About Us

Angels of America’s Fallen is a 501(c)(3) charity that was founded on the idea that, with an average age of seven years old at the time of loss, the children of our fallen have lost their parent at the most crucial developmental time in their life. There should be specific support for these children now with guidance and healthy outlets during adolescence. We stand with them during this critical time.

 All of our board members have served in the military, worked with law enforcement, or worked with fire fighters. Each has experienced the loss of a friend that was serving our country. Knowing what was most important to them, we believe it is our duty and an honor to assist all children of our fallen.


Board Of Directors

Travis Wright

Chairman of the Board
traviswright@aoafallen.org

Travis has over 21 years of military service as an Army helicopter pilot and staff officer at the national level in the National Capital Region. He was responsible for developing policy for National Guard Counterdrug aviation prior to developing strategic plans for Counterdrug programs and funding in 54 states and U.S. territories. He has regular interaction with military and governmental leaders at the state and national level discussing Counterdrug issues and policies. He is a US Army Master Aviator, an FAA Certified Commercial Pilot (Airplane and Helicopter), and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

Travis retired as a CW4 after serving as the National Guard Liaison to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President. He earned a Bachelors of Science in Professional Aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2007, and a Masters of Science in Project Management at The George Washington University in 2010. Travis is currently employed as a Principal at The Clearing, a Washington, DC based management consultancy.

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Travis Wright

Travis Wright

Chairman of the Board

Rick Zink

Treasurer
rickzink@aoafallen.org

Rick enlisted in the United States Air Force after high school graduation in Cincinnati, Ohio, and continued active service until retiring as a Colonel 31 years later. Serving initially as altitude chamber physiological training instructor, Rick completed his bachelor degree and was selected for commissioning through Officer Training School. After a short assignment as a disaster preparedness officer, Rick was selected for pilot training, and after earning his wings he flew all over the world supporting missions as an air refueling pilot in the KC-135 and KC-10. His staff tours were focused on personnel assignments and leader professional development.

Following his Air Force career, Rick moved with his family to Colorado Springs, and applied his military experience to defense contractor positions with NORAD and US Northern Command, and the Missile Defense Agency. After work, Rick pursues his passion to help youth develop into neighbors we want to live next door. His volunteer work includes youth sports coach in soccer, baseball, and basketball, and Boy Scouts assistant scoutmaster, merit badge counselor, and high adventure leader.

Rick earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Management from Park University, and a Master of Arts degree in Administration from Central Michigan University.

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Rick Zink

Rick Zink

Treasurer

Joe Lewis

Chief Executive Officer
joelewis@aoafallen.org

Joe served in the military for 25 years from Private to Lieutenant Colonel with 25 combined years as an enlisted Army cannon crewman in a field artillery unit, a Marine Corps fighter pilot flying F/A-18 Hornets, as a flight instructor, and as a transport pilot, and as an Air Force reconnaissance pilot flying the RC-26. He supported local, state, and federal law enforcement including the FBI, DEA, and U.S. Secret Service. He served at the National Guard Bureau in Washington DC as the Counterdrug Aviation Section Chief, Chief of Domestic Operations, and Chief of Federal Operations Programs. He retired as a Lt Col from the Air Force in 2011 after completing his final tour at the United States Customs and Border Protection's Air and Marine Operations Center.

After retirement, Joe founded Angels of America’s Fallen to serve the children of our fallen military, coast guard, and first responders. Having lost friends in each service, and knowing the ages of their children, he recognized a crucial gap in the support being provided to these children who had just lost one of their biggest mentors. With the mentoring of his own sons being his biggest concern if he should not return from one of his missions, he felt the need to reach out and help provide mentoring and developmental opportunities that matched each child’s individual interests and needs. He developed Angels of America’s Fallen as a way to proactively engage the children of our fallen in healthy activities under the guidance of a coach or instructor where they could excel and develop their very own strong sense of self worth. For his efforts engaging children of our fallen in swimming lessons, he was recognized as one of 2016's Ten Most Influential People in the Aquatics Industry, at the Association of Aquatics Professionals Conference.

