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.

Eugene Oliva USMC Veteran

Eugene served 8 plus years in the United States Marine Corps. Eugene is a strong willed person who puts 110% into everything that he does. After leaving the Marine Corps Eugene has successfully started and running multiple businesses and has a very extensive resume. We are proud to have him on our advisory board.

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.

LOGISTICS CHIEF LSC (EXW) RUBY C. SPENCER, USNR

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 Her first duty assignment was Moody AFB, Ga: 347TH Tactical Supply Group: Rapid Deployment Force, Deploying in support of Phantom One and Phantom Two exercises with both Saudi and Egyptian pilots and their support crews, Nov 1979 to MAY 1982, Her first Navy duty assignment was COMLOGRON, Colts Neck, NJ as Supply and Admin LPO. Other assignments include: USS Detroit, Colts Neck, NJ; NAV AIR Det Charlotte, NC; MIUW 205, Charleston, SC as the Supply LPO. There she deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 12 Boat Division 1012, Charleston, SC; Coastal Riverine Squadron One, San Diego, CA where she deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom serving as both the Supply LPO, Assistant Command Career Counselor, and she was a Coxswain U/I; Maritime Expeditionary Security Detachment 1032, Gulfport, MI serving as the Command Career Counselor, Security Squadron /VBSS Team Member, Assistant Hazardous Materials Manager, when she deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; Operational Support Unit Charleston, SC; Unit LPO, Administration LPO, and Command Career Counselor; Navy Cargo Handling Battalion Four Head Quarters, Charleston, SC; Supply LPO and FCPOA President; Mobile Mine Assembly Unit, Charleston, SC. Serving as both the Senior Enlisted Leader and the Executive Officer due to gapped billets. LCS MCM Mayport, Florida, LCPO of Supply and Administration, Command Career Counselor, Education Services Officer, and Detachment B. LCPO. Navy Region South East Reserve Component Command Jacksonville, Florida serving as the LCPO of Supply. Currently Assigned to DLA DSU Six Jacksonville, FL as the Administration LCPO. She deployed with DLA DS Six as the Senior Enlisted Leader and NCOIC over a joint task force for Qatar Operations. Chief’s schools include, Basic Supply School at Moody AFB, Ga; Master at Arms , SRF-B, Charleston, SC, DOD Security/Police Course, NWS Charleston, SC; Work Center Supervisor, Little Creek,Va; Reaction Force School and Sentry (Fixed & Roving), Williamsburg, Va; Supply and Fiscal Support New Orleans, LA; LCS SRF-B. She has an Associate’s Degree from the College of the Air Force (Valdosta State) Moody AFB, Ga, Grantham University Courses, Basic Math and Computer Skills, Colorado Technical College, Currently pursuing a Baccalaureate Degree Criminal Justice in Behavior Sciences. Her personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (Two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (One award), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (four awards), and various other personal and unit awards.
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