The Team

Shelly Kirkland

Chief Executive Officer

“America was built by patriots declaring their independence and proclaiming freedom; our Armed Forces serve each American citizen at home and abroad, protecting our freedom, our rights and our securities. When they come back, the onus is on us not to just say thank you, but to give back, to act, to ease their transition and demonstrate our gratitude for their service and sacrifice.”

The daughter of a veteran Air Force physician, granddaughter of an Army veteran and cousin to a Marine Corps veteran, Shelly has a heart for patriotism and supporting our military community. She also has a head for science and the impact of military trauma – like PTSD and other traumatic brain injuries – on the brain and on veterans’ overall health. In fact, prior to her role as Boot Campaign CEO, Shelly was deeply involved in brain health at the renowned Center for BrainHealth and Brain Performance Institute, part of the University of Texas at Dallas.

For the past seven years, Shelly was responsible the Center’s advocacy, strategic alliances and oversight of public awareness campaigns, media relations, marketing and branding as its public relations director. Before that, she worked at advertising and PR giant The Richards Group, and early on, was a producer at the acclaimed crime-solving TV show, America’s Most Wanted. There she worked hand-in-hand with law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to bring justice to families and solve missing children cases.

Shelly has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Vanderbilt University.

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Chris Talcott

VP of Operations and Program Development

“It was an honor and a blessing to be in the Armed Forces serving with the greatest men and women warriors coming from the greatest Nation on Earth for more than 20 years. I considered it a calling as opposed to a job. Since retiring from the military, I have been looking for my next calling. The Boot Campaign’s values, mission, and goals certainly align with my dream job to continue to serve our Nation and its veterans and service members and tell their story to our communities.”

When it comes to military appreciation and having a true understanding of both on-the-ground and psychological aspects of being a service member, there’s no one better than Chris Talcott. After serving for more than 20 years in Army leadership positions from Lieutenant to Colonel, he turned his focus to education – specifically, military science. Intrigued by military psychology and the desire to create great future leaders, Chris taught at the United States Military Academy at West Point and was a Professor of Military Science at Texas Christian University where he led the area’s ROTC program there, at Baylor and the University of North Texas for several years.

Chris then became Deputy Director for the Brain Performance Institute, an organization adept at working with and treating military veterans – among other things – once they return from service. There he was responsible for the organization’s strategic planning and operations at the $34 million facility.

Born into a military family, Chris’ passion is truly servant leadership – yet another reason he is a perfect fit for Boot Campaign

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Melissa Hopson

Vice President of Finance

“It takes such determination and bravery to walk onto the battlefield for fellow humans. And it takes no less to accept appreciation and assistance when the burdens of war have become too heavy.”

Originally from the Houston area with roots now in East Texas, Melissa joined the Boot Campaign in 2011 and is the organization’s Vice President of Finance advising on strategic planning efforts and overseeing all day-to-day financials.

The granddaughter of a World War II veteran and a Korean War veteran who suffered from PTSD for most of his civilian life, Melissa grew up hearing difficult, emotional stories about the impact of serving in the military – and had tremendous respect and sympathy for their experiences.

Through this history and exposure to the Boot Campaign via friend and now-colleague Myra Brandenburg, Melissa – who had been a corporate bank loan officer for Southside Bank – saw an opportunity to marry her expertise in finance and passion for non-profits and to honor military veterans in the Boot Campaign.

And after hearing the Founding Boot Girls, veterans and other organization staff speak at several public events, she says a “spark within her became a burning fire to join the Boot Campaign team, alongside those who were leading the charge, to improve the lives of veterans and their families.”

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Meg Jones

Programs Director

“In 2012, my husband lost a childhood best friend – a former Marine – to suicide. If through ReBOOT we are able to save one life, that’s one family who won’t have to hold the title of ‘White Star Family’. I’m honored to be able to connect the dots for veterans to find the root cause of the issues plaguing them every day and return them to their personal 100%.”

The wife of a Retired Marine Corps Staff Sergeant, and daughter and granddaughter to two military veterans, Meg is no stranger to the role our U.S. service members play and the impact that service can have on their lives. Meg, who serves as the Boot Campaign’s Program Director, saw firsthand the importance of post-service assistance when her now-husband was severely injured in Afghanistan and they were relocated to Washington D.C. for his lengthy recovery.

