Operation Support Our Troops–America Board of Directors is proud to announce the appointment of Scott Maxson as Executive Director. Scott previously served on the Board of Directors in 2018 and 2019. His background showcases a range of experience and skills, from program management, physical security and risk management, learning and development, various leadership roles and organization and planning. He served as Chair of the veterans related employee resource group at his last company and has received multiple awards from The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). He is an Army veteran having served as an armor crewman, company armorer and was an honor graduate of the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense School while based at Fort Benning, GA. His corporate and military experience will translate into a deep level of understanding to lead an organization that supports military members, veterans, and their families. Scott holds a BS in Commerce from DePaul University, Chicago and an MBA from the University of Illinois – Chicago. The Board of Directors is excited to have Scott as our Executive Director and his leadership as we continue providing comfort and care to our military families at home and away.
We welcome Scott Maxson and look forward to our partnership.
Justin Smitherman is the President of Smitherman & Associates Inc. located in Elburn and St. Charles. He served in the Air Force for 8 years including a tour in Iraq. He is married to Carly, also an Air Force Veteran, whom they have one daughter named Lillian. Justin has been involved with Operation Support Our Troops-America for 6 years, and a board member for 5 years.
Deb started Operation Support our Troops-America in 2003 after her son joined the military in the wake of the attacks of September 11. She served as President and CEO for 13 years creating additional programs for veterans and Families of Fallen service members. She also oversaw the integration of the Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Program into OSOT-America. In 2015 Deb stepped down from her duties as CEO but remains in her role of guiding and overseeing the fulfillment of the mission. She currently serves as the CEO for Sharing Connections furniture bank in Downers Grove, IL.
Bill Strening has been a member of the Board of Directors of OSOT since 2008 and is currently the Secretary of OSOT. Bill is an attorney, has been in private practice since August 2016, as well as operating a surety bond agency with his brother in Chicago. Bill was previously Assistant General Counsel with True Value Company from 2001 – 2016 and prior to 2001 served in various positions with Chicago Bridge & Iron Company between 1975 and 2000 including Assistant General Counsel from 1986 to 2000.
In addition to his work with OSOT, Bill is currently President of the Parish Pastoral Council of Notre Dame Parish in Clarendon Hills as well as a Board Member of the Graue Mill Condominium I Association.
Bruce is the Founding Board Member and first Board Chairman of Operation Support our Troops-America. Bruce joined the Marines at 17 and went into the service a couple of weeks after his 18th birthday in 1969. His time in the military included service in Viet Nam in 1970 which has been the bases for his ongoing support for both those in the services and veterans as well.
In March of 2003, at the beginning of the Iraq war, Bruce brought his military experiences, background, and personal commitment to the cause of supporting military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bruce dedicated his own personal resources as well as his business and leadership expertise to guide OSOT-America from a project in a garage to a full scale non-profit organization having shipped over a million pounds of support items to active military personnel in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition OSOT-America provided services and support to not only active duty military members but veterans and Families of Fallen as well. Bruce’s company, NVISIA was one of the first sponsors of Rockin’ for the Troops in 2006, an annual event featuring actor and musician, Gary Sinise, that has raised over four million dollars over the past ten years.
Wayne Marshall is an executive with over 20 years in the healthcare and consulting industries. Currently Mr. Marshall leads Health Care Service Corporations Group Markets Customer Operations area, and has provided leadership in numerous Health Plan front office organizations. His experience also includes executive positions with P&L responsibility in consulting, technology, and outsourcing. Wayne also served as an infantryman / sergeant in the United States Marine Corps Reserves from 1992-1999. In addition to supporting OSOT, Wayne is active as a volunteer youth football coach.
Alice Leong is a business leader with over 30 years’ experience in consulting and cultural transformation. The last 10+ years has been focused on leadership roles in diversity and inclusion for several large, global organizations. Through those roles, she had the opportunity to support recruiting and development of military transitioning to civilian roles and has work closely with the organizations’ Veterans affinity groups to improve their workplace experience.
Born and raised in Chicago, IL. I spent eight years on active duty in the Marine Corps. Started working at Unicon International as Marine Surveyor until I started my own company Intermodal Midwest Surveyors in 2006. Married to Valerie with two sons Joseph Jr and John who is active duty Army. Currently reside in Lemont, IL and enjoy playing 16″ softball in Mt Greenwood in Chicago.
