THE DREAM TEAM AND THE COOL KIDS

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Assal Ravandi

Founder | President & CEO

I am originally from Iran but moved to San Antonio, Texas in 1993. It was disappointing to come to the states and realize no one in my high school knew where Iran was. In today's social climate, I am starting to think maybe it was a good thing at the time. If I were to be stranded on an island I would bring my mother and Barack Obama. I am adventurous, restless and wild just like a horse, so that would be my spirit animal. Classic rock is my favorite genre of music, which puts me in an odd category considering my old fashioned tendencies as an Iranian woman and my modern outlook on on social progress. What's so classic about that? My highest honor in life has been to serve in the United States Army. I don't think I can remember who I was before I was a soldier.

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Russel "Preppy" Seeger

Director of Operations

Despite casually suggesting I’m from New York, I’m actually from Westfield, New Jersey. I go to Franklin & Marshall College, where I double major in Government and Middle East Studies, with a minor in Arabic. Everyone in the office agrees I’m preppy, and I’ll vehemently deny it even though it’s so obviously true. The most intense physical pain I have ever experienced was waiting eight hours for surgery after my appendix burst, which was agonizing even with the sweet relief of intravenous morphine. If you want to cause me mental pain, however, you’d have to cling silverware against a pot or pan.

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Raashida Ryan-Hayes

Chief of Staff &

Chief Public Relations Officer

I grew up in Morehead City, NC but I now live in the DMV. I graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and Mass Communications. I will be starting the graduate program in Strategic Public Relations at George Washington University in the fall. Unlike most I do not enjoy coffee and I am not a big fan of meat. However, I would never turn down Chick-Fil-A nuggets, they are simply the best. On those harder days chocolate is the best medicine along with a nice Italian meal laden with cheese and paired with a nice wine. I am honored to work at AUSV as the Chief of Staff.

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Ashlynn Hubert

Manager of External Affairs and Community Outreach

I am from Roanoke, VA but I attend George Mason University studying Integrative Studies with a concentration in Legal Studies and a minor in Human Rights. I love to rock an edgy yet chic look. My favorite way to achieve this style is matching a dressy top with a pair of converse. I enjoy riding the green line throughout the DMV and have a penchant for danger. Chance is my favorite artist to date and I am thrilled to be working at AUSV as an Editorial and Communications Coordinator after leaving the worst job I have ever had.


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Terumi "Turtle" Leon

Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Public Relations

I was born on the coast of Peru in Chimbote. I lived there for about four and a half years until I moved to northern Virginia where I lived until I went to school at Liberty University. I will graduate this fall with in Strategic Communications with a focus in Social Media Management and a minor in Spanish. I love food, cooking, eating and all things culinary. It is one of my greatest passions. I also enjoy reading and watching animated movies. I have lots of pet peeves so I will not go into all of them. However my biggest one may be when people do not like to laugh. I enjoy my job at AUSV as Manager of Operations & Administrations and look forward to seeing what life after graduation holds.

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Michael Morse

Executive Communications Associate

I am from the northern Virginia area. I studied History, Government, International Politics and Information Security at George Mason University. My preference in being a night or a morning person can be interchangeable. I am a night person when I am off while being a day person when I am working. There is almost always a cherry coke near my person. The most intense physical pain I have ever experienced was going in for surgery to have a battery implanted in my chest to help control my deep brain stimulation implants. I felt even more sore and in pain than the actual brain surgery itself! My spirit animal would have to be a Snorlax, because I love sleeping and consider myself to have a laid back personality. I was shocked to discover I am the least hated person in the office.


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Toraysha "Tory" Bland-Gillisjans

I grew up in a military household from the time I was born, so I don’t associate myself with being from a specific place. However, I just graduated from Liberty University in Virginia with a major in Strategic Communications. In case you were wondering, I knew Terumi before coming to work at AUSV as a Social Media and Communications Coordinator. Along with sharing a field of study, we were neighbors on campus. I am currently allergic to dairy, lettuce, malt, buckwheat, watermelon, cranberries, shellfish, olive oil, ragweed, wheat, Dogwood trees and Red Birch trees [editor’s note: wow]. As you can see, grocery shopping is super fun for me and it takes a lot of time to search for ingredients of products. I miss eating ice cream and dairy. If I could be any type of shoe it would be a Coco Chanel platform heel, because I am constantly inspired by this fashion house, heels make everything look better and I love stability.

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Mackenzie Norris

I'm from Arlington County, Virginia and go to the University of Mary Washington, where I'm an international relations major. If I were stranded on a desert island, I'd bring Jesus (he can turn the water into wine, I can't go without) and my cat (satan). I'm a bit of a foodie: cheesecake is my absolute favorite, and if you're looking for some solid nugs I can refer you to the best Wendy's ASAP. I like my job as Executive Relations and External Affairs Associate.


