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Gene Saunders, Chief Executive Officer, Founder
Tommy Carter, Chief of Staff
Scott Nester, Project Lifesaver Administration
Rick Derus, Chairman
Richard Derus currently serves as the Deputy Chief for the Windsor Police Service. The Canadian City of Windsor is a dynamic and vibrant municipality of over 210,000 residents that sits across the river from Detroit Michigan. As Deputy Chief of Operational Support, he oversees all administrative functions for the over 600 officers and civilians that provide policing services to the City of Windsor. Prior to this appointment, Deputy Chief Richard Derus served as a Commissioned Officer with the Ontario Provincial Police.
In that capacity as Detachment Commander for Essex County OPP, Richard Derus in 2006 helped establish one of the first Project Lifesaver Chapters in Canada. Richard Derus has been Chairman of the Project Lifesaver International Board of Trustees since 2009.
David Aston is the father of a child with autism. A native of Chatham, NJ, David lives in the Buffalo, NY, area. He is a graduate of Colgate University and attended Tulane University graduate school. David is a 9-year plasma donor for the American Red Cross. In addition, he currently serves as President of the Summit Educational Resources Foundation and is President-elect of the Central Amherst Little League. David is the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Bornhava Pre-school (a school for children with developmental disabilities) and also runs the Summit Academy Golf Tournament (hosted by NHL All-Star Brian Campbell). David also serves on the Board of Directors for the Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce and is the Founder of the Western New York Chapter of Project Lifesaver. David has been married for 13 years to his wife Kim and has two children – Madison and Sawyer.
Rev. Eric J. Hall is president and CEO of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Inc. Most recently, he was founder, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), a leading national nonprofit organization. AFA’s primary goal is to improve the quality of care for individuals and their families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. His vision and leadership brought together more than 1,600 member organizations and associate member organizations from coast-to-coast. These efforts have united these organizations to speak with one voice to advocate for optimal care and enhanced local support services.
Eric has served on the National Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Disease, working with the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and other national experts to develop and implement the nation’s first plan to address this disease.
Eric believes in the power and potential of collaboration. In 2010 he co-founded LEAD (Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer’s Disease), the nation’s first and only coalition of for profit and not for profit organizations unified behind the cause. More than 50 companies and organizations participate.
Prior to founding AFA, Eric was CEO of a local grassroots Alzheimer’s organization on Long Island, NY. He also served as treasurer for the New Jersey branch of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars, an international religious order. In this role Eric, as one example of programs and services he established, directed the creation of a multi-million dollar living facility for mature adults in the Bronx, NY.
Brad Trahan was appointed to the Project Lifesaver International Board of Trustees in September 2009. Brad is the proud father of a son, Reece, who was diagnosed with severe autism on 01-23-2003. In addition to his son Reece, Brad is the proud husband of Joanie Trahan and kids; Brenden-11 and Payton 6. With the Trahan family is Reece’s Service Dog, Pudge, placed with Reece on 03-31-2007. The Trahan’s live in Rochester, MN. Brad and his wife are founders of the RT Autism Awareness Foundation, Inc. also based in Rochester, MN. www.RTAutismAwareness.org Brad also serves as the Executive Director of RTAAF. It has been the personal message of the Trahan’s and also through their foundation that it is critical to Educate, Advocate and bring Awareness to “Autism: The Cause and Affect on the Individual and Family”. Brad spearheaded the legislator’s in the State of Minnesota to write a Legislation introducing “Lifesaver Technology” that would allow financial grants for all 87-counties in the State of Minnesota to implement this tracking device technology. [Minnesota House File 0622/Senate File 1138]. While Brad was disappointed this legislation came up just short in 2009, it is felt that there is great momentum to get his legislation passed in 2010. Brad also served as Chair of the Minnesota Senate Autism Task Force from October 2008-March 2009, initiating two public forums in the State of Minnesota and initiating a state-wide public survey. It was simply Brad’s goal to “unite” this cause as one. Brad and Joanie were the recipient’s of the 2004 Kids Day America/International Children’s Empowerment Award for their Outstanding Commitment and Dedication to the Children in their Community. Brad and his wife Joanie also received the Rochester 2005 Mayor’s Medal of Honor for Services “To Those With Disabilities”. RTAAF organizes Autism Awareness Day with the Minnesota Twins and RTAAF has also been accepted into the Minnesota Vikings Charity Network. Heath Farwell #59 Linebacker/Special Teams Minnesota Vikings and Brian Russell #26 Free Safety Jacksonville Jaguars spokespersons for RTAAF.