She now puts to good use a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, experience as the School Initiative Coordinator for a fellow military non-profit and a variety of management-related career stops at the Boot Campaign, where she oversees the organization’s veterans assistance and awareness programs. Meg is Boot Campaign’s frontline ensuring candidates receive treatment as part of ReBOOT, ensuring veterans’ families receive gifts and assistance during the holidays through the Santa Boots program, and encouraging the public to “Get their boots on” by purchasing Boot Campaign combat boots.

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Myra Brandenburg

Director of Operations & Retail

After living in third world countries multiple times both as a small child and a young adult, it’s clear the rights we have as Americans are unique and special. It comes to us via the men and women who protect our right to freedom all over the world, both in combat and in enormous humanitarian efforts. Working at Boot Campaign is a honor and privilege, providing me a meaningful way to say thank you to those who protect my freedom to own property and not be property.

For Myra, being part of the Boot Campaign isn’t just a job, it’s personal. The daughter of a military police officer for the Air Force, and the niece to five veteran uncles – four who served in WWII and two of whom were at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked – she’s lived and breathed an appreciation for the military her entire life.

After having spent years at non-profit organizations in top administrative roles, Myra joined the Boot Campaign in 2010…and never left. She’s been critical to the organization’s development since Day 1 – from applying for 501(c)3 status to developing an HR department to strategizing major events. Myra now oversees operations and retail and remains foundational to the organization.

With a liberal arts degree from Arizona State University, Myra has studied and/or speaks several foreign languages including Swahili, Spanish and Russian.

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THE FOUNDERS (AKA “THE BOOT GIRLS”)

Ginger

Some of the most supportive and compassionate people in the U.S. come from military families. Ginger is no exception. A founding member of the Boot Campaign, Ginger was born into military at Wilford Hall Hospital on Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. After spending 13 years there, her family moved to Oklahoma City, where she graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. It was there she met friend and fellow Boot Girl Sherri Reuland.

Ginger’s work as an occupational therapist and a pharmaceutical rep later gave her first-hand experience of what it takes for the wounded to recover, and confirmed that our wounded military needed help. The rest is Boot Campaign history.

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Heather

A corporate public relations professional turned personal trainer, Heather’s energy, passion for fitness and serving others is unstoppable. When friend and fellow Boot Girl Leigh Ann Ranslem teamed up with Heather to launch yet another venture – an event planning business – their patriotism was a common bond and made her a perfect fit for the Boot Campaign.

Heather is a graduate of Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree in Communications.

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Leigh Ann

A born leader with a competitive spirit, Leigh Ann tapped both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and connecting with people when she and Boot Girl Heather Sholl came together on behalf of the Boot Campaign.

A third-generation Fort Worth native, this former competitive swimmer previously put her passion for education and fundraising to work for the Junior League of Houston, President of the PTA for an all-girls school and a variety of other national charity events. Leigh Ann’s skills in organizing, leading people, raising funds and bringing awareness to causes she cares about laid the foundation for her involvement in the Boot Campaign.

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Mariae

For Mariae’s family, escaping the communist regime of the Viet Cong in 1975 was the epitome of Living the American Dream. Penniless, her parents arrived in the US and her dad, as a civilian, served our Armed Forces at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, MS as a cafeteria janitor. With 10 children at home, her parents were certain, with hard work and the freedom to follow their dreams, without fear of reprisal, the US would offer a much better life for their family.

Mariae, number 10 in the sibling order, became the valedictorian of her high school. She received a scholarship offer to Berkley for their Biochemistry Program but turned it down to attend a private film school in Los Angeles called Chapman University. She worked as a web/graphics designer in the dotcom world for a while until it became clear she needed to follow her own American dream and open her own business. Her family history, her love of freedom and her passion in capturing the essence of who people are through the lens of a camera were a natural fit in the formation of the Boot Campaign.

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Sherri

If you had told Sherri years ago she would one day help oversee a national charity organization with a multi-million-dollar budget with a mission for military families, she would never have believed you. Though it wasn’t on her list of things to accomplish in life, it’s quickly found a forever place in her heart and continues to thrill and challenge her every day.

Born in Oklahoma and raised in multiple states, Sherri is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and Baylor College of Dentistry and the owner of a thriving orthodontic practice in the East Texas area. Her love of music combined with her passion to travel and take on new challenges perfectly suited Sherri for the launch of the Boot Campaign in September 2009.

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