Board of Directors – Executive Committee
Andrew “Andy” Wirth assumed the role on SOS Board Chairman in Feb of 2019. Andy has worked in the mountain resort and hotel industry for the last several decades. He is the former President and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski and Alpine Meadows ski resorts in Olympic Valley, CA.
Wirth has worked in the mountain resort and hotel industry for 25 years. He began his career with Steamboat Springs Resort in 1986 and served several different marketing and leadership positions at the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation.
Wirth is a recipient of multiple community services and professional awards including the Chairman’s Outstanding Service Award from the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority Board of Trustees, Steamboat Springs Business Leader of the Year Award and made the HSMAI Top 25 Minds in Hospitality and Travel Sales and Marketing list. In 2014, he was recognized as Citizen of the Year by Disabled Sports USA and received the Community Five Award.
In October 2013, Wirth’s right arm was torn off and surgically reattached, as a result of a skydiving accident in Lodi, California. Steamboat Today chronicled his accident and recovery and his connection with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. It was his connection to the Special Operations community through his healing journey that helped him grow strong bonds with the SOF community and ultimately led him to Special Ops Survivors.
Neal Keohane joined the Board in 2014 bringing an extensive business and volunteer background that includes several years previously serving with Special Ops Survivors (then United Warrior Survivor Foundation). Neal’s business experience was with the Wall Street firms of Merrill Lynch and later Morgan Stanley, where he held the position of 1st Vice President of Investments, followed by a business development role with an international trading company. Over the past ten plus years Neal has dedicated his time and energies to volunteer work with youth including special needs students and as a high school coach. Most recently, he worked for five years as a Resource Counselor for BAMSI, a non-profit community service agency in Brockton, Massachusetts. Neal resides in Arlington, VA with his wife Xing.
Dr. Bert Wilmer received both his undergraduate degree in Economics in 1978 and his Doctorate of Dental Surgery in 1982 from the University of North Carolina. He served active duty in the Navy from 1982 to 1985 and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal. He remained in the Reserves for 5 years while starting his private practice in Denver, NC. Bert and his wife, Laura, have been married 36 years and have one son who served 6 years in the Army as an artillery officer. After their son returned from his two deployments, Bert and Laura began funding a fishing trip for soldiers returning from deployment. The trips are hosted by Hank Parker, a professional bass fisherman, and featured on his tv show every year. Through their interaction with these soldiers, some of whom are a part of Special Ops Survivors Outdoor TEAM, Bert and Laura learned about Special Ops Survivors. Bert and Laura reside in Stanley, NC.
Board Secretary / Legal
Ms. Amanda Gordon provides independent consulting services and owns a small business based in Alexandria VA. She previously spent 20 years advising on transnational and other matters, working with the financial services industry and for the US Government. Amanda has a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in History from Trinity College and a Joint Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from Boston College.
Ms. Laura Lapeze serves on Special Ops Survivors Financial Stewardship Commitee utilizing her vast experience as the Chief Financial Officer for the Treasury of the State of Louisianna. She plans, directs and administers the State of Louisianas cash and fiscal management system. Additionally, she directs the receipt, custody, investment accounting, and disbursement of public funds, currently estimated to be$7.1 billion, for the State and oversees the States major local government distribution programs. It is these unique skills that make her such a valued assest to the Special Ops Survivors Board.
Kathy serves as our Programs Chairman helping to ensure that the programs and services we provide are meeting the needs of the population we serve. Kathy has a vast knowledge of Survivor and Grief based on her personal tragedy of the loss of her own hero, Navy SEAL Michael Koch, and her training in grief support for the US Naval Special Warfare community. She has volunteered and served as a NSW Ombudsman when her current husband was Active Duty. Now she serves as the Commands’ Gold Star Co-Ombudsman with Christina Valentine. She also Co-Lead a Military Wives Bible Study at Spring Branch Community Church. Kathy has been a Realtor for the past 15 years. Kathy and her mother are the Inglis /Howell team and rank as one of the top selling teams in Hampton Roads. Prior to that, she was in Retail Management for 15 years. Kathy embodies the Special Ops Survivors ethos and has done an amazing job of turning her tragedy into triumph and putting her unique skills to great work in serving her fellow Survivors.
