2024 Board of Directors Election

CanDidates’ Bios

Listed in alphabetical order by last name.


Paul Austin

Paul J. Austin was born on July 24, 1977 in Valdease, NC. He graduated from Freedom High School in Morganton, NC in 1995. He resides in Moncure, North Carolina with his wife, Brandi. Paul has 2 daughters: one that is a cosmetologist and the other has served in the United States Air Force. He was in the US Navy from 2003-2007 where he entered basic training in Chicago, IL then was stationed in Norfolk, VA for 4 years. His assignments were held on the Aircraft Carrier Enterprise, Aircraft Carrier Eisenhower and The USS Wasp. He became a T11 paraplegic on November 9, 2017 when unfortunately he fell from a tree that he was cutting down. This hasn’t stopped him with wanting to make a difference in people’s lives for the good. He has always been a “go-getter” and wants to continue with that same aspect in life. He feels that he can touch people’s lives and share his experiences even more by returning to the Board of PVA Mid-Atlantic, where he used to hold the role of Vice President.


Arnold Beard

To all of my fellow brothers and sisters of our Mid-Atlantic PVA chapter, hold your heads high and be proud for being awarded the Most Outstanding PVA chapter for 2024 by PVA National. I am proud to have worked with the Board to get that recognition.
I want to thank you for the confidence you have placed in me to serve you in the past. As a nominee for another term to represent you again as a member of your Mid-Atlantic Board of Directors I will continue to give my all in serving you, by embracing the tenets of PVA with care, loyalty and obedience.
Many of you already know me from representing you on the Board of Directors for the last 12 years. To our new members I welcome you to the Mid-Atlantic Chapter.
Here is a little bit about me; I reside in Harford County, MD with my family, I am the father of four, 11 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren and too many god-children to remember.
I served in the United States Air Force for four years in the Air Defense Command (NORAD) as an Aircraft Control and Warning Operator – “We were your eyes in the sky”.
After leaving the USAF I was accepted into Mortuary School (Simmons School of Mortuary Science and Embalming) Syracuse, NY, graduating and receiving an associate’s degree in Mortuary Science. I relocated to Maryland after graduation to start my apprenticeship. Upon completing the two year state apprenticeship requirements and successfully passing the Maryland State Boards I opened my own establishment in Havre de Grace, MD. I was self-employed for twenty two years before my SCI injury and continued for 7 more years after being in the wheelchair. As you know, a spinal cord injury changes your life beyond anything you could have imagined. After semi-retiring and finally selling the business to a family member, I found I had time for many more things.
I was introduced by my primary care doctor when he gave a consult to the Regional Spinal Cord Center in Richmond (Richmond VAMC). The very first day in Richmond I was introduced to PVA by fellow veterans I met. I was asked to be a member and I have not looked back. As a member I quickly learned what PVA meant to individuals like us, working hard to live in this new life in a wheelchair.
I worked at any and all activities I was asked to serve. I was first appointed as an ad hoc member of the board where I cut my teeth and learned more about PVA. After my ad hoc service to our chapter, I was nominated by the membership and elected to the Board of Directors. Since I joined the Mid-Atlantic Chapter as a member and serving the membership on the Board of Directors my life has been enhanced by everyone I have met along this wheelchair journey. Since joining PVA I have been to over 20 states participating in programs such as swimming, snow skiing, archery, water skiing, fishing tournaments, hunting, trap shooting, etc. These are just some of the activities PVA will assist you with and I will fight to continue to make these activities available for you. If you choose to re-elect me to represent you as a Mid-Atlantic Board of Directors member I promise that I will continue to protect and monitor the care and services the VA is required by Congress to provide to you and ensure you receive the highest quality of care as well as the benefits you have earned as a Veteran. As a Veteran with spinal cord injuries, we must have access to specialized services and rehabilitation services so we can live productive lives like all Americans, allowing us to work, travel and fully participate in everyday society. As your Board member I promise to work as hard as I have in the past and if GOD grants me strength and energy I will work harder.


Matthew Cole

My name is Matthew Cole and I am honored to be on the ballot to serve on the Mid-Atlantic Chapter Board of Directors.  The best way to describe myself is to say that I have a big heart for service.  I have held many neighborhood leadership roles, including being a member of the Inner West Priority Board of Directors in Dayton, Ohio.

I am presently a single, 59-year old, graduating from Wilberforce University with a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management.

I worked my way up from E1 to 02E while honorably serving in 3 military branches: 

USAF – 11 years

US Army  –  5 years

USMC  –  4 years

My disability retirement is because I suffer from Multiple Sclerosis.  Following the military, I was a civilian employee of the city of Dayton, Ohio for 13 years. 

