Spotlight

Spotlight - Dan Montgomery - Brigadier General U.S. Army, Retired

Written by Elizabeth Keister

Photo by Steve Babin

Brigadier General Dan Montgomery has dedicated his career to the United States Military since 1967. He served his country in the Army for thirty-two years and continues to support U.S. forces, post-retirement. After being appointed the Lead Executive in the Huntsville area, General Montgomery supports both the Veteran and Active Duty Military community with Northrop Grumman. Additionally he built a business run by service-disabled veterans who strive to provide value-added technical and security services to the government and industry customers.

EVENT: What brought you to Huntsville?

DM: The Army brought me, in 1992. I was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas and had planned to retire, but was selected to be the Program Manager for the Air Defense Command and Control System. I made the decision to do one more assignment.

I was then selected for promotion to Brigadier General and assigned as the PEO Air and Missile Defense. Fortunately, that job was in Huntsville so I got to stay right here.

EVENT: How did your involvement in the military begin?

DM: While in college, I signed up for ROTC. I did not have a profession I wanted to pursue, so thought two years in the Army would be a good way to get some experience and decide what I wanted to do. Well...two years turned into 32 years. So, you might say I stumbled into my career decision, but it was the best stumble I could possibly have had!

EVENT: To what areas have you been deployed?

DM: I started my military career in 1967, so Vietnam was very much at the forefront of every soldier’s thoughts and assignments. However, my first assignment was to Homestead, Florida. I thought, man if this is the Army; give me 30 years!! But, my next assignment was Vietnam. Other assignments included Fort Bliss, Korea, Germany, Fort Leavenworth, Fort Gordon, The Pentagon and finally Redstone Arsenal.

EVENT: What does the Lead Executive for Huntsville Operations with Northrop Grumman entail?

DM: Northrop Grumman is located all over the nation and all over the world, for that matter. In many locations, there are multiple NG business sectors in the same location. So, in 2004 the CEO decided to assign responsibility to one person in a geographical area to be the central point of contact to all customers and the community where the company operates, titled the Corporate Lead Executive (CLE). He/she would be responsible for pulling the various operating units together to be more efficient and to serve as the face to customers and the community. I was given this title in Huntsville from 2005 through 2009.

EVENT: What does your involvement with the military, post-retirement look like?

DM: I stay involved through organizations like AUSA, through the work I do in the Defense Industry and through friends still on Active Duty. My wife Phyllis does more than I do through her volunteer work. She stays active with the retired wives community and is one of the officers in Wreaths for Veterans here in Huntsville.

Your best and longest lasting friends are your old Army buddies. We get together often with our retired Army friends and keep in close contact.

EVENT: How was your transition from the Military to the civilian life?

DM: My transition was much easier than most because I became involved with the Defense Industry after military retirement. I quickly learned that Active Duty Military does not have a corner on the market when it comes to hard work, dedication and patriotism. The Defense Industry workforce has that same dedication, patriotism and work ethic.

EVENT: In what ways have you helped the military and contractors whom are deployed in hostile areas?

DM: I recall when we were struggling to develop and field the THAAD system, sending a note to all the men and women working on the program. I wanted to communicate to them that someday they would be sitting in their homes watching a news program broadcast THAAD missiles intercepting enemy targets, saving the lives our soldiers and allies. Today, my company supports the Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar program in Afghanistan, helping to protect deployed soldiers and civilians.

EVENT: As the co-founder of Strategic Defense Solutions, what is your main goal within the defense sector?

DM: When we started, one of our main goals was to win contracts that would provide jobs for veterans. We have accomplished this task and now we foster both professional and personal growth within our team. Our principal contract is C-RAM and it requires people with experience in a combat zone. So, as it turns out, about 75% of our company is composed of are veterans.

EVENT: What does your community involvement consist of?

DM: When I was CLE at Northrop Grumman, I served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and on the boards of many other non-profit organizations. I participated in both the Huntsville/Madison County and Alabama Leadership programs, which are both excellent programs. I still serve on the Heart of the Valley YMCA Board and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Foundation Board. I really believe in and support what the YMCA stands for in putting Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all and their support for Military families. The USSRC is a national treasure and it is right here in Huntsville. It does so much, not the least of which is preserving history, while also educating and inspiring our children.

Anne Sentell

Written by Melissa Gerrish
Photo by Steve Babin

As the executive director of Therapy Partners, a program that uses pet and owner teams as therapeutic tools for organizations throughout the Huntsville area, Anne Sentell’s work runs the gamut from helping children achieve literacy, to helping adults achieve better health, to helping provide comfort to Hospice patients. The common theme? Helping.

EVENT: Tell us about your work at Therapy Partners.

