Seminar Special Guests
Seminar Special Guests
During the seminar, you will have the opportunity to hear from national experts in grief, trauma, health and wellness and more. Below is a list of the speakers and presenters who will be in attendance.
Make sure to also download the TAPS Events app. Recommended session schedules for different grief programming and speaker information are all built into the easy-to-navigate app.
General Martin E. Dempsey, U.S. Army (Ret)
General Dempsey retired as the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September 2015, after previously serving as the Army’s 37th Chief of Staff. Past assignments have taken him and his family across the globe during both peace and war from platoon leader to combatant commander. He is a 1974 graduate of the United States Military Academy and a career armor officer. General Dempsey’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with “V” Device and Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge. In addition to his Master's degree in English, he holds Masters' degrees in Military Arts and National Security Studies. Dempsey now brings his extensive leadership qualities to the Chairmanship of USA Basketball. Elected to the post by the board of directors, Dempsey will lead USA Basketball through the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. General Dempsey and his high school sweetheart, Deanie, have three children who each have served in the U.S. Army. They have nine wonderful grandchildren. General Dempsey is a member of the TAPS Board of Directors.
Brianna Keilar is co-anchor of the 1 to 4 p.m. Eastern block of CNN News Central out of the network's Washington, D.C. bureau. She previously anchored CNN's New Day and CNN Right Now. Keilar is also the author of Home Front, a column focused on military families in attempt to bridge the military-civilian divide. Throughout 2020, Keilar played a pivotal role in the network's expanded coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. She has also pushed for increased government accountability through her regular Roll the Tape segments. Prior to becoming an anchor in November 2018, Keilar served as CNN's senior Washington correspondent, lead reporter covering Hillary Clinton and the Democratic field during the 2016 presidential race, and senior White House correspondent for CNN during the Obama administration. Her efforts in this role earned her a 2014 Aldo Beckman Memorial Award from the White House Correspondents' Association, and her 2012 election coverage contributed to the network's Emmy Award-winning election night coverage. Before covering the White House, Keilar covered activities of both the U.S. House and Senate as a congressional correspondent, where she earned the National Press Foundation's Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress. Prior to covering Congress, Keilar reported on a wide range of stories, including the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, where she was the first CNN correspondent on the ground. Keilar's CNN career began in 2006 as a CNN Newsource correspondent, where she provided breaking news coverage and reported from the nation's capital for approximately 800 CNN Newsource partner stations. Before joining CNN, Keilar served as an anchor, reporter, and producer for a CBS newscast that aired on mtvU, MTV 's college network. At CBS, she also served as a fill-in anchor of Up to the Minute and reported freelance for CBS Evening News Weekend Edition. Keilar's early career includes reporting for the CNN and CBS affiliate in Yakima, Washington, and intern and production assistant at a CNN and FOX affiliate in San Francisco, California. Keilar graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor's degrees in mass communications and psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Chef Robert Irvine
Robert Irvine is a 16 year Navy veteran, world-class chef, fitness authority, and philanthropist. He seeks to inspire people to live better through all his endeavors. A tireless supporter of our veterans, he gives back to those who defend our freedoms. Robert pioneered a new genre of programming for Food Network with his extreme cooking challenge show, Dinner: Impossible, which ran for 7 seasons and over 100 episodes. He parlayed that success into the even more popular Restaurant: Impossible, which ran for 13 seasons and 160 episodes. Robert didn’t just renovate restaurants and retrain staff in record time, he counseled owners through personal problems that were destroying their businesses. At its peak, 1.2 million viewers tuned in on a weekly basis. Robert has also hosted or appeared on Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America, Next Iron Chef, Restaurant Express, Chopped: Impossible, Guy’s Grocery Games: Impossible, A Hero’s Welcome, Food Network Star, ABC’s Body of Proof, ABC Family’s Melissa and Joey among others.