Joe earned a B.S. in Physical Science with dual minors in Business and Criminal Justice from Troy University. Joe earned a B.S. in Physical Science with dual minors in Business and Criminal Justice from Troy University. He has a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management, and is nearing completion of a Masters of Public Administration and Graduate Certificates in Nonprofit Fund Development and Program Evaluation from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

He resides in Colorado Springs with his wife of over 21 years and two sons. He is a volunteer at New Life Church where he serves the Men’s Group and Military Outreach Programs. Joe is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a member of the American Legion, and a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

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Joe Lewis

Joe Lewis

Chief Executive Officer

Robert McNally

Director

Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robert McNally is a First Officer on the Boeing 777 at American Airlines. He served 12 years as a Navy fighter pilot flying the F/A-18 Hornet before joining the Air National Guard where he flew F-16 Falcons. He served six years at the National Guard Bureau in Washington DC as the Chief of Domestic Operations and Chief of the Support Branch before retiring as a Lt Col.

Robert earned a Bachelors of Science in Accounting from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in 1985, and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey- Camden in 2007.

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Robert McNally

Robert McNally

Director

Pete Curry

Secretary
pcurry@aoafallen.org

Pete served as a U.S. Army officer for 27 years and retired as a Colonel.   ver time, Pete was an aviation commander, a tank leader, a paratrooper, a strategist, and an expert in joint, multi-agency and multinational leadership. He served as an air cavalry troop commander on the West German-Czechoslovakian border at the end of the Cold War and also served two combat tours—one as an aviation commander in Iraq and the other as the Director for Operations (CJ3) for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Pete is a published author on issues of national security and organizational effectiveness. While still in uniform, he taught executive-level decision making to senior U.S. Government leaders while assigned to the U.S. Naval War College, the Brookings Institution and the Marine Corps War College. He continues to mentor and coach leaders today.

Currently, Pete is the Co-Founder of D.A.R. Partners, a consulting firm specializing in helping companies leverage their data to create new markets, develop new data services and use that data to make better decisions.

Pete integrates the supporting activities throughout the AoAF stakeholder network to help as many children as possible.

Pete lives in Virginia with his wife, Irene. They have three adult children.

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Pete Curry

Pete Curry

Secretary

Lally Laksbergs

Director
Lally@aoafallen.org

Lally has more than 20 years of marketing and public affairs experience in both manufacturing and the military. She enlisted in the U.S. Army – Illinois Army National Guard at age 38, eight months after her daughter, and two years before her son enlisted in the Illinois Air National Guard; both children are combat veterans.

Lally’s military experience began as a Public Affairs Specialist at Joint Force Headquarters in Illinois and her outstanding efforts and professional maturity led her to National Guard Bureau for a multi-year tour within NGB Counterdrug as a Public Affairs Specialist – Strategic Communications. She established and implemented outreach of NGB Counterdrug presence on media networks that increased engagement by 82%. She developed communications plan, maintained web pages and managed the public-facing website. Lally assisted in determining appropriate communications dissemination procedures for sensitive, highly controversial subjects including federal funding, drug enforcement, national policy, multi-agency partnerships, etc. and nurtured relationships with various federal government agencies and outside organizations to include Department of Homeland Security, law enforcement, state fish and wildlife, and news media.

Since 2010, Lally has Volunteered and provided her professional media/public affairs knowledge to develop and conduct media initiatives for the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing programs at Fort Belvoir and Marine Corps Base Quantico. Both programs have grown to be some of the most actively-engaged programs within Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.

Lally recently moved to Colorado Springs and is a full-time Public Affairs Specialist at Fort Carson Garrison Public Affairs Office. Lally is currently a member of the Colorado Army National Guard.

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Lally Laksbergs

Lally Laksbergs

Director

Mathew Thompson

Director
matthompson@gmail.com

Mathew comes from a long line of veterans, firefighters, and public servants. He is the acting chairman of the marketing and media committee for El Paso County Homeless Veterans Coalition. He is completing his Master’s Degree in Public Administration with certifications in Nonprofit Management and Homeland Defense at the University of Colorado. He resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Mathew Thompson

Mathew Thompson

Director

John Farnam

Director
John@aoafallen.org

John served 26 years in the United States Marine Corps as a Weapons and Sensors Officer flying the FA-18D. During his career, he flew almost 4000 hours which include combat tours in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. John served as an FA-18 Weapons School Instructor, as an FA-18D Squadron Commanding Officer and as the Commanding Officer of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. He completed two tours at the Pentagon, the first on the Marine Corps Aviation Staff as the FA-18 Requirements Officer and the second for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs focused on U.S. Military Global Posture.

