The Military Affairs Committee provides recognition to our local military community, which is comprised of active-duty personnel, reserve personnel, veterans, and their respective spouses and families; help members of the Vegas Chamber conduct more business with Nellis, Creech, and the Nevada National Security Site; and encourages businesses to hire veterans.
M.A.C. Committee Articles
- 20th ATKS ‘Hellhounds’ earn RPA Squadron of the Year by Robert Brooks 432nd Wing/432 Air Expeditionary Wing
- Check-In with Major Kyle W. Bailey by Betty Boyd
- Why Have MAC Night Out? by Betty Boyd
- Veterans Corner: Cynthia Ellis by Betty Boyd
- MAC Champion: Tamra Coulter by Betty Boyd
- Non-Profit Profile: Keri Serrano by Betty Boyd
- I Am a Veteran by Lt. Nicolle Mathison, 57th Wing Public Affairs
- Non Profit Spotlight: Bunker Labs Las Vegas by Betty Boyd
- The Chapel Corps and Resilience by Senior Airman Jeremy Wentworth
- Falls Church, Va., April 27, 2020
- Check-In with Brigadier General Novotny By Betty Boyd and Chris Crooks
- MAC Night Out 2020 by Betty Boyd
- Veterans Corner: Munitions Flight Commander Elizabeth Kueker by Betty Boyd
- MAC Champion by Betty Boyd
Military ResourcesNevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation
Labor statistics, job opportunities, certification information, and other useful employment resources.Nevada Job Connect
A statewide network that connects businesses with employees, all in one convenient system.Silver State Works
Helping to put Nevadans back to work.My Next Move for Veterans
Helping veterans plan their post-military careers.National Resource Directory
An online partnership for wounded, ill, and injured service members, veterans, their families, and those who support them.U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
A central place for health care, benefits, and other information and resources available from the federal government to U.S. veterans and their families.Mesothelioma.com
Mesothelioma.com has been dedicated to raising awareness on the dangers of asbestos exposure since 1996. Veterans make up over 30% of those impacted by mesothelioma, and our organization provides information and resources for patients and their families. We engage with communities that can benefit from knowing more about mesothelioma research, news, and preventative measures.”
Hiring a veteran can bring a new level of knowledge and experience to your organization. Here are some resources employers can use when hiring a veteran.U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Opportunity to Work for Employers
Information on incentives and tax credits for employers hiring and training veterans.Career OneStop Business Center: Hire a Vet
Post job openings, find out how to translate military skills, and get information on tax incentive eligibility.U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service
U.S. Department of Labor-specific information on hiring incentives, identifying yourself as a veteran-friendly employer, and other U.S. DOL resources.Private Security Jobs
Vetted defense and private security jobs & personnel.
2023 M.A.C. Night Out
MAC Night Out: Celebrating Our Heroes
By Jessica Fama & Jonathan Porras
May 25, 2023
MAC Night Out was held on Thursday, May 18th, at the Westgate Resort and Casino to honor outstanding servicemembers who go above and beyond to make our country safe. A local non-profit organization was also recognized for supporting the Las Vegas military community and helping to make our community a better place to work, live, and do business. The Vegas Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee (MAC) is a key factor in building and nurturing relationships and connecting resources to better serve our military and veterans throughout the year.
Brigadier General Robert G. Novotny (ret) was the official master of ceremonies for the evening, with President and CEO of the Vegas Chamber, Mary Beth Sewald, and Chairman of the Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee, Chris Crooks, as co-hosts for the event. Veteran Benefits Guide was a platinum sponsor, helping to make this night special for Nellis Air Force Base, Creech Air Force Base, The Nevada National Guard, their families, and all who were in attendance.
With over 300 guests, the room was filled with cheers, pride, and gratitude. Preceding the award ceremony, attendees gathered for photo ops, conversations, and cocktails; specifically the “Drink of the Century,” which was graciously provided by the platinum sponsor, Century Gaming. As guests rendezvoused, veterans and active military members shared their stories and recognized one another for their efforts in their respective fields.
