Training & Leadership Program Faculty Members

The Leadership & Freedom Center team embodies a carefully selected group of leaders. With over 400-combined years of multi-disciplinary experience these individuals are masters in leadership, team building, emotional intelligence, wellness, resiliency, Civil War history, clinical psychology, equine therapy, U.S. Special Operations, national security, cyber security and nutrition.

Shawn Cassidy, Founder & CEO

As a lifetime learner and entrepreneur, Shawn teaches, trains, and speaks on leadership, emotional intelligence, and forging trusted leaders and building trusted and resilient  teams. Growing up in a large close knit military family, where  his father served as a Force Recon U.S. Marine, “Mustang” Colonel, Shawn has always had a love and passion for American history and  military battles.

As a leadership author, former U.S. presidential speechwriter, and instructor to our U.S. Special Operations Forces since 2005, Shawn is committed to understanding and teaching how trusted leader and team behaviors help one to reach their “full measure”- their highest human potential, and help build high performing and successful teams.

Shawn is the  founder and CEO of the Leadership and Freedom Center, The Lodges at Gettysburg, and The Institute for Cyber Threat Defense. He is also the co-founder of  the “Resilient Warrior Wellness Program, a U.S. Department of Defense  fully vetted Preservation of the Force and Family (POTFF) wellness training program, serving the mental, emotional and physical needs of our U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF)operators and their families

Shawn studied at the University of Southern California where he earned his B.S. in business marketing with an emphasis in behavioral science and his MBA/MPA in business administration, public policy and political economy.

Jeffrey Utsch

Jeff was raised in the Richmond, Virginia area and his mother was raised in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Being immersed in Civil War history from his earliest childhood memories, Jeff spent many a summer day visiting his cousins in Gettysburg and exploring the battlefield with wonder and awe.   This unique opportunity from a very young age ignited a profound desire to study the war, the leaders involved, the causes, the people north and south affected, the greatest battle here at Gettysburg, and the valuable lessons bought by blood and sacrifice.  Since the price has already been paid, we can benefit from these lessons and apply them in our own lives. Using skills, he developed as an All-American swimmer and professional open water marathon swimmer, Jeff has served as an instructor to the Navy SEALs/ Naval Special Warfare and U.S. Special Operations Forces community for 28 years where he teaches specialized tactical swimming. Through intensive self-study of the Founding era,  the Constitution,  and our shared American history, Jeff has developed several courses that he presents nationwide to our military, local law enforcement, governmental agencies, and private industry. These courses consist of a wide range of professional development opportunities that focus on Forging Trusted Leaders and Building Trusted Teams. 

​Jeff graduated from the University of Arizona where he earned a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. 

Dr. Glenn Ferguson MAJ. (USAF Ret.) Ph.D

Glenn teaches and trains on the applied leadership lessons from the Battle of Gettysburg. He also has a keen focus on helping build resiliency in military families. 

He spent 21 years in the U.S. Air Force of which 9 years were spent in Air Force Special Operations. He commanded an Air Force Special Operations Helicopter Unit in Panama; is a master aviator (Command Pilot) with 3,200 flying hours and has expertise with both fixed and rotary wings. ​

Glenn graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1971.  He went on to receive his Master's in international Relations and his Ph.D in American History (Emphasis on Civil War reserach and studies) from Florida State University.  Glen taught 13 years as a professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He instructed leadership, special operations, combined arms and joint war fighting, military strategy, and theory and doctrine.  

Dorothy Woods DDS

Dorothy has extensive experience in the area of wellness and resiliency having served as a Team Lead with DoD and HHS on comprehensive strategy action plans for Warfighter Brain Health and Active Duty Women's Health while serving as Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense for HealthCare and Community and Family Policy.    Dorothy teaches and trains leadership, resiliency and well-being.  As a Gold Star Wife, Dorothy focuses on building and preserving relationships within families and in the workplace.   She has been honored by USSOCOM Warrior Care Program and numerous Spec Ops support organizations nationwide for her committed work in wellness and resiliency.   Dorothy has served as a General Dental Officer (LT.USNR) and professor of dentistry and the University of Michigan.  Dorothy earned her B.S. in neurophysiology from University of Maryland (UoM) and her DDS for UoM School of Dentistry. 

Dr. Erik Conklin, M.A., Ed.D.

Erik is a Compassion Cultivation Teacher certified at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education housed at Stanford University’s Medical School. He is also a  graduate of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)Mindful Awareness Research Center housed at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. ​

​Erik's research was awarded a David and Lucille Packard Foundation Fellowship for Excellence for Children, Families, and Communities at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) doctoral leadership program and he is a regular presenter and facilitator at peer-reviewed research conferences. Erik’s teaching and coaching experience in the field of Mindfulness Practices and resiliency includes working with corporate employee’s, athletes, students, parents, researchers, along with active and retired  U.S. retired military and U.S. government agency intelligence and law enforcement personnel. Erik received his Doctor of Education (Ed.D) in Education and Leadership at University of California, San Diego.

Anthony Negron

Tony's commitment to teaching and training leadership, resiliency and wellness come out of his 26-year career as a Pararescueman and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) operator overseeing some of the most critical and strategic missions in our War on Terror from 2000 to 2006.  He is a two-time Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient.   Tony's focus to serve continued after transitioning from the military as CEO of S.E.I. - a company working directly with the Department of Defense in providing training to active duty special operations personnel in Leadership, Medical, Tactical, Mountaineering and Preservation of The Force and Family.   Tony is a member of the Board of Directors of the Pararescue Foundation and is the driving force in the organization's mission to support and relieve the physical and psychological demands of the service borne and provide strategy and education on transition, all while honoring and preserving the Pararescue legacy.    Tony is also a Co-Founder of Fusion Cell, a company committed to helping veterans navigate transition and reintegrate back into the civilian workforce through education and job placement.   Tony attended the Command's University of Virginia Darden School of Business course and has degrees in Applied Science Personnel Recovery and Criminal Justice from the Community College of the Air Force.

Joe Bonvie, Clinical Psychologist

Joe is a board certified clinical psychologist with extensive experience designing and leading talent acquisition programs and developing sustainment strategies for elite performers and personnel in high risk occupations.  Expertise in leadership development and consulting on actionable strategies for optimal individual, team, and organizational performance.   With a background in elite athletic performance and over a decade of experience consulting to U.S. Special Operations Forces populations, Joe has been at the forefront of some of the most progressive developments within expeditionary embedded behavioral health care and organizational resiliency program development.  ​

Joe earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from Florida Tech after completing an APA accredited internship at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, MD.  Joe is currently a Captain in the U.S. Navy, serving in Virginia Beach, VA.

Joint Special Operations Command

These retired U.S. Special Operations Forces operators have served dedicated careers training, planning and executing successful team missions.

In the most chaotic, high stress and unpredictable environments imaginable these operators have found success. These master trainers will show how trusted teams successfully mitigate stress, and chaos, exercise sound and decisive judgment, and effectively execute your mission with tenacious integrity.

Due to national security and for the safety of these members with the nature of war on terrorism, the names of these individuals are not for public distribution.

Licensed Battlefield Guides

We work with numerous Licensed Battlefield Guides through the United States National Park Service in Gettysburg.