The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
The Commission was established by the World War One Centennial Commission Act, part of Public Law 112-272 passed by the 112th Congress and signed by President Obama on January 16, 2013, and further refined by Public Law 113-291, Subtitle J, Section 3091. The Commission is responsible for planning, developing, and executing programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War One; encouraging private organizations and State and local governments to organize and participate in activities commemorating the centennial of World War I; facilitating and coordinating activities throughout the United States relating to the centennial of World War One; serving as a clearinghouse for the collection and dissemination of information about events and plans for the centennial of World War One; and developing recommendations for Congress and the President for commemorating the centennial of World War One. The Commission is building the national World War One Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC with private donations.
The Honorary Chairs
Commissioner Colonel Robert J. Dalessandro, USA (Ret.) (Chair)
Rob Dalessandro was appointed as the deputy secretary for Headquarters Operations at the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) on September 8, 2014. Previously he was selected as a member of the Senior Executive Service and appointed as Executive Director/Chief of Military History, U.S. Army Center of Military History, on 13 February 2011.
He has over 31 years of experience in the Department of Defense serving in a variety of command and staff positions at both the operational and headquarters levels. After beginning his Federal career in 1980 as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Dalessandro served in a wide variety of leadership and staff assignments, including commands at the company, depot, and battalion levels and staff assignments at echelons of command from battalion through Department of the Army level.
Dalessandro retired from the U.S. Army in June 2009 after serving as the Director of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA. Since then, he has served as the Assistant Chief of Military History at the Center of Military History, working a wide range of administrative, technical, museum, and policy issues.
Rob was commissioned in the U.S. Army after graduating from the Virginia Military Institute with a degree in history. His graduate studies include work at the College of William and Mary, where he studied historical archeology; a master's degree in Military Arts and Science in history from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; a master's degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College; and a graduate certificate in museum collections management and care from George Washington University.
Considered one of the Army's foremost experts on battlefield interpretation, Mr. Dalessandro is widely published on the lifeways and material culture of the American Soldier.
He is editor of the Army Officer's Guide, and coauthor of Organization and Insignia of the American Expeditionary Force, 1917-1923; Willing Patriots: Men of Color in the First World War; and American Lions: The 332nd Infantry Regiment in Italy in World War One. He is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the Society for Military History, American Association of Museums, and the Company of Military Historians. He has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Parachutist Badge.
He was appointed to the Commission by the House Minority Leader, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California.
Commissioner Edwin L. Fountain (Vice Chair)
Edwin Fountain of Arlington, Virginia has served as General Counsel of the American Battle Monuments Commission since March 2015. He was previously a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of the international law firm Jones Day, where he practiced for 24 years. He is the grandson of two World War I veterans.
In 2008 he co-founded the World War I Memorial Foundation, which successfully advocated for funding to restore the District of Columbia's World War I memorial on the National Mall, and which has advocated for establishment of a national World War I memorial in the nation's capital. Edwin is a member of Leadership Arlington and is past president of the DC Preservation League, the leading historic preservation nonprofit in the nation's capital.
He was appointed to the commission by the then-Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.
Commissioner Jerry L. Hester
Jerry L. Hester. Graduate Mechanical Engineer, North Carolina State University, 1953. Former U.S. Air Force Officer, 429th Fighter Bomber Squadron. Served in the Defense Industry for over 25 years engaged in such leading edge technologies as electronic reconnaissance, electronic warfare, tactical & strategic weapons development, laser guided weapons, aerial gunships, night vision both ground and air operations. President of his own firm, Interdyne Corporation, for 35 years in Prime Contractor support operations world wide in U.S. Military logistic, construction and facilities support in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, Ecuador & the United States.
His interest in World War I aviation stems from early childhood during the age of early flights in open bi-wing aircraft & Ford Tri-motors that offered a thrilling ride for $3 dollars. He then witnessed the World War II activity at his local airport, always visiting any new aircraft that landed. A lost chapter was filled when a neighbor was describing World War I as he had served in the infantry. Local library and monuments served as catalyst to seek more information over the years. After ten trips into the World War I battle areas of French, British and American sectors, museums & monuments the natural marriage of WWI & it's aviation become his focus in later years of study & research. Hester was formerly Chairman of the 70th Anniversary WWI National Committee.
