Commissioning Committee

RADM Jeffrey R. Penfield; USN, Ret. - Chairman

Rear Adm. Jeffrey Penfield was commissioned in October 1982 via the Aviation Officer Candidate Program and earned his Navy Wings of Gold in June 1984. His operational assignments include Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA 136) as a plankowner, VFA-94 and command of VFA-115. While in command, he deployed on the maiden F/A-18E Super Hornet cruise participating in Operations Enduring Freedom, Southern Watch and the initial combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His shore tour assignments include Training Squadron (VT-23), Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 5, the Super Hornet Fleet Introduction Team and VX-9 where he was the lead operational test director for the F/A-18E/F operational evaluation.

His assignments as an acquisition professional include program manager air (PMA) 265, the F/ A-18 & EA-18G Program Office; command of PMA-259, the Navy’s Air-to-Air Missile Program Office; command of PMA-268, the Navy Unmanned Combat Aerial System Program Office; and assignment to the Naval Air Systems Command staff working Integration and Interoperability initiatives.
Penfield’s flag assignments were commander, Fleet Readiness Centers and commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force.

Penfield retired from the Navy on 01 September 2016 after 34 years of service. Penfield has over 4,000 flight hours and 750 carrier landings. He has been recognized as the 1995 Commander, Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet Pilot of the Year and the National Defense Industrial Association Navy Military Tester of the Year for 1999. He has been awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (two awards), the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Air Medal (six awards, one individual with combat V/ five Strike Flight), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards, one with combat V), and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Awards along with various other personal, unit and service medals.

Penfield previously served as the Chairman of the Commissioning Committee’s for the USS WICHITA (LCS-13). He also is currently serving as a board member for Camp Valor Outdoors, a member of the Greater Kansas City chapter of People-to-People, and a member of the Greater Kansas City chapter of Navy League

Mr. Ward Cook - Executive Director

Ward Cook was born and raised in the Kansas City area, and is a 1999 graduate of the University of Kansas with degrees in Communications and History. He served on the Washington, D.C., staff of former U. S. Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO). He has worked in government relations for 20 years. He has been a member of the Navy League of the United States since 2008 and holds numerous positions which include National Director, Regional Vice-President for Legislative Affairs, and President of the Central Area, Midwest Region. He also has served as Co-Chair of the USS MISSOURI (SSN-780) Commissioning Committee, and Executive Director of the USS WICHITA (LCS-13) Commissioning Committee. Ward is married to his lovely wife Sally and they have two kids Katie, and Jack.

CPO Mr. Bill Feller USN, Ret. - Secretary

Bill is a 1982 Lee’s Summit H.S. Graduate, right after graduation he enlisted into the US Navy Submarine Service. Where he spent the next 25 years on various types of submarines from fast attacks, deep ocean research and even the big Trident missile submarines. Initially trained as a Culinary Specialist then later as a Nuclear Electrician, before retiring and returning back to the Kansas City area in 2007. Bill has worked on two other ship commissioning committee’s with the USS Jefferson City (SSN-759) and the USS Missouri (SSN-780), and is honored to once again serve the community and the Navy in this capacity. Bill currently lives in Blue Springs, MO and works for the Department of Homeland Security/US Citizenship & Immigration Service as an Immigration Services Officer.

Mr. Paul Sephens - Treasurer

Paul Stephens graduated from the University of Kansas in 1998 with degree in Business Administration and in 1999 with a Masters in Accounting and Information Systems. He has worked at Ernst & Young for the past 20 years and is currently a Managing Director in the Business Tax Services practice. He is a CPA with licenses in Kansas, Missouri and Indiana. He has served on several boards throughout the Kansas City area, including Head Start of Shawnee Mission, the University of Kansas Accounting Advisory Board and the Hospital Hill Run Foundation board. Paul is married with two children.

