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About

Board of Directors

  • Jim Shamess, Brig. Gen (ret), USAF - Chairman

    For over 40 years, General Shamess demonstrated leadership and management skills in the military, civil service, and industry resulting in highly effective and efficient mission accomplishment as well as individual and team growth.  “While I appreciate the importance of personal growth,” says General Shamess, "I can't recall anything meaningful that I ever did alone; sometimes I followed, sometimes I led, but most importantly, we strived and succeeded together to accomplish our mission and take care of our people."  Individuals, families and organizations succeed through the collaboration and support of family members, friends, co-workers and organizational leaders. It is this attitude and his many capabilities that make him a key member of the Board to ensure we properly define and reach our goals. For example, he has been most successful in influencing well-meaning groups of people with widely varied interests and objectives to work together effectively toward common goals.  In his former position as Director of Security and Force Protection Focal Point for the USAF, he led one of the largest career fields and influenced security operations across the globe to protect our forces and weapons systems. As the USAF Senior Advisor for Security Policy and Oversight, he led collaborative efforts with organizations across the Pentagon to develop advanced concepts and policies to more effectively and efficiently execute all types of protective operations.  General Shamess has also led profitable initiatives in industry and problem-solving, education and professional growth initiatives in non-profit organizations such as ASIS International, the largest association for security professionals, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. General Shamess continues to support public and private interests of the U.S. Government and various U.S. companies and volunteers work with multiple non-profit organizations and foundations. His relentless initiative is key to ensuring NAVSO will help thousands of veteran-supporting organizations present extraordinary value to our veterans and their families. 

  • William H. Ahmanson - Member, Board of Directors

    William H. Ahmanson (Bill) was born and raised in Los Angeles, attended Harvard-Westlake School and Occidental College where he studied Political Science, Theater Arts and sculpture.  During college he began a career in banking at Home Savings of America, where he worked for 17 years, beginning his career as a teller and ending his career there as the Chief Underwriter for Home's California Residential Lending Division, responsible for all high risk loans funded in the state.  After 6 years in Union Bank’s Wealth Management Division, Bill retired from banking and is now President of The Ahmanson Foundation which concentrates its funding on cultural projects supporting the arts, education at the collegiate and pre-collegiate levels, medicine and delivery of health care services, programs related to homelessness and low-income populations, and a wide range of human services.  In 1986 he began his service to the City of Los Angeles as a Los Angeles Police Reserve Line Officer.  After 10 years of patrol he retired to focus on other areas of service.  Today he is Trustee & President, The Ahmanson Foundation; Trustee and Board Chair, The Center Theater Group; Trustee, Vice-Chair of the Board, Chairman of the Audit Committee, serves on the Executive Committee at LACMA (The Los Angeles County Museum of Art); Trustee and serves on the Audit Committee, Loyola Marymount University; Director and Secretary, Petersen Automotive Museum; Director and Secretary of the Los Angeles Mounted Police Foundation; among others.

  • Ryan Manion Borek - Member, Board of Directors

    Ryan Manion Borek has dedicated her life to supporting our nation’s military, veterans, and families of fallen heroes. She is inspired by the character, leadership, and sacrifice of her brother 1st Lt. Travis Manion, USMC, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Al Anbar province of Iraq while drawing fire away from his wounded comrades on April 29th, 2007.

    Serving as the President of Travis Manion Foundation since 2012, Ryan leads a national movement focused on assisting veterans and families of the fallen to take the next step in their personal journeys, and inspiring the next generation of leaders. As a highly regarded advocate for the military community, Ryan has been invited to address national audiences on numerous occasions. These opportunities have also included interviews with the likes of Fox News, CNN, and many more. 

    While she may often speak on a national level, she is equally as proud to be the keynote speaker for Travis Manion Foundation’s Character Does Matter program. This program teaches the importance of leadership and character directly to thousands of students across the country, through the inspiring stories of fallen heroes. 

    Carrying on the legacy of her brother Travis, Ryan continues to lead a life of service to others. This was most notably recognized in 2015 when she was selected to receive the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service. In 2016 Ryan took an official appointment to serve on the Remember and Explore Subcommittee and the Honor Subcommittee for the Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery.

  • Marléna Sessions - Member, Board of Directors

    Since becoming Chief Executive Officer in 2009, Marléna Sessions has guided the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County in Washington State to national prominence as an innovative leader in job training initiatives. The Council received the first-ever awarded Trailblazer Award in 2016 from the National Association of Workforce Boards, selected out of 550 boards nationwide for outstanding practice. The Working for America Institute named the organization one of the top four workforce boards in the United States.
     
    Marléna is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations and for the Economic Development Council of Seattle-King County, as well as serving on the Board of Trustees for the United States Conference of Mayors’ Workforce Development Council. Additionally, Marléna serves on the Opportunity Center for Employment and Education's Policy Committee. She was appointed to Washington State Governor Inslee's Life Science Panel as well as the Workforce Development Panel for Life Sciences and Global Health. Marléna has offered expert testimony to Congress, and was the 2013 President of the United States Conference of Mayors' Workforce Development Council. She founded the National Advisory Group for Connecting Homeless Jobseekers to the workforce system.
     
    Marléna holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Whitworth University.  
     
  • Brandon Shelton - Member, Board of Directors

    Brandon Shelton is a strategy leader, a problem solver and a relationship builder. He led the grassroots effort that became Task Force X, a driven network of experts and advisors that evaluate and develop Veteran entrepreneurs and businesses. A veteran entrepreneur himself, Brandon first founded T2 Growth Advisors to help teams design and activate strategic frameworks to reach their goals.

    Brandon developed his financial, strategic and operational skills through various experiences in high intensity and change environments from the military after 9/11 to Wall Street in 2008. Using military principles, Brandon helped client teams grow while a partner at a boutique strategy consulting firm with his largest client hiring him to drive growth, expansion and technology changes at a multi-billion dollar company in North America. Brandon founded T2 Growth Advisors to connect these skills to startups and small businesses.

     

  • Rosemary Williams - Member, Board of Directors

    Rosemary Williams most recently served as Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs where she was responsible for oversight for the department’s public affairs, community outreach and engagement including Veteran homelessness and chief liaison to county, state and Tribal Nations Veterans offices.  She also represented VA on the executive committee of the National Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

    Prior to her service at VA, Rosemary served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy. In that position, she was responsible for policy, advocacy and oversight of all community support to service members, their families and survivors, child care and youth programs, family violence prevention and intervention, casualty and mortuary affairs, MWR programs, commissaries and exchanges, military spouse career advancement, and state liaison office. 

    Rosemary previously worked in government as director for communications and public liaison at the Office of Personnel Management, and as the senior advisor for strategic communications to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. During her time at VA, Rosemary also served as the Department of Veterans Affairs representative to the White House Council on Military Families. Prior to her government service, Rosemary worked as communications director for the national non-profit, Blue Star Families.

    Rosemary’s work with military families and veterans follows a 25-year broadcast journalism career, during which she received numerous awards including a National Emmy Award for Team Coverage of the attacks on September 11th as Executive Producer at MSNBC covering Washington, DC and Politics.

    Rosemary was awarded fellowships in Ethical Decision Making at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and in National Security at the Air War College. She has been published on the topic of mental health and today’s military families and is author of the local history book, Maritime Annapolis – A History of Watermen, Sail & Midshipmen.