Dec 17, 2018 | Leadership

Great leaders are in short supply. According to a global study conducted by Harvard Business Review, only 15% of companies in North America and Asia believe that they have enough qualified successors for key positions.

If your leadership bench needs filling, a San Diego-based nonprofit called The Honor Foundation (THF) may be your answer. According to Founder Joe Musselman, THF was created in 2013 to bridge the transition for retiring Navy SEALs and other members of the Special Ops forces.

Today, nearly 350 men and women from all branches of the Special Ops community have graduated from THF campuses in San Diego, Virginia Beach and Camp Lejeune. This world-class, 120-hour MBA-style program immerses participants in a wide range of subjects including Purpose, Emotional Intelligence, Leveraging Strengths, Challenging Communications, Resume Building, and Corporate Culture.

On December 7, 2018, THF graduated its 17th class. Men and women who have served our country with honor now have the tools they need to confidently enter the workforce with pride and a sure footing. Here are eight members of the graduating class to give you a sample of this elite talent pool.

1. Justin Acerboni, Leader, Problem Solver, Relationship Builder

What he brings to the team: I have spent the last 11 years challenging myself every day to perform at the highest level possible. I developed the skill to truly lead people. I have the ability to lead cross-functional teams built on trust and developed through meaningful relationships. I am a change agent, adept at identifying problems and implementing processes to swiftly overcome any obstacle. 

What he’s looking for: A company and culture that embraces the same community and values I have grown accustomed to; diverse teams that perform under pressure and always accomplishing the job.

Education: Masters of Business Administration, Finance, University of Redlands


2. Nicholas Bellenbaum, Experienced Leader, Program Manager, Training/Talent Development

What he brings to the team: I have a passion for building relationships, developing talent, inspiring and helping others. I am an effective communicator who demonstrates strength in delivering clear program and training objectives and goals to cross-functional teams. Years of experience managing multi-million dollar, complex programs in evolving fast-paced environments.

What he’s looking for: I am looking forward to utilizing my vast global experience in managing multi-cultural programs.

Education: University of Maryland University College, Bachelor of Science, Criminology


3. Tom DeJarnette, Executive Organizational Leader, Cross-Functional Integrator, Change Manager, Team Builder, Performance Optimizer

What he brings to the team: I’m a proven leader, manager, problem solver, and relationship builder with over 20 years working in high stress/no fail environments. I’ve produced superior results in building teams, establishing new programs, managing multi-stakeholder projects, and ensuring healthy and resilient working environments throughout.

What he’s looking for: My goal is to lead high-performance teams in ambiguous environments.

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Double Major, English/Economics, University of South Carolina-Columbia, UCMC Command of Staff, Masters of Military Science


4. Robert Hentzen, Senior Director, MSGL, SPHR, PgMP, PMP, ACP, Organizational & Talent Development, Risk Mitigation

What he brings to the team: Over 20 years’ experience leading and training cross-functional teams to achieve high-risk program/project objectives ranging in size from 2 to 1,300 employees and up to $150M. Active Clearance: TS/SCI Certified: SPHR, PgMP, PMP, ACP (Agile).

What he’s looking for: The ability to develop and enable selfless leaders that are driven to help others exceed their expectations.

Education: Master of Science, Business (Global Leadership), University of San Diego


5. Jerry Holmes, Executive Leadership, Team Building, Operations Management, Process Improvement

What he brings to the team: My proven global management and leadership experience will drive unsurpassed success at all levels within an organization as a result of effective team building and a focus on operational management. 

What he’s looking for: My true passion is people and I am looking for a company that will challenge me as I develop future leaders, build high functioning teams, and create a culture that brings only the best to our front door.

Education: Executive Leadership Course, Senior Enlisted Academy, U.S. Naval War College


6. Steve Milgazo, Executive Experience, Strategic Thinker, Servant Leader

What he brings to the team: Driven by an intense desire to cut through inefficiencies and dysfunctional systems, I thrive in ambiguity, naturally parsing through clutter to develop vision and strategic outcomes for the development of optimal organizations.

What he’s looking for: I am mission driven, and my next mission is to help organizations build resiliency so they ride the wave of technology and not be buried under it. To do this we must optimize, strategize and adapt culture so organizations can adapt to rapid technological advancements, and create an environment for people to thrive as individuals. This is what preparing to win looks like.

Education: Master of Science, Information Systems & Operations, Naval Postgraduate School


7. Ryan Weitzel, Sr. Facilitator, Culture Driver, Organizational Developer, Team Builder, Student of Strategic and Servant Leadership

What he brings to the team: Polished leader, experienced at designing and facilitating courses for diverse, cross-functional teams in the United States and abroad.

What he’s looking for: Developing and working with high-functioning teams through servant leadership is my passion. I endeavor to utilize my leadership skills and unique experience to mentor leaders, positively impact organizational culture and deliver results by helping others thrive.

Education: Master of Science, Strategic Leadership, School of Business & Leadership, University of Charleston


8. Jason Witbeck, Team Builder, Mentor, Investor

What he brings to the team: Over ten years of leadership service with a proven track record of solving problems and building trust. Strong leader and effective communicator with demonstrated high performance in high stress environments.

What he’s looking for: Exploring a variety of fields and opportunities to contribute to a team that can take advantage of his skillset and experience. He has been interning in the fields of finance and commercial real estate, and is drawn to further explore a career in Private Equity.

Education: Masters Degree, Business Administration & Management, University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

If your organization could benefit from purpose-driven, flexible problem solvers, there is no more elite group of talent than the graduates of The Honor Foundation. Contact The Honor Foundation here to learn more about employing, mentoring, coaching and sponsorship opportunities for this world-class program.

Question: How could your team benefit by adding a member with Special Operations experience? 


Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, subscribe to receive CEE News



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