The World War One Centennial Commission


The Commission was established by the World War One Centennial Commission Act, part of Public Law 112-272 passed by the 112th Congress and signed by President Obama on January 16, 2013.  The Commission is responsible for planning, developing, and executing programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War One; encouraging private organizations and State and local governments to organize and participate in activities commemorating the centennial of World War I; facilitating and coordinating activities throughout the United States relating to the centennial of World War One; serving as a clearinghouse for the collection and dissemination of information about events and plans for the centennial of World War One; and developing recommendations for Congress and the President for commemorating the centennial of World War One.

The Commissioners serve without pay, and no appropriated Federal funds may be used for any of the Commission's activities or expenses.


The Commissioners








Commissioner Colonel Robert J. Dalessandro, USA (Ret.) (Chair)

Rob Dalessandro was selected as a member of the Senior Executive Service and appointed as Executive Director/Chief of Military History, U.S. Army Center of Military History on 13 February 2011. He has 31 years of experience in the Department of Defense serving in a variety of command and staff positions at both the operational and headquarters levels. He was appointed to the Commission by the House Minority Leader, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California. After beginning his Federal career in 1980 as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Dalessandro served in a wide variety of leadership and staff assignments, including commands at the company, depot, and battalion levels and staff assignments at echelons of command from battalion through Department of the Army level. Dalessandro retired from the U.S. Army in June 2009 after serving as the Director of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA. Since then, he has served as the Assistant Chief of Military History at the Center of Military History, working a wide range of administrative, technical, museum, and policy issues. Rob was commissioned in the U.S. Army after graduating from the Virginia Military Institute with a degree in history. His graduate studies include work at the College of William and Mary, where he studied historical archeology; a master's degree in Military Arts and Science in history from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; a master's degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College; and a graduate certificate in museum collections management and care from George Washington University. Considered one of the Army's foremost experts on battlefield interpretation, Mr. Dalessandro is widely published on the lifeways and material culture of the American Soldier. He is editor of the Army Officer's Guide, and coauthor of Organization and Insignia of the American Expeditionary Force, 1917-1923; Willing Patriots: Men of Color in the First World War; and American Lions: The 332nd Infantry Regiment in Italy in World War I. He is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the Society for Military History, American Association of Museums, and the Company of Military Historians. He has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Parachutist Badge.

He was appointed to the Commission by the House Minority Leader, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California.


Edwin Fountain


Commissioner Edwin L. Fountain (Vice Chair)

Edwin Fountain of Arlington, Virginia is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of the international law firm Jones Day. He is the grandson of two World War I veterans. In 2008 he co-founded the World War I Memorial Foundation, which successfully advocated for funding to restore the District of Columbia's World War I memorial on the National Mall, and which has advocated for establishment of a national World War I memorial in the nation's capital. Edwin is a member of Leadership Arlington and sits on the Arlington Commission for the Arts. He serves on the boards of Bowen McCauley Dance Company and Longacre Lea Theatre Company. He is past president of the DC Preservation League, the leading historic preservation nonprofit in the nation's capital.

He was appointed to the commission by the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.




Commisioner Jerry L. Hester

Jerry L. Hester. Graduate Mechanical Engineer, North Carolina State University, 1953. Former U.S. Air Force Officer, 429th Fighter Bomber Squadron. Served in the Defense Industry for over 25 years engaged in such leading edge technologies as electronic reconnaissance, electronic warfare, tactical & strategic weapons development, laser guided weapons, aerial gunships, night vision both ground and air operations. President of his own firm, Interdyne Corporation, for 35 years in Prime Contractor support operations world wide in U.S. Military logistic, construction and facilities support in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, Ecuador & the United States.
His interest in World War I aviation stems from early childhood during the age of early flights in open bi-wing aircraft & Ford Tri-motors that offered a thrilling ride for $3 dollars. He then witnessed the World War II activity at his local airport, always visiting any new aircraft that landed. A lost chapter was filled when a neighbor was describing World War I as he had served in the infantry. Local library and monuments served as catalyst to seek more information over the years. After ten trips into the World War I battle areas of French, British and American sectors, museums & monuments the natural marriage of WWI & it's aviation become his focus in later years of study & research.  Hester was formerly Chairman of the 70th Anniversary WWI National Committee.

He was appointed to the Commission by the Minority Leader of the United States Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.




Thomas Moe 2


Commissioner Colonel Thomas Moe, USAF (Ret.)

