Nutrition and National Security Speakers
Read more about the experts that comprise Mission: Readiness's Nutrition and National Security Speakers Bureau
Lieutenant General (Ret.) Mark Hertling, U.S. Army
Lieutenant General Mark Hertling has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2013. With 37 years of military service, General Hertling served in combat in 1990-1991 in Desert Storm as a Cavalry Squadron Operations Officer; in 2003-4 as the Deputy Commander for U.S. forces in Baghdad; and as a Division Commander in 2007-8, controlling Northern Iraq during “the surge” where he led a force of 30,000 U.S. forces and 65,000 Iraqi Army units. He also led trainings at all of the Combat Training Centers in the United States and the Joint-Multinational Training Center in Europe. General Hertling also served as the Chief of War Plans (J7) on the Joint Staff. Since his retirement in 2013, he has served as a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sport, and Nutrition, and as an advisor on Medical Global Strategy and Physician Leadership. He is a graduate of West Point, and received a Masters in Kinesiology from Indiana University, and a Doctorate in Business Administration from Rollins College.
Lieutenant General (Ret.) Tom Spoehr, U.S. Army
General Spoehr served over 36 years, and was the Commandant of the Army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School, with the responsibility for the policy, training and strategy for this critical area. Later in his Army career, General Spoehr served in senior leadership positions in the Pentagon, responsible for charting the Army’s future year financial plans, developing equipment modernization strategies, and achieving business efficiencies and reform. In 2011, General Spoehr served as the Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Forces Iraq in Operation New Dawn, where he successfully oversaw the safe withdrawal of all U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq ahead of schedule, one of the most complex and logistically intensive operations ever attempted by the U.S. military. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, a Masters of Arts in Public Administration from Webster University in St. Louis, MO, and a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA.
Lieutenant General (Ret.) Richard P. Zahner, U.S. Army
Lieutenant General Richard Zahner has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2017. Before retiring from the Army in 2012, General Zahner served in a number of intelligence roles. After serving as Director of Signals Intelligence at the National Security Agency, he became Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Warfighting Support. He led the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Task Force in its first year; helped build the initial concept design for US Cyber Command; restructured intelligence elements of ten Combatant Commands into a common support core with tailored analytic capabilities; and redrafted policy charters of each DoD Intelligence Agency. General Zahner also served as Deputy Chief of Staff, G2, for the Department of the Army, where he pushed for critical improvements in intelligence architecture and analysis for the warfighter. He is a graduate of Cornell University and the Naval War College.
Major General (Ret.) Marcia Anderson, U.S. Army
Major General Marcia Anderson has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2017. General Anderson retired from the Army in 2016 after 36 years of service. In 2011, she became the first African American woman to achieve the rank of Major General. She served as Deputy Commanding General of the Army’s Human Resources Command at Fort Knox and as the Deputy Chief Army Reserve (DCAR) at the Pentagon. As the DCAR, she represented the Chief, Army Reserve, and had oversight for the planning, programming, and resource management for the execution of an Army Reserve budget of $8 billion that supported over 225,000 Army Reserve Soldiers, civilians and their families. Currently, General Anderson is the Clerk of Court for the Bankruptcy Court - Western District of Wisconsin, where she has served since 1998. She is a graduate of the Rutgers University School of Law, the U. S. Army War College, and Creighton University.
Major General (Ret.) Michael W. Davidson, U.S. Army
Major General Michael Davidson has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2010. He is a Vietnam veteran where he served with the Airborne Ranger Infantry Company of the First Air Cavalry Division. General Davidson’s 32 year military career concluded with six years of service on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon where he was the Assistant Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, for National Guard matters. Prior to that time, his assignments as a general officer were as the Deputy Commander in Chief for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs, U.S. Special Operations Command; Deputy Commanding General (National Guard), U. S. Army Special Operations Command; and the Adjutant General of Kentucky.
