Celebrating SAME Volunteers!

For 100 years, SAME members have made a difference in their communities as volunteers—inspiring youth toward STEM careers, identifying and develop leaders, mentoring young professionals, and supporting veterans and their preparation for post service careers, while promoting resilience and helping identify and resolve local infrastructure challenges. Last year through more than 100 Posts worldwide, SAME members spent over 16,500 hours conducting STEM outreach and 5,000 hours supporting veterans and wounded warriors; provided nearly 11,000 hours of community service; gave $130,000 to wounded veteran initiatives; and donated more than $350,000 to area STEM programs.

During 2020 National Volunteers Week (April 19-25), we celebrate several members of the Society, who by donating their time and resources to give back where they work and live, are having a lasting impact on SAME’s efforts to help secure America’s future, together. We couldn’t do any of what we do without you!

Victoria Mechtly of Tepa Companies is the Young Member Community of Interest Chair; she is engaged, active and sincerely cares about our Society’s young professionals and their career paths!

Col. Sal Nodjomian, F.SAME, USAF (Ret.), is CEO of Matrix Design Group, a former SAME National President, a volunteer consultant for the annual SAME Transition Workshop, and in 2020 will receive the inaugural Edward Gibson Veteran Transition Medal for supporting veterans transitioning out of the military. Even after leaving the SAME National Leadership Team in an official capacity, Sal remains extremely strong in his support of the Society through industry-government engagement efforts, the Transition Workshop, Post Leaders Workshop, and mentoring Young Professionals and many others.

Jimmy Blake, a Project Engineer with OBG, is a member of the Leaders Development Community of Interest and leads the LDP Monthly Webinar. He provides quality control to monthly LDP webinars, and works with the facilitator and instructor to ensure they are comfortable with what we need. In a pinch, he can step in for the facilitator and is always prepared with back-up questions. He is also very active in his home Philadelphia Post, where he is the Young Member Point of Contact.

Col. Eric Wilbur, P.E., QEP, USAF (Ret.), CEO of Wilbur Consulting, is President of the San Antonio Post President and a Leader Development Community of Interest Vice Chair and oversees Post-level leader development programs. His work will help SAME expand the community of leader development to include Posts; in particular he is currently working on an initiative to support small Posts with leader development opportunities. He also helped with a presentation on SAME at the Association of Defense Communities in San Antonio in February.

Winona Simmons, a construction inspector with the U.S. Air Force, is very active supporting STEM outreach. After serving as a mentor at the SAME/Air Force Engineering & Construction Camp at Scott AFB, Ill., she became really motivated about bring a camp to Oklahoma on behalf of the Oklahoma City Post. Within a few months of returning home, she had secured the support of Riverside Indian School, one of the few Native American boarding schools in the United States, located in Anadarko, Okla. Working with SAME National and the school, she worked to supply room, board, and buses for the camp. Though postponed until fall, her devotion to bring a camp to Oklahoma quickly turned into a reality. Winona is also Centennial Planning Coordinator for the Oklahoma City Post.

Charysse Knotts, P.E., with Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp., is currently President of the Rhein-Main Post in Germany. She almost single-handedly rekindled a small flame at the Post and turned it into a roaring fire. When GDPR struck the European Union in 2018, she reached out to members and got them to opt-in, then surveyed them to see what would engage them with SAME. With the input in her hand, she put it all into action and the Post is now providing real value to members in Germany once again.

Lee Ann Zelesnikar of iSoft Solutions is the Deputy Regional Vice President for SAME’s Mid Atlantic Region, and also a very active member of the Central Virginia Post. When the Post was struggling a few years ago, Lee Ann was instrumental in revitalizing the Post, which a year later won Top Small Post, then won it again the next year, and then they grew so much they became a medium-sized Post—and in their first year in the category, they won the award for Top Medium Post! The Post supports a number of great programs in its local community. In fact, the Appomattox Regional Governors School Robotics Team that it sponsors qualified three times for the Robotics World Championship.

