Past Association President Spotlights

The birth of the National Military Family Association began in 1969 with a group of military spouses who were trying to solve a problem for a friend. The Association was incorporated as the Military Wives Association.

From 1969 to present day, our Presidents, and now Chairmen, are the lead Volunteers of our Association. Through their guidance and leadership, our Association continues to be the leading nonprofit organization which supports all military families.

Interviewed Presidents

Past President: Nancy Alsheimer

President, Board of Governors 2000
Chairman, Board of Governors 2008

Nancy has been a Volunteer with the National Military Family Association since 1985. Her initial contact with the Association, in 1971, began a volunteer career that has led her down many paths. Serving as Membership Director her first year, Nancy was able to work on issues directly affecting military families. Since then her roles have been wide and varied; she has served as Tr...
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Past President: Gayle Bolinger

President, Board of Governors 1983-1984

Everyone has his or her reason for volunteering or working with the National Military Family Association. For Gayle Bolinger, it was frustration and dissatisfaction with the status quo that brought her to headquarters. She started as a volunteer in 1981, and by the time she left the Association four and a half years later, she had blazed a trail that would set the Association up to be the leading advocate for military families.<...
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Past President: Emily Cato

President, Board of Governors 1985

Emily Cato began her life as a military spouse in 1963 when she was a young college graduate. Marrying into the military life was no small task during the 1960’s. At that time, it really was a military where “if they wanted you to have a wife or family, they would have issued you one.” Emily’s husband came from a strong military family and she was fortunate to have great role models for how to flourish as a mi...
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Past President: Carol Cole

President, Board of Governors 1996-1997

In 1996, when Carol Cole was elected President, the National Military Family Association was struggling with low membership numbers, increased demands for Congressional testimony, and working to establish the Association’s future financial security.

Despite these struggles, she says it was an exciting time for the Association. Other top challenges included better health care coverage, education incentives, and impr...
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Past President: Margaret Vinson Hallgren

President, Board of Governors 1989-1990, 1992-1993
Chairman, Board of Governors 2001-2002

Margaret Vinson Hallgren is that rare volunteer who combines comprehensive military family experience with the ability to lead, teach, and inspire. Margaret has been a military family member her whole life: first as an Army brat, then as an Army wife, Army widow, and currently, a retired-Army wife. She has been a part of the National Military Family Associat...
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Past President: Jean Hilsman

President, Board of Governors 1981-1982                     

“They were going a brave step further to create change in issues affecting them,” Jean Hilsman, former President of the National Military Family Association, said regarding her first impression of a group of women called the National Military Wives Association (NMWA). In 1980, Jean and her fam...
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Past President: Sylvia Kidd

President, Board of Governors 1995

Sylvia believes that military families are their own best advocates. She also believes that speaking out about their own issues helps other families. But in order to help other families, they must be educated about the benefits, programs, and challenges that come with the military lifestyle. It was this philosophy that led her to ultimately become President of the National Military Family Association from 1994 to1995. Her philosophy ...
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Past President: Rosemary Locke

President, Board of Governors 1979-1980

In our lives, we have opportunities to make a difference and often those chance encounters can have monumental change years down the road. One night around the year 1971, future military spouses and former spouses would unknowingly have someone looking after their best interests.  Feeling frustrated with benefits for military widows, a small group of wives met forging the path for retirees’ wives to receive benefits f...
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Past President: Jim Mutter

President, Board of Governors 1998 

When the National Military Family Association was in need of a President in 1998, Colonel James Mutter, USMC (Ret) stepped forward. Jim was a man who really knew what it meant to serve. After 36 ½ years in the Marine Corps, he was well acquainted with the challenges facing military families and had strong opinions about what needed to be done. He believed military families not only needed to know they have access to not ...
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Past President: Tanna Schmidli

Chairman, Board of Governors 2006-2007

Many dedicated Volunteers give their talents and strengths, and commit themselves to the programs and policies of the National Military Family Association. These men and women strive to make the daily lives of military families better.

In the 1980’s, Tanna was President of the Spouse’s Club at Fort Stewart and was able to meet Volunteers from the Military Wives Association (MWA) before the Military Wives Assoc...
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Past Presidents Bios Not Interviewed

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