President Biden Announces Appointments to Air Force and Military Academy Boards

WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden announces his intent to appoint the following individuals to serve in key roles:

  • Jenna Ben-Yehuda, Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Secretary Eric Kenneth Fanning, Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Major General James C. Johnson, USAF (Ret.), Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Dr. Laura Junor-Pulzone, Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Dr. Hila Levy, Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Spurlock, USAF, Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Lieutenant Colonel Roderick “Rico” Alvendia, USA (Ret.), Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Military Academy
  • Susan Christine Irons, Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Military Academy
  • Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick, Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Military Academy
  • Secretary Charles Timothy Hagel, Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Military Academy
  • Juan A. Sabater, Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Military Academy
  • Lieutenant General Nadja Yudith West, USA (Ret.), Member, Board of Visitors to the U.S. Military Academy

The Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy

The Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy advises the Secretary of Defense and the Deputy Secretary of Defense, through the Secretary of the Air Force, and to the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives independent advice and recommendations on the morale, discipline, and social climate, the curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters relating to the Academy that the Board decides to consider. The Board consists of six members appointed by the President for terms of 3 years.

Jenna Hoffman Ben-Yehuda as Member

Jenna Hoffman Ben-Yehuda is the President and CEO of the Truman Center for National Policy and Truman National Security Project. A longtime advocate for gender equity in national security, she is the founder of the Women’s Foreign Policy Network, a global community of women in foreign affairs in over 100 countries. She earned multiple Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards during her twelve years at the US Department of State where she served in a range of intelligence and policy roles in the Western Hemisphere, including serving as Senior Military Advisor to US Northern Command, US Southern Command, and US Special Operations Command. A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future’s Council on US National Security, she holds graduate degrees from the National Intelligence University, and National Defense University and undergraduate degrees from The George Washington University, where she later taught security studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs. She serves on the advisory boards of the Leadership Council for Women in National Security, the Partnership for Public Service, and GLOBSEC.

Secretary Eric Kenneth Fanning as Member

Eric Fanning is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the leading advocacy organization for the aerospace and defense industry with nearly 350 companies in its membership. Fanning joined AIA after serving as the 22nd Secretary of the Army where he provided leadership and oversight of our nation’s largest military service. He previously served as Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense, Acting Secretary of the Air Force and Under Secretary of the Air Force, and Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy/Deputy Chief Management Officer. He is the only person to have held senior appointments in all three military departments and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During his more than 25 years of distinguished government service, Fanning worked on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee, was Senior Vice President of Strategic Development for Business Executives for National Security, was Deputy Director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, and was associate director of political affairs at the White House. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Dartmouth College.

Major General James C. Johnson as Member

James C. Johnson is a senior executive with extensive leadership experience across operations, logistics, talent management, and human resilience. Following 30 years in the United States Air Force, James joined several nonprofit organizations, including Mission Readiness, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and he’s on the Board of Directors for The Flag and General Officer Network. Most recently, he served in the Department of Defense as a Highly Qualified Expert on the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military. As the Chief Executive Officer for Operation Gratitude, James leads a team of professionals and grass-roots volunteers and supporters, with the mission to honor the service of our military and first responders. James holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Puget Sound, a Master of Business Administration degree from Saint Martin’s College, a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, and a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Dr. Laura Junor Pulzone as Member

Laura Junor Pulzone currently serves as the Director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Research at the National Defense University. As Director of INSS, she oversees three research centers and a publishing unit that provide direct analytic support to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Prior to her arrival at NDU, Dr. Pulzone was confirmed as the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. As the Deputy, her responsibilities included all military and civilian personnel policies, the military healthcare system including TRICARE, family support services, the Defense Commissary Agency, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and department policy relating to suicide prevention and sexual assault. Dr. Pulzone previously served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, the Chief of Staff for Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, and as a deputy team leader for readiness at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA).

Dr. Hila Levy as Member

Hila Levy is a White House Fellow in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and in parallel military and civilian careers, has worked in national security, international relations, science, and environmental management on every continent.  As a Major serving in the US Air Force Reserve, Levy is an intelligence and foreign area officer, and has led teams at tactical, operational, and joint headquarters-level assignments in the Republic of Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, Air Force Special Operations Command, and most recently, on the Joint Staff. She is a published scientific researcher, undergraduate educator, translator in six languages, and STEM advocate. In 2020, she advised the federal COVID-19 Joint Acquisition Task Force on viral diagnostics procurement to safeguard public health. Levy received a B.S. as the top graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and holds an M.Phil. from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, M.S. from Johns Hopkins University, and M.St., M.Sc. with Distinction, and D.Phil. from the University of Oxford, where she was the first Rhodes Scholar from Puerto Rico.

Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Spurlock as Member

Wesley Spurlock is an active duty Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force currently assigned to the Department of the Air Force’s innovation arm, AFWERX, in Washington, DC. Prior to his current role, Wes served as a White House Fellow at the International Development Finance Corporation and the Domestic Policy Council. From 2015-2017, he served as the Military Aide to the President of the United States & responsible for the Presidential Emergency Satchel (football). Wes also served as the first commander for the KC-46 Pegasus, and was charged with operationalizing the Air Force’s newest aircraft. He has more than 3,000 flying hours in various Air Force Aircraft and has served multiple overseas deployments, in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom & Unified Protector. Wes received a BS in Civil Engineering from the US Air Force Academy, an MBA from Mississippi State University and a MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Jessica and their daughters Madison & Quinn.

The Board of Visitors to the U.S. Military Academy

The Board of Visitors to the U.S. Military Academy provides independent advice and recommendations to the President of the United States on matters related to morale, discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and any other matters relating to the Academy that the Board decides to consider. The Board consists of six members appointed by the President for terms of 3 years.

Lieutenant Colonel Roderick Alvendia as Member

Roderick “Rico” Alvendia was born and raised in New Orleans, but he attended Jesuit High School in the Philippines when his Father served as a diplomat. He is a 1994 honor graduate of Loyola University in Political Science and a 1998 graduate of Loyola Law School in New Orleans, where in 2008 he was named the Moot Court Distinguished Alumni of the Year. He is the founding partner of the Alvendia, Kelly & Demarest Law Firm in New Orleans. Lieutenant Colonel Alvendia served honorably for 25 years as an Officer in the U.S. Army JAG Corps and deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in 2004 with the 256th Infantry Brigade. In Baghdad, he led a team of international lawyers who successfully prosecuted enemy combatants who conducted fatal attacks on U.S. soldiers and civilians. Alvendia was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service during Combat Operations. Ten years ago, Lieutenant Colonel Alvendia co-founded the Legion of Mars, a Non-profit Veterans Organization, which has assisted thousands of deployed military members and their families throughout Louisiana. He is the proud Father of Noah Alvendia, who is attending the Isidore Newman School in New Orleans.

Secretary Charles Timothy Hagel as Member

Charles “Chuck” Hagel served as the 24th Secretary of Defense from 2013 to 2015. He is the only Vietnam Army veteran and enlisted combat veteran to serve as Secretary of Defense.  He represented the state of Nebraska in the U.S. Senate for two terms from 1997 to 2009. Previously, Secretary Hagel was Co-Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration, a Distinguished Professor at Georgetown University, Chairman of the Atlantic Council, Chairman of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration Advisory Committee, Co-Chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Corporate Council, President and CEO of the USO, The Private Sector Council, and co-founder of Vanguard Cellular Systems, Inc.  He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Susan Irons as Member

Susan Irons graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1989 and was commissioned in the Army as a Signal Corps officer. Shortly after commissioning, she deployed to Saudi Arabia and Iraq in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Susan has continued her service to others and works as a County Veterans Service Officer in South Dakota and as a board member on the South Dakota Board of Military Affairs. Additionally, she has served as an advisor for the West Point Association of Graduates Advisory Council for four years. Three of Susan’s five children are carrying on the Army tradition with a daughter graduating from West Point in 2020 and two that are also currently serving on active duty as enlisted soldiers.

Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick as Member

Leslie T. Fenwick, PhD, is noted for her expertise in leadership and ethics; public policy; and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workforce. She is Dean Emerita of the Howard University School of Education and a tenured professor of leadership studies and education policy. A nationally-recognized scholar, Dr. Fenwick is a former Harvard University Visiting Fellow and Visiting Scholar, and Salzburg Global Fellow. Since 2017, Dr. Fenwick has been engaged at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as a McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character Senior Fellow, the 2019 Corbin Distinguished Lecturer, and the 2017 Black History Month Lecturer. She has delivered hundreds of national and international invited and distinguished lectures on equity, leadership, and ethics to convenings for college/university leaders, elected officials and government agencies, and corporate CEOs and senior leaders. Author of the best-selling book, Jim Crow’s Pink Slip (Harvard Education Press, 2022), Dr. Fenwick earned her PhD at The Ohio State University and her bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia.

Juan A. Sabater as Member

Juan A. Sabater is Co-President and Partner of Valor Equity Partners, a growth focused private equity firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.  Juan also is Co-Chairman of the Board of Augeo Affinity Marketing, which he has helped to build with his business partner. In addition to his Valor and Augeo responsibilities, Juan serves on the Board of Directors of several charitable organizations in New York City, Puerto Rico and nationally. He is the Co-President of the Board of The Hewitt School and sits on the Advisory Boards of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the Princeton University Arts Museum.  He also served as Co-Chair of the University of Chicago Parent and Family Program.  Juan holds an A.B. in History from Princeton University. He studied history at the University of Oxford, Mansfield College and holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School. He is formerly an officer in the United States Army Reserve.

Lieutenant General Nadja Yudith West as Member

Nadja West (USMA ’82) is the 44th Army Surgeon General and the former Commanding General of U.S. Army Medical Command.  A graduate of The George Washington School of Medicine, West completed residencies in Family Medicine and Dermatology and held various clinical, operational and leadership positions throughout her over 30-year career as a soldier. West serves on several non-profit, public and private boards. She is also a trustee of Mount St. Mary’s University.

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