Director of Veteran Health Program, Valley Health Partners
Alexander Alex, Lt Col, USAF, MSC, MSHA, C-WCH, retired after 28 years of active service on 1 Jan 2013 and currently works as the Director of the Veteran Health Program in Allentown, PA since March 2018. The programed transitioned from Lehigh Valley Health Network to Valley Health Partners Community Health Center on 1 Aug 2021. Col. Alex a prime architect in creating this unique service assisting Veterans access medical services and benefits. From March 2013 he was an independent consultant (Alex & Associates) on military healthcare delivery systems with Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Veterans Health Initiative and other regional health networks. Colonel Alex also holds a certification in Warrior Centric Health. He also serves as the Chair to the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council, Veterans Healthcare in Our Community (HOC) project. Alex’s leadership with the HOC provides visionary leadership, coordinates common initiatives and provides oversight to projects among area health providers within Lehigh and Northampton counties. He is a member of the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, where here serves as Secretary of the Veterans and Military Council. Prior to Colonel Alex’s retirement with the USAF, he served as the Reserve Health Benefits Consultant for the Air Force Reserve Command, Chief of Operations for the Medical Support Division. He provided TRICARE policy, program guidance, legislative input/ leadership and advised Office of the Air Force Surgeon General, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Assistant Secretary of Defense - Office for Reserve Affairs, and the Congressional Senate and Armed Services committees affecting access to health benefits over a ten-year period. As Chief, Operations Branch he was responsible for the organizational integrity that sustained deployment capability for 39 Medical Units and 5600 medical personnel. Colonel Alex, a native of Bethlehem, PA., holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA, and a Master of Science Degree in Health Services Administration from St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA. Col Alex entered active duty in September 1984 after receiving his commission. As a Medical Service Corps officer, he has served various positions in health care administration at the clinic, hospital, aeromedical evacuation, and major command levels. His positions include Squadron Commander, Patient Administration, Medical/Deployment Readiness, Administrator of Managed Care Operations, Aeromedical Evacuation Operations Officer, and Director of Medical Logistics.
Founder and CEO, Eight Oaks Farm Distillery
Chad is the Founder and CEO of Eight Oaks Farm Distillery in New Tripoli PA. He is a retired Army aviator with over 25 years of active duty military service. Chad has broad experience in project management, human resource management, leadership, operations management, problem-solving, regulatory compliance and system safety development. Chad holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle University and earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Drexel University. Chad’s 25 year active duty career as an Army Aviator took him and his family around the world, leading up to his retirement in 2015. His passion for family, agriculture, science, and history eventually led to the creation of Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, located in the rolling farmlands of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. As the Founder and CEO of Eight Oaks, he works closely with his daughter Carly, the General Manager, and his son-in-law Logan, the Director of Distillery Operations, along with many other crew members that have joined the family. His goal with Eight Oaks is to stay true to the spirit of distilling, while giving back to the Pennsylvania community of New Tripoli that he and Jodi call home, something Eight Oaks does through the distillery’s partnership with three nonprofits close to his heart: The Cancer Support Community of Lehigh Valley, Tails of Valor, and Farmer Veteran Coalition. When not at Eight Oaks you may run across Chad in the friendly skies still working as an airline pilot, hitting the hiking trails, or hanging out with his best friend, Jodi, and their first grandchild Willa.
President, West Side Hammer Electric
Andrew Lawler graduated from the United States Naval Academy in May 1999 with a BS in Systems Engineering. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps and served over eight years active duty as a KC-130 pilot including multiple combat deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon transition from the USMC in the fall of 2007, Andrew joined Lutron Electronics in Coopersburg, PA where he held numerous leadership roles across a variety of business units. In the fall of 2014 Andrew transitioned to VEC Inc, a construction firm from Youngstown, OH. Here, he started a separate business unit in Northeast PA focused on electrical construction for the Oil & Gas Industry. In January 2016, Andrew joined West Side Hammer Electric and, in the fall of 2019, assumed the role of president. Andrew currently chairs the Veterans and Military Council of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and is a volunteer soccer, basketball, and lacrosse coach. He resides in Macungie, PA with his wife Erin and their four children, Bridey, Bryn, Connor, and Cullen.
