Leadership

Meet the Valley Forge Leadership Team

Our leadership team is committed to making Valley Forge one of the premier institutes for forming young men and women into the leaders of tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to the United States Air Force! Aim High....Fly-Fight-Win! ...

On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we pause to remember the sacrifices and service of those who were Prisoners of War, as well as those who are Missing in Action, and their families. #YouAreNotForgotten ...

Brotherhood

Our Cadets come from all over the world but quickly bond and become family.
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Life Skills

Cadets had a quick start into our new Life Skills program this week. In Theater and Set Design they had already broken out the power tools.
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Cadet Barrow, Bravo Company Commander after leading his company onto the Parade Field and about to be sworn into the Honor Council. ...

Plebes took their Oath's yesterday, to both themselves and to the Corps of Cadets.

This young man has been on campus for just a few days and is already leading from the front by volunteering to be first in line at the barber shop. He described his previous hairstyle as "messy".
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This morning, at 8:46, #VFMC's Army ROTC Cadre and Cadets began their mission to walk 2,071 stairs on #VFMAC's campus- the same amount that firefighters had to walk /run in the stairwells of the Twin Towers on 9/11. The Cadre and Cadets walked a loop that included three sets of stairs with gear and weighted packs while 9/11 dispatcher calls played through the loud speaker.

When the mission was complete, Army ROTC Professor of Military Science, LTC Gambacorta, spoke to the cadets, many of which were not yet born when the event occurred, and gave some perspective to the day. "Those 2,071 stairs were essentially their commute to work. After those 2,071 stairs they were exhausted and had to bring calm to a difficult situation. You need to be physically fit enough, mentally fit enough, that after the chaos of getting there, you bring calm to the situation and then you actually go to work and do your job. Just getting there is not enough for us."

The American flag carried during the mission belongs to Army ROTC Senior Military Instructor MSG Newton and has been on every deployment with him.

@vfmcarmyrotc @vfmc_rotc_pms
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Durrell ‘Bronko’ Pearsall '86‚ age 34‚ was a member of the New York Fire Department’s Rescue 4 in Queens. ‘Bronko’ was passionate in his love for his job and his ‘brothers’ in the FDNY. He was finishing his shift the morning of September 11‚ 2001‚ when the call came about the WTC. Without hesitation he volunteered to respond‚ along with several others from his firehouse.

He is remembered for his zest for life and his comical personality. ‘Bronko’ will be forever remembered by his countless friends.
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From an early age‚ he dreamed of becoming a fireman. ‘Bronko‚’ following in his father’s footsteps‚ began his firefighting career as a volunteer with Hempstead Fire Department on Long Island. He received numerous commendations and two Medals of Valor. He was also a Nassau fire educator. Durrell joined the #FDNY in 1993‚ a member of Squad 1 and then Rescue 4. He was preparing for his next goal‚ a lieutenant in the FDNY. He pursued several personal interests within the department.

He was active as a member and co-captain of ‘The Bravest Football Club‚’ gaining experience with his college team at C.W. Post. His love for football extended outside the department as well‚ as he was a devoted fan of Notre Dame football.

Fiercely proud of his Irish heritage‚ ‘Bronko’ played the snare drum in the FDNY’s Emerald Society Pipe and Drums. All members of the band gathered outside his funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to ‘pipe him to Heaven.’
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2,071 Stairs.

Never Forget. 09.11.2001
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Today we honor, respect, and remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. #PatriotDay ...

