Team Rubicon Announces Third Cohort of Clay Hunt Fellows Program

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Program Helps Veterans Translate Leadership Skills from the Military to International and Domestic Disaster Relief and the Civilian Workforce

Team Rubicon is proud to announce the third cohort of the Clay Hunt Fellows Program (CHFP), a year-long leadership and training program for military veterans.

The intent of the program is to develop competent professionals, capable of competing in the emergency management workforce, as well as to strengthen the veteran-led disaster relief organization.

“Today’s military does a tremendous job preparing veterans with numerous ‘soft skills’ such as: leadership, teamwork, risk analysis, priority tasking and work ethic,” said Jake Wood, cofounder and CEO of Team Rubicon. “However, many veterans leave the military unprepared with the ‘hard skills’ necessary to thrive in a tough, civilian job market.”

Nine fellows from across the country were selected for the third cohort of the CHFP. Fellows will gain cross-functional leadership experience and be equipped with the basic skills required for nonprofit and emergency management.

The 2015 Clay Hunt Fellows:
Jerome Deniz, Kailua, Hawaii, served in the Navy for eight years and deployed to Afghanistan.
Jon Connors, Jersey City, New Jersey, served four years in the Marine Corps and deployed to Africa and the Middle East.
Justin Rigdon, Jacksonville, Flordia, served four years in the Air Force.
Pam Gieselman, Minneapolis, Minnesota, served six years in the Army National Guard.
Dave Venables, Laurel, Delaware, served six years in the Marine Corps.
Michael Gorham, Bolivar, New York, is currently a Major in the Army Reserves and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Danielle Gilbert, Burke, Virginia, served six years in the Army.
John Conway, Chelmsford, Massachusetts, served in the Marine Corps.
Jonah Thompson, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, served 12 years in the Army Reserve.

The Fellows will also lead projects, in which they will assess the region they support and propose a project idea – how they can improve one aspect of Team Rubicon. Results will be presented to Team Rubicon leadership for potential implementation across the organization.

“The Clay Hunt Fellows Program is the cornerstone in Team Rubicon's approach to developing the future leaders of this organization,” said Michael Davidson, a Navy veteran and training cadre and programs coordinator for Team Rubicon. “As Team Rubicon continues its growth, we will lean heavily on these fellows to ensure mission success.”

The fellows will receive a $12,000 stipend for the program year, thanks to the Bob Woodruff Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), nonprofits dedicated to ensuring injured service members and their families are thriving long after they return home.

In addition to the skills they will acquire, the fellows are expected to represent Team Rubicon in the spirit of the program’s namesake, Clay Hunt, holding the program and the organization in the highest regard.

Hunt was a Marine veteran and an original member of Team Rubicon. Hunt served in the infantry alongside Wood, in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007, he was wounded in action by an enemy sniper. Upon his return home, Hunt struggled with post-traumatic stress.

Hunt repeatedly stated that the opportunity to serve humanity around the globe with Team Rubicon was the most therapeutic experience he’d had since the Marine Corps.

He wrote: “If I had one thing to say to my fellow veterans, it would be this: Continue to serve, even though we have taken off our uniforms. No matter how great or small your service is, it is desired and needed by the world we live in today. Volunteer to mow your elderly neighbor’s lawn for them. Spend a day at a soup kitchen helping feed the homeless, many of whom are veterans themselves. Work on a trail maintenance project. Start a service organization. It doesn’t matter what it is, it only matters that you are continuing to put others before yourself, just like you did when you were in the military. Actions like that are the only sure ways to bring about the positive days, and that is exactly what we do at Team Rubicon.”

Family and friends agreed that at the core of Clay’s trouble was his lack of mission, community and self-worth—three things that Team Rubicon provided, albeit not on a large enough scale in early 2011. Tragically, Clay took his own life in March 2011.

“Clay was one of my dearest friends, like a brother,” said Wood. “We owe it to him, and all who serve, to ensure that our veterans are afforded a successful transition home. Not only are these fellows some of the best America has to offer, I’m confident that they are going to make a true difference—not only with Team Rubicon, but in their own communities where they continue to serve.”

Through the Clay Hunt Fellows Program, these nine individuals will live out Clay’s call to continued service, not only in theirs, but in helping other veterans find opportunities to continue to serve.

Since its founding in the wake of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, Team Rubicon has grown from eight to 27,000 volunteers and launched nearly 100 disaster relief operations at home and abroad. To learn more about Team Rubicon’s mission, visit http://www.teamrubiconusa.org.

About Team Rubicon:
Team Rubicon (TR) unites the skills and experience of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. TR offers veterans a chance to continue their service by helping and empowering those afflicted by disasters, and also themselves. For more about Team Rubicon, visit http://www.teamrubiconusa.org.

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Mike Lee
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