My passion for the military and my fellow Veterans has me always looking to continue supporting and serving.

I believe that I can make a positive difference for our PVA Mid-Atlantic members, and if elected I will work hard to be an active member of the Board of Directors.


Jeffrey Dolezal

I have been nominated to for a position on the Mid-Atlantic PVA’s board of directors for this election cycle. It is an honor just to be nominated. Should I be re-elected by my fellow chapter members, I pledge that I will do my best to help the chapter to continue to serve its members and find ways to enhance that service where needed. My entire professional 20 year career with PVA and my volunteer work following my retirements was about providing service to PVA members and others with disabilities.

Here is some background information as a spinal cord injured veteran and my involvement with PVA:

I was medically retired for the U.S. Air Force as the result of a service connected spinal cord injury. I was rehabilitated for my spinal cord injury at Zablocki VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (May 1980 – December 1980). I have been a member of the Paralyzed Veterans of America since 1980.

I spent almost 20 years working for PVA in its Veterans Benefits Department. I started my NSO training in Washington DC and completed it in service office in Roanoke, Virginia in 1985. I returned to Nebraska and became the NSO in Lincoln and worked there for 2½ years before I was asked to join the Veterans Benefits Department (VBD) team at the PVA National Office. I became the National Staff Assistant for VBD’s Director of Operations. In 1989, I was promoted to the Director of Training and became responsible for the hiring and training of all PVA National Service Officers. I developed the training material for the 16 month NSO Candidate training program and was successful in having the program approved by VA for use as a qualified On-The-Job training program for disabled veterans who were eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits.

In 1992, VBD’s operations and training programs were merged to create Field Services and I was named Director of Field Services at that time. I managed all aspects of Field Operations and also worked at the National level with various VA program managers, such as Prosthetics, Compensation and Pension, Vocational Rehabilitation, Volunteer Services, Memorial Services, and more. I served as a member of several PVA SCI center site visit teams, specializing in the assessment of prosthetics services and delivery issues. I also performed as the PVA team leader during some of SCI Center site visits. During this period, I also authored the prosthetics section for the Independent Budget that was submitted yearly to Congress. I served as the Director of Field Services until my first retirement from PVA in 2003, after 18 ½ years of employment.

After my retirement from PVA, I became involved with the National Wheelchair Poolplayers Association (NWPA), becoming its President in 2006. PVA later contracted with me to serve as a consultant to help develop its national billiards program. This eventually led to the creation of the PVA/NWPA National Wheelchair Billiards Tournament Series, which is currently in its 14th season.

In 2009, then-PVA Executive Director Homer Townsend recruited me to serve in the role as the Associate Executive Director for Veterans Benefits. I accepted and served in that role until my second retirement from full time employment in early 2011. During this time in that capacity, one of my duties was to develop and manage the yearly budget for the entire department. I also provided regular departmental reports and updates to the PVA Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, and the various PVA standing committees as necessary.

In 2017, I was elected by the Mid-Atlantic PVA board of directors to serve as their National Director on PVA’s national board of directors. I was recently re-elected for another 3 year term as national director. I understand the important role of the National Director and take its responsibilities very seriously. I have tried to be a positive but effective advocate for doing what’s right. Proper oversight is required. There is too much at stake for our members if we don’t stay focused and true to our mission and be good stewards of our resources. I also serve on the Mid-Atlantic PVA Board of Directors and have served as the chapter Treasurer since being appointed by the Board in 2021. I currently serve as chairperson for the Mid-Atlantic chapter’s finance committee and personnel committee.

In 2021, at PVA’s Annual Convention, the national board directors of PVA approved my nomination for a 3 year appointment to the PVA Audit Committee, which oversees the annual audit of the PVA national’s income and expenses. This year, my nomination was again approved by the board for another 3 year term.

In 2022, I was appointed by PVA’s National President to serve on two Ad Hoc Committee, one which examined and recommended the modification of PVA’s process for electing its National Officers at its annual conventions, and the other one that recommended changes to allow members of PVA’s board of directors to participate and vote remotely when extenuating circumstances prevent one or more directors to attended a national board meeting or convention.

Also, in 2022, I was selected by PVA’s National President to serve on a new Ad Hoc Committee that will study and recommend if PVA should establish a national grant program for chapter’s that want to host outdoor recreational opportunities for the members.

Thank you for your consideration and support of my nomination. I look forward to serving my fellow chapter members in this capacity.


