Speakers and Agenda


Adam & Alexandra Zaffuto

Founders of ReEngage

ReEngage was conceived by husband and wife team, Adam and Alexandra (Pursglove) Zaffuto, as a one-day conference to foster face-to-face connections by bringing together veterans that have selflessly served the country and bring great value from their experiences to local communities.

Adam served as a U.S. Army Infantry Sergeant for six years, including combat tours in Iraq in 2009-2010 and Afghanistan in 2013. His vision for ReEngage began two years ago while working alongside Alexandra on the ManUp conferences. After seeing firsthand how a one-day conference can become a catalytic event to inspire lasting transformation, Adam recognized an opportunity to address veterans’ needs through a similar format. Alexandra offers over 10 years of experience in event planning and execution, including 7 years of producing the ManUp Pittsburgh conference for Urban Impact, alongside Coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. She is also the CEO of Pace Success Coaching and is a certified Executive Coach, Culture Consultant, and Success Principles Trainer. As Alexandra witnessed Adam’s difficult transition from military to civilian life, she developed a passion for impacting veterans along with him.

Rocky Bleier

Pittsburgh Steelers Legend and “Fighting Back” Author

Rocky Bleier’s story - a gripping tale of courage on both the football fields of America and the battle fields of Vietnam - has held audiences in rapt attention for years. Yet, the motivational message behind it, detailing how ordinary people can become extraordinary achievers, defines success in the new American century. With the same optimism, sense of humor and steadfast determination that were his trademarks as a Pittsburgh Steelers running back, Rocky Bleier takes audiences from his early years through his professional career and talks about the lessons he learned along the way….lessons that we all can benefit from.

Not falling within the ideal of what a running back should look like, Bleier had to run harder and play smarter to be able to stand out. Despite his drive and ability to make the big play, the Pittsburgh Steelers only considered him a late round pick. But before the season ended that first year, he was drafted again…this time by the United States Army. At the height of the Vietnam War, Bleier was thrust into combat early and was seriously wounded when his platoon ran into an ambush. Receiving wounds from both rifle fire and grenade fragments in his legs, he was barely able to walk and his professional football career seemed to have ended before it began... For more than two years, he drove himself. Little by little he overcame obstacles and fought his way back. He not only made the Pittsburgh Steelers, but also eventually became a starting running back on a team that won four Super Bowls and became the greatest football team of the 20th century.

The hard lessons Rocky Bleier learned early in his life that helped him overcome adversity and reach his goals, have paid off after football. These lessons are seen between the lines in the popular book on his life, “Fighting Back.

Aryanna Hunter

Director of the Office of Veteran Services at University of Pittsburgh

Aryanna is an Iraq War veteran, mom of three, author, and veteran advocate. Growing up the youngest of ten children in a family that lived below the poverty line, finding a way to make things happen was just a part of life. In 2001, at the age of 18 and answering the call of her nation, Aryanna enlisted with the United States Army just weeks after the terror attacks of 9/11 and served with the XVIII Airborne Corp on the front-lines during Operation Iraqi. Aryanna spent more than a decade as a Global IT Project Manager for multiple Fortune 500 companies and is also founder of the non-profit American Nutritional Security that works to better nutrition in communities as a matter of national security. In 2017, Aryanna decided to take on the political establishment and ran for Lt. Governor against an incumbent. Aryanna would later end her own campaign and turn her attention to co-founding a political action committee with a mission to level the financial playing field in politics, called Fight the Power PAC. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, an MBA, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration, Aryanna is now pursuing her Ph.D. in Community Engagement at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. Currently, Aryanna is the Director in the Office of Veterans Services for the University of Pittsburgh. Aryanna is a Defense Council member of the Truman National Security Project, an Oxfam Sisters on the Planet Ambassador, and belongs to many civic organizations to include the NAACP, VFW, The Mission Continues, and others. She resides in Murrysville, Pennsylvania with her three children Donovan, Camryn, and Atlee.

Jeremy Staat

Former Pittsburgh Steeler & Motivational Speaker

Jeremy Staat was born in Bakersfield, California on October 10th, 1976. The middle child of Harold and Janet, Jeremy was a physically gifted athlete. While a student at Bakersfield High School, Jeremy was a two-sport star. He lettered four times in football and three times in track. As a leader on the football team, he helped guide his team to a combined winning record of 41-2-1. Rounding out his high school career, Jeremy accumulated a two-time all-Area/all-South Yosemite League first-team honor, a best lineman in the South Yosemite League honor, a regionally recognized lineman of the year honor by the Bakersfield Californian, a California All-State honorable mention, and was the starting left tackle for the California All-Star football game. Additionally, he was named athlete of the year in 1993-94 by the Bakersfield Californian and was a state champion in the discus throw.

