Veteran Launch Advisory Board Chair
A Main Street Launch board member, Jim offers both entrepreneurial startup and P&L experience in global corporations, to include serving on the boards of publicly-traded companies and three decades of serving as a volunteer and board member of nonprofit organizations. In all his endeavors, Jim continues to apply and build on leadership skills gained as a Marine Corps NCO and officer. Educated at MIT, Jim’s corporate experience includes GM’s Packard Electric Division and PepsiCo. Since 1988, Jim has worked in entrepreneurial ventures, initially building a management and organization development consultancy to help Fortune 500 companies improve their labor and capital productivity, later helping clients to source and integrate disruptive technologies from innovative small firms. For ten years, Jim, his wife Linda and their partners owned and managed a Pizza Hut franchise, with nineteen restaurants in Brazil.
Jim also serves as Chairman of the National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. (REBOOT), a nonprofit recognized by the White House in 2010 as Champions of Change. As a member of The Rosie Network’s advisory board, he helps to provide entrepreneurship education and mentorship to veteran- and military spouse-owned companies across the U.S.
Founder and CEO of The Rosie Network, Stephanie is a member of the DoD Office of the Assistant Secretary, Spouse Ambassador Network and a founding affiliate partner of the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business (CVOB) with other founding companies Disney, USAA, Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon and American Express, among others. CVOB’s mission is to promote the growth of veteran-owned businesses across the U.S. Towards that end, The Rosie Network’s signature Service2CEO initiative is a 12-month individualized career, entrepreneurship and financial literacy training program for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses.
Stephanie has appeared on FOX News and CBS, and been featured in The New York Times, U.S. Veterans magazine, Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, and Military Spouse magazine. Among her awards, Stephanie has been recognized as the 2018 SBA Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year, 2017 HillVets 100 Award by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and the 2017 Ten Most Influential Military Spouse Business Owners. The Rosie Network also publishes Military Entrepreneur Magazine, approved by DoD for distribution on every U.S. military base.
Stephanie is the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, spouse of retired Rear Admiral Thomas L. Brown (SEAL) and mother of two boys. She has received numerous awards during her husband’s military career, including the Department of the Army Commanders Award for Civilian Service.
Claude Burns is an Oakland-based serial food and beverage entrepreneur whose companies have been featured in Fortune, Food and Wine, Urban Daddy, and Liquid Bread. Now as CEO of Office Libations, a corporate refreshment service, and Ale Tales, a specialty bottle shop with multiple locations, Claude currently employs 15 people who have grown the enterprise 100% YoY since its founding in 2014.
Graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in Physics and a French minor, Claude served on board aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. After deployment, he led a division of over 30 sailors and numerous civilians to complete a nine-month shipyard refurbishment and communications systems upgrade. Thereafter, Claude served as Deputy CIO at the Center for SEAL and SWCC, a command focused on professional development and selection of Navy SEALs and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen.
Following release from active duty, Claude earned his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he focused on entrepreneurship and launched his first company, Noble Brewer, a subscription/e-commerce beer brand that featured award-winning homebrewers and their beers. Claude serves as the San Francisco Bay Area City Leader for Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit supporting veteran entrepreneurs.
Spanning both public and private sectors, Ms. Davies has a depth of experience in business development, sales strategy, client advocacy, and operations management, driving results and strengthening customer loyalty. Teresa served most recently as Head of Department, Program Development & Implementation for DNV GL, a global energy and sustainability consultancy.
As Senior Manager of Local Customer Experience at Pacific Gas and Electric Company, she also served as Division Manager and local leader for Silicon Valley, achieving annual energy savings goals while addressing myriad other needs of over a million customers. Previously, Ms. Davies was Director of Utility Sales and Account Management at Ecova, Inc., improving the company’s performance in both revenue and customer satisfaction throughout the Midwest.
Teresa spent almost a decade working for San Diego Gas & Electric in the areas of Energy Efficiency, and Electric and Gas Distribution design and construction. A Navy veteran, and former national board member of The Elite SDVOB Network, Teresa led efforts to qualify, recruit and expand service-disabled, veteran-owned businesses across the country. She holds a dual Bachelor’s degree in Business Management & Marketing, and is pursuing her master’s degree at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Providing visionary leadership coupled with developing her team to achieve extraordinary results has been the hallmark of her career.
Karen Drosky is VP of Human Resources at SoFi. She has 20 years of broad experience in human resources, including talent acquisition, organization development, business partnership and executive coaching. She joined SoFi in July 2015. Prior to joining SoFi, she held human resources management positions at Logitech, Yahoo, Intuit and the University of Minnesota. She also served in the United States Army as a Japanese linguist.
Karen has a B.A. in Japanese Language and Literature with an emphasis in Industry Relations from the University of Minnesota. She also studied at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California.