Mark Hartney

It is with great honor and humility that I accept your nomination to be re-elected to the PVA Mid-Atlantic Chapter Board of Directors. Since being elected to the Board, I have come to realize the magnitude of this position and I do not take this role lightly. If re-elected, I will continue to keep the chapter’s membership interests my highest priority.
My work on the Board has included an assignment as the Chair of our Mid-Atlantic Scholarship Committee. Along with 3 dedicated chapter members, we initiated this program, which is in its second year and has already awarded $10,000 in scholarships to the families of Mid-Atlantic members. I am also proud to serve on the chapter Bylaws Committee and Budget & Finance Committee.
This year, I was also a part of our Mid-Atlantic Chapter Advocacy & Legislation Team, meeting with our members of Congress on Capitol Hill and pushing forward the PVA legislative priorities to benefit Veterans and their families.
I became a PVA member following a B-52 crash in 1988. Since then, I spent the majority of my time working as a flight instructor. I accumulated another 6,000 hours training aspiring pilots and others to achieve their aviation goals. In addition, I spent more than 15 years leading and managing flight schools in the Hampton Road area as a chief instructor. I believe this experience leading highly skilled and professional individuals has benefited me as team member of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter’s Board.
If re-elected, I pledge to work with the dedicated staff assisting our members in receiving the health care benefits they justly deserve. I will continue making inroads on disability rights and accessibility, at the same time providing access to quality of life programs that truly help our members.
I reside with my loving wife and supportive caregiver, MeLissa, in Williamsburg, VA.


Johnny Holland

Johnny “Quadzilla” Holland is an accomplished wheelchair athlete, mentor, and brand ambassador. He has been a member of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America for more than three decades, serving on the Board of the Directors for the past five years. He has also served as the Chair of the Mid-Atlantic Sports & Rec Committee for the past four years. Holland has also advocated with the organization on Capitol Hill to address policy concerns and representation for veterans with spinal cord injuries. This year, Holland was chosen to represent PVA Medical Services, and his appointment to the Field Advisory Council was ratified by PVA National President Robert Thomas.

Born and raised in Fayetteville, NC, Holland joined the Army in 1984, attending basic training at Fort Knox and AIT school at Fort Dix, where he was classified as a 64C (motor transport operator).

Holland was stationed in Kentucky and Korea before PCSing to Fairbanks, Alaska in 1987. It was here that he was injured in a motor vehicle accident, suffering a spinal cord injury that would lead to a diagnosis of quadriplegia.

While an inpatient at the Richmond VA Medical Center, Holland’s optimistic disposition led to him being asked to talk with and encourage his fellow newly injured troops, a role he fully dedicated himself to. In rehab, he formed a close friendship with his recreational therapist, Ike Cook, who introduced him to wheelchair sports and encouraged him to stay on the move.

He attended his first National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Long Beach, CA in 1989, and has missed only two in the years since, earning the nickname Quadzilla for his prowess on the rugby court and larger-than-life personality.

At the 2023 NVWG in Portland, Holland was named a Softball All-Star and traveled to Chicago to represent Team USA in the Wheelchair Softball World Series.

Currently, Holland works as an ambassador for Van Products, Inc., an automobility company based in Raleigh, NC, and spends his free time engaging in various sports clinics, workshops, and competitions- including the Southeastern Valor Games, the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, the annual National Veteran’s Wheelchair Games, and billiard tournaments as far as South Africa.

Within his community, Holland is a mentor for veterans and civilians alike- often serving as a soundboard for the newly injured and educating them on equipment and resources to make their lives easier.

Holland resides in Goldsboro, NC, with his wife of 40 years, Shirvon. He has an adult daughter, Jovane (a Marine Corps Veteran), and a grandson, Justice.

In his own words, Holland would consider it a privilege and an honor to continue on the board of an organization that has been so instrumental in his success and support as a disABLEd veteran.