Mr. Larry McMullen - Legal Counsel

One of the finest, most ethical and most congenial trial lawyers in the Midwest, Larry L. McMullen, AB ’53, JD ’59, has specialized in defending doctors and engineers for more four decades. Of Counsel at Husch Blackwell LLP in Kansas City, he started with the firm in 1959 and helped it grow from a 10-lawyer Kansas City firm to a 700-lawyer Midwestern firm with a national practice. He is among the two percent of U.S. trial lawyers to be elected a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. In 1979, he received the Significant Sig Award for his contributions as a national alumni leader of the Sigma Chi fraternity. In his community he has been a vestryman for Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, director for Saint Luke’s Hospital and director for the Scholars Center. As an MU law student, he was first in his law class and editor-in-chief of the Missouri Law Review, president of his fraternity and board member for the Law Student Association; and upon graduation commissioned from MU NROTC to serve three years as a line officer on a fleet mine sweeper. An avid MU supporter, he is a member of the MU Alumni Association, a Very Distinguished Fellow of the Jefferson Club, and he served on the Law School Foundation from 1980 to 2000, including four years as president. He has also served MU as chair of the Development Council from 1996 to 2001 and co-chair of the For All We Call Mizzou Capital Campaign Steering Committee. He received a Faculty-Alumni Award from the MU Alumni Association in 1985.

Mr. Sean Murray - Legal Counsel

Bio coming soon!

Mrs. Sindy Gaona - Public Affairs Officer

Bio coming soon!

Mrs. Darcy Stewart - Public Affairs Officer

Bio coming soon!

LCOL Bob Bennett USA, Ret.

Mayor’s Office

Mr. Eric Bosch

Bio coming soon!

LTC Alex Braszko USA, Ret.

Lieutenant Colonel (USA, recently retired) Alexander Braszko is currently serving Kansas City, Missouri as its new Chief Innovation Officer. A first-generation American, Alex has 22+ years active duty experience as a Military Intelligence and Space Operations officer. His background in planning and conducting multi-domain operations using cutting edge technologies provides him a unique perspective and proven experience towards implementing Smart City Initiatives; integrating new technologies and innovative methods into municipal operations for complete Digital Inclusion within Kansas City, Missouri. He views integrating innovative processes and systems, new-but-proven capabilities, and analyzed data into municipal operations as critical components toward improving the quality of life of Kansas Citians. He believes his new mission is an exciting and truly worthwhile one, and considers it an honor to serve Kansas City, his new home in the Heartland.

CAPT Ron Brooks USN, Ret.

Bio coming soon!

Mr. Mark Bryant

Bio coming soon!

Mr. George Bukaty

Attended the University of Missouri – Columbia with major in Finance & Banking.

Began Investment Banking career in 1975 as Vice –President of Stern Brothers Co. in Kansas City, MO.

Moved to B.C.Christopher Securities Co. from 1986-1988. Formed George E Bukaty & Co., Inc. in 1988, specializing in financing, restructuring and acquisitions of Midwest, national & international companies. In 2003 co-founded UnionNet LLC to advise trade unions on insurance issues, project labor agreements and economic development issues.

Former President of the Kansas City Securities Assn., Commissioner of the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority and KCMO Competitive Review Commission. Past Chairman of the Jackson County MO. Re-development Authority. Trustee of the Missouri Council on Economic Education, KCSA Education Trust & UMKC Athletic Foundation.

SCPO Rick Butler USN, Ret.

Bio coming soon!

Mrs. Breanna Cameron

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COL Tim Carlin USA, Ret.

Bio coming soon!

Mr. Bob Cook

J. Robert “Bob” Cook, Born in Kansas City, MO and raised outside of Indianapolis, IN. He attended Miami (OH) University and is a former Officer in the U.S. Navy. Early in his career, he was Mill Representative for Armstrong World Industries. Bob served as President Batliner Paper Company before starting his own company, Cook Paper Recycling in 1986. Bob served as President of the Greater Kansas City Navy League as well as Midwest Area President of the Navy League. He was a board Member of the Mid-American Council, BSA and the International Business Forms Association. He also has served on many local board’s including Greater KC Chamber of Commerce & Chairman First Small Business Council, First Business Bank, Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City United Way, Plaza Club, Vanguard Club, Mercury Club, and the Kansas City Rotary Club. Bob also served on the Citizens Environmental Council, and is active in Cure of Ars Catholic Church. He married to Linda Batliner Cook for over 50 years and has a daughter Lindsay, a son Ward, and four grandchildren.

LCDR Bob Culler USN, Ret.

