Allison Silberberg, the Mayor of Alexandria, Virginia, is a writer and lifelong advocate for social justice issues. Allison has over 25 years of experience in community leadership and public service, including: interning for Senator Edward M. Kennedy; working as Chief Editor and Chief Research Assistant for Senator Lloyd M. Bentsen; starting and leading a nonprofit called Lights, Camera, Action!, which used film to mentor youth in Anacostia; grantmaking to local nonprofits; and serving on the World Bank’s Community Outreach Grants Committee. From 2004 to 2012, Allison was appointed to Alexandria’s Economic Opportunities Commission, which serves as an advocate for the city’s most vulnerable. Allison’s accolades include New Hope Housing’s 2012 Leadership/Servanthood award for her role in leading the EOC’s “All Hands on Deck” project to renovate the Alexandria Community Shelter. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Allison has a B.A. in international relations and history from American University and an M.F.A. in playwriting from the School of Theater, Film and Television at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Richard ‘Butch’ Neal is a retired four-star general and served from 1996—1998 as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. After graduating with a B.S. in History and Education from Northeastern University in Boston, in 1965, Neal was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps and spent the next thirty-five years commanding at every level.
During his time in uniform, he also went on to graduate from the National War College and earn his M.Ed. from Tulane University. He served two tours in the Republic of Vietnam, and during Desert Storm, he served as the Deputy Director of Operations for General Schwarzkopf as well as Central Command Briefer.
His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal; Silver Star Medal with Gold Star; the Defense Superior Service Medal with Palm; Bronze Star Medal with Combat V; and the Purple Heart. Since retiring in 1998, he has been president of three intellectual property licensing companies.
He was the Senior Mentor for the United States Marine Corps for five years and is currently a Senior Fellow at the National Defense University. The general also served as Chairman of the Board for the Military Officers Association of America, and is presently on the board of directors for several companies, and sits on the Board of Trustees for Norwich University.
Monica Bhide is a food writer and novelist. An engineer by training, Monica worked in corporate America for 10 years before she quit her job to pursue her love of writing. Since then, her bylines have appeared in top-tier magazines. Monica is currently a frequent presence on NPR. A storyteller at heart, Monica’s mantra is to eat locally but cook globally. (Edited from Patricia Tanumihardja’s “Women in food: An Interview with Monica Bhide)