Executive Director & CEO
As Executive Director, Besa brings leadership at NMFA along with her personal experience as a military spouse to this incredible team. Besa is an award-winning journalist and marketer whose passion for our military began during her time as a reporter and television news anchor. From Jacksonville, North Carolina to Kosovo, her assignments opened her eyes to the post-9/11 military experience, and its cycles of deployment, redeployment, and constant transition. She also covered highly-contentious Congressional hearings and the impact military life has on families, including the effects of water contamination aboard military bases. During Besa’s time covering Camp Lejeune, she met a guy named Dave, whom she decided to marry despite warnings to “never marry a Marine.” Now 15+ years later, they live on Capitol Hill with their 3 kids.
Director of Administration and Human Resources
Jacqueline joins NMFA after 20 years of public service with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, where she oversaw financial management, people operations, administration, and planning for three divisions. She is a passionate champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Jacqueline chaired the Hispanic Employee Resource Group and also supported the establishment of the first Veteran’s Employee Resource Group while at the Fed.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Jacqueline comes from a family with a long and proud tradition of serving in the military, including her father who served in the Navy during the Korean War. She spent several years working with former military who were transitioning into the civilian job market and continues to support the community through the Veteran Mentor Network.
Jacqueline earned a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, a Master’s Degree in Human Resources from University of Maryland Global Campus, and is a SHRM – Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources (SHRM-SCP). She currently resides in Virginia with her husband and twin daughters.
Executive Administrative Assistant
Vel is an Army Brat, Air Force Veteran, Ragnarian, and Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) with more than 17 years supporting and advocating on behalf of active-duty service-members, spouses, veterans, wounded warriors, DOD civilians, and the families of our fallen heroes. She is skilled in executive support, team building, facilitation, and setting organizational priorities.
Vel is honored to continue serving and supporting the military community with National Military Family Association.
A few activities that “spark joy” for Vel include salsa dancing, yoga, self-help books, paddle-boarding, and hiking with her 13-year-old son. The goal is to hike El Camino de Santiago in Spain together on one of their mother-son trips.
Director of Development
Dubbing herself “a small town Minnesota girl, with big city dreams,” Lyndy finds herself on the National Military Family Association Development team checking off a few of her ‘big city dreams.’ A Political Science and Pre-Law graduate of North Dakota State University, she’s interned for Congress, was a real estate developer, and owned a restaurant. Her true passion for building community and connecting military families to resources and programs ignited when she married her high school sweetheart, an Air Force Officer. After a hard day’s work raising funds to support military and veteran families, she embraces the chaos of military life, while raising four awesome kids.
Susan E. Neyman
Senior Development Officer
Susan joins National Military Family Association with a passion for serving the needs of others through a twenty-year career in the non-profit field, including experience in fundraising and executive leadership for causes including cancer support, Alzheimer’s, ALS, developmental disabilities, and performing arts. She was integral in helping raise over $1B for the University of Arkansas’ “Campaign for the 21st Century”. She holds BSBA in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas, an MBA from the Walton College of Business, and a doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration.
Neyman hails from northwest Arkansas, where she resides with her husband, a Navy veteran. She proudly raised three daughters, and a son, who is active duty in the Navy. She carves out time to enjoy fly fishing, live theater, bicycling, strength training, repurposing furniture, and cheering on her beloved Arkansas Razorbacks.
Foundation Relations Officer
Joining NMFA as the Foundation Relations Manager is a dream come true for Stephanie. This opportunity bridges her passion for supporting non-profits with part of her personal life as a military spouse. Stephanie has worked in various sectors of the non-profit field for more than 13 years, holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Monmouth University, and is committed to advocating for military families. In her non-existent free time, she enjoys reading all kinds of books, baking tasty treats, and spending time with her active duty Coast Guard husband and 2 children exploring their newest duty station location (state #5 in 12 years).
