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Meet Cohort 7 of the Clay Hunt Fellows Program

The Clay Hunt Fellows Program (CHFP) was established in 2012 to increase volunteer engagement and build leadership within Team Rubicon’s domestic disaster response initiatives. The program was inspired by Marine veteran and original TR member Clay Hunt (1982-2011), who embodied service, commitment, sacrifice, and loyalty. Through their role, Fellows not only receive the mission, community, and self-worth that Clay sought, but they are charged with building similar opportunities for others within the organization.

In the first six months, the CHFP helps veterans identify how to self-evaluate and dig deep within themselves to unravel the root of any struggles they may be experiencing. Outlooks, relationships, and life trajectories are changed. The program also encourages veterans to reflect on where they came from, who they are, and who they want to be.

In the latter half of the program, Fellows enhance their leadership skills, strengthen their professional capabilities, and build up their individual competency in the field of emergency management. From there, they unite their passions and work with Team Rubicon staff to create a capstone project that will bolster the nonprofit’s effectiveness as a disaster response organization.

Thanks to the continued generosity of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, we now introduce to you Cohort 7 of the CHFP.

 

Windy Barton
U.S. Navy, 1994-1997
Served as a Hull Maintenance Technician where she was responsible for the upkeep and care of systems. When on duty at sea, she lead the Flying Squad.
Resides in: Vernal, UT
Currently: Serves as Team Rubicon Region VIII membership manager who mobilizes volunteers. She works on improving the new member experience, in addition to maintaining and training new volunteer leaders.
Education: Windy has naval training in damage control and is currently is in the process of earning her bachelor’s degree from Skagit Valley Community College.
“Serving others has become my way of life because it has helped me become whole again. On the days that my life seems to be the darkest, I find someone and I serve them.

 

 

 

Donna Burdett 
US Navy, 1988-1999
Donna was a Hull Technician on tenders and shore maintenance facilities tasked in the pipe fitters and welding shops to repair and maintain the ships. She also served on the Carrier USS Eisenhower, was attached to a Seebee unit in Gulfport, MS, and Beach Master Unit 2 out of Little Creek, VA.
Resides in: Panama City Beach, FL
Currently: Donna recently deployed on her 25th operation with Team Rubicon, Operation Carolina Courage. She previously served as a State Engagement Coordinator for Team Rubicon for three years.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in nursing from Ivy Tech State College.
“Being a volunteer with Team Rubicon gave me a reason to get up and motivated. Team Rubicon helped me go from existing to living.”

 

 

Anthony Celani
U.S. Army, 2012-2015
Served as a Weapons Squad Team Leader and machine gunner in the Infantry.
Resides in: Madison, WI
Currently: Contractor for Team Rubicon’s Mobile Training Center that aids volunteers in furthering their training skills to better respond to disasters.
Education: Anthony has his associate degree from Madison College and is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Business Administration.
“When I’m on an operation with Team Rubicon I feel like I’m apart of a unit again. I have a sense of purpose and camaraderie that I haven’t felt anywhere outside of the military. With Team Rubicon I truly feel that I have more than just fellow volunteers or co-workers, I have brothers and sisters.” 

 

 

 

Jaime Cullen-Dega 
U.S. Army 1995-2004
Served as a Military Police Officer. Deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, and primarily tasked with conducting patrols and route clearance.
Resides in: Elkridge, MD
Currently:  Police Officer/Technician with the Metropolitan Police Department, Narcotics and Special Investigations Division Gun Recovery Unit.
Education: Jaime has completed multiple courses through the National Incident Management System.
“Every single homeowner and Greyshirt I have met over the years has motivated me to continue to serve. There are homeowners who have lost everything but still line up to help their neighbor. They remind me of the importance of service and community” 

 

 

 

Yusra Kauppila 
U.S. Marine Corps, 2001-2006
Yusra was a Russian Cryptologic Linguist primarily assigned to Operations during her enlistment. She deployed to Iraq in 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She also deployed with the Coast Guard as a translator in support of maritime boundary line security patrols.
Resides in: Oceanside, CA
Currently: Works as a paralegal for a military law firm that focuses primarily on criminal defense.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Chaminade University and Paralegal Certificate from UCSD Extension.
“Team Rubicon helps people feel blessed in the midst of tragedy and while surrounded in disaster. Strangers become a team after just one day together. That’s something that I have not seen anywhere else besides the military. Nothing compares to experiencing the gratitude homeowners have when they realize that not only are complete strangers there to help them but they ask for nothing in return.”

