Our Leadership Team

Board of Directors – Executive Committee

Cathryn Spetter, President Cathy was first introduced to Special Ops Survivors as a cathycorporate sponsor via her position with Navy Federal Credit Union. In addition to having served as Vice President and Treasurer, Cathy is now serving as the President of the Board of Directors since January 2016. Cathy has more than 30 years of strategic planning, management and marketing experience in the credit union industry.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from San Diego State University and an MBA from Point Loma Nazarene University.  Her passion for volunteer service is evident in her many years of involvement with nonprofit organizations that serve the military and her church.  Cathy and her husband reside in San Diego.  They have two grown sons, one of whom is a U.S. Navy Submariner.


John Marshall, Vice President John A. Marshall is the co-founder and Chief johnTechnology Officer for Gemini II Technologies, LLC. and Marshall Consulting Services, LLC which launched in April 2014. He is mainly responsible for leveraging integrating technologies between his companies and industry to serve his customer across the Federal, DOD, Academia, and Commercial Industry arenas. Mr. Marshall has served as the Deputy Director for the National System for Geospatial Intelligence Program Management Office (NSG PMO) at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Joint Staff Intelligence Directorate (J2), Chairmen, Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon and U.S Joint Forces Command J2 Intelligence Directorate CTO. He represented the commands on several ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance) task force groups in support of the Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. Mr. Marshall spend twenty seven years at the Office of Naval Intelligence where he led cutting edge technologies such as smart desktop computing, and that became the backbone of the military intelligence architecture He is a certified Federal Chief Information Officer form National Defense University and is a Computer Science Major from University Of Maryland, University College. Mr. Marshall’s hobbies include golfing, skiing, and extreme sports.


Stephen Ruth, Past President, Treasurer Senior Chief Petty Officer Stephen “Steve” image1Ruth (U.S. Navy, Ret.) first began his relationship with Special Ops Survivors by volunteering with the first Survivors’ Conference and golf tournament in San Diego in 2003. With his extensive military background, Steve felt the need to help ensure surviving spouses were cared for and never forgotten. Steve continued an association with Special Ops Survivors and joined the Board of Directors as Operations Officer in 2005. He has since used his institutional knowledge and fundraising coordination experience to benefit the organization. Steve served as Vice President of the Board from 2009 to 2011 and as President from 2012 to 2013. Steve retired from Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal (“EOD”) after completing more than 22 years of active duty service. He currently works for Garud Technology Services as the Senior Test and Evaluation Analyst. Steve resides in Alexandria, VA with his wife, Heather, and their two children, Trey and Penny.


Neal Keohane, Secretary Neal Keohane joined the Board in 2014 bringing an extensive nealbusiness and volunteer background that includes several years previously serving with Special Ops Survivors (then United Warrior Survivor Foundation). Neal’s business experience was with the Wall Street firms of Merrill Lynch and later Morgan Stanley, where he held the position of 1st Vice President of Investments, followed by a business development role with an international trading company. Over the past ten plus years Neal has dedicated his time and energies to volunteer work with youth including special needs students and as a high school coach. Most recently, he worked for five years as a Resource Counselor for BAMSI, a non-profit community service agency in Brockton, Massachusetts. Neal resides in Arlington, VA with his wife Xing.


Board of Directors – Members

Scott Madison, Board Member Scott joined Special Ops Survivors as an adviser in 2014. scottHe brings over 20 years of business leadership, growth and development, and executive strategic experience. With a degree in business management, his work experience in the technology sector demonstrates that he puts operational success and business results first. He presently serves as Chief Information Officer at H&E Equipment Services (HEES), one of the world’s largest heavy equipment distributors/renters. He also has founded multiple start-ups in the technology and retail sectors. Although a civilian, he was raised by a father that served in Army Intelligence in Europe and is the brother of a Marine and Army combat veteran. It is these family connections, a deeply seeded patriotism, and love for assisting others that has committed Scott to the cause of helping surviving spouses. Scott is a founding member of TEAM Special Ops Survivors, Alpha Squad, which runs obstacle course races in full combat gear for inspiration and support of Special Ops Survivors spouses and the memory of their fallen heroes. His ultimate goal on the TEAM is to have the inspirational stories of these families remembered and honored.  Scott resides in Louisiana with his wife and two children.


