The following information is intended to inform membership about the announced candidates for national office. It does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by DAV National Headquarters of any candidate to the exclusion of others who may stand for election. DAV members may announce their candidacy at any time, up to and including the time of election at the 2023 DAV and Auxiliary National Convention, which will be held Aug. 5–8 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.


Nancy Espinosa is a service-connected disabled Army veteran. She is currently DAV’s national senior vice commander and the adjutant of the Department of Utah. Espinosa enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1975 before transitioning to active duty in 1985. Four years later, she joined the New Mexico Army National Guard, in which she served until her honorable discharge in 1990. For her service, Espinosa was awarded the Army Commendation Medal along with several other recognitions.

Upon leaving military service, Espinosa joined DAV. Currently a life member of Chapter 14 in Layton, Utah, she is a past Department of Utah commander and previously served on the board of directors of DAV’s Charitable Service Trust from 2015 until 2018. She is also an active member of DAV’s Commanders and Adjutants Association and the Utah Legislative Veterans and Military Affairs Commission. She was awarded the Bonnie Anderson Award for Outstanding Service in 2014 by the Department of Utah.

Espinosa is seeking election to higher office.


Dan Contreras, a service-connected disabled Army veteran, is a past commander of the Department of California and currently serves as the state’s adjutant and treasurer. He is also DAV’s national 1st junior vice commander. He has served on the National Executive Committee and was elected to the board of directors for the National Service Foundation, where he served from 2009 until 2019.

Contreras served as a combat medic and nurse from 1980 to 1996, achieving the rank of sergeant first class. From 2000 to 2008, he helped veterans receive their earned benefits as a DAV national service officer and area supervisor.

Contreras is a life member of Chapter 99 in Oxnard, California. In addition to his various DAV leadership and managerial positions at the national and state levels, he was appointed to chair the California Mexican American Veterans Memorial Committee by former California Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown.

Contreras is seeking election to higher office.


Coleman Nee, a service-connected disabled Marine Corps veteran who served from 1986 to 1994, including deployment during the Persian Gulf War, currently serves as DAV’s national 2nd junior vice commander. He was appointed by the governor of Massachusetts to serve as the Massachusetts secretary of veterans’ services from 2011 to 2015, overseeing $100 million in state funding for veterans and dependents, financial aid and programming. During Nee’s tenure, the department created a number of new initiatives to increase access to services for veterans, including the more than 47,000 veterans returning to Massachusetts from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nee was elected to serve on the National Executive Committee from 2017 to 2019 and served on the board of directors during the same period. A life member of Chapter 3 in Braintree, Massachusetts, Nee served as the Department of Massachusetts assistant judge advocate and chair of the Homeless Veterans Advisory Committee. He is also a member of the Incarcerated Veterans Outreach Committee.

Nee is seeking election to higher office.


John Donovan, a service-connected disabled Navy veteran and DAV life member of Chapter 10 in Conway, Arkansas, currently serves as DAV’s national 3rd junior vice commander. He served as the National Executive Committee representative of District 21 for both Arkansas and Oklahoma from 2019 to 2021 and served on the board of directors during the same period. He also serves as adjutant of the Department of Arkansas.

After serving 24 years, Donovan was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2004. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in organizational management with a minor in organizational leadership.

During his time with DAV, Donovan has played an active role in supporting and volunteering for veterans, including yard cleanups and the construction of ramps for wheelchair access. Donovan works with Arkansas’ national service officers at information seminars and with chapters conducting compensation claims events across the state to raise awareness of DAV programs.

Donovan is seeking election to higher office.


Cynthia Madison is a retired disabled Army veteran who has been actively involved with the organization at the chapter, department and national levels since becoming a DAV life member in 2002. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Averett University and a master’s degree in human resource management from Troy University. She currently serves as DAV’s national 4th junior vice commander and as the assistant adjutant and time and place chairperson for the Department of Virginia and as adjutant of Chapter 27 in Portsmouth. She was appointed as Virginia’s deputy chief of staff to the national commander in September 2021.

Madison previously served as commander of the Department of Virginia and is a past president of the Commanders and Adjutants Association. She also served on the Department of Virginia’s Women Veterans Committee and Employment Committee as well as Interim Employment Committee, Interim Hospital and Voluntary Services Committee, and Nominating and Credentials national convention committees.

Madison has a history of volunteering at Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and elsewhere in her community in ways that benefit her fellow veterans. She chaired five different Department of Virginia 5K races and served as chairperson of the national DAV 5K in Newport News.

Madison is seeking election to higher office.


Richard Morelli, a service-connected disabled Army veteran, currently serves as commander of Chapter 11 in Dickson City, Pennsylvania, a position he has held for over a decade. A DAV life member, he has also held numerous other chapter leadership positions over the years.

