Lt Col (Ret), USAF
Erick Saks, Founder of Operation Lifeline Inc., retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2020 after over 26 years of dedicated service. His military career took him around the world, focusing on supporting humanitarian operations, including building schools, medical facilities, and essential infrastructure in regions facing poverty and conflict. After retiring, Erick relocated to Saint Johns County, Florida, where he became actively involved in local government. He was elected as a Supervisor for the Rivers Edge Community Development District and was appointed to the Housing Finance Authority. The experience ignited his passion for direct veteran support, leading to Operation Lifeline Inc. He also serves on the Continuum of Care board and actively participates in various veteran councils, strengthening his commitment to supporting fellow veterans.
MSgt (Ret), USAF
Marshall Buford is the Board Chairman for Operation Lifeline Inc. Leveraging 24 years of active-duty service, Marshall continues to work for the Department of the Air Force at Officer Training School, the singular Total Force officer accessions source for the Air and Space Forces. Coupled with a decade of officer recruiting, Marshall is able to work with young officer-hopefuls, crafting a clear vision of what’s next and how best to lead people there. Additionally, he works as an adjunct professor of English at Auburn University’s Montgomery campus. Since that time, Marshall has seen all 50 states, 42 countries, and all 7 continents. He has traveled the African desert in a jeep and cruised the Alaskan mountains at speeds faster than sound. As a junior member, he learned the tricks of a balanced budget with bills left to pay and the peace of mind that comes with a WIC card.
Board Vice Chairman
Former Capt, USAF
Justin Herman is Vice Chairman of Operation Lifeline's Board of Directors. After separating from the U.S. Air Force as a Public Affairs Officer at the rank of Captain, Justin went on to serve again in diverse public service roles including head of Emerging Technologies for Citizen Services for the U.S. General Services Administration and advisor for the White House National Science and Technology Council for two U.S. Presidents. Today, Justin lives in Washington, D.C., where he works as the GM and AVP of Global Public Sector Industry for ServiceNow, a Fortune 500 software platform company, and serves as an expert advisor for the World Economic Forum. He also helps guide emerging organizations on understanding and navigating public programs and opportunities.
Former Airman 1st Class, USAF
Lori Chapman serves as Secretary for Operation Lifeline's Board of Directors. She is an Assistant Veterans Service Officer and Veteran Homeless Coordinator with Saint Johns County. She assists Veterans in applying for VA benefits as well as connecting Veterans in crisis to community and VA resources as needed. Lori served in the United States Air Force from 1989-1992 as a dental and emergency medical technician. She received specialized training in dental forensics and volunteered on the Air Force Honor Guard and Color Guard teams. After separating, she attended Franciscan University majoring in Mental Health and Human Services and Theology graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree. Lori then went on to work in law enforcement with Saint Johns County Sheriff's Office, and assisted in getting the court ordered substance abuse program running in the Saint Johns County jail.
Military Spouse & Parent
Aileen Buford is the Treasurer of Operation Lifeline Inc. Aileen has spent her entire life in service to her country, her family, and humanity. She is a licensed psychotherapist who has served as a military spouse for decades — long enough to be talking to her Staff Sergeant son about grandchildren. Mother to three boys and one sainted daughter, she has seen all the ups and downs that military-life spins out. She has worked in hospitals and nursing homes; she has served on local governments in Massachusetts and taught middle- schoolers in Alabama. She has matched so many souls to the services they need that it would be silly to try to count them. She only grieves every loss and champions every win; She simply squares her shoulders every day, charging at every obstacle and besting every barrier that Alabama Airmen face—even if they are just visiting.
We are delighted to have Patricia Codere as a valuable member of the Operation Lifeline Inc. board of directors. Patricia's impressive career in the international maritime industry spans over 20 years, where she acquired extensive management experience. In her most recent role, Patricia held a key position as the director of charter management for a renowned, full-service yachting company. Her responsibilities included overseeing the charter operations for multimillion-dollar yachts, as well as coordinating with the company's 19 offices in 14 countries. Patricia's expertise extended to managing relationships with clients from diverse backgrounds, representing 40 different nationalities. Patricia's expertise in the maritime industry brings a unique perspective to Operation Lifeline Inc., enriching our strategies and decision-making processes.
We are honored to have David Russell as a valued member of the Operation Lifeline Inc. board of directors. David's impressive background and commitment to service make him an invaluable asset to our organization.
David's journey towards higher education at Columbia Business School began after his dedicated service as an Air Force Logistics Readiness Officer. His military experience included a significant contribution to the establishment of the International Donor Coordination Centre in Europe, where he played a pivotal role in supporting the United States and its allies. At Columbia Business School, David continues to demonstrate his drive and commitment to personal growth. His diverse background, combined with David's dedication to personal growth and ethical leadership, strengthens our organization's ability to support veterans.
Lt Col (Ret), USAF
Vanessa Saks, Operation Lifeline Inc. co-founder, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to our organization. Her retirement from the U.S. Air Force in 2020 as a lieutenant colonel after 22 years of service is a testament to her dedication and leadership. Throughout her military career, Vanessa established herself as an extraordinary individual with a diverse skill set. She began her journey by leading the personnel section for the renowned "Triple Nickle" fighter squadron in northern Italy, showcasing her ability to manage and coordinate essential functions within a high-performing unit. Vanessa spent much of her career as a communication strategist providing advice and counsel to numerous high-visibility government officials, utilizing her expertise to shape effective messaging and strategic communications.
David Black is the Project Manager for Operation Lifeline Inc., bringing an extraordinary wealth of expertise and passion to the organization. As a master carpenter, David's artistry can be admired in some of the most stunning and distinctive homes throughout the southern region. With a career spanning decades, David has amassed invaluable experience, solidifying his reputation as a true expert in his field. His versatility shines through as he possesses a broad range of skills, from commercial construction to property management. Throughout his career, David has made significant contributions to the construction industry, leaving an indelible mark on numerous projects. Beyond his remarkable craftsmanship, David's dedication to empowering others sets him apart as a visionary leader. David brings an unwavering commitment to excellence and a compassionate approach to every endeavor.