 

 

Benjamin Kennedy
U.S. Marine Corps, 2003-2014
At age 17, Ben enlisted in the USMC where he spent 11+ years, including four combat deployments and one non-combat deployment supporting a wide array of roles from Aviation support, to Infantry, and spending the last eight years of his career in the imagery intelligence field.
Resides in: Commerce City, Colorado
Currently: Principal Systems Engineer for BAE Systems Geospatial eXploitation Products (GXP). Benjamin is responsible for training and supporting the use of geospatial software across a wide array of DOD and civilian customers.
“I’ve learned that through shared experiences, not only have we made a huge difference in the lives of those we help, but we offer something for veterans that is rarely found. Aside from the angry, depressed, or violent veteran that society so often sees us as, Team Rubicon provides a place for us to be at ease with ourselves without labels or judgments. I want to be able to help other veterans and first responders who may not have that in their lives to understand they are not alone out there.”

 

 

Amber Laughlin
U.S. Army, 2005-2008
Served as a Military Police specialist.
Resides in: North Chesterfield, VA
Currently: Emergency Medical Technician for the Chesterfield Fire and Emergency Medical Services. She serves as Team Rubicon’s Field Operations Manager for Virginia as well as the Richmond City Coordinator. Amber also owns and operates a small business, Marley’s Barkery.
Education: Currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness from Virginia Commonwealth University.
“Service is a combination of passion and the challenge of stepping up when others have walked away. It is placing the needs of others above the needs and desires of myself. True service is to be done without the expectation of recognition. It is to bring light into a dark world in hopes that there will be a ripple effect.” 

 

 

Amanda McDonald
U.S. Army, 1998-2007
Amanda served as an Arabic Linguist and Signals Intelligence Analyst.
Resides in: Kennewick, WA
Currently: Works for Grandview School District as a sixth-grade math and science teacher. She has also held several leadership roles within Team Rubicon and currently serves as the Region X Logistics Manager.
Education: Amanda earned her Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Studies from the American Military University in 2007. In 2017, she received her Master’s in teaching from Heritage University.
“The type of person that I want to be is someone who helps those who have had a turn of bad luck whether it was a disaster that struck their home, illness, injury or just circumstances in life that forced them into disadvantaged situations.”

 

 

Ashley Peterson
U.S. Navy, 2004-2009
Served as a Hospital Corpsman.
Resides in: Standish, ME
Currently: Works as a paramedic for Gorham Fire Department and Northeast Mobile Health Services and is also a medical communications tech at Maine Medical Center.
Education: Ashley is a certified paramedic and is currently getting her associate degree in nursing from Excelsior College.
“Service gives me a purpose that is greater than myself. It allows me to make a positive impact on others. I serve because I love it and because I need to. I couldn’t imagine my life without it because it keeps me going, defines who I am, and helps me become a better person. 

 

 

 

Joe Quinto
U.S. Marine Corps, 1991-2000
All-Source Intelligence Analyst applying techniques to develop actionable knowledge to manage technology platforms and networks.
Resides in: Houston, TX
Currently: Joseph is a Staff Engineer specializing with LINUX/UNIX Systems and Storage Area Network devices.
Education: Joe has been educated in Asian History and maintains a number of Information Technology certifications.
“There’s a magic recipe that is born here within TR. It fosters hope and affirms America’s confidence in people willing to make extraordinary sacrifices for complete strangers and each other. Time and time again we see examples of blistered hands and determination do remarkable things all for nothing more than a cold sandwich and bottle of water. I want to help TR perfect this recipe to serve other veterans in their missions forward.” 

 

 

Thomas Walmsley 
U.S. Army, 1999-2008
Served as an Infantryman in the Maryland Army National Guard, including a deployment to Iraq.
Resides in: Albuquerque, NM
Currently: Deputy Emergency Manager for the Bernalillo County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management where he maintains county emergency plans and develops the training and exercise program.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from American Public University.
“Each and every Greyshirt has a different story. It is our passion for service that brings us all together. Team Rubicon has redefined service for me and now I’m looking to continue to shape and redefine my life through the Clay Hunt Fellows Program.”

 

 

 

Matthew Watson 
U.S. Marine Corps 1994-2003, Kentucky Army National Guard 2003-2007
Served as a Heavy Machine Gunner and as an Agent with the Criminal Investigation Division
Resides in: Zionsville, IN
Currently: Senior Director of Operations
Education: Matthew has his Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Kentucky University. He is currently studying for his MBA from the American Military University.
“I see service to others as an extension of the oath we took.  Our service to others is bigger than any paycheck, bigger than any reward, and most importantly bigger than ourselves.  My TRibe is my medium to center myself to be able to impact my community.  Serving others helps me to be a good example to my family and those I interact with. ” 

 

Thank you to the Bob Woodruff Foundation for supporting the Clay Hunt Fellows Program.