Nation’s Finest, a nonprofit organization serving over 150,000 veterans since 1972, is proud to celebrate its 50th Anniversary! In honor of this milestone anniversary, we are launching this week the “Nation’s Finest 50” Award to recognize and celebrate individuals–alive or deceased–who have gone above and beyond to make a real impact in the lives of veterans and their families over the last 50 years.
Nominees can be well-known leaders and supporters, both military and non-military, leaders of nonprofit organizations, or individuals who work quietly behind the scenes without recognition to assist veterans transitioning from military life to civilian life. People who have assisted veterans from all branches of military service will be considered.
Nominations open this week in honor of Veteran’s Day and will be accepted until March 3, 2023, when the Nation’s Finest 50 Blue Ribbon Panel will meet to review the nominations. They will select 50 individuals to be celebrated at a live Nation’s Finest 50 event on Memorial Day weekend.
The distinguished Nation’s Finest 50 Blue Ribbon Panel selection committee includes:
- Koby Langley, Board Member of Nation’s Finest and Chair of the Nation’s Finest 50 Blue Ribbon Panel, is a two-tour combat Veteran and Bronze Star recipient. Mr. Langley is currently the Senior Vice President for the American Red Cross, overseeing the International Humanitarian Services and the Services to the Armed Forces. He previously served as the White House Director of Wounded Warrior, Veteran and Military Family Engagement.
- Marybel Batjer is a Partner at California Strategies, LLC. An international policy and defense expert, she served in senior roles in Washington, DC as Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, Assistant to Gen. Colin Powell on the National Security Council at the White House, and as Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Navy. She also has served as President of the California Public Utilities Commission and as Secretary of the California Government Operations Agency.
- Gerry Byrne is Vice Chairman of Penske Media Corp, which owns leading entertainment, fashion, art, and digital media brands. Byrne’s decades of accomplishments as a media executive, entrepreneur and community leader are highlighted by numerous lifetime awards. He also served as a Marine Officer in Vietnam and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal with Combat V. He has been an invaluable role model and inspiration to numerous national veterans’ organizations and is a recipient of the Department of the Navy’s Meritorious Public Service Award.
- Richard W. “Dick” Cook is a distinguished American Film Entertainment executive, a George Washington Medal of Freedom recipient, and has served on the Board of Directors of Legendary Pictures since 2011. Prior to joining Legendary Pictures, he was the Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios from 2002 to 2009. He has been devoted to community service, including as a leader in the Will Rogers Institute and the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation.
- Kathy Roth-Douquet is a well-known military family advocate, author, attorney, and CEO of Blue Star Families, who has received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service and the Chief of Staff of the Army Medal for Outstanding Civilian Contribution. She currently serves on the Secretary of Defense’s Reserve Forces Policy Board, the Board of Princeton University, and the advisory board of the Export-Import Bank.
- Eric Eversole is a retired U.S. Navy Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps Captain who served for 24+ years. Currently he is the President of Hiring Our Heroes and Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the Board of Trustees of Wabash College, and was recently appointed by the Secretary of Labor to be on the Advisory Committee on Veterans Employment, Training, and Employer Outreach (ACVETEO).
- Matthew Freedman is the CEO of Global Impact, Inc, and has over three decades of experience leading business development programs, policy, and change management strategies for corporate entities. A national security, intelligence, and defense expert who has served as a Senior Civilian Advisor to numerous US government national and international agencies, he also serves on several corporate and NGO boards.
- Shannon Gerber serves as the Executive Director of The Home Depot Foundation, leading The Home Depot’s philanthropic strategy, volunteer efforts, and employee assistance program. She has led the company’s fundraising strategy, helping to raise millions of dollars to further the Foundation’s work. Additionally, she has served on the advisory board of Make-A-Wish Georgia and volunteers through Team Depot, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Safehouse Outreach, and the Center for Children & Young Adults.
- Major General James A. “Spider” Marks is a 30-year Army Veteran, President of The Marks Collaborative, a national security contributor to CNN, and member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame. He has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf cluster, Bronze Star, and multiple combat, expeditionary, and service ribbons.
- Marcellus Wiley, an NFL All Pro-Athlete and staple in the sports entertainment industry, was inducted into the Columbia University Athletic Hall of Fame, received the Advocate Award by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and spent eleven years with ESPN before joining Fox Sports. Marcellus has now partnered with Dan Patrick and iHeartRadio to launch his new podcast “MORE TO IT” where he explores conversations with athletes, entertainers, and others to go beyond the public perception and show there’s nothing simple about achieving your dreams.