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WASHINGTON – Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of the James M. Roche Spirit of Volunteerism Award. The recipients are ESGR volunteers nominated by their respective ESGR State Committee Chairs for their exceptional contributions to ESGR’s mission over a sustained period of time.

ESGR has the unique characteristic for a government organization of relying on nearly 3,300 volunteers across 54 state committees to carry out local engagement with Service members, employers, and to conduct informal mediation between civilian employers and Service members when issues arise related to military service.

In 2020, ESGR volunteers logged more than 132,747 hours of service, delivering a $3.6 million return on investment to the Department of Defense. Collectively, ESGR volunteers executed 2,254 events, and engaged more than 200,000 employers and Service members last year.

The Roche award is named for James M. Roche, who served several years as the ESGR National Chair after retiring as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board at General Motors Corporation, and other senior leadership roles at PepsiCo, Jack Eckerd Corporation, and the New York Stock Exchange. A past quote attributed Roche reads: "Anybody who achieves a top position in an organization owes a debt of some kind. If you have a talent and you have your health, you should help others."

We congratulate the 2021 Roche Award recipients for their outstanding service to ESGR and the Department of Defense:

  • Emil Baker joined the New York ESGR Committee in 2016, and in just five years, he’s logged nearly 1,500 hours and made a positive impact as chair of the New York Capital region, the state’s military outreach director; and employer outreach director. He brings great passion to his work and provides valuable guidance and mentorship to fellow volunteers as well as the employers and Service members he supports. 
     
  • Douglas Broich has served on the Minnesota ESGR Committee since 2012, and currently leads ESGR activities in two regions of the state that cover 18 counties and 22 military units. He is an exceptional champion and dedicated volunteer for all employer outreach programs, with personal involvement in Bosslifts, unit and employer briefings, employer award presentations, and tradeshows. An Air Force veteran, Broich truly embodies the core value of service before self.  
     
  • Joyce Curran, has brought great enthusiasm, professionalism, and hard work to the New York ESGR Committee for nearly 13 years. A military veteran and state government executive, she possesses a deep knowledge of the military community.  She’s dedicated hundreds of hours annually and has supported the New York committee as a unit volunteer, ombudsman, regional chair, and public affairs director. Curran is a treasured asset to the Committee and model for fellow volunteers.  
     
  • Leroy Frahm is a key contributor to the Wisconsin ESGR Committee who served 35 years in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve. As Wisconsin’s Ombudsman director, Frahm takes great care to ensure his Committee’s ombudsmen are well equipped to perform their duties, and in his approach to help resolve employment issues between Reserve Component Service members and their employers. He has delivered training for all Committees at Headquarters ESGR hosted ombudsman trainings, and is considered a “go-to” subject matter expert on USERRA in Wisconsin.
     
  • Erwin Gutzwiller has a passion for assisting service members and employers. He has established a high level of customer service for North Carolina customers. As Ombudsman Director, he has worked tirelessly to assign ombudsmen cases in a timely manner. A major accomplishment is his establishing a working relationship with the North Carolina Department of Labor to set up ongoing Ombudsman training throughout the year. He exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism with his enthusiastic approach to every aspect of his volunteer duties.    
     
  • Gene Hebert has contributed his time and talent to the Delaware ESGR Committee since 1997, after 35 years of military service. Throughout his 23 years with ESGR, Hebert has served the Committee in many roles, including ombudsman, employer and military outreach director, and State Chair from 1999-2005. A constant presence for the committee with deep knowledge of the military community, Hebert is a model of dedication, dependability, and determination for all volunteers.
     
  • Dave Johnston has been a dedicated member of the North Dakota ESGR Committee for more than 17 years and currently serves as the Committee’s vice chair. Johnston has logged over 1,500 hours since 2016, organizing Bosslifts and employer outreach events, briefing Service members, and presenting numerous awards on behalf of the Committee. Johnston is a retired Navy Reserve Captain with 27 years of service, which has helped him develop strong relationships with Guard and Reserve units throughout North Dakota.
     
