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2016 Pat Tillman Leadership Summit

In his life, Pat Tillman made his mark as a husband, teammate, soldier and brother. He believed we should always strive to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

In their own unique ways, the Tillman Scholars are each committed to making their mark as well, and the Pat Tillman Foundation is committed to empowering them with the tools and inspiration they need to achieve their academic and career goals. Started in 2010, the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit (PTLS) is the signature event that convenes the Tillman Scholars to address the toughest challenges impacting our country and our communities.

The three-day flagship event, held annually at Roosevelt University and VenueSIX10 in Chicago, is designed to celebrate the values of the foundation, teach the scholars how to apply the skills they learned in the military, and foster collaboration across scholar areas of impact. Summit also features inspiring keynote speakers, engaging panels and peer workshops, a community service project, and Tillman Honors which annually celebrates Pat’s legacy by recognizing leaders for their remarkable civic contributions, extraordinary fortitude and spirit of service. More than 100 Tillman Scholars attend annually to network and identify opportunities for collaboration and impact.

For 2017 sponsorship information, please contact Development Officer Ellen McElligott at

Tillman Honors

Tillman Honors

Tillman Honors celebrates Pat’s legacy and belief that we should always strive to be part of something bigger than ourselves by recognizing leaders for their remarkable civic contributions, extraordinary fortitude and spirit of service. The Champion and Make Your Mark Awards are presented during Tillman Honors.

The Champion Award celebrates Pat’s legacy and belief that we should always strive to be part of something bigger than ourselves, by recognizing an individual for remarkable civic contributions, extraordinary fortitude, and spirit of service. We were honored to present the 2016 Champion Award to Jon Krakauer, author of Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. 

The Make Your Mark Award celebrates Pat’s legacy and belief that we should always strive to be part of something bigger than ourselves, by recognizing a Tillman Scholar for remarkable civic contributions, extraordinary fortitude, and spirit of service. The 2016 Make Your Mark Award was presented to 2014 Tillman Scholar Kimberly Jung, co-founder and CEO of Rumi Spice.

Plus, for the first time, the 2016 Tillman Honors showcased the impact of four more Tillman Scholars, all of whom are making a difference in their communities and their world.

Past honorees include Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and journalist Sebastian Junger (2015 Champion Award), Tillman Scholar Adrian Kinsella (2015 Make Your Mark Award), and Service to School (2015 Make Your Mark Award) which was co-founded by Tillman Scholars Tim Hsia and Khalil Tawil.

Speakers & Panels

  • Sal Giunta, Medal of Honor Recipient

    Salvatore “Sal“ Augustine Giunta was born on January 21, 1985 in Clinton, Iowa. The oldest of three children of Steven—a medical equipment technician and Rosemary—a pre-school teacher, Giunta grew up in Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha, Iowa. At age 18, while working in a Subway sandwich shop, he decided to enlist and he joined the Army in November 2003. He attended Infantry One Station Unit Training and the Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, before being assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy, on May 24, 2004. Promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant in 2009, Giunta completed two combat tours to Afghanistan totaling 27 months of deployment.

    On October 25, 2007, while conducting a patrol as team leader, Giunta and his team were navigating through the treacherous terrain of Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley when they were ambushed by a well-armed and well-coordinated insurgent force. While under heavy enemy fire, Giunta immediately sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy. Seeing that his squad leader had fallen and believing that he had been injured, Giunta exposed himself to withering enemy fire and raced towards his squad leader, helped him to cover and administered medical aid. While administering first aid, enemy fire struck Giunta’s body armor and his secondary weapon. Without regard to the ongoing fire, Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover in order to conceal his position. Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers who were separated from the squad, Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground. The team continued forward and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, Giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element. Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative. As he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security.

    For his extraordinary gallantry, unrivaled courage and selfless leadership in action on October 25, 2007, Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony on November 16, 2010. Staff Sgt. Giunta was the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq or Afghanistan, the first living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War and the eighth service member to receive the nation’s highest military decoration for valor in Iraq and Afghanistan. His other military decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal w/oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, two Army Good Conduct Medals and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal to name a few.

