Colonel David W. Sutherland, U.S. Army (Ret.), Chairman

Retired Army Colonel David W. Sutherland is the Chairman of Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, where he brings innovative approaches to leverage community-based support to deliver profound results for veterans.

Colonel Sutherland culminated his 29 years of service as the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with principle focus on Warrior and Family Support. In that position, he created a support network providing grassroots solutions for veterans and military families. Prior to that, he served as Combat Brigade Command during Surge Operations in Iraq in 2007-2008.

Colonel Sutherland has been decorated numerous times during his career and proudly wears the Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman's Badge Second Award, and Senior Parachutist Badge. He is also the 2008 Freedom Award recipient presented by the No Greater Sacrifice Foundation; the 2011 Meritorious Service Award recipient presented by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans; and the 2013 Commitment to Service Award presented by Give an Hour for his work on behalf of returning service members, veterans, military families and families of the fallen. Colonel Sutherland also holds the title of Honorary Colonel of the 12th Infantry Regiment.

Colonel Sutherland actively contributes to numerous national veteran and military family committees and boards. In addition to his leadership of Dixon Center, he is a trusted advisor to many former senior military leaders including former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Combatant Commanders, and current and former public and private sector leaders and executives.

He speaks in communities at universities, businesses and conferences around the country as a vocal advocate and leader for transformational change for our service members, military veterans, their families, and the families of our fallen. 

Colonel Sutherland received his bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University and his Master’s in Strategic Studies from the United States Army Command and General Staff College.

 

Latrese Dixon, Blue and Gold Star Family Partner

Latrese Dixon, a Blue Star mother and Gold Star wife, represents these designations as part of the Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services.

After marrying Staff Sergeant Donnie D. Dixon in 1994, she proudly lived the life of a military spouse, understanding the challenges, solutions, and joys of being a Blue Star family. Since Sgt. Dixon’s death during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007, she added to that knowledge the challenges of being a Gold Star wife and mother.

Latrese assists Dixon Center with program and solution development as well as insights and expertise on the practical needs of Blue and Gold Star families. Additionally, she serves as an inspirational speaker on overcoming challenges.

In addition to her work with Dixon Center, Latrese volunteers in the Memphis community, at her children’s schools, and serves as a mentor for at-risk youths. She self-published From Tragedy to Triumph: The Life of a Widow in 2017.

Latrese holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix and a master’s in Human Behavior/Psychology from Capella University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Capella University for Advanced Studies of Human Behavior/Psychology. 

 

Colonel Duncan S. Milne, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), President

Colonel Duncan S. Milne is the President of Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services.

Colonel Milne He is an experienced leader with 25 years of active duty combat and non-combat experience in the United States Marine Corps. While on active duty, he primarily served as an AH-1W attack helicopter pilot.  Colonel Milne has served at the highest levels of our military and government, including in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Colonel Milne’s career after active duty has been dedicated in service to those who have had the honor and courage to wear our nation’s military uniform, and he brought his knowledge on interagency coordination and executive-level private sector interaction to the Center in 2015.

Colonel Milne is the recipient of numerous combat, operational, and support awards. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Master of Military Operational Art and Science from the Air War College, and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. 

 

Colonel Sam Whitehurst, U.S. Army (Ret.), Vice President, Programs & Services

Colonel Sam Whitehurst, U.S. Army (Ret.) serves as Vice President, Programs & Services, for Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services.

Colonel Whitehurst has served as an infantry officer for 28 years in various command and staff positions both within the U.S. and overseas. His command experience culminated with brigade command in the 10th Mountain Division, and his most recent staff experience was as the 18th Airborne Corps Chief of Staff. His deployments include Bosnia-Herzegovina and multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Most recently, he served as Director of the Army’s Soldier for Life Program.

Colonel Whitehurst graduated from the University of North Carolina with a bachelor’s degree. His advanced degrees consist of a Master of Science in Strategic Studies from the National War College, a Master of Science in Military Art and Science from the School of Advanced Military Studies, and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Louisiana State University and A&M College.
 

Vanessa Stergios, Director of Development

Vanessa Stergios is the Director of Development for Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services.

