Key Personnel

Executive Board:

Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, Executive Director, is an Army wife of twenty years and mother to an Army veteran and co-founder of the museum. She taught in the overseas Department of Defense Schools in Europe and the Caribbean and retired from federal service after twenty years. She creates exhibits and projects for the museum, and facilitates its podcasts, discussion groups and workshops. Since 2016, she has co-edited multiple museum anthologies including Shout: Sharing Our Truth: Writings of LGBT veterans and family members of the US Military Services, The Home Front Hearth: Memories & Recipes from Military Families Around the World, On Freedom’s Frontier: Life on the Fulda Gap, E Pluribus Unum: GRAICE Under Pressure, Schooling With Uncle Sam, and Host Nation Hospitality. She has also compiled the stories of University of Maryland Munich Campus alumni, resulting in three books documenting the history of that campus’ 40-year history. 

Dr. Allen Dale “Ole” Olson, Secretary, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education, and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education and doctorate in General Administration from the George Washington University. Ole is a World War II-era veteran and spent most of his civilian career with the United States Defense Department assigned to the Headquarters of the U.S. Army in Europe. Following his retirement, Dr. Olson served as Dean of the Graduate School of Schiller International University and as the Executive Director of the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts. From 2020-2021 Ole served as the President of the Museum Collaborative Council of Albuquerque. He designed the museum’s Schooling With Uncle Sam exhibit, and co-edited the “Schooling” anthology, and represents the museum by serving on the United Veterans Council of Greater Albuquerque. 

Sue Pearson, Treasurer, served 30 years with the federal government as an administrative and financial employee; 18 years in the medical auditing arena. She is a military brat and the spouse of a retired 24-year active duty US Air Force veteran. During Sue’s affiliation with the military, she had the opportunity to travel the world, engaging with other cultures. She holds a degree in Finance from Liberty University; and two associates degrees in Computer Information Systems Management from Central New Mexico Community College and a General Curriculum Liberal Arts from the University of Maryland. First and foremost in her life, is Sue’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Sue’s spouse is a 100% disabled veteran, which has given her a deep compassion for helping people. This moved Sue to serve as the People with Disabilities Special Emphasis Program Manager at Kirtland AFB for over 15 years and also as the Kirtland AFB Blood Program Manager. 

Art Harris, Director of Operations, is an Air Force veteran.  He deployed six times in support of  Operation Southern Watch and in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Between deployments, he traveled the world, conducting training exercises with other countries as well as with the US Air National Guard.  His primary job was an aircraft electronics technician for combat rescue helicopters and close support aircraft.  He was also a squadron building custodian, safety officer, and maintenance operations supervisor.  He was stationed at Kirtland AFB for five years and retired out of Cannon AFB. As an Air Force brat, he grew up all over the states and Europe. He attended 4 different elementary schools, a junior high school in Belgium, high school in England and did some college in Germany. He earned his Associate’s Degree with the Community College of the Air Force in Electronics.  His hobbies include building computers and gaming.  He also volunteered as a Big Brother in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. Art is delighted to be a part of MAMF. 

Richard S. Tavares, Director of Marketing, was born in Honolulu, Hawai’i and currently resides in San Antonio, Texas. Rick is an Air Force brat and an Air Force veteran. He has a diverse work and academic background and served in a number of industries and disciplines at various levels of leadership. He spent 20 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland, Park University and at the University of the Incarnate Word. His undergraduate degree is in Psychology and graduate degrees are in Management and Human Resources Development. Rick is a contributing writer to the following anthologies published by the museum. Those include Brat Time Stories–A Book for Nocturnal Brats, Passports & Pedagogy: Schooling with Uncle Sam and Host Nation Hospitality. Rick released his first book titled, It Began in Japan, in July 2022. His sequel, After Japan–The Pursuit, was released in August 2023.

