WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Army appointed eight leaders nationwide as new Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army during an investiture ceremony Jan. 14 here in the Pentagon.
The Honorable Ryan D. McCarthy, Secretary of the Army, selected Kenneth D. Boggs to represent West Virginia; Joseph M. Butler Jr. to represent New York (North); Ronald Chastain to represent Arkansas (South); Kelli Pendleton to represent Kentucky (West); selected Brenda Pennels to represent Maine; Blair Shwedo to represent North Carolina (West); Jennie Taylor to represent Utah; and Dr. Paul Urban to represent Pennsylvania (West).
"I want to thank Ken, Joe, Ron, Kelli, Brenda, Blair, Jennie, and Paul for their willingness to serve," McCarthy said. "Our Army is an all-volunteer force. Now, more than ever, we rely on our volunteers, such as CASAs, to help build networks, foster relationships and tell the Army story to your communities. You are the first handshake into the city and the last handshake as I head back to D.C. The Army is open for business and we're looking for the best of the best. I am counting on our CASAs to lead the way."
CASAs are a vital part of the Army, promoting good relations between the Army and the public and advising the Secretary about regional issues.
Each state, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories have one or more CASAs appointed to provide a vital link between the Army and the communities for which they serve. CASAs are usually business or civic leaders who possess a keen interest in the welfare of the Army and their communities.
CASAs serve a two-year term without compensation. Terms may be extended to a total of 10 years of service. The secretary may recognize a civilian aide as a CASA Emeritus after 10 years of service with distinguished service.
"As a proud West Virginian and Army retiree, I am incredibly grateful and humbled to be selected by the secretary to serve as his civilian aide in the state," Boggs said. West Virginia has one of the highest rates of military service in the nation, and it's the honor of my life to serve in such a patriotic state. I think of all the fine men and women I served with since I enlisted in 1993. I intend to continue honoring their selfless service by sharing opportunities our Army has to offer West Virginians."
Boggs served in the active duty Army for 21 years. He returned home and served in the West Virginia National Guard for two years. He commanded the largest engineer battalion in the active Army, the 92nd Engineer Battalion, in Afghanistan. He retired as a colonel after commanding the 111th Engineer Brigade. He deployed numerous times to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He served in the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Cavalry Division, among other assignments.
A recipient of the highest award given in peacetime, the Soldier's Medal, as well as the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, and others, he's also Ranger, airborne, jumpmaster and jungle operations qualified. As an engineer officer, he received his master's degree through the University of Missouri. He serves as vice president of strategy and operations and global leadership development for N3, a global technology sales and marketing consultancy headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
"It is an honor and privilege to be selected by the secretary for this vital position," Butler said. "I look forward to articulating the Army's mission and building the bond between the Army and our civilian population. I could not be more excited about working with the men and women in uniform who wake up every day committed to defending our democracy, the American values we hold so dear, and the freedoms we enjoy because of their service and sacrifice. I hope my unique perspective and experience will be an asset for the secretary when building relationships within our military and civilian leadership."
Butler is the former Watertown mayor, serving from 2016 through 2019. Prior to being elected mayor he served two terms on the Watertown City Council from 2008 through 2015. He works for Community Bank Wealth Management where he is a registered representative with FINRA. He holds a general securities license and is an accredited investment fiduciary. He has been with the bank since 1997.
He served as Watertown Local Development Corporation president; Watertown Jefferson County Transportation Committee vice chairman; board member for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's North Country Regional Economic Development Council; co-chair of the city's downtown revitalization initiative; and chair of the city's Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from St. Lawrence University in 1989 and a master of business administration degree from Lemoyne College in 1999.
"I am humbled and grateful to be selected by the secretary for this position," Chastain said. "I look forward to telling the Army story from my personal and professional perspective. The Army -- active duty, Guard, and Reserve components -- provide tremendous opportunities for personal growth and self-development. Leadership skills learned in the Army carry over into the civilian world."
Chastain served in the Army National Guard for more than 36 years. He commanded the 25th Rear Area Operations Center in Desert Storm and the 39th Brigade Combat Team in Operation Iraqi Freedom II. He later served as wartime chief of staff, U.S. Forces Korea, as adjutant general, Arkansas National Guard, and as deputy commander, Reserve Component, Army Forces Command. He retired as a major general.
"I am extremely grateful and humbled to have been selected by the secretary for this position," Pendleton said. "The Army is a great institution providing opportunities for all who have served, those serving, and those who will serve. This position provides a platform to tell the Army story from my personal and professional perspective. I look forward to engaging with the leadership and people of Kentucky to do just that, tell the Army story."