AS: I am the executive director at Therapy Partners and lead therapy partners representative. I give presentations – often with one of my two therapy dogs. Hannah Kate, a Golden Retriever and Weezy, a GoldenDoodle, steal the show every single time. I also promote Therapy Partners in the community in an effort to expand our services – all of which are free. Other duties include being one of the five lead instructors for our dog training school, Kind Hearts Behavior Center. Kind Hearts income supports Therapy Partners.

The school is for companion and therapy dogs. I mentor existing Therapy Partners teams. I am lead instructor for incoming Therapy Partners teams as well as coordinating all Therapy Partners activities and services to the community. I write grants seeking funding to support our programs. I am also the lead for all of our programs: PAL is Partners Achieving Literacy in which Huntsville City Schools Title 1 second- and fourth-grade students who have been identified as poor readers practice reading to the dog or cat, the animal’s handler and the Therapy Partners-trained Book Buddy. PAW is Partners Achieving Wellness in which teams visit at various hospitals, hospice, assisted and nursing care facilities and youth programs. PIC is Partners in the Community which serves special events for memorial and fundraising purposes. WAGS is Wait/Ask/Greet/Safely, a dog bite prevention program. RRT stands for Rapid Response Teams that are on the ready to serve the community following a disaster as people begin to put their lives back together. PSC is Partners Serving Children, which has programs in the works for Farley Boys and Girls Club and Girls, Inc. Additional services will also be provided to the Nova Academy students and children at the Mountain Lakes Behavior Center in Scottsboro. PSM is Partners Serving Military.

Therapy Partners is partnered with the North Alabama Veterans and Fraternal Organizations and the American Red Cross that serves the military and veterans. PSH is Partners Serving Hospice that provides teams to visit Hospice Family Care’s patients in their homes and in nursing facilities. Teams also visit children and adults who are in various stages of grief following the loss of a loved one.

EVENT: Are you a native or transplant?

AS: I’m sort of both native and transplant. I was born and grew up in Mobile, lived in the Orlando area from 1966-1978, then moved to Huntsville. This is home. EVENT: What is your education background?
AS: I received a bachelor’s degree in English and Sociology from Judson College in Marion, AL. My advanced studies in Education Administration were at the University of Florida. Other studies include dog training: Registered Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and also Registered Pet Partners Team, Certified Therapy Partners Team, currently with two therapy dogs. I also have formal training in tap, point, ballet and ballroom, specializing in percussive dance.

EVENT: What are your goals?

AS: My goals for Therapy Partners are to further establish Therapy Partners in our community; to grow Therapy Partners by providing excellent service to the community and training for new teams at our dog school; to provide education to the community about canines to enhance the bond dog-owners can enjoy with their pets and also to train everyone what to do if a dog is threatening or frightening them; to help our teams provide peace and joy – calm in troubled times – a listening ear –a welcomed dog or cat visitor in good and bad times; and to further our students’ education at Kind Hearts Behavior Center to include tried-and-true and also innovative methods to train and enjoy dogs in our homes and environment. My personal goals are to strive to be a strong yet compassionate leader for Therapy Partners; enjoy my family of three children with spouses plus five grandchildren (in Huntsville, Charlottesville, VA and Amsterdam, Holland) and to forever be a mama, friend, student and community servant.

EVENT: What types of hobbies or interests do you have?

AS: I have been a percussive dance instructor and choreographer since 1980. I have danced at the World’s Fair in New Orleans, Dollywood, Six Flags over GA and the Grand Old Opry. I am a year-round Burritt volunteer and the resident clogging instructor. My students and I perform at Santa’s Village, and Burritt on the Mountain’s International Harvest Festival & Candlelight Christmas. My other interests include kayaking, biking, reading, stitching and traveling. Amsterdam and Virginia are entirely too far away for this mama and “Annie,” (my grandmother name.) n

Spotlight - Marydae Sneed

Written by Melissa Gerrish
Photo by Steve Babin

The Blount Hospitality House provides lodging and supportive companionship for out-of-town relatives of patients in Huntsville area hospitals – serving as a homeaway- from-home for families in need. Director Marydae Sneed, a Huntsville native,believes the little house on Madison Street turns hospital into hospitality!

EVENT: Tell about your work at Blount Hospitality House.

MS: Blount House was founded in 1980 when a group of women realized just how many people were sleeping in hospital waiting rooms, eating from vending machines and washing themselves and their clothes in public restroom sinks. Our guests find themselves miles from home with one thing in common; being unexpectedly in Huntsville due to a medical emergency. Some have babies in a neonatal unit, a family member in a terrible car accident, or are going through chemo or radiation themselves. Blount House is a wonderful gift to these families, a mission of love that I take very seriously. We operate on a prayer and support from our great community. It’s my job, along with my board of directors, to make sure Blount Hospitality House is here for another 35 years.

