Our Past Speakers

Chief Philip L. Sanchez of the Pasadena Police Department

Chief Sanchez has twice been a speaker at our SGV Front Line Community Forums.  He was was our inaugural speaker on October 1st, 2013 with his presentation, "Taking a Life Changes You, No Matter How Justified the Cause."

WWII Veteran Kenneth Vick and his wife Ollie Vick

Ken Vick and his lovely wife Ollie spoke to us about how Ken got through the Bataan Death March and survived four years in a Japanese prison camp.  They shared with us a written memoir of a fellow survivor's story ,

 "49 Days in Hell". 

 Read about Ken Vick in the Tolucan Times.

Veteran Ted Tenorio of the Native American Veterans Association

Ted Tenorio (center) inspired us with a talk about the history of Native Americans in the American Military.  Ted is the Post Commander of the 

Native American Veterans Association. 

Click on the photo above for an article about NAVA's community work.

Sergeant Major James Schickel, USMC (retired)

A 23-year veteran of law enforcement, and a 30-year veteran of the Marine Corps, including three combat tours, Sergeant Major Schickel gave a presentation on PTSD, the experiences, the signs, and how law enforcement officers can identify veterans with PTSD, and connect them to helpful resources.

Hear Sergeant Major Schickel talk about resources.

Wellness Works, Glendale

Kathy Lynch, M.A., M.F.Th. (third from the right), Clinical Director of Wellness Works, Glendale gave us a presentation about  wellness services provided for veterans, and veteran Kenneth James, a Wellness Works client, gave a therapeutic art mini-workshop.

Hear more about Wellness Works, Glendale

Judith Broder, M.D.

Judith Broder is the psychiatrist who founded The Soldiers Project, and she was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Barack Obama in 2011 for exemplary service to her fellow citizens. Dr. Broder told the story of why she founded the program, and she gave us a presentation on the effects of moral injury. The Soldiers Project provides free, confidential counselling to post 9/11 veterans and their family members.

The Mindful Warrior Project with Gail Soffer

The Mindful Warrior Project has been a two time presenter at our community forum programs.  Gail Soffer, founder and Executive Director of The Mindful Warrior Project led us in a series of mindfulness exercises we could use at home, and veteran Charles Pacello gave personal testimonial of how mindfulness practice saved his life. Gail Soffer, with The Mindful Warrior Project is active throughout the Los Angeles area leading mindfulness groups, hosting wellness days, and more. 

The Deadly Writers Platoon

Members of The Deadly Writers Platoon, a writing group for veterans that meets weekly at Wellness Works, Glendale under the direction of writer and creativity coach Leilani Squire, read from their own writing in a program called Voices of Veterans.

Kenneth James, USMC Veteran "Love Triumphant Artist"

See Kenneth's art here!

Kenneth has been making art as therapy for his complex PTSD for many years.  He is a three time presenter of art workshops including his special 9/11 program, an art installation and workshops, the 

"Eclectic Collective Love Collaboration"

An Evening for Women Veterans and Those Who Love Them

Teresa Nunez, Ph.D., and Kristine Stanley, USAF (retired) spoke about the lives of women veterans. Dr. Nunez shared the work she had done on the effects of combat for women veterans, and Ms. Stanley shared what it was like to re-integrate into the civilian world, what strengths woman veterans have on their side, and she shared a list of resources for women coming out of the military service. 

Wean King Wong

The Medical and Psychological Management of Chronic Pain: A Discussion and Workshop


Wean Khing Wong is a patent attorney who also holds an M.A. in counselling psychology and a B.S. in biology.   She gave us a talk about pain management based on her own experience and upon integration of eastern and western medicine.

New Directions Veterans Choir

Hear the New Directions Veterans Choir!


The New Directions Veterans Choir gave us an inspiring evening of music, and of their own stories about recovery, coming out of homelessness, and becoming helpers to other veterans through their work at New Directions for veterans.  George told us that it was NAMI that first got him on the right path  years ago.

The Soldiers Project Volunteers

Carol Tannenbaum,  Lola Greenspan, and Lynne Hostein, licensed therapists volunteering with The Soldiers Project, led  interactive discussions with our audience and shared stories of helping veterans.  Their warm engagement with our guests led to heartfelt, open discussion about PTSD and its effects.  The Soldiers Project therapists have been two time presenters.

Click on the picture above to learn about free, confidential counselling for post 9/11 veterans and their families.


"Stranger at Home" Filmmakers

Beth Dolan (center), Sheila Higgins (left), and Luis Remesar (right) of Coyote Pass Film Productions presented a report on their documentary (currently in production)

 Stranger at Home, about a Navy psychologist's mission to hold military medicine accountable for solutions to the mental health epidemic decimating our warrior class.  Learn more about the project, and see a 15 minute abstract here.

Emily Letran, D.D.S.

San Gabriel Valley dentist Emily Letran gives back to the community by offering free basic dentistry on the last Tuesday of the month.  Dr. Letran's story From Refugee to Renaissance Woman, Hard Work, Humility, and the American Dream, is available here. She inspired us with her story, and her "Actions to Win" presentation, as well as her interest in giving back to veterans.  Information on free dentistry is in the Resources section.

