Secretary Jim Nicholson has led a long and distinguished career both in the public and private sector. Nicholson most notably served as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs under the George W. Bush Administration, and he also served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. During his tenure as ambassador, Pope John Paul II knighted Mr. Nicholson for his leadership on human rights issues in Europe. He was a director of New Community Development Corporation and Commissioner of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), both Presidential appointments. He was also the chairman of the Federal Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Mr. Jim Webb, former Senator from Virginia, has been a combat Marine, a counsel in the Congress, an assistant secretary of defense and Secretary of the Navy, an Emmy-award winning journalist, a film-maker, and the author of ten books. Mr. Webb graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968, receiving a special commendation for his leadership contributions. First in his class of 243 at the Marine Corps Officer’s Basic School, he served as a rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam and was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts. He graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1975. While in the Senate, Mr. Webb was selected to deliver the response to the President’s State of the Union address in 2007, and served on the Foreign Relations, Armed Services, Veterans Affairs, and the Joint Economic Committees.
Jeff Kottkamp is a practicing attorney that previously represented the state of Florida as Lieutenant Governor (2007-2011) and served as a State Representative from 2000-2006. During his time as Lieutenant Governor Kottkamp was chairman of Space Florida and played an integral role in bringing Space X to the state. His time as a State Representative included stints as a member of the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, and Chairmanships of the Judiciary Appropriations Committee and the Government Operations Committee.
Miriam Ramirez is a former State Senator from Puerto Rico where she served 2001-2004. She received her MD OB-GYN from the University of Spain in 1968, and has been a tireless champion for various causes at the Federal level for decades. She has led grassroots efforts to bring naval training to Puerto Rico, served on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services under President George H.W. Bush (1989-1993) and recently served as an advisor to the Mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico (2005-2013).
Wayne Harris is the former Director of the Crestview Area of Chamber of Commerce and previously served as a County Commissioner for District 1 in Okaloosa County where he has resided since 1993. Harris proudly served in the United States Air Force for 27 years.
Mr. Robertson served as Mayor of Fayetteville, NC 2013-2017 after eight years as a member of Fayetteville City Council. In addition to his time spent as an elected official in Fayetteville, Mr. Robertson was appointed to the Governor’s Crime Commission by Governor Pat McCrory in 2014.
Stephen Gilchrist is Chairman of the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce. He also is the President and CEO of GSL Distributors, a logistics and distribution company in South Carolina.
Winsome Sears represented the 90th district in Virginia’s House of Delegates from 2002-2004 where she was the first black female Republican, first female veteran, and the first naturalized citizen, to serve as a delegate. Sears also is a former vice president for Virginia’s State Board of Education. Prior to serving in the House of Delegates, Sears joined the Marine Corps and ran a homeless shelter. She now owns and operates a small business in the Shenandoah Valley.
Mike Watson represented the 93rd district in Virginia’s House of Delegates from 2012– 2014. Prior to serving as Delegate, Watson established Control Automation Technologies Corporation in Virginia and North Carolina and was named the state’s Small Business of the Year in 1998. As delegate, Watson was a workforce education advocate and cofounded the Virginia General Assembly’s first ever bi-partisan Business Development Caucus.