Time to ramble on
It's been my honor to serve as IVAW's Executive Director for the last three plus years. My reasons for stepping back from the ED position are simple. First, I'm a parent now and my priorities have shifted to making sure my son has a better life than the one I had as a kid. That means making more money while working less hours so I can be home to help raise him.
Second, I've always tried to push myself to always move forward in life. I've learned a lot on staff at IVAW but there is much more for me to learn. The opportunity I have at North Star Fund will allow me to learn how philanthropy works while also providing the job security my family needs right now. In addition, many of you know I've been pursuing a PhD in Cultural Anthropology since 2003. I want to make more progress toward that goal but despite my best efforts can't while working full time at IVAW.
Lastly, I think any good leader realizes that in order for more leaders to come up through the ranks he or she needs to step aside at some point. I fully intend to continue to be a member of the organization I love and will fill whatever volunteer role makes the most sense for me to take, including on the board if you'll have me.
My journey with the organziation began when I met Alex Ryabov, IVAW co-founder, at an event in NYC. At the time I was already undergoing a process seeking conscientious objector status in the Army Reserve and was following folks like Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, and Kevin Benderman online and through Democracy Now!. Soon after meeting Alex and learning IVAW welcomed all post-9/11 servicemembers and veterans I signed up in 2005. Then I had the pleasure of meeting Garett Reppenhagen fresh from his deployment in Iraq and being blown away by the stories he had to share.
Anita (Cole) Foster is responsible for my first visit to the Philly office in the basement of the AFSC building on Cherry Street. I distinctily remember Amadee crouched over a computer surrounded by boxes and Lovella sitting on the floor with a laptop and cell phone to her ear. Pretty humble beginnings for a national organization. Anita had roped me into attending a advisory board meeting, the decision making body before we had our own board of directors, that included members of VVAW and VFP. I soon found myself involved in both local organizing as a chapter president and national organizing on the board. I was elected to the inaugural board in 2006.
To date my proudest moment in IVAW, if you can call it a "moment," is Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan. We put our blood, sweat, and tears into that event and the series of regional Winter Soldiers that followed. Although we faced internal and external adversity during and after that time I think many people from all walks of life pulled together to make something really special happen.
I want to thank all the folks who have ever worked on staff at IVAW. It can be at once the most rewarding and thankless job you can have. I think what keeps all the staff going is the members and the important insights they bring to this movement. Plus whenever a group of IVAW members gets together the sparks tend to fly, creating the chance to recharge your batteries.
I also deeply appreciate all the allies, donors, and supporters who have given much to keep this little engine that could running over the years. My special thanks to our brothers and sisters in the military and veterans community for bearing the burden of these wars with us.
IVAW has provided a real community for me and helped me grow as a person of conscience in a sometimes unconscoinable world. I am proud to be in the struggle for peace and justice with all of you.