Our Team

Jose Vasquez

Executive Director

Jose Vasquez (he/him) is the Executive Director of Common Defense, a diverse grassroots organization of U.S. veterans and military family members. Jose served 15 years in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged in 2007. Jose has experience in education and research, nonprofit management, organizing, and philanthropy. He lives in New York City.

Janice Jamison

Training Director

Janice Jamison (she/her) is the Training Director of Common Defense.  She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Veterans Organizing Institute (VOI) and Common Defense member education and development.  Janice served for 8 years in the Air Force as an intelligence operations analyst. She has 15 years experience in community and program development.  As a consummate creative, Janice brings to the team marketing and graphic design experience.  She lives in Evans, GA with her wife Hannah and three children.

Perry O'Brien

Organizing Director

Perry O’Brien (he/him) is the Organizing Director of Common Defense. Perry has over ten years of experience as an organizer and strategic communicator in the labor and antiwar movements. He is an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, and was Organizing Director of CIR/SEIU, a national physicians’ union. His writing has appeared in publications like The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Huffington Post, and his first novel is forthcoming from Random House.

Photo of Common Defense Interim Director of Development, Jessica James

Jessica James

Interim Director of Development

Jessica James (she/her) is the Interim Director of Development for Common Defense. With a background in social work, Jessica has spent two decades leading individuals, non-profits, and ethical corporations through transformations that allow them to raise more money, build stronger teams, and make measurable progress towards our collective goals of a more just, equitable and enlightened society.

Alex McCoy

Political Director

Alexander McCoy (he/him) is the Political Director of Common Defense. Alex served for six years in the Marine Corps, including three years in Saudi Arabia, Honduras, and Germany in support of the U.S. Department of State. Following his service, he worked in communications and veteran organizing for state and national political campaigns. He helped craft the legislative strategy to successfully pass the Fairness for Veterans Act of 2016 through a gridlocked Congress. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Reuters, Huffington Post, and others, and he has been featured on MSNBC, CNN, BBC, NPR, and TEDx Mile High.

Stephanie Flores

Communications Manager

Stephanie Flores (she/her) is a Navy veteran who believes in the power of people to reimagine systems toward a reality of justice and liberation for all; as a communications professional, her role is to amplify their stories.  She is experienced in strategic communications, issue-advocacy, training and public policy. Stephanie has served as Congressional Hispanic Caucus Public Policy Fellow, New Leaders Council Dallas Communications Chair, and New Virginia Majority Communications Director. Her advocacy includes narrative shifting around mental health, racial justice, immigration, and power structures. She holds a B.S. in Economics and Business Administration and a M.A. in Communications.

Kyle Bibby

National Campaigns Manager

Kyle Bibby (he/him) is a National Campaigns Manager for Common Defense. Kyle is a US Naval Academy graduate, a former Marine Corps Infantry officer, and a former Presidential Management Fellow with the Obama Administration’s Office of Management and Budget. Following his fellowship, he worked for a year as a Director for the New Jersey Reentry Corporation helping the formerly incarcerated transition back to society. Kyle is one of the co-founders of the Black Veterans Project.

Photo of Common Defense Operations Manager, Jessica Smucker George

Jessica Smucker George

Operations Manager

Jessica Smucker George (she/her) is the Operations Manager for Common Defense. Jessica worked for Beyond the Choir as an administrative assistant for two years before joining the Common Defense team in early 2019. She brings a diverse set of skills to the job, having previously worked in theater and film production, advertising, and journalism. She’s also a songwriter, essayist, and mom of two small boys.

Naveed Shah

Government Affairs Coordinator

Naveed Shah (he/him) is a Veteran of the U.S. Army and Operation Iraqi Freedom, from Springfield, Va. After serving on active duty in the Army for four years, including a 12 month tour in Iraq, Naveed returned to his hometown for undergraduate studies and began volunteering with veterans groups. This led to a legislative and advocacy fellowship with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in 2012. In 2016, the First Lady invited Naveed to attend Pres. Obama’s final State of the Union address, in recognition of his years of work on Veterans Issues. In 2018, Naveed worked with the Virginia Democratic Party’s Mission First initiative, to get veterans and military families involved in the political process.

Photo of Common Defense Lead Organizer, Esti Lamonaca

Esti Lamonaca

Lead Organizer

Esti Lamonaca (they/them) is an Army combat veteran who served as an intel analyst within the United States Special Operations Command. Their last deployment was to Afghanistan with SF task forces from 2015-2016. They previously organized and managed LGBTQ+ events throughout the East Coast focusing on repealing the Transgender ban and the repeal of DOMA. Esti holds a degree in Anthropology with a minor in Community Organizing.

Photo of Common Defense Lead Organizer, Joanna Sweatt

Joanna Sweatt

Lead Organizer

Joanna Sweatt (she/her) is a Post 9/11 U.S. Marine Corps turned Organizer. Her transition trials from the military led her to become a vocal veteran advocate in the state of Arizona, representing marginalized populations of veterans to include women, Native Americans, and BIPOC veterans. She is highly experienced in organizational development, cultivating human capital, and motivating stakeholder involvement. Additionally, Joanna enjoys creating and facilitating training programs around storytelling – personal narratives that diversify America’s history and opens dialogue around issue-based advocacy. She is an Arizona State University Alum, B.A. English, highly involved in the state of AZ political activities and a freelance featured writer for Freedom Sisters Magazine and has been featured in Vice News, PBS, New York Times, and McClatchy DC Bureau.

Kathryn Smith

Donor Relations Officer

Kate Smith (she/her) served as an acquisition officer in the United States Air Force after graduating from the Air Force Academy. She’s a proven leader and problem solver and has worked primarily in aerospace and telecommunication industries. Kate also has advised a cadet squadron on ethics and honor and is the advocacy director for Zoomies Against Sexual Assault (“ZASA”). She is a member of the Truman National Security Project and an Emerge Colorado alumna. She is a Notre Dame Lawyer.

Jason Hurd

Organizer

Jason Hurd (he/him) is an Iraq War veteran who served ten years as a U.S. Army combat medic, and brings a unique skill set to his movement work including: strategic planning, graphic design, and digital cartography. He holds a B.S. in Philosophy from East Tennessee State University, and a M.S. in Ecological Design from The Conway School in Northampton, MA.

Photo of Common Defense VOI Program Associate, Sophia-Helene Mees de Tricht

Sophia-Helene Mees de Tricht

VOI Program Associate

Sophia-Helene Mees de Tricht (“Lene”) (she/her) has seven years of experience in management and organizing, including building a successful transgender rights movement within a conservative university, and has been involved in political organizing for four years. She served eight years in the US Navy and two years in the US Coast Guard as an operational intelligence analyst. She was discharged from the Coast Guard for being transgender in 2012, to date, the only coast guardsman to be medically discharged under the old rules. She lives outside of Des Moines, Iowa.

Photo of Common Defense Organizer, Kyle Pritz

Kyle Pritz

Organizer

Kyle Pritz (he/him) has organized with Extinction Rebellion and Fordham Students United, which focused on community building and nonviolent civil disobedience. He served in the USMC, deployed to Afghanistan, then studied philosophy and psychology at Fordham University. He lives and writes poetry in New York City.

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