Justin O’Connor recently joined the Board in 2018 bringing years of both business and volunteer experience with him. Over the past two decades, Justin has held several board positions as well as participated as a donor/volunteer with several foundations & associations within the Special Operations Community most recently serving on the board of Word of Honor Foundation as well as other civic non-profits. Justin’s business experience was with the Wall Street firms of Lehman Brothers & Thomson Financial, where he held the position Senior Vice President of Sales, followed by a partnership role with an international conferencing company. In 2004 Justin created NNE LLC a company dedicated to producing events/conferences within the wealth management, healthcare, human resources, economic development, gaming, construction, leadership and security industries. Justin studied Finance with a minor in Economics at Ramapo College of NJ. He has two grown children Jaclyn 24 and Dan 21 as well as two Belgian Malinois, Shooter and Brody. Less than two years ago Justin decided to relocate to Virginia Beach from NY/NJ to live on the beach but more importantly, it allows him more time and opportunity to give back to the Special Operations Community.
Charles H. (Chuck) Steedman has been with AEG since June of 2008, and since July of 2018 has served as AEG Facilities LLC Chief Operating & Development Officer, overseeing the company’s day-to-day operations of stadia, arenas and convention centers around the globe. He directly manages the Company’s financial, content development, operational, commercial and human resources divisions and plays a significant role in business development domestically and abroad. He also is responsible for driving innovation both corporately at AEG and with the respective venues globally. From March 2014 to June 2018, he served as the Company’s Chief Operating Officer.
Steedman is a member of The Anschutz Companies Data Steering Committee and has been driving the Company’s advancement in Big Data focusing on the creation of business intelligence and analytics surrounding customer acquisition and retention. In addition, he serves as a member of AEG’s Operating, Cyber Security Risk Management and Technology Governance committees.
Upon joining AEG, Steedman served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of AEG Connecticut LLC until 2013. In that role, he was responsible for overseeing all business activities of the 16,200-seat XL Center (formerly the Hartford Civic Center) and the management for 40,000-seat Rentschler Field. Steedman also lead business management of the Hartford Wolf Pack / Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League, the New York Rangers’ top minor league affiliate. Chuck has a huge heart for Special Operations families and this position gives him the opportunity to give back to the Special Operations Community.
Co-Founder, Past President, Board Member
Eric Knirk is an industrial real estate agent for Fremont Development Company in Los Angeles. Eric was introduced to Special Ops Survivors when he walked into McPs Irish Pub in Coronado in 2003 and saw a flyer for the first fundraiser a few weeks prior and contacted Nick Rocha. After several conversations, Eric convinces Nick to start a non-profit for the families of fallen SOF. Eric served as the first Vice President and served as the Board President while Nick Rocha deployed for six months at a time from 2006-2012.
Eric went to Arcadia High School and graduated from Long Beach State, and University of California Irvine. Eric still works as a Partner at Fremont Associates/Fremont Development and Owner, EKCO INDUSTRIAL PROPERTIES, INC. Eric has been married to his lovely wife Julie for over 25years and has three beautiful children Blake, Brook, and Baily. The Knirk family is proud to call Oregon home!
Vice President - Operational Excellence Spartan Race Inc
Upon retirement Rob served as a Managing Partner in a consultancy firm and currently is the Vice President of Operational Excellence at Spartan Race.
Colonel (Ret.) Edward “Tim” Nye
Colonel Tim Nye retired on December 1, 2013, as the Director, Special Operations Public Affairs, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, FL after 32.5 years of combined Marine enlisted and Army commissioned service. In retirement, Nye consults with Spartan Race, Global Special Operations Foundation, and a number of military-focused charities. Nye also contributes interviews and analysis to Spartan’s weekly podcast SpartanUpPodcast. During his career, Nye served in various units including the 75th Ranger Regiment, 7th Special Forces Grp, Joint Special Operations Command, US Army Special Operations Command, and the US Special Operations Command. Nye holds a Masters of Military Arts and Science and a Masters of Strategic Studies. He is married to Dr. Carla Nye, VCU and he has two children, Rachel Hildreth with the U.S. State Department and U.S. Army Captain Ryan Nye, 3rd Special Forces Grp. Nye joined the Special Ops Survivors Board of Directors in 2017 and now serves on the SOS Advisory Council.