Board of Directors

Click to read individual bios

LT COL Richard D. Cantwell (USA, ret.), Chairman

Mr. Cantwell is the president of Odell International, a program management firm headquartered in Charlotte, NC. His firm works with clients in the Middle East in healthcare, security, and project management.

Richard D. Cantwell is a 1975 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and is a decorated combat veteran. He completed a distinguished 20-year career in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1995. Rick received a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas in 1983 and the Construction Executive Program at Stanford in 1987.

As the Engineer Program Manager of the United States Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, Rick was responsible for the planning, programming, budgeting, design and construction of all facilities. Rick was routinely called upon to testify and brief Congressional committees where he earned the trust and respect of many senior leaders. Rick was a member of special operations teams that conducted threat and vulnerability assessments in dozens of countries around the world.

Mr. Cantwell commanded a 625-man combat engineer battalion in South Korea stationed on the 38th parallel of the Demilitarized Zone to plan for and prepare against aggression by North Korea.

After 27 years of experience in special operations engineering, program management, and security operations, Richard D. Cantwell is a subject matter expert on counterterrorist procedures and methodologies. Congresswoman Sue Myrick appointed Mr. Cantwell as the Chairman of her Homeland Security Task Force. Additionally, Mr. Cantwell co-chairs the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Homeland Security Working Group with Major General (Retired) Wynn Mabry.

Served 20 years with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. In the position of MACOM Engineer for the United States Army Special Operations Command, responsible for the Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution of all facilities. Supervised the Long Range Planning, Environmental Assessment, and Master Planning for the command. Supervised the preparation and submission of Capital Investment Programs and Project Development Brochures. Supervised the planning and construction for the Special Operations Medical Training Facility at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

UAE Military Medical Upgrade Program, Abu Dhabi, UAE; Security Operation Training Facility, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina; Special Operations Forces Headquarters, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina; 3rd Special Forces Group, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina; 10th Special Forces Group, Ft. Carson, Colorado; Special Operations Medical Training, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina; Civil Affairs / Pysops Group, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina; Special Operations Diving Facility, Key West, Florida; United States Army Special Operations Worldwide Facilities, (35 US States plus 4 International Sites).

MAJ GEN Charles H. Swannack, Jr. (USA, ret.), President

Major General Charles H. Swannack, Jr. was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry from the United States Military Academy on 9 June 1971. He has proudly served his Nation for thirty plus years in command and staff positions at every level from platoon to Department of the Army.

Prior to retiring, MG Swannack commanded the 82nd Airborne Division from October 2002-May 2004. During this time, he provided forces to Combined Joint Task Force-180 for combat operations in Afghanistan, and he personally led the Division during combat operations from Kuwait to Baghdad and later civil-military operations in Al Anbar Province, western Iraq.

Prior general officer assignments include: Commanding General of Multinational Division (North) and Task Force Eagle during Operation JOINT FORGE (SFOR 11) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he oversaw implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords; Commanding General of the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, where he was the senior trainer for all Light, Airborne, Air Assault, Ranger and Special Forces units in the Army; and Deputy Director for Strategy, Plans and Policy within the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, Headquarters, Department of the Army. His initial assignment as a general officer was with the 82nd Airborne Division as the Assistant Division Commander (Operations).

As a Brigade Commander, MG Swannack deployed to Haiti for peacekeeping operations during Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY. He also served in the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate, J5, the Joint Staff, where he was instrumental in developing and executing US strategy and policy for Central America and the Caribbean Basin. As a Battalion Commander, he deployed to Panama during Operation NIMROD DANCER and subsequently participated in combat operations during Operation JUST CAUSE.

MG Swannack is a graduate of Capstone and the National War College. He holds a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. His decorations include the Legion of Merit (6OLC) and Bronze Star Medal (1OLC). He proudly wears the Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab.