Chris Apriceno, Director of Public Affairs, was born in the U.S. territory of Guam. A military brat, she spent most of her developing years overseas in Puerto Rico, Spain, and Japan, with a few years Stateside in California and Oklahoma. Upon graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Chris worked in commercial insurance as an underwriter, account executive, and account manager. Chris’ volunteer work includes having served on the boards of the Charlotte Symphony, Charlotte Emergency Housing, and New Friends of the Carolinas. She currently serves as chairman of the board for an alum group of her alma mater, Johnson High School in Tokyo, Japan. Chris is passionate about ensuring that the stories and experiences of the families of military personnel are preserved and communicated. She is excited to extend her time, background, and experience to expanding and developing the museum. She is committed to helping increase understanding and awareness of the support and sacrifices that military dependents make while their family member(s) actively serve.                      

Cathy Sydlo Wilkes, Director of Development, has the dual perspective of being a military brat and raising her family in a military household. Born in France, her military brat tour of duty included New York, Ohio, Italy, Oklahoma, and Texas. A second tour as a military spouse and mom included Oklahoma, Delaware, and Texas. Cathy credits her parents’ Polish/French cultural roots and the military family environment as notable influences in her education and experience. Cathy is an author, artist, and nature-loving hiker with a BA in English and interests in education, journalism, theater, history, the social sciences, and the arts. In addition to administrative, support, and management positions in various fields, she has volunteered for the Red Cross and worked as a substitute teacher and tutor at a DoD school. Cathy has served as an officer or a board member for several community and professional organizations. She looks forward to continuing the message and the mission of the uniqueness and impact of living in a military family.

Erik Woessner, Associate Director of Technology, is an Army veteran and an Army brat, who moved 18 times in 20 years, attending DoD schools in Germany and Puerto Rico. He has contributed to several museum publications to include From the Frontlines to the Home Front: New Mexicans Reflect on War, Brat Time Stories, and War Child: Lessons Learned From Growing Up in War. He also is a freelance writer, specializing in fantasy and science fiction. On active duty, he was a communications specialist and is the museum’s computer and AV expert. He currently works as a scheduler at the New Mexico VA hospital.


SHOUT! Program Manager Lora Beldon is an American artist, art educator, curator, and military brat, whose entire life’s work involves documenting the military child experience. She is the founder of Military Kid Art Project. She earned a BFA in Painting and Printmaking and Art Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her art has been exhibited across the United States and Europe, with many pieces in private and corporate collections. Everywhere and Nowhere, is her recent conceptual series based on growing up within a war-deployed military household.  Beldon served as Assistant Director, and later, Director of 1708 Gallery, from 1989-1996, and remains an emeritus member of the gallery.  She is also on the board of Richmond’s Iridian Gallery, a new LGBTQ+ non-profit art space.  In 2011, Beldon teamed up with Donna Musil of Brats Without Borders, to co-curate the traveling art show “UNCLASSIFIED: The Military Kid Art Show”. She, along with her father Tom Beldon, are the subjects of Donna Musil’s new documentary “OUR OWN PRIVATE BATTLEFIELD.” She coedited the Museum of the American Military Family’s 2017 anthology: Shout: Sharing Our Truth: Writings of LGBT veterans and family members of the US Military Services. In 2018-2019 Lora spearheaded the development and production of SHOUT! The Play for the museum and is the POC for the SHOUT! script and curriculum package. 


Joan Y. Olson, Artist Emeritus taught in the Defense Department Schools for 30 years. She is an artist, a chef and a writer. She is a laureate of La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in France and has taught classic French cooking for more than thirty years. Much of her training came from her association with some of the most renowned chefs in France — Emile Jung, Paul Haeberlin, Georges Blanc — to name a few. With her husband, she has produced seven guide books to restaurants in Europe. Mrs. Olson has prepared and hosted dinners for ambassadors, counts, generals, Michelin-starred chefs, and some of the most prestigious wine producers in France and Germany. She has taught cooking and done cooking demonstrations at Schiller International University in Strasbourg and at the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts in Seymour, Indiana where she also taught art and served as the Artist-in-Residence for eight years. One of her paintings hangs in the Governor’s Residence in Indianapolis. She also managed an art gallery in the 19th century Story Inn in Brown County, Indiana.

