Board of Directors

Linda Tuisl

Executive Director

Linda Tuisl has been with OSOT-America since 2011 and has served as a volunteer and worked as a marketing contractor for the organization. Her history and experience with OSOT-America ranges from public relations, social media, graphic design, communications, advertising, marketing activities, and committee programs when needed. She has also worked on events, including Rockin’ For the Troops, Red White and Blues, and Over The Edge to name a few. Linda is also a military spouse, her husband Doyle is currently serving in the U.S. Army Reserves and has also been an active volunteer with OSOT-America for many years. Linda has an MBA in Marketing and her background includes working at the corporate headquarters for a movie theatre chain serving 17 theaters across the U.S. and managing all the marketing and promotional activities for all locations. She has also managed all the marketing and public relations for the launch and opening of Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg, IL.

We welcome Linda Tuisl and look forward to our partnership.

Carl Pedersen

Board Chair

Carl Pedersen has spent most of his business career in Corporate Finance, and is currently a Senior Financial Analyst at Robert Half Professional Services.  His father is a Marine, and his son was in the Army.

In 2008, Carl started his relationship with Operation Support Our Troops-America, 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 (passed in 2023), 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-America more formally as a Board Member.

Justin Smitherman

Justin Smitherman


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.

Bill Strening


Bill Strening has been a member of the Board of Directors of OSOT since 2008. 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.

Bill Kohnke

Bill Kohnke is President of BK Office Cleaning Corp. located in Lombard, IL. He previously was employed at a financial derivative firm for over 30 years specializing in auditing and operations management.
Bill served on the Lombard Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry board of directors.  He currently serves as Treasurer of Abbey Woods Townhome Association.
Bill lives in Lombard, IL with his wife Mary Beth. His father served in the army and cousin was in the vietnam war. Bill has passionate interests in sports & stock market,  enjoys traveling to.  He has served on OSOT- America board of directors since 2020.

Eugenia Callison

Board Member

Eugenia Jarosz Callison, a military spouse, has enjoyed being a volunteer at OSOT-America for the past 11 years. She has helped pack Care Boxes for our active-duty military, been a member of the Presentation Team, helped with Rockin’ for the Troops.  As a Spiritual Director to our Leap of Faith Team, she humbly serves our Gold Star Families. She Co-Chaired the Field of Honor Committee which was held in LaGrange 2021.  Eugenia has been a board member and looks forward to working with the team as they move forward to continue the mission of supporting our military community.

Joe DalPino

Board Member

Born and raised in Chicago, IL. Joe spent eight years on active duty in the Marine Corps and then started working at Unicon International as Marine Surveyor until he started his own company, Intermodal Midwest Surveyors in 2006. He is married to Valerie with two sons Joseph Jr and John who is on active duty with the U.S. Army. Currently, Joe resides in Lemont, IL, and enjoys playing 16″ softball in Mt Greenwood in Chicago.

Bill Rickert

Bill Rickert

Emeritus Board Member

Bill Rickert is a co-founder of OSOT-America and had served as Executive Director. Mr. Rickert has held multiple senior executive leadership positions, has a deep understanding of the organization, and holds a BA degree from Baldwin-Wallace College. Bill’s extensive experience with organizational leadership and change, as well as the development and growth of customer relationships will continue to benefit the work of OSOT-America.

Deb Rickert

Deb Rickert

Founder / Emeritus Board Member

Deb started Operation Support Our Troops-America in 2003 after her son joined the military in the wake of the attacks of September 11th. 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 of the Veterans Assistance 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 also served as the CEO for Sharing Connections furniture bank in Downers Grove, IL.

Advisory Board Members

Renee Burnett

Gordon Callison

John Cooper

Daniel Dexter

Bruce Kannry

Betty Krupp

Nick Kurz