John earned his Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice at San Diego State University in 1990 and his Masters in National Strategy from the National War College in 2010. John retired from the Marine Corps as a Colonel in 2015. He lives in San Diego where he is currently the Vice President, Business Operations for Receptos, a wholly owned subsidiary of Celgene Corporation.

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John Farnam

John Farnam

Director

 

Board Of Advisors

Bobby Charles

Advisor

Bobby rejoined The Charles Group, LLC as President in April, 2005 after serving from 2003 to 2005 as Assistant Secretary of State, for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), under Secretaries Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. His tenure in the Bush Administration led to the development of strong international relationships, which reinforce his strong ties with many in Congress and the administration.
Charles founded The Charles Group, LLC in 1999 upon leaving service as Staff Director and Chief Counsel for the National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice Subcommittee (GRO) in the House of Representatives from 1995-1999. Charles also served Subcommittee Chairman J. Dennis Hastert, onetime Speaker of the House, as chief staffer to The Speaker’s Task Force on a Drug Free America from 1997-1999 and as top staffer to the Bi-Partisan Drug Policy Group from 1995-1999. Charles maintains strong ties with House leadership.
A former litigator in New York and Washington, Charles worked at Weil Gotshal & Manges and Kramer Levin between 1988 and 1995, clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and taught both Government Oversight and Cyberlaw at Harvard University Extension School from 1998-2001. In 2000, he was awarded Harvard's prestigious Petra T. Shattuck Award for Excellence in Teaching by the University. In the first Bush administration, Charles served in the White House as Deputy Associate Director, Office of Domestic Policy and served as a temporary appointee in the first-term Reagan White House during three stretches of 1981, '82 and '83.
A regular writer and commentator in print and broadcast media, Charles remains close to many top decision makers in Washington, and formerly penned a column for the Washington Times. He authored Narcotics and Terrorism, a 2004 volume explaining national security and homeland security implications inherent in the worldwide illicit drug trade. He has also authored a number of academic studies and law review pieces. He was a Navy Intelligence Reservist for ten years, and served on active duty at the Pentagon immediately following the September 11th attacks.

Charles received his J.D. from Columbia Law School in New York, M.A. in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University in England, and A.B. from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Raised in Maine, he now lives in Maryland with his wife and two children.

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Bobby Charles

Bobby Charles

Advisor

Dennis Rego

Advisor
rego@aoafallen.org

Dennis is employed as a defense contractor at Peterson, AFB. He is very involved in youth athletic activities. Dennis has been coaching youth sports for the last 13 years and is currently a coach for the Pine Creek High School Boys Lacrosse Team as well a the booster club president. He has conducted fundraising events with the Denver Outlaws and Denver Avalanche. Dennis Rego has organized multiple groups in support of AOAFallen's fundraising goals. He partnered with the Air Force Academy firefighters which resulted in Angels of America's Fallen being selected as the charity for the Guns and Hoses firefighter's vs police softball tournament. Dennis resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Dennis Rego

Dennis Rego

Advisor

Dean Miles

Advisor

Since 1996, Dean has been coaching and facilitating programs for groups and individuals around the country on many organizational, interpersonal and personal topics. With his extensive coaching and training background, Dean has partnered with executives, managers, and front-line employees. Dean's experience in the fields of manufacturing, aerospace, financial services, health care, oil and gas, and non-profits demonstrates his ability to quickly adapt to the unique needs of each industry.

As a keynote speaker, Dean has had the opportunity to influence leaders at the nation's largest pharmaceutical companies, regional leadership conferences and respected international non-profit organizations. He is also a contributing author for a top 20 leadership blog, and has been an expert guest on Effective Leadership Strategies radio program which broadcasts in 50 states and 113 countries. He has trained Fortune 100 companies on topics such as High Risk Termination, Executive Protection, Work Place Violence and Drugs in the Workplace with training from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Dean is a Certified Professional Co-active Coach (CPCC) and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science/Business. He is an active member of the International Coach Federation, Denver Coach Federation and is credentialed through The Coaches Training Institute. He is currently coaching leaders in Asia, South Africa, Egypt, Uganda, Latin America, New Zealand, Europe, and North America.

