This summer, five veterans-awarded scholarships by the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund through a grant to the COMMIT Foundation-attended a 4-week business certification program at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business in Palo Alto, CA. The program, known as Stanford Ignite, was developed exclusively for post-9/11 military servicemen and women transitioning from the armed forces to a career in the corporate sector. The curriculum was developed by Stanford faculty members and consists of a 4-week general management certification program in innovation and entrepreneurship. Stanford professors are joined by corporate executives in leading the sessions.
The five Johnny Mac Fellows are combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan in a diverse range of specialties, including special operations, engineering, civil affairs, and humanitarian services. Stan Swaintek, a 2005 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and helicopter pilot who served the majority of his 10-year Army career in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, is beginning the next phase of his professional life as a Senior Manager of Marketing/Business Strategy at Flex in San Jose, CA. Stan found that "the Ignite program was a lot of fun and very informative. For me, the most direct benefit was the networking-countless introductions to influential business leaders and successful veterans in the Bay Area. The hands-on/experiential approach (built around real venture ideas) was a fun way to explore the concepts."
Nicole Baldwin is an 8-year veteran of the U.S. Army, in which she served combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan in civil affairs units that assisted local populations with reconstruction. While deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, Nicole founded and created an award-winning natural and organic skin care company. After leaving the Army, she worked as a logistics manager in the energy industry before deciding to pursue her skin care line full-time. Nicole said, "The Ignite program gave me world-class business expertise on how to create and run a successful company. We learned Design Thinking, in which we collaborated as a group to develop innovative ideas and approaches to solving common business problems..." Nicole continues to grow her beauty brand.
A former Army Special Forces Engineer, Ignite student Aaron Forum, now plans to open an indoor shooting facility and retail center in southwest Florida. The first class of Johnny Mac Fellows at the Stanford Ignite program was rounded out by veterans Thomas Hendrix and Andrew Tropp.
The Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund awarded a grant of $40,000 to the COMMIT Foundation in June 2015 for the express purpose of funding veteran education.
About Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund
Established in 2014, the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to financially assisting veterans and their family members with education expenses. The fund is inspired by Colonel John "Johnny Mac" McHugh, KIA in Kabul, Afghanistan on May 18, 2010. To learn more about or support the mission of the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund, visit www.JohnnyMac.org