Writer-in-Residence Emeritus Paul Zolbrod says his military service made it possible for him to attend college, which is why he considers his induction the pivotal event in his adult life. Drafted into the army in early 1953 during the Korean War, he served in Tokyo following infantry basic training, then enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh on the Korean G.I. Bill after his discharge and went on to get a PhD. in English in 1967. By then he had already joined the faculty of Allegheny College where he remained as Professor of English for thirty years. Following his retirement to Albuquerque 1964, he taught writing at the Crownpoint, NM campus of the Navajo Nation’s Dine’ College. He is the author of a number of books and essays, most notably Dine’ bahane: The Navajo Creation Story, and especially, Battle Songs: A Story of the Korean War in Four Movements, which reflects his abiding interest in that conflict. In writing that novel, he credits the research skills he acquired during the early phase of his scholarly career for boosting that work’s authenticity. Ever since its publication Paul has maintained a deep interest in veterans affairs. Likewise, his Reservation experience has made him aware of the impact of PTSD among Navajo veterans on family life. His anthology projects for MAMF include: War Child: Lessons Learned from Growing Up in War, From the Frontlines to the Home Front, New Mexicans Reflect on War. He continues to lead MAMF book discussion groups, produce scholarly articles about the museum and collaborates with the rotating Writers-in-Residence authors.

2021-2024 Writer-in-Residence Connie Kinsey is a former military brat who has put down deep roots in a converted barn on a dirt road at the top of a hill in West Virginia.   As a Marine Corps brat during the Vietnam era, she was fortunate to live all over the United States. She returned to college in her late 30s and completed her degree with an emphasis on cultural anthropology and creative writing. Connie spent 12 years working for newspapers and another 14 years working in higher education most notably with the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia. The memoir of her 4th grade year during the Vietnam War won the West Virginia Writer’s Annual Contest in 2015 and was later published in Longridge Review.  Since then, she has received many awards for her fiction and non-fiction writing. Connie is a spoken word artist and has been selected twice for the WomenSpeak project of the Women of Appalachia Production. She has published essays and short stories and is currently working on book of short stories and essays drawing on her experiences as a brat and her father’s four tours of Vietnam. She contributed essays and photos to E Pluribus Unum anthology and co-edited HOME: It’s Complicated.

Misti Starkey-Jones, Museum Manager, is a lifelong learner and curious about customs, cultures, and histories. With over 30 years of experience as a practical nurse she has worked in orthopedics, pediatrics, and family medicine and worked as a field interviewer for DOH research studies. Additionally, she has been Montessori Classroom Guide working with children from birth though 6 years. She holds an Associate of Applied Science, having graduated with highest honors. Currently she is in her senior year at the University of New Mexico pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Arts with concentrations in Museum Studies and Costume Design. Her varied interests have found her building costumes for local ballet companies, rescuing and rehabilitating local wildlife with Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico, and hiking.


Marc Curtis is a Military Brat who grew up in California, Texas and Japan. His Military Brats Registry™ at is the largest social networking website for people who grew up in military households. 

Donna Musil is a writer, documentary filmmaker, and proud Army “brat.” She is also the Executive Director of Brats Without Borders, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1999 to honor the contributions and improve the welfare of current and former military children and other “Third Culture Kids” ( 

Mary Edwards Wertsch, a seasoned investigative reporter and writer, is the author of the non-fiction book Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood inside the Fortress, which broke new ground in its analysis of the military as a home culture for the children raised within it. 

Joe Condrill is the founder of OVERSEAS BRATS, a journalist, reunion planner, and marketing/public relations consultant. He attended the following overseas schools: Boeblingen Elementary School,Orleans Elementary School, Kaimuki Intermediate School, Maryknoll High School,The International School of Bangkok, Thailand, 1970-72 and Tehran American School. Joe’s Overseas Brats gatherings and reunions are legendary in the Brat community. 

Shanon Hyde, is a Marine Corp brat and a student at Pennsylvania State University, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. From 2016-2019 he attended Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, Japan and was the President of his Junior class.  In May of 2020 he graduated from Mooresville High School in North Carolina. In August of 2020, he started The Shanon Show podcast and in 2022, while the MAMF Student Liaison, he published his book, Dear Military Teen.