Operation Welcome Home names new Executive Team
Photo L-R: Matthew Drayer, OWH Executive Director; Nicole Gerard, OWH Board President; Tiffany Summerlin, past OWH Executive Director; Bob Pirner, past OWH Board President
Operation Welcome Home would like to welcome some new faces to its Executive Team and acknowledge the efforts and contributions of those who have passed the torch. Since its inception in 2012, Navy veteran Bob Pirner has been at the helm in the Board President seat. He helped bring the idea of what Operation Welcome Home could be from a concept to a meaningful organization, serving the veteran community in north-central West Virginia. Fellow board members and staff are extremely grateful for his vision and eagerness to serve the needs of fellow veterans. In January, Bob was able to confidently pass the honor to fellow board member, Nicole Gerard. Nicole is an Army Reserve Veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Nicole resides in Morgantown with her Army Veteran husband, Derek Gerard. She brings fresh ideas and enthusiasm and has hit the ground running at OWH, especially with the Veteran Agriculture Training Program. Nicole is currently a full-time Horticulture and Environmental Microbiology student at WVU and is very active in the community and state, volunteering whenever she can. “I am very passionate about helping all the veterans and their families in our community. I know after my military service it took me a long time to find my rhythm, having a place like OWH to be able to be around other veterans, their families, and supportive community members can help so many veterans to be able to be successful after their life in the military. The impact Bob has had on our community with OWH is incredible, and I feel honored to take on the role of Board President and to have the opportunity to serve our community.”
One of the first things that Nicole was tasked with as the newly appointed President of the Board was to find a new Executive Director. Tiffany Summerlin has been in the Executive Director position for the last year and is returning to her former position at the Monongalia County Health Department as Smile Express Program Coordinator. Under Tiffany’s leadership, OWH has had a successful year creating opportunities for veterans in north-central West Virginia. Upon learning of the upcoming vacancy, Nicole assembled a search committee that diligently narrowed down the applicants to an ideal candidate, Matthew Drayer. With his experience and dedication, Matthew is well-equipped to lead OWH toward its mission to provide various services to all veterans and family members regardless of service era, branch, rank, ability, or socioeconomic status. “I am very excited about my opportunity with Operation Welcome Home. I am looking forward to carrying out the mission to support and assist the local Veteran community”. Prior to joining the OWH leadership team, Matthew was General Manager for the West Virginia Black Bears Minor League Baseball Club. During his tenure, Matthew successfully managed the ballclub’s operations and staff, as well as developed partnerships with local businesses and community organizations. His experience in community outreach and development will be a valuable advantage to OWH’s impact and growth. Matthew is a proud alumnus of West Virginia University, where he obtained his degree in Sports Management & Business Administration. He lives in Cheat Lake with his wife Kelly and their two active sons, Jacob, and Joshua. In his free time, Matthew enjoys spending time with his family, training for marathons, playing hockey, and supporting his children’s youth sports endeavors. Matthew’s personal mission and passion for helping our community’s veterans stems from his late father who was a decorated Army Ranger Veteran and served in Vietnam.