"Yankee Zulu Advisory Board"

Toryasha Bland, Will Fowler, Katherine Gault, Ashlynn Hubert, Nick Manfort, Mackenzie Norris, Isabelle Oliver, Anastasia Pixler, Lily Stacy, Nicholas Stanley and Joie Thorton are the brilliant minds of the new generations. Here at the Academy of United States Veterans we promote education and social progress in the young and eager minds of our youth. The Yankee Zulu Advisory Board consists of young men and women who bring a sense of evolution to our ways of thinking. 

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Katherine "Kacey" Gault

I’m originally from Bristow, Virginia, but I go to school at West Virginia University where I’m studying Sports and Exercise Psychology. If I were a character from “The Office,” I’d say I’m Kelly because she always has a lot of energy, is upbeat and happy just like me. Although I go to school in coal country, I only know one coal miner, a bouncer at a bar I go to. The shoe that is most like me is wedges, because they represent my southern background and my love for warm summer days. I love Italian food and country music more than anything.

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Will Fowler

I was born and raised in Ames, Iowa. I’m attending American University, majoring in Journalism with a minor in Philosophy. As an Editorial and Communications Coordinator, I spend most of my day writing for VETTY Magazine, but often I get trapped doing web design or other tasks. I have a desk right under the AC, which is a big win in my book. Though my coworkers complain about it, my two great passions in life besides journalism are bitterly strong tea and hard boiled eggs (the ultimate power food). At best, I am writing happily. At worst, I will strike fear into the hearts of those who make the mistake of letting me edit their work. I consider the AP Stylebook a guide to life.


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Nick Montfort

I am from Vienna, Virginia. I study political science, communications and history at Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, TX. I enjoy catching up on the news by reading the Washington Post in the evening over a nice Juul, an ideal alternative to cigarettes, which are lame. My favorite movie of the summer has definitely been Incredibles 2. In my opinion, the 14 year wait was absolutely worth it. I enjoy my job as Legislative and Public Affairs Specialist here.

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Isabelle "Izzy" Oliver

I am from Falls Church, Virginia but I go to Wheaton College in Illinois where I am on a humanities Interdisciplinary Studies track. Other than working as an Editorial and Communications Coordinator here at AUSV, I am spending my summer with my family and playing a on a summer league soccer team to prep for my fall season at school. In my spare time I enjoy poetry by Marie Howe and watching documentaries while drinking seltzer water, yes, I have fallen to the trend. My co-worker Will says it is really easy to make me laugh and I can’t argue with him, I do like to laugh. I can often be found journaling while listening to one of my many Spotify playlists and if you ask my opinion I think this world is more romantic and beautiful than most would admit.


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Anastasia Pixler

I go to the University of Kentucky, but I’m from Chesapeake City, MD. I’m studying Integrated Strategic Communications and Political Science. I’m a hardcore morning person, and I’m in bed by 10:30 every night. When I was younger, I had an infection on my leg, which an obviously well-trained and competent doctor fixed by gouging it out with a knife, sans anesthesia. I’m disturbingly pale due to a sun allergy, but my spirit is still filled with sunshine.

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Lily Stacy

I am from Tampa, Florida but I am living in Virginia for the summer to intern at AUSV. I study Communications and Public Health at the University of South Florida. As a born and raised Floridian, I have an natural aversion to Disneyland. I enjoy having my coffee at any time of the day, preferably medium roast with cream and sugar. I get most of my news from current podcasts and, if you ask me, bumper stickers as a great way to let one’s personality shine (and they let me laugh at people’s political views). I am honored to be working as a Public Relations and Outreach Associate at AUSV this summer.


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Nicholas Stanley

I am from Clinton, Maryland but I attend Hampton University. I’m studying Psychology. I am hoping to go into marriage and family therapy. A few things about me: I don’t like double negatives or sarcasm, I am a morning person and my vote is that the Silver metro line is the best. I am enjoying my time at AUSV working as a Public Relations Coordinator, but I look forward to returning to school and dropping my hour and a half commute.

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Joie Thorton

I was born in Hayward, California. I go to Trinity Washington University in D.C. I have numerous pet peeves, such as:

1) When people leave a closed door open. If you have to open the door to come in, then close it when you leave. Obviously it was closed for a reason. 2) When people walk too slowly in the grocery store. You should know where you’re going and move out my way. I’m irritated by people who walk slow in front of me in general. 3) When you miss a call and call right back, then they don’t answer the phone. Like, did you die within five seconds? 4) Children crying and yelling in public areas.

My spirit animal is a cat because I’m always calm until I’m bothered. I’m also spoiled and can be playful, and I’m a night person. My all time favorite food is the taco trucks in California.