Born in Chicago and raised in Wheaton IL. Graduate of Wheaton North HS Class of 1970. I am the Father of 3 grown Sons and enjoy 7 Grandchildren. I am a retired Carol Stream Fire Fighter from a 40 year career. I have been actively involved with Naperville non-profits and enjoy volunteerism. In 2012 I chaired logistics for Ribfest and in 2013 I chaired Ribfest. In 2015 I chaired the Naperville “50 years of healing.” For the past 9 years I have chaired the annual Naperville 9/11 ceremony. I look forward to serving as a Board of Director of Operation Support our Troops – America.
Rick Smolke Rick owns Quick Impressions Group, a full-service printer located in Addison. He is the President of the Hillside-Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and supports many local charities, including Ronald McDonald House, A Silver Lining Foundation, Bryan Bickell Foundation, Magnificent Mutts Pet Rescue, the National Veterans Museum, and Operation Support Our Troops. Rick currently serves on the Board of Sharing Connections, Thank You Veterans board and has served on the Board at Serenity House for several years.
Dave LaBarre is the Executive Director of the Catholic Cemetery Conference, an international member association viewed as the pre-eminent Catholic resource committed to cemetery advocacy and education.
LaBarre brings to CCC over thirty years of significant operational and managerial leadership within multiple nonprofit and corporate industries. He is credited with leading significant financial growth while at the American Medical Association in addition to his tenure at WW Grainger within the San Francisco Bay Area and statewide operations throughout Alaska. During a ten-year stint with CNA Insurance, LaBarre led multiple departmental assignments including directing career development for several thousand information technology team members and managing the financial analysis and reporting of all corporate expenditures relative to the use of external intellectual capital for the chairman’s office and senior staff. LaBarre has been a vocal proponent of continuous improvement throughout his career which provides a fiscally stable and competitive environment in support of employees, customers, vendors and the communities they serve.
LaBarre received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Lewis University in addition to a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership with High Honors and a Masters of Science in Nonprofit Administration Cum Laude from the University of Notre Dame. He has held multiple Board and Leadership positions in over twelve nonprofit organizations including his new appointment with Operation Support Our Troops – America.
Throughout his career, he has been recognized by Alaska Business Monthly’s as a 2014 Corporate 100 Top Citizens of Industry; received the MSA Excellence Award as the Top Graduate Student in the Masters of Non-Profit Administration Program from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame in 2004; and was one of the first recipients of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ “Partnering with the Community” Award for Civic Participation in 1999.
Carl Pedersen has spent most of his business career in Corporate Finance, and is currently a partner at Synergy General Contractors in Mt Prospect, IL. His father is a Marine, and his son was in the Army.
In 2008, Carl started his relationship with Operation Support Our Troops, when he organized a company-wide donation for care packages for OSOT as his son entered the Army (which took 4 SUVs to transport)! Also, at that time, he started working with and eventually became Executive Director of Little Smoke Chicago, a cigar-friendly, annual charity fundraiser event, benefiting primarily military charities, including OSOT, and continues to provide financial support to numerous charities.
Carl was raised in Westchester, and has lived in Villa Park for 25 years with his wife, Sharon, and 2 “children”, Chello and Tyler, their adopted American Eskimo dogs, from the dog rescue, Chicagoland Eskie Rescue, where Sharon volunteers as Marketing Coordinator. Their children are grown, and Jeni and her family (2 grandchildren) live in Marengo, IL, while Adam and his family (3 grandchildren) opted for the warmer weather near Tampa, FL. Golf, NASCAR, Cigars and his wife are his passions.
He is happy to continue to support Operation Support Our Troops more formally as a Board Member.
Bill Kohnke is the President of BK Office Cleaning Corp. located in Lombard,IL. Previously, Bill was employed at a financial derivatives firm for 32 years.
Bill has served on the Lombard Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry Board of Directors. He has supported OSOT America & many other charities, and is looking forward to serving as an OSOT- America Board of Director.
Bill lives in Lombard, IL and currently serves as Treasurer (4 years) for Abbey Woods Townhome Association. He enjoys traveling, is an avid sports fan and enjoys watching the Bears, Cubs and Blackhawks.
Jeremy Hirst is a newly appointed Board Member beginning 2020. Jeremy is a former U.S. Army Ranger qualified 82nd Airborne Paratrooper and served in Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan. Since his honorable discharge in 2003, Jeremy has spent nearly two (2) decades serving in county government and in the pharmaceutical industry as a physical security, public health preparedness, emergency management, and business continuity practitioner in senior leadership roles with significant responsibilities. Additionally, he has served on local and state committees, providing value-add of creating efficient and effective guidance.Jeremy is a Certified Emergency Manager and has formal education in Administration of Justice, Business Administration, Public Health, and Emergency Management. In his free time, Jeremy and his son are active in the outdoors and participate in Verein Deutsch-Drahtaar Group North America with their dog, Jaeger.