Corporate Giving Officer
Caitlin is a self-professed “do-gooder” with the lifelong goal of saving the world. She joins the NMFA team with four years of experience in the nonprofit sector supporting post-9/11 veterans and military spouses. Caitlin comes from a family of first responders, is the fiancé of a Marine Corps veteran, and as such has a passion for giving back to all those who have served. She has a bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies from Quinnipiac University and a master’s degree from NYU in Global Environment & Energy Policy. In her free time, Caitlin can be found spending every spare moment with her one-year-old niece, Hadley Jane, or explaining the detriments of climate change to any and all passersby (please listen, it’s a big deal). She and her fiancé live in New York City with their Belgian Malinois, Nova.
Development and Database Coordinator
Debbie brings to NMFA many years of experience in nonprofit development, primarily in donor relations and database administration. She is proud to have been born in Annapolis, Maryland, while her Navy officer father served on the faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy. Debbie grew up in Oxford, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts. After college, she moved to Texas where she earned a Master of Arts in Communication while working at her first job in the nonprofit sector for an organization that produced inspirational radio and television programs. Aside from a three-year “detour” teaching high school speech and drama, Debbie’s career path has led her to development positions at various nonprofits advocating for missions and causes she personally could endorse. Debbie is delighted to support military families through her role at NMFA.
Outside of work, Debbie is active in her church where she sings in the choir. She enjoys walking scenic trails, exploring historic sites and museums, and planning trips and traveling. Debbie and her husband, David, live in Northern Virginia.
Government Relations Director
Kelly became in the Government Relations Director of the National Military Family Association in 2015. In this role, she leads the Association’s advocacy for the families of the eight Uniformed Services and monitors the range of issues relevant to their quality of life. She began her work with the Association in 2007 as a Government Relations Deputy Director and served as Outreach Coordinator in 2014.
Kelly has represented military families on several committees and task forces for offices and agencies of the Department of Defense (DoD) and military services. She is co-chair of The Military Coalition (TMC), an organization of 34 military-related associations. She is also co-chair of TMC’s Survivor Committee. In 2008-2011, she represented NMFA on the first DoD Military Family Readiness Council.
Prior to joining NMFA, Kelly worked to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs as the chief of staff of CONNECT and the chief of staff of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.
A Navy spouse for 27 years, Ms. Hruska has served in various volunteer leadership positions in civilian and military community organizations including COMPASS mentor, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, The Girl Scouts, and Navy Spouses Clubs. She was also appointed to the City Commission on Children and Youth by the Corpus Christi City Council.
Kelly is a recipient of the Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Medal in recognition of her work on behalf of service members and their families at Navy Region Center Singapore.
A Pennsylvania native, Kelly earned her B.A. in Political Science from La Salle University and a Masters of Public Administration from Shippensburg University. Ms. Hruska and her husband, Captain Jim Hruska, USN (Ret) reside in Annandale, Virginia with their daughter, Emily.
Government Relations Senior Deputy Director
Eileen Huck became Deputy Director in the Government Relations Department in October, 2012 after previously holding positions in the Youth Initiatives and Development Departments. In her role as Government Relations Deputy Director, Eileen monitors issues relevant to the quality of life of families of the uniformed services. Her primary area of focus is health care, to include the Military Health System, TRICARE, and behavioral health care. In this capacity, she serves as the co-chair of The Military Coalition’s (TMC) Health Care Committee and as the Association’s representative on the TRICARE for Kids Coalition. Eileen also handles issues related to wounded warriors and military caregivers. She is a former co-chair of the TMC Personnel Committee and Awards Committee and served as an ex officio member of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3). She has been recognized for her work advocating on behalf of military-connected children by the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS) and the Military Impacted Schools Association (MISA).
Prior to joining the Association, Eileen volunteered as a case worker with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society in Mayport, Florida and served as adviser to the USS HALYBURTON Family Readiness Group. She earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Georgetown University and served two tours overseas as a Foreign Service officer. A Navy spouse, Eileen has lived in Virginia, California, Florida, and Rhode Island. She currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband, CAPT Michael Huck USN (ret) and their two children.
