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.

Talented Cadets from the Regimental Band put together a drum static that is best performed by black light. Lots of good music being practiced in Mellon Hall tonight for the Annual Tattoo.

Tap the story to get a sneak peak.

#couragehonorconquer
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VFMAC introduced Esports to its lineup in the last year and it consists of more than just competitive video gaming. Esports at VFMAC includes practice days, team meetings, and tournament matches. Cadets who participate in Esports also participate in team building, critical analysis of games and matches played, discussion of game strategy and technology concepts.

High School Esports League (HSEL) is a Varsity Esports League which hosts competitions between high school students across the U.S. While our Academy is 7-12 and the HSEL is only High School, we also compete in the MSEL, Middle school Esports League.

In the first year, the Spring Major Tournament was the second full Esports season at VFMAC and we have TWO cadets who qualified for their respective national playoffs based on their incredible performances!

Cadet Anthony Guo, grade 9, placed 17th out of 950 high school competitors with a 7 wins, 1 loss record. His first playoff match will be versus Bayard Rustin HS (West Chester PA) on May 7th. He competes in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on Nintendo Switch.

Cadet Amar Hulan, grade 8, placed 30th out of 450 middle school competitors with a 5 wins, 3 losses record. His first playoff match will be versus North Shore Middle School (Glen Head, NY) on May 10th. He competes in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on Nintendo Switch.

Both HSEL and MSEL playoff matches will run through the week of May 9th through May 15th with championship matches held on May 20th and May 21st.

Good luck to both of our Cadets competing!
#esports #couragehonorconquer
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Today we want to share a huge congratulations to our 1LT Mohammed Al-Thani for his acceptance to the United States Military Academy- West Point this coming Fall.

Mohammed not only excels in the classroom but excels by his leadership skills. While at the college Mohammed Al-Thani has shown tremendous leadership and character while leading our plebe company as the companies XO. 1LT Al-Thani has also led two crucibles during his time here.

Mohammed follows closely in the footsteps of his cousin Abdulrahman Al-Hanzab who attended Valley Forge Military College, Alumni class of 12’, Al-Hanzab also attended the United States Military Academy West Point after Graduation. Post-Grad, Abdulrahman Al-Hanzab is now working for the Qatar Army as a 1LT.

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point's mission is "to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army."

We are so proud of you 1LT. Al-Thani and we look forward to seeing your next accomplishments.

#couragehonorconquer #accepted #WestPoint
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Shout out to Cadet Reed (pictured on left), who has been accepted to the National Student Leadership Conference- Intelligence & Homeland Security Program!

The NSLC on National Intelligence & Homeland Security is an interactive experience that will give our cadet the opportunity to immerse himself in the challenging complexities of the intelligence and security community. He will act as a member of the security council, where he will be tasked with solving and unfolding a crisis. This is only one of the tasks at hand, during the conference there will be college lecture style series, behind the scenes tours, and leadership training.

We are proud of your effort and drive Cadet Reed! Congratulations!
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Congratulations to Cadet Andrew Ku'21 on his acceptances to Penn State University, Penn State University Brandywine, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Arizona campus! We are so proud of you, congratulations!
#ACCEPTED #senior2021 #couragehonorconquer
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Good morning! It is a beautiful day in Wayne, PA for the VFMAC Golf Classic at St. Davids Golf Club! A big shout out to our Title Sponsors for today's event!

Thank you to Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., John English '91, Tony & Gypsie Kolenski, Lintons Food Service Management, Mercedez-Benz of Lehigh Valley and Terra Technical Services, LLC!
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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
  • Dr. Robert Smith
    Dr. Robert Smith
    Provost, Valley Forge Military College
  • Kathleen Elsmore
    Kathleen Elsmore
    Senior Director of Institutional Advancement
  • Eric Saul
    Eric Saul
    CFO

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

PresidentCol Stuart B. Helgeson, USMCR (Ret.)1201
Commandant of CadetsCol 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. Robert 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
Registrar, Valley Forge Military CollegeLtCol Tracey Hartley1450
Enrollment Manager, Valley Forge Military CollegeMr. Audie Murphy1302
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 Berry1230
Associate Dean, Valley Forge Military AcademyMr. Aaron Barkley1382
Assistant Dean, Valley Forge Military AcademyMrs. Lauren Wochok1401
Director of Admissions, Valley Forge Military AcademyMs. Anna Brennan1561
Director International AdmissionsMr. Kerry Sethi1315
Admissions Representative & Financial Aid Coordinator, Valley Forge Military AcademyMs. Gabrielle Jones1399
Bandmaster / Director of MusicMr. Vincent DeMarro1252
Director of Cadet Activities & Summer CampsMrs. Elizabeth Boylan1253
Director of Health CenterMs. Debbie Hammer1518
Director of Library ServicesMs. Dana Kerrigan1364
Director of AthleticsMr. Mike Muscella1492
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

Colonel (Col) Julian J. Rivera was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science with a concentration in Mathematics from the Virginia Military Institute and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program in May of 1996. Upon graduation from the Basic School in January 1997, he reported to NAS Pensacola, Florida, for flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator in April 1999.

Over the course of his 24 year (and counting) career in the United Stated Marine Corps, Colonel Rivera has been assigned every duty within a Light Attack Helicopter Squadron, from Operations Schedule Writer to safety Officer to Maintenance Officer, in both active duty and reserve functions, during peacetime and combat operations, as well as several staff positions at the Group level (Rgmt), to include Executive Officer.

In 2006, Colonel Rivera left active duty. While he remained active as a Huey Pilot in the Marine Corps Reserves, he began work as a Lead Pilot for The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s Emergency Medical Service Helicopter program – PennSTAR Flight.

In July 2014, Lieutenant Colonel Rivera returned to active duty as the Marine Aircraft Group 49 (MAG-49) full time Aviation Combat Element (ACE) lead planner for Integrated Training Exercise 4-15, and in the Summer of 2015 remained on active duty to serve as the MAG-49 Site Commander for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

In May 2016 he returned to the “Red Dogs”, as he took command of HMLA-773, a Light Attack Helicopter Squadron consisting of eighteen AH-1W Super Cobras and thirteen UH-1Y Venom helicopters, located in both Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ and Naval Air Station Belle Chasse, LA. In May 2018, he relinquished command and returned to MAG-49 as the Executive Officer, as well as a drilling reservist.

At that same time, Colonel Rivera joined the Valley Forge Military Academy and College team as a Lead Tactical Officer in the College, and in the summer of 2019 became the Commandant of Cadets.

Currently, in the Marine Corps Reserves, Colonel Rivera serves as the Regional Coordinator for Reserve Support Program – Region III, where he leads and a team of 40 IMA Marines that continue the faith, and administratively and tactically support and serves our Marines that have begun inactive service. (Approximately 10,000 Marines in the Northeastern United States).

His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star in lieu of second award, Air Medal with 22 Strike/Flight awards, as well as two individual Combat Valor awards, Navy Commendation Medal with the Combat “V” and Gold Star in lieu of second award, and two Navy Achievement Medals. He is married to the former Laura Cieniawa.

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.

Dr. Robert Smith
Provost, Valley Forge Military College
Kathleen Elsmore
Senior Director of Institutional Advancement
Eric Saul
CFO
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