Initially in retirement, MG Swannack provided consultation services to multiple defense corporations and primarily served in the capacity of a trainer, coach and mentor to Brigade Combat Teams preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2010-2013, he served as CEO of the Logistics Services Division, Louis Berger Services (formerly US Logistics, Inc.) a $50MM veteran logistics services company. In early 2014, MG Swannack joined Speedway Motorsports as Executive Director for Speedway Children’s Charities, a 501c (3) nonprofit, with the mission of assisting underprivileged children to become productive adults. In early 2019, MG Swannack was named Vice President, Armed Forces Affairs and now leads a new initiative “Welcome Home Patriots” to improve the lives of post-servicemen and servicewomen.

MG Swannack is married, has twin children and eight grandchildren.


Mr. Zan Zeige is a real estate broker and business entrepreneur based in Chattanooga, TN. In addition to the marketing of residential and commercial properties, Mr. Zeige works with clients to create investment portfolios of real estate ventures. Zan graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1976, and is a veteran. He retired from the military in 2000 after serving over 20 years as an Infantry Officer and Master Army Aviator on active duty, in the Unites States Army Reserves, and the Army National Guard.

After leaving active duty in 1982, Zan entered the business world as a Quality Assurance Engineer for Electro-Optics Weapons Systems with Texas Instruments. While in this position, he successfully oversaw the design, manufacturing, and testing for numerous weapons sighting systems and missile programs. In conjunction with these programs, Zan developed a defects tracking system which resulted in millions of dollars in savings in the manufacturing process.

In 1986, Mr. Zeige became a business entrepreneur specializing in real estate marketing, financing, and commercial property management. From 1992 to 2004, Zan’s business efforts had evolved to the development and creation of start-up businesses in the areas of retail, marketing, sales, training, and personal development. After establishing firm business signatures and positioning in the marketplace, the businesses were made available to future owners.

From 2004 until his relocation to Chattanooga in 2014, Mr. Zeige continued pursuing personal business opportunities while trading foreign currencies in the international FOREX marketplace. Additionally, he consulted businesses on the implementation of success strategies and improvement programs to enhance operational effectiveness.

Mr. Matt Reyes, Secretary

Mr. Reyes is a business leader, coach, and entrepreneur. Mr. Reyes has led troops in combat, and managed both union and non-union people in manufacturing environments. A 1989 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, he now concentrates on real estate as the broker in Charge for Keller Williams Lake Norman in Cornelius, NC. He has helped first time homebuyers find their dream homes, started a real estate company to include recruiting and hiring agents, bought and managed investment properties. On the personal front, Matt coaches baseball for youth teams. He and his wife, also a graduate of West Point, are raising 6 kids and have been married for over 20 years.

Mrs. Bernie Dixon
Bernie is a distinguished and accomplished business executive. Following her broad and often groundbreaking career in private industry and the US Army, she founded launchpad2X a not-for-profit premier entrepreneurial accelerator for high potential growth oriented women led companies. The organization promotes and trains women leaders to launch from founder to CEO. The remarkable program boasts astounding results. An investor in a portfolio of launchpad2X companies would have recognized a 200% + return on capital in about 4 years.

Bernie has always been passionate about leveraging her positions as a senior executive to impact policy and issues and is an advocate for the advancement of women in technology. Responding to an opportunity for women entrepreneurs in emerging technology companies to break through barriers to capital markets, Bernie founded AAngels, LLC, an advisory and funding group for women owned companies with three specific goals: superior financial results, deep social benefits, and philanthropic fulfillment.

In her prior role, Bernie served as President and Chairman of the Atlanta Technology Angels, a 150-member investment network that sources, performs due diligence and post deal stewardship for early state technology companies in Georgia and the Southeast. After a stunning 5 year run, Bernie brought a growth mindset to ATA which led to ATA ranking as one of the top 3 angel networks in the US in portfolio size, members and opportunity flow. ATA, under Bernie’s leadership invested in technology-based companies with large market potential.

Capping her impressive corporate career, Bernie served as Vice President, HP Services Americas where she led the $1.8B business that supported all Manufacturing, Technology, Industrial, Consumer Products, Retail, Transportation, and Distribution Industries throughout the Americas. In that position, Bernie was recognized not only for her P&L improvement but also for her active role in embedding customer service mentality with outstanding results. She served as the sponsor and coach for the account management and customer service practices across HP and extended her mentoring and coaching reach throughout the world.

