MEET OUR TEAM
MRs. Michelle Mallin, Executive Director
Michelle Mallin is the owner and principal of MGM Solutions, a nonprofit consulting firm in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. She is a lifelong volunteer for a variety of causes and has worked professionally in the nonprofit world for the last 10 years with a focus on the military and first-responder communities. Michelle used her background in marketing, technology, publishing, and event planning, to form a freelance marketing and public relations firm. She has developed a vast network of charities and contacts that allow her to regularly find solutions for veterans and organizations in need. She has also been involved in the formation of multiple non-profit organizations, including Honor Bell Foundation. Michelle’s father and stepfather are both US Army veterans; one, a recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and the other a decorated New York City police officer. Each instilled in her a deep respect for those who serve our nation and our neighborhoods. She and her colleagues strive daily to “honor and respect, those who serve and protect.” Michelle is a cum laude graduate of the State University of New York University Center at Albany and completed the M.S. program in Publishing at Pace University.
MR. TRACY TURNER, DIRECTOR OF BELL HONORS
Tracy Turner served in the US Navy and Navy Reserves for over twenty years, starting on the USS Acadia, a Destroyer Tender, from 1980–84. He finished his service on the Acadia as the Captain’s Coxswain. Later, Turner joined the reserves, serving with Special Boat Unit Eleven, working closely with Seal Team One. Fifteen years after finishing his first Reserve service, Turner re-joined the Reserves in 2006. He was deployed three times with Inshore Boat Unit Thirteen as an Expeditionary Warfare Specialist. For the final four years of his Reserve service he served on the Navy’s Funeral Detail in Denver, performing over 1,100 missions for his fellow service members. Turner retired from the Navy in mid-2018 after 24 years of service.
MR. ALAN BUCKNAM, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
Alan Bucknam is the owner and principal of Notchcode Creative, a visual communications studio in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He has over two decades' experience in graphic design, branding, and integrated marketing. Graduating with a BFA in photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 1993, his background includes work in small boutique design studios and at a large private university. Since opening Notchcode in 1999, he has created award-winning campaigns for local and national clients in the nonprofit, small business, corporate, and government sectors. Keeping the user experience focused on clients' messages and branding points is his specialty, along with exploring ways to innovate new brand experiences and points of contact for clients and their markets. In addition to the big picture, Alan’s clients are always impressed with his creativity, his detail-oriented approach, and his research-based process. While he has not served, his family includes a long tradition of military service from the Spanish-American War through Operation Iraqi Freedom; he is humbled by the opportunity to help honor our country’s service members.
MR. LOUIS OLIVERA, FOUNDER
Louis Olivera was the Founder and first Executive Director of the Honor Bell Foundation. Louis was a former U.S. Army Ranger and was critically wounded during the 1989 invasion of Panama, where he received the Purple Heart Medal while spearheading the nighttime combat parachute jump into Rio Hato. As a United States Army retiree, he worked in the business and program management sector for nearly 25 years. As a U.S. Department of the Army civilian he served for nearly half a decade as the deputy program manager for a multimillion dollar technology program. Louis went on to build startups in the business management, marketing, and financial sectors. He was also a former Service Officer and Chaplin for the Department of Colorado, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and served as Senior-Vice Commander of Chapter 1041, Military Order of the Purple Heart. Louis graduated from the University of Colorado Masters Program in Entrepreneurship.
In 2014, Lou had a vision to forge an instrument that would be used to honor veterans at their passing. In June of that year, he created the Honor Bell Foundation. Leading a small but passionate team, he oversaw the creation of the country’s first bell designed specifically for that purpose. The Honor Bell was cast in May of 2016 and dedicated on Memorial Day at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
Lou passed away on July 12, 2018. Lou’s service, kindness, generosity, and passion for supporting veterans touched many people and he will be incredibly missed. He leaves behind a loving wife and daughter, his nine siblings, countless friends, and fellow veterans. The mission of the Honor Bell will continue as his legacy.
Board of Directors
MRS. HEIDI OLIVERA – CHAIRWOMAN
Wheat Ridge, CO
Heidi Olivera is the Federal Proposal Manager for Stell Environmental Enterprises, Inc. Stell Environmental is a national award-winning woman-owned environmental consulting firm specializing in compliance and remediation. She brings more than 20 years' experience managing administrative functions for government, private, and nonprofit organizations. For more than 13 years, she worked for the U.S. Army Materiel Command; during this time, she managed daily and strategic functions of the Commanding General and staff of a $750 million national research and development center. Heidi is a dedicated volunteer in community, school, and nonprofit causes. She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in chemical engineering.