Vanessa brings experience increasing fiscal and agency resources for multiple social service, government, and non-profit organizations including Ohio Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers, Tuscarawas County Child Advocacy Center, Stark County Family Court/Department of Job and Family Services, and AHEAD Inc. As part of her leadership role at these organizations, she assisted them to diversify funding and create financial stability, develop and implement innovative new programs, and influence community collaboration.

This expertise in working with multi-disciplinary teams, community advocates, and families impacted by trauma, coupled with personal experiences as a military family members, affords Vanessa a unique combination of career experience and personal passion.

As Dixon Center’s director of development, Vanessa intends to leverage her skills in community collaboration, program development, fiscal growth, and organizational assessment to improve projected outcomes and data-driven metrics.

Vanessa holds a master’s degree in Clinical Counseling from Walsh University and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Licensed Social Worker, and Certified Adoption Assessor.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Family Studies and a minor in Psychology from the University of Akron. 

 

Sara Heidenheimer, Program & Administrative Manager

Sara Heidenheimer is the Program & Administrative Manager for Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services.

In her current position, Sara handles business administration and social media for Dixon Center, and assists with marketing and special events. Additionally, Sara lends her expertise as a Blue Star family member and Navy spouse to Dixon Center’s many programs and projects.

Prior to Dixon Center, Sara served as the newsletter editor and community services coordinator at Lincoln Military Housing in San Diego as well as the administrative assistant and program coordinator at the San Diego Armed Services YMCA. In these positions, she facilitated activities to enrich the lives of those in the San Diego military community. Currently, Sara volunteers with several different military- and community-facing organizations.

A proud Texan, Sara received her bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.

 

Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster, Workforce Development

Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster consults with Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services on its workforce development programs.

Elizabeth is an expert in veterans training and work programs, consulting with federal and state governments, non-profits, and labor organizations. She has responsibility for leadership, installation training, and coalition building on behalf of the Teamsters Military Assistance Program (TMAP), a national program that assists service members in obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License prior to their leaving the military.

Prior to her work with Dixon Center, Elizabeth served as special assistant to the Teamsters National Military Assistance Helmets to Hardhats program. She co-founded the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP), responsible for placement of 500 military veterans in this transition program for gas and electric sector jobs. She also founded Heroes to Healthcare (H2HC), an employment program for veterans seeking careers in the healthcare profession.

Sought after for her specialized expertise, Elizabeth sits on the American Legion National Licensing and Credentialing Board and has spoken in front of audiences including the Clinton Global Initiative, the White House Joining Forces efforts, and Soldier for Life.

 

Marie Manning, Marketing Communications

Marie Manning consults with Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services on its marketing communications projects.

Marie brings more than 25 years of public relations, content creation, marketing and non-profit experience to Dixon Center. Most recently, she handled marketing communications for two of the largest non-profits in the United States, the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. Prior to that, she held positions at top-tier agencies Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and Porter Novelli.  

In addition to her professional experience, Marie brings to Dixon Center her perspective as the wife of a disabled Afghanistan veteran who is now retired.

Marie holds bachelor's degrees in English and Communications from Boston College and is a candidate for Accreditation in Public Relations (anticipated in December 2019).

 

Command Council

The Command Council serves as leadership and support for Dixon Center’s mission, vision, and strategic direction.  With their expertise and shared ideas, the Command Council helps advance Dixon Center’s programs, vision initiatives, and philanthropic goals.

Latrese Dixon, Blue and Gold Star Family Partner

John Anderson, Spring Creek Partners and Anderson Enterprises

Rick Freedman, Eugene and Ruth Freedman Family Foundation

Danny Gardner, Freddie Mac

Tommy Haire, Former Sergeant, U.S. Army 

Brian Hull, UBS Global Wealth Management

Christine McMahon, The Fedcap Group

G. Dennis O'Brien, InfoVest Inc.

Colonel David W. Sutherland, U.S. Army (Ret.), Chairman

Ed Wenzel, Edward Wenzel Associates

James E. Williams, Jr., THRUUE, Inc.