Welcome the Clay Hunt Fellows of Base Camp 5
Meet these 12 military veteran Greyshirts as they embark on a six-month curriculum of self-discovery and leadership training.
Base Camp 5 will be the first cohort of Clay Hunt Fellows to graduate in 2021. Team Rubicon is counting on these Greyshirts to lead their fellow volunteers boldly into the new year. Each member of the cohort will undertake six months of leadership training designed to challenge them to discover their strengths and develop a deeper understanding of themselves.
Through readings, discussions, and guided self-awareness exercises that focus on the experience of life out of uniform, they will emerge ready to step up in the field and in their lives. These fellows come to the program with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, but what they all have in common—and what they share with Clay—is a desire to continue serving others.
Marc Baker served in the Army for 24 years. He attended the University of Management and Technology and the American Military University and holds a master’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security and a certificate in emergency management. In addition to Team Rubicon, Baker volunteers with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and is transitioning to a career in emergency management.
Baker has been a Greyshirt for two years and serves as the metro planning lead for his hometown of Fayetteville, NC. For him, the most meaningful aspect of being in Team Rubicon is the engagement and camaraderie he has with his fellow Greyshirts.
Reflection on Service: “Service to me is the giving of yourself to something greater without expectation of anything in return.”
Campfire Fact: “I am a bit of a Disney buff. I get the family out to the parks as often as possible and I am pretty sure that I have the most fun on those trips. This tends to be a point of laughter with my wife and kids.”
Glomani Bravo-Lopez served in the Marine Corps from 2005 to 2009. He attended Fayetteville Technical Community College and Pratt Institute, and earned his bachelor’s at Brooklyn College. Bravo-Lopez works as deputy chief of staff for New York City Council Member Stephen Levin and volunteers at West Brooklyn Waterfront Mutual Aid.
Bravo-Lopez has been a Greyshirt for eight years and his first deployment was to the Rockaways, in the New York City borough of Queens, for Team Rubicon’s response to Hurricane Sandy. He says serving the people of Houston after Hurricane Harvey in 2017 has been his most impactful experience on an operation.
Reflection on Service: “Service means helping others and putting the needs of others before myself and knowing that I will grow and help others grow by doing so.”
Campfire Fact: “Spanish is my native tongue, but I learned English by the time I finished kindergarten and first grade. Because I grew up among a diverse set of friends, they called us the “Little United Nations,” I picked up some Russian, Italian, and Arabic in the process.”
Iris Bruton served in the Army for three years. She attended Tarrant County College and the University of Texas at Arlington; and she has a degree in Real Estate. Bruton works as the client assistance manager for Meals On Wheels, Inc. of Tarrant County. She also volunteers with the Texas Girls’ Choir, the food bank, and the Trinity Collaborative, Inc., which raises funds for the local Trinity River, surrounding parks, and community programs.
Bruton has been a Greyshirt for one year and she says the most impactful part of joining Team Rubicon has been the camaraderie that she has begun to experience with other Greyshirts.
Reflection on Service: “Through service we are able to connect with our fellow humans on a deeper level. We have an opportunity to use our time and talents to provide hope to those who in need of compassion. The effort of service provides a fulfillment that cannot be replicated by any other activity.”
Campfire Fact: “I was born in Puerto Rico and enjoyed belly dancing lessons for several years.”
Eric Carrasco served in the Marine Corps for five years. He has attended Houston Community College and holds an Associate of Science degree. Carrasco is a certified firefighter 1 and 2 and an emergency medical technician. He holds numerous FEMA training certifications, including for mass casualty, hazmat, and active shooter incidents.
Carrasco runs the veteran-led humanitarian relief organization Regular Guys and he first encountered Team Rubicon when his group organized a donation collection and distribution operation in Houston after Hurricane Harvey. It impacted him to see all of the Greyshirts working together and serving in any way possible. He’s been a Greyshirt ever since.
Reflection on Service: “Service gives purpose while making someone’s life a bit better, so it’s a win-win.”
Campfire Fact: “I have a bottomless (useless) knowledge of pop culture and modern music.”
Alyssa Dawson served in the Air Force for three and a half years before attending Colorado State University where she received a B.A. in marketing and strategic communications. Dawson currently works as a contract intranet administrator for Team Rubicon and also volunteers with other veteran-led service organizations.