MR. MATTHEW LUOMA – TREASURER
Matt Luoma is a CPA with over 35 years of experience in the financial services industry, most recently with Red Rocks Capital, a Registered Investment Adviser which specializes in Listed Private Equity investments. While at Red Rocks Capital, Matt was the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief compliance Officer. Prior to that Matt was the Vice President of Taxation for Janus Capital Group. Prior to that, he provided tax and accounting services for a variety of clients while with Ernst & Young. Matt has a M.S. of Taxation from the University of Denver and a B.B.A. from the College of William & Mary. He is a CPA and a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Colorado Society of CPAs. He has served as the Treasurer of other nonprofit foundations.
MRS. ERICA SHIELDS, MPH, PhD – SECRETARY
Erica is a public health professional with over 30 years of experience in health education and public health from drug and alcohol prevention to resiliency and holistic wellness. She currently works as a health and fitness advisor at Wind Crest residential living center in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Erica was the reigning Mrs. Colorado America in 2016 where she was and continues to be actively involved with our active-duty and retired military service men and women. Erica’s passion for the military stems from her deep love for her father who served over 20 years as Chief Warrant Officer in the United States Navy. To honor his memory, Erica has dedicated her time to serving and honoring our community and our veterans. Erica is a member of VFW Post 1 and an avid supporter of the Colorado Patriot Guard and was actively involved in Honor Flight Northern Colorado; she is a steering committee member for Wreaths Across America at Fort Logan National Cemetery and is a member of the Littleton Rotary club where she oversees club involvement in military and veteran’s affairs. Erica also volunteers with Team Rubicon and the Volunteers of America veterans’ programs including Soldier’s Angels and Socks for Vets providing socks and other items of need to homeless veterans. She also works closely with the Redistribution Center and Warrior Warehouse at Fort Carson providing food and supplies to our active-duty and gold star military families, and continues to look for opportunities to serve our veterans and their families through education, promotion, and service.
MRS. CELESTE THURMAN ARCHER – BOARD MEMBER
Celeste has been a secondary and post-secondary educator for over 20 years during which time she has taught at urban schools and universities in Houston, Denver and at historic Little Rock Central High School. While teaching in Denver, she wrote curriculum for classes that continue to be taught by teachers in the Denver Public School system - Honors World Religions and American Contemporary Issues. Celeste also serves as Director for Colorado’s National History Day program at CU Denver. Working with over 15,000 students and teachers, Celeste is given an opportunity to be a part of classrooms across the state. The program also provides a graduate level class for Colorado teachers, for which Celeste was appointed faculty. Celeste received a B.A. in History from Principia College and a M.A. in Secondary Education, specializing in urban students, from The University of Texas.
MRS. KAYLA GABEHART – BOARD MEMBER
Kayla is a Colorado Native and grew up on the Eastern Plains. She earned BA degrees in psychology and history, as well as an MA in environmental and economic history from the University of Colorado Denver. Kayla is the Associate Director of National History Day in Colorado, a K-12 Outreach non-profit at the University of Colorado Denver. NHDC is a social studies and literacy program that focuses on equipping 4th –12th grade students with the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in the post-secondary world. Kayla is also the associate director of Colorado Student Leaders Institute, a summer residential program for Colorado’s best and brightest students. Kayla was first introduced to the Honor Bell Foundation when writing an education curriculum for the program that focused on instilling in K-12 students the importance of civics, history, and honoring our veterans.
MRS. KATHY GOLDSTEIN – BOARD MEMBER
Kathy Goldstein has been supporting military and veteran causes since 1967 when she was employed as nurse during the Vietnam War. Later, Kathy worked with returning Vietnam veterans in a special orthopedic ward in Iowa designed to care for those returning with amputated limbs, spinal cord injuries, and rehabilitation needs. It is her personal belief that her experience there, and as a volunteer at the VA Hospital in Des Moines, during that most difficult time in our history changed her life. Coming from a military family she has continued her support to the military and their families to this day in honor and memory of all those in her family who served and continue to serve our country. An avid volunteer and motorcycle enthusiast, “Rat” as she is known on the road, is the immediate past State Captain for the Colorado Patriot Guard Riders. She serves on the board of Vacations for Warriors, a local non-profit organization, is a member of Soldiers' Angels, and volunteers in the PTSD unit at the Denver VA Hospital. She is the Business Administrator at Lakehurst Medical Center (where her husband is the Family Medicine Physician Practice owner), and has been there since 1992.