Following high school, Jeremy decided to continue his education at Bakersfield College. While there, he continued to compete as a two-sport athlete. He was a key contributor on the 1994 and 1995 Western State Conference football championship team, which held a combined record of 20-2. In his two seasons under Coach Carl Bowser and Dwayne Damron, Jeremy earned an honorable mention All-Western States Conference and was a recipient of the Matt Poole Award and Bakersfield College coach’s award, amongst other honors. He concluded his time at Bakersfield College by being named the Most Outstanding Male Athlete at Bakersfield College.

At Bakersfield College, Jeremy’s talents were not just confined to the field. He graduated in 1996 with an associate degree in Criminal Justice, and was inducted into the Bakersfield College Hall of Fame. He received a scholarship offer from Arizona State University, which he accepted. As a key member of ASU’s defense, Jeremy helped guide the team to an 11-0 record in 1996. They followed this up with a 1997 Rose Bowl National Championship appearance in-which they were narrowly defeated by the Ohio St. Buckeyes. It was at Arizona St. where Jeremy became good friends with fellow teammate Pat Tillman. Tillman is famously known as a standout athlete who played for the Arizona Cardinals and turned down a multi-million dollar contract to serve in the U.S. Military, where he gave his life for his country. Following another successful season in 1997, in-which Jeremy was a 1st team All-American and Northwest Sun Bowl Defensive Lineman of the game, Jeremy decided to take his talents to the NFL.

In 1998, Jeremy was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 41st pick in the NFL draft. Jeremy spent three seasons with the Steelers and decided to pursue other NFL opportunities. Following a release from the Seattle Seahawks in 2001, Jeremy was at a crossroads in his career. It was during this period in his life that the 9/11 attacks in New York occurred. Jeremy felt called to serve following this moment, but was momentarily persuaded not to by his friend Pat Tillman. Pat encouraged Jeremy to go back into the NFL and earn his fourth season so that he could be a vested player and enjoy retirement benefits. Jeremy earned this fourth season in 2003 with the St. Louis Rams. He had qualified for his pension.

Following the news of the death of his friend Pat Tillman in 2004, Jeremy decided it was time to serve. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and began training in December 2005. At 29 years old, he was 10 years older than the average recruit, but did not let that stop him. He graduated on the same Parade Ground as his grandfather, Herman Francis, did in 1941. Jeremy was stationed with 1/3 Bravo Company of Kaneohe Bay, HI, as an Infantry Machine gunner (0331). In 2007, the 1/3 Battalion was deployed to Haditha, Iraq for a nine-month deployment. Following his deployment, Jeremy dealt with medical issues and was not returned to his infantry unit. In addition to giving advice to his fellow discharged Marines, Jeremy decided to return to school. Jeremy was discharged in August 2009 and earned his degree in liberal studies from Arizona State. He then moved back to Bakersfield, CA and married fiancé Janelle Hamilton. He became engaged in various charities dedicated to uplifting the veteran community. Through this he spoke at over 150 schools between California and Arizona. In 2012, he conducted a 3,468-mile cross country bicycle ride, visiting 78 cities in 16 states, focusing on bringing awareness to veteran suicide and childhood obesity. This campaign began at the Wall of Valor in Bakersfield, CA and ended at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. Jeremy averaged 35 to 100 miles a day over the course of 100 days on the trip.

Following his endeavor, Jeremy returned home where he welcomed two sons, Tristen and Gavin, to his growing family. He was named the 2011 Military Order of the Purple Heart Veteran of the Year, the 2013 All Sports United Humanitarian Recipient, the 2013 Beautiful Bakersfield Humanitarian of the Year, and a 2014 Bakersfield High School Football Hall of Fame Inductee. He then worked towards a welding degree and utilized it to become a full-time welding instructor at Bakersfield College. In 2016, he earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Liberty University. He expects to complete his doctoral degree in education in 2020. In the spring of 2020, Jeremy will be inducted into the Museum of the Marine corps Sports Hall of Fame.

Nick Grimes

Director of Programming & Operations at Veterans Breakfast Club

Nick Grimes joined the Veterans Breakfast Club in 2016 to head up programming for post-9/11 veterans. Nick served in the Army from 2004-2011, including a total 27 months in combat in Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division. He hosts the VBC podcast “Longest War” and is currently producing a follow-up series titled “Truth About War” that will explore various aspects of the American military experiences.