    He retired from the Army in June 2011 and is the author of Living with Honor (2012). He currently resides in Colorado with his wife Jennifer Giunta and two children.

  • Jon Krakauer, Author, Where Men Win Glory

    Jon Krakauer was raised in Corvallis, Oregon. After graduating from Hampshire College in 1976, he divided his time between Alaska, Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest, supporting himself as a carpenter and a commercial salmon fisherman in order to spend as much time as possible climbing mountains, a pursuit that inadvertently led to a career as a writer.

    On May 10, 1996, Krakauer climbed to the top of Mt. Everest. During the descent, four of the five teammates who reached the summit with him perished in a storm. The book he wrote about the Everest tragedy, Into Thin Air, was one of three finalists for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.  

    Jon Krakauer is the author of six other bestselling books, as well, including Into the Wild, Under the Banner of Heaven, Missoula, and Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. As part of his research for his book about Pat, Krakauer spent five months embedded with combat troops in N2KL and P2K, Afghanistan. When Pat was killed in P2K in 2004, he had a copy of Krakauer’s first book, Eiger Dreams, in his ruck.

    In 1999, Krakauer received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. According to the award citation, “Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer.”

  • Marie Tillman, President & Co-Founder

    After the nationwide outpouring of support following Pat’s death in 2004, Marie, along with family and friends, established the Pat Tillman Foundation. Actively involved, first as a board member and now as the President, Marie led the effort to redefine the Foundation’s mission in 2008 by starting the Tillman Military Scholars program. This major initiative aims to create the next generation of leaders by helping exceptionally talented veterans, active service members and their spouses achieve academic dreams.

    A native of San Jose, California, Marie graduated with honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and worked in Marketing and Production at The Arizona Republic and ESPN before focusing full-time on philanthropy.

    Marie is passionate about supporting and encouraging young veterans to continually serve their communities. She has been a featured speaker at the United States Air Force Academy Center for Character Development, the University Of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, Harvard Kennedy School and the Clinton Global Initiative University.

    Also a writer, Marie has contributed to a variety of projects. Her memoir about love, loss and life, entitled The Letter, was released in June 2012 by Grand Central Publishing.

    She lives in Chicago with her husband, Joe, their four boys – Joey, Johnny, Sam and Mac – and their daughter, Francesca.

  • David Epstein, Reporter and Author

    David Epstein is an investigative reporter at ProPublica, and author of the New York Times bestseller The Sports Gene. He was previously a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, where he authored and co-authored many of the magazine’s most high profile stories, including the revelation (the first time!) that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez had used steroids. He has lived in a tent in the Arctic, on a ship in the Pacific Ocean, and in a mobile home in the desert in Arizona. He studied geology and astronomy at Columbia University, and has a master’s degree in Environmental Science. In other words, the standard path for a sportswriter

  • Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Author, Ashley's War

    Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the New York Times best sellers Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield and The Dressmaker of Khair Khana. She is also a contributor to Atlantic Media’s Defense One site. In 2004, she left the ABC News Political Unit to earn her MBA at Harvard, where she began writing about entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict zones, including Afghanistan and Rwanda. Following her MBA study, she served as a vice president at the global investment firm PIMCO. Her TED Talk on Ashley’s War and its all-women special ops team has received more than one million views and Ashley’s War has been named to the 2016 Special Operations Command Commander’s Reading List. A Fulbright scholar and Robert Bosch fellow, Gayle speaks Spanish, German, French and is conversant in Farsi.

Make Your Mark Talks

The Pat Tillman Foundation’s Make Your Mark series showcases the global impact of Tillman Scholars who are writing the story of a better future. These short talks, each originally presented during the 2016 Pat Tillman Leadership Summit powered by the NFL, highlight how Tillman Scholars are making their mark in the fields of medicine, business, law, social work, public policy, technology, education, and the arts.

Sponsors & Partners

Sponsors & Partners

Interested in supporting the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit and the newest class of Tillman Scholars? For 2017 sponsorship information, please contact Development Officer Ellen McElligott at