As vice president of Military Affairs at Microsoft, Chris Cortez leads the company’s engagement with veterans and military families as part of its focus on inspiring and developing former service members for roles in the IT industry. Chris’ responsibilities touch STEM education, veteran community engagement, high-tech training and employment of veterans. His team’s mission is to lead and challenge the technology industry to fill the IT pipeline with former service members. Chris is an advocate for Microsoft employees who have served in the military and is executive sponsor of the Military Veterans at Microsoft Employee Resource Group. He has worked at Microsoft since 2006.
Chris served for more than 33 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. When he retired in 2004 as a major general, Chris had been leading the Marine Corps Recruiting Command in Quantico, Va., recruiting more than 75,000 men and women. Before that, he was director of operations for the U.S. Pacific Command — overseeing operations for 300,000 military personnel — and he previously commanded Marines at the platoon, company, battalion and regimental levels, including during Operation Desert Storm. Chris not only advocates for education, he also mentors others. It’s something he did in the Marine Corps and has continued to do at Microsoft.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Marietta College in Ohio and a master’s degree in business management from Azusa Pacific University.
Danny Chung, chief of staff and business manager for Military Affairs at Microsoft, manages the Military Affairs team with a keen focus on providing opportunities in technology for the veteran community. Danny’s deep commitment to veterans and military families is rooted in his personal passion and desire to help improve engagement, recruitment, and retention in meaningful careers for transitioning service members and military spouses. Danny is also a staunch supporter of military children and STEM education. He leads companywide efforts to increase engagement with children of military families, who often lack the same STEM opportunities available to children from civilian families.
Danny began his Marine Corps career as a private first class, graduating from boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. A few years later, with the help of key mentors and leaders, Danny was selected for commissioning and deployed to locations such as Kuwait, Iraq, Pakistan and Sri Lanka managing strategic communications, media, and community relations during combat operations, disaster relief, humanitarian efforts, and more. During Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Danny managed the DoD Media Embed Program, followed by taking command of an Army unit and maneuvering it by ground convoy from Kuwait City to Baghdad when the war kicked off in March 2003. Before retiring, Danny was selected as commanding officer of Marines at the Defense Information School (DINFOS) at Fort Meade, Maryland, from 2007 to 2010, when he decided to retire from the Marine Corps.
Danny has a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University and an MBA from Loyola University. He continues to serve the members of the military as a USO board member for the Pacific Northwest, and an advisory board member for Operation Homefront. Danny also serves as a mentor and adjunct professor in the communications department at Azusa Pacific University teaching public relations and business marketing courses.
Carol Hedly, program director of Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) for Military Affairs at Microsoft, oversees MSSA, which prepares transitioning military personnel for jobs in the IT industry by focusing on IT training, resources and job placement opportunities. A 15-year Microsoft employee, Carol has designed and delivered award-winning leadership and executive development programs for Microsoft.
Carol founded the Military Veterans at Microsoft Employee Resource Group and served as president for five years. In addition, she created an externship program for Microsoft to host active duty military leaders, including the Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellows Program.
Carol’s family members have served in the military for many generations, and she’s proud to see that legacy continue with her nephews. Carol is a contributing author on “Coaching for Leadership: Writings on Leadership From the World’s Greatest Coaches” and “Lessons in Contemporary Leadership,” a collection of authentic leadership stories from senior Microsoft leaders.
Joe Wallis, senior military engagement manager for Military Affairs at Microsoft, manages Microsoft’s on-base military engagement for Microsoft Software & Systems Academy, as well as Microsoft’s other military programs. Joe has supported military recruiting and engagement at Microsoft for more than four years, and more than half of his nearly 20 years of recruiting experience have been focused on transitioning veterans.
A second-generation service member, Joe is a retired lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and has 28 years of combined active and reserve service. Upon commissioning as a second lieutenant, Joe served more than five years on active duty as a communications officer and recruit training commander. He served on active duty for more than five years post-9/11, supporting the European Command, Southern Command and Headquarters Marine Corps.
Joe earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master of arts in international relations from the University of Miami. He has also studied at the Naval War College, the Joint Forces Staff College and the National Defense University.
Thomas Dawkins, director of workforce development & career centered learning at Microsoft, develops the curriculum structure and mentoring program for Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA). He is responsible for working with each location to ensure they are providing current Microsoft educational resources to their service members, and he owns the relationship with MSSA academic partners who deliver a role-based learning path structure. This work helps him pursue his passion for education and helping others understand the IT industry.
With more than 30 years of experience in the IT industry, 16 of them at Microsoft, Thomas has held roles that range from systems administration to IT consulting management. A Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, Thomas has spent his time at Microsoft in roles focused on business management and development, managing strategic relationships, product management and certification education. He is an active board member for the Council of College and Military Educators and the International Professional Practice Partnership.
Thomas comes from a Marine Corps family, including Medal of Honor recipient Thomas Creek, who posthumously received several medals for his heroism in Vietnam. Thomas Dawkins recently completed the Executive Leadership Certificate program at Cornell University.