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Introducing the Third Cohort of the Clay Hunt Fellows Program

The Clay Hunt Fellows Program is designed to develop competent professionals and leaders within Team Rubicon. Through their 12-month commitment, Fellows will not only receive the mission, community and self-worth that Clay sought, they will be tasked with building similar opportunities for others within the organization.

The following nine veterans make up the third cohort of Clay Hunt Fellows:


Jerome Deniz

Branch: United States Navy
Hometown: Kailua, Hawaii
Joined Team Rubicon: In 2013 and currently serves as Region 9’s Technology Manager

Jerome served in the Navy for eight years and deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom. Deniz currently serves as a Palantir Field Service Representative at Camp H.M. Smith and earned his Bachelor’s in Chinese Studies at George Mason University.

“Service continues to be of great importance to me because I strongly believe that everyone should pay it forward. Helping those who can’t help themselves is an obligation that each of us has. One small act of kindness can go a long way in helping improve someone’s quality of life, whether it’s emotionally, spiritually, or physically.”


Jon Connors

Branch: United States Marine Corps
Hometown: Jersey City, New Jersey
Joined Team Rubicon: In 2013 and currently serves as the Region 2 Communications and Membership Manager

Jon served in the Marine Corps for four years, including deployments to Africa and the Middle East. He earned his Bachelor’s at Villanova University and his Master’s Degree from the New School University in NYC. Jon also recently deployed with Team Rubicon to Nepal for Operation: Tenzing.

“TR has filled me with a sense of purpose and pride that I haven’t felt since leaving the Marine Corps. The connection I’ve made with other volunteers is unmatched — people who had been strangers hours earlier, I now have a greater connection with than folks I’ve known for years. I simply can’t do enough for my fellow team members, and don’t want to stop trying.”


Justin Rigdon

Branch: United States Air Force
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Joined Team Rubicon: In 2014, and currently serves as the Florida Programs Coordinator in Region 4

Justin served for four years as an Aircrew Egress Technician at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. His passion for service, both in and out of the uniform, garnered him the Air Force Below the Zone Award and earned him a hand-selected position to serve in the honor guard. Justin just returned from his first operation with Team Rubicon — Operation: Double Trouble in Texas.

“Team Rubicon gave me direction and purpose in a time when I needed it most. Knowing that I still have a purpose and that people are counting on me means more to me than I could ever express. I believe in the power of Team Rubicon to change lives, because it changed mine.”


Pam Gieselman

Branch: United States Army
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Joined Team Rubicon: In 2012 and currently serves as Region 5’s Communications Manager

Pam grew up in Annandale, a smalltown in central Minnesota. She enlisted in the military immediately after 9/11 at the age of 17, and served six years in the Minnesota Army National Guard as an Intelligence Analyst. She received her Associate of Science in Criminal Justice and currently works as an Administrative Support Technician for the Department of Defense.

“In the Army, I had every intention of doing great things for my country, but the truth is that I simply didn’t. I filled a billet and I wore the uniform with pride, but when all was said and done my military service was unremarkable. I never deployed. I didn’t earn any awards for outstanding service. I was average. The biggest thing I took away from my time in uniform was a true understanding of the service and sacrifice made by those around me who also wore military uniforms. When I left the Army, I became a veteran, and although I am proud to share the title, a large part of me has never really believed I deserve to share it with the many who gave so much more than I did. 

Being a part of Team Rubicon changed everything for me. It has given me the opportunity to give back to those veterans who truly deserve the title. It’s given me the opportunity to be at peace with all of the things I didn’t do in uniform.”


David Venables

Branch: United States Marine Corps
Hometown: Laurel, Delaware
Joined Team Rubicon: In 2012 and currently serves as the Region 3 Field Operations Manager

David was raised in a small farming community in Delaware. He served as an analyst during his time in the Marines, leaving to join his family’s construction company. He has been a self-employed contractor for the last 21 years.

“I was recently asked why I dedicate so much of my time to Team Rubicon. What do I get out of it? Hell, that’s an easy one. Where else can you get trained, get dirty, get hugged, get a pat on the back, get an MRE, get a beer, get to snore on a metal cot in a gym with a room full of the best damn people you’ll ever meet, and get to wake up the next morning and do it all over again? It’s an unmatched, addictive high that heals the soul. If dedicating just one more day of my life, going to just one more meeting, taking just one more class, or giving just one more presentation ensures others get to share in this experience, well, I can’t imagine it getting much better.”


Michael Gorham

Branch: United States Army
Hometown: Bolivar, New York
Joined Team Rubicon: In 2014 and currently serves as Region 9 Programs Manager

Michael served from 2002–2008 as a Platoon Leader in OEF and Company Commander in OIF, and is currently a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves 3/75 Training Command. He also serves as the operations manager for Arktos Incorporated — a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business construction company. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Education from S.U.N.Y. Fredonia and an Executive MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.

“My goal is simple — I want to leave the world a better place than when I entered it. I want my children to look back at my life and be proud of what I have accomplished.”


Danielle Gilbert

Branch: United States Army
Hometown: Burke, Virginia
Joined Team Rubicon: In 2013

Danielle currently serves as an imagery analyst for the Department of Defense. She earned an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Saint Leo University and is working toward a Bachelor’s in Geography at George Mason University. Danielle also led an Open Source Intelligence Team during Operation: Whipcrack following Typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines.

“I take pride in serving with Team Rubicon alongside our nation’s best to achieve lasting impacts to our community. The bonds forged within the TR family are as strong as the ones in the military; these experiences will stay with me for the rest of my life.”


John Conway

Branch: United States Marine Corps
Hometown: Chelmsford, Massachusetts
Joined Team Rubicon: In 2012 and currently serves as Region 1 Deputy Field Operations Manager and a TR-certified Chainsaw Instructor

John is a full-time firefighter/EMT in Billerica, MA and owner of an HVAC company. He joined TR after meeting members of the organization in the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy. John has taken part in Operation: Valley Forge, Midnight Ride, and Big Dig.

“I have never met such as motivated group of people that are all sharing a common goal to help others in a time of need. Being a part of Team Rubicon and working with people who share the same passion and commitment to serve has been such a rewarding experience, and I look forward to expanding my involvement in TR with this fellowship.”


Jonah Thompson

Branch: United States Army
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Joined Team Rubicon: In 2013 and currently serves as the Pennsylvania Operations Coordinator in Region 3

Jonah served in the US Army Reserve as an infantry NCO from 1994-2003. In his civilian career he is a paramedic, currently working on a community paramedicine pilot program based out of the Center for Emergency Medicine of Western Pennsylvania, and a Deputy Wildlife Conservation Officer. He deployed to Op Seabird in the Philippines and Op Tenzing in Nepal as part of Team Rubicon’s disaster medical assistance efforts.

Jonah is graduating this year with a Bachelor’s in Emergency & Disaster Management from American Military University and is active with Epsilon Pi Phi, the emergency management national honor society.

The Clay Hunt Fellows Program is sponsored by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project