Veterans Assembled electronics is an electronics modernization and training company with a commitment to provide military veterans the training, certification, and workforce preparation needed to pursue careers in the electronics industry. Learn about the VAe team.
Founder and CEO
John Shepard has over 30 years’ experience in sales and management in the computer industry. Prior to starting VAe in 2009, Mr. Shepard co-founded two breakthrough technology companies involved with firewalls and biometric identification.
He started his career with IBM and has performed every aspect of business from finance and acquisition to operations and executive management. Mr. Shepard is a Vietnam combat veteran and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island.
Chief Operating Officer
Matt Vargas works as the chief of operations for VAe and works directly with the teams at each location to ensure that the training and employment opportunities available to each veteran are maximized.
Matt has a diverse background in military leadership, consulting, and finance. He is a combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan and fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Afghan Farsi. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in Human Geography and a minor in Environmental Engineering.
Chief Financial Officer
Michael Videira works as the Chief Financial Officer for VAe. He manages the financial strategy of the company to provide training opportunities to veterans across the country. He oversees the Finance, Accounting and IT functions to align the company’s resources with its overall vision.
Michael is a Certified Public Accountant and started his career at Ernst & Young LLP. He has over 8 years of public accounting experience providing auditing, tax and financial reporting services to clients across several industries. Michael graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Rhode Island Society of CPAs.
Marisol Garcia brings an extensive management and administrative background to VAe. She has close to 20 years of experience working in constituent services and communications at both the state and federal level. Marisol was most recently the Executive Director of the Matty Fund, raising awareness for children and families affected by epilepsy. She graduated from Rhode Island College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, with a minor in Business Administration, and has served on multiple boards throughout the state.
Linda brings 3 years of previous sales experience with Alex and Ani as well as a passion for organization and trying new things.
While studying political science at Simmons College in Boston, Linda was able to take on numerous political internships. These internships exposed her to the importance of meaningful connections, working on a team, and hard work towards a common mission. While interning in Washington, D.C. under Congressman Michael Michaud, she was exposed to the specific needs of many veterans from her home state of Maine.
Danielle Bishop works as a Junior Admin for VAe. She relocated from the San Francisco Bay area. Danielle brings 15 years of administrative and purchasing experience having worked in the industrial maintenance and fabrication and new home construction industries.
Caitlin Taylor is a Veteran Advocate in Rhode Island. With an extensive background of cultivating corporate and community partnerships, Caitlin brings a new approach to enhance the employment aspect of the veteran advocate role. As a veteran enters the employment phase of the program, Caitlin will be assisting in every aspect from resume writing to interview preparation to ensure each graduate secures the most optimal opportunity available.
Lab Engineer, CETsr
Zach Barrett works as the lead Engineer in lab development and improvement for VAe. He works with all of VAe’s instructors and potential student employers to determine and meet the hands on training needs of various electromechanical fields. Zach has a background in many electromechanical fields beginning with his Mechanical engineering degree from the University of Rhode Island. He was also the lead engineer and subject matter expert for the modernization of two MK-48 torpedo electromechanical components. In addition, Zach has designed and manufactured multiple test sets for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. Upon completion of the Naval contract, Zach moved into the lab development field for VAe’s electromechanical curriculum, which is what he focuses primarily on today.
Tony Ruoti retired from the U.S. Navy in 2005 and worked in the Defense Industry before joining Vae. A former Naval Aviator, Tony served as a communications officer onboard the USS Forrestal and on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff where he help develop the information requirements today’s Services implement enabling them to work as a team. He is a Senior, Certified Electronics Technician (CETsr), as well as, a Certified IPC Instructor for J-STD-001, IPC/WHMA-A-620, and IPC-A-610.
Nicole Murch is a Veteran Advocate in our Framingham, MA location. Nicole is a new graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health-Health Promotion. This degree, along with internships at her local police department in Maine, has helped her become exposed to the needs of the community by collaborating with others. She also brings experience with health program development, promotion, and implementation.
