The Veterans Ranch Founders

Meet The Team

Pamela Smith - President

Pam (PJ) Smith is the President/CEO of The Veterans Ranch and the wife of J.R. Like J.R., Pam has a lot of deep military ties in her family. Her Father was in the Army after WWII, and she also had two Uncles that were in WWII. One was with medical in Germany, and the other was at Pearl Harbor the day it was hit. That great man lived till 2010. So, Pam has the same deep appreciation for our military and their families that we all do and this is why she felt so passionate about starting The Veterans Ranch. Horses have always been a passion for Pam as well. She says that there is nothing more magical than being on a horse and just going for an amazing ride.

J.R. Smith - Vice President

J.R. is the Vice President/COO of The Veterans Ranch. He has always had a love for horses and Veterans. His Father, Uncle, Grandfather, are all Veterans. J.R. also had a lot of friend that went to the first Gulf War right out of high school in 1991. So, he has a strong appreciation for the sacrifices that are made to protect our freedoms. This is why The Veterans Ranch was founded in 2017 so Veterans and their families can get the assistance that they need, and lay down that heavy coat of burden and walk forward as a new and improved version of themselves. J.R. calls horses God’s majestic animal. They can feel a gnat land on their back, so they know everything about you from two feet away. They are just amazing.

Michael Smith Sr - U.S. Navy Veteran - Sec/Tres

Michael Smith Sr. is the Secretary/Treasurer of The Veterans Ranch. Mike Served in The United States Navy from 1969-1973 and was in Vietnam during 1969-1970. Mike has a strong passion for helping other Veterans in need as well as their families. Mike has seen first hand how military life can affect families, so he wants to help any way that he can. Mike calls horses your seventh sense. They are that buddy in your unit that knows everything about you. The good, the bad, and the ugly, and they don’t judge you. You are there to take care of each other, period. That is what horses do for you. Some Veterans NEVER get that feeling again once they are out of the service. So, we hope that we can provide some of that feeling again for them.

Advisory Board Members

Col. Don "DOC" Ballard

Col Don (DOC) Ballard Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipient We are extremely proud and honored to add the newest member to The Veterans Ranch Advisory Board. Colonel Ballard is an amazing individual that we are proud to call friend. He brings decades of knowledge and experience and we couldn’t be happier to have him as part of the team. Doc says, I am passionate about helping veterans, Both alive and Dead. When they need help at the worst time in their lives. I am passionate about Educating (OUR KIDS), the new leaders of this great country. Teach important lessons that they will not learn in our current day schools. I am passionate about remembering our Gold Star Families that loss a Family member in War. They paid a larger price than most Americans, and only have their memories to show for their loss.

Tameka Lockhart-Spann

I served 5.5 years in the Navy, leaving as a Petty Officer Third Class. I served my time on the mighty USS Carl Vinson, and participated in the World Tour during Operation Iraqi Freedom, as she embarked on to transition from San Diego, CA to Norfolk, VA. After leaving the Navy in 2010, I went on to receive my MBA- HR Management. I am also currently in school to receive my Master of Jurisprudence- Labor & Employment Law. My passion in the HR field is to support non-profit organizations like The Veterans Ranch. As a military veteran and spouse of A US Navy Senior Chief, I believe in taking an enthusiastic approach in researching and informing veterans of available resources. I genuinely believe in serving those that have served. 

Hiram Figueroa USMC Veteran

Hiram was in the United States Marine Corp from 1977-1992 with a very extensive career. Hiram is a highly motivated Sr. Operation Manager with an extensive background in business transportation systems, project management, supply chain management, and overall day-to-day operations, passionate about leading teams to achievement while implementing efficient and effective processes. Hiram brings a large amount of experience to The Veterans Ranch Advisory Board and we are proud to have him be on the team.

Kelly Woods

Kelly I Woods is a 20 year Veteran of the US Army. He started his career as a Behavioral Psychiatric Technician learning the importance of stability in mental health and the damage that is caused by the lack of. He finished in the Human Resources field as a recruiting guru with over 30 years of experience in recruiting Medical professionals in a gamut of facilities nation-wide. Serving on several Advisory Boards throughout the last 25 years none more important than The Veterans Ranch providing a premier service to those selfless soldiers of today and yesterday!

Christine Deane

Co-Founder / International & National Chamber Development & Marketing at the American Veterans Chamber of Commerce Co-Founder / Marketing Director at the DFW Veterans Chamber of Commerce Founder / DFW Networking Diva Christine is a life long patriot. Her grandfather served in the Marines, her uncle served in the Army, and her youngest son is currently serving in the Air Force. Her family even has discharge papers for a great grandpappy that was a Civil War veteran. Well known for her positive energy, Christine’s enthusiasm is often contagious. She likes to say that she spreads sunshine wherever she goes. Helping others is truly what motivates her and brings joy to her servant’s heart. Christine focuses on connecting people to who they want to know, hence the title Networking Diva. She helps people develop relationships with their family, friends, and colleagues She connects professionals to employment opportunities and recruiters. She connects business owners to synergy partners, referral partners, and to their potential clients. And whenever she meets a veteran, she tries to connect them to as many veteran resources as possible.