Government Relations Deputy Director
In 2014, as Manager of Public Policy at Discovery Communications, Nicole cold-called NMFA in search of a military-affiliated nonprofit partner. She fell in love with NMFA’s mission, started volunteering, and finally joined the team focusing on children’s education and child care. She started her career in government relations as a federal lobbyist, followed by a stint in the corporate world, and most recently served in leadership roles on several nonprofits in Okinawa, Japan. Nicole holds a Master’s Degree in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University and received her Bachelor of Arts in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs from Miami University in Ohio. Nicole is an active duty Marine spouse who loves politics, food, and traveling the world for food.
Director of Marketing
Kim has spent nearly 20 years working with the National Military Family Association. Her passion is using technology to inform and empower military families. Working for NMFA is not just a job; it is an opportunity to connect with military families at a higher level. Kim enjoys every facet of digital communication, marketing, web design and translating analytics into opportunity.
Senior Content and Marketing Manager
Shannon joined NMFA in 2013 after a stroke of good luck from a Chinese fortune cookie. She’s worked with military families since 2009, and has been recognized for her efforts supporting the service members, families, and leadership of the Presidential Helicopter squadron (Marine One) and the US Navy Blue Angels. Shannon is a diehard Florida State University alum, loves taking pictures of her dog, and will perform a one-woman version of “Hamilton” for whoever will listen.
Website and Email Manager
Bryan joins the NMFA team nearly two decades of web development experience. He built his first website when he was 16 and hasn’t looked back. Bryan has evolved from taking apart VCR’s to building large enterprise solutions, in fact, his favorite hobby is code! Bryan is a Green Bay Packers and Anaheim Angels fan who also loves camping, video games and watching movies. He is married with three wonderful kids who hate his dad jokes.
Enas is a lover of all things design! She joins NMFA with the hopes of using her design skills to impact military families in a meaningful way. Her design approach to all projects includes research, searching for inspiration, creating a template layout…and coffee! While she has lived in Gainesville, Florida for more than 10 years, she is originally Sudanese & was born in Shendi, Sudan. She received both an Associates of Art & Associates of Science degree from Santa Fe College, followed by a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Art & Technology from the University of Florida. Go Gators!
Military Family Programs
Director of Military Family Programs
Becca began her career teaching in the South Bronx and has spent the last thirteen years channeling her passion for transformational learning and growth into action for schools, nonprofits, and social impact startups across the country. She is honored to support the incredible NMFA program staff in developing, implementing, and delivering programming serving military children, spouses, and families.
Becca is a proud daughter of a Marine, and gratefully celebrates the service of her brother and father (both USMC), her sister-in-law (Army), her cousin (Air Force) and every family member that has supported them in their service and many deployments and moves. Becca is consistently amazed at the courage, resourcefulness, and determination of military spouses, like her mother, Ann. Known by her wonderful niblings as “Auntie Becca,” she lives in Connecticut with her dog, Champion, and supports disaster preparedness with the local Community Emergency Response Team.
Program Manager, Operation Purple Program
Natalie was born at Fort Meade Hospital to military parents, so she says marrying a military man was inevitable. They have a college-bound daughter and a dog that will never leave home. Natalie’s position involves researching questions from and providing information to military members and their dependents. Friends and family always ask her to research things for them because she enjoys learning new things and educating others. Natalie loves being a part of our Association because of our passion for military families.
Program Manager, Operation Purple Program
Growing up in a military community, Chelsea has seen first hand the daily sacrifices and dedication each military family makes to support their loved one in uniform. She is honored to serve military families and give back respite and love through our Operation Purple camps. Chelsea lives in Seattle, WA with her husband Mack. Together, they own a jazz piano school where they teach the rich history and technique of jazz piano to adults around the country! When she isn’t supporting military families and the arts, Chelsea can be found in the mountains with friends or cuddled up with a good book.
Program Manager, Operation Purple Program
While taking time off from her career to raise her children, Christy found fulfillment volunteering—particularly supporting military families. After volunteering for NMFA for the past six years, Christy is excited to transition to staff member! She loves traveling and all outdoor activities. She hold a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from Mary Washington College and is married to an active duty Coast Guardsman. Together, they have PCS’d five times!