A Greyshirt for two years, Dawson’s involvement with Team Rubicon began as the OR and WA comms lead then she was brought on as a technology support contractor for the field leadership team. Dawson has since deployed in the role of public information officer (PIO) and supported other missions as a remote PIO. Today, she also serves as the Northwest communication lead.
Her most meaningful experience as a Greyshirt was her first in-person event—an overnight ASIST (applied suicide intervention skills training) class. “Talk about an intense situation. I hadn’t been away from home for years and was worried about sleeping in a room full of people,” says Dawson. “I meekly made a request for a cot near the wall and whoosh, the whole room sprang into action. When the dust settled, I had my very own cot tucked away in the corner. These Greyshirts didn’t questions me, didn’t pry for information, didn’t look at me like I was being ridiculous—they saw a need and they fixed it. One Greyshirt’s service dog even checked on me throughout the night.”
Reflection on Service: “Team Rubicon’s acceptance of me gave me a safe place to breathe. I was a new mom struggling with post-partum depression on top of PTSD from the service, and just felt like there wasn’t anything left in life except to eat, sleep, repeat. The ability to volunteer and serve again saved me—service is how you reconnect when you feel lost. Serving is how you make yourself bigger, stronger, smarter, and more resilient. Serving is how you find your place in the world, one small step—one kind deed—at a time.”
Campfire Fact: “I used to be a video game streamer and I read about 30 books a year.”
Brandon Foster served in the Marine Corps for three years and seven months, then attended Lane College and Kapiolani Community College, and became a certified emergency medical technician. Now, Foster is an EMT by night and a stay-at-home dad by day.
Foster has been a Greyshirt for three years and serves as the Hawaii state logistics lead. His first deployment was on Operation Silver Sun, helping the community of Rose Hill, NC, recover from Hurricane Florence. His most meaningful experience with Team Rubicon was first deploying to Operation Silver Sun, then returning on a second deployment and serving as the safety officer.
Reflection on Service: “To me, service means helping others in an altruistic capacity and helping to create better, more cohesive community.”
Campfire Fact: “I like to brew beer and BBQ.”
Dan Huvane, who served in the Marine Corps for more than 24 years, attended Villanova University where he earned a B.A. in marketing. Huvane has successfully completed the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, as well as the Public Affairs Officer Qualification course and the Joint Sr. Public Affairs course at the Defense Information School. Currently, he works in home contracting project management and communication strategy and design.
Huvane has been a Greyshirt for six years, starting with a flood mitigation project in Fourmile Canyon, CO, in 2014, and finds it difficult to choose a most meaningful deployment. He says, “Each op has been impactful, and has resulted in lessons learned and lasting friendships. Op Coquí Calling may be the most meaningful, as we were running a unique operation in a unique location—getting after completely different missions in a manner no TR op had done before, figuring out something between a national and international op.”
Reflection on Service: “There is no greater good than to give of your time, effort, and energy to help your fellow human beings in crisis. Disasters bring about the best and the worst in people, we say…and I see a lot more of the best. I’m amazed time and again by all those who put their lives on hold to answer the call to service.”
Campfire Fact: “We had this one lanky eager volunteer show up in Abaco with seemingly brand-new grey shirt and boots, and we put him to work. I’ve never seen anyone so giddy to lead a strike team as this Jake Wood guy.”
Preston Lyons served in the Navy for 10 years, then earned his bachelor’s at Colorado State University. Now, Lyons works as a firefighter and paramedic.
Lyons has been a Greyshirt for seven years and serves as the Denver metro deputy city manager. His first deployment was on Operation What the Flood, providing flood recovery assistance to the town of Longmont, CO in 2013. Lyons says his most meaningful experience with Team Rubicon has been serving as Denver’s membership coordinator.
Reflection on Service: “Service is doing things for others without the expectation of receiving anything in return. Providing a service to those in need because of the simple understanding that we all must support, provide for, and protect each other as a community and as human beings.”
Campfire Fact: “I have run over 20 Spartan Races—and I hate running.”