Since his retirement, Major General Jim H. Keffer has started his own small business consultancy. He brings his tremendous leadership, small business experience and desire to help veterans to Veteran Launch. General Keffer retired in November 2015 as the Chief of Staff, U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) where he served as the command’s principal staff officer, assistant, and adviser to the Commander. As the Chief of Staff, he directed and coordinated the staff directorates, comprising over 900 personnel, with the mission of directing the operations and defense of specified DoD networks and, when directed, conducting full spectrum military cyberspace operations to ensure U.S./allied freedom of action in cyberspace while denying the same to our adversaries. General Keffer has served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance at Headquarters U.S. Air Force; Deputy Director for Intelligence, Multi-National Forces Iraq in Baghdad; Senior Military Assistant for the DoD Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and Air Attaché to Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia. His career spans widely across signals, imagery and human intelligence operations and analysis at the tactical, operational and strategic levels. He also served as the Commander, Air Force Intelligence Analysis Agency. General Keffer has commanded at the squadron, group, wing and agency levels with the largest unit being a 7000-person worldwide intelligence and cyberspace wing where he was recognized as an “Honorary Chief Master Sergeant.” He served as the Deputy Chief of the Central Security Service (aka the “military part” of the National Security Agency) overseeing 15,000 joint military members conducting global cryptologic and cyberspace operations and reporting directly to the Director of the National Security Agency.
Bob Leet is Vice Chair of Presidio Bank, located in San Francisco. Beginning at Wells Fargo Bank in 1964, his commercial banking career spans over 50 years. Bob has served in numerous domestic and international capacities in his banking career, including as CEO for two San Francisco-headquartered community banks. Before beginning his career in banking, Bob spent six years on active duty in the navy as a Naval Aviation Officer and resigned as Lieutenant Commander. He has served as a member of many boards of both banks and local nonprofit organizations.
Mr. Malone is an experienced senior software executive who has specialized in managing and growing leading edge technology companies. Previously CEO of Gryphon Software Corporation and COO of Stellcom Technologies, he is also founding President of the San Diego Software Industry Council.
Since 1999 Mike has been assisting venture capitalists and angel investors in several San Diego technology companies by providing management expertise to founders and entrepreneurs. A Vistage Chair since 2005, he coaches around 36 CEOs and executives today.
His experience also includes 2 years in senior management at Aldus Corporation, a $400 million public company that created desktop publishing, where he was responsible for the San Diego (Silicon Beach Software) subsidiary. Mr. Malone managed the transition and integration of Silicon Beach Software with Aldus Corporation after acquisition.
In 2003 Mike was called to active duty as a Marine Battalion Commander in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was activated again in 2006 to serve as Chief of Staff, 1st Marine Logistics Group at Camp Pendleton. After 41 years, he retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 2011 as a colonel.
Mr. Malone spent 8 years with Coopers & Lybrand. He is a CPA and has a Bachelor’s in Business Administration (Public Accounting) from Gonzaga University and a juris doctor from Gonzaga School of Law.
Jacob started Veteran Launch inspired in part by earlier work in veteran entrepreneurship by Alexsis de Raadt St James, a Bay Area philanthropist and venture capitalist. Jacob’s father, a merchant marine at the beginning of WW2, became a diesel engineer in the Navy and served in the South Pacific. He met Jacob’s mother at a USO event in San Diego, where he was ultimately discharged in 1946 and subsequently bought a home for his young family under the GI Bill, and where he started his first small business. His brother later served as an electrician in the Navy during the Vietnam war, and Jacob’s father in law, Jay Leopold, was an Army psychiatrist in Korea. Jacob is President & CEO of Main Street Launch (formerly OBDC Small Business Finance), a leading CDFI small business lender to veterans. His career spans key roles in real estate development, venture finance, small business, and economic development. Jacob holds a Ph.D. in Community Studies from Union Institute, an M.B.A. from Claremont Graduate School’s Drucker – Ito School of Management.
Chris Starling retired from the Marine Corps as a Colonel with 26 years of service as an infantry officer, completing ten overseas deployments including three combat tours. His post retirement work has been focused on the veteran community. Currently he is the Executive Director, NPower California, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission of creating pathways to economic prosperity by launching digital careers for military veterans and young adults from under-served communities.
While on active duty, Chris commanded the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines in Camp Lejeune, NC, and the 23rd Marine Regiment in San Bruno, CA. His staff assignments included instructor duty at the US Military Academy, West Point, NY; Chief of the Partnership Division at US Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany; and the senior US Military Advisor to the Emirati Presidential Guard in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Chris earned his BA in Modern Languages from the Virginia Military Institute and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the City University of New York. Additionally, he spent one year as a Hoover Fellow at Stanford University where he wrote about China’s expanding influence in Africa.