Driving Up the Coast in the “STU-Haul”

The Global SOF Foundation may not have a traditional office, but we do have a storage unit where we keep all of our signs, swag, and other supplies that keep us moving and supplement our events. When it comes time to move those supplies en masse, as we do for this week’s Modern Warfare Symposium, we need to rent a U-Haul.

So on Saturday, GSF President, Stu Bradin, and Director of Marketing, Chelsea Hamashin, met up at their local U-Haul office to kick off the upcoming road trip. As seasoned van-packers, they had the storage unit organized into the van in less than an hour…don’t pretend you aren’t impressed!

With her part of the road trip complete, Chelsea waved toodle-oo to Stu and left him to head home and prepare for the next day’s trip to Ft. Bragg in the now-dubbed “STU-Haul.”

We’d never let anyone make that full trip alone, so on