Sec. Bob McDonald’s push to improve the VA experience for Veterans just got more brain power behind it. The MyVA Advisory Committee, a group of 14 hand-picked experts in business, medicine and Veteran advocacy, met in Washington for the first time to discuss the department’s Veteran-centric initiatives.
“We put together a group of people that care deeply about Veterans,” Sec. McDonald said, “so as you look at that, whether you’re a Veteran, the American public or Congress, you should be excited that they’re using their combined expertise to making VA better.”
During the first public meeting, the group was introduced to each other and briefed on the state of each VA administration by Sec. McDonald and under secretaries Allison Hickey, Carolyn Clancy and Ronald Walters. By the end of the first eight-hour meeting, which included a walk through of the five work streams being tackled by MyVA leadership, big ideas began to surface.
“It’s exciting. I’ve heard at least 10 great ideas so far that can be implemented tomorrow and make a huge difference for Veterans,” said U.S. Air Force Veteran and vice chancellor of Syracuse University Dr. Michael Haynie. “And I think that speaks to the people Bob brought together for this. It’s a diverse group with non-traditional approaches to VA’s issues, and I think you’re going to get solutions fairly quickly.”
Haynie, who was at home when he got the call from Sec. McDonald to join the committee, said he jumped at the opportunity to help his fellow Veterans before the secretary could even finish his pitch.
“There is such a passion and a commitment that already exists within the VA,” he said, “and it’s simply the role of this committee to empower those employees. Ultimately I’d like to see this group help VA be the best it can possibly be in service to the nation’s Veterans.”
Here is a list of the committee members and their bios:
Maj. Gen. Josue “Joe” Robles Jr.
Mr. Robles retired from the U.S. Army as a major general after 28 years in service and joined the United States Automobile Association (USAA), where he assumed the position of president and CEO in December 2007. In 2009, The Christian Science Monitor named Robles the “No. 1 Veteran in Business,” and American Banker named him “Innovator of the Year.” Mr. Robles retired from USAA in February 2015. He will serve as Chairman of the MyVA Advisory Committee.
Teresa Carlson, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Amazon Web Services
Ms. Carlson brings more than 20 years of experience as a business executive driving innovation and change, and producing successful business results. She is a leader in the information technology field. Prior to joining Amazon, she served as vice president of federal government business at Microsoft. She has 15 years of experience in the health care field and was recently named to Washingtonian Magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women,” among other awards.
Herman Bulls, international director and chairman public institutions at Jones Lang LaSalle
Mr. Bulls has vast experience in executive oversight of teams in real estate development, investment management, asset management, facilities operations and business development and retention. He serves on corporate boards including USAA, Tyco International, Comfort Systems and Exelis. Additionally he serves as a director of the West Point Association of Graduates and the Military Bowl, an NCAA sanctioned post season football game. An Army Veteran, Bulls is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and Harvard Business School.
Michael Haynie, Ph.D., vice chancellor of Syracuse University
Dr. Haynie provides strategic leadership within the University’s campus-wide portfolio of Veteran and military-connected programs, partnerships and research – and works to develop new initiatives across the institution. He is an Air Force Veteran and serves as the chairman of the Secretary of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Veteran Employment, Training, and Employer Outreach. Haynie serves as executive director of the University’s Institute for Veterans & Military Families, and he is the founder of Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program. He will service as Vice Chairman of the MyVA Advisory Committee
Richard H. Carmona, M.D., 17th Surgeon General of the United States
Dr. Carmona is a combat decorated and disabled U.S. Army Special Forces Vietnam Veteran. He is currently a distinguished professor at the University of Arizona, holds numerous public and private leadership positions and has extensive experience in public health, clinical sciences, health care management, national preparedness and a commitment to prevention as an effective means to improve public health and reduce health care costs while improving the quality and quantity of life.
Delos “Toby” M. Cosgrove, M.D., CEO and president of the Cleveland Clinic
Dr. Cosgrove has emphasized patient care and patient experience in his leadership of the Cleveland Clinic, including the reorganization of clinical services. Dr. Cosgrove has launched major wellness initiatives for patients, employees and communities. He was ranked in Modern Healthcare’s “100 most powerful people in healthcare” and “most powerful physician executives.” He is a Veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
Laura Herrera, M.D., deputy secretary for public health for the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
Dr. Herrera has served as chief medical officer for Maryland and assisted the secretary of health on implementation of innovative health delivery reform structures in the state system. She served as a medical officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, as national director of Women’s Health and the acting deputy chief officer of patient care services in the VA’s Veterans Health Administration.
Chris Howard, president of Hampden-Sydney College
Mr. Howard currently serves as president of Hampden-Sydney College. In addition, he was nominated and confirmed as a member of the National Security Education Program Board. Howard is a member of the board of directors of the American Council on Education and has served as vice president for leadership & strategic initiatives at the University of Oklahoma. He is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.
Ms. Killefer served as a senior director in the Washington, D.C. office of McKinsey & Company. During her career, Killefer has focused on strategy, marketing and organizational effectiveness and efficiency issues with an emphasis on consumer-based and retail industries. Killefer also founded and led McKinsey’s global public sector practice. She is a former chief financial officer, chief operating officer and assistant secretary for management at the United States Department of the Treasury, and has previously chaired the IRS Oversight Board. Killefer now serves on a number of corporate boards and is the vice chair of the Defense Business Board.
Fred Lee, best-selling author and health care industry expert
Mr. Lee is a nationally recognized expert and consultant in the patient and family experience. He is the author of the best-selling health care leadership book, “If Disney Ran Your Hospital, 9 ½ Things You Would Do Differently.” His career in hospital management and expertise in quality improvement has changed the language of patient satisfaction in hospitals, and introduced experience based improvement to change management and staff engagement.
Eleanor “Connie” Mariano, M.D., founder of the Center for Executive Medicine
Dr. Mariano was the first female director of the White House medical unit and the first military woman to become a White House physician to the President. Dr. Mariano joined Mayo Clinic’s executive health program upon departure from the White House, and has since founded the Center for Executive Medicine. Mariano is a retired Navy Rear Admiral.
Jean Reaves, president of North Carolina AMVETS Service Foundation
Ms. Reaves is a Vietnam-era Veteran who has been a Veteran advocate for more than 20 years. She is a member of AMVETS and several other Veteran service organizations. She is currently president of North Carolina AMVETS Service Foundation. Reaves also served as Veteran liaison for United States Sen. Kay Hagan. She also is the wife and mother of Veterans.
Maria “Lourdes” Tiglao, director of outreach and resource development of The District Communications Group
Ms. Tigalo is a Veteran of the U.S. Air Force and co-founder of the first USAF critical care medical attendant team in the Pacific. Tigalo currently serves as regional communications manager for Team Rubicon, a Veteran disaster response service organization.
Robert E. Wallace, assistant adjutant general and executive director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
Mr. Wallace is a Vietnam Veteran and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of VFW activities in Washington, D.C. Wallace’s VFW service follows a successful career in banking, and positions in New Jersey state government in Veterans Affairs and the Employment and Training commission.
– Reynaldo Leal is a public affairs officer for VA’s office of Digital Media Engagement and member for the VAntage Point’s staff. He is a proud Marine Corps Veteran who deployed to the Al Anbar Province with 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment in 2004 and 2006. He also took part in some of the heaviest fighting during Operation Phantom Fury in 2004.