John Young has 34 years of electrical engineering experience, including electrical design, system integration, and project management. John worked as a technician while attending school part time weekends to achieve his engineering degree. John has worked in organizations involved in R&D, production, commercial products and military systems. Companies include Raytheon (Patriot Radar Transmitter), Laufer Wind (radar hardware development), QinetiQ/Foster Miller (EOD robot design/development/ CONUS and OCONUS military field service), Busek (satellite hardware development), Satcon (magnetic bearing motors/ semiconductor process equipment/research and development projects), Loral Aerospace (OCONUS communications base HW installations) and Lincoln Labs MIT (Research Engineering Technician).
John holds an MBA from the University of Massachusetts (2010) and a BSEET from Wentworth Institute of Technology (1986).
Rachel works as a Veteran Advocate for the VAe Florida locations and manages each veteran for the entire lifecycle of the program. Whether from initial engagement and entry into the program to interview prep and job placement into the civilian marketplace, she will ensure each veteran is prepared and job ready upon graduation. Rachel has an extensive background in full cycle Technical Recruitment and staffing management as well as Human Resource management.
Veteran Advocate Jr.
Julie Gaudio is partnering with Rachel Santos as a Junior Advocate for the VAe location in Melbourne, Florida. She has previous staffing experience with the recruitment and placement of new hires for many diverse industries as well as general office administration. Julie obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the University of Central Florida.
Brian Vasquez is the Veterans Advocate located in Orlando FL. He is a Combat Veteran who served the U.S. Army for 21 years as a Tank Commander, Drill Sergeant and U.S. Army Recruiter. Brian has worked as a Veterans Outreach Case Manager and Case Manager for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. During his dedication to Veterans he has advocated for over 100 veterans find jobs and housing. Brian is a Psychology graduate and Life Coach who has used his military experience and education to help veterans.
Director of Manufacturing Curriculum Orlando, FL
Frank has over 40 years’ experience in the military and in the electronics manufacturing service (EMS) industry. Since starting his post-military career with Texas Instruments, Frank has held various management and engineering positions with aerospace, semiconductor material, semiconductor equipment and telecommunications companies. He has been an American Society for Quality (ASQ) certified Quality Engineer and is an expert in developing and implementing ISO-9000 quality systems. He is an ETA Senior Certified Electronics Technician (CETsr) and a Master IPC Trainer (MIT). Frank holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Frank served as an Infantry Officer in United States Army and in the Army Reserves.
Robert has 30 years of electrical engineering experience in the military, commercial, industrial, aerospace, and semiconductor technical support markets. Bob has experience in embedded hardware design, PCB design, components engineering, documentation control, field application engineering for semi-conductor products, RF, microwave, and antenna design. He holds a BSEE from Florida Atlantic University at Boca Raton, FL. Bob served six years in the Navy as an Aviation Hydraulics and Airframes technician.
Dr. Hagedorn has 40 years of experience in electronics, and electrical engineering. He began his career as an electronics technician and spent two years repairing instrumentation, televisions and radios. He then joined the Cyber Engineering Group of Control Data Corporation’s Computer Development Division (CDED). During his 10 years with Control Data, his job responsibilities included simulation and design, development of advanced computer architectures, design and development of engineering and manufacturing software tools, manufacturing and field support, and the training of technical staff.
Returning to school full time, Michael worked as a lab assistant in 3M’s Science Research Labs and as a Research and Teaching Assistant at the University of MN while earning his BEE, MSEE, and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering.
Upon completing his degrees and before coming to VAe, Michael worked in the industry developing low power and ultra low power, clockless digital, RF, mixed signal designs and low power compact RADAR.
Nate served in the 75th Ranger Regiment from 2006-2010. Nate’s military background laid the groundwork for his support of veterans. In addition to his time in the military, Nate has a strong counseling background as he completed his graduate degrees at the University of Connecticut with an M.A. in Educational Psychology and an M.S. in Sport Management. Nate’s combination of Special Operations service and counseling experience allows him to support and advocate for veterans at VAe.