Program Manager, Scholarships
Julie joins the team with tons of military life experience. She’s the daughter of a Marine and has been married to her Air Force spouse for 23 years. In those 23 years, her military family has moved 10 times, even spending 4.5 years in Germany. Despite her many moves, she remains committed to volunteering—giving her time to Girl Scouts troops, swim teams, Air Force Spouse Clubs, even recruiting others to volunteer their time, too. Julie hails from North Carolina, graduated from NC State University, and is a proud Carolina Panthers fan.
Director of Outreach
Once upon a time, Raleigh was a journalist… but then she logged into Facebook, got distracted, and became a social media geek. She’s passionate about public relations, social media, and the power of social technologies to build authentic relationships that lift up a community. Raleigh holds a B.A. from Barnard College and an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University. She and her husband, a Marine Corps Officer, have three small children, a dog, and more moving stickers stuck on their furniture than they can count.
Community Engagement Administrative Assistant
Sarah holds a Bachelors in Communications with a concentration in Psychology from the University of Maryland, where she served as a research assistant in the neuropsychology lab. She is now pursuing her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. Sarah is passionate about advocating for access to mental health services and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. She is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and enjoys running and rock climbing in her free time.
Digital Audience Manager
Luke has always followed his passion for writing and using narrative to make change happen. This led him from journalism, to social media, to communications, and back to social media again. He comes to NMFA with appreciation and admiration for military families and the sacrifices they make. Luke loves all things geek—fantasy, video games, superheroes, and Dungeons and Dragons—and says he’s one of the most open people you’ll ever meet. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a Liberal Arts degree and lives in Maryland with his boyfriend of nearly four years.
Social Media Consultant
Hannah is a born and bred military brat with a passion for sharing the stories of military families like her own. Shortly after she graduated from Messiah University with degrees in English and Communication, her dad retired from the Army and she had to surrender her military ID, prompting a low-key identity crisis. In an effort to stay connected to her military roots, she joined the NMFA team with the hope of building and supporting relationships within the military community. Hannah lives with her husband (a Navy brat—enough said) in Germany where they work with military middle and high school teens through Club Beyond (Young Life Military).
Research + Insights
Director of Research + Insights
Dr. Crystal Lewis is a published author and communication expert with experience in multiple fields. She has worked in higher education institutions for over 15 years in teaching and advising roles as well as curriculum design. She has 10 years of experience as a grant and proposal writer for initiatives including: housing for the mentally-ill homeless population, work programs for the disabled, youth educational programming, and the fight to end America’s opioid epidemic.
Crystal is an active-duty Navy spouse with two children. She is also an NMFA Scholarship recipient who enjoys yoga, hiking, and reading. She also loves coffee, tacos, and spending time with her spouse, kids (who are best friends), and pets: a German Shorthaired Pointer named Birdie, and a Siamese cat named Yuki Tsuki San (they are not friends).
Research and Insights Manager
Aspen loves science and military families. She says science fills her brain, but supporting military families fills her heart. She’s an Army spouse of 15 years, mom of two kids, and loves supporting and empowering other women in the military community to promote family readiness. Aspen earned bachelor’s degrees in both Biology and Health Sciences and was a molecular biology researcher and a licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist before joining the NMFA team. Fun fact: Aspen is a self-proclaimed “knower of random facts.” Anyone need a trivia teammate?
Meredith is a doctoral candidate currently studying Human Development and Family Science with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Georgia. She seeks to support military families through leveraging policy for military-connected populations and utilizing the most recent research to inform policies that impact military families. She received her BA in Psychology and her MS in Marriage and Family Therapy and has previously worked on projects designed to support military families, including translating the most recent research on military-connected populations into practice for military families, helping professionals, and policymakers. Meredith’s exposure to military family life in her extended family sparked her interest in supporting military families through the unique transitions they face. Meredith loves spending time with her dog, crocheting, and diving into music from all different genres ranging from classic rock to indie pop.