Morelli enlisted in the Army in 1967 and served honorably until his discharge in 1970. During his time in service, he deployed to East Germany. Frostbite caused permanent damage to his back and hands during his service. Upon leaving the military, Morelli became a teacher and a professional musician, often blending the two by teaching music to students of all ages.

Morelli is an active volunteer in his community and has spent more than 700 hours volunteering in various capacities at Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center in Pennsylvania.

Morelli is seeking election to national office.


James Procunier is a service-connected disabled veteran who served from 1985 to 2013. During his enlistment in the Navy and Navy Reserve, Procunier served in a number of billets as a corpsman. As a civilian contractor, he served as a project officer for the Navy MRAP (Mine Resistant-Ambush Protected) vehicle program, which saved untold lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, Procunier served 34 years in law enforcement in Florida and Michigan and is a former firefighter and paramedic.

Procunier is a life member of Chapter 10 in Dumfries, Virginia, and Chapter 11 in Wilmington, North Carolina. He previously served as a trustee for the Department of North Carolina. He served for seven years on the National Interim Legislation Committee, and five years on the Convention Committee for Legislation and Veterans Rights, with two years as the chair. He currently serves on the board of directors of the National Service Foundation. He has served in nearly every capacity at the state level in DAV, including commander of the Department of Virginia. For his service with Chapter 10, he was named 2014 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year and received the 2016 John Maki Distinguished Service Award. In 2017, he was recognized by the Department of Virginia as the state’s Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year.

Procunier is seeking election to national office.


Brian Wilner, a service-connected disabled Army veteran, is a DAV life member of Chapter 18 in Augusta, Georgia, and Chapter 44 in North Augusta, South Carolina, where he currently serves as chapter adjutant. He has served in nearly every capacity at the state level in both Georgia and South Carolina. He was named Chapter Service Officer of the Year for the Department of Georgia for five years in a row and Department of South Carolina Officer of the Year in 2017 and 2022.

Wilner currently serves as a Department of South Carolina Benefits Protection Team leader and received the Division II Outstanding Performance in Advocacy award for 2019–2020 and 2020–2021. He was elected and served as the District 9th National Executive Committee representative from 2012–2013.

Wilner is a past president of the DAV Commanders and Adjutants Association. He has also served as vice president and chaplain and on the executive committee. Additionally, Wilner has been a judge advocate for the Aiken County Veterans Council since 2015 and has served as the president of the South Carolina Veterans Advisory Council since 2020.

Wilner is seeking election to national office.


Michael Dobmeier has served as national judge advocate, advising the National Executive Committee (NEC) and board of directors, since 2002. He served as DAV national commander in 1999 and as the 14th District NEC representative in 1994.

Dobmeier enlisted in the Navy in 1969 after graduating from high school. He trained as an engineman; attended the Naval Submarine School in New London, Connecticut; and completed Navy Dive School in San Diego. In 1972, Dobmeier suffered severe burns on more than 30% of his body after an oil heater exploded aboard the submarine USS Trigger. He was discharged later that year and became a life member of Chapter 2 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He has since been appointed or elected to nearly every chapter and department office and position and was named the 1985 DAV Outstanding Member of the Department of North Dakota.

Dobmeier is seeking election to another term as national judge advocate.


Debra Varner, a service-connected Army veteran, currently serves as DAV’s national chaplain. She has been a life member of Chapter 4 in Birmingham, Alabama, since 2013.

Varner joined the Army in 1972 and served as a medic. After her military service, she went to college and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern Business College as well as a bachelor’s degree in theology from Lomax Hannon Bible College in Alabama.

After college, she began working for the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, where she has enjoyed a career as a women’s service coordinator. She has continued her service there as a resource support specialist in the Veterans Service/Student Affairs office, where she assists more than 3,700 veterans and family members requiring assistance with education benefits.

She also serves as a hospital service coordinator for the Birmingham VA Medical Center, where she helps veterans and their families find resources and learn about earned benefits.

Varner has more than 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry and support, including serving as a chaplain for the DAV Department of Alabama.

Varner is seeking election to another term as national chaplain.

Harrah’s Atlantic City | Aug. 5–8, 2023

Atlantic City promises so much more than gambling and nightlife, including over five miles of boardwalk alongside the Atlantic Ocean, sumptuous spas, family-friendly activities, museums and championship golf. Getting to Atlantic City can present some logistical challenges that attendees should be aware of before making travel plans. While Atlantic City International Airport is just 15 miles from Harrah’s, it is only serviced by Spirit Airlines. Additionally, some larger carriers look like they fly into Atlantic City but actually arrive in Philadelphia and then shuttle passengers to Atlantic City airport, where they would be responsible for booking additional transportation to Harrah’s.