JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
JBA welcomed 16 community and civic leaders into the 2023 Honorary Commanders Program during an induction ceremony at The Club at Andrews on March 2, 2023.
The JBA Honorary Commander Program has been in existence for almost 20 years to allow communication and partnerships between key leaders of the base and surrounding community.
The diversity of JBA's five wings, two headquarters and more than 80 tenant organizations not only impact missions and surrounding communities in the National Capital Region, but also missions across the entire Department of Defense and around the world.
Honorary commanders are invited to attend events on base and in the surrounding communities that Airmen and Sailors from Joint Base Andrews support. In turn, honorary commanders also invite the units they are paired with to participate in events in the local community.
Today's ceremony inducted new honorary commanders, recognized returning honorary commanders and Andrews Ambassadors, and welcomed honorary commanders who transitioned to the Andrews Ambassador position.
“We highly encourage leaning into your partnerships for one-on-one engagements and networking with your military counterpart,” said Col. Todd E. Randolph, 316th Wing and installation commander, while addressing the honorary commanders and JBA leadership during the ceremony. “It is imperative that we learn from one another and create opportunities to develop our local community and beyond.”
Citing new Maryland Governor Wes Moore’s inauguration speech in which he pledged to “build a better Maryland,” Capt. Page Felini, Naval Air Facility Washington commanding officer, told attendees that the honorary commander program offers the JBA community to support the governor’s plan.
“Although we are all from different backgrounds, we share a common bond in our willingness to serve,” Felini said. “Whether it is service to our city, service to our state, or service to this incredible country, everyone in this room shares a common bond in our commitment to learn from one another and to develop a strong and diverse community.”
Blaire Houston, Washington Wizards manager of fan development, was inducted as an honorary commander paired with Col. Nate Somers, 316th Mission Support Group commander. Houston said that she is looking forward to joint opportunities between the NBA team and JBA.
“It means a great deal to me to actually partner with the base,” Houston said. “Working for the Wizards, we’re surrounded by multiple different bases. The opportunity to actually get to know these individuals on a much deeper level, and not only have them out to a game but also support them in any way is very important to me.”
Another new honorary commander, Dr. Evalyne Bryant-Ward, served in the Army as did her husband. She also has one son in the Army and another in the Air Force. As the director of operations for the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Group, she said she is looking forward to strengthening the bond between the civilian and JBA communities.
“The opportunity to sew into another segment of our country and have an impact and make a difference is going to be exciting,” Bryant-Ward said. “Also, we can learn from (JBA military members) and how our communities are really similar and make them better.”
The Andrews Ambassadors serve as mentors to incoming honorary commanders, instilling in them the significance of community partnership and how it positively impacts service members and their mission accomplishment. Andrews Ambassador James Estepp Jr., president and CEO of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable, welcomed the new Andrews ambassadors and shared his insight on the program. He stressed the importance of maintaining and enhancing relations between JBA and the local communities.
During the luncheon, each inductee was presented a certificate of induction and an honorary commander lapel pin.
The new honorary commanders are:
— Alexander Austin, Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce president and chief
— Dr. Evalyne Bryant-Ward, University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Group director
— Dr. Lamont Bunyon, Special Eye Care owner and founder.
— Dr. Mesheca Bunyon, Special Eye Care owner and founder.
— Kevin Cabrera, College Park Aviation Museum director.
— Bennard Cann, Morningside, Maryland, mayor.
— Jennifer Davis, Fairfax County Police Department.
— Kevin Gilliam, Frolick Dogs owner.
— Blaire Houston, Washington Wizards manager of fan development.
— Avis McMillon, College of Southern Maryland associate vice president of marketing and communication.
— Dr. Stephen Michaels, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center president.
— Kenneth Orgeron, Andrews Federal Credit Union president and CEO.
— Fouad A. Qreitem, Capital Restaurant Group president and CEO.
— Sherman Ragland, Tradewinds Realty Partners owner.
— Pastor James Robinson, Tree of Life Christian Ministries pastor.
— Kevin Rochlitz, Baltimore Ravens and Under Armour Performance Center senior vice president of corporate sales and business development.
Honorary commanders transitioning to Andrews Ambassadors are:
— Dr. Gregory Gifford, Riverdale Baptist Ministries pastor.
— Keith McMicheal, Alban Tire of Springfield, Virginia, owner.