 

Senior Leadership

  • Col Stuart B. Helgeson, USMCR (Ret)
    Col Stuart B. Helgeson, USMCR (Ret)
    President
  • Colonel J.J. Rivera, USMCR
    Colonel J.J. Rivera, USMCR
    Commandant of Cadets
  • LTC Brett A. Gambacorta
    LTC Brett A. Gambacorta
    Professor of Military Science (PMS)
  • Dr. Paul M. Lea ’87, ’89C
    Dr. Paul M. Lea ’87, ’89C
    Dean, Valley Forge Military Academy
  • Eric Saul
    Eric Saul
    CFO
  • Kathleen Elsmore
    Kathleen Elsmore
    Senior Director of Institutional Advancement

Contact
Main Telephone: (610) 989-1200
Toll Free Telephone: (800) 234-8362
Main Fax: (610) 688-1545

Phone and Email Conventions

Unless otherwise noted, all phone numbers begin with (610) 989-XXXX. Add the 4-digit extension, listed by department, for the person you wish to reach.

If you know a staff member’s name and would like to reach him/her via e-mail, the following format can be used to do so: “first initial, last name” followed by “@vfmac.edu”. Therefore, if the individual’s name were John Public, it would translate into: “jpublic@vfmac.edu”

Staff Contact Information

Superintendent & Chief Operating OfficerColonel Stuart B. Helgeson, USMCR (Ret.)1201
Commandant of CadetsColonel J.J. Rivera, USMCR1256
Chief Financial OfficerMr. Eric Saul1325
Professor of Military Sciences (SROTC)LTC Brett A. Gambacorta, U.S. Army1440
Dean, Valley Forge Military AcademyDr. Paul M. Lea, '87, '89C1360
Provost, Valley Forge Military CollegeDr. Bob Smith1458
Garrison Sergeant MajorGSM William Mott1471
Senior Director of Institutional AdvancementMrs. Kathleen Elsmore1328
Dean of College Services/ Financial Aid & Admissions/ Title IX CoordinatorDr. Jesse Phillips1467
Director of AthleticsMr. Mike Muscella1492
Human ResourcesMrs. Lauren Guardino1240
Director of Marketing & CommunicationsMrs. Mary Heller1345
Director of Alumni RelationsMr. Thomas Goldblum ’69, '71C1329
Head of Facilities OperationsMr. George Else1354
Director of Information TechnologyMr. Michael G. Brock1246
Bursar / Cadet Accounts ManagerMs. Jennifer Berry1237
Associate Dean, Valley Forge Military AcademyMr. Aaron Barkley1382
Director of Lower School, Valley Forge Military AcademyMrs. Lauren Wochok1401
Director of Academy AdmissionsMs. Anna Brennan1561
Bandmaster / Director of MusicMr. Vincent DeMarro1252
Director of Student Activities & Summer CampsMrs. Elizabeth Boylan1253
Director of Health CenterMs. Debbie Hammer1518
Director of Library ServicesMs. Dana Kerrigan1364
Registrar, Valley Forge Military CollegeLt Col Tracey Hartley1450
Col Stuart B. Helgeson, USMCR (Ret)
President

Colonel Helgeson was named President of Valley Forge Military Academy and College in March of 2020 after previously serving as Chief Operating Officer, Superintendent and Commandant of Cadets. Colonel Helgeson attended Penn State University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. At Penn State he played Varsity Lacrosse and later walked on to the football team as a receiver on the 1986 National Championship and 1987 Citrus Bowl Teams. Upon graduation Colonel Helgeson was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

During his time on active duty he participated in a wide range of training exercises and operational deployments including Exercise Alpine Warrior, Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm (Iraq), Operation Provide Promise and Deny Flight (former Yugoslavia) and Continue Hope (Somalia). In 1998 after serving as an instructor at The Infantry Officer Course, Colonel Helgeson was assigned as the Head Coach for the Sprint Football team at the United States Naval Academy. While at the Naval Academy, he and three other Marines biked and ran across America in 27 days to raise money for the Children’s Hopes and Dreams Foundation.

In 2000 Colonel Helgeson left active duty for civilian employment with MBNA Bank in Wilmington, DE. In 2004 he joined the Selected Marine Corps Reserve, took command of an Engineer Support Company and completed the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. After assignments as Executive Officer and Commander of 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, he was mobilized and deployed to Afghanistan with the Marine Corps Special Operations Command in 2010. In 2011 he returned to civilian employment with Sechan Electronics, a defense electronics manufacturing service provider based in Lititz, Pennsylvania. In 2013 he was once again mobilized and deployed to Afghanistan and served as Special Operations Coordinator for Helmand and Nimroz provinces.

