Beth Zimmerman – Founder, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Zimmerman is the inspiration behind Pets for Patriots. She experienced the transformative love of companion pets while growing up, during which time her family adopted dogs from local animal shelters. Through this experience and through a dog-walking business she started at age 12, Beth developed an abiding passion for animals, particularly the homeless and most overlooked. At the same time, her parents impressed upon all their children a deep sense of patriotism and an abiding respect for our nation’s veterans, service members and military families.
Through the course of more than 25 years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience, from her dog walking business to her current responsibilities as sole proprietor of a business and branding advisory firm, Beth gained a deep and intuitive understanding of how to build a successful organization. In founding and managing Pets for Patriots, she has committed herself to provide the most vulnerable shelter animals a second chance at life with veterans who benefit so greatly from a new best friend.
Beth is the proud co-parent of Bunny, a sweet, senior Beagle mix adopted by her mother through the charity’s 2012 Be A Pet’s Hero Celebration in Washington, D.C.
Marla Dicandia – Director and Treasurer
Marla Dicandia joined Fleishman-Hillard in 2008 as the corporate financial liaison for the Central and Southwest regions and Canada. Currently, she filles the role of chief operating officer for the Central Region, supporting the St. Louis, Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis offices.
Marla has worked more than 20 years in finance and accounting. Before joining Fleishman-Hillard, Marla led outsourcing operations for IKON in Missouri and Illinois. She joined IKON after 11 years in CFO and financial leadership roles in not-for-profit, technology and professional services organizations. Marla began her career at Arthur Andersen & Co. in St. Louis, where she gained experience in the audit and tax departments.
Marla is a certified public accountant and her achievements on the May 1987 Uniform CPA examination earned her a national Elijah Watts Sells award and the Silver Medal from the State of Missouri. She graduated from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville with a Bachelor of Science degree in accountancy and a minor in music.
Frank Chiera – Director and Secretary
Frank Chiera is an innovative and creative marketing thought leader specializing in the creation of strategic online and offline business-building programs for premier consumer and high-tech brands.
In his current role, Frank leads traditional, online, PR and social media marketing initiatives for Flooring America/Flooring Canada, a 550-store specialty retailer with locations across North America and a subsidiary of CCA Global Partners, one of the nation’s largest cooperatives with nearly $9B in sales. Prior to joining Flooring America, Frank was Executive Vice President of Social Media Integration and partner at Kel & Partners, where he was responsible for developing social media initiatives to drive business for franchise and specialty retailers. Throughout his more than 18 years of client-side and agency experience, Frank has created successful marketing programs for many major brands, including Yankee Candle Company, Ace Hardware, Disney Pixar, Carpet One Floor & Home and Zappos.
Frank enjoys spending time with his Boxer, Logan, and until recently was the owner of a special needs Chihuahua named Max, who will always hold a place in his heart. In 2013, Frank was elected to Board Secretary.
Keith Spano – Director
Keith Spano is the President of Flooring America, a division of CCA Global Partners. CCA is one of the largest retail cooperatives in North America, of which Flooring America is its second largest division with 550 independently owned and operated stores across the United States and Canada. As the son of a third-generation flooring retailer, Keith understands the critical importance independent businesses play in stimulating local economies across the country.
With this perspective, Keith works every day to fight for the underdog, which in part fuels his passion for the Pets for Patriots mission. Keith saw the immense value in what the organization does for animals and veterans in need, and was ready to help answer that call as a Board member.
Keith has a deep connection to military families, having had a grandfather serve as a medic in World War II and another an an Air Force pilot. But it’s his close connection to our four-legged friends that shows his true colors, even encouraging employees to bring their dogs to work on Fridays to enliven the office environment.
Letitia White – Director
Letitia White served as a key staff member in the House of Representatives with over 21 years of federal service. Having worked in both the House and the Senate, she has a unique and comprehensive understanding of the federal legislative process. As a result, she has long-standing personal relationships with a number of Members of Congress, their staff and professional staff members on many Congressional Committees.
As a principal in Innovative Federal Strategies LLC, she represents before Congress and the Executive Branch a number of major corporations, such as General Dynamics, as well as a significant number of smaller high-technology companies and not-for-profit organizations, including the Battelle Memorial Institute. Letitia has a keen interest in mentoring small businesses, to include both representing their interests and assisting them in networking to achieve synergy on common objectives. Her work in military weapon systems, and R&D and procurement of systems and technologies throughout the Department of Defense has provided her with an in-depth understanding of the inner workings of the Pentagon and other federal agencies. In July 2004, Letitia White was named by The Hill newspaper as one of the top eight defense lobbyists in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri and attended Richmond College in London, England.
Letitia is the mother of two four-legged children, a chocolate Labrador named Ranger and a Labradoodle named Pete.
Kathy Brown – Honorary Director
Kathy Brown is synonymous with years of award-winning integrated marketing, communications and public relations campaigns. She is owner and president of Hagan Communications and co-president of Karsh\Hagan, both full-service agencies in Denver, Colorado.
Kathy recently served on the Board of Directors of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado and is a Member of the Advisory Committee for Communications and Marketing for The Denver Foundation. She served as well as Board Member and Chairman of the Board of the Denver Advertising Foundation. In addition to her considerable professional accomplishments and not-for-profit work, Kathy is proud owner of Rudy, a rambunctious golden lab. Kathy served on the Board of Pets for Patriots with distinction from its 2009 inception til October 2011. She continues to provide counsel in her honorary directorship role, and her eponymous firm provides pro bono marketing support as it has done since 2009.
Jim Nash – Honorary Director
Jim Nash is hospital administrator for Community Pet Hospital in Denver, which during his short tenure he has grown to a multi-site, ten veterinarian, 24-hour general and emergency care pet hospital with prestigious AAHA accreditation. In 2011, Jim acquired Turkey Creek Animal Hospital in Plant City, Florida and launched a veterinary practice management consultancy. Previously, Jim worked in the human healthcare field for HCA in both Florida and Colorado, and in 2010 completed the Certified Veterinary Practice Management program.
An Army veteran, Jim gained the foundation for his leadership and teamwork skills as a Warrant Officer and aviator in Desert Storm, where he flew OH-58 Scout helicopters in an armored cavalry squadron. He lives in Denver with his wife, a practicing veterinarian, his three children and two dogs, Cammie and Finn. Jim served honorably on the Board through early 2013.
Keith Weaver – Honorary director
Keith Weaver is a ’76 USNA graduate and served recently as the Senior Vice President, Business Development, Communications, and Capture Management for Force Protection Industries, based in Charleston, South Carolina. From 2008-2009 he served as the Senior Vice President for Government Relations and as the Chief Operating Officer at Enterra Solutions LLC. Prior to this, he served as the Senior Vice President for Operations and the Chief Operating Officer of the United Service Organizations (USO).
Keith’s military career included command of Patrol Squadron 23 in Brunswick, Maine and Patrol Wing 11 in Jacksonville, Florida. He also served as the Special Assistant for Weapons Systems Acquisition on the staff of the Secretary of Defense (Legislative Affairs) from 1998-2000.
From 2002-2008 Keith served on the Board of Directors, Military Officer’s Association of America and is a Life Member of the United States Naval Academy Alumni Association. Keith brings a valued perspective as a lifelong military professional, in addition to his experience as the owner of an Irish setter, Brady. Keith served honorably on the Board from the charity’s founding through 2012.