Founder / Program Development
Kent Solheim is a U.S. Army Green Beret with over 23 years of service. He is also a Wounded Warrior having lost his right leg to battlefield injuries. Kent is passionate about serving the Gold Star community and doing what he can to provide opportunity and healing to these families that have given so much. Kent founded Gold Star Teen Adventures as a result of the lessons he learned following the injuries he suffered in Iraq. He knew that had he not made it home, his children would not have had the same opportunities and experiences. He also would have wanted for his children to know the brotherhood of the special operations community that he had served with. Finally, he experienced emotional healing by interacting with others that had experienced similar trauma in their lives. It was through these experiences that Gold Star Teen Adventures was born. Kent has a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Training and Development and a Master Degree in Human Resource Education.
Chairman of the Board
Kevin McDonnell attended North Carolina State University and was commissioned as an Army officer in 1982. His military career spans almost 30 years with command and staff assignments in the 5th and 3rd Special Forces Groups at Fort Bragg, NC, Fort Campbell, KY, the Joint Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C., as well as assignments outside the Department of Defense and overseas assignments throughout southwest Asia.
He served as a Special Forces Battalion Commander in Afghanistan on multiple deployments from early 2002 – 2003 and as the 5th Special Forces Group Commander and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Commander in the Arabian Peninsula in Iraq from 2005 – 2007. From 2007 until his retirement in 2011 he served as the Director of the US Special Operations Command Washington Office in the Pentagon. Upon his retirement from active duty, he served for three years as the Director of the US Special Operations Command Care Coalition at MacDill, AFB, FL.
Mr. McDonnell is a graduate of North Carolina State University and holds master’s degrees in National Security and Strategic Studies from The Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and the National War College in Washington DC. He currently holds positions on a variety of corporate and nonprofit boards and serves as a consultant for a law firm in Washington, DC, and several corporations across the United States.
Jessica McCloskey is a Special Operations Gold Star Spouse. Jessica’s husband, Shawn McCloskey, was on a 7th Special Forces Group ODA when he was killed in action on September 15, 2009. Shawn left behind Jessica and two young children. In 2014 Jessica began working with Gold Star Teen Adventures as the Administraive and Development Director. Jessica has seen the impact that Gold Star Teen Adventures has had on the teens involved and now looks forward to having her children become part of the GSTA family.
Dr. Allen Solheim has a Master of Divinity degree and Doctorate of Ministry. Allen Solheim is recently retired from the ministry, having been involved in various types of ministry activity over the past forty seven years including pastoral ministry, college professor, as well as having established and directed a counseling center. Allen also worked for Canadian Evangelist Barry Moore for several years and served as a civilian Chaplain for the Canadian Armed Forces for four and a half years while living and teaching at Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.
Dr. Solheim is co-founder of a humanitarian organization called PROJECT HELPING HANDS and for the past two decades has been sending medical teams around the world, offering medical teaching and clinical care in developing countries.
Michael is a 3rd generation Automobile Dealer in Columbia, SC representing multiple brands including Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Truck and Mitsubishi. He has served on numerous boards and business associations including the University of SC Dept. of Retailing, Palmetto Baptist Health Systems, Midlands Technical College and the General Motors Arbitration team. Michael joined Gold Star Teens in 2014 and is the host for the annual Fall Whitetail Deer Hunt. He is an avid outdoorsman that enjoys hunting, offshore fishing, scuba, hiking etc. Michael enjoys to travel and often vacations with his 3 grown children. As a civilian, Michael has always had the utmost respect and admiration for the military and all military families.
Eleanor Halff is the owner of e.h. & company which is a San Antonio-based interior architecture firm specializing in kitchens and bathroom remodels. Eleanor is the mother of two amazing young men who committed to military service and have attended the United States Military Academy.