General Davidson is an attorney admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He holds a BA in History, a MS in Community Development, a JD, and a Doctorate of Philosophy all from the University of Louisville and has published in the area of national security policymaking.
Major General (Ret.) Malcolm Frost, U.S. Army
Major General Malcolm Frost has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2019. He served as the Chief (Director) of Public Affairs where he developed and led all strategic communications plans and roll-outs, national media relations initiatives, and community engagement for the Army. As Deputy Director for Operations, he led planning and operations of the U.S. Department of Defense and Joint Staff National Military Command Center performing worldwide monitoring, crisis action, and strategic nuclear and current operational watch functions. As Director of Operations, U.S. Army Pacific, he led operations, training, and development of operational war and contingency plans, theater campaign and security cooperation plans, and exercise development with other Armies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. As senior commander for Fort Eustis, VA, he was responsible for operations, training, sustainment, life support, health and welfare of its 22K residents. General Frost is an executive consultant and currently serves as senior advisor at kglobal and senior advisor and faculty member for Thayer Leadership. He is a graduate of West Point, Webster University, and the U.S. Army War College.
Major General (Ret.) William Wofford, U.S. Army
Major General William Wofford has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2015. He retired in 2015 as the Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard, where he was responsible for the command of the Army and Air National Guard. As the Adjutant General, General Wofford was responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the readiness, fiscal, personnel, equipment, and real property resources of the agency, and ensured the training readiness of personnel to accomplish both state and federal missions. Prior to being appointed to serve as the Adjutant General, General Wofford served in a variety of command and staff positions, including Commander, 2nd Battalion 142nd Field Artillery during Operation Desert Storm, brigade-level command of 87th Troop Command, and Deputy Commanding General (ARNG) at U.S. Army Forces Command.
General Wofford is a graduate of Arkansas Tech University, the U.S. Army War College, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Black Sea Security Program, and Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Government.
Major General (Ret.) D. Allen Youngman, U.S. Army
Major General Dean Allen Youngman has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2010. He was appointed as the Adjutant General of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in August 2001, where he was responsible for the training, readiness, and mobilization of Kentucky’s Army and Air National Guard units during the period immediately following the attacks of 9/11. In addition, his duties included overseeing the state’s Division of Emergency Management and establishing and managing the Office for Homeland Security Coordination.
His military education includes the Special Forces Officer Course, Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College. He received a BA in Political Science from the University of Kentucky and a JD from the UK College of Law. He practiced law in Owensboro, Kentucky from 1978 until returning to active duty in the United States Army in 1987. Since retiring from the Army, he has served as a Senior Consultant with American Business Development Group (ABDG), an Arlington, Virginia—based firm specializing in National Defense and Homeland Security matters.
Major General (Ret.) Juan Ayala, U.S. Marine Corps
Major General Juan Ayala has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2015. In his 36 years of military service, General Ayala commanded all 24 Marine Corps installations worldwide. He is the former Inspector General of the Marine Corps, and his service includes 4 combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has served in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Baltic’s, and the former Soviet Union. He also helped lead relief efforts in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. General Ayala currently serves as the Director, Office of Military and Veteran Affairs for the City of San Antonio. He is a graduate of Campbell University, the Naval War College, and the University of Texas at El Paso.
Rear Admiral (Ret.) Casey Coane, U.S. Navy
Rear Admiral Casey W. Coane has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2010 and is currently a Board Member of Council for a Strong America. Admiral Coane served as a Navy pilot for thirty-four years. His last two flag assignments were as Deputy Commander US SIXTH Fleet in the Mediterranean then Deputy Commander Naval Network Warfare Command/Naval Space Command in Little Creek, Virginia. After retiring from the Navy, Admiral Coane served for eight years as CEO of the Association of the United States Navy. He currently also serves as a Board Member of Veterans Moving Forward, an organization which provides service dogs to Veterans with PTSD.
Admiral Coane is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and holds an MBA from the University of West Florida.