Derek served as an electronics technician in the U.S. Navy for nearly ten years. He helped in the training and further development of other technicians, to raise their knowledge and skill level, while serving onboard the USS Laboon and the USS Normandy. Derek trained those technicians under him in circuit analysis, troubleshooting techniques, reading schematics, and the proper use of electronic test equipment. During his time onboard he became a subject matter expert for onboard communication, RADAR, and navigational systems. For the last three years of his service, Derek served as an instructor for the Electrical Engineering Department of the United States Naval Academy. During this time, he taught midshipmen the basics of electronic theory, as well as basic laboratory procedures and troubleshooting techniques. Additionally, Derek served as a mentor to students through their senior class projects. After separating from the Navy Derek used his GI Bill to attain a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Connecticut.
Tony Denaro is an Army Veteran from Griswold, CT. He was trained at Ft. Gordon, GA as a Radio Electronics Technician (29E), and Communication Security Device Repairer, (29S). He later worked as a technical intelligence asset in the 525th Military Intelligence Battalion, where he supervised COMSEC repair and taught manual encryption techniques. He spent the remainder of his time at 3rd Special Operations Battalion (PSYOP) as the electronics maintenance facility manager. Since leaving military service, he worked as a Manufacturing Engineer and a Quality Assurance Manager responsible for IPC 600 and 610 training. He has 27 years of electronics and manufacturing experience.
Irene Doncell works as a veteran advocate for VAe and works diligently to ensure that the training and employment opportunities available to each veteran are maximized. Irene has a diverse background in military leadership, engineering, counseling, and administration. She is a combat veteran of the Army and a minister familiar with many diverse belief systems.
She holds a Masters in Human Services with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy from Liberty University and is fluent in Spanish.
Quantina is a Veteran Advocate at the Fayetteville/Ft. Bragg location. Quantina served in the United States Army and has over 13 years of experience working with the Federal government and particularly Veterans in crisis. She is Crisis Intervention certified and holds an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice Technology. Quantina is currently furthering her education towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Liberty University.
Marcus joined the US Navy after high school and served 8 years as a Boatswains Mate, obtaining the pay-grade of E5 while serving aboard the USS Mahan DDG 72 and the USS Nicholas FFG 47. He has over 3 years’ experience navigating various watercraft such as LCACs and 7 meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats while serving at MCAS Cherry Point. After honorably discharging from the Navy in 2011, he started a career in the human resources field. Marcus has a background in recruiting, staffing, OSHA, Workers Compensation, and HR policies and Procedures. He is an active volunteer with B.R.U.H (Brothers Restoring Urban Hope) serving the community with leadership training and mentoring. In his free time, he plays semi-pro football and flag football, most recently winning the 2017 8v8 National Championship.
Thomas Burns is a retired combat veteran with over 16 years of dedicated service. He served and deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Operations Command. While stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, his focus was maintenance and troubleshooting procedures. Additionally, he focused on reading wiring diagrams of the Launcher-Loader Module (LLM) portion of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). He has worked with field representatives of Lockheed Martin to test and maintain circuitry and electronic components of the HIMARS and MLRS.
Mr. Burns retired from Fort Lee, Virginia in 2016. He moved back to North Carolina where he lives with his wife and four daughters. Mr. Burns is furthering his education towards an electrical engineering degree.
Harry Adams joins the VAe team with an extensive background in electronics and technical skills. After finishing 6 years of heroic service in the US Navy and fighting in the Vietnam War, he went on to get his Associate of Science Degree in electronic and computer engineering. With this degree, he has traveled the country trying all different types of technical professions from a field engineer, to service and repair of multimedia equipment, to working as a biomedical electronic technician. Harry comes to us after working the last 4 years running his own electronics repair business.
Stephen served 26 years in the U.S. Navy and U.S Air Force as an Aviation Electronics technician and Satellite/Wideband/Telemetry technician. While active duty, Stephen specialized in RADAR, RF and line-of-site microwave radios, navigation systems, and Space Based Infrared systems (SBIRS) missile defense. He holds a General Radiotelephone Operators license (GROL) with RADAR endorsement issued by the Federal Communications Commission. Stephen also has degrees in Electronics Systems and Human Resource Management from U.S. Air Force Air University.
