OUR LEADERSHIP

Meet our Board of Directors

JOHN HAMILTON

Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board

John is a 24 year veteran of the U.S. Army, 22 of those years active duty. On September 11, 2001, John was an AH-64 Apache Pilot in the 101st Airborne Division. Months later, he deployed to Afghanistan with the Division. John has also served on the Army Staff in Washington, D.C., and has flown Army airplanes on five continents. He has varied civilian aviation experience, serving as an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) helicopter pilot, corporate airplane pilot, and now as a pilot for a major airline. John has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Administration from Upper Iowa University. His favorite thing in the world is to watch his daughter play high school and club soccer. He is the son of Rayford E Hamilton, WW2 Combat Infantryman, 10th Mountain Division, WIA in Italy, 1945.

 

PETER FINDLER

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Peter currently serves as an Upper School history teacher and Social Studies Department Chair at Wakefield School in The Plains, VA. He has been teaching history for 10+ years and has served many roles in his career as an educator, including advisor, grade-level dean, coach, and educational consultant. Peter holds a bachelor's degree in History from Ithaca College and a Master's of Education in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Virginia. His work with The 9:57 Project includes leading students and faculty in expeditions to the National Flight 93 Memorial, writing and implementing our programming, and designing and updating our website. Peter lives in Virginia with his wife, two children, and many, many pets. When he isn't teaching, Peter enjoys cycling and keeping up with his favorite sports teams.

 

JASON SMITH

Chief Operating Officer

Jason is a 25 year military veteran serving as a pilot and leader in both the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army. He has served on the National Security Council; as Senior Policy Advisor on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; and as strategic advisor and communications director for the Commandant of the Coast Guard. He has led soldiers and sailors during three combat deployments, nine afloat deployments, and in emergency response to several hurricanes, including hurricane Katrina - rescuing more than 200 lives. He has served at the operational and strategic level working with state, federal, tribal, and foreign agencies. Jason has a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard, a Master’s in International Relations from St. Mary’s University, and a Bachelor’s in Biology from Sam Houston State University.

 

RICHARD MACHAMER

Chief Financial Officer

Richard is a United States Marine Corps veteran having completed three combat deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During that time, Rick participated in combat operations to expel insurgent forces from Fallujah, Ramadi, Ar Rutbah, and Mosul. During Operation Koa Canyon in Hit, Iraq, Rick’s unit was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation. In the latter part of his military career, Rick lead an intelligence cell and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for operations that resulted in the capture of several key insurgent and Al Qaeda leaders operating in Al Anbar province including Multinational Forces West’s 2nd most wanted insurgent leader.  Currently, Rick is the Intelligent Automation and Artificial Intelligence Lead at a leading management consulting firm.  In his free time, Rick enjoys touring local wineries and breweries, competitive axe throwing, hanging out with his dog, Freya, and playing video games online with his Marine Corps buddies.

Meet our Advisory Board

TOM McMILLAN

Tom is the author of FLIGHT 93: The Story, The Aftermath, and the Legacy of American Courage on 9/11 and previously served on the board of directors of the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial. In addition to writing two books about the Battle of Gettysburg, he also is a member of the board of trustees at Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center and is a new volunteer ambassador at Antietam National Battlefield. Tom recently retired after a 43-year career in sports communications, including stints in team PR, as a newspaper sports writer, and as a radio talk show host. He has a journalism degree from Point Park University in Pittsburgh. Tom and his wife, Colleen, also an avid student of history, live in the Pittsburgh suburb of Kennedy Township.

MATTHEW WHEELOCK

Matthew is an Associate Professor at the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development, where he serves as the Innovation Program Area Director and directs the Education Doctorate Program and the dual degree M.Ed./M.B.A. program that is offered in conjunction with UVA’s Darden School of Business, where he also teaches. He is also the founder of Live It Learn It, an award-winning nonprofit organization that provides experiential learning programs to students in Title I public schools in Washington, DC and has reached more than 20,000 students since its founding in 2005. Matthew's work focuses on improving opportunities and outcomes for K-12 students, particularly those in Title I public schools. 
 

ASHLEY HARPER

Ashley is an experienced independent school leader with a demonstrated history of education management success and college admissions and advancement experience. She began her career as a fifth-grade history and mathematics teacher and has held several leadership positions in lower and middle school, as well as advancement prior to becoming a head of school. She is the current Head of School at Wakefield School, an independent school located in The Plains, Virginia. Ashley has a B.A. in Economics from Florida State University and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University. She was a National Association of Independent Schools Aspiring School Heads Fellow from 2011 to 2012.

DIANA SMITH

Diana graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Classics from Princeton and received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia. She has been a K-12 teacher of Latin and English, and a school administrator for the past 37 years. From 2008 to 2021, she was the principal at Washington Latin Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Her work as classroom instructor and Principal was fundamental to its growing from a small, constantly moving new school to its current status as a stable, top-ranked institution. She currently oversees the expansion of Washington Latin as it grows into its second campus, serving as Principal Emerita.

ANDREW CARROLL

Andrew is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Columbia University, where he earned his B.A. in English Literature. He is the founding director of the Center for American War Letters and is the editor of several New York Times bestsellers, including LETTERS OF A NATION, BEHIND THE LINES, and WAR LETTERS, the audio version of which was nominated for a Grammy in the “Spoken Word” category. Andrew edited, pro bono, OPERATION HOMECOMING: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, which inspired the Emmy-winning documentary “Operation Homecoming." He is also one of the co-founders of Americans for Ukraine.

MARTHA CUTTS

Martha retired in July 2016 after 47 years in K-12 education. She began her career as a teacher of German and Latin and then an administrator in independent schools in Delaware and Connecticut. In 1991, she moved to Washington, DC for a position at National Cathedral School as Assistant Head and Director of the Upper School. After two years as Head of School in Pennsylvania, she returned to DC and served for eight and a half years as Head of School at Washington Latin Public Charter School, helping to lead it to its status as a top-ranked institution. Martha has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A.T. from Yale University.