Colonel Thomas Moe recently concluded a chapter in his nearly 50 years of military and public service, retiring from the cabinet of Governor John Kasich as Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.
Moe enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1961 and also enrolled in college. He graduated in 1965 from Capital University as a Distinguished Military Graduate earning a regular commission in the U.S. Air Force. He later graduated from the University of Notre Dame where he eventually served as Chair of the Department of Aerospace Studies.
During the Vietnam War he flew 85 combat missions in the F-4 aircraft including 65 over North Viet Nam. He became a POW in January 1968 and was not released until March 1973. Moe was held alongside Sen. John McCain in prison and also was held in the infamous camp known as the "Hanoi Hilton." Following repatriation, he flew the F-16 and other fighters throughout his Air Force career and is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and U. S. Army War College.
In 1995 he retired after having served in a number of command and staff positions including commander of a combat-ready fighter squadron. He earned 24 awards and decorations including two Silver Stars, the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, two Purple Hearts, and seven Air Medals. He has also received a number of public service awards including induction into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor and honors from the University of Notre Dame, Capital University, the Daughters of the American Revolution, The American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America. He is a life member of the VFW (Lancaster Post 1380), AMVETS (Lancaster Post 1985) and Viet Nam Veterans of America (Lancaster Chapter 1045). He is also a Master Mason, a member of the Scottish Rite, 32nd degree and Sons of the American Revolution (Hocking Valley Chapter) as well as the Fairfield Heritage Association, the Farm Bureau and others.
After retiring from the Air Force, Tom served in a number of positions including Military Studies Fellow at the Kroc Peace Institute, University of Notre Dame, Director of the Ohio Troops to Teachers program and Director of the Fairfield County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland security.

He was appointed to the Commission by the Speaker of the House, Congressman John A. Boehner of Ohio



 James B. Nutter



Commissioner James B. Nutter, Sr.

James B. Nutter, Sr. of Kansas City, Missouri is a pioneer in mortgage lending, founding his mortgage lending company in 1951. The Army veteran and Midwest native wanted to help his friends purchase their own homes with the comfort of personal touch customer service. Today, the company is one of the largest privately-owned mortgage banking firms in the nation.
The success of his company has enabled Nutter to personally donate millions of dollars to a host of non-profits, including Habitat for Humanity, Mayo Clinic, Kansas City's Children's Mercy Hospital, the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, Kansas City Central Library, Boy Scouts of America (as a boy he made the rank of Eagle Scout), Saint Luke's Hospital, Little Sisters of the Poor, and Wayside Waifs animal rescue. Named for him are the James B. Nutter Sr. Family Information Commons at Ellis Library on the campus of his alma mater, the University of Missouri, and the Nutter Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center and Park in the urban core of Kansas City.

He was appointed to the Commission by the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.

   James S Whitfield  

Commissioner James S. Whitfield

James (Jim) S. Whitfield of Independence, Missouri, is a Life Member of The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars in the United States, and BPO Elks, all of Warrensburg, Missouri. He is an Honorably Discharged U.S. Navy veteran of World War II having served in the Far Pacific, North Atlantic, and Indian oceans, and the Mediterranean Sea, aboard the same ship for 33 months. He has been an active member of The American Legion since 1946, having served in many capacities including Executive Director, American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis, IN.
Whitfield holds a B.S. Degree in Business Administration from the University of Central Missouri with Post Graduate studies in Public Administration at the University of Colorado and in Finance from Iowa University. He received the George Charno Student Citizenship/Leadership Award his senior year at UCM where he also served as Veterans Affairs Coordinator for the University with the VA, as well as President of the Student Body.
Whitfield served as the first chairman for a period of 4 years of the Missouri Veterans Commission and served a total of 10 years on the Commission. During his tenure as Chairman the Missouri State Veterans Home system of seven homes and the State Veterans Cemetery system were established. Following his employment at The American Legion National Headquarters he was Administrative Manager and Convention Director for the North American Equipment Dealers Association with offices in St. Louis County, Missouri.

He was appointed to the Commission by the American Legion.



Mary Davidson Cohen


Commissioner Dr. Mary Davidson Cohen

Dr. Mary Davidson Cohen is the Chair of the Museum Board of the Liberty Memorial Association in Kansas City, Missouri.  She received a doctorate in education administration from the University of Kansas in 1977, a master of arts in science education for elementary teachers from Columbia University in 1962, and was awarded a bachelor of science in education at the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1958.
Beginning her education career as a teacher, Cohen taught fifth, sixth, and seventh grades in the Kansas City, MO. Later she served as vice president for adult and continuing education and dean of the graduate school at Saint Mary College in Leavenworth, Kansas; as assistant director of the William T. Kemper Foundation; and assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Kansas Regents Center. In March 2002, she was appointed as the U.S. Secretary of Education's regional representative (SRR) for Region VII, which includes the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.
She currently hosts a television program, "It's Our Community" for the Johnson County Community College television station and is the Executive Director of the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust.
She was awarded the 2013 Distinguished Service Award recipient by the Barton Community College Foundation. In 2007, Saint Teresa's Academy chose Dr. Cohen the Mother Evelyn O'Neill Award for Excellence in Education.

