Meet the Board


  Gerald Paulsen    Founder & Executive Director/President  Biography gpaulsen@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Gerald Paulsen

Founder & Executive Director/President
Biography
gpaulsen@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Jerry is a former U.S. Army NCO and proud veteran. During his military career he served in many positions as did most military personnel. He especially enjoyed his time serving in the infantry and with Special Forces.

He has been an entrepreneur and business owner for over 20 years and currently has 3 businesses - two of them internationally. With global headquarters in Illinois his other offices are in Guam, China and South America. He is an internationally recognized Subject Matter Expert in interpersonal communications, delivering keynotes and workshops around the world and is a published author. Jerry is a nationally recognized small business consultant and veteran small business mentor and a recipient of the United States Small Business Administration Veterans Business Champion of the Year.

Jerry is President/CEO of Paulsen Productions, Inc., President of Guam Business Discovery and the Founder & President of Operation Horses and Heroes, Inc. Additionally, he co-hosts a TV show in Chicago that was created especially for veterans. Jerry is also one of the Ambassadors of Good Will for Guam.

Through his vision of Operation Horses and Heroes he plans on continuing to give back to his fellow brothers and sisters and their families who are serving and have served our great country.


  Susan Parker    Co-Founder & Vice President   Biography  sparker@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Susan Parker

Co-Founder & Vice President
Biography
sparker@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Susan Parker is a dynamic, collaborative community leader with extensive experience as a healthcare operations executive, both in the for-profit and non-profit worlds. Her behavioral healthcare career spanned two decades and led her to progressively more responsible positions in executive leadership across the country. More recently she has tapped into her entrepreneurial talents, owning a retail home furnishings store, a public safety company, Artemis Protection, as now her latest endeavor in northeast Ohio, Artemis Property Ventures LLC.

She has always maintained a high commitment to advocacy and community involvement and has sat on and chaired numerous local, county and regional boards. Susan is a decorated USAF NCO and credits her early military training and experience with setting her life on course. She currently lives in Chardon, OH with her husband, also a veteran and a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and her menagerie of horses, dogs and cats.

She is excited to serve our veteran community through Operation Horses and Heroes, and hopes to share the love and healing power of horses with deserving veterans and their families.


  Keith French    Co-Founder & Treasurer   Biography  dsmith@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Keith French

Co-Founder & Treasurer
Biography
dsmith@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Keith is the first born of two children, married to his wife Donna for 32 years, father of five and grandfather of one.

Keith received his BS degree in Aviation Sciences in 1982 from Parks College of Engineering, Aviation, and Technology, he was a Marine Corps Officer upon graduation up until 1990. He is a former corporate executive with backgrounds in logistics, warehousing, and procurement. In 2002 Keith left the safety of Corporate America and became the sole owner of a retail camera store and photography studio, turning is hobby into his livelihood. Currently a full time professional photographer in the Chicago area specializing in marketing and advertising photography for clients like Hilton Hotels, Hampton Inn and Suites on the large scale, and numerous small businesses, custom builders, manufactures and restaurants in the area.

Keith enjoys teaching as well. He was an instructor in the military and hosted many camera classes and photography workshops over the years. Being able to shift gears towards helping military veterans and their families is an exciting prospect and he’s looking forward to the successes of Horses and Heroes.


  Cynthia Abraham    Secretary & Board Member   Biography  cabraham@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Cynthia Abraham

Secretary & Board Member
Biography
cabraham@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Cynthia has dedicated 28 years to her passion for animals as a companion and exotics veterinarian. She currently works at the Eau Claire Animal Hospital in Eau Claire, WI, where she incorporates her belief in the human animal bond and the power that exists in that connection.

Cynthia has done local television and magazine interviews on seasonal topics and animal health concerns to the public. She routinely volunteers her veterinary services to the local humane society as well as the Animal Cruelty Society in Chicago and the Hooved Animal Humane Society in Woodstock, IL.

Cynthia is a Major in the US Army Reserves, a veteran and the commander of the 719th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services in Ft. Sheridan, IL. She is married to Steve Abraham, who spent 31 years in the Navy and is also a veteran. They live in Elk Mound, WI with a multitude of animals.

Cynthia is ready to serve her fellow veterans and their families by dedicating her time, talents and treasure to the men and women who are already working to grow the magic of Operation Horses and Heroes.


  Ken Marks    Board Member   Biography  kmarks@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Ken Marks

Board Member
Biography
kmarks@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Ken is a retired Army Officer having served in the Illinois Army National Guard, on Active Duty in Germany and Luxembourg, and in the Army Reserve where he spent most of his time with the 12th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He had a 24 year career as a Community Banker working primarily as a Commercial Banker and Branch President. He is currently employed as a Department of Defense Contractor with a mission to help connect our Service Members (past and present) and their families (Spouses and Sons and Daughters) with civilian careers.

He has a strong history of Community Service having held previous memberships in Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs for many years. He has served on the Ventura 21, Inc. Homeowners Association Board of Directors since 1997. He served as a Board Member for the Roselle Chamber of Commerce and was honored for his service to the Community by being named as the Roselle Business Person of the Year in 2004.

He currently Volunteers with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Roselle, IL. Ken is married to his wonderful wife Patti and lives in Roselle, IL with their four wonderful children. He is a Graduate of Northern Illinois University and the Graduate School of Banking at UW Madison.

Ken looks forward to bringing his passion of working with Veterans and Active Duty to Operation Horses and Heroes.


  Nick Bugajski    Board Member   Biography  nbugajski@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Nick Bugajski

Board Member
Biography
nbugajski@operationhorsesandheroes.org

Born and raised in Chicago, Nick is an active duty Army officer who has returned home to serve as the Chair of the Military Science Department at Loyola-University Chicago, where he educates, trains, and develops our Army and Nation’s future leaders of character while inspiring them to a lifetime of honorable service to our country, communities, and citizens.  Most importantly, he is happily married to the love of his life, Regan, and proud father to five beautiful boys: Chase, Cash, Camden, Colton, and Cullen.

 

Nick graduated from the United States Military Academy and has served in various leadership positions throughout the world, including the Pentagon, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  He also attended Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy where he earned a Masters of Policy Management and an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership.  While he has always been passionate about leader development and others, his experience as an organizational leadership instructor at the United States Military Academy strengthened his want to bring out the best in others, especially our future leaders, something he is currently continuing and building upon at the Army ROTC Program at Loyola University-Chicago.

 

He has dedicated his life to service both in the military and throughout the various communities he has lived.  He is honored to serve our Veterans and their Families through Operation Horses and Heroes and hopes to make a loving and lasting impact on this noble community.