FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Genevieve Chase is the founder and executive director of American Women Veterans and a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom VII. After enlisting in the U.S. Army Reserve in 2003, Chase volunteered to serve with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). While deployed to Afghanistan as a Sergeant in 2006, her vehicle was attacked by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. The passengers survived the attack, but suffered varying degrees of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress. To counter various symptoms of TBI and PTS, Chase dedicated herself to veterans advocacy.
Since returning from active duty service, Chase has worked tirelessly to bring to light the issues faced by today’s veterans. While advocating on their behalf, she discovered a need for a focus on women veterans and their families from all eras and branches of service. From that void, Chase created American Women Veterans and began, in earnest, the 21st century women veterans’ movement.
A recipient of the Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge, Chase has testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee about her experiences in Afghanistan as well as the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee concerning women’s health care. In addition to her role as executive director of AWV, she serves as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve. For her outstanding work both in and out of uniform, the U.S. Army selected her as a 2010 All American Soldier Hero. Recognized as an advocate for female veterans and for her knowledge and experiences in Afghanistan, Chase acts as a media consultant to major media outlets and publications.
Virginia ”Joyce” Irwin
V. Joyce Irwin is a Co-founder of American Women Veterans. After enlisting into the regular Army in 2003, Virginia completed two rotations to Korea as a Military Intelligence professional. While stationed at Army bases in Seoul and later Pyongtaek, Virginia volunteered her time with the Red Cross in Emergency Medical Care units. Upon completing five years of active duty service, she felt the pull to continue her service by being part of an organization that would serve to empower her fellow servicewomen, veterans and supporting community as well as provide opportunities to take part in philanthropic projects.
Virginia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, with an emphasis in Criminal Justice from the University of Tennessee and while in active service, she completed a graduate level certificate in Conflict Resolution from Kansas State University.
She currently serves as a Warrant Officer Candidate with the U.S. Army Reserve and resides in Nevada.
Laura Heller serves as the principal legal adviser for use and development of intellectual property at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. Laura’s service as a Department of the Army civilian is complemented by more than 15 years of active duty and reserve component service in the U.S. Army.
Laura spent her childhood in Orange County, New York, and her formative years in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology from California State University Northridge in 1991, earned a Juris Doctorate from McGeorge School of Law in 1994, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Masters in Diplomacy from Norwich University in 2014. Laura is currently enrolled in the Naval War College and starting Northeastern University’s Doctor of Law and Policy program in July 2015.
Laura began her military career later than most. After passing the California Bar and spending 4 years in the private sector, she enlisted as a Human Intelligence Collector (Interrogator). She completed Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood and certified in language proficiency (Spanish) at the Defense Language Institute. Laura was then commissioned as an active duty Judge Advocate and graduated from the Officer Basic Course in 2000, Tactical Staff Officer Course in 2009, Officer Advanced Course in 2010, and Intermediate Leader Education (ILE) in 2012.
Specializing in detention operations law, Laura deployed to Joint Task Force Guantanamo in 2003, to Baghdad with the 42nd Military Police Brigade in 2005, and to Joint Task Force 134 in 2008. Her final deployment to Bagram in 2012 focused on providing fiscal law oversight to Theater Engineer Command operations. Laura’s practice at West Point carefully navigates the intersection between military lawyer and university counsel.
A member of the California and District of Columbia Bar Associations, Laura is admitted to practice before the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and U.S. Supreme Court. She lives amidst the scenic beauty and revolutionary history of New York’s lower Hudson Valley.
Jason Crain manages the finance and legal teams for Say Media. In this role, he oversees all banking matters, audits, commercial and strategic transactions, litigation, Board and stockholder matters and intellectual property. Prior to joining Say Media, Jason was an attorney at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Venture Law Group. He has also served in the Judge Advocate General Corps and as a nuclear submarine officer in the US Navy. He holds a law degree from Yale Law School, a masters in Operations Research from Stanford University and degrees in Marine Engineering and Marine Transportation from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Patricia served 9.5 years in the active Army as a Military Intelligence Officer with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), 66th Military Intelligence Group and 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. During that time, she served as a Cavalry Squadron Assistant Intelligence Officer, Division Rear Intelligence Officer (S2/G2), Document Exploitation Team Leader, Tactics Instructor and Company Commander. In 2006, Patricia embarked upon a new career as a civilian where she worked as a defense contractor and federal senior law enforcement intelligence research specialist within the Department of Homeland Security. Her focus areas included counterterrorism, maritime counterdrug and counter-proliferation intelligence analysis. Patricia graduated from Norwich University in 1997 with a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies. She possesses a Masters Degree in Management and Leadership and an M.B.A from Webster University. Patricia is currently a volunteer advisor to American Women Veterans.
Will Felder was commissioned as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2004. He served in the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and the Ranger Training Brigade (Airborne). He deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a rifle platoon leader, during which time he experienced first hand the contributions of heroic American women in combat. In 2009, Will left active duty to become a student at Emory University pursuing a Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration, as well as continuing to serve as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve. He has been awarded, among others, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star, and the Ranger Tab. Will is currently a volunteer adviser to American Women Veterans.
WEB & NEW MEDIA
Alicia D. Large
The granddaughter of a WWII veteran and daughter of a Vietnam veteran, Alicia’s involvement with American Women Veterans began as a volunteer with a strong desire to give back to those who have given so much to our country. Alicia is a graduate of Arcadia University with a BAmagna cum laude in English and Secondary Education. She also spent a year studying literature and creative writing at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.
Alicia’s experience includes corporate work as an executive assistant to the Vice President of a large property acquisitions group, small business work as a veterinary technician and several years as a per diem teacher in eight elementary schools that span the socioeconomic spectrum. She also has experience in the field of web and graphic design for various nonprofit and for profit clients and is a freelance writer with published editorials on politics, society and culture featured in literary journals, popular online venues and local publications.
Alicia is pursuing a graduate degree in counseling and resides near Philadelphia with her husband and three sons and new puppy.
Mr. Lessard is an associate in Orrick’s New York office, is a member of the Tax Group. Mr. Lessard focuses his practice on the taxation of debt and equity offerings, collateralizations, reorganizations, cross-border transactions and municipal finance. Mr. Lessard also has experience counseling nonprofit organizations on federal tax law and corporate governance. Prior to joining Orrick, Mr. Lessard was a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy. Publications: Co-author, “IRS Proposes New Regulations on Contract Manufacturing and Subpart F Income,” Practical U.S./International Tax Strategies, Mar. 21, 2008 Giving Life to LIFO: Adoption of the LIFO Method of Inventory Valuation by the Income Tax Code,” The Tax Lawyer, Spring 2007 “Playing the Economic Substance Trump Card: Black & Decker v. United States,” The Tax Lawyer, Summer 2005. Related Practice Areas, Corporate Transactions (Tax), International Tax, Nonprofit Organizations (Tax), Public Finance Tax.