"I've had the great pleasure of working with Dean over the last 6 months and I strongly believe his services has given great value to our company. Due to his coaching abilities, I have noticed that great things have emerged in our company and has impacted our Safety Culture." - Nicho Arredondo, Health Safety Environment Manager, Precision Drilling

"Dean's insight, enthusiasm, and his light hearted delivery created an atmosphere that challenged people and stimulated growth. As a facilitator he kept my entire company engaged and his follow-up promoted an "always learning" environment." Shane Michelli, CEO/President, Easton Mountain Products (formerly with Evolved Industries)

"Every time I am with Dean, whether it is working together in a corporate setting or climbing a high mountain pass, he provides keen insight into human relations and development. I would strongly recommend utilizing his expertise." Kurt Leander, Assistant to the Chairman, Focus on the Family.

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Dean Miles

Dean Miles

Advisor

Suzi Phillips

Advisor

Suzi Phillips was born and raised outside of Dallas, Texas. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where she earned a degree in American Studies. After years of teaching in the public school system, she and her husband began raising a family. They helped establish a church plant in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where she participated in a two year lay-counseling training program. In 2005 the family relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado when her husband accepted a job in ministry with Focus on the Family. Suzi began homeschooling the children and joined her husband in ministry when possible.</p>
After his sudden death in 2010, Suzi and her three boys began a difficult grief journey, but found that it was filled with the faithfulness of God. Family, friends and church members came alongside them offering help and support as they walked through this valley of grief. After receiving her own grief counseling, she participated in another lay-counseling training program at New Life Church. She later enrolled in a Masters Degree Program in Counseling at Liberty University. Through this trial, she discovered the value of healing in community with other people. Suzi joined the staff of New Life Church in 2012 providing Pastoral Counseling for women. She loves walking with others through life’s trials and testifying to the hope that is found in Christ alone.

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Suzi Phillips

Suzi Phillips

Advisor

Mark Jeffries

Advisor

Mark has served his community as both a volunteer and paid firefighter. He served 22 years in the Air Force and Air National Guard, where he completed two combat tours in the Middle East.
Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, graduating summa cum laude, from Concord University, Athens, WV. After retiring from the Air National Guard,he earned a Juris Doctorate from the West Virginia University College of Law and is now an attorney focusing on Labor and Employment law with Steptoe & Johnson, the largest law firm in West Virginia.

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Mark Jeffries

Mark Jeffries

Advisor

Staff

Shelli Lewis

Program Services
shellilewis@aoafallen.org

Shelli served many years as a teacher in public and private schools before moving into leadership and curriculum development roles. After teaching in diverse environments including aboard a Choctaw Indian Reservation and at an Armenian private school, she served as the Director of Family Child Care for Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort from 1995 to 1998. She served in the same capacity after she transferred to Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL from 1998 to 2001. Since 2003 she has been the company treasurer for a multi-unit residential property company.

Throughout 21 years as a spouse of an active duty service member, Shelli had very direct personal ties with widows who lost their husbands in the service of our country. She has a passion for supporting families who continue to sacrifice long after their loved one has passed.
Shelli earned a B.S. degree in early childhood education from Troy University. She resides in Colorado Springs with her husband and two sons.

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Shelli Lewis

Shelli Lewis

Program Services

Mike Shiels

Chief Operating Officer
mikeshiels@aoafallen.org

Mike served on active duty in the Air Force and Air National Guard as a Navigator aboard B-52, C-130, and RC-26 aircraft for nearly 23 years. He conducted aircraft surveillance operations domestically for the National Guard Counterdrug Program in support of Federal Agencies like the DEA, FBI, Customs, BATF, and US Marshalls, as well as numerous law enforcement agencies. While assigned to the National Guard Bureau in Washington DC, Mike initiated Counterdrug support to the National Gang Intelligence Center. During his time in the military he flew numerous combat missions and culminated his military service as an Operations Officer for a Special Operations Squadron providing airborne surveillance for a Joint Task Force in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Upon retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel he continued to serve his country as a civilian by deploying and directing operations for a contract aircraft surveillance program in Afghanistan in support of the Army’s Task Force ODIN. Following conclusion of that operation, Mike joined L-3 Communications in Texas as a Program Manager and delivered an RC-135S Cobra Ball surveillance aircraft with a new mission system to the Air Force.