Bob Culler is currently president of the Greater KC Metro Chapter of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association and is a active member of the KC Council of the Naval League of the U.S., and MOAA. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1974 and served five years on active duty in the Navy as a surface warfare officer aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Dahlgren (DDG-43), on an amphibious afloat staff, and on the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV-64). In 1978-79 onboard the USS Constellation he was involved in the Iranian/Yemen/Indian Ocean campaign. He served in the Navy Reserves from 1980-1994 and was an Executive Officer and Officer In Charge of a Navy Reserve Unit, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Bob joined Sprint Corporation [United Telecommunications then] in 1980 in North Carolina and held various management positions in customer service, engineering, product management, and product development. His career at Sprint spanned 35 years, the last 20 of which were at the Sprint US headquarters in Westwood and Overland Park, KS. He retired from Sprint in 2015. He holds an MBA Degree from Campbell University and is married to Debra Hager Culler [works for Security Bank], and they have two grown daughters and two grandchildren who reside in the Kansas City metro.

CAPT Mike Gochis, USNR

CAPT Mike Gochis was raised in Kansas City and graduated from Shawnee Mission South in the class of ’86. He then attended and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1990 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. He then completed the Naval Nuclear Power school and served aboard the USS Texas (CGN-39) and USS South Carolina (CGN-37) and an engineering and damage control officer. He transitioned to the Naval Reserve in 1995.

Within the Naval Reserve he has served in a number of units including a deployment to Kuwait and Iraq in 2002/2003 providing port security in the region. Additionally, he has served in leadership roles in Naval Reserve unit supporting Military Sealift Command in Korea and Naval Cooperation for Shipping in Bahrain. He most recently served as Commanding Officer of Defense Support of Civil Authorities for the Navy’s Southeast Region. In this role his team provided support to civil emergency response organizations in response to national disasters including Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence and Michael during the 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons. Currently he serves as the LANT HUB Coordinator for Cooperation for Shipping at United States Fleet Forces Command.

While not serving the Navy, Mike lives in Overland Park, KS with his wife Jane. He works full time for Microsoft Corporation as a Technical Strategist. He holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Kansas.

Mike is excited to support the commissioning committee to help bring to life a combatant ship bearing the name of his home town.

Mr. Tim Grunhard

Bio coming soon!

CDR Chris Higginbotham USN, Ret.

Bio coming soon!

LT John Jacobs USN, Ret.

John Jacobs, Chief Information Officer of JE Dunn, previously held the roles of Project Manager and then Vice President of Operations. Prior to joining JE Dunn he served as a Supply Officer in the US Navy. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Structural Civil Engineering from Notre Dame University in 1991, followed by receiving his MBA at Baker University in 1998. He has been with JE Dunn for 17 years.

John was the integration officer responsible for the strategic planning and implementation to consolidate 20 JE Dunn offices from five companies into a single operating company. He also created the Learning & Performance department, responsible for national training and performance standards throughout the company.

Today, John leads all Information Technology efforts and oversees integration of national operational processes. He continues to oversee the development of applications focused on operational and field efficiency, including mobile applications, intranet and internet portals, and database reporting tools. He also leads the IT department, which includes systems, infrastructure and end-user support.

Abigael Jaymes

Bio coming soon!

Geoff Jolley

Bio coming soon!

Mr. Crosby Kemper, III

Crosby Kemper III is executive director of the Kansas City Public Library and former CEO of UMB Financial Corporation. He co-founded and is chairman of the Show-Me Institute. He has taught English at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, and been a bookseller in Grand Central Station in New York City. He is the editor of, and contributor to, Winston Churchill: Resolution, Defiance, Magnanimity, Good Will. In 2003-04, he chaired the Commission on the Future of Higher Education in Missouri for then-Missouri Gov. Bob Holden. He has served on the board of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation which operates Monticello, and the boards of the Kansas City Symphony, the Black Archives of Mid-America, Union Station Kansas City, and Lapham’s Quarterly. He helped Marilyn Strauss found the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival and was its first board chair. He also founded and chaired the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival. He has received the Difference Maker Award from the Urban League of Kansas City, the William F. Yates Medallion for Distinguished Service from William Jewell College, the 2010 Harmony Humanitarian Hoffman Legacy Award, and he and the KCPL received the Gold Medal for Libraries from the Institute for Museum and Library Services presented at the White House by former librarian and First Lady Laura Bush. He was inducted into the Mid-America Education Hall of Fame by the Kansas City Kansas Community College Endowment Association and was appointed to the Missouri Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University.

Mr. Benny Lee

Benny is Chairman & CEO of the DuraComm Corporation, based in Kansas City, Missouri, a world-­‐wide supplier of switch mode power supplies and power systems for the communications and high-­‐tech industries and LED and lighting solutions. Its lighting division features a one-­‐of-­‐a-­‐kind computerized visualization simulation allowing end-­‐users to see how architectural lighting actually lights up the subject before installation.

