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 Director of Training for 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 U.S. 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

Climate Justice Director

Perry O’Brien (he/him) is the Climate Justice 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 a U.S. 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 Development Director, Jessica James

Jessica James

Development Director

Jessica James (she/her) is the 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.

Naveed Shah

Political Director

Naveed Shah (he/him) is a Veteran of the U.S. Army and Operation Iraqi Freedom, from Springfield, Va. After serving on active duty 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. For the past 9 years, Naveed has been involved in building political power for veterans across the nation. He holds a B.S. from the University of Virginia where he studied Political Science.

Photo of Common Defense Organizing Director, Joanna Sweatt

Joanna Sweatt

Organizing Director

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.

Jacob Thomas

Communications Director

Jacob Thomas is an Air Force veteran who served during and after the discriminatory DADT ban on LGBTQ+ Service Members. He has more than a decade of experience in community organizing and communications strategy with a focus on intersectional Queer and Trans movement work. A graduate of the 2017 VOI Cohort, Jacob has used his veteran experience to volunteer and organize with Common Defense for past 5 years before officially joining staff in this new capacity as the Communications Director.

Kyle Bibby

National Campaigns Manager

Kyle Bibby (he/him) is a National Campaigns Manager for Common Defense. Kyle is a U.S. 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 Finance & Operations Manager, Stephanie Manansala

Stephanie Manansala

Finance & Operations Manager

Stephanie Manansala (she/her) is the Finance and Operations Manager for Common Defense.  Stephanie is a U.S. Army Veteran who served as a Human Resources and Logistics Specialist at Joint Force Headquarters in Fort Dix, NJ.  After her military service, she began engaging with local organizations that advocate for women’s rights, peace, and culturally marginalized communities.  Stephanie holds a B.A. in Public and Nonprofit Administration from Rutgers University.

Sophia-Helene Mees de Tricht

National Membership Manager

Sophia-Helene Mees de Tricht (“Lene”) (she/her) served eight years in the U.S. Navy and two years in the U.S. 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 has eight 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 five years. She lives in New York City.

Photo of Common Defense Organizer, Zach Shrewsbury

Zach Shrewsbury

Organizer

Zachary Shrewsbury (he/him) served 5 years in the U.S. Marine Corps infantry. In 2015, after serving on active duty, he began working on political campaigns from Seattle to West Virginia. He has organized rallies and town halls to engage local communities that are often “forgotten” within both political parties. Zach has crafted mutual aid platforms and engages in various forms of advocacy. He currently resides in Fayetteville, West Virginia.

Lakiesha Lloyd

Climate Justice Organizer

Lakiesha Lloyd is a Climate Justice Organizer for Common Defense. She is a disabled Army veteran who served from 2001-2010. Lakiesha Lloyd organizes around issues concerning the impacts of climate change and the need for renewable energy jobs for veterans. She is a resident of Charleston, WV.

Photo of Common Defense Digital Associate, Yichen Yao

Yichen Yao

Digital Associate

Yichen Yao (he/him) is a Marine Corps veteran who served one tour in Afghanistan. After his military service, he served as a fellow with The Mission Continues, where he advocated for food justice in underserved communities in South Eastern San Diego. Yichen holds a B.A. in Computer Science with a concentration in Machine Learning from Columbia University.

Carrie Frail

VOI Program Associate

Carrie Frail (she/her) is the Program Associate for Common Defense’s Veterans Organizing Institute. She comes from a legacy Air Force family and is a 5-year U.S. Air Force veteran who served as a Korean linguist and intelligence analyst. She translated those skills directly into the defense contracting arena post service for over 8 years, which led her to transfer those talents into advocacy and holistic service spaces. Carrie’s vast professional skills include communications outreach, social media marketing, training facilitation, event planning, and project management. Her lived experiences as an unhoused veteran propelled Carrie on her current path as an advocate, activist, and organizer for progressive social change.

An Excelsior Alum (B.A. Language: Korean), a Neo-Pagan and practicing witch, she is always ready for Good Trouble.

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