BOARD OF DIRECTORS

PHIL IRIZARRY

Chairman

Voting Member

I am a former Marine having served both in the reserves and active duty from 1981 – 1990. During this time I was assigned to 8th Tank Bn. 4th Mar. Div., Echo Co. and STA Platoon H&S Co. 2nd Bn. 3rd Mar. Div. From 1990 until the present, I have worked in federal law enforcement. In 2007 after returning from an assignment to Iraq, I felt a strong desire to help our brave servicemen and women. It was just a few days after my return that I discovered Operation First Response. It gave me the opportunity to help both our wounded heroes and their caregivers. With a combined 36 year career of service in both military and law enforcement, I have experienced my own share of traumas and critical incidences. However I have also been blessed with a great deal of training and experience to cope with these traumas and critical incidences.

Operation First Response has provided me the opportunity to share these skills and experiences with our wounded and their caregivers in a peer support capacity. Both wounded heroes and their caregivers often need financial, as well as psychological, and emotional support as they cope with injuries sustained in service to our nation. For me volunteering for Operation First Response is truly an honor and a sacred duty.

Peggy Baker OFR Founder
PEGGY BAKER

President

Voting Member

I am the mother of a Combat Veteran. Honoring the service and sacrifice of our active duty Service Members and Disabled Veterans is the driving force behind my journey. I believe that it is our duty and responsibility as the recipients of their sacrifice to be there in their time of need. The profound sacrifices made by our Military past, present and future will always be at the forefront of the heart of OFR.

Lauri Hauser OFR Secretary
LAURI HAUSER

OFR Secretary | Southern California

Voting Member

Born and raised in the “land of the midnight sun”, or “the last frontier”… Anchorage, Alaska. Grew up camping, fishing, skiing and trying to stay warm in the winter.Ventured out to sunny, Southern, California, at 19 years of age, and decided to stay where it’s warm. I have two sweet kids, who are now grown adults. I work full time, for a great company, as a training coordinator, performing a wide variety of duties in front of the PC. But there are days and weekends which you will find me spending many hours out in the community, volunteering with charities, like American Red Cross, Jesse Reese Foundation, Little Red Dog, and Second Harvest Mobile Pantry to name a few. It’s an honor to serve and support Operation First Response, it’s by far the most satisfying out of all the organizations for which I volunteer, as I get to see firsthand what HEART this organization has, and how much it impacts the lives of those who have given so much to all of us, by serving this country.

BOB O’DONOGHUE

Director of Special Projects

Voting Member

In 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, I wrote to “Any Soldier” and started to communicate with a LTC Tyler from Alabama. At that time I asked LTC Tyler, what I could send which might be desired or helpful, and the LTC replied with a list. To the LTC’s surprise, everything on the list was sent overseas for LTC Tyler and those within her unit. Fast forward to 2004; I found myself “adopting” numerous soldiers, corresponding and sending additional care packages. Knowing it made a huge difference, especially to our Heroes with no family or few friends, was very rewarding.

Perhaps having never personally served our country, I found this to be my way to continue in my family’s service to our Country. My Father served in the Navy, my two uncle’s served, one as a Merchant Marine, the other in the Air Force, and I had an Aunt who served as a WAC.

When I met Peggy Baker and her husband, just prior to the birth of Operation First Response (OFR) during a visit to MA, it was Peggy’s love and devotion to making a difference to our wounded Heroes which further inspired me…at that point, I found my realm…an outlet in which to focus my efforts to make a difference by assisting in building this wonderful organization, OFR.

While by day, I’m a programmer/analyst, helping others is what I enjoy. I previously volunteered with the PTA and Music Booster Association for the local school system as well as volunteering with Bikers for the Cure. But nothing is as fulfilling as being a part of the OFR family. I’ve met so many wonderful people, and am so honored to assist or just “be there” for many of our Heroes…they give back to us whether they realize it or not.

