BTV BOARD OF DIRECTORS
from across branches and walks, MEET THE MUSCLE BEHIND OUR MISSION
Battle Tested Founder, Influencer + Leader
Melissa enlisted in the Air Force at 19 with every intention of, but no plan for, becoming a sportscaster. She spent 10 years on active duty jet setting across the globe as a military journalist.
After finishing her undergrad during active duty, Melissa dove straight into securing her Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications. She also met her now husband (and fellow BTV Board Member + Speaker), Cory, while on tour in Korea.
Following 12 years of enlisted service, Melissa obtained her commission. Despite fearing Officer Training School was a young person’s game, she graduated second in her class.
Although she had a wealth education and military experience, Melissa balked at whether she would be competitive in the civilian space. After becoming a reservist and starting her transition in 2007, it took her five years and four promotions to believe that she was a competitive, valuable member of the corporate world.
Today, Melissa runs a team of business analysts for LinkedIn who help inform and drive client strategy with the ultimate goal of ensuring clients get the most out of their investment.
Like many great ideas, Battle Tested Veterans formed out of a fine combination of adoration and frustration. A fierce advocate for veterans, Melissa was moved to give back to the community that brought her so much – her husband, her friends and her education. She was also irritated and disheartened by the misunderstandings of transitioning veterans in the corporate space.
When her husband separated from the Air Force four years after she did, Melissa was able to see through his experience the challenges replayed from her own journey - doubt, lack of confidence, the loss of a strong support community, a disorientation, and the absence of a strong civilian/corporate network. With a clear perspective, she realized it is simply not enough to say we support our troops - we must find ways to empower them to achieve their full potential in their post-service lives.
Moved by a mission to challenge veteran stereotypes and the compulsion to find a way to leverage her unique skills and abilities to help the veteran community, BTV came to be in 2015.
Melissa wants each and every person who experiences BTV to see part of themselves in the stories shared by veterans. For her fellow veterans, her hope is to have them understand that they are not alone in their journey and that there is more than one path to happiness and success. For hiring influencers, her goal is for them abandon preconceived notions and see veterans as valuable corporate assets.
After bouncing from Charleston to Philadelphia, Team Boatwright headed west and now call San Francisco home.
Battle Tested Board of Directors, Co-Founder + Intrapreneur
Cory will be the first to tell you the best decision he ever made was joining the military – the second best decision he ever made was getting out.
Cory’s story starts with an inherent desire to disrupt his trajectory and become someone. He joined the Air Force in 2005 as a military broadcaster. The six years to follow had him filling dynamic roles ranging from a Morning Radio DJ in Kunsan, South Korea to a Special Operations Combat Cameraman in Afghanistan. Cory’s decorated military career consists of being named Airman of the Year five times and earning multiple medals for meritorious service.
In 2011, he separated from the military to go back to school and would be the first in his family to earn a college degree. Although he intended to rejoin the military, medical disqualification forced his hand into the civilian sector.
Armed with a dual degree from the University of Pennsylvania in International Relations and Behavioral Sciences, Cory explored opportunities in finance with BlackRock and consulting through Deloitte before landing where he is today as the Head of Military & Veteran Recruiting Programs for LinkedIn. In this capacity, he has finally found the personal and professional alignment he felt while in the military.
Innately curious and committed to consistent learning, Cory is also a certified Project Manager and currently enrolled in an executive program with Harvard University for Business Analytics. Dedicated to mastering the art and science behind “getting it done,” Cory works everyday through successes and failures to try and be a better human both personally and professionally.
Although his path looks painless on paper, Cory struggled for years to find his footing after leaving the military. Through countless hours of reflection and a willingness to learn from failure, he mustered the courage to move forward.
Co-founding Battle Tested Veterans with his wife, Melissa, Cory is a staunch believer in the power of sharing stories to combat damaging stereotypes after finding many narratives describing veterans to be negative and overgeneralized.
Cory’s motivation for every person who comes to BTV, both military and civilian, is to know there are more veterans doing well in the world and continuing their life of service. His mission is to leave you with a more positive perception about veterans and the military experience – seeing a veteran as an added value as opposed to someone you need to make fit.
Battle Tested Board of Directors, Entrepreneur + Advocate
Born and raised in San Fernando Valley, CA, Zephrine enlisted in the Air Force immediately after graduating high school. With a budding background in media communications and journalism, Zephrine served as a public affairs and medical photographer stationed in Germany and Texas. She met her now husband, Justin, at their first duty station in Spangdahlem, Germany.
Throughout her military service, Zephrine photographed both triumph and tragedy with the tragedies leaving their lifelong mark. After medical retirement from the Air Force in 2004, Zephrine shifted to freelance photography, returned to college for communications and focused on her mental health.
Zephrine will be the first to tell you her transition out of the military was tough. Creating and navigating a healthy life with three children on the Autism spectrum on top of this transition made it tougher.
With the resounding support of her husband, the Hansons packed up and moved to Denver, CO in 2016 where Zephrine embraced a calmer, holistic lifestyle. Finally enjoying some space to breath, she took advantage of veteran programs to include The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) consortium at UCLA, the Veterans to Farmers in soil farming program in partnership with Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Veterans’ Path mindfulness and yoga training in Colorado.
These opportunities allowed her to explore, understand and act on her passions for sustainable living, homeschooling and entrepreneurship.
Today, Zephrine is launching her latest venture, Hampden Farms, a suburban farming project offering small-batch artisanal products made from organic ingredients lovingly grown and sustainably sourced. She is also a budding advocate and community influencer for Autism awareness and education.
As a member of the Battle Tested Board, Zephrine aims to share her zeal for storytelling with an organization committed to challenging veteran stereotypes.
Battle Tested Board of Directors, Active Duty US Coast Guard + Advocate
Steven enrolled in the US Coast Guard Academy at 18 with no idea what he wanted to do with his life. Craving structure and organization, he soon found his stride in the missions, challenges, opportunities and fulfillment the Coast Guard provided.
Fourteen years later, Steven is active duty and currently oversees a team of 50 crew members responsible for planning and executing mission throughout the Pacific on one of the Coast Guard’s newest ships. Fueled by a personal mission to serve, Steven holds immense respect for anyone who has worn the uniform in this country regardless of rank or rate.
Among his many accolades, Steven is proudest of commanding a Coast Guard ship in Alaska. Faced with a brutal, remote environment, the tour presented a series of unique challenges that ultimately brought his crew together making it one of his most rewarding tours of his military career.
Through Battle Tested Veterans, Steven aims to convey the innate ability service members have to overcome challenges and learn quickly with little direction– although the vocabulary may be different, the soft skills and experience veterans possess can be applied across industries. He hopes that every person who experiences BTV will walk away with a better understanding of what a veteran will bring to the table and, as a hiring influencer, will give a veteran’s resume a closer look.
When docked, Steven lives in Oakland, CA with his wife, son and fur child.