Brigadier General (PA) Maureen Weigl
PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
Brigadier General (PA) Maureen Weigl was appointed Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans Affairs on April 12, 2021. In this position she supervises the administration of state veterans’ programs, reintegration and outreach, and veteran initiatives for nearly 800,000 veterans and their dependents. She also oversees the operation of the commonwealth’s six veterans’ homes. She retired from the Army in May 2016 after serving for 25 years. Since her retirement, Maureen started her own woman owned/service-disabled Veteran owned small business, Pro Rec Resource Solutions, LLC where she provides government consulting, talent management and recruiting services. Maureen serves on boards for nonprofit agencies that help Veterans and Veteran Spouses, find Employment including Vets2Set which she serves as executive director and cofounder; Senior advisor for MSCCN/CASY; and she also helps teach military history with VNEP, where she helps teach military history to JROTC and ROTC through the experiences of those who served. She served on a Veteran task force for the Lieutenant Governor of PA for two years and cohosted the Philadelphia Veterans Day Parade for the past five years. Maureen was commissioned as a Distinguished Military Graduate in 1993 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Pittsburgh. She served in the Army Reserves, Active Army with the 10th Mountain Division, the New York Army National Guard, the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and National Guard Bureau over her 25-year career. In 1994, as a newly commissioned lieutenant, she deployed to Haiti in 1994 to support Operation Uphold Democracy. In 2008, in response to the large number of personnel who returned from combat theaters with traumatic brain injury (TBI) or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), then-MAJ Weigl was selected by the Director of the Army National Guard to deploy to Iraq to research methods of documenting those Service Members who were exposed to rapid acceleration and or concussive events (such as IED Blasts). As an Adjutant General Corps Officer, Brig. Gen. (PA) Weigl has extensive experience in human resource management. As the Deputy Division Chief for the Army National Guard Strength Maintenance Division, she provided the policies, incentives, and goals for the daily recruiting and retention operations of the 54 States and Territories to maintain an end strength of 358,200 for the Army National Guard. She administered a 500-million-dollar annual budget, which included contract negotiations, procurement, and solicitations, and sports marketing contracts. Later, while serving as the Chief, Soldier and Family Support Division, she developed and implemented policies and to minimize unemployment, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and suicide in the National Guard. Brig. Gen. (PA) Weigl served as the Executive Assistant for the first Vice Chief, National Guard Bureau (VCNBG), then-Lt Gen Joseph L. Lengyel. She coordinated Congressional staffs, all levels of Department of Defense (DoD), the Inter-agency and State Governments. Brig. Gen. (PA) Weigl holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master’s in Business Ethics from Duquesne University, and a Master of Strategic Studies from the US Army War College. She also holds a Post Graduate certificate in Human Resources from the Pennsylvania State University and completed both the United States Northern Command Joint Domestic Operations Course and the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executive Seminar in National and International Security. Brig. Gen. (PA) Weigl is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, Project Manager, Executive Leadership Coach, and a member of the American Legion. Maureen has served Veterans since retirement and has been partnering with clothing manufacturers to make adjustable clothing for Veterans and others with prosthetic limbs.
Founder and Grower, nuHydro Farms
David Derkits is the founder and Grower of nuHydro Farms LLC, an indoor hydroponic farm specializing in microgreens. In 2021, after an early Marine Corps retirement and completing eight years of service as a private military contractor with the Department of State, he wanted to pursue his passion for farming.
When David embarked on an entrepreneurial journey and centered nuHydro Farms around the gap in indoor farming and vision that microgreens ought to be more approachable, inclusive, and understood. Within a year of launch, he's grown a profitable, bootstrapped brand and a partnership with Local Mama Catering Company, and have since partnered with Plants & Coffee, and Herbs to Your Success.
While building a brand may have looked effortless from the outside, starting a business at 44 with no resources or funding quickly forced David to realize that early-stage entrepreneurship was anything but transparent. Inside the past two years nuHydro Farms has sold upwards of 100 pounds of microgreens and blossomed a business that began with a small grow room in the basement into a 750 square foot storefront.
nuHydro Farms is licensed, insured, agriculturally certified (as a producer, processor, warehouse, distributor, and retail location), a member of the Farmer Veteran’s Coalition, Homegrown by Hero’s Certified, PA Preferred Certified, Better Business Bureau Accredited, and a member of the Slate Belt Chamber of Commerce.
David currently lives in Bangor, Pennsylvania, and uses his free time to explore new methods of growing, experimenting with new crops, and continuing my education in agriculture.