He was appointed to the Commission by the then-Minority Leader of the United States Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Commissioner Colonel Thomas Moe, USAF (Ret.)
Colonel Thomas Moe recently concluded a chapter in his nearly 50 years of military and public service, retiring from the cabinet of Governor John Kasich as Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. Moe enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1961 and also enrolled in college. He graduated in 1965 from Capital University as a Distinguished Military Graduate earning a regular commission in the U.S. Air Force. He later graduated from the University of Notre Dame where he eventually served as Chair of the Department of Aerospace Studies.
During the Vietnam War he flew 85 combat missions in the F-4 aircraft including 65 over North Viet Nam. He became a POW in January 1968 and was not released until March 1973. Moe was held alongside Sen. John McCain in prison and also was held in the infamous camp known as the "Hanoi Hilton." Following repatriation, he flew the F-16 and other fighters throughout his Air Force career and is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and U. S. Army War College.
In 1995 he retired after having served in a number of command and staff positions including commander of a combat-ready fighter squadron. He earned 24 awards and decorations including two Silver Stars, the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, two Purple Hearts, and seven Air Medals. He has also received a number of public service awards including induction into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor and honors from the University of Notre Dame, Capital University, the Daughters of the American Revolution, The American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America. He is a life member of the VFW (Lancaster Post 1380), AMVETS (Lancaster Post 1985) and Viet Nam Veterans of America (Lancaster Chapter 1045). He is also a Master Mason, a member of the Scottish Rite, 32nd degree and Sons of the American Revolution (Hocking Valley Chapter) as well as the Fairfield Heritage Association, the Farm Bureau and others.
After retiring from the Air Force, Tom served in a number of positions including Military Studies Fellow at the Kroc Peace Institute, University of Notre Dame, Director of the Ohio Troops to Teachers program and Director of the Fairfield County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland security.
He was appointed to the Commission by the then-Speaker of the House, Congressman John A. Boehner of Ohio
Commissioner Ambassador Theodore “Tod” Sedgwick
Ambassador Tod Sedgwick of Virginia is a Fellow at the Transatlantic Center at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Study and a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, positions he has held since 2015. He previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Slovak Republic from 2010 to 2015.
From 1987 to 2010, Sedgwick was President and CEO of Sedgwick Publishing Co. During that period, he was also President and CEO of Red Hills Lumber Co. from 2000 to 2008 and Director of Sedgwick Land Company from 1992 to 1998. In 2001, he founded IO Energy, an online energy information company covering the natural gas, coal, and electricity industries, and served as its Chairman from 2001 to 2004.
He also founded Pasha Publications, a specialty publisher focused on energy, defense and environment markets, and served as the chief executive from 1978 to 1998.
Since 2015, Sedgwick has served on the Board of Directors for the Slovak American Foundation. He is also a Trustee for the Institute of Current World Affairs. He has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Folger Shakespeare Library, Shakespeare Theater Co., the Civil War Preservation Trust, and the Wetlands America Trust. Sedgwick received an A.B. from Harvard College.
Sedgwick is the great-great-grandson of Theodore Sedgwick (1746-1813), a member of the Continental Congress who served in the U.S. Senate, and was the fourth Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. His grandfather, Ellery Sedgwick, Sr., was editor and publisher of Atlantic Monthly magazine. His father, Ellery Sedgwick, Jr., was a naval intelligence officer during the D-Day invasion and his uncle, William Ross Bond, was a brigadier general who was killed in the Vietnam War.
He was appointed to the Commission by then-President Barack Obama.