  • Timothy Lea has been the complete volunteer while serving the Mississippi ESGR committee. He is constantly involved with employer recognition presentations from Seven Seals to Patriot Awards. He organizes each presentation with local media involvement, area dignitary’s participation and the recipient’s family members invited. To further ESGR’s footprint, he alone developed the idea of presenting a Seven Seals Award to all universities and public community colleges within the state for their contributions and support of Guard and reserve students. As Training Director, he developed two unique presentations one for new volunteers and one for civic groups.
     
  • Mark Lilevjen has served with distinction with the Colorado Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard Reserve (ESGR) for 6 years, first as an employer Outreach Coordinator, then as State Chair and now as the Awards Coordinator. During this time Mark has played a major role in vastly improving the relationship between ESGR, civilian employers and Colorado’s National Guard and Reserve components. Under his leadership many policies and procedures were instituted to further the effectiveness of the Committee.
     
  • Hollis McIntosh is a dynamic, charismatic, dedicated and energetic volunteer. She serves in many roles and functions that enable and support the U.S. Virgin Islands ESGR mission. She has conducted countless Employer and Military Outreach briefings, served as master of ceremonies and subject matter expert at briefings with the boss events, and headed the new state chair search committee. She also performs many administrative duties to include invitation preparation and delivery, scheduling and presenting at Patriot Awards and Statement of Support Signings, and contacting employers and Service Members.
     
  • Don Morrow continues to work tirelessly with the Arkansas ESGR committee in his quest to have the best military outreach program possible. He dedicates hundreds of hours a year to the military outreach program, to include personally briefing service members during drill weekend every month. He was appointed chairman of the Headquarters ESGR Diversity Working Group, and he also served on the ESGR Outreach Subcommittee. He has provided valuable personal guidance to thousands of service members, has participated in hundreds of events and has personally presented hundreds of Patriot Awards over the past 14 years.  
     
  • George Nami is an exceptional volunteer with the Texas ESGR Committee, who excels in every ESGR mission area. He joined the Committee in 2013 and has contributed his talents as an Ombudsman helping to resolve issues between Reserve Component Service members and their employers; as an Area Chair responsible for ESGR activities and volunteers in a particular region; and as lead for numerous employer and military outreach events. In the last five years alone, Nami logged nearly 2,600 volunteer hours.
     
  • Dianne Nordhaus has been involved in every aspect of ESGR in Employer Outreach and Military Outreach, specializing in USERRA and serving as the Ombudsman Director for both Oregon and Idaho committees. In addition to her work as an Ombudsman, she has diligently served both the committees and the National Committee in her role as Ombudsman Director and Ombudsman Subcommittee West Region Representative. Dianne’s 30 years of experience has gained her a level of respect in the USERRA community as an expert on the law protecting service members’ rights and the organizations where they work.
     
  • John Patterson has accumulated nearly 2,000 volunteer hours in just the past four years of his 17 plus years’ service with the Washington ESGR committee. His contributions have been immeasurably critical in taking the ESGR message to employers and Guard and Reserve members. His ability to mentor and assist volunteers and employers has garnered him the respect and admiration in all facets of the military and civilian community. His organizational and people skills are above reproach, and the execution of the mission is always above and beyond.
     
  • Robert Pomeroy is a retired chief of police and attorney who’s dedicated hundreds of hours annually to the Massachusetts ESGR Committee since 2005. Throughout his time with ESGR, Pomeroy has served as an area chair, often single handedly managing employer and Service member engagement events in his region.  He’s served as a valued mentor to help new volunteers advance into leadership roles, and now serves as the Massachusetts Committee’s vice chair.  In addition to ESGR, Pomeroy lends his time and talent to the many other initiatives and organizations in his community.
     
  • Phil Stage has served as a California ESGR committee volunteer for nearly 12 years in every key assignment within the committee including Area Chair and Area Vice Chair. His ability to inspire and influence has been and remains an important component to our success and reflected in the fact that he was selected as a national volunteer of the year twice, once for employer outreach and the other for training. His leadership is exercised with a value-driven commitment and his meticulous attention to detail and leadership was critical while we adapted our practices to a COVID 19 restrictive environment.

About ESGR

ESGR, a Department of Defense program, seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. ESGR develops and promotes supportive work environments for Service members in the Reserve Components through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. It also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers. To learn more about ESGR, part of the Defense Personnel and Family Support Center, visit https://ESGR.mil.

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