Rear Admiral (Ret.) William Kowba, U.S. Navy
Rear Admiral Bill Kowba is a native of Rochester, New York. He has successfully completed careers as a Navy Supply Corps Officer and as a senior education executive.
Rear Admiral Kowba received his commission in June 1976. Over the course of thirty years of Naval Service, he was assigned to numerous sea, shore, and overseas duties. His shipboard tours included submarine and submarine tender assignments. Ashore, he was twice posted to the Pentagon, commanded the Navy’s largest supply center in Norfolk, VA, and was selected as a senior fellow in the prestigious Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group. As a flag officer, he established the first ever global network of Navy supply centers at more than 100 locations staffed by nearly 7000.
Upon retiring from the Navy in 2006, Rear Admiral Kowba joined the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) as the Chief Financial Officer, overseeing a two billion dollar portfolio. Subsequently, he filled other senior executive positions including Chief Logistics Officer and Interim Superintendent. In June 2010, Rear Admiral Kowba became the permanent superintendent, directing one of the nation’s largest school districts with an enrollment of 130,000 and 200 schools. During his tenure, SDUSD was consistently at the top of California’s large urban school districts with the highest graduation rates and lowest drop-out rates.
Rear Admiral Kowba holds a Bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University and three graduate degrees including a Master’s in Business Administration from UCLA. He is also a graduate of the Tuck School of Business Executive Program at Dartmouth College.
Major General (Ret.) William Cobetto, U.S. Air Force
Major General William Cobetto has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2018. He was commissioned in the Air Force in 1985 and retired in 2015. He served as Commander & Assistant Adjutant General - Air, Illinois National Guard. General Cobetto was responsible for the command, control and operations of plans and programs affecting more than 3,000 Illinois Air National Guard personnel located at the 126th Air Refueling Wing at Scott Air Force Base, the 182nd Airlift Wing at Peoria, and the 183rd Wing at Springfield, Illinois. He currently serves as the Legislative Liaison for the Illinois Department of Military Affairs (IDMA) / Illinois National Guard (ILNG). General Cobetto is a graduate of Parks College of Saint Louis University.
Major General (Ret.) Tom Cutler, U.S. Air Force
Major General Thomas G. Cutler has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2011. He previously served as the Adjutant General for the State of Michigan and the Director for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Prior to this assignment, he was the Assistant Adjutant General for Air and the Deputy Director for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. He received a commission in July 1971. After pilot training, he transferred to the Michigan Air National Guard and became a member of the 110th Tactical Air Support Group in Battle Creek, Mich. He also served the 110th TASG as its chief of safety, then as the squadron operations officer and scheduler, and finally as the flying squadron commander. In August 1987, he became the commander of the Alpena Combat Readiness Center in Alpena, Michigan. He was then assigned, in October 1995, as the 191st Airlift Group Commander at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan. A year later, he was selected as the commander of the newly formed 127th Wing and served in that position until November 2002.
General Cutler is a graduate of Western Michigan University, the Squadron Officer School, and the Air Command and Staff College.
Major General (Ret.) Gary R. Dylewski, U.S. Air Force
Major General Gary Dylewski has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2014. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1974, General Dylewski was Commander, Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia, and Commander, 9th Aerospace Expeditionary Task Force-Southern Watch, U.S. Central Command, Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia. He served as the Air Force aide to Presidents Reagan and Bush in 1988 and 1989, commanded the 90th Tactical Fighter Squadron from 1991 to 1992, and served as Joint Director for Operations, Alaskan Air Command from 1993 to 1995. He was Commandant of the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., from 1995 to 1996. He also commanded the Space Warfare Center, Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. General Dylewski retired from the Air Force in 2002. He is a graduate of Kent State University, Troy State University, the Air Command and Staff College, and the Air War College.
