WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden appointed the following members to the board of governors of United Service Organizations (USO) Inc., a non-profit, charitable corporation that provides live entertainment to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families:
- Gil Kerlikowske of South Carolina
- Ginger Miller of New York
- Chief Master Sergeant Manuel Piñeiro, USAF (Ret) of Maryland
- Rebekah Gleaves Sanderlin of Florida
- Major General Francis D. Vavala, ARNG (Ret) of Delaware
- Mary A. Winnefeld of Virginia
USO has 250 centers across the world on every continent, operated by thousands of staff and volunteers who strive to match our service members’ dedication, and to uphold our nation’s sacred obligation to support those who sacrifice so much for America.
Gil Kerlikowske has a long and distinguished career in public service. He enlisted in the Army in 1970 in the Military Police and served on active duty until 1972 and continued for an additional one-year period in the Army Reserves. He joined the St. Petersburg Police Department in 1972 and served in command positions for fifteen years while the GI Bill put him through undergraduate and graduate degrees in Criminal Justice at the University of South Florida (Tampa).
He has served as a police chief in four cities including Buffalo (1994 – 1998) and Seattle (2000 -2009). He was nominated and confirmed as the Director for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (2009 – 2014), a cabinet-level position, and later served as the only confirmed Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (2014 – 2017). Mr. Kerlikowske was a resident fellow at the Institute of Politics, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (2017) and is currently a non-resident fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Rice University.
Ginger Miller is the daughter of immigrants, a native New Yorker, and a formerly homeless service-disabled Navy veteran who turned her passion into purpose and became a White House Champion of Change for Women Veterans and the President and CEO of the Women Veterans Interactive (WVI). WVI enables and empowers women veterans to attain the support and resources needed to achieve post-military success.
Ms. Miller currently serves as an Advisory Board Member at Northwest Federal Credit Union and previously served on the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as the Chairwoman of the Prince George’s County Veterans Commission, Commissioner on the Maryland Commission for Women and as a member of the Maryland Caregivers Coordinating Council.
Chief Master Sergeant Manuel Piñeiro
Manuel Piñeiro currently serves as an Impact Coach for Impact Human Performance (IHP), with a focus on elevating human performance and bringing out the best in people. He also delivers leadership development for premier organizations Piñeiro is a 32-year veteran who served in the highest enlisted position as the First Sergeant Special Duty Manager for the United States Air Force. In this position, he was responsible for establishing guidance, policy and management of more than 2,700 Regular Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve first sergeants. He also served as the primary advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force, CSAF, CMSAF and First Sergeant Academy for training curriculum, which established wartime mission roles, responsibilities and utilization that impacted nearly 600K airmen and their families around the world He has deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield and Storm, as well as Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Piñeiro has delivered over 200 keynote addresses to audiences of all sizes throughout the world. As the first enlisted senior non-commissioned officer to be selected to work for the Undersecretary of International Affairs, he established policy and strategy to promote professional military education with host nations that solidified their ability to develop, grow and attain leadership philosophies that connect to our mutual endeavors.
He earned a Bachelor of Science in Workforce Education and Development from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He is also responsible for the inception of the Joint Service Professional Military Education Experience at the DoD National Defense University.
Rebekah Gleaves Sanderlin, Presidentially Appointed Member
Rebekah Sanderlin is a communications professional and a long-time military spouse and military family advocate. She began her career as a print journalist and has written for many regional and national publications, including Military.com, where she wrote a weekly column for military parents.
Marriage to a soldier in 2003 exposed Ms. Sanderlin firsthand to the challenges faced by service members and military families. As a result, she began volunteering with the U.S. Army’s military family support efforts and helped start the national military family support organizations, Blue Star Families and the Military Family Advisory Network. Because of her volunteer work, Ms. Sanderlin was a top 5 finalist for Army Spouse of the Year in 2012, received the Col. Maggie Raye Volunteer Award in 2020, and worked closely with Joining Forces throughout the Obama-Biden Administration. Now working primarily as a marketing strategist while pursuing creative writing opportunities in print and film, Ms. Sanderlin lives her recently retired husband and their three children in Virginia Beach, VA.
Major General Francis D. Vavala
Francis D. (Frank) Vavala, Major General, U.S, Army (Retired) combined service time spanned 50 years. He enlisted, as a Private in 1967 serving three years enlisted, attaining the rank of Sergeant and then attended officer candidate school and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1970 and retired as a Major General in February 2017, serving his last 18 years as the Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard.
He commanded at the Platoon, Company, Battalion and Brigade levels and was promoted to Brigadier General, as the Assistant Adjutant General of the Delaware Army National Guard in 1995. He was subsequently promoted to Major General, as the Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard in 1999. Prior to his retirement, he was promoted to Lieutenant General (State) and General (State), by Governor’s Markell and Carney respectively, making him the only Delawarean to achieve this honor.
While serving as Adjutant General, he held prominent national positions as President of the Adjutants General Association of the United States and Chairman of the Board of the National Guard Association of the United States. He currently serves on numerous boards, committees, and commissions at both the national and state level and is the Veteran’s Advocacy Specialist for the Delaware Technical and Community College. He resides in Wilmington, Delaware with his wife of 54 years, Jane; they have three children and three grandchildren.
Mary A. Winnefeld
Mary A. Winnefeld is the co-founder of the S.A.F.E. Project, a non-profit organization working through a collaborative, multi-pronged and non-partisan approach to end our country’s catastrophic substance use and overdose epidemic. Ms. Winnefeld currently serves on the board of directors for the Cohen Veterans Network, Stanford University’s CRAFT Adaptation Council, Easter Seals DC MD VA Advisory Board; she is also an ambassador for the Tragedy Assistance for Survivors. She previously served as an advisory board member for Walmart’s Opioid/Substance Use Advisory Board, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and USO Metropolitan Washington. Ms. Winnefeld is the recipient of both the Department of Defense and Department of the Navy Meritorious Public Service Award and received the USO Distinguished Service Award. Through her personal experience as a military spouse and mother, Ms. Winnefeld has a keen awareness of the hardships that impact military families has been a dedicated advocate to them for more than thirty years.
Prior to dedicating her life to the S.A.F.E. mission and advocating for military and veteran families, Ms. Winnefeld was employed by Leidos/SAIC for 19 years as a program manager for NATO as well as a serving on their Ethics Board.