PenFed Foundation Announces Former Secretary of Air Force Deborah James as New Board of Directors Chairwoman

Posted July 30 2019
by Media Relations

TYSONS, Va., July 30, 2019 – The PenFed Foundation at its annual meeting last night elected Deborah James to serve as Chairwoman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

“The PenFed Foundation is building a world-class leadership team, with former Secretary of the Air Force Debbie James as our Chairwoman and retired Army Four-Star General Mick Nicholson as our President,” said James Schenck, President and CEO of PenFed Credit Union and CEO of the PenFed Foundation. 

“I witnessed Secretary James’s inspiring leadership when she led the United States Air Force during a transformational four years. And our nation witnessed General Nicholson’s resolve when he led U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan for longer than any other Commander. Together, Secretary James and General Nicholson have the vision and the strategy to lead the PenFed Foundation to the next level.”

“We are proud to announce Secretary James as our new Chairwoman,” said retired U.S. Army General John W. “Mick” Nicholson Jr., President of the PenFed Foundation since April 2019, and previously the longest-serving commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and NATO’s Resolute Support Mission. “Secretary James’s firsthand experience working with military members makes her well positioned to further the PenFed Foundation’s mission of caring for the veterans and military members who courageously served our country.”

Secretary James began her service on the PenFed Foundation Board of Directors in July 2018, after serving on the PenFed Foundation’s National Advisory Council from 2010-2013. From 2013-2017 she served as the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force where she was responsible for organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its nearly 660,000 active-duty, guard, reserve and civilian airmen and their families. She also oversaw the Air Force's annual budget of more than $139 billion.

From 1993 to 1998, Secretary James served in the Pentagon as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, where she was the Secretary of Defense’s Senior Advisor on all matters relating to the 1.8 million National Guard and Reserve personnel worldwide.

In addition to the selecting the Chair, the PenFed Foundation Board of Directors voted to expand the Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP) with additional funding and staff. The program provides veteran-owned start-ups with seed capital to build and grow their businesses, creates a robust network for veteran-owned businesses to succeed and enables the PenFed Foundation to perpetually re-invest returns in future veteran-owned businesses. VEIP will soon announce several additional investments in veteran-owned companies.

“I am honored to begin my new role as the Chairwoman of the PenFed Foundation and deeply believe in its mission to provide tools and financial support for the brave veterans, active-duty military members and their families,” said Secretary James.

James succeeds The Honorable Frederick F.Y. Pang, who served as Chairman since 2015, and will remain with the Foundation as a Board Member Emeritus.

About The PenFed Foundation

Founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to helping members of our military community secure their financial future. It provides service members, veterans, their families and support networks with the skills and resources they need to improve their lives through programs on financial education, home ownership, short-term assistance, and veteran entrepreneurial assistance. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the Foundation has the resources to effectively reach military communities across the nation, build strong partnerships, and engage a dedicated corps of volunteers in its mission. The credit union funds the Foundation’s personnel and most operational costs, demonstrating its strong commitment to the programs the Foundation provides. Equal Housing Opportunity. PenFed is federally insured by NCUA. To learn more, visit

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