Colonel Helgeson and his wife, Stephanie, have three children: Stuart, Sarah, and Samantha.

Colonel J.J. Rivera, USMCR
Commandant of Cadets
LTC Brett A. Gambacorta
Professor of Military Science (PMS)

LTC Brett A. Gambacorta was commissioned in 2003 from Towson University, assigned to the Armor Branch, and completed the Armor Officer Basic Course in May of 2004.

He was first assigned as a reconnaissance platoon leader in A Troop, 1/2 Cavalry Regiment at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He then served as a reconnaissance platoon leader and troop executive officer in 4/2 Cavalry Regiment at Fort Lewis, Washington. His next leadership assignments were Commander, A Troop 8-1 Cavalry Regiment and Headquarters Troop 8-1 Cavalry Regiment at Fort Lewis, Washington. He then served as the Operations Officer (S3) for 6-9 Cavalry Squadron at Fort Hood, Texas and the Operations Officer (S3) of the 174th Infantry Brigade at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

His other assignments include: Task Force Operations Officer, Task Force Zabul, Afghanistan. Brigade Planner, 5-2 Stryker Brigade. Battle Major, III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas.

LTC Gambacorta is a graduate of the Armor Officer Basic Course, The Maneuver Officer Advanced Course, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is also a graduate of the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leaders Course, the Cavalry Leaders course, and Airborne School. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Towson University and a Master of Arts in Adult Education from Kansas State University.

LTC Gambacorta’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and the Army Commendation Medal with “V” device and three oak leave clusters, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.

LTC Gambacorta was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in June 2019 and is currently assigned as the Professor of Military Science (PMS) at Valley Forge Military College in Wayne, PA.

Dr. Paul M. Lea ’87, ’89C
Dean, Valley Forge Military Academy

Dr. Paul M. Lea ’87, ’89C became the Dean of Valley Forge Military Academy in July of 2018.

In his position, Dr. Lea is responsible for leading our Academy staff as they guide our cadets toward successful futures. Dr. Lea brings more than 28 years of experience to VFMA, and as a member of VFMA Class of 1987 and VFMC Class of 1989, he has unique insight and perspective into what makes Valley Forge great – and how to help our cadets excel.

After graduating from VFMC, Dr. Lea served in several leadership positions in Philadelphia’s 1st Squadron/104th Cavalry (PAARNG), including as Company Executive Officer, Scout Platoon Leader and Medical Platoon Leader, where he was responsible for the training and tactical employment of tank or armored reconnaissance units, among other tasks. His past management and operations experience includes positions as Director of Research Operations at New Health Sciences, Inc. in Bethesda, Md.; Senior Director-Research & Clinical Operations at Cangen Biotechnologies in Baltimore, Md.; Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance (SETA) Consultant for ECS-Federal Information Systems Worldwide Corp. in Arlington, Va. He is also the owner of Bench to Bedside Global, LLC, in Annandale, Va., a certified consulting company that provides professional, scientific and technical services to academia, government agencies, hospitals, venture capital firms and others.

In addition to his management expertise, Dr. Lea also has a strong background in education, serving on the faculty of North Virginia Community College in Annandale, before becoming the Assistant Dean of Engineering last year.

Dr. Lea earned his Postdoctorate in neurophysiology from Georgetown University, a Ph.D. in Physiology from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, a Master’s degree in biology from Villanova University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology (cum laude) from Cabrini College. He has also completed an Armor Officer Basic Course and a Scout Platoon Leaders Course at the U.S. Armor School in Fort Knox, Ky.

Eric Saul
CFO
Kathleen Elsmore
Senior Director of Institutional Advancement