StreetShares and iHeart Media's BIG 100 Washington Metro radio station have partnered in the 'Highlighting Our Heroes' campaign to feature exceptional StreetShares members who have impacted not only our country but also our local communities.
StreetShares members include veteran and military spouse small business owners, as well as the military members, veterans and the families who support them. Over the next couple of months, we'll tell the stories of StreetShares members in the DC metro region and across the country. Learn about our heroes below and be sure to subscribe to our blog to get updates about next week's heroes.
Melanie Avery is a StreetShares Foundation award finalist and a leader with more than 13 years of experience in the fields of project management, change management, IT, business strategy, and public policy. Melanie serves as the Director of Philanthropy and Public Affairs for Veterans On the Rise a non-profit, a 501(c)3 providing housing and holistic services to homeless veterans and veteran families in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Melanie is also a small business owner. Melanie served in the U.S. Military as a broadcast and print journalist. She also worked as a communications manager at the Department of Energy. Melanie is very interested in issues impacting energy, national security, energy and education. She is a youth and young adult mentor, author, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Melanie is a graduate of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She earned a BA in Economics from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the University of Maryland Smith School of Business and is an active member of the alumni associations. In 2014, she received an executive certificate from Georgetown University as well as a certificate from Princeton.
Commander Colin Supko is a StreetShares Foundation award finalist and is a native of Nevada and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Colin served as a SEAL Officer for 18 years to include three combat tours in the Middle East. He is currently the Commanding Officer for all west coast reserve SEALS at SEAL Team 17. Colin earned a Masters in Global Business Leadership from the University of San Diego and a Masters in Business Management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Colin was awarded the Bronze Star and Navy Commendation with Valor and is a two-time Startup founder. Colin's most recent venture, "PATRIOTLIST.US” – is the safest online hyperlocal peer-to-peer market for verified members of the military, veterans and their families.
Melissa Washington is a StreetShares Foundation award winner. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business management and has more than 10 successful years of experience in recruiting and human resources. She also proudly supported her husband’s 21 years of active duty service in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Melissa is the President and Founder of Women Veterans Alliance. As a service-connected disabled veteran, small business owner, speaker, author and award winner. She is passionate about connecting women veterans across the nation. She has been featured in newspaper articles, on TV and the radio. Melissa’s book, Get Back to Work: Smart & Savvy Real-World Strategies to Make Your Next Career Move was published in 2014. She created and launched the Women Veterans Alliance Unconference, a 3-day conference celebrating and connecting women veterans from across the nation.
Army veteran and entrepreneur Arron Barnes knows a few things about turning adversity into opportunity.
After being diagnosed with candida, a type of yeast infection in the gut that thrives on sugar, Barnes turned to raw almond butter to help curb his cravings for sweets — and that, too, turned into a business. In June 2016, his company Life Butta was born.
He now makes three flavors — original, matcha green tea and turmeric and black pepper, which include healthy doses of superfoods such as chia, flax, hemp and pumpkin seeds, along with a touch of coconut sugar and sea salt.
Arron’s product has found modest success, online at www.lifebutta.com as well as in four retail locations: two Chuck’s Produce shops in Vancouver and two New Seasons Market locations (one in Vancouver and one in Portland).
Arron also participated in the veteran entrepreneur incubator, Bunker Labs in Seattle, which helped him with a jump start Life Butta.
Ken and Heidi, StreetShares members who were driven to continue serving the country as small business owners. Ken Robbins started his career as an entrepreneur in 2015, the day after he officially retired from the Army, and radically change the way military families move.
MILLIE came from the idea that veterans and military spouses are uniquely qualified with their experience in both the military and in real estate to serve fellow veterans and military members. Heidi became a top real estate agent in the Norther Virginia area. In Fact, 75 percent of her clients were veterans and active military. Because of her experience as a military spouse, her clients trusted her because she had been in their shoes.
Today MILLIE has grown to provide three crucial services to PCS’ing military families: Installation Guides, Scouts and AgentHeroes. Through these three pillars of the organization, Ken and his team at MILLIE are able to make his vision a reality: to ease the PCS process for military families through a trusted network of military spouse and veteran professionals.
Ken Robbins is the co-founder and CEO of MILLIE and a West Point Graduate who retired from the Army as the speech writer for the Chief of Staff of the Army.
Heidi Robbins is a real estate agent with Buck & Associates and a member of the AgentHero network. She was recently named a Northern Virginia Magazine Top Real Estate Agent for 2017. She's a 3-year Multi-Million Top Producer for the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS®, was Rookie of the Year in 2014, a President’s Circle Achiever.
"StreetShares gives veterans, military spouse and women small business owners a way to try out the concept of reinvesting in their business, in amounts that feel much less intimidating."
- Fred Irwin, CEO of Her Corner and StreetShares Member