Mike has been involved with Angels of America’s Fallen since its inception as a supporter and a volunteer. He recognizes the sacrifice the families of our fallen warriors and first responders have made and wants to make a positive impact on their children. As a husband to his wife Rachael for 25 years, the father of three children, and having experienced the loss of fellow warriors throughout his military career he understands the tremendous loss to those families. Mike is dedicated to creating opportunity for those families who have paid so much for our freedom and safety.

Mike has both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Aeronautical Science Degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has also earned a Master of Business Administration from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. Mike and his family most recently attended Prestonwood Church and he was a member of the 33 Series Life group at Chase Oaks Church in Plano, TX. Mike’s wife Rachael is a volunteer with Angels of America’s Fallen, homeschool’s their youngest daughter Samantha, and is also a cancer survivor. Their daughter Melanie is currently an Au Pair in Sydney, Australia, and son Tyler is a Corporal in the United States Marine Corp stationed at Cherry Point, North Carolina. Mike and his family reside in Colorado Springs.

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Mike Shiels

Mike Shiels

Chief Operating Officer

Joe Lewis

Chief Executive Officer
joelewis@aoafallen.org

Joe served in the military for 25 years from Private to Lieutenant Colonel with 25 combined years as an enlisted Army cannon crewman in a field artillery unit, a Marine Corps fighter pilot flying F/A-18 Hornets, as a flight instructor, and as a transport pilot, and as an Air Force reconnaissance pilot flying the RC-26. He supported local, state, and federal law enforcement including the FBI, DEA, and U.S. Secret Service. He served at the National Guard Bureau in Washington DC as the Counterdrug Aviation Section Chief, Chief of Domestic Operations, and Chief of Federal Operations Programs. He retired as a Lt Col from the Air Force in 2011 after completing his final tour at the United States Customs and Border Protection's Air and Marine Operations Center.

After retirement, Joe founded Angels of America’s Fallen to serve the children of our fallen military, coast guard, and first responders. Having lost friends in each service, and knowing the ages of their children, he recognized a crucial gap in the support being provided to these children who had just lost one of their biggest mentors. With the mentoring of his own sons being his biggest concern if he should not return from one of his missions, he felt the need to reach out and help provide mentoring and developmental opportunities that matched each child’s individual interests and needs. He developed Angels of America’s Fallen as a way to proactively engage the children of our fallen in healthy activities under the guidance of a coach or instructor where they could excel and develop their very own strong sense of self worth. For his efforts engaging children of our fallen in swimming lessons, he was recognized as one of 2016's Ten Most Influential People in the Aquatics Industry, at the Association of Aquatics Professionals Conference.

Joe earned a B.S. in Physical Science with dual minors in Business and Criminal Justice from Troy University. Joe earned a B.S. in Physical Science with dual minors in Business and Criminal Justice from Troy University. He has a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management, and is nearing completion of a Masters of Public Administration and Graduate Certificates in Nonprofit Fund Development and Program Evaluation from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

He resides in Colorado Springs with his wife of over 21 years and two sons. He is a volunteer at New Life Church where he serves the Men’s Group and Military Outreach Programs. Joe is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a member of the American Legion, and a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

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Joe Lewis

Joe Lewis

Chief Executive Officer

Founding

Joe Lewis served in three different branches of the military and lost friends in each service. He also worked extensively with city and state police, FBI, U.S. Secret Service, DEA, Sheriff Departments, and U.S Customs and Border Protection officers. He recognized the risks our military and first responders take serving our country and communities. Joe realized the children of the fallen he knew were always very young at the time of loss, and he worried about what support and guidance the children were receiving when they moved back home without their hero.

Before retiring from active duty, Joe researched and discovered the average age of the children of our fallen at the time of loss was just seven years old. What he had seen typically offered to help these children was college scholarships – a wonderful gesture, but not something that helped during the most crucial developmental time in their life. He knew while he was on active duty if he should not make it home, his greatest concern for his sons was for them to grow up to be strong and healthy young men in his absence. After he retired he knew he was blessed to have made it to be there for his sons, and he felt a strong calling to provide support for the children of his fallen brothers and sisters. He knew there should be specific support for the children of our fallen with guidance and healthy outlets during adolescence, but found there to be a critical gap in support provided to them during this time. Because of this, Joe formed Angels of America’s Fallen, a 501(c)(3) charity, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2012.


Do you want to help?

Then contact us. We look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to our organization as soon as possible!

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