The night started with the Nellis Honor Guard Presentation of Colors with Mr. Robert Brooks from Creech Air Force Base singing the National Anthem in front of our American Flag. The tone was set by Mary Beth Sewald as she kicked off the evening with a heartfelt speech saying, “We’re so honored to be able to provide this night for all of you and your families, who give so much to our community and service to our amazing country. At the Vegas Chamber we strive to emulate you…we strive to have a heart for being servant leaders, like you are…We really want you to walk away tonight knowing how much we care and how much we appreciate you.”
Each award recipient received a special trophy, certificates of appreciation, and a generously filled backpacks. The custom backpacks were generously sponsored by MGM Resorts International. The bags were handed out by John Flynn, Vice President of Administration at MGM and the leader of MGM’s Global Aviation Division, Security Operations Division, and Military and Veterans Program, respectively.
The first award of the night was The Nellis Air Force Base Airman of the Year and awarded to Senior Airman Illana V. Mistretta, who played a critical role during the evacuation of Kabul delivering water to thousands of evacuees. Airman Mistretta teamed with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which raised awareness for 5K medics and garnered $116,000 for their organization. Presenting her award was Josh Smith, CEO of Veteran Benefit Guide.
Timothy Cogswell, Vice President and General Manager of Century Gaming Nevada presented the next award, Creech Air Force Base Airman of the Year to Senior Airman Clarissa R. Altum. Senior Airman Altum is a Sensor Operator with the 17th Attack Squadron flying 762 hours throughout the year. She represented the female aviators at the Women in Aviation event sharing her experiences with over 300 young women in the Las Vegas area.
The Nellis Air Force Base Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year was presented by the Las Vegas Raiders. Through the Raiders Foundation, our home team focuses on honoring and empowering the military, veterans, and their families through the support of programs which provide immediate and ongoing assistance. The award went to Technical Sergeant Yuka P. Hareyama, who is the Unit Training Manager for the United States Air Force Demonstration Team, The Thunderbirds. She championed the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Multi-Capable Airmen Initiative by training 10 career fields on 14 air transportation tasks and soared airlift operation quals by double, which fortified $48 million of cargo and 720 passengers for 30 national aviation events.
The Creech Air Force Base Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year was awarded to Technical Sergeant Danielle Schilling by Edgar Patino, Director of Energy Supply Contract Management and Special Programs at NV Energy. Technical Sergeant Schilling was deployed to Africa for 225 days in support of Operation Inverted Light. While there she helped to oversee an English language and cultural class. In Las Vegas, she volunteers to help JROTC’s and organized the flight’s donations of clothing to Las Vegas homeless shelters.
The next award was presented by Vice President of Business Services/Military Affairs at America First Credit Union, Kimberli Green, who is also a current MAC member for the Vegas Chamber, Executive Committee of the Top of Utah Military Affairs and recently appointed to the Air Combat Command Commander’s Group, respectively. She gave the award for Nellis Air Force Base Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year to Senior Master Sergeant Christopher M. Sellar. Sellar is the Assistant Chief Air Traffic Controller filling the #1 Air Force Air Traffic Control Senior Master Sergeant position. As the 52nd Wing Air Force Sergeants Association President, he created the largest membership growth throughout the Division and was elected the association’s Regional Director for Nevada.
The Creech Air Force Base Senior Non-Commissioned Officer was awarded to Master Sergeant Aisha McDonald by Senior Director of Security Emergency Services for the Nevada National Security Site, Anthony Mendez. Master Sergeant Aisha McDonald is the 732 Operations Group, Intelligence Operations Flight Chief. In her current role, she is charged with leading a 53-member flight, the largest Intelligence Flight on Creech Air Force Base in supporting 2,100 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance hours, which resulted in 21 successful airstrikes. She also volunteers with the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada as a social coordinator, teaching young girls about integrity, character, and service.
Colonel Jennifer Archer, System Director for The Valley Health System, presented the next award, Nevada Air National Guardsman of the Year to Senior Airman Lea M. Williams. Senior Airman Williams was instrumental in implementing a top-secret network enclave, deploying 24 critical nodes which established secure connectivity for over 250 warfighters and 30 General Officers during the 2023 Weapons and Tactics Conference. She also volunteers as Rancho High School’s Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach and mentors 10 student athletes on sportsmanship, team building, and leadership.