Elizabeth Pereda served in the Marine Corps for 12 years. She has attended the University of Southern California and Biola University and holds master’s degrees in nonprofit leadership and intercultural studies. Pereda now works as a social economy research analyst.
Immediately after joining Team Rubicon in 2020, Pereda served as support staff at a COVID-19 testing site in Los Angeles. For her, participating in Operation Kick the King was a meaningful experience and she looks forward to deploying again.
Reflection on Service: “Service to me means putting yourself second and doing it with joy, always. It is not just something I do, it’s way of life.”
Campfire Fact: “I got hurt in combat but have yet to break a bone in my lifetime. (Knock on wood.)”
Chris Sherwood served in the Army Reserve for 20 years. He attended Georgia Southern University and graduated in 1995 with a B.A. in journalism. He now works as an analyst and he is a member of Team Red White and Blue.
A Greyshirt for five years who serves as the city coordinator for Fairfax and Northern Virginia, Sherwood’s first deployment was on Operation Sisserou Summons, serving the Caribbean nation of Dominica after Hurricane Maria in 2017. His first domestic operation was in 2018, when he deployed on Operation Mold Bay to muck out houses in Baltimore after a torrential rain.
Sherwood’s most meaningful experience with Team Rubicon was on a project in Philadelphia in 2015. “TR had an ongoing service project that supported a Habitat for Humanity project to construct several homes ahead of Pope Francis’s official visit. I had the opportunity to work with many amazing Greyshirts, some of whom have become leaders in the Mighty NE. Despite only being able to participate on one day that weekend, the experience was incredibly rewarding. I realized how impactful continued service to the community could be. It left me with a full heart and clear vision of how, even I, could make an impact.”
Reflection on Service: “Service means being empathetic, doing simple good, and ensuring we answer the call for all of our citizens when hope seems lost and they have nowhere to turn. Not because it’s the easy thing to do, but because it is the right thing to do. Clay Hunt’s legacy will forever be at the core of who we are. We served our nation in uniform once, and now more than ever, we need to step up to the new challenges and answer the call at home.”
Campfire Fact: “I like to run ultra-marathons.”
Alandra Swords served in the Marine Corps for two years and four months. Now she volunteers at Benton County Fire District #4 providing logistical support.
Swords has been a Greyshirt for two years and she serves in the Northwest instructor cadre, teaching virtual site survey and safety officer courses. Her first deployment was Operation Bridge to Snowhere, where she had to clear roadways of trees that had fallen due to heavy snow in a limited communications environment. Her team also cleared snow from the local fire station to give emergency responders access to the community.
For Swords, having the opportunity to serve in the community where she was raised, Pendleton, OR, twice in the span of a year—first on Operation River Round-Up and then on Operation Let’er Muck—has been her most meaningful experience as a Greyshirt. “Coming into the same community again, showed just how much prior relationships could build and influence our impact and capabilities,” she says.
Reflection on Service: “Service is more than just action, it is intent. I may not be able to eliminate pain and suffering or loss, but I can do what I am capable of to help mitigate or repair the damages that have been done both physically and emotionally. The world sees enough tragedy to last a lifetime, but a single act of kindness and the assistance of a stranger can make a world of difference. I want to be one of those who makes that difference.”
Campfire Fact: “I quite enjoy puns, but even with my last name, my wit isn’t as sharp as a Team Rubicon chainsaw.”
Rich Veith served in the Army for eight and a half years. He attended Norwich University and has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Now, he volunteers with the Mannington Volunteer Fire Department.
Veith has been a Greyshirt since 2012 and has served as the Clarksville metro administrator and he currently serves as the Tennessee state logistics lead. His first deployment was on Operation Greased Lightning to help the residents of the Rockaways, New York, after Hurricane Sandy. Veith’s most meaningful experience with Team Rubicon has been responding to COVID-19 on Operation Kick the King in Chattanooga. “Seeing a thankful family with almost nothing, fight back tears as I jump started their car so they could get a few boxes of food reminded me that everything we do is worth it and more,” he says.
Reflection on Service: “Any act of service, no matter how small to you, may mean the world to the one you serve.”
Campfire Fact: “I recently finished solo upgrading my entire home network to wired internet, and I rebuilt a horse trailer during the pandemic.”