Pendleton currently serves as Christian County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO in Hopkinsville. Previously she served as USO Fort Campbell program and center operations manager; Christian County Chamber of Commerce military affairs director; and is a former television news anchor and reporter at stations in Evansville, Indiana, and Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
Pendleton serves the military and the local community through numerous civic organizations including as Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs governor appointee. She is AUSA Fort Campbell president; Campbell Strong Defense Alliance executive committee member; and a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives member. She earned a bachelor of arts in mass communications from Auburn University and is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber's Institute of Organizational Management, Loyola Marymount University.
"I am extremely grateful and humbled to have been selected by the secretary for this position," Pennels said. "The Army is a great institution providing opportunities for all who served, those serving, and those who will serve. This position provides a platform to tell the Army story from my personal and professional perspective. I look forward to engaging with the leadership and people of Maine to do just that, tell the Army story."
Pennels served in the Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserves for 20 years as a military police officer in a variety of command and staff positions. The positions included 1983 service as provost marshal for U.S. troops stationed in Honduras in support of Operation Ahuaus Tara II.
She earned commission as a second lieutenant in 1981. A 1982 University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate, she was a member of the university's early commissioning and simultaneous membership programs. Following active duty release in 1986, Pennels continued her career in the Army Reserve, serving many years with the 98th Division (Training) in upstate N.Y.
Pennels' civilian career is in health care where she held leadership positions with several major pharmaceutical and medical device companies. She is currently strategic relations manager, Uniformed Services Family Health Plan, Martin's Point Healthcare based in Portland, Maine. She is the surviving spouse of Col. (retired) Toby Pennels and serves as surviving spouse representative, Fort Drum Retiree Council. She is an active member of many military service organizations in Maine.
"I am grateful to Secretary McCarthy and the United States Army for entrusting me with this great responsibility and honor," Shwedo said. "It is the privilege of a lifetime to serve Soldiers and Army families in this new capacity. The military mission is about results, and I look forward to getting started and producing results for them immediately."
Shwedo is vice president of business development, Mid-Atlantic Division, Guardian Fueling Technologies, and former president and owner, South Eastern Petroleum Systems, a construction and service company. He has extensive executive boardroom experience with several organizations and committees. Over a 40-year business career, Shwedo served as president, Petroleum Equipment Institute; president, Carolinas Tank and Equipment Contractors Association; and president, North Carolina Petroleum Equipment Contractors Association. He is still an active member of the North Carolina Petroleum and Convenience Marketers.
"For fifteen years, I had the distinct honor to support my late husband in his service as a Soldier in the Utah Army National Guard," Taylor said. "I feel incredibly humbled to be selected as a CASA for my home state of Utah. I have a deep love for this country and feel an immeasurable debt of gratitude for all those who have served, those who currently serve, and those who will yet serve in the United States military. I am convinced we best honor those who have been willing to give their lives for us by making something of honor out of the lives they have given to us. That is what I intend to do for and in behalf of Utah's great Army Soldiers and their families."
Taylor is the wife and Gold Star Widow of Utah Army National Guard Maj. Brent Taylor, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in November 2018. At the time, Major Taylor was on a leave of absence from his position as North Ogden City mayor. Major and Mrs. Taylor are the parents of seven children. She is founder and director, Major Brent Taylor Foundation; Follow the Flag -- North Ogden executive board member; and an active volunteer in her children's public schools. A former secondary educator of history, government, and psychology classes, Jennie is passionate about helping youth prepare to become tomorrow's leaders.
"It is an honor to serve the secretary and Western Pennsylvania in this position," Urban said. "Pittsburgh's role in America's military stretches back to the earliest days of the nation, and the moniker "arsenal of democracy" fits no city better. With both men and material, this city has helped build America's Army. I look forward to continuing to develop cooperation between the Army and Pittsburgh's industries, foster the Army's relationship with the men and women of this great city, and proudly serve as the Army's link to the people."
Urban attended the United States Military Academy where he earned a bachelor of science degree with a military history major. Upon graduation, he received his commission as a transportation officer and served in one of the Army's watercraft units. After service, he attended the University of Pennsylvania's School of Dental Medicine. He and his wife, Dr. Heather Mowrey Urban, returned to Pittsburgh to raise their two children. He currently practices in the southern suburbs of the city and participates in and supports local civic activities.