Brett Jones, Singer Songwriter
Brett Jones is a country music singer/songwriter originally from Warm Springs, Georgia. His first professional staff writing position was with country star Ronnie top twenty single, and in 1996, his first #1 country single. Since his career began, he has notched seven #1 country singles, two #2 singles, 14 top tens, and over 150 major label recordings. Some of his notable recordings are: You Gotta Love That by Neal McCoy, Cover You In Kisses by John Michael Montgomery, A Little Past Little Rock' by Lee Ann Womack, Better Man, Better Off by Tracy Lawrence, You Wont Ever Be Lonely by Andy Griggs, What Do You Think About That by Montgomery Gentry, Don't Ask Me How I Know by Bobby Pinson, Good Little Girls by Blue County, That's How Country Boys Roll by Billy Currington, Crazy Town by Jason Aldean, and If Heaven Wasnt So Far Away by Justin Moore. As a performer, Brett has been on play bills with: Little Texas, Tracy Byrd, Ricochet, Michael Martin Murphy, Joanna Smith, the Gatlin Brothers, Eddie Raven, Gary Morris, Michael McDonald, Big and Rich, Daryl Worley, Billy Currington, Phil Vassar, Shawn Camp, Rob Crosby, Andy Griggs, Randy Houser,Jason Jones,Jamie Johnson, Darryl Singletery, Bobby Pinson, Rhett Akins, Blue County, Mark Chesnut, Billy Ray Reynolds, Hank Cochran, and Kenny Chesney among others. Brett has also been a successful publisher sine 1997, and has had a hand in the careers of Tony Lane, Joanna Smith, Jason Jones, and Dallas Davidson. Some of his copyrights are: Honky Tonk Badonkadonk by Trace Atkins, Put A Girl In It by Brooks & Dunn, and Start A Band by Brad Paisley.
Secretary Denis R. McDonough
Denis R. McDonough serves as the 11th Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Secretary McDonough served in the Obama Administration as the 26th White House Chief of Staff from February 2013 to January 2017. Mr. McDonough was Principal Deputy National Security Advisor from October 2010 to January 2013. He also served as the Chief of Staff of the National Security Staff and as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications. He chaired the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, leading the multiagency team to address complex challenges including crisis management and national security policymaking. And throughout his service in the White House, Secretary McDonough helped lead the Obama-Biden administration’s work on behalf of military families and Veterans. Before his eight-year tenure in the White House, Secretary McDonough served in senior leadership and policymaking positions in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Professional Staff Member on the International Relations Committee and in the U.S. Senate for Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Senator Ken Salazar. Since his White House tenure, Secretary McDonough was Professor of the Practice of Public Policy at the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, Senior Advisor and Senior Principal at the Markle Foundation, and on the board of directors of the National Democratic Institute, the Tent Partnership for Refugees, and the SAFE Project, a national nonprofit working to end the nation’s catastrophic addiction epidemic. Secretary McDonough grew up in Minnesota in a family of 11 children, graduated from St. Johns University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and earned his master's degree from Georgetown University.
General Mark A. Milley
General Mark A. Milley is the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, and the principal military advisor to the President, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council. Prior to becoming Chairman on October 1, 2019, General Milley served as the 39th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. A native of Massachusetts, General Milley graduated from Princeton University in 1980, where he received his commission from Army ROTC. General Milley has had multiple command and staff positions in eight divisions and Special Forces throughout the last 39 years to include command of the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division; the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division; Deputy Commanding General, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); Commanding General, 10th Mountain Division; Commanding General, III Corps; and Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces Command. While serving as the Commanding General, III Corps, General Milley deployed as the Commanding General, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command and Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Forces Afghanistan. General Milley’s joint assignments also include the Joint Staff operations directorate and as a Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense. General Milley’s operational deployments include the Multi-National Force and Observers, Sinai, Egypt; Operation Just Cause, Panama; Operation Uphold Democracy, Haiti; Operation Joint Endeavor, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq; and three tours during Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. He also deployed to Somalia and Colombia. In addition to his bachelor’s degree in political science from Princeton University, General Milley has a master’s degree in international relations from Columbia University and one from the U.S. Naval War College in national security and strategic studies. He is also a graduate of the MIT Seminar XXI National Security Studies Program.