Born and raised in Taiwan, Benny graduated from the Tatung Institute of Technology with a major in electrical engineering. In 1972, he went to work for the Taipei office of Midland International, another Kansas City company.

In 1979, he started Mitco, a Taipei-­‐based service company. Mitco sourced several high-­‐profile products, Including the Ginsu Knife of the 1980s that sold millions of units on American television infomercials. Mitco played a major role in introducing the Handy Stitch sewing machine to Singer, which sold some four million units during the 1990s.

Mitco served Western Auto and Payless Cashways companies by establishing and maintaining import programs, including Western Auto’s Western Flyer bicycle program. This helped Western Auto to remain in the bicycle business and compete for many years against giant retailers that dominated the retail business at that time.

In 1987, Benny started Trans World in Kansas City, an importing and sales company that worked with Northern Automotive and Peterson Manufacturing. Benny sold the company to Peterson Manufacturing in 1990.

In 1995, Benny moved his family to the United States, where he expanded another of his companies, Top Innovations. He launched an affordable line of SteamFast steamers, including a SteamFast fabric steamer that sold 16,000 SteamFast fabric steamers in one day alone through QVC’s Today’s Special Value program. Top Innovations had sold lines of SteamFast and McCulloch steam products, including irons steam presses, vacuum cleaners and other innovative merchandise. Benny sold the company in 2008.

Affirming his belief that the United States is the most philanthropic country in the world, Benny lives the practice of giving back to the community. One example is his formation of an ad hoc club to bring music of the world to the local community.

Benny’s activities include service in many organizations, and his accomplishments have resulted in numerous civic and business awards. He began playing the clarinet in 2013 and performs non-­‐professionally for many audiences both domestically and internationally.

Mr. Andy Lewellen

Bio coming soon!

Mr. Michael Liss

Bio coming soon!

Mr. James M. Malouff, III
CDR Jim Martin USN, Ret.

Jim was born in Kansas City, graduated from Raytown High School, and received his Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Missouri University of Science & Technology.

Commissioned in 1976 at Pensacola, FL., his tours included Operation Eagle Claw (Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission), Urgent Fury (Grenada Invasion), U.S.-Syrian Conflict in Lebanon, the 1st Gulf War, and Operations Provide Comfort and Southern Watch (establishing the Northern & Southern no-fly zones in Iraq). Jim had two command-at-sea tours, lived in 9 different states plus Japan, spent more that seven years under way at sea, and earned two Master of Science degrees.

Retiring after 21 years of active duty, Jim spent another 17 years in national security positions including at the:
— Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), Jim oversaw all programs focused on attacking Improvised Explosive Device (IED) terrorist networks.
— Counter-IED Operations/Intelligence Integration Center (COIC), he lead a group of Intelligence and Data Analysts and Operations Researchers providing integrated analytic assessments of multi-agency counter-terrorism and counter-IED actions.

Throughout his collegiate and professional career Jim participated in numerous mountaineering and climbing adventures in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. He still enjoys rock climbing, trail running, woodworking and playing percussion with local groups.

Jim and his wife Karen (also a 1971 Raytown High School graduate) returned home to Kansas City in 2014 and reside in the Raytown School District. Their two sons three grand children live back East.

CW04 David L. Miller USN, Ret.

Bio coming soon!

Mr. Dale Peterson

Bio coming soon!

Paige Perlik

Bio coming soon!

Hon. Joe Reardon

Bio coming soon!

CDR Bob Reintjes USN, Ret.

Bio coming soon!

CDR Jack Rush USN, Ret.

Bio coming soon!

CAPT Richard Scharff USN, Ret.

Captain Richard Scharff, born in Holdredge, Nebraska, but was raised in, and considers himself a native of, St. Joseph, Missouri. He graduated from Northwest Missouri State University as a History major with a Bachelor’s in Secondary Education. He was commissioned through the U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. Additionally, the Navy selected him for post graduate education resulting in a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance from The George Washington University.

