As Veterans serving Veterans, we amplify the voices of all Servicemembers. We are committed to nonpartisan research, engagement, and policy implementation in our efforts to support all institutions that meet the needs of Student Veterans. Our mission is to highlight innovation across the spectrum of higher education. Learn how we do that!

Meet the Team

Stephen Patterson
Communications

Handling all things Communications, Steve covers down on all press inquiries and releases, creates and hosts the Coffee with Congress Podcast as well as manages all content creation.

Donald Franklin
Policy/Legislation

Donald gives policy recommendations and gives Student Veterans a voice on the Hill. He and Sarah produce all of our white papers, written testimony, and research.

Ryan

Ryan Deal
Digital Media & Strategy

Ryan is our online communications and strategy expert. Working closely with Steve, Ryan takes care of everything you’ve seen online and works behind the scenes on various projects. Ryan also produces all of our video content and media.

Leah Kliegman
Social Media

Leah works closely with Ryan to build our network online and connect with users on social media, sharing the important work we do and the stories of those we do it for. 

Sarah Doerrer
Dr. Sarah M. Doerrer, Ed.D. 

Research/Legislation 

Sarah helps translate research and data into compelling, actionable recommendations. She and Donald work on all of our white papers, written testimony, and research.

Daniel Elkins
Advisory Board Chairman

As an actively serving Green Beret, Daniel leads and directs VEP to ensure we’re always putting the needs of former and currently serving men and women (and their families!) of the military above all else.

Elle Ross, Esq.
Board of Advisors

A former Attorney for the Army Judge Advocate General, Legislative Counsel and manager for the National Guard Association, and a currently licensed Attorney and Judge Advocate in the Army Reserves.

Vincent B. Holman Sr.
Board of Advisors

Currently serving as the Ministry of Defense Advisor to the US Embassy Kyiv, the Director of Staff for US Army Medical Command and previously was the Director of Staff for the office of the Surgeon General.

Deputy Secretary, James Byrne 

Board of Advisors

Having previously served as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and as Acting Deputy Secretary, James’ experience in the VA and working with Veterans is both impressive and extremely valuable.

Ben Brink

Board of Advisors 

As a retired U.S. Navy Captain with 36 years active and reserve service, Ben’s focus is now in higher education. He is currently Senior Director Military Campus Operations for thirty campuses at Webster University.

 

Ashley Gorbulja-Maldonado 

Board of Advisors 

As a powerful voice for the military-connected community, Ashley has dedicated her career to expanding opportunities and improving outcomes for non-traditional students in higher education.

Curtis Coy
Curt Coy

Board of Advisors 

As the first Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity in the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Curt brings his vast experience with Veteran issues to the VEP team.

Garrett FitzGerald

Board of Advisors 

With over a decade of military-related higher education experience, Garrett has worked to create CollegeRecon, the premier non-predatory, secure resource for colleges to engage with military-connected men and women.