Major General (Ret.) Dawn Marie Ferrell, U.S. Air Force
Major General Dawn Ferrell has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2021. Commissioned in 1994, General Ferrell served as the Assistant Adjutant General – Air for the Texas National Guard. In this position, she served as the principal advisor to the Adjutant General of Texas for all Air National Guard issues, overseeing more than 3,300 Air National Guard personnel throughout the state of Texas. Prior to working full time with the Texas Air National Guard, General Ferrell was the Director of Institutional Research and Planning and the Accreditation Liaison at Vernon College in Wichita Falls, TX. General Ferrell has also taught at Vernon College and Wayland Baptist University. She is a graduate of Midwestern State University and the University of North Texas.
Major General (Ret.) Michael S. Hall, U.S. Air Force
Major General Michael Hall has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2012. His 27 years of service in the United States Air Force included an assignment as the Commander of a Tactical Fighter Wing, where he pioneered the use of F-16 aircraft to provide close air support. General Hall served as the Senior Allied Air Liaison Officer during the first Gulf War and was Commissioner (1992-1995) of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs, the agency tasked with the administration of the Army and Air National Guard. During his time as the Adjutant General, General Hall was also instrumental in the creation of the ChalleNGe and Starbase programs, which to this day use DOD resources to provide a stimulating educational environment for underrepresented and underserved youth in military communities. General Hall was promoted to the rank of Major General before retiring from the Air Force in 1995. He went on to serve as the manager of the Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport and currently serves as the President and CEO of the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center in Horseheads, New York.
Major General (Ret.) Edward Tonini, U.S. Air Force
Major General Edward W. Tonini joined Mission: Readiness in 2016. He was appointed the 51st Adjutant General of the Commonwealth of Kentucky by Governor Steven L. Beshear on December 11, 2007. As the Adjutant General, he served as the Commanding General of both the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard and as Executive Director of the Department of Military Affairs where he guided the preparation of the 8,500 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen, along with the Division of Emergency Management, to respond in times of state and national emergency. General Tonini served as the President of the Adjutant Generals Association of the United States (AGAUS) from 2013 - 2015. General Tonini received a direct commission in 1970 in the Kentucky Air National Guard. Prior to receiving his commission, General Tonini served as an enlisted member of the 123rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing of the Kentucky Air National Guard.
Brigadier General (Ret.) Sandra Alvey, U.S. Army
Brigadier General Sandra Alvey has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2020. She served for 32 years in both the active and Reserve components as a medical entomologist. During her service she served as Deputy Commanding General (Operations), 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support), in Salt Lake City, Utah as well as the Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer, Directorate of the Readiness, Training & Mobilization Office under the Office of the Secretary of Defense – Reserve Affairs. She commanded the 196th Medical Support Unit a brigade level in Kaiserslautern, Germany and served as Deputy Commander and Director for Technical Service, US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine – Japan. In this capacity and in her civilian employment with the US Army Environmental Center, she implemented safe environmental management practices at child care centers, child youth services and Department of Defense Schools of medically significant and nuisance pests. In her civilian capacity, General Alvey is an intelligence analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Western Maryland College, Georgia Southern University, the Command and General Staff College, the Air War College, Joint Forces Staff College and the Syracuse National Security Studies.
Brigadier General (Ret.) Steve Curda, Ph.D., U.S. Army
Brigadier General Stephen Curda has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2019. He served for over 30 years in active duty, Guard, and reserve positions. He commanded units at every echelon, from platoon, company, battalion, brigade and two general officer level commands. He is an Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veteran. General Curda formerly served on the Governor’s Cabinet as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA). General Curda serves as an Associate Professor in the National College of Education at National Louis University and as Senior Advisor to the President on Student Veteran programs. He is a graduate of U.S. Army War College and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma.
Brigadier General (Ret.) Richard Gross, U.S. Army
Brigadier General Richard Gross has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2019. He was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant. His first assignment was with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. While at the 82nd, he was accepted into the Funded Legal Education Program. In 1993, he graduated from the University of Virginia Law School with a Juris Doctor degree and entered the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He has multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan and has served as chief legal advisor for the leadership of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. He was also the senior legal advisor for US Central Command (CENTCOM) and the chief legal counsel to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsy. He retired in 2016 and currently serves as general counsel for Janus Operations LLC. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Army War College, and the University of Virginia.
