Executive Team

Joseph Caravalho, MD, Chief Executive Officer and President, serving HJF since 2017

Dr. Caravalho graduated with a Medical Doctorate from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences School of Medicine in 1983. For more than 30 years, he has served the U.S. Army in various leadership positions, including commanding general of the Southern Regional Medical Command and Brooke Army Medical Center, the Northern Regional Medical Command, and the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick in Maryland. Before becoming Joint Staff Surgeon, he was Army Deputy Surgeon General and Deputy Commanding General (Support) of the U.S. Army Medical Command. Clinically, Dr. Caravalho held positions as a staff internist, nuclear medicine physician and cardiologist. Previous to joining HJF, Dr. Caravalho served as the Joint Staff Surgeon at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He was the chief medical adviser to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, providing recommendations to the Chairman, the Joint Staff and Combatant Commanders on a wide range of medical and readiness issues.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Folk, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff, serving HJF since 1992

Betsy Folk is a senior vice president and chief of staff. She is responsible for keeping the headquarters functions coordinated and synchronized on behalf of the president and CEO.

Previously, she led HJF’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Acquisitions, which serves as the central point of contact for administrative activities for grants and contracts awarded to HJF. The office handled many activities, including award set-up, management and compliance, procurement of supplies and services, and negotiation and management of agreements with collaborating institutions.

Before joining HJF as manager for the Finance Department, Folk worked for Deloitte for five years. She has held various roles at HJF, including director of financial planning and vice president of program services. She has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive).

Cynthia Gilman, J.D., Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, serving HJF since 2007

As senior vice president of Strategic Initiatives, Cynthia Gilman supervises all strategic communication, business development and public-private partnership efforts.

Previously, Gilman led the Center for Public-Private Partnerships, where she directed the effort to foster collaborations among the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, civilian academia and industry to advance the long-term health and well-being of America’s wounded, ill and injured service members, veterans and their families. She also led the Heroes of Military Medicine Awards dinners and The Veterans Metrics Initiative.

Prior to joining HJF, Gilman was a partner for 11 years in a Washington, D.C., law firm after practicing law for 10 years in San Diego. She received her bachelor’s degree from Emory University and her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. She also studied for one year at the London School of Economics.

Alyssa Shepard, Vice President for Research Administration, serving HJF since 2001

Alyssa Shepard, Ph.D., leads HJF’s Office of Research Administration, which serves as the central point of contact for managing grants and contracts awarded to HJF. The office handles numerous activities, including award set-up, management and compliance, procurement of supplies and services, and negotiation and management of agreements with collaborating institutions.

Before joining HJF as Manager of Intellectual Property, Dr. Shepard worked in the biotech industry in both research and technology transfer positions. She has held various roles at HJF, including HJF Director of Intellectual Property and Director of USU Services. She has a Ph.D. from Harvard and is a Registered Patent Agent.

John W. Sigmon, Senior Vice President and Chief HR Officer, serving HJF since 2017

John Sigmon leads HJF's human resources efforts, including recruitment and retention, for more than 2,600 team members.

He joined HJF from AARP, where he rose from Senior Human Resources Business Partner to Vice President, Group Human Resources Consulting Services, and then to Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. In his most recent role, he was responsible for a human resources enterprise of more than 2,200 employees that spanned all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Before joining AARP, Sigmon worked in human resources at the U.S. Library of Congress, U.S. Federal Election Commission, Government Accountability Office, Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Naval Medical Center. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from Western Illinois University and a Master of Public Health in Administration and Policy from the University of North Carolina.

Council of Directors

Philip A. Odeen

Chairman Philip Odeen is lead independent director of global power company AES Corp., and non-executive chairman of Convergys Corp., which is engaged in customer management and information management. He retired in 2002 as chairman of TRW Inc., an aerospace, defense and automotive company that merged with defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp.

Previously, he was president and chief executive officer of BDM International Inc., an IT firm acquired by TRW. Before joining BDM, Odeen was vice chairman of management consulting services at accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand. He has served on several Department of Defense advisory boards.

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona)

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and serves on the Senate’s committees on Foreign Relations, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Indian Affairs.

He entered the Naval Academy in June of 1954 and served in the U.S. Navy until 1981. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982 and elected to the Senate in 1986.

His military honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island)

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. After graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1971, he received an active-duty commission in the Army.

Over the course of his military career, he earned the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Ranger Tab, Senior Parachutist Badge, and Expert Infantry Badge. He later earned a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1982.

He served three terms in the Rhode Island State Senate and three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Reed was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996.

U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio)

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, was elected in 2012 to the United States House of Representatives. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where he is chairman of the Subcommittee on Health. 

He brings experience as a doctor, Army Reserve officer, Iraq War veteran and small business owner to HJF’s Council of Directors.

Rep. Wenstrup graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1980, and during his time in Congress, he is fulfilling his Reserve duties by treating patients as a podiatric surgeon at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-California)

Salud Carbajal, a Democrat who serves California’s 24th congressional district, is a member of the House Committee on Armed Services.

He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and Fielding Graduate University, where he earned a master’s degree in organizational management. Carbajal also served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for eight years.

Before his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016, he served on the Board of Supervisors for Santa Barbara County.


Marine Corps General John “Jay” Paxton Jr. (Ret)

Marine Corps General John “Jay” Paxton Jr. (Ret) joined the Council of Directors in 2017. He served as the 33rd Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps before retiring in 2016. As the second-highest ranking officer in the Marine Corps, he played a critical role in ensuring the health and wellbeing of Marines. With deployments to locations worldwide, he emphasized, advocated and recommended priorities for the Marine Corps.

Richard W. Thomas, M.D., D.D.S.

Richard W. Thomas, M.D., D.D.S., is the sixth president of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. In his position, Thomas is responsible for the academic, research and service mission of the University. He advises the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and the four surgeons general on a wide array of issues related to graduate health professions education and health care research.

He retired from the Army in May 2016 at the rank of major general. He is a physician and dentist whose last assignment was chief medical officer and director of the Defense Health Agency Healthcare Operations Directorate.

He graduated from West Virginia University (WVU) on an ROTC scholarship in 1981. He is a graduate of the WVU School of Dentistry and served in the U.S. Army Dental Corps before receiving his Doctor of Medicine degree from the WVU School of Medicine in 1994. He earned a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in 2006.

The Honorable Beverly Byron

The Honorable Beverly Byron served seven successive terms in Congress as a Democratic representative from Maryland.

She was the first woman to head a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, chairing the Military Personnel and Compensation Subcommittee, where she oversaw more than 40 percent of the Department of Defense’s budget. She also chaired the House Special Panel on Arms Control and Disarmament. She was named to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission in 1993.

The Honorable John Dressendorfer

The Honorable John Dressendorfer retired as vice president of government affairs at L-3 Communications Corp. Previously, he was vice president of government relations for Titan Corp., which L-3 acquired in 2005.

Prior to working with Titan Corp., he was vice president of government and external affairs for the American Forest & Paper Association. He was president and founder of the lobbying firm Dressendorfer Laird.

He also served as a special assistant to the president for legislative affairs under President Reagan and was an assistant to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird during the Nixon administration.