Commissioner Terry Hamby
Terry Hamby is a Viet Nam veteran, serving in the Naval Air Wing during the conflict. After discharge he joined the US Army Reserves, retiring with 26 years of service in 1993. Mr. Hamby is part of a family filled with a tradition of military service with his Great Grandfather serving in the Civil War Union Army, his Grandfather was in the Army during WWI, his father served in the Army Pacific Theater during WWII, and his son served in the Navy during the Persian Gulf War. As a result, Mr. Hamby has dedicated his life to serving and honoring our U.S. military and is a Life Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Mr. Hamby has over 45 years of experience providing Base Operations and Support Services and Construction for the Department of Defense, both as a civil servant and later as a contractor. He was the founder and CEO of BMAR & Associates, Inc., which provided services to the Department of Defense in CONUS and OCONUS to include the Far East, Middle East, Africa, Europe and Central America.
As a native Kentuckian, Mr. Hamby has been actively involved in Community Military Affairs for over 25 years. He was awarded the Department of Army Commanders Award for Public Service for his work with the Association of the United States Army, Ft. Campbell and Citizens for Ft. Campbell Group. The mission of this group is working to improve the Quality of Life for the Soldiers and Families of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Ft. Campbell and the US Army. He was also recognized by the Commander as an honorary member of the 101st Airborne Division, (Air Assault).
Mr. Hamby is keenly interesting in the memorialization of significant events in history so our citizens are aware of the accomplishments of our service members and never forget their sacrifices that shaped and protected this great experiment of Democracy!
He was appointed to the Commission by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Commissioner Dr. Libby O'Connell
Libby H. O’Connell is currently the Chief Historian Emeritus at History Channel, where she worked for 23 years in education and corporate social responsibility. She has appeared as a commentator on History and A&E Network, as well as on CNN, the Today Show, and other news channels. Libby O’Connell’s work in television and education has received four national “Emmy” awards, White House recognition, and numerous other honors.
Dr. O’Connell’s recent book, The American Plate: A History in 100 Bites, uses food and drink as a lens for exploring the past. She lectures around the country on World War I and on the interplay of food, drink, and society. She received her Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia.
Dr. O’Connell oversees the Education Committee of the U.S. Commission. She also serves as Chairwoman of the World War I Centennial Committee for New York City.
She was appointed to the Commission by then-President Barack Obama.
Commissioner Monique Brouillet Seefried, Ph.D.
Monique Seefried, during the past decade as president of the Croix Rouge Farm Memorial Foundation, purchased the historic land, commissioned one of the best sculptors in England and totally funded with private money a memorial statue to the US 42nd (Rainbow Division) on a WWI battlefield in France where the division fought with distinction. She also served from May 2003 until April 2009 as chairman of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Board of Governors. Prior to that, she founded and served as Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement and Study of International Education (CASIE) in Atlanta, whose board she now chairs. She also serves on the board of the United World College in New Mexico.
Between 1982 and 2002, she was Curator of Near Eastern Art at the Carlos Museum of Emory University and taught courses on Ancient Archaeology and Islamic Art in the University's Art History Department. Seefried has been a regular pro-bono lecturer on art and archaeology topics as well as on international education and more recently on World War I, its causes and its consequences.
Born a French citizen in Tunisia, Seefried became a US citizen in 1985. After a classical (Latin/Greek) secondary education, she did her undergraduate and graduate studies in History at the Sorbonne University in Paris from where she also holds her Ph.D. She is fluent in English, French, German and Italian. In 2005, the French Government made her a “chevalier” in the Order of the Academic Palms, in 2009 in the Order of Merit and in 2015 in the Order of the Legion of Honor.
She was appointed to the Commission by the then-Speaker of the House, Congressman John A. Boehner of Ohio
Commissioner Major General Alfred A. Valenzuela, USA (Ret.)
Major General Freddie Valenzuela served thirty-three years in the US Army and was highly decorated for heroism and valor. He served in three Combat Corps and six Infantry Divisions all over the world including Peru, Korea, Colombia, Turkey, Haiti, Kuwait, Grenada, Panama, Germany, El Salvador and Somalia, not to mention numerous years in interagency assignments. He commanded in the Cold War and Gulf War eras, and was awarded the two highest peace time awards upon retirement, the Defense & Army Distinguished Service Medals. He was commissioned from St. Mary’s University as a Distinguished Military Graduate and awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government. He holds a Master of Arts in Political Science, with emphasis on Latin American Studies and National Security Affairs. Additionally, he is a graduate of the Inter-American Defense College, Command and General Staff College, Armed Forces Staff College, and the Air War College. His last Assignment was as Commander, United States Army South from July 2000 until October 2003. He retired from active duty on 1 May, 2004.