EVENT: Why is nonprofit work so important to you?

MS: It is important to me to be in a position to better someone else’s life. For most of my adult life I filled that need through nonprofit work.The thank you notes we receive, almost daily, at Blount House, let me know just how important our mission is. Just this week, we had two previous guests drop by to let us know what a Godsend we were to their family. Through all the ups and downs and the trials of running a small nonprofit, on weeks like this, it’s a reminder of why we do what we do! I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

EVENT: What events benefit Blount Hospitality House that the community can get involved in?

MS: We have three events that are dear to me! Kicking off our event season is Dinner in the Garden at Bennett Nurseries, which happens on October 1 this year, followed by the Rudolph Run on December 19. Then our Mardi Gras celebration will be February 7, 2016. Both the Rudolph Run and Mardi Gras require an army of volunteers. If you’d like to help, contact our office at 256-534-7014.

EVENT: What kind of hobbies and interests to you have?

MS: We have been living on our family farm for the past year, just eight miles from the courthouse square. It began as a move to renovate our house in town, which is not moving as quickly we’d hoped, so hobbies and interests have shifted this year from working in my flower beds in town to cutting grass! I’ve enjoyed getting back into horseback riding at Flint Ridge Farm, where I took lessons as a child. I’m a member of The Junior League of Huntsville and its Rainbow Rhythm Band, a washboard band, where I may be found leading the band or playing the spoons! In addition, I am a sponsor of the Grace Club of Huntsville’s Junior Grace Club, a social and service club for high school students. Between the few additional activities and directing a small nonprofit, I have some precious time for my extremely supportive, long-time boyfriend, Ben, our dog Topper and kitty Maggie. Together, we enjoy long walks, traveling, cooking and entertaining!

Spotlight - Marydae Sneed (2)

Written by Melissa Gerrish
Photo by Steve Babin

The Blount Hospitality House provides lodging and supportive companionship for out-of-town relatives of patients in Huntsville area hospitals – serving as a homeaway- from-home for families in need. Director Marydae Sneed, a Huntsville native,believes the little house on Madison Street turns hospital into hospitality!

EVENT: Tell about your work at Blount Hospitality House.

MS: Blount House was founded in 1980 when a group of women realized just how many people were sleeping in hospital waiting rooms, eating from vending machines and washing themselves and their clothes in public restroom sinks. Our guests find themselves miles from home with one thing in common; being unexpectedly in Huntsville due to a medical emergency. Some have babies in a neonatal unit, a family member in a terrible car accident, or are going through chemo or radiation themselves. Blount House is a wonderful gift to these families, a mission of love that I take very seriously. We operate on a prayer and support from our great community. It’s my job, along with my board of directors, to make sure Blount Hospitality House is here for another 35 years.

EVENT: Why is nonprofit work so important to you?

MS: It is important to me to be in a position to better someone else’s life. For most of my adult life I filled that need through nonprofit work.The thank you notes we receive, almost daily, at Blount House, let me know just how important our mission is. Just this week, we had two previous guests drop by to let us know what a Godsend we were to their family. Through all the ups and downs and the trials of running a small nonprofit, on weeks like this, it’s a reminder of why we do what we do! I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

EVENT: What events benefit Blount Hospitality House that the community can get involved in?

MS: We have three events that are dear to me! Kicking off our event season is Dinner in the Garden at Bennett Nurseries, which happens on October 1 this year, followed by the Rudolph Run on December 19. Then our Mardi Gras celebration will be February 7, 2016. Both the Rudolph Run and Mardi Gras require an army of volunteers. If you’d like to help, contact our office at 256-534-7014.

EVENT: What kind of hobbies and interests to you have?

MS: We have been living on our family farm for the past year, just eight miles from the courthouse square. It began as a move to renovate our house in town, which is not moving as quickly we’d hoped, so hobbies and interests have shifted this year from working in my flower beds in town to cutting grass! I’ve enjoyed getting back into horseback riding at Flint Ridge Farm, where I took lessons as a child. I’m a member of The Junior League of Huntsville and its Rainbow Rhythm Band, a washboard band, where I may be found leading the band or playing the spoons! In addition, I am a sponsor of the Grace Club of Huntsville’s Junior Grace Club, a social and service club for high school students. Between the few additional activities and directing a small nonprofit, I have some precious time for my extremely supportive, long-time boyfriend, Ben, our dog Topper and kitty Maggie. Together, we enjoy long walks, traveling, cooking and entertaining!

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