GWOT Memorial Foundation
Brendan Dignan is a Partner at Baker Botts L.L.P. and serves as the Foundation’s legal counsel. In addition to his work with the Foundation, Brendan advises public and private companies, including private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies, in mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, and joint ventures, as well as corporate governance, securities law compliance, and general corporate matters. He was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a Field Artillery Officer in 2001 and served in Germany with the First Infantry Division, deploying to Kosovo (2002) and Iraq (2004-2005) before leaving the Army as a Captain. He has a B.A. and J.D. from the University of Virginia. He and his wife, Emma, live in Washington, D.C.
Upon her marriage to Michael Duskin in 1993, Maggie Duskin became an Army wife, and the Matriarch of a multi-generational Army family. Her journey with the army began when the family was stationed at Fort Benning, GA. Michael was assigned to 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment. After a brief return to civilian life and then a stint with the National Guard, the family decided to return to Army life. Returning to Active Duty meant establishing a new home at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Maggie and Michael settled into their new life. Maggie stayed at home raising three children, pursued her education and supported Michael through his new assignment with the 3rd Special Forces Group and multiple deployments.
In October of 2012, CWO2 Micheal S. Duskin was killed in action while serving his seventh deployment. The course of Maggie’s life changed forever at that moment.
Over the past six years, Maggie has dedicated her time to helping Gold Star Families in the Special Operations Forces (SOF) Community cope with their loss. As a Gold Star Family liaison, she is committed to helping others through the healing process and memorializing the lives of other fallen heroes. Maggie didn’t realize it at the time, but she was also learning first-hand what a military family really needs during this difficult time.
Never a woman who pursued the limelight, Maggie soon found herself in the role of Executive Director of the Duskin and Stephens Foundation, an organization established to honor her husband’s legacy and sacrifice. The Foundation provides direct support to families of fallen operators, healing programs designed to combat the effects of post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and loss of a loved one, as well as education grants for the children of fallen soldiers.
Maggie continues to find the strength within to raise her three children, with the two oldest boys both serving as active duty soldiers.
James Howard (CPT, ret.) grew up in Lynchburg, Va a part of a large military family. Three generations served from WWII through the War on Terror with the 82nd Airborne. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 2002 and commissioned into the Army. He had the privilege of serving in Iraq and completing Ranger, Sapper, Jumpmaster, and Special Forces courses. James medically retired in 2010 after numerous combat and training injuries that left him a quadriplegic in a wheelchair.
He considers his injury as “a blessing by misfortune” which led him to start two all-volunteer non-profits. He is the founder and president of REACHcycles and VAU that has supported thousands of children and veterans with disabilities. James helped design and coordinate the effort to build the VAU traveling fallen heroes dog tag memorial flag (www.VetsAU.com/memorial) which brings awareness of our fallen heroes from GWOT and provides proceeds from its travel to the GWOT Memorial Foundation as well as gold star family organizations.
He also works and volunteers for many other non-profits: SOCOM Care Coalition- mentor, Quality of Life Foundation Family- Case Manager, Christopher Reeve Foundation- Military Veterans Program MVP Coordinator, and Paralyzed Veterans of America-member. He is the proud father to his son Luke and husband to his wife Amanda. James is honored to be a small part of this valuable mission to complete the GWOT memorial in DC.
Lyla graduated in 2001 from Pennsylvania State University and was commissioned through the U.S. Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. She spent two years onboard the U.S.S. ESSEX (LHD 2) in Sasebo, Japan, receiving her Surface Warfare Officer qualification. After her overseas assignment, she transferred to the U.S. Naval Intelligence Community in February 2004. Her three-year intelligence career included current crisis intelligence briefings, project management, and a deployment to Bagram, Afghanistan in 2005 as a Counterterrorism analyst.
As a counter-insurgency intelligence analyst and consultant from 2008 to 2013, she worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, and U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) preparing U.S. and NATO military, law enforcement, and civilian personnel for their South Asia deployments. From 2013-2014, she served as the Cultural Advisor to the Commanding General at the NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan/Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan headquartered in Kabul. Upon returning from the year-long deployment, Lyla began consulting for USSOCOM as a Senior Cultural Advisor and continues to educate military and civilian personnel deploying to Afghanistan. She is also currently the Director of Government Programs/Master Trainer at the Cultural Intelligence Center, a global research and consulting firm focused on diversity and inclusion.
Lyla’s favorite role is as the President/Co-Founder of PROMOTE, a nonprofit focused on accelerating innovation in the Special Operations community through inclusive leadership and mentorship. Her memberships include the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Office of Strategic Services Society, National Association for Female Executives, Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council, and Women in International Security. She is a 2017 fellow at Veterans in Global Leadership, a 2018 Scholar at the George W. Bush Presidential Center Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program, and a 2017-2021 member of the Virginia Board of Veterans Services.
Lyla holds a M.A. from Georgetown University. She is an avid Star Wars aficionado, enjoys international travel, and spends every free moment with her niece and nephews.
Bert and his wonderful wife Lesley are the proud parents of three children. Bert and his family, a family rooted in strength, have been entrenched in the human performance world for as far back as he can remember. Growing up with a barbell in his hand has been pivotal in charting the course of his life and leading him to become a 4-time Division 1 All-American Track and Field (Hammer and 35 lb. Weight Throw), Southeastern Conference Champion, former record holder in Weight Throw, and an Olympic Trials athlete. Bert is currently the President and Co-Owner of Sorinex Exercise Equipment, a very successful family run business founded by his father, another major contributor to the iron game, Richard Sorin. Together they are the inventors of hardware and applications to make people more effective, efficient, and safe on the sports field and the battle field. Although Sorin never served in the arms forces, his gear is changing the game to provide readiness and rebuilding to the veterans prior to, during and after their deployments to far off, hostile lands. Bert’s network of veterans, scientists, coaches and therapists allows for a combination of expertise and support, and has been changing lives on both sides of the table. Bert pushes each day to find the best in people, and to assist in their exploration of their potential and maximize their value to the cause. Bert is beyond honored to be a part of this team and have the ability to use his gifts to serve those who gave this country so much.
Ganpat “Gunner” Wagh is a senior executive leader in cybersecurity capability development and public sector engagement. In his role as a Senior Manager for Law Enforcement Engagement with Amazon, he works closely with law enforcement and public sector entities from across the country. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Tiffin University and the Principal/Owner of GVW Cybersecurity Consulting, LLC.
He retired from the FBI in 2020, with over 20 years of service in multiple FBI field offices and FBIHQ. During his time in the FBI, he completed TDY assignments in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Ganpat enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1987 and later accepted a commission in 1991, leaving active duty in 1999. He and his wife have four children, with two of them currently serving with the US Army.
Jonathan Wiens is the CEO of Warwick Carbon Solutions, a leading developer of energy transition industrial and power projects. An energy executive and manager for over 10 years, Jonathan held various positions, including Chief Operating Officer for Whitney Oil & Gas and Drive Petroleum; along with operations and reservoir positions at Hilcorp Energy. Jonathan served as an Army Officer for over 7 years with tours to Iraq with 1st Cavalry Division and Afghanistan with the 75th Ranger Regiment. Jonathan has a B.S. from the United State Military Academy at West Point and a M.E. in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M University.
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