a teenager and is a graduate of Tates Creek High School in Lexington. A proud Air Force Veteran and spouse of a Marine Corps Veteran, Cat has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ and a Master’s degree in political communication from American University in DC. She lives in Lexington with her husband and their two children.



Stay tuned for the fall 2022 schedule of events!


WEKU's Corinne Boyer interviews Dr. Autumn McCane about the new KCVS Mentoring Program ...

A pair of Eastern Kentucky University students made the day of veterans living at St. Andrews Retirement Community ...

She's a senior Occupational Therapy major, 28-year-old mother of two, and a non-traditional student ...

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The Kentucky Center for Veterans Studies hosts academic programming for both veteran and non-veteran students. Learn about EKU support services for veterans and other military-affiliated students by visiting the Office of Military & Veterans AffairsDonate to Operation Veteran SuccessDonate to Operation Veteran Success