Samuel Watson Colonel, US Army Retired
Samuel Watson is a combat-wounded, service-disabled veteran from the Vietnam War where he served two years in the 101st Airborne Division. During 30 years in the Army he was an infantry airborne-Ranger leader, negotiated with the Soviets on arms control, served at the CIA, and as a deputy national security advisor in the White House. In Iraq for over two years he was an advisor on public diplomacy and governance to the Provincial Council and Governor in Diwaniyah Province. He has been an associate professor at a major research university, been a consultant on homeland security issues, public affairs, and a consultant to VAe for over 10 years. Samuel Watson and John Shepard have worked together for over 25 years.
Dr. Judith A. Brissette
Judith A. Brissette, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant for the higher education practice of R. H. Perry & Associates. Based in Rhode Island, Judy brings 30 years experience in higher education and an in-depth perspective on a broad range of institutional issues and challenges that enhances her work in conducting presidential and senior administrative searches.
Since coming to R. H. Perry & Associates in 2002, Dr. Brissette has conducted searches for Presidents, Provosts, Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs, Institutional Advancement, Finance and Administration, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. She has also conducted searches for Deans of Business, Education, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nursing Health Care Administration and Continuing Education.
From 2002 to 2005, Dr. Brissette served as President of the Rhode Island Independent Higher Education Association. Prior to that, Judy was at Western New England College (WNEC) where her positions included Vice President for Administration and Planning, 1989-1999; Secretary to the Board of Trustees, 1989-1996; and Director of Institutional Coordination, 1982-1989. During her time at WNEC, Judy was involved in negotiating articulation agreements with Community Colleges to enhance the ability of graduates to transfer to four year institutions. She has also served as a consultant to the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) and the Rhode Island Board of Governor’s for Higher Education. In 1993, she was also given responsibility for the Student Affairs area that included Enrollment Management and Admissions. From 1979-1982, she was an Academic Advisor at the University of Toledo.
While at Western New England College, Dr. Brissette and a colleague devised, prepared, and implemented a complete reorganization of central college administrative services, including financial aid, registrar, and bursar’s office into a unique unit called Student Administrative Services. Teams have come from colleges and universities nationwide to observe and study this unique and successful operation, which has received acclaim and commendation for its innovative contribution to higher education.
A native of Providence, R.I., she received a B.A. in sociology from Salve Regina University, a M.Ed. in counselor education from Rhode Island College, and her Ph.D. in higher education from The University of Toledo.
Hon. Allen Boyd
From 1997 to 2011, Allen Boyd represented the 2nd Congressional District of Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1999, he was appointed to the exclusive Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives where he worked to bring funding to the priorities of North Florida, including its military community, agriculture industry, and transportation systems. Boyd served on a number of sub-committees of the House Appropriations Committee, including Financial Services, Agriculture and Rural Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Defense. In his role on the Committee, he oversaw the budgets of multiple agencies, including the Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Pentagon, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Boyd focused much of his effort on ensuring that America maintained a strong military and continued to have a world-class agriculture production industry.
During his tenure, Boyd also served on the House Armed Services and Budget Committees. He became known as a leading voice on fiscal responsibility, joining the Budget Committee in 2007. As a member of the Budget Committee, he was actively involved in every aspect of the nation’s fiscal policy.
Throughout his tenure in Congress, Boyd was a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democratic members in the House who advocate for fiscal responsibility in the federal budgeting process. He was instrumental in the successful efforts by Congress to reach the historic 1997 balanced budget agreement. Additionally, as the Blue Dog Co-Chair for the Administration in the 110th Congress, Boyd led the charge for the return to pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules in the House.
Prior to being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives Boyd served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1989-1996. While in the State House, he was known as an articulate voice for consensus building and reasonable compromise. As Chairman of the Florida House Democratic Conservative Caucus, he helped build bridges between diverse interests on such difficult issues as public education, healthcare, and welfare reform. He served as Chairman of the Governmental Operations Committee, and later chaired the powerful House Rules and Calendar Committee in his last term.
After serving 14 years in the United States House of Representatives, Boyd served as a Senior Advisor to Twenty-First Century Group from 2011 to 2014. During his tenure at Twenty First Century Group, Boyd offered strategic advice and planning to various clients in telecommunications, energy, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare fields, among others.
A fifth generation farmer, Boyd graduated from Florida State University in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, then served his country in Vietnam as a rifle platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division, where he served alongside John Shepard. To this day, he continues to oversee the family farm operations on land that has been in his family since 1835.