Prior to joining HP, Bernie spent more than 12 years as the Chief Information Officer for large, Fortune 100 companies: Carrier Corporation, a Division of United Technologies Corporation, Hamilton Standard, also a division of United Technologies and Raytheon Corporation, the world’s largest defense electronics producer. She has been responsible for leading and directing IT strategy and operations to run large, global enterprises in the consumer products, technology and National security markets. She actively balanced the business needs of the company with the challenges of evolving technology resulting in double digit growth in company revenues, margins, and customer satisfaction ratings.

She also served at the national and international levels to establish National Security and Telecommunication policy and practices. She has led the Information Technology practice at one of the largest business consulting companies, Booz, Allen and Hamilton, where she supported US leadership in the White House, State Department and Department of Defense.

Beginning her career as a leading member of the first class of female officers in the US Army, Bernie served as a role model and mentor for women throughout the military and public sector stressing the importance of female leaders with technical backgrounds to assist in the formulation of national security policy and planning. She served as a Military Assistant and Aide-de-Camp to the top Defense Department leader in information systems and telecommunications for national security. Bernie also served as strategic telecommunications liaison to the White House during the Reagan administration and cofounded the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee comprised of industry leaders of the 30 dominant computer and communications companies in the US. A proven leader with expertise in driving high profile, large scale change initiatives, Bernie has more than 40 years of experience in technology and private industry.

In addition to her tenure as a senior executive in private industry, she served on the Board of Trustees of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Bernie Chairs the Board of Directors of launchpad2x, USA and most recently Chaired the Board of Directors of The Atlanta Technology Angels. She serves as an adviser to Venture Capital firms and serves on the boards of several early-stage technology companies while advising hundreds of entrepreneurs and emerging companies.

Additionally, she serves on the Board of the Patriot Military Family Foundation where she often speaks on behalf of veterans.

Bernie graduated Suma cum Laude from The Pennsylvania State University where she received her commission in the US Army Signal Corps then continued her executive education at the University of Michigan Business School and the Darden School of Business. She has received the YWCA National Women’s Achiever Award, the United Way National Leader Award, The Lifetime Achievement Award from the City of Atlanta and the 2X Lifetime Flame Award. Currently, Bernie splits her time between residences in the Charlotte and Vero Beach areas. In her free time, Bernie can be found on the golf course, traveling the world and reading the latest release of political intrigue novels.


Mr. David T. Laws, Executive Director

A 1971 graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, David Laws qualified as a nuclear submarine officer and completed five years of active duty and six additional years of reserve service, departing the Navy as a Lieutenant (O-3) in 1982. Mr. Laws spent twelve years providing services to the Department of Defense as a Director for a 1500 employee professional service firm that was purchased by Computer Science Corporation. The teams that he led were responsible for such projects as the command and control systems for the latest Ballistic Missile and Fast Attack Submarines, logistics for the Blackhawk Helicopter, and Army desert tactics.

In 1988, Mr. Laws began a second phase of his career working in the field of program management for mission essential systems. He has directed teams that developed new software being used by Fortune 500 companies and managed teams that have implemented enterprise software world-wide. He founded two companies and worked in leadership positions in other companies.

In 2016, David was selected by the American Red Cross to take the position as the Director of Service to the Armed Forces and International Services for the 51 North Carolina and South Carolina counties of the Greater Carolinas Region. In this capacity, he directs the efforts of hundreds of Red Cross volunteers providing support to military members, reservists, National Guard members, veterans and their families.

As Treasurer and Fundraising Co-chairman for his class at the United States Naval Academy, he has helped raise over four million dollars and endow the Distinguished Military Professor (DMP) chair in Leadership and Ethics. As the Executive Director of the Patriot Military Family Foundation, he is responsible for the operations, programs, and events of this organization, whose mission is to provide support to military service members, veterans and their families. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Carolinas Freedom Foundation.

Mr. Laws has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the United States Naval Academy and a Master of Mechanical Engineering degree from The Catholic University of America. He and his wife, Joyce, have three married children and nine grandchildren


  • Frank Charlonis
  • Scott Conklin
  • Kimberly Coppola
  • Lisa Hirn
  • Mike Knapp
  • Aaron Polsgrove
  • Ashley Tison