A New Mission - Event Speakers


Tracy Crow is the author of the award-winning memoir, Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine; the military conspiracy thriller, An Unlawful Order, under her pen name, Carver Greene; the anthology Red, White, & True: Stories from Veterans and Families, WWII to Present; and the new breakthrough writing text, On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story, in which Tracy combines her skills and experience as a former Marine Corps officer, award-winning military journalist, author, editor, and assistant professor of creative writing.

Tracy’s short stories and essays have appeared in a number of literary journals and anthologies, and been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. She has a B.A. in creative writing  from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. She and her husband, Mark Weidemaier, a Major League Baseball coach and scout, live on ten storybook acres in central North Carolina with their four dogs — Molly, Cash, Hadley, and Fenway.

Opening Remarks

Betty J. Marshall is the Vice President of Operations/Regional General Manager for Sam’s Club. Mrs. Marshall is responsible for the management and day to day operation of 128 Sam’s Clubs located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Puerto Rico.

Prior to being promoted to Regional General Manager, Mrs. Marshall served as Vice President/Divisional Merchandise Manager for Sam’s Club. Her responsibilities included purchasing, merchandising, sales and profit for all frozen/refrigerated foods and cafes for all Sam’s Club’s U.S. locations.

Before joining Sam’s Club, she served as Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Vice President of The Phoenix Restaurant Group. Prior to her position with Phoenix Restaurant Group, Betty was Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Community Relations for Shoney’s Inc., where she provided leadership and served as spokesperson during the company’s critical cultural transformation phase.  During her ten year tenure with the company, she was responsible for women/minority business development, corporate communications and corporate image advertising.

Betty was named RGM of the Year for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015.

Mrs. Marshall is a native of Youngstown, Ohio and is married to Harvey Marshall.


Barbara Carson joined the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in Washington, D.C, in June 2013.  She is the Associate Administrator for the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD), which aims to empower Veteran entrepreneurship. In this role, Ms. Carson oversees the OVBD team in formulating, implementing, administering and promoting policies and programs that equip veteran, service member (active duty, National Guard, Reserve), and military spouse owned small businesses with counseling and education, access to capital, and contracting opportunities.

Ms. Carson brings a unique perspective and first-hand insight to her position. She is currently a Colonel, U.S. Air Force Reserve, with more than 20 years military experience, assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs. Additionally, during a family military assignment to Japan in 2006, Ms. Carson embarked on her first entrepreneurial adventure where she co-developed an outdoor personal training business with another military veteran.

Prior to joining SBA, Ms. Carson served Headquarters, U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Office of Public Affairs in Stuttgart, Germany, in a unique opportunity to innovate communication. She worked with leaders in the EUCOM Operations Division to integrate efforts of the U.S. Department of State, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and non-government organizations in Europe to leverage social media and crowdsourcing in civil-military crisis response. Additionally, in EUCOM, she served as the Chief of Procedures for Nuclear Command and Control, late 2011 through May, 2013.

Ms. Carson earned a Master of Arts degree in Management from Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of Iowa. A Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, she was commissioned as an active duty U.S. Air Force officer and has served in multiple assignments in the nuclear and public affairs career fields.

Keynote introduced by:

Joe Ann Shaeffers a Business Opportunity Specialist at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) North Carolina District Office in Charlotte. Joe Ann is responsible for the management and delivery of SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program. The 8(a) program assists socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners through federal certifications, education, technical assistance and other SBA programs and services. Her expertise includes assisting in contract certifications for Women-Owned, Service-Disabled Veterans and HUBZone eligible small businesses. Joe Ann’s responsibilities includes promoting SBA programs and services through outreach and marketing, as well as linking and matching the need of the organizations to the capabilities of small businesses. Joe Ann is a Vietnam-Era Veteran of the U.S. Army.


Julia C. Bennett is CEO/President and majority owner of Bennett Aerospace, Inc. headquartered in Cary, North Carolina. Since the company began in 2008, Julia has been instrumental in growing Bennett Aerospace to where it is today, a 140+ employee company with $12 million in projected revenue for 2016. Julia is 100% responsible for the day to day operations of the company, and with her cadre of corporate champions, they are building a better small business. Her professional background has been mainly in engineering and project management, but since a very young age, Julia has had a passion for entrepreneurship. She is also a strong advocate for women running their own businesses.
Julia’s parents immigrated to this country from India, and they impressed upon each of their children the importance of education and the wealth of opportunities that living in America afforded them. In 1993, Julia gave back to her country by joining the US Army. While stationed at Ft Bragg in North Carolina, she worked as both a 63 Bravo (light weight vehicle mechanic) and as a Hotel 8 (tow truck operator). While not necessarily the most glamorous of MOS’s, Julia specifically sought these MOS’s because it afforded her the opportunity to learn skills she typically would not have been exposed to. Both the novelty and challenge of these experiences excited her and are a key part of the criteria she continues to look for as she builds her business.
Unbeknownst to her, the decision to join the US Army, followed by obtaining an engineering degree from the University of Florida, helped her later in life as she became a veteran-owned small business owner that provides a highly skilled science and technology workforce to the US Government. Julia’s military experience coupled with her engineering degree, carved out a path for her to forge for herself within the intricate world of government contracting. Bennett Aerospace’s primary customer has been the Dept of Defense but has recently notably added the Dept of Justice to its growing list.
Bennett Aerospace helps their customers find scientific solutions to some of their unique challenges.  Bennett Aerospace’s tagline is We Deliver BrainPowerTM.  


Cameron Cruse is a mother, designer and proud Army Wife. Growing up just outside of Atlanta, GA armed her with an appreciation for culture as well as a seemingly southern mindset. Upon completing her Masters in Architecture from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2010, she did what most Military families do: she moved. An opportunity in disguise, as the one thing that might ruin a career actually paved the way for a much more impassioned and fulfilling path. In a garage near Camp Merrill, GA, Cameron and fellow Military Spouse, Lisa Bradley, founded R. Riveter.


Diana Potts - An expert in small and diversity businesses as well as environmental and sustainability initiatives within the government, Ms. Potts works with industry and educational institutions to help develop business opportunities and provide training. She is considered a leading expert for small/ diversity businesses and served as NC delegate to the Small Business Advisory Council to the White House in 2010 to 2012 and again from 2014 to 2016.

With over thirty years of experience, Ms. Potts has advised more than five thousand clients, identifying opportunities and providing assistance in the procurement of government and commercial contracts. She founded her own company, G and E Advisors (a woman owned, veteran owned small business), to advise small and diversity businesses and has gained a reputation as one of the foremost experts on environmental issues especially concerning remediation and disaster response clean up, water issues and renewable energy.

Ms. Potts is a successful business woman and entrepreneur. She was an Honorary Chairperson of the Business Advisory Council in Washington, DC and has served as Vice President on the Board of Braxton- Bragg AUSA, the largest chapter in the world. Ms. Potts has served on the Board of Sustainable Sandhills (a Fort Bragg initiative). Ms. Potts has received numerous awards, including the Congressional Medal of Distinction for Environmental Efforts, the Congressional Order of Merit, and the 2009 National Leadership Award. In 2009, she was awarded Businessperson of the Year for North Carolina and was honored at a dinner at the White House.


Panel Moderator:

Annette Hibbert Stevenson, C.P.M currently serves as the supplier diversity manager at SAS, where she is responsible for advancing the goals and objectives of the company’s supplier diversity initiatives. She has more than 30 years of experience in the personnel/administrative management and procurement profession. A graduate of Methodist College, Annette holds a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Military Science. She is retired from the U.S. Army Reserves.


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