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.

Gordon Callison


Dr. Gordon Callison is a dental specialist who has spent his entire career serving the active military and Veteran population. Upon graduation from dental school, Gordon served four years of active duty as a United States Air Force general dental officer. Upon separation, Gordon entered a dental specialty program at Hines V.A. Medical Center but continued to maintain his commission in the Active Air Force Reserves. Once he finished his residency training, Gordon went to work for a large VA Hospital in downtown Chicago as a staff Prosthodontist. 

Gordon had a long and distinguished career in both the Air Force Reserves and VA Dental Service. He ended his Air Force Reserve career as Command Dental Surgeon for the Air Force Reserve Command at Warner Robins AFB in Georgia from 2001 until his retirement in 2007. Throughout his VA career, Gordon held various positions within the Dental Service of two medical centers. During his last 8 years, Gordon was Chief of the Dental Service at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, IL. He retired from the VA in January 2021.  

Gordon first learned of OSOT-America through his wife, Eugenia, who has been volunteering for years. He had vowed to become more involved with our organization once he retired. Consequently, he has worked and contributed to many events these past three years including multiple Field of Honor and Leap of Faith programs. Gordon and Eugenia live in LaGrange and have two children and four grandchildren. Gordon is honored to contribute to OSOT-America tradition of serving the active duty and Veteran members of our military community.  

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.
Justin Smitherman

Justin Smitherman

Board Member

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.

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.

Nicholas Kurz

Board Member

Nicholas Kurz is a seasoned banking professional with nearly two decades of experience in the financial sector, specializing in business and commercial banking. Throughout college and early in his career, Nick served as an infantry soldier in the IL National Guard where he honed his leadership skills and sense of duty. As a former officer in the armed forces, Nick brings a unique perspective to his role on the board of a military charity. His firsthand experience allows him to empathize with the challenges faced by veterans and their families, driving his passion for supporting those who have served their country.

Nick lives on the NW side of Chicago, was married in 2011, and is the father of two grade-school aged  boys. As a family they enjoy sports, travel, card games, tackling projects of all kinds, and have spent too much time watching Marvel movies together.

Throughout his career, Nick has demonstrated a commitment to service, both in the corporate world and in his philanthropic endeavors. Nick expresses true gratitude for his time in the military and is thankful for the opportunity to give back to this community as a board member of Operation Support our Troops-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

Eugenia Callison

John Cooper

Daniel Dexter

Bruce Kannry

Betty Krupp

Bill Rickert