WHO WE ARE
Get to know the patriots who believe in the Folds of Honor mission and are working hard to change lives in their city.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mike is a graduate of Clarion University of PA with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. For over 30 years, he has held various sales and leadership roles in the Food Service Industry. Since 2014, Mike has been with Distribution Market Advantage (DMA), a Chicago based company serving as Vice President of Business and Membership Development. Mike is proud to assist his Distribution Members in developing innovative supply chain solutions for national restaurant chains by utilizing his distribution and food service expertise. Mike and his wife, Crystal, reside in Grove City and enjoy playing golf in their spare time. Mike has served on several non-profit boards over the years. When he met Major Dan Rooney in early 2016, he immediately knew that Folds of Honor was going to be an organization that he and Crystal would align with. Later that year, Major Dan was invited to speak at DMA’s fall conference to give the keynote address to the attendees. In late 2018, they decided to embark on starting a chapter in Western PA. A year later, with the assistance of a great team of Board of Directors, our Western PA Chapter has become real. Mike feels that it is our duty as citizens to serve those that have served and sacrificed for our country.
Jason was born and raised in Pittsburgh and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh where he played baseball. He spent his first 19yrs of his career with the HJ Heinz Company and has most recently spent the last 6 years working for the J.M. Smucker Company calling on national chain restaurants as a National Account Manager. In 2018 he attended a customer event in Dallas, TX that proceeds for that event were donated to Folds of Honor. Having never served in the military and wanting to give back in some way, and recognizing the passion of the Gold Star Mother who spoke that day in Dallas and what FOH meant to her family in their time of need, Jason met with Mike Popella and set out a roadmap to create a board and launch the Folds of Honor Western PA chapter.
Derek was born and raised in Pittsburgh and graduated from Purdue University, majoring in Accounting and Management. He is a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania and has spent the first two years of his professional career with Cohen & Company, an accounting firm based in Cleveland with an office in downtown Pittsburgh. Outside of work, Derek enjoys running, golfing, and traveling. He has attended several Folds of Honor events prior to joining the board and is excited to support the organization on a deeper level.
Steve is a veteran marketer, serving in corporate, agency, education and nonprofit settings. Author of the books “Genius! Marketing: How to Brand, Target and Market Like a Genius!” and “Marketing in a Downturn”, Eckert has 25 years experience helping organizations from solo-entrepreneurs to Fortune 500s become better marketers. A past president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Marketing Association and frequent judge of regional and national marketing and business plan competitions, Eckert is well versed in both developing and implementing winning strategies and tactics. He currently serves as marketing head at Mars Bank. Steve joined Folds of Honor Western PA as a way of thanking the men and women who serve our country and made the ultimate sacrifice. He is also an advocate and supporter of Veterans in Need, Butler County.
Bob was born and raised in South Western Pennsylvania. He is the General Sales Manager at Fuhrer Eagle Sales & Service with experience in sales, budgeting, pricing, adherence to Supplier Standards, acquisitions, and recruiting for 22 years. He enjoys traveling with his family, golf, outdoors, home projects and staying active. Having had the opportunity to hear Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney speak was a moving experience and the motivation behind my involvement in Folds of Honor. The passion for his cause, clear purpose and dedication to help military families is unquestioned.
Robyn Jones is a Real Estate Professional with Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty. Born and Raised in Sewickley, she comes from a long line of military veterans. After graduating from Ole Miss, and beginning her career in marketing in Louisiana, she returned home to Sewickley where she, her husband Doug, and children Jacob, Caroline and Lillian enjoy life in this great community. Her parents instilled a heart for service in her at an early age, as they were founding members of Christ Church at Grove Farms and she previously sat on the Board of the Child Health Association of Sewickley. Robyn holds a Masters in Organizational Leadership and multiple Real Estate Certifications and Top Producer Awards. With an extensive background in marketing and event planning, she hopes to spread the message of Folds of Honor throughout Western Pennsylvania.