As a Supply Corps Officer, he began his twenty-five year career in fleet logistics and airborne systems acquisition with sea tour assignments on two destroyers with a one-year tour in-between at Naval Support Activity in Danang, Republic of Vietnam charged with supporting the United States Marine Corps, Navy, and Army combat units. Later, at the Aviation Supply Office in Philadelphia, he was responsible for the acquisition of Navy-Wide F-14 “Tomcat” airborne spare components. He served his senior sea tour assignment onboard USS RANGER (CV-61) as the Supply Officer.

Shore assignments included a tour as Supply Officer, Naval Air Station, Miramar, California and ultimately a command tour as Commanding Officer, Pacific Fleet Accounting and Disbursing Office.

In his follow-on thirty year civilian career, he served as Chief Procurement Officer at the University of California – San Diego, the University of Iowa, and San Diego State University. Lastly, he was the Executive Director of Contracts, at Educational and Institutional Cooperative Services, Inc. which is the largest, member-owned, non-profit purchasing cooperative serving the needs of higher education. Finally, he volunteered as a Docent of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego California.

LTCOL Greg Shuey USAF, Ret.

Lt. Col. Gregory Shuey has more than forty years of management experience in the aerospace sciences, engineering, manufacturing, business and government as a career military officer, space systems engineer, entrepreneur and business owner. Among his many duties in his 25 years of service in the US Air Force, he served as an engineering subsystem manager for a major satellite system development program, the Air Force Director of Engineering for the Space Shuttle at Johnson Space Center for 14 shuttle launches, and the Special Advisor for Political Affairs and negotiator for US Forces, Korea.

He has served as associate professor of mathematics and physics for three colleges and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Space Physics from the US Air Force Academy, a Masters in Biomechanical Engineering with a minor in Astrogeophysics from Arizona State University, and a Masters in Business Administration from Auburn University. He is also a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College and Air War College Seminar program.

Colonel Shuey is a Command Pilot with 2,900 hours in 13 aircraft as an instructor, test and fighter pilot and he flew 350 combat missions in Vietnam. He holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, 13 Air Medals, 2 Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry and 21 other decorations for his service.

In his professional business career, he served as the International Marketing Director for Ferranti International (United Kingdom) for Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. He is the founder and owner of several international technology companies and was also the director of an international master chorale and orchestra. As a classically trained pianist, he has performed on stage as an accompanist for the Air Force Academy Chorale and other many groups and has been on national TV with stars such as Carol Channing and Ed Sullivan.

Colonel Shuey has six children of which four have served 8 tours in the Middle East in their respective Army and Marine careers. He is also a 14-yr Liaison Officer for the Air Force Academy and is the founder of the Kansas City Chapter of the Association of Graduates of the Air Force Academy.

CDR Chuck Stevens USN, Ret.

Chuck entered the US Naval Academy from Shawnee Mission West HS and graduated with the Naval Academy class of 1973. After designation as a Naval Flight Officer, he completed two deployments in the EA-6B Prowler with the VAQ 132 Scorpions aboard the USS Independence and USS Constellation. Upon completion of his next tour of duty as the 28th Company Officer at USNA he received his MBA from George Washington University. Chuck then transitioned to the US Naval Reserve where his reserve assignments included Operations Officer for Commander in Chief Pacific 1106, Executive Officer for Patrol Wing 0593 and Commanding Officer for Fleet Training Group 113. He retired from the Naval Reserves in 1995.

In civilian life, Chuck entered the oil business in 1980 and has held various positions. He was the Director of National Accounts for HollyFrontier, Chief Engineer for Mobil Oil’s North Atlantic Region, General Manager for Ethyl Corporation’s Latin American Business Unit and Vice President of Technical Services for Castrol Heavy Duty.

Chuck has served as a US Naval Academy Blue and Gold Officer, and as Alumni Chapter President in both Richmond, VA and Kansas City. Additionally, he served on the Naval Academy Alumni Association Executive Committee on Recruitment from 1991 to 2005. Chuck is currently serving as an officer of the Greater Kansas City Council of the Navy League and on the commissioning committee for the USS Kansas City, LCS 22 that is being built in Mobile, AL.

In his “off-duty” time, Chuck enjoys golfing and fishing. Additionally, he has held season tickets to Navy Football for the past 30 year, and when not attending a home game he can be found at away sites, like Memphis, Tulsa and Colorado Springs.

Chuck is married to the former Jane Wilkinson of Moline, IL. They have two children, Claire and Charlie, and granddaughter, Haley Grace, all living in Shawnee Mission, KS.

Ms. Kristi Wyatt

Bio coming soon!