RONNY PORTA

Board Member

Voting Member

My name is Cpl Porta (Tony) I joined the Marine Corp in 2005. I went to Parris Island, South Carolina for boot camp and later I was assigned to my unit in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In 2007 my unit deployed to Iraq. May 5, 2007 changed my life and my family’s forever. An IED destroyed my truck killing 2 of my best friends and leaving me with a lot of burns all over my body. After the explosion happened I was sent to Germany and then to San Antonio, Texas to recover from my injuries. When I finally woke up from a coma I was just trying to get better so I could go back to my unit but later I realize that I wasn’t going to be able to do that because I suffered burns almost on my entire body and I lost my right arm. At that time the doctors weren’t sure if I was going to make it. When these things happened it wasn’t just my life that changed. I am from Maryland so my family went to San Antonio, Texas to take care of me leaving everything behind. When this happened our family didn’t know how long they were going to be away from home. It could take weeks to years before they could go back to work. In my case my dad and mom were by my side for several months until I was able to leave the hospital but it doesn’t stop there. Usually that’s when we need more help because in the hospital we have nurses that would  do everything for us. Now my dad and mom had to do everything for me from helping me shower, to helping me get up, sit down, eat, use the restroom and almost everything. I was like that for almost a year, as you know bills and mortgages don’t stop and it was hard for me helping my family back home with their bills and the bills in San Antonio with a Corporal’s pay. This is when Operation First Response helps a lot because they know how frustrating it is for all of us when we are in the hospital having surgeries 3 or 4 times a month and then to worry if we are going to be able to pay bills next month.  Life is a challenge for me every day, but it is my wish to help my comrades by being part of the OFR Team.

SENIOR ADVISORS

NICK CONSTANTINO

Senior Advisor

Nick is a Senior Advisor of Operation First Response, serving the mission of assisting our Wounded Heroes and their Families since 2004. As a senior advisor Nick is responsible for case reviews, counseling, sponsor relations and fundraising. He lives in Broomall, PA with his wife and two daughters. Since 1990 Nick owns and operates a bread and pastry distributorship, Doughboy Express LLC.

Carl Monk Senior Advisor
CARL MONK

Senior Advisor

Born in Los Angeles California in 1943. Joined the Navy in 1966. Served in Vietnam in 1967. Worked at NSA 1968-1970. I became aware of Operation First Response in 2009 and went to see the Walk for The Wounded event in Somers Point. I was so touched I knew I had to do more than be a spectator. After meeting these brave men and women who sacrificed so much for our country it is impossible not to want to help. I became a volunteer and hoped that because of my background in marketing and advertising I might be able to add new ideas for raising money. Over the last several years we have been able to do just that. The devotion of everyone at Operation First Response is humbling. We serve our wounded military and their families not for recognition or a pat on the back but because it is the right thing to do. I am proud to be part of a charity that earned the highest rating from Charity Navigator and Independent Charities of America.

EXECUTIVE KEY STAFF

Peggy Baker OFR Founder
PEGGY BAKER

Founder/President

I am the mother of a Combat Veteran. Honoring the service and sacrifice of our active duty Service Members and Disabled Veterans is the driving force behind my journey. I believe that it is our duty and responsibility as the recipients of their sacrifice to be there in their time of need. The profound sacrifices made by our Military past, present and future will always be at the forefront of the heart of OFR.

Sarah Baker OFR Executive Office Manager
SARAH BAKER

Executive Office Manager & Case Manager

My brother joined the US Army after 9/11 and that changed my life forever. It was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. Having to say goodbye to him, not knowing what could happen or when I would see him again once he got on that plane. We actually had the whole airport waiting area crying that day. I didn’t want to let him go but I knew he needed to do this. Once he left I waited for his letters to come in the mail. My favorite days were when we received a letter from him. In 2004 my mom became the President and Founder of Operation First Response. OFR changed our lives tremendously. I started working with my mom when I was 11 years old. I cannot even start to explain the amazing gratitude and honor I feel with every service member I have the pleasure of talking to and working with. They are all like family to me. They are the bravest men and women I have ever met and they have changed how I will look at life forever. They push through some of the hardest moments in life with a smile on their face. They show us that life is amazing and beautiful no matter what happens. We need to show them how important they are to us and thank them for their service to our country. I work for every father, mother, daughter, son, brother and sister who have fought and are still fighting for our freedom. I work for all the families of the deployed, injured and Fallen Heroes who will never be forgotten.

Crystal Howard Executive Assistance
CRYSTAL HOWARD

Executive Office Assistant & Case Manager

I joined OFR as a volunteer when I was 12 years old and helped out with the Backpack Program. This began as a fun project to do with my friend while supporting a worthy cause. After attending a Walk for the Wounded I was moved by what this organization does and set forth to do more. In 2011 it became my honor to join the staff of OFR as a full time employee. I perform a variety of duties including working directly with our Heroes to solve the current issues they are facing. I also assist with the day to day operations it takes to make OFR the successful organization is it today. I am extremely grateful to be a part of the amazing team OFR is. My life is moved each and every day with the work we accomplish. I could not imagine a more fulfilling career than to work beside my OFR team members serving our wounded Heroes as they overcome difficult wounds incurred in defense of our freedom.