Summer Gladden, CF APMP, LEED AP, of Leebcor Services LLC, is the current Post President of the Central Virginia Post and recently selected as a member of the 2020-2021 SAME Leader Development Program Class. She is one of those volunteers that just “makes stuff happen.” From Young Member Happy Hours to a new Leadership Speaker Series to technical topics for monthly meetings, to running a Post that is relevant locally and supporting the national strategic plan, Summer is actively engaged in the current and future direction of the Post. And she also manages the Young Member Community of Interest LinkedIn page and is a contributor of Young Member news to TME!

Jonathon “Mike” Nash, Ph.D., F.SAME, of ATC Market Analysis LLC, is Secretary of the Mid-Maryland Post and a 50-plus year member of SAME. In 2020, he will be invested into the Academy of Fellows as a brand new SAME Fellow! Mike’s volunteerism is apparent throughout his engagement in the Society and has been recognized with the 2019 SAME Post Service Medal. A Vietnam veteran, Mike has been an influential engineer supporting national security for more than five decades; the simulation program he developed provided the initial engineering environmental analysis of docking adapter design which would be flown on the 1975 joint international space mission of U.S. Apollo and Soviet Soyuz spacecraft.

Steven Tupper, P.E., F.SAME, has been an active member of the Society since 1988, serving in a variety of positions at the Post, regional and national levels, including spending five years on the SAME College Outreach Committee representing the Missouri River Region. He also was Co-Chair for the 2014 Missouri River/TEXOMA Regional Joint Engineer Training Symposium. Col. Tupper has been a stable presence for 16 years as a Board Member of the Fort Leonard Wood Post, holding every leadership position! He is currently Post Camps Point of Contact and has been for the past four years. In 2009, under his leadership, Fort Leonard Wood earned Distinguished Post status. He has been an invaluable participant in mentoring, K-12 support, and STEM-related initiatives, including serving from 2009–2013 as Missouri University of Science & Technology SAME Student Chapter Mentor.

Col. Tony Hofmann, PMP, F.SAME, USA (Ret.) has a day job with the City of Overland Park in Kansas, but in his “spare” time he is very active with the Greater Kansas City Post and specifically at Fort Riley where he recently recruited an entire squad of 10 new soldiers to be members of SAME! Tony, who retired from the Army in 2013, assists transitioning military throughout the area and has led best practices training sessions at numerous Posts as well as national events. Throughout his volunteer activities, Tony is truly committed to supporting America’s veterans, both in and out of the service. Each year, he leads a team in the grueling Leadville Trail Marathon (which the Greater Kansas City Post sponsors) to raise money for PTSD programs and research.

Ann Ewy, PMP, F.SAME, with USACE Kansas City District, is active as a volunteer both locally (at the Greater Kansas City Post) and nationally with the Academy of Fellows. She is currently Vice Chair, Internal. She has managed the Fellows Nomination process for the last few years and is continually making improvements to ensure that Fellows are chosen fairly while maintaining the highest standards for our Society. Ann first joined SAME in 2002 and was named a Fellow in 2015.

As stated in the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan, the vision of our Society is to serve our nation as the foremost integrator for leadership development and technical collaboration within the A/E/C profession. The most important word in that vision statement is serve; for a century, SAME has been about service: to our profession, to our nation, and to our local communities.

In 2018, as the Society prepared to enter the final year of its first century, then-newly named SAME President Col. Marvin Fisher, F.SAME, USAF (Ret.), put out to the membership a call to action to do “Just One More.” The notion, as he described, is that as an organization of 28,000-plus members, imagine the impact we could achieve if we all did just one more thing—whether judging one more science fair, attending one more Post event, awarding one more scholarship, encouraging one more servicemember to earn a credential, or mentoring one more college student or young professional toward success.

As volunteers, the fact is we only have so much time. We cannot achieve it all by doing everything ourselves. But we can each do something. SAME members have been trying to do “just one more” as we have sprinted to the start of our second century. And indeed, the power of volunteers is greatest, together.

Know of a great SAME volunteer to recognize? Let us know at member@same.org!