Bobby Burns

Bobby served in the Army for 10 years, the majority of which with Army Special Forces. While with 5th SFG(A), Bobby was deployed overseas four times in the group’s area of responsibility including: Afghanistan, Jordan, and Lebanon. Upon completion of his tenure with 5th SFG(A), Bobby served three years as a Small Unit Tactics instructor as part of the Special Forces Qualification Course in Camp Mackall, NC. Bobby transitioned from military service in 2019, and currently works in the financial services industry focusing on the financial betterment of veterans and their families. Growing up around horses, Bobby will tell you first-hand the value the animals bring to mental stability, and their proven abilities to help heal the scars that have resulted from traumatic experiences. In his free time, Bobby enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters, travelling, and golfing.

Ken Kwiatowski

Kenneth J. Kwiatkowski is a seasoned executive professional of over 25 years in the Public Accounting and Private Accounting arenas which includes working for a Big Five Accounting Firm. In his private roles serving as Chief Financial Officer, Controller and Chief Operating Officer for both for profit and not for profit corporations. Ken was also nominated CFO of the Year by Tampa Bay Business Journal. Ken has also served on many Not-for-Profit Boards in the capacity as Chairman of the Board, Treasurer, Audit Committee Chair, Finance Committee Chair, Building Committee Chair and Development Committee Chair which these organizations have all benefited for his expertise while raising over $4.0 million cumulatively for these organizations and bringing their awareness to the community. Ken enjoys spending time with his family, Shannon his wife of over 28 years and his two children Victoria and his son AJ.  Prior to his private life, Ken is a Service-Connected United States Navy Veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm.


Chief Spencer was born in Baltimore, Maryland and raised in N. Wilkesboro, NC. She entered the Military in November 1979 after Graduating High School and attended Recruit Training at Lackland AFB and reported directly to Moody AFB Ga for OJT and amended A School. After an 18 year sabbatical, she re-entered the military due to her passion to serve after 911. She joined the U.S. Navy in October 2002 to pursue enhanced career opportunities.  Chief Spencer continues to have an extensive career serving this great nation.  We at The Veterans Ranch are very proud to have her on board.

Justin Knightes

Justin Knightes grew up in Central Texas. At the age of 18 in 1996, he enlisted in the Navy for the Advanced Electronic Technical Core and became a Firecontrolman. He worked on Self Defense Weapon Systems such as NATO SeaSparrow, Rolling Airframe Missiles, and MK-23 Target Acquisition System. His tours of duty include USS Supply (AOE-6), USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), NAES Lakehurst NJ, Embarked Security Team 23, NEGB Guantanamo Bay Cuba, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), Afloat Training Group Norfolk, and Amphibious Squadron Four (Tours on Kearsarge LHD-3 and Iwo Jima (LHD-7). He is married with 3 children: two daughters (22 and 19), and a son (14). He enjoys shooting rifles and hunting hogs, and reloading. He is currently the Electronics Lab Manager at Paragon Energy Solutions in Fort Worth Texas.

Anna Brewster

Anna Brewster is a USMC veteran, former Law Enforcement Officer, and a doctorate candidate in Clinical Psychology. She immigrated with her family to the United States just five years before the fall of the USSR in 1994. She proudly served for four years during some of the most devastating times for the United States of 9/11. She was honorably discharged in April of 2005. Since that time, she decided to get back to school and pursue her psychology interest. Her former husband inspired her to find alternative treatment methods for the treatment of combat PTSD and other connecting factors of psychological and physiological debilitating conditions. She found that animal therapy has been very successful in helping with reducing or eliminating PTSD and TBI symptoms in not only veterans but all demographics suffering from trauma.

Lisa Park

I'm a mom of 4 beautiful children, 3 beautiful grandchildren. I am passionate about Our Veteran and First Responders and how we can Give back to those that have given so much. I currently have a Non-Profit, The AIM Foundation, that offers Veterans and First Responders an opportunity to start a career in the insurance marketplace by paying for them to get licensed and offering them a place to work. I had a young man that lived with us, and he went on to be an EOD officer and lost his life in Afghanistan and I have other family members that are first responders. I Love what The Veterans Ranch is doing to help the Veteran and their sometimes-daily struggles and looking forward being part of this organization and helping it grow and expand to help more every day.

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