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An Officer and a Gentleman – Jeff Park’s Amazing Journey at IAVA

After an impressive almost six year long tenure at IAVA, our very own Jeff Park has decided to leave the staff at IAVA to join the Culver City Police Department. As a concerned citizen focused on his community and the national dialogue surrounding law enforcement, he decided that he was going to do his share by picking up a uniform again. We wanted to take this opportunity to share Jeff’s incredible story as a tribute to him, and as a reminder about how our community of veterans truly constitute the New Greatest Generation.

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Jeff is no stranger to public service. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Jeff received his commission through the Army ROTC program, attending the Infantry Officer Basic Course in Ft. Benning, Georgia. He joined the California National Guard in 2004 and deployed to Iraq in 2007 to conduct convoy security missions. After his deployment, Jeff attended the Combined Logistics Captain Career Course at the U.S. Army Logistics University in Ft. Lee, Virginia.

With those impressive accomplishments at his back, Jeff nevertheless found himself in the same situation as many of our members after service. So many of our veterans are looking to give back, looking for camaraderie and hoping for a career that makes a difference. In late 2010, Jeff was unemployed and driving around his neighborhood one day contemplating his life and future career options. Fortunately for IAVA, his attention was grabbed by a unique IAVA Ad-Council billboard on the highway that read “We Know Where You are Coming From.” From that point forward, IAVA history was made. Jeff applied for a job at IAVA, moved to New York in May of 2011 and transitioned to the New York National Guard. He even wore an IAVA-J.C. Penney sponsored suit on his first day of work. How fortunate for our community that Jeff felt the pull to help veterans as a career – and came to IAVA to make that dream a reality.

Initially on the Operations team, Jeff joined us at the Coordinator level and was later promoted to an Associate role. Assisting with all office manager needs, Jeff quickly became the heart and soul of our office. He was truly a jack of all trades – from travel vouchers and technology needs to upgrading our computers and providing strategic technical and vendor advice, Jeff was on everyone’s speed-dial. After being the backbone of the Operations team for many years, Jeff tried his hand on the Strategic Partnerships team as an Associate. Being an external-facing ambassador of IAVA proved to be a great match for Jeff’s warm, outgoing personality. For professional growth, Jeff also grabbed opportunities as soon as they came his way. He attended the Fullbridge management institute in Cambridge in January of 2013 to learn the mini-MBA curriculum crash course. By that year, he was also participating in IAVA’s Leadership Fellow training program. His star was on the rise.

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As Jeff acclimated to his new family at IAVA, he also fell in love with his adopted home town; Jeff grew to know and love New York City like a second home. When he wasn’t working he was training with the New York City Roadrunners Club to run the NYC marathon and traveled along the northeast corridor competing in half-marathons and similar runs. In good times and bad, Jeff was always someone to count on. In the fall of 2012 when Hurricane Sandy struck, Jeff was drilling with his New York National Guard unit. While the rest of the IAVA staff worked remotely and reported back to the office when systems were restored, Jeff’s unit was extended and he was performing disaster relief for all the victims of the Hurricane. As New Yorkers started recovering from the Hurricane, Jeff and his fellow guardsmen were bunking at the Armory and cleaning up the five boroughs, helping families in distress.

In 2014, after so many productive years helping New Yorkers, Jeff decided to move back to his home state of California and continue to serve the veterans’ community there. In an exciting move, Jeff became our first California Field Associate. As IAVA entered its second decade of growth and started focusing on an increased national scope, the presence of Jeff Park in California was a signal to the West Coast that IAVA had arrived in full force. Soon enough, Jeff was joined by other strong IAVA member-leaders on staff and our West Coast office was born and grew.

In each of his roles at IAVA, Jeff was an invaluable team member, and an even better friend. From keeping a thorough inventory of our storage room, helping staff members with general operations needs, or preparing pitches for future partnerships, Jeff was that colleague that absolutely everyone turned to for help. Whether it was talking to members who called in over the phones or running the powerpoint deck at our bi-monthly staff meetings, Jeff was an incredibly versatile and nimble team member. No matter how difficult the task, Jeff never complained and always had a gracious smile on his face.

New York Photos ©06-11-14 by 3 Dog Pack Pictures The IAVA 8th Annual Heroes Gala

Jeff truly embodies the spirit and mission of IAVA. He will be missed around the office in New York and doing his tireless work in the field out in California. However, we continue to be inspired by him every day. We wish him all the best in his next calling at the Culver City Police Department and look forward to seeing him at VetTogethers and West Coast member events in the near future!

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