Jimmy May

A 74-year-old disabled veteran of the Vietnam era, Mr. May has been in a wheelchair for more than 55
years. He was injured in Vietnam on December 1, 1968, at the time, serving in the U.S. Army with “The
Big Red I” Infantry Division. While serving he received a Purple Heart, the Army Accommodation
Medal, and other medals.
Mr. May is currently serving his second term as President of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter and enjoys
volunteering his time and service in helping all Veterans, including improving accessibility in public life,
jobs, schools and most of all our transportation.
Mr. May is past president of the Independent Wheelchair Athletic Association. He has been involved with
Independent Wheels since 1974 and has served as president on and off for over 28 of those years. Mr.
May is very much involved in wheelchair sports. One accomplishment of which Jimmy is very proud is
that he is the only veteran who has attended the National Veteran’s Wheelchair Games for 37 out of the 43
years of the existence of the Games.
He also served as coach of the Richmond Rimriders wheelchair basketball team and has put Richmond at
the forefront of wheelchair basketball since the team’s started 1981. Mr. May retired from coaching in
March 2022, and is proud to have been inducted into the National Wheelchair Basketball Hall of Fame in
Mr. May bowls on the Sitting Ducks Plus bowling league where he is the secretary. Mr. May lives in
Midlothian, VA with his wife of 55 years, Sue, who is a stylist and the owner of Sue’s Hair Care for
Seniors. Together, they enjoy spending time in Urbanna camping and fishing. They have two sons, Troy
and Kevin, and two grandchildren, Savannah and Zachary. Troy is a Lieutenant for the Goochland County
Virginia Sheriff’s Department and Kevin works for Hunter Construction.
Mr. May is a life member of the local chapters of PVA, DAV, VFW. He is also on the Board of Directors
of American Wheelchair Bowling Association. Mr. May was inducted into the American Wheelchair
Bowling Association Hall of Fame November, 2020.

Mr. May would be grateful for your vote to continue serving on the Board of Directors of the PVA Mid-
Atlantic Chapter.


Amy McKee

I have been so grateful to serve on the Mid-Atlantic Chapter Board of Directors for the past 2 years, helping our Veteran members in many ways.  It was an honor to be elected as the chapter Secretary and providing leadership to our Board.   I have also advocated for the chapter the last two years in Washington D.C.  It has been an energizing experience to meet with our members of Congress on Capitol Hill and discuss the importance of supporting legislation which benefits Veterans and all of us with disabilities. 

I served 13 years in the Marine Corps from 2004-2017.  I was an aviation electrical technician on the EA-6B Prowler, and was deployed overseas twice to Iraq, once to Afghanistan and once to Qatar. I was injured in a motorcycle accident in January 2016 which left me paralyzed from the chest down due to severing my spinal cord at T-3. I am blessed to still be alive and able to watch my children grow up. We have not let my injury slow us down, we just needed to learn how to do things together. I have been able to teach my kids new sports and they have helped me learn how to do things that they enjoy.  Some things are harder than others, but life moves on. I joined the Tidewater Piranhas power soccer team, and we travel throughout the country playing in tournaments. I also regularly attend the National Veterans Wheelchair Games participating with, and watching our fellow veterans compete.

I would be honored to continue as a member of our Mid-Atlantic Chapter Board of Directors, and if re-elected I hope that together we can do so much more to help each other.


Jessica Oliff

Jessie Oliff is an Army veteran that served in the Military Police Corps and earned the rank of Sergeant. Oliff served during Operation Iraqi Freedom where she served two combat tours and was awarded many awards for her quick thinking, courage and leadership. 

Oliff was born and raised in King William VA which is where she still resides. 

After the Military, Oliff was inpatient for two years in the Palo Alto Poly Trauma Rehab Center and Martinez VA Rehab Center, both located near San Francisco, CA. 

After her release, Oliff became involved in a group called Veteran’s Path based in Mill Valley, CA. Oliff became one of the Founding Veteran Leaders to help lead groups, to mentor Veterans and she helped develop Veteran’s Path to be a National VA affiliated group. 

Oliff is the founder and player/coach of the Virginia Vipers power soccer team. She also takes pride in mentoring the members on her team as well as all the other participants at the Summer Camp and activities for which she volunteers for year round. 

Oliff has been a member of the Wounded Warrior Project since ‘08 and the PVA Mid-Atlantic Chapter since ‘18.  Currently Oliff is the Vice President of the PVA Mid-Atlantic Chapter Board as well as the Chair of the Membership Committee and the Chair of The Women’s Council.  Oliff has been on the PVA Mid-Atlantic Chapter Board since ’20, and respectfully asks for your vote to continue on the Board and help our fellow Veterans.


Charles Powell

Hi to all. Let me introduce myself to you. My name is Charles E. Powell. I live in a small community in North Carolina called Kittrell. I was born and raised in Vance County, North Carolina about 15 miles from the Virginia border. I lived there most of my life except for my military service.

I joined the US Army at 17 years old while in my senior year of high school. I left for Boot Camp in July of 1971 turning 18 in September 1971 while still in Boot Camp. After my AIT training graduation, I received my orders to report to Vietnam for duty in 1972. After receiving orders in Oakland for Vietnam my whole detachment was ordered to Germany to serve with the 1st Infantry Division where I was stationed for two years. While there I injured my spine the first time by a crushing injury.