MG Valenzuela is an Eagle Scout himself and was inducted into the Boys and Girls Hall Fame. He sits on the National Board of Directors for St. Mary's University, Armor Designs Inc., G.E. Philips, Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, National Recreation Board of America and USAA Federal Savings Bank. He was named one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business magazine and selected to the Board of Directors for the Cuban American Council for Education. He is President/ CEO of M.C. Valens; a service disabled veteran owned business.
He was appointed to the Commission by then-President Barack Obama.
Commissioner Debra Anderson
Debra Anderson is the Quartermaster General of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization National Headquarters in Kansas City, MO. Anderson graduated from the University of Missouri Columbia. She served for 13 years in the U.S. Army, which included deployment to Operation Desert Storm. She has been awarded the Bronze Star medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, the Southeast Asia Service Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, and the Parachutist Badge.
She left the Army in 1993 and held a variety of management positions in business from 1993-2007. Anderson joined VFW Post 7356 in Parkville, MO, in 2006 as a way to get more involved in the local community. She joined the staff of the VFW National Headquarters in 2007.
She was appointed to the Commission by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Commissioner John Monahan
John D. Monahan is retired Administrator of the Connecticut Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Fund. The Fund, an enduring legacy of the World War One generation, has provided financial assistance to needy wartime veterans, in partnership with the American Legion, since 1919.
Jack enlisted in the infantry in 1975 and subsequently served as a rifleman in the 3rd Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard”, Fort Myer, VA. He was commissioned as an armor officer in 1977 through OCS. From 1977 to 1986 he served in various assignments in tank battalions in the United States, Korea, and Germany. In 1986 Jack undertook education leading to designation as a Foreign Area Officer specializing in European affairs.Upon completion of his studies Jack was posted to Vienna, Austria, where he attended the 12th General Staff Course at the Austrian National Defense Academy.
Jack graduated from the US Army Command at General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS in 1990. During the Persian Gulf War Jack served as Deputy Director of Plans, Training and Mobilization, Fort Polk, LA. In 1992 Jack was posted to Frankfurt, Germany, and assumed duties as Operations Officer of the On-Site Inspection Agency, the joint military agency responsible for monitoring the arms-control treaty compliance of signatory nations.
Jack retired from the United States Army in 1995 as a major after twenty years of service. His military awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (3), the Army Commendation Medal (2), the Army Achievement Medal (2), the Expert Infantryman’s Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the Ranger Tab.
Jack holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Arts in European Studies from Cornell University. He has served the American Legion at the post, state and national levels and is a graduate of the American Legion National College. He is a member of the American Legion National Finance Commission and Treasurer of the American Legion Charities, Inc.
He was appointed to the Commission by the American Legion.
Commissioner Dr. Matthew Naylor
Matthew Naylor is the President and CEO of the National World War I Museum and Memorial. A native of Australia, he began his tenure at the Museum in June 2013 and possesses more than 20 years of leadership in the non-profit arena. Previously, he served as the Director of Advancement at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, MO. Dr. Naylor was a member of the institution’s executive leadership team and was responsible for development, marketing and donor services, among other duties. Prior to his tenure at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, he spent more than nine years as president of Outreach International, an international humanitarian organization that specializes in sustainable and participatory community development with a presence in 15 developing nations across the world. He earned his Ph.D. from Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
Dr. Naylor has a close connection to World War I, as his grandfather served in the Great War. One of his most prized objects is a letter from his grandfather to his family from France in 1917. Additionally, Dr. Naylor’s father was in the British Royal Tank Division for four years in World War II, and along with the letter from his grandfather, he keeps a photo in his office of his father in a tank from the battle fields of Europe.
He was appointed to the Commission by the National World War I Museum and Memorial.