Nicholas Rocha, Board Member, Co-Founder Senior Chief Petty Officer Nicholas no-photo“Nick” Rocha founded Special Ops Survivors in 2002 and served as President until January 2012. As a current member of the board of directors, he continues his commitment to the organization he founded and the surviving spouses it serves with his dedication to bringing public awareness and corporate financial support. An active duty Navy SEAL – with more than 23 years of service – military and survivor issues are close to his heart. Nick’s personal awards include: The Bronze Star, two Joint Commendation Medals; the Army Commendation Medal; two Navy Commendation Medals; the Joint Service Achievement Medal; five Navy Achievement Medals; two Combat Action Ribbons; nine sea service deployment awards; and the Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Iraqi Campaign Medals. Nick and his wife, Angela, have three daughters and are currently stationed in Virginia Beach, VA.


Herbert Wilmer, Board Member Dr. Bert Wilmer received both his undergraduate bertdegree in Economics in 1978 and his Doctorate of Dental Surgery in 1982 from the University of North Carolina. He served active duty in the Navy from 1982 to 1985 and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal. He remained in the Reserves for 5 years while starting his private practice in Denver, NC. Bert and his wife, Laura, have been married 36 years and have one son who served 6 years in the Army as an artillery officer. After their son returned from his two deployments, Bert and Laura began funding a fishing trip for soldiers returning from deployment. The trips are hosted by Hank Parker, a professional bass fisherman, and featured on his tv show every year. Through their interaction with these soldiers, some of whom are a part of Special Ops Survivors Outdoor TEAM, Bert and Laura learned about Special Ops Survivors. Bert and Laura reside in Stanley, NC.


Aimee Carrasco, Board Member Aimee began her commitment to service shortly aimeeafter high school when she enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. She was stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA where she worked in legal services. Aimee is also a military spouse. Her husband served almost 22 years in the U.S. Army, with 18 of those years as a Green Beret. Aimee understands the unique experiences and lifestyle of Special Operations families and is a committed and passionate advocate for helping families as they heal and transition. Aimee earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology, graduate degree in Counseling and Education, and is currently pursuing her PhD in Education. Throughout her career she has the opportunity to work as a mental health and school counselor, college academic advisor, advocate, and program development, and nonprofit management. Many of Aimee’s career experiences have revolved around supporting military families. Aimee and her husband currently reside in the San Antonio area with their five children.


Colonel (Ret.) Edward “Tim” Nye Colonel Tim Nye retired on December 1, 2013, as Timthe Director, Special Operations Public Affairs, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, FL after 32.5 years of combined Marine enlisted and Army commissioned service. In retirement, Nye consults with Spartan Race, Global Special Operations Foundation, and a number of military-focused charities. Nye also contributes interviews and analysis to Spartan’s weekly podcast SpartanUpPodcast. During his career, Nye served in various units including the 75th Ranger Regiment, 7th Special Forces Grp, Joint Special Operations Command, US Army Special Operations Command, and the US Special Operations Command. Nye holds a Masters of Military Arts and Science and a Masters of Strategic Studies. He is married to Dr. Carla Nye, VCU and he has two children, Rachel Hildreth with the U.S. State Department and U.S. Army Captain Ryan Nye, 3rd Special Forces Grp. Nye joined the Special Ops Survivors Board of Directors in 2017.


Sara Wingerath-Schlanger, Executive Director

In November 2015, Sara Wingerath-Schlanger joined Special Ops Survivors as its Executive Director.  Sara has worked her entire career in the nonprofit sector, previously working for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, and as Program Director at Tuesday’s Children, and later as Program Director with ArtWorks, the Naomi Cohain Foundation.

Sara earned her B.A. from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, her MPA from Suffolk University, with a concentration in non-profit administration, and her Certificate in Volunteer Administration.  Sara was a founding board member, and past President of, Companion Animal Advocates and is active in her Parent Teacher Organization as well as the ENKA Society. She brings a balance of program administration, constituent outreach, strategic partnership and long term growth planning to Special Ops Survivors.  Sara is humbled to be working with the families and loved ones of America’s heroes, and on supporting and fostering the resiliency in others after loss.  Sara currently lives in Suffern, NY, with her husband, two children, and dog.

Keri Klaus, Development Director

In July 2015, Keri Klaus joined Special Ops Survivors as Development Director. After attending the University of North Alabama and pursing a degree in Communications, Keri began her career in the for-profit sector.  After years of volunteering for local non-profits, Keri followed her heart and made the career change to join non-profit sector. She has served on the Board of Directors for Equality Alabama and as Communications Chair of The Association of Fundraising Professionals. Previously with Thrive Alabama, first as the Community Relations Specialist and upon her departure as Director of Development and Marketing she spearheaded major initiatives that brought in new supporters and revitalized long standing contributors.  Keri is honored to turn her attention to forwarding the mission of Special Ops Survivors.  She brings with her over a decade of professional experience that includes event planning, capital campaigns as well as corporate, foundation and individual donor cultivation. Keri lives in Destin, Florida with her husband, two daughters, and dog.

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