Brigadier General (Ret.) Gary M. Profit, U.S. Army
Brigadier General Gary Profit has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2009. Commissioned in 1974, General Profit served as numerous commands, including Commander, 9602nd Command and Control Headquarters Brigade/Commander, 651st Area Support Group; Director, Public Affairs and Liaison Directorate and Director, Chief Army Reserve Staff Group, OCAR. He also served as Deputy Chief, Army Reserve/Deputy Commander, U.S. Army Reserve Command for Management, Resources and Support. He retired from military service in 2006. General Profit is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a College of Naval Warfare, Naval War College.
Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jamie Barnett, U.S. Navy
Rear Admiral James Barnett has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2009. He served as Deputy Commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and Director of Naval Education and Training. In addition to commanding units throughout the Middle East, Admiral Barnett served on Task Force Excel as Project Manager of the Personal Development Vector and as the first Commanding Officer of the Center for Personal Development. He also served as Deputy for Mission Effectiveness Naval Reserve Readiness Command Region Four. He was Commanding Officer of NR Commander Naval Surface Group Mediterranean 105 in Pittsburgh, supporting Commander Fleet Air Mediterranean (COMFAIRMED) and Commander Task Force-63 (CTF-63). Barnett earned his BA and JD from the University of Mississippi where he also taught in their NROTC program.
Rear Admiral (Ret.) Bob Besal, U.S. Navy
Rear Admiral Bob Besal has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2010. Before retiring from the Navy in 2002, Admiral Besal served as Commander of the Operational Test and Evaluation Force and as Commander of the Naval Safety Center. He commanded two ships and a carrier-based attack squadron: USS America (aircraft carrier CV 66), the logistics ship USS Savannah, and carrier-based Attack Squadron 75, embarked in USS John F. Kennedy during Desert Storm. Since retiring from the Navy, Admiral Besal has worked in aviation safety, training, and development. He is a graduate of Auburn University.
Rear Admiral (Ret.) Fernandez “Frank” Ponds, U.S. Navy
Frank Ponds is the Principal and Owner of FPONDS LLC Independent Consultant, providing consulting services in the areas of defense and national security, strategic planning, maritime safety and security, and disaster preparedness and response within the public and private sectors. Serves as Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Planning for The Stevenson Consulting Group. He recently led a team of top US and Emirati officers in conducting a two-year capabilities based assessment of the UAE’s military academies and Armed Forces.
Admiral Ponds served 33-years in the US Navy in senior executive, operational, and managerial positions within the DoD and the Interagency, gaining global experience and expertise training and operating with US partners and allies.
Ponds holds a BA from The University of Alabama; MS National Security Strategy, National Defense University; MS Military Studies, Marine Corps Command and Staff College; and MS Information Systems Technology, The George Washington University. He is a graduate of the Darden Corporate School of Business, and the National Association of Corporate Directors Executive Leadership Seminar.
Married with two adult children, he remains active within the San Diego community.
Brigadier General (Ret.) Jerald Engelman, U.S. Air Force
Brigadier General Jerald Engelman has been a member of Mission: Readiness since 2015. Commissioned in 1968, General Engelman served as the Assistant Adjutant General for Air of North Dakota. In this role, he oversaw the operational readiness of the North Dakota Air National Guard and the unit’s ability to perform its federal and state missions. General Engelman also served as Platoon Leader with the 131st Engineer Battalion and 816th Light Equipment Engineer Company; Commander, 816th Light Equipment Engineer Company; and Commander, 191st Military Police Company. He also held assignments as Judge Advocate and United States Property and Fiscal Officer before his assignment as Assistant Adjutant General. General Engelman has a JD from the University of North Dakota. He is currently retired and lives in Minnesota.
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