MRS. JO SCHANTZ, MNM, CFRE – BOARD MEMBER
Jo Schantz has been the executive director of the Jefferson County Library Foundation since 2015. Jo has more than 25 years of senior-level experience in nonprofit management, fundraising and communications, and she has held leadership positions in a number of Denver-area nonprofits. Previously, she has served as: executive director, Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance; chief development officer, Veterans Green Jobs; fundraising consultant, VFW Post 1 Foundation; special projects manager, Colorado State University Extension in Jefferson County; development manager, Community Educational Outreach; and senior development officer, Griffith Centers for Children, Inc. A magna cum laude graduate of Metro State University of Denver, Jo earned a bachelor's degree in English/Journalism and a master's degree in nonprofit management (MNM) from Regis University. In addition, she is a Certified Fund-Raising Executive (CFRE), and she’s acquired certifications in marketing and public relations. A published, freelance journalist, Jo has written for local newspapers as well as regional and national magazines. Jo is a director of the Jefferson County Community Services Advisory Board. She’s also a member of the West Metro Chamber, the Golden Chamber of Commerce, the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, the Wheat Ridge Business Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
MR. STEFFAN TUBBS – BOARD MEMBER
Highlands Ranch, CO
Steffan Tubbs is host of weekday Steffan Tubbs Show on News/Talk 710 KNUS in Denver and the weekly American Veterans Show. Steffan has nearly 30 years of news experience and is a four-time winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for national reporting, multiple Colorado Broadcasters Association award-winner and has twice been named best radio personality in Denver (5280 Magazine & Westword.) In addition to his radio experience, Steffan spent more than six years as a national correspondent with ABC News based in Los Angeles, and two years as a reporter/anchor for Fox5/WNYW-TV in New York City. He returned to Denver in 2005 and spent the next 12 years hosting "Colorado's Morning News" on KOA NewsRadio. Steffan also hosted Studio 12 on Colorado Public Television for eight years. His coverage includes some of the most significant man made and natural disasters of the last 20 years as well as election and sports coverage. Steffan has funneled his passion for real, honest storytelling into his documentary film company, Mountain Time Media and has produced five films including ACRONYM: The Cross-Generational Battle with PTSD and 25 Steps - about the chance meeting of two WWII POWs 70+ years later, which premiered in June of 2018 and was a fundraiser for HBF. ACRONYM garnered overwhelming support in Colorado and nationally, including a private screening on Capitol Hill for the House Veteran Affairs Committee. His work is a natural extension of his passion for supporting veterans’ issues.
MRS. COLLEEN WHITLOW – BOARD MEMBER
Colleen Whitlow is a veteran of the US Air Force having served for ten years including support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. She is a Graduate of Saint Leo University having received her degree during her service. She is a graduate of the 2017 Leadership Program of the Rockies and has worked in the civilian sector as COO of Janus Consulting and a Project Manager at IBM. Colleen has been very active in Veterans’ and community affairs throughout Colorado and currently serves as the Mayor of the City of Mead.
Steven T. Best
Steve Best was appointed Executive Director of NCA-Continental District in Denver in 2013, retiring in 2019. Mr. Best joined the National Cemetery Administration after completing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program in May 2013. While at DHS he served in senior leadership positions with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Transportation Security Administration. Mr. Best retired from the U.S. Army in July 2011 as a Major General with 35 years of combined active duty and Army Reserve service.
Recalled to active duty in 2002, he led the Army's only Battle Command Training Division where he was responsible for predeployment training and operational validation of over 1,500 units slated to deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other theaters of operation. Mr. Best also provided critical command and control resources and support during rescue and recovery operations in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In addition, he has had a highly successful corporate training career of over 15 years, directing leadership, management, and sales training in the banking, specialty chemical and industrial equipment rental industries. Mr. Best earned a Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. in 1976, and a Master of Business Administration from DePaul University in Chicago in 1985. He also graduated from the U.S. Army War College in 1999.
Colorado Springs, CO
Steven is a Colorado native and graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary where he received his Master of Divinity in 1996. He expects to receive his Doctor of Ministry in 2019 through Denver Seminary. Steven joined the US Army in 2001 and has gone through several military programs in the Chaplain School including Combat Medical Ministry and family affairs. He has served in both the US Army, Army Reserves and Army National Guard receiving numerous decorations including the Bronze Star. He is currently a prison Chaplain.