We’re proud of these Tillman Scholars for continuing to make an impact on their communities. Read on to see how they continue to lead through action.
Heather King will be a panelist for Chacruna Community Forum, “Psychedelic Therapies for Veterans and Enlisted Soldiers: Opportunities and Challenges” in partnership with Naropa University will happen on April 5.
Stemming from a long line of veterans, Heather was born to serve in the military. At 19, she enlisted in the Air Force as a B-1B aircraft mechanic. Heather’s career spanned 9 ½ years with deployments to Diego Garcia-BIOT, Guam, and Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism. She separated from active duty in 2007 and served as a full-time reservist at Maxwell AFB, AL as a C-130 Aircraft Mechanic. The changes in culture and the military in the aftermath of 9/11 sparked Heather’s interest in storytelling and political communications. Heather enrolled at Troy University-Montgomery, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S.in Political Science. She went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Strategic Public Relations from the George Washington University in 2014.
The Air Force’s core values of Integrity, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do laid a strong foundation for life after the military. Heather’s love of storytelling and service has led her to undertake several different roles where she has dedicated herself to improving the lives of service members, Veterans, and their families. Her current endeavors utilize her communication skills to shape addiction and treatment policy in a corporate setting.
Adrian Perkins joins Elevate Cities as a new special advisor to expand the firm’s work across cities in the United States.
Growing up one of three brothers, competition was always in Adrian’s blood. After his older brother Jeff joined the Army, Adrian was inspired to attend West Point where he served as the captain of the track team and the first African-American cadet ever to be elected class president in West Point’s history. The Academy developed and nurtured Adrian’s ambition, so that he not only looked forward to becoming a Soldier, but he also began seeking ways to implement the lessons he learned into communities outside of the military.
After serving, Adrian graduated from Harvard Law School where he was elected its student body president. While a law student, he focused his scholarship on criminal justice reform and the importance of innovation in small and mid-sized cities. While in law school, he assisted Governor John Bel Edwards on criminal justice reform. Adrian was elected the 56th mayor of Shreveport, LA in 2018 and served through 2022.
Driven to serve a greater purpose in life, Kevin enrolled in the ROTC and became an Army aviation officer. During his military career, he developed a passion for mentoring and developing others, pursuing this calling by becoming an instructor pilot and commanding the Army’s only Chinook flight school.
During a deployment, Kevin’s unit was accompanied by a service dog that brought comfort to soldiers, reduced loneliness and even flew in his helicopter wearing specialized hearing protection. This experience inspired Kevin to share the benefits of animal-assisted therapy to others. Upon redeployment, Kevin certified his golden retriever as a therapy dog and began volunteering in the local community. After visiting several schools, he witnessed firsthand the impact of animal-assisted reading programs on childhood literacy.
As a result of the pandemic, Kevin was no longer able to volunteer in-person with his therapy dog, Ellie, so he pivoted to social media as a way to help with others. During this process, he unexpectedly developed a global community passionate about his mission to spread smiles.
Kimberly Jung was featured on Podcasting Today as being a pioneer in the audio industry with the independent, female-led podcast production company, Blanchard House.
After her first year at Harvard Business School, Kim decided to start a business importing saffron directly from Afghan farmers. She bought a ticket to Afghanistan and met with Pashto farmers from Ghuryan and Wardak, where she had served as Route Clearance Platoon 44’s platoon leader four years before. These farmers were growing some of the best saffron in the world, unbeknownst to Western consumers.
The company that Kim subsequently founded, Rumi Spice, now imports saffron directly from Afghan farmers, giving those farmers access to markets and an alternative to growing opium. Four Michelin-starred restaurants exclusively and proudly carry Rumi Spice saffron, and it was featured in six dishes at the James Beard Persian New Year Dinner. Most importantly, Rumi Spice is laying a foundation for peace through economic empowerment: the company established its first processing facility in Herat, Afghanistan, and hired 75 Afghan women, who are paid direct wages. Rumi Spice makes up 5% of Afghanistan’s total saffron production and 3.6% of Afghanistan’s total agricultural foreign direct investment.