Robert Patrick, Actor
Robert Patrick has worked with the top actors and directors in his field for the last 20 years. His breakthrough role came as the legendary T-1000 in Terminator 2. He was the first actor in the history of motion capture and since then, he has worked on iconic films and television shows including Die Hard 2, Wayne's World, Last Action Hero, Fire in the Sky, Cop Land, The Faculty, Walk the Line, Bridge to Terabithia, Spy Kids, Flags of Our Fathers, The Sopranos, The Outer Limits, Elvis, The Unit, The X-Files, Sons of Anarchy and True Blood. He starred as Agent Cabe Gallow in Scorpion for CBS for four seasons and most recently was seen in The Laundromat and Perry Mason. He is currently co-starring in the new series Peacemaker. Patrick is a lifelong supporter of the military and the USO. The grandson of an Army veteran, who served during World Wars I and II and the Korean War, Patrick grew up with a profound respect for troops. He regularly goes on USO hospital visits and has participated in four USO tours to seven countries since 2008, visiting more than 8,100 service members and military families. As a longtime motorcycle enthusiast and Boozefighter, Patrick served for years as an Honorary Grand Marshall for the famed Love Ride which benefited veterans. He became the proud co-owner of Harley-Davidson Santa Clarita.
Dean Phillips is a father, businessman, civic leader, eternal optimist, Representative for Minnesota's Third Congressional District in Congress, and a Gold Star Son who lost his father, Artie, in the Vietnam War. He was later adopted into the Phillips family when his mother, DeeDee, married Eddie Phillips. Raised in Edina, Dean earned his undergraduate degree from Brown University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Business. He worked at a variety of small startups before eventually led his family's business, Phillips Distilling and building Talenti Gelato into one of the country's top-selling ice cream brands. He now co-owns Penny's Coffee, a small business in the Twin Cities, and is active in Minnesota's philanthropic community through the Phillips Family Foundation. In Congress, Dean prioritizes restoring America's faith in government. He advocates for collaboration, common ground, and the end of influence of special interest money in politics. Dean is Vice Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and a member of the House Ethics, Small Business, and Foreign Affairs Committees, as well as the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. He demonstrated his leadership and commitment to working across the aisle during the COVID-19 pandemic by writing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act with Texas Republican Chip Roy, which helped small businesses keep their doors open and saved thousands of American jobs. Dean was a voice for oversight and transparency of trillions of pandemic-related stimulus dollars, and he led the Problem Solvers Caucus to deliver bipartisan solutions for the American people. The nonpartisan Lugar Center ranks Dean as the 13th most bipartisan out of 435 Members of Congress. He has been named a Fiscal Hero by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and was recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with the Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship in the 116th and 117th Congress.
The U.S. Army Band Downrange
Downrange supports the men and women of the Armed Services through popular music while reaching all audiences, young and old, with their continuously up-to-date repertoire of rock, pop, country, R & B, and inspirational signature patriotic arrangements that are popular with all listeners.
The U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps
"The Commandant's Own," the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps' mission is to provide music and drill ceremony to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Commanding Officer of Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. founded in 1934 as an augmentation to the United States Marine Band, "The Commandant's Own" is the only active duty drum and bugle corps currently serving in our Armed Forces.
Tony David & WildeFire (Pamela Hughes & Kerry Edwards)
Tony David is an active Board Member for The Colorado TAPS Celebrity Classic. Tony has supported TAPS not only locally in Colorado but now on a National level. Tony has been an active Board Member for 15 years and he as well as his singing partners have personally raised over $400K donating their time performing and assistance in fund raisers across the Denver Metro area.