Crystal Popella RN, CCM
Starting as the “Supporting Wife” role of Folds of Honor, Western PA Chapter Founder and President in 2019 quickly pivoted to a fully engaged, active role and board member. My current responsibilities within our chapter include but not limited to Topgolf Event coordinator, volunteer coordinator, merchandise manager, board secretary and other duties as assigned. With a background as a nurse and healthcare consultant, always striving to do and be better while building relationships keeps our team growing and driving to outperform past events.
Lt Col Edward W. Jackson
Lt Col Jackson joined the Savannah Air National Guard in 1995 as an Undergraduate Pilot Training Candidate to fly the mighty C-130 Hercules. Lt Col Jackson graduated from C-130 co-pilot school in 1997 and immediately headed over to Europe to fly combat missions in support of the NATO stabilization forces (SFOR) in Bosnia/Herzegovina and Kosovo. In 2000, Lt Col Jackson accepted a full-time position with the 758th Airlift Squadron, United States Air Force Reserve (USAFR) in Coraopolis Pennsylvania continuing to fly missions in support of SFOR and serving as the Chief of Training for the pilots in 758 AS and a C-130 Instructor Pilot. After the terror attacks on 9/11/2001 Lt Col Jackson was activated to Active Duty combat in support of US Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq from the end of 2003 until the end of 2005 and returned back to the Middle East in 2010 and 2015 massing up just about 1000 hours of Combat Flying in the C-130.
Over his 26 ½ year career with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Lt Col Jackson was awarded the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, 4 Air Medals for Combat, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, 5 Meritorious Unit Awards, 4 Outstanding Unit Award with Valor, 12 Combat Readiness Medals, 2 National Defense Service Medals, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, 3 Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbons with Gold Border, 6 Air Force Longevity Service Medals, 3 Armed Forces Reserve Medals with 7 “M” Devices, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon (Pistol), AF Training Ribbon and NATO Medal.
In 2011 Lt Col Jackson left his fulltime position with the Air Force Reserve to work as an Aviation Safety Inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) where today he is the Principal Operations Inspector (POI) for Piedmont Airlines. Lt Col Jackson’s greatest accomplishment was convincing his wife Amber to marry him in 2007 and they have two terrific sons Colton (12) and Ryder (11). After flying the C-130 for 23 years the Jackson Family all traveled to Altus Air Force Base and lived in Altus Oklahoma from September 2018 to March 2019 where Lt Col Jackson learned to fly the C-17 and is set to retire from the Air Force Reserve on 12 February 2021.
Chris J. McKnight, PGA
Chris is the Head Golf Professional at Laurel Valley Golf Club in Ligonier, PA and has been employed by the club since 1987. He has been on the board of directors for the TriState PGA and currently serves on the tournament committee. For the past 15 years, Chris has been a board member for Junior Achievement of WPA. He has been involved in several charity causes including Holy Trinity School of Ligonier and Adelphoi Village.
Chris earned a BS in Business Administration from Fairmont State University. He has a wife, Rita, and children, Samantha, Thomas and Morgan and a grandchild, Felicity. Chris’ father, Jerry, served our country in WWII in the Navy and was stationed in the South Pacific. His uncle, James Horstman, was killed in action during WWII at the Battle of Iwo Jima. Chris has a deep admiration for all who serve in the military and is honored to be a board member of Western PA Folds of Honor. He is thrilled to give back, in a small way, to those who have given everything.
1st Lt NG ANG 171 MSG/MSC Mike Boyd
Mike is a member of the Folds of Honor Military Committee and is a 15-year veteran of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, currently serving at the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Coraopolis, PA. In the past, he has served as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the 171st Base Honor Guard, participating in parades, funerals, and other events around Western PA. A graduate of both the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University, he worked in several different operational roles in the private sector, and now functions as the Base Contracting Officer for the 171st. A third-generation military veteran on both sides of his family, Mike has long been involved in the military community, and feels privileged to be a part of the Folds of Honor mission.