Alumni Success Stories

Ben Kohlmann

Starting this fall, Ben will attend Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, a rigorous two-year program dedicated to creating world-changing leaders. Meanwhile, Kohlmann’s nonprofit, the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, has signed an agreement to incubate with the Brent Scowcroft Center for International Security at the Atlantic Council.

Matthew Zeller

 As the co-founder and president of the nonprofit No One Left Behind, Matthew Zeller was able employ lessons learned through Take Point in his organization’s newest program, Operation Lost in Translation. His project reunites translators with the US military members with whom they served. Operation Lost in Translation has received media coverage in such outlets as the Wall Street Journal , PBS, BBC, and CNN, among others.

Jayson Browder 

Through the Take Point Initiative (TPI), Jayson Browder designed and implemented his own innovative fellowship program. Veterans4diplomacy provides fellows with the knowledge and guidance to actively pursue careers as foreign policy leaders. Browder credits TPI with helping him “turn a non-profit concept into a concrete organization.” Since completing the inaugural TPI fellowship, Browder was selected as a Young Leader for GLOBSEC’s Bratislava Global Security Forum and a Presidential Management Fellow. 

Nick Kesler

 US Navy veteran Nick Kessler utilized the TPI fellowship to establish VetImpact. His organization serves as a business incubator for passionate veterans from all over the world with ideas for instilling lasting peace in conflict zones. Kessler’s group has partnered with Rumi Spice and Combat Flip Flops, both Veteran-run organizations, to help grow their franchises.

Daniel Trusilo: Veteran Writer of the novel Patriots

“He was alone. His back was racked with guilt. His heart ached. He did not know who he was. Living hurt him. ‘Thank you for your service,’ they said. And then there was nothing.”
These are the opening words of a novel that fellow Daniel Trusilo is writing with support from Take Point. Initially starting to write as a way to process his experiences in Iraq, Daniel hopes that publishing the book will help civilians better understand what he and others experienced at war and inspire more veterans to reflect on and speak about their service.


 “We believe those who served on the front lines of US foreign policy and national security can bring essential perspectives and innovative solutions to the challenges we face globally.”
Gov. Jon M. Hunstman Jr., Chairman, Atlantic Council 

“This groundbreaking partnership lends the resources and networks of the Atlantic Council to the growth of high-potential organizations like DEF. [It] allows the Atlantic Council to help build future leaders in international affairs and both organizations to magnify their reach and impact.”
Barry Pavel, Vice President, Arnold Kanter Chair and Director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security

Other Featured Fellow Projects and Competition Winners

HillVets – Launched by 2015 Take Point Fellowship winner Justin Brown, HillVets connects young veterans with highly sought after internship opportunities on Capitol Hill, provides professional training to participants, and offers subsidized housing during internship to help veterans overcome the barrier of high living expenses in DC during the unpaid internship.

Service2School – Led by 2014 Take Point Fellowship finalist Zach McDonald, Service2School provides undergraduate admissions counseling to assist veterans in navigating the college application process and obtaining admission to the best universities in the Country

Carribean Returning Nationals Foundation (CRNF) – Founded by 2015 Take Point Fellowship winner Pierre Hines, CRNF works in partnership with internatoinaly renowned startup incubator 1776 to franchise their popular global startup competition “Challenge Cup” in the Carribean, addressing important economic diplomacy concerns through entrepreneurship in America’s backyard.

Team Rubicon – 2014 Take Point Finalist and Deputy Director of Program Operations for Team Rubicon, Amanda Burke’s project is developing a remote command and control structure for Team Rubicon’s international disaster relief operations that allows injured veterans, those physically incapable of traveling to disaster zones to participate in the relief effort, to support command and control functions remotely and deepen their involvement in Team Rubicon’s operations and community.

Tigris and Grove Street – 2015 Take Point Finalist and founder of the Tigris and Grove Street Project, Tom Berry works with BWF Grantee the Telling Project to tell the stories of Afghan refugees in the New Haven Connecticut area, post-9/11 veterans attending Yale, and future military officers participating in Yale’s recently reinstated ROTC program. The project features in-person performance presentations and ultimately will be captured in the form of a documentary miniseries charting the intersections of these three groups’ stories.

Veterans Campaign – 2015 Take Point Fellow and founder of Veterans Campaign Women’s Initiative, Kate Jordan is working to equip women veterans with the tools and skills to run for local office around the country.