She was appointed to the Commission by the Liberty Memorial Association National World War I Museum.


 Libby OConnell


Commissioner Dr. Libby O'Connell

Libby O'Connell was appointed Chief Historian, Senior Vice President, Corporate Outreach, AETN, in March 2005. Dr. O'Connell serves as historical adviser for HISTORY's programming department. In addition, she spearheads all educational and community-based initiatives for AETN, including History's Take A Veteran To School Day and the award-winning Save Our History, and A&E's Intervention Town Hall Meetings, part of The Recovery Project.
Dr. O'Connell received her M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia. She has taught history at Long Island University and has served as president of Raynham Hall Museum on Long Island. Dr. O'Connell serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage; the Civil War Preservation Trust; and National History Day. She is also on the Council of Scholar Advisors for George Washington's home, Mount Vernon.

She was appointed to the Commission by President Barack Obama.





Commissioner Major General Alfred A. Valenzuela, USA (Ret.)

Major General Freddie Valenzuela served thirty-three years in the US Army and was highly decorated for heroism and valor. He served in three Combat Corps and six Infantry Divisions all over the world including Peru, Korea, Colombia, Turkey, Haiti, Kuwait, Grenada, Panama, Germany, El Salvador and Somalia, not to mention numerous years in interagency assignments. He commanded in the Cold War and Gulf War eras, and was awarded the two highest peace time awards upon retirement, the Defense & Army Distinguished Service Medals. He was commissioned from St. Mary’s University as a Distinguished Military Graduate and awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government. He holds a Master of Arts in Political Science, with emphasis on Latin American Studies and National Security Affairs. Additionally, he is a graduate of the Inter-American Defense College, Command and General Staff College, Armed Forces Staff College, and the Air War College. His last Assignment was as Commander, United States Army South from July 2000 until October 2003. He retired from active duty on 1 May, 2004.
MG Valenzuela is an Eagle Scout himself and was inducted into the Boys and Girls Hall Fame. He sits on the National Board of Directors for St. Mary's University, Armor Designs Inc., G.E. Philips, Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, National Recreation Board of America and USAA Federal Savings Bank. He was named one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business magazine and selected to the Board of Directors for the Cuban American Council for Education. He is President/ CEO of M.C. Valens; a service disabled veteran owned business.

He was appointed to the Commission by President Barack Obama.



 John Hamilton VFW


Commissioner John E. Hamilton

John E. Hamilton was appointed Adjutant General of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 2013. Prior to that appointment, Hamilton served as Commander-in-Chief of the VFW.  He has been a member of the VFW for some 40 years.
A third-generation U.S. Marine, Hamilton served in the Corps from 1968-1970 including a tour in Vietnam. His decorations include the Purple Heart (3 awards) and two Gold stars, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation gallantry Cross Color, Republic of Vietnam Unit Citation Civil Actions Color (First Class) and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Hamilton joined the VFW in 1974 at Post 7909 in Jacksonville, Fla. where he maintains his life membership. He has served the VFW in many leadership positions including the National Council of Administration from 1989-1991, and as State Commander from 1987-1988.
Hamilton graduated with honors from Georgia Military Institute in 1967. He worked as a professional wrestler throughout the United States and the world for 15 years as Johnny Montana, (also known as "Dr. Death") along with other names and identities.
Hamilton is a member of the Military Order of the Cootie, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, and Marine Corps League.

He was appointed to the Commission by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.






Commissioner Monique Brouillet Seefried, Ph.D.

Monique Seefried, during the past decade as president of the Croix Rouge Farm Memorial Foundation, purchased the historic land, commissioned one of the best sculptors in England and totally funded with private money a memorial statue to the US 42nd (Rainbow Division) on a WWI battlefield in France where the division fought with distinction. She also served from May 2003 until April 2009 as chairman of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Board of Governors. Prior to that, she founded and served as Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement and Study of International Education (CASIE) in Atlanta, on whose board she still serves. She also serves on the board of the United World College in New Mexico.
Between 1982 and 2002, she was Curator of Near Eastern Art at the Carlos Museum of Emory University and taught courses on Ancient Archaeology and Islamic Art in the University's Art History Department. Seefried has been a regular pro-bono lecturer on art and archaeology topics as well as on international education and more recently on World War I, its causes and its consequences.
Born a French citizen in Tunisia, Seefried became a US citizen in 1985. After a classical (Latin/Greek) secondary education, she did her undergraduate and graduate studies in History at the Sorbonne University in Paris from where she also holds her Ph.D. She is fluent in English, French, German and Italian.
In 2005, the French Government made her a "chevalier" in the Order of the Academic Palms, and in 2009 in the Order of Merit.

She was appointed to the Commission by the Speaker of the House, Congressman John A. Boehner of Ohio