In addition to the legislation that Brad has had introduced, he has also advocated hard for other legislation in the State of Minnesota that would assist individuals and families dealing with autism including; Insurance coverage for “Medically Prescribed Therapy”, Lowering the cost of Parental Fees, Changing notification of continued Medical Assistance coverage from 3-months to 6-months [to allow families time to set medical appointments for continued coverage] and assisted in getting legislation passed in 2009 for a Joint House-Senate Autism Task Force for 2-years. Brad also assist’s families, when called upon, to advocate for them in public school IEP meetings. Brad and his foundation have been directly responsible for assisting with either monetary funding and or speaking engagements to implement PROJECT LIFESAVER INTERNATIONAL into several Minnesota Counties. Olmsted County MN, where Brad lives, began Project Lifesaver in April 2007 and has grown to approximately 60 clients and it continues to grow rapidly. Through RTAAF, Team 25: Shjon Podeins Children’s Foundation [Former NHL Hockey Player] and THINK Mutual Bank; the three organizations raised $25,000.00 to implement PROJECT LIFESAVER INTERNATIONAL in 7-additional SE Minnesota counties in the summer of 2009. Brad’s hobby during some off-time is having bon fires and socializing with neighbors. Brad also volunteers with his sons youth events and helps in the community whenever he can. However, being a full-time husband, father, employee, and RTAAF Executive Director which involves planning and organizing many events, time is precious. Brad’s favorite quote/saying is, “BELIEVE and you will ACHIEVE!” Brad is humbled and honored to serve on the PROJECT LIFESAVER INTERNATIONAL Board of Trustees.
About The Cheif
Founder and Chief Executive Officer Project Lifesaver International Chief of Search and Rescue Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office (Virginia 43rd Search and Rescue)
CEO & Founder, Gene Saunders
General Studies, Old Dominion University/ Tidewater Community College, Southern Police Institute, University of Louisville, extensive military and police Special Operations Training and experience.
- Retired Police Captain Chesapeake Police Department (Virginia). Retired February 2001 with 33 years of service:
- Founded Chesapeake PD SWAT Team; commanded for 23 years
- Commanding Officer of Training Academy, Vice & Narcotics, Criminal Investigations and Special Investigations
- Served in various commands throughout police career
- Certified Instructor in firearms, emergency vehicle pursuit and driving; General Police Instructor
- Directed and Manage various large scale tactical operations involving criminal manhunts, hostage situations, and other special incidents/events
- Served in National and State Guard commanding Aviation and Ranger Units, rank of Major
- Certified Master Flight Officer for Helicopter Operations and Master Mission Specialist for Search & Rescue (SAR)Fixed Wing Operations
- Shift Commander, 1996 Olympic Games, Atlanta, Georgia
- 1983-present, serve in the 43rd Virginia SAR Company
- 1986- 2009 served as Chief of 43rd Virginia SAR Company
- Supervised and directed numerous SAR missions for downed aircraft, missing persons, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance
- Certified Static Line and Free-fall Parachutist
- Founder of Project Lifesaver: An innovative program employing creative strategies and the application of state-of-the art electronic transmitter technology to swiftly locate and rescue lost/wandering persons enrolled in the project
- Member of National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR)
- Member of Virginia Search and Rescue (SAR) Council
- Member of Airborne Law Enforcement Association
- Member of Pilot International
- Board of Trustees – Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
- Past President (5yrs) Board of Directors – Arbors at Cape Henry
- Aircraft Owners/ Pilot Association (AOPA)
- UDT/SEAL Association
- Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Assoc.
- Sworn Deputy – Chesapeake, VA Sheriff’s Office
- Sworn Deputy – Norfolk County, MA Sheriff’s Office
- Honorary Deputy – Lynchburg Sheriff’s Office
- Guest Lecturer – Old Dominion University, College of William& Mary, Tidewater Community College and Radford University.
- Lead and supporting roles in national TV’s “The New Detectives,” “FBI Files”, “The Prosecutors”, and “Untold Stories of the Navy SEALS”, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
- 2005 Delegate to the White House Conference on Aging
- International Chiefs of Police Missing Alzheimer’s Patient Initiative Committee
- Police – Silver Star for Valor (3), Meritorious Service (3), Line of Duty Injury, Chief’s Award for Leadership, Outstanding Young Man, Officer of the Quarter, Star Performer (2) and numerous commendations
- Sheriff – Sheriff’s Achievement (2), Distinguished Volunteer Service, Meritorious Service – SAR (2), Disaster Relief (7), 30 Mission Bar, Lifesaving (3), Unit Commendation(4), Project Lifesaver Mission (140), Carlos Hathcock Award (2) and Military Service
- 2001 – SWAT Service Commendation from the President of the United States
- National – Lifesaver Mission Award; Exceptional Service Award
- Masonic – “Building Communities Award” (2)
- 2005- Care Track – Leadership, Vision Award
- Who’s Who – 1989 American Law Enforcement; 1991 Who’s Who in Law Enforcement
- 2004 – Strathmores – America Leaders; 2005 _ABI Directory of Experts, 2005 ABI Man of the Year
- WAVY TV ” Shining Star Award”
- ABI American Medal of Honor
- Lt. Col. Civil Air Patrol (Ret>0 – Commandant – Middle East Region Staff College (4 years); Squadron Commander – 5 years
- ABI Hall of Fame 2006
- America’s Most Wanted TV Show All-Star Nominee 2008
- Bank of America Local Hero Award 2009
- WEGO Health Activist Hero 2014 Finalist
- Medal of Honor Foundation 2015 National “Citizen Service Before Self Finalist”