The Nevada Army National Guardsman of the Year was presented by Business Goals Coach for U.S. Bank, Walt Carey, who is a retired Master Sergeant of the United States Air Force. Carey had a career spanning 20 years as a Munitions Inspector and Program Manager (retired from Nellis Air Force Base in 2014). The award was given to Staff Sergeant Alec M. Canepa-Teal, who is assigned to the 609th Engineer Company, Fallon, Nevada. Since his integration into the unit and the Corp of Engineers he has proven to be a force multiplier to the unit’s overall mission and performance. On his personal time, he competes in the Unit, Battalion, and State Best Warrior competitions in the Non-Commissioned Officer category taking first place in each.
For the Non-Profit of the Year award, the Military Affairs Committee asked for nominations for nonprofits that have served veterans in Las Vegas. The criteria included an impeccable reputation in the veteran and civilian community, the value of the services they provided, and feedback from local veterans on the nominated groups. MAC members then voted on which organization they thought was most deserving of this honor. This award is named in honor of JD Daniels, who was the first Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee. Under JD’s leadership MAC Night Out was actualized. JD presented the award to the Southern Nevada Veterans Chamber of Commerce (SNVCC). Lester Lumbad, President of the SNVCC and former airman, is dedicated to advocating for veterans’ issues and supporting employment and education within the Las Vegas military community. They are committed to providing opportunities for veterans to excel in their post-military careers.
To round out this spectacular event, Chris Crooks surprised General Robert Novotny with his own award, for his last year as Master of Ceremonies and for his many contributions to the Military Affairs Committee. The look of astoundment was written on Novotny’s face as he humbly accepted his award. The audience gave a standing ovation for the comradery that was displayed on the stage while these two long-standing friends embraced as the night came to an end.
The Vegas Chamber would like to extend another round of thanks to Westgate Resort and Casino for graciously hosting this event. Thank you to the companies and individuals that generously donated items for the awardee custom backpacks: Bobi Oates, Body 20, Bootlegger Italian Restaurant, Desert Dogs Lacrosse, Las Vegas Aviators, MGM Resorts, The Morris Group, National Hospitality Management, Raytheon, Revel Communities, and T-Bird Jewels. Thank you to platinum sponsors: Veteran Benefits Guide and Century Gaming. Thank you to the gold sponsors: America First Credit Union, Bank of Nevada, Las Vegas Raiders, MGM Resorts, Nevada National Security Site, NV Energy, Southwest Airlines, Southwest Gas, US Bank, and The Valley Health System. Thank you to the silver sponsors: Amusement Exhibit and Event Services, Balloon Pros, Cristo Rey St. Viator Preparatory High School, Fiore Industries, Hospitality Heroes, JPMorgan Chase, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Leadership Foundation of Greater Las Vegas, Nevada Military Support Alliance, Sunshine Minting Inc., The Travelers Companies, and University of Phoenix.
Thank you again to all the service men and women for keeping our beautiful country safe, and to all the veterans who have served in our military. We thank you for your service.
Committee Chair – Chris Crooks
Christopher Crooks is a Senior Managing Director based at the firm’s Las Vegas office. Chris and his team advise tenants, property owners and developers of office and industrial buildings in making strategic decisions that are critical to the success of their operations. Acting as a non-budgetary real estate department, the team’s high-level strategic process is designed to deliver exceptional outcomes for their clients and to maximize the value of their leased or owned real estate.
Prior to joining Newmark, Chris spent 24 years at Cresa in Boston and Washington, D.C. In his vision to expand specialty tenant representation services, he spearheaded numerous company initiatives while at Cresa, including co-founding the Armed Forces Practice Group in 2016 and an educational and cultural platform for the company’s national board of directors which he was elected to in 2014. Additionally, Chris was a Manager and Senior Associate at Heberger & Associates/Lexington Partners from 1992 to 1995, adding commercial appraisal experience to his professional arsenal.