Chairman of the Board
Kayla Lopez has spent many years involved in the veteran space helping to improve veteran workforce strategy in recruitment, engagement, and retention for some of the largest employers in the US such as IBM, Marsh, General Dynamics, G6, Combined Insurance, NYLife, PNC and many more.
Kayla comes from a family of service. Her uncle is a Rear Admiral in the US Navy, her Aunt served in the US Army and as an Officer in the US Air Force. Kayla was blessed and raised by her Mother and by two Fathers, one of which was a US Marine.
Seeing the struggles service members face from a family dynamic, encouraged her to find a way to make a difference. As a single mother who's daughters father is absent from the picture, she found similarities between the struggles her and daughter face, and those of military families with a deployed member.
Being heavy entrenched in the equine world it was evident that the impact horses had on her daughter's emotional and mental state has been tremendously powerful. The direct improvement in her confidence, trust, and social integration changed dramatically.
This is powerful and can make an impact on so many lives. Watching the struggles first hand from addiction, substance abuse, PTSD and TBI, Kayla strongly believes that equine therapy can help members of the community tap into an emotional level that is often not met, allowing for self reflection and healing. AFEC has allowed her the opportunity to help service families and wished it was established sooner. She could have made an impact on those in her life before it was deemed too late.
Kayla is a member of the Pittsburgh Veterans initiative group, Veterans of Wall Street, New York City Office of Veteran Affairs - Events and initiatives, AUSA. She volunteers with Veterans Place, Pa State workforce/CareerLink, and a number of VSO's and collaborating partners to support the overall wellness and economic stability for our service members and their families.
VP of Strategy & Development
Command Sergeant Major retired Bart E. Womack, served the United States Army with distinction well over 20 years as a professional soldier. His expertise and personal dedication to excellence contributed immeasurably to the readiness of the Armed Forces and the security of our great nation.
Highlights of his distinguished career military career include Drill Sergeant, Ranger Instructor, Relief Commander and Sergeant of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He's a combat war Veteran, awarded two Bronze Star's, one for valor. Other decorations include the Legion of Merit, and the Army Ranger Tab to name a few. He culminated his career in dual roles as Commandant of the NCO Academy and Division Command Sergeant Major, 101st Airborne Division.
Since leaving the military, Bart has, and continues to work in the entertainment industry for feature film and TV, and trains soldiers at the Multi-National Readiness Center. He's served on the Advisory Board for the GI Film Festival, known as 'Sundance for the Troops' and has trained Armies in the countries of Afghanistan and Nigeria. His volunteers his free time mentoring Army ROTC cadets.
While proudly adding the titles, published author and screenplay writer to his resume, Bart has appeared in TV spots, radio shows and interviews about his book. He speaks publicly on the topic of Situational Awareness Security.
Bart brings unique experience and knowledge of Equine therapy to AFEC. Having been a horseman since a kid, he's employed that passion to work hands-on with Veterans in the 'Saddles for Soldiers' program, in Southern California. The program assists Veterans and their families to cope with the trauma of returning from combat, by the use of horses.