Todd DePastino is founding director of the Veterans Breakfast Club. Todd’s interest in veterans’ stories first grew out of his work as a historian. Todd is author and editor of seven books, including the award-winning Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front (W.W. Norton), a biography of the famed WWII cartoonist. He has a Ph.D. in American History from Yale University and has taught at Penn State Beaver and Waynesburg University, where he received the Lucas-Hathaway Award for Teaching Excellence.
Nick Grimes, Project Manager. Nick joined the VBC in 2016 to head up our programming for post-9/11 veterans. Nick served in the Army from 2004-2011, including a total 27 months in combat in Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division. He hosts the VBC podcast “Longest War” and is currently producing a follow-up series titled “Truth About War” that will explore various aspects of the American military experiences.
Development and Communications Officer
Lauren joined the VBC in 2017 and has served in many roles, from developing programs to emceeing events. This year she heads our development efforts while continuing to work our lives events and craft panel discussions and special events. Lauren is a Navy veteran who joined at age 17 and had tours on the USS Blue Ridge LCC-19 in Yokosuka, Japan, and onboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz CVN-68 in San Diego. Her post-service work as a Community Outreach professional, together with her passion for serving veterans, is what led her to the VBC.
Betty is a senior care professional who was with the VBC almost from the beginning. She was a longtime volunteer and VBC Board Member before joining staff to administer our live events.
Diversity & Inclusion
Leonard Hammonds, II
Leonard joined the VBC in 2017 to expand our outreach to African American veterans and communities. Leonard followed a long and proud family tradition of military service by serving in the Marine Corps from 1997 to 2004. That experience infused Leonard with a deep commitment to service, which today he carries on with his wife LaShaundra, also a Marine Corps veteran. Together, they founded the nonprofit Hammonds Initiative, which mentors at-risk youth through violence prevention and intervention, community outreach, and volunteerism.
Carmen joined the VBC in 2019 as producer of our new podcast, “Truth About War.” Carmen knows war first-hand from covering the front lines while embedded with American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places. He’s a journalist who has written for some of the world’s leading publications, including the New York Times, TIME, Newsweek, and USA Today. He’s the author of Blindsided by the Taliban, which tells the story of being wounded in the face by a rocket-propelled grenade and his grueling and fascinating road to recovery.
Graphic and Website Design & Communications
Ellie, Todd’s daughter, has been attending events since the VBC was just a small group of WWII vets who gathered for breakfast. She graduated from the College of Wooster in 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and is now living in Chicago. She produces the VBC’s newsletters, handles desk duties, and manages the VBC’s online presence.