2024 AFI Board Elections



During the Break between the Holidays BHA's Armed Forces Initiative elected a few new members to the Board who will be managing the AFI program for 2024.  Please read a bit about the new board members and feel free to reach out with any questions.

Armed Forces Initiative National Board

Shawn McCarthy, Chair

Moving from Colorado to upstate New York to Arizona throughout his childhood, joining the Navy to see the world just seemed to be the natural thing for Shawn to do.  He served as a Submarine Torpedoman, retiring in 2018 after a 24-year career.  Throughout that time, he deployed 14 times across the globe on "boats" that conducted anti-piracy operations, anti-terrorist missions, carrier strike group operations, Naval Special Warfare unit employment, and nuclear deterrent patrols.  In between his times at sea, he always managed to re-center himself in some wild place with gun, bow, or rod in hand.   

A mentor by nature, Shawn was drawn by AFI's mission, where he served as Washington's AFI Liaison from 2022 to 2024.  He currently lives in Western Washington with his wife, 2 daughters, and their 3 Labrador Retrievers (Sage, Hank, & Boone).  In his time off, he can be found off the beaten path making up for lost time by camping, hiking, backpacking, fishing, hunting, or volunteering with his family and friends.

LCDR Rafael Vargas, Secretary

Rafael was born and raised in North Central Florida.  He spent his summers on Florida's lakes fishing for largemouth bass or on the Gulf of Mexico chasing grouper and snapper.  After attending the United States Naval Academy and commissioning as a Naval Officer, he served as a Submarine Officer.  He has deployed to Europe and the Middle East to conduct anti-piracy operations, anti-terrorism missions, carrier strike group operations, anti-submarine operations and other missions vital to national security.  He most recently served as Chief Nuclear Engineer on a fast attack submarine in Connecticut.  He is the current DoD Skillbridge Intern and AFI Program Assistant as he will be separating from active duty in the summer of 2024.

Throughout his time on active duty, he always managed to make time to chase elk out West or whitetails in New England.  As a hunter, fisherman and trapper, the mission of BHA and AFI appealed to him since becoming a member in 2018.  Since 2022, he took a more active role serving as the Connecticut AFI Liaison and New England AFI Operations Manager.  He currently resides in Connecticut with his family and takes every opportunity to get outdoors on public land and mentor future hunters and anglers.

LTC Andrew Ruszkiewicz, Treasurer 

Andy was born and raised in Southeastern Wisconsin and spent most of his summers in the northern part of the state at a family cabin chasing smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, and muskies. After attending college and commissioning as an Army Officer he served in numerous assignments with five years in the conventional Army and 13 in Army Special Operations.  Andy has completed 6 combat deployments in support of operations in Afghanistan, East and West Africa, Iraq, and served a year in Korea. He currently serves as the Professor of Military Science and Commander of the University of New Hampshire Wildcat BN ROTCAndy is married to his amazing wife Monica and they have three awesome kids, Tucker(10), Blair(7) and Luke(3). 

[email protected]


 Dalton Wayne, Communications Manager

Dalton spent the last two years as the AFI's South Eastern Regional rep (a position we are actively looking to backfill) is a former United States Army Infantryman from the great Sportsman Paradise of Louisiana. Dalton loves, hunting of all types, fly fishing, and writing about his time afield. He spends most of his time behind his Irish setter chasing quail, ducks, and woodcock in the southeast. 

Dalton is the frontman for a band called Dalton Wayne and the Warmadillos and is pursuing a master's degree in creative writing from the University of Louisiana. Dalton is you go to board member for all media in AFI, Podcasts, videos of youtube, blog posts, Backcountry journal submissions etc.

[email protected]



Garrett Robinson, Eastern Region Manager

Garrett grew up in the rural farm country of southern Pennsylvania where he developed his deep passion for all things outdoors.  Whether it be hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, etc, he wanted to be involved.  After high school, he joined the Marine Corps where he served 26 years as an enlisted Marine and retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant.  He currently lives in Northern Virginia and works as an operations analyst for Katmai Government Services.  The outdoors is his passion and enjoys hunting all over the country.  Getting into the backcountry is where he feels most at home and loves nothing more than introducing others to the amazing opportunities that await anyone willing to walk the trail into our wild public lands and waters.  

[email protected]


  Stephanie Davidson, Western Region Manager    

Stephanie is a hunter and angler who grew up in Southern Arizona. She completed 10 years in the Air Force and continues to serve in the Reserves. After transitioning out of Active Duty, Stephanie continued her Cybersecurity career as a government contractor. She has always been an advocate for the outdoors but really took action after she started her own family. Realizing what an impact organizations like BHA make, she began working with the AFI chapters.  In her free time, Stephanie is with her family camping, hunting, hiking, fishing, and volunteering.  

[email protected]


Kyle Wheeler, Major Gifts and Donations Manager

After serving as an enlisted Infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division, Kyle attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and went on to serve as an Artillery Officer for 20 years.  Kyle is now a freelance business consultant in the Bozeman area as well as a fly fishing guide for Dan Bailey. 

[email protected]


DJ Zor, Corporate Partnerships Manager

DJ Zor is a Lifetime member of BHA.  In the past, he has served with great effect on the Arizona Trout Unlimited Board and the BHA State Board.  DJ recently moved to Montana with his family and is a massive asset to the AFI Team in the Area. In December of 2021, DJ was asked to join the National Advisory Board in our Corporate partnerships position and he graciously accepted. DJ is a Navy Sub-Mariner and looks the part. 

[email protected]

Hunter Owen, Eastern Region Conservation and Policy Representative

Hunter was a military brat born in North Carolina, who moved to and grew up in Tampa, Florida. He joined the Army in 2006, and spent the bulk of his career at Fort Liberty, NC. After being medically discharged and spending a short time living and working in Washington D.C., Hunter packed up his family, and moved back to the center of the universe, Fort Liberty, NC. He currently works as a civilian for a special operations command. Hunter did not grow up in a hunting family and faced many of the same barriers-to-entry of hunting found by many looking to get started. After reaching out to BHA AFI, Hunter quickly became an avid outdoorsman. In his free time Hunter enjoys hunting, fishing, and working to better the public lands we all love. 

[email protected]

Dustin Spilman, Western Region Conservation and Policy Representative

Dustin was born into an upland bird hunting family in southeast Kansas. His lifelong passion for hunting and fishing was fueled by his Father and Grandfather from an early age. Enlisting in the Navy in 2000, he trained as a Submariner, and served on boats stationed at Naval Submarine Base Bangor in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Through random chance, he was introduced to some long-time elk hunters who took a liking to him and ignited an obsession.  This newfound hobby took him down the rabbit hole of archery hunting big game on large swaths of public land. After separating from Active-Duty, he moved into government contracting where he continued to support the fleet and train Sailors.  After hearing a speech about what the Armed Forces Initiative is and what they do, he knew that is where he wanted to be.  He found himself a place where he can have the opportunity to pass on his love for public lands and conservation to the next generation as they were passed on to him. Dustin currently resides in northeast Oklahoma with his family and two retrievers and takes every opportunity to chase big game and upland birds on public land.

[email protected]



If you have any BHA or AFI questions Please let the board know at the aforementioned email addresses

About Trevor Hubbs

I grew up running hounds on coyotes and raccoons, spent a fair amount of time public land waterfowl hunting, and have hunted upland birds behind my setters across the midwest.

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