Meet the SVA Programs & Services Team
Student Veterans of America has added some new faces to its Programs and Services team. The team is responsible for plethora of offerings that support student veterans, military connected students, and their families, ranging from our annual National Conference to Regional Summits and more. With fresh ideas and a renewed sense of purpose after more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team is stronger than ever and more eager than ever to advance SVA’s mission to support student veterans and their families.
Dr. Abby Kinch
Dr. Abby Kinch, Air Force veteran and Florida State University alumna, heads the team. Dr. Kinch is uniquely positioned for this role because of her long and storied background with SVA. Her introduction to SVA came in 2012 when she became active in her chapter at Florida State University. In 2013, Dr. Kinch became the chapter president and held that position for two years, so, she comes to SVA with loads of personal experience.
“I had been through basically all of the programs and received all of the services, I was a chapter leader, and I got a scholarship,” said Dr. Kinch. Since NatCon–SVA’s annual national conference–falls on her birthday most years, she has been to all of them since becoming active with her SVA chapter.
As the vice president of Programs and Services, Dr. Kinch’s role is more strategic.
“I’m always looking ahead, trying to figure out what’s best for the chapters in terms of providing programing and shaping things,” said Dr. Kinch. “I’m looking for new content for our Regional Summits, new curriculum for a leadership institute, and trying to make NATCON into what our chapters and chapter leaders deserve.”
As the VP of Programs and Services, Dr. Kinch oversees all SVA programs, however, she does have a favorite. The Leadership Institute is the most selective SVA program—only the top one percent of chapter leaders are invited each year—and it is deeply personal and developmental.
Dr. Kinch leads a team of three program coordinators which includes Kevin Monell, Deja Joi Brewster, and Samantha Erickson.
Kevin Monell was introduced to SVA through Dr. Kinch during his time at Florida State University.
“I found out about SVA through Dr. Kinch many years ago,” said Monell. Dr. Kinch was his supervising instructor when he was a teaching assistant at FSU, and through that experience he got to know more about SVA’s mission and vision. After his time at FSU, Monell worked as a school safety analyst in Tallahassee, Florida. It wasn’t until years later that he would reconnect with Dr. Kinch and apply to become a program coordinator with SVA.
“I am the boots on the ground, interacting with the chapters on a daily basis, and hopefully even more so in the fall,” said Monell. “I am answering any questions chapter leaders or others may have about various events.” Since Monell began working at SVA, he has become even more passionate about the organization.
“I genuinely think it’s an amazing organization—it’s just amazing the scope of services that the SVA provides,” said Monell.
Samantha Erickson, an Air Force veteran and Palo Alto University alumna, is now exactly where she always wanted to be, working with SVA’s mission and living her dream of moving to Washington D.C.
“I work in programs and services, taking what SVA already was and the programs and services they offered and amplifying them to make more connections with chapters,” said Erickson.
Although Erickson is a recent addition to the SVA National Headquarters staff, she has been affiliated with SVA for a few years, serving as the president of her SVA chapter. Erickson brings a passionate spirit to SVA, reflective of her personal passions and education, and she has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and social action.
“Everyone at SVA is super passionate about what they do and has the best interest of students, veterans, and chapters in mind,” said Erickson. She has been a vocal activist for much of her life, and she has dedicated her activism to helping the veteran community.
Deja Joi Brewster
Program Coordinator Deja Joi Brewster has worked in the military sector for more than ten years and has dual graduate degrees in military and combat psychology and forensic psychology. Brewster is one of the newest Program Coordinators in SVA’s programs and services department. Her role in the programs and services department allows her to work on many of SVA’s events, including regional summits, leadership institute, and NatCon.
“I get to help with all the events,” Brewster said. “I’m focused on NatCon right now and working on the speaker schedule.”
Brewster may be new to the team but she is already very familiar with the organization. She was first introduced to SVA several years ago during a hiring fair while working for the Army. Although she did not serve in the military, Brewster has dedicated her career to the veteran community through mental health advocacy while she works on her PhD in military psychology. Prior to joining SVA, Brewster served as an Army Resource Officer helping military members with education and career resources.
“Education is just something that has been a very big thing in our family,” said Brewster. Her expertise and experience are proving to be a valuable addition to a highly motivated team.
Written by Kameron Smith