Vietnam Veteran Rich Hoppe

Vietnam Veteran Rich Hoppe shared the stories of his combat experiences in Vietnam, their its effects on him, his spiritual perspective, and the story of how he changed at the deathbed of his brother, a successful artist. Rich says that if a veteran needs help, he'll be there, and he volunteers in prison ministry.  His powerful memoir of recovery and transformation, The Pitcher and The Painter is available at Lulu.com.


Rich is a wizard at pitching and became  a star pitcher on The King and His Court four man exhibition team, and formed his own touring show team "Hoppe and the Hustlers."  He is also a prolific artist.

Returning Soldiers Speak

Presented in 2015, 2016, and 2017 in Pasadena in recognition of Veterans Day.  Returning Soldiers Speak is a project created by Leilani Squire, the daughter of a Korean War Navy veteran, for veterans to write about about their experiences.  Veterans read from their own writings about their military experiences.  Returning Soldiers Speak is in its seventh year as a project. 

Army Ranger Veteran Pete Parker

Pete Parker, a veteran US Army Ranger has been a two time presenter.  He is an entrepreneur, and an experienced business coach. He shared how he used the skills he developed as part of the first Army Ranger teams to build a successful business. He also presented "The New Leadership Challenge: Understanding People, Values, and Change in a Topsy-Turvy World"

  Hear Pete Parker on business here.

Kristine Stanley

Kristine Stanley served in the U.S. Air Force for 24 years, retiring as a Master Sergeant. During her service, Stanley was stationed overseas in Japan and London, and domestically from Maine to California.  She has an M.S. in Personal Counseling, and is an appointed Commissioner of the Los Angeles County Military and Department of Veterans Affairs. 



Dustin Halliwell, LCSW

Dustin Halliwell served in the U.S. Army with the 75th Ranger Regiment from 2000-2004. He worked as an automatic rifleman and a machine gun team leader while serving as a Ranger. He deployed in support of OEF and OIF, serving two tours in Iraq, and two tours in Afghanistan. After being honorably discharged from the Army, he completed his bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2008 from Cal State Long Beach, and his Master’s in Social Work in 2013 from USC.  He works as a Social Worker at the West LA Vet Center. He can be reached at dustin.halliwell@va.gov.


Kim E. Fuller, MFT, Operation Family Caregiver

Kim Fuller is a family coach with Operation Family Caregiver.  Operation Family Caregiver offers free one on one family skills coaching with a plan of action for family members who are living with a military member or veteran who is has a health related challenge such as PTSD, or other trauma. 

Donna "Dahari" Lovong, M.P.H.

Donna Lovong gave us a fun and effective talk called "Manage Stress with Energy Principles." We did participatory movement exercises as part of the mini-workshop, and Donna had everyone  smiling by the end of the program.  Her warmth and sincerity were uplifting. Donna teaches at Body & Brain Yoga Center in Glendale.  Body & Brain also offers classes at their Pasadena Center.

Wayne Leamons

Pastor Wayne Leamons, founder of the food pantry Cory's Kitchen, gave a deeply moving invocation on the evening we had World War II veteran Ken Vick and his wife Ollie as our featured speakers.  The invocation was inspiring, and moved several of our guests to tears. Cory's Kitchen serves the San Gabriel Valley in multiple locations.

 Click here to see a video about Cory's Kitchen.

Michael Di Paolo, Ph.D.

Psychologist Michael Di Paolo gave a two hour program on trauma and PTSD.

  Click here to see a full video of the lecture.

Michael S. McDowell, USMC (retired)

Major Michael M

Major McDowell is currently the Executive Director of The Soldiers Project which serves post 9/11 veterans and their families with free and confidential counselling. His daughter Ashley joined him in a discussion of how deployment and post traumatic stress affect family members.  He also discussed The Soldiers Project new initiatives for meeting veterans where they are, starting in the San Gabriel Valley.


 Major McDowell served sixteen years in the United States Marine Corps, and he completed four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, and two to southeast Asia as a member of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit stationed in Okinawa, Japan. He received his Master of Business Administration degree from the USC Marshall School of Business in 2015. 


 He can be reached at (818) 761-7438 x204 and by email at mmcdowell@thesoldiersproject.org.

A.J. Popky, USMC veteran

Dr.  Alfred J. Popky is a therapist volunteering with The Soldiers Project. He was instrumental in founding the EMDR Institute.  He is also certified in Ericksonian Hypnosis and is a Master Practitioner of Neurolinguistic Programming.  Dr. Popky specializes in PTSD and addiction.  He developed the DeTUR Protocol which he has presented in workshops and internationally. His work can be found in "EMDR Solutions" by Robin Shapiro, Ph.D. and in 'Scripted Protocols" by Marilyn Luber, Ph.D. He works at camps with our wounded warriors and trains an consults with DoD therapists at military bases around the globe and with drug rehabilitation centers. Dr. Popky is a charter member of DIV. 1277 of the Marine Corps League.  


Email Dr. Popky at aj.popky@gmail.com