After returning from Germany, I was assigned to Fort Bragg and 18Th Airborne Corp with the 269th Combat Aviation Brigade until I ETS’ed out of service in July 1975. I had planned on making the Army a career but that did not work out. While at Fort Bragg I received a devastating back injury that affected the rest of my life. I was hospitalized from this injury. Even though I I did recuperate somewhat I deteriorated through the rest of my life finally becoming a quadriplegic in 2020.

I am a life member of the DAV and a member of the local Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the PVA joining in 2023. I participated in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in 2023 and will attend again this year in New Orleans.

I have been married to my caregiver Debbie Lou Powell for 31 years and we live on a small farm near Kittrell, NC. We have four children, two girls and two boys, along with six grandchildren and have a great grandson on the way.

I have started two 501(c)3 federal non-profits as the Chairperson for the Vance County Soil and Water Conservation Board for Vance County. Both are still active and functioning and I am on the Boards of both of those non-profits.


Ronald Richardson

Ronald Richardson is an Army veteran who, since his medical retirement from the Army, has been a member of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America. Richardson served on the Board of Directors from 2009-2016 as a Director or Ad hoc Director, and has Been a Director for the past years.  He is also a member of the Fayetteville Spinal Cord Injury Support Group, the Fayetteville-Cumberland Advisory Council for People with Disabilities, and the North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association. Richardson also serves as the Deputy Volunteer Liaison Officer for the Fayetteville Veterans’ Medical Center’s Veterans Administration Volunteer Service.  He is a graduate of Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville, NC and studied Business Administration and Finance at Fayetteville State University.  Richardson spent 13 of his 22½ year career in the Army as a Recruiter.  Throughout the Army’s Recruiting Command, Richardson was known for his outstanding leadership abilities, management skills and his determination to excel. He received numerous awards during his tenure as a Recruiter and Station Commander, to include: The Army Recruiter Ring and the Recruiting Medallion, both among the most prestigious awards in the U.S Army Recruiting Command; The Army Chief of Staff Award (two awards); the Order of the Sabre Award (three Awards); and the Top Large Recruiting Station (eight awards). Before his duties as a recruiter, Richardson served as a Fire Direction Control Specialist for the Lance and Multiple Launch Rocket System and later as a Vulcan Air Defense System repairman.  Richardson served during Desert Shield, Storm and Comfort where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his achievements while there.  Richardson retired as a First Sergeant, a position held by soldiers noted for their leadership and management ability. Richardson resides in Fayetteville, NC.


Rickey Wood

My name is Rickey Wood.  I am a Richmond, Virginia native.  I was born at MCV and raised in Henrico. I presently reside in Petersburg.  I went to Vandervall Elementary School and then Ridge Elementary.  I then moved to the Highland Park section of Richmond and attended Highland Park Elementary.  I then was promoted into Thomas Henderson Middle School and John Marshall High School.

In 1979 I joined the Army in the delayed entry program, and actually entered in 1980.  I did my basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia and then went to Fort Polk, Louisiana.  From 1982 to 1983 I was stationed in Bamburg, Germany.  In 1983 I returned to Richmond and worked at various janitorial services while in the National Guard until 1997.

I worked for Snead Refuse until 2010, when I had an accident and sustained my spinal cord injury.  At that time, I met Chuck Willis who was the President of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter.  He introduced me to the Paralyzed Veterans of America where I have been an active member and participant since.

I frequently assist the staff with whatever I can do.  I also am ready and willing to represent the Chapter at their numerous sports, promotional and fundraising events.  I have attended the Paralyzed Veterans of America Bass Tournaments, Golf Tournaments and Trap-Shoots, just to name a few.  I have also sold items at the NASCAR races to bring public awareness to Paralyzed Veterans of America.

I used to be a member of the Chapter Board of Directors, so I am in a position to have a working knowledge of all the challenges and responsibilities of the organization.  I feel this gives me an advantage and would serve me well to return as a member of the Board of Directors.

2024 Board of Directors Election Schedule

July 18

Election Ballots Mailed to Members

Election ballots will be mailed to PVA Mid-Atlantic Chapter Members on Thursday, July 18. The ballot will include a self-addressed return envelope. 

August 19

VOting Closes

All completed ballots must be received at Mid-Atlantic Chapter Headquarters by 5:00p.m. on Monday, August 19.

August 22

Board of Directors Announced

On Thursday, August 22 the Board of Directors for Fiscal Years 25-26 of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Mid-Atlantic Chapter will be announced. The Board of Directors will officially take office on October 1, 2024.