Matthew Mason

Professional Musician

Matthew Mason is a Pittsburgh based singer-songwriter, conductor & music director who uniquely blends his childhood roots in gospel music with his experience in opera, pop, and jazz music. On stage, Matthew has performed with the American Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh’s Nouveau Noir Vocal Ensemble, and most recently behind Josh Groban at PPG Paints Arena. He is also featured on audio recordings such as Sacred Classics album with Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (recorded in the Dvorak Music Hall in Prague, Czech Republic), a featured soloist selected by national gospel artist Norman Hutchins, and vocal overdubs for Disney’s High School Musical. He’s also been a featured on television performances such as the Disneyland Holiday Special on Abc Network, twice on Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound national gospel choir competition and many others. However, even more than performing, Matthew enjoys writing original music. His songs have been featured on productions on and off stage like Sherri Lynn’s "Ladies Night” touring show and original music for Urban Impact Foundation’s production of Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Matthew and his wife Zuli both sing & write and enjoy raising their son Ezra, working with youth, and traveling the world together.

According to Matt, he is so honored to be a part of ReEngage! He says, "For me, this is an an opportunity to support, and hopefully, inspire local heroes whose dedication and sacrifice inspire me."

Tunch Ilkin

Pittsburgh Steelers Analyst

Tunch Ilkin grew up in the Chicago area. He attended Highland Park High School in Highland Park, Illinois where he won All Conference and All County honors as a football player. In 1975, he was granted an athletic scholarship to Indiana State University. He was chosen by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 1980 NFL Draft. He played offensive tackle for the Steelers from 1980 to 1992, earning Pro Bowl appearance honors in 1988 and 1989. He played for the Green Bay Packers in 1993 before retiring from football. After his retirement, he became part of the official Steelers broadcasting team and now works as an analyst on the Pittsburgh affiliate of Fox Sports Net. Along with former teammate Craig Wolfley, he hosts the radio show "Inside the Locker Room" on 970 ESPN. Tunch serves as the Director of Men’s Ministries at The Bible Chapel and lives in Pittsburgh.

Breakout Sessions

On the registration form, all attendees will select one morning and one afternoon breakout session to attend during the day.


From Veteran to Elder: Your Changing Roles

by Dr. Roger Brooke, Director, Military Psychology Services at Duquesne University

Dr. Roger Brooke will lead a discussion of what it means to be a veteran in our society and for the next generation. Following the lessons learned from traditional warrior societies, we shall trace the path from veteran to elder in our society in families and dive into what that might mean in really practical terms.

Freedom in Movement

by Jon Kolb, former Pittsburgh Steeler and Founder of Adventures in Training with a Purpose

Emotional stability and growth as well as cognitive behavioral function are tied to movement.  The same thing that helps us move, helps us think.  Freedom in movement will empower you to build relationships and enjoy the freedom of “moving and doing”.

Finding Faith in the Foxhole

by Sheldon Williams, Pastor of ACAC Homestead Campus

Individuals who have served in the military understand what it means to be prepared for battle, yet may struggle when being faced with a myriad of life challenges. This breakout session highlights the importance of embracing a philosophy of faith that can aid you as you face those challenges.


When Being a Veteran Doesn’t Matter

by Anthony Stough, Founder of Civease

Veterans often hear how their experiences can help companies in areas of leadership, ethics, and grit and this is what companies want from employees. In reality, the data shows that veterans are massively underemployed. You will learn to understand WHEN your veteran status doesn’t matter on the job and how to navigate this challenge.

Leading by Example with Grace and Discipline

Chris Phillips, AVP Military Affairs Liaison at PNC

As a former US Marine with over 20 years of experience in corporate America and now an adjunct faculty member at Duquesne and public speaking coach, Chris Phillips will lead this session on leadership from a veteran’s perspective.

My Vet, My Hero: Healing a War-Torn Relationship

Erin Guy, Chief Victory Officer of Center for Victory

Trauma, especially for Veterans, can leave lasting scars on relationships. Learn how to understand and resolve many of the challenges faced by our returning Veterans through a story of resiliency and triumph.


8:00:        Registration and Light Breakfast

9:00:        Main Session #1
                  Featured Presentation: Jeremy Staat

11:15:        Breakout Sessions #1

      • From Veteran to Elder: Your Changing Roles – by Dr. Roger Brooke, Director, Military Psychology Services at Duquesne University
      • Freedom in Movement – by Jon Kolb, former Pittsburgh Steeler and Founder of Adventures in Training with a Purpose
      • Finding Faith in the Foxhole – by Sheldon Williams, Pastor of ACAC Homestead Campus

12:00:       Lunch Provided in Main Ballroom
                   Featured Presentation: Aryanna Hunter

13:35:        Breakout Sessions #2

      • My Vet, My Hero: Healing a War-Torn Relationship – by Eric Guy, Chief Victory Officer at Center for Victory
      • Leading by Example with Grace and Discipline – by Chris Phillips, AVP Military Affairs Liaison at PNC Bank
      • When Being a Veteran Doesn’t Matter (in the Workplace) – by Mike Cherok, CEO of AE Works

14:30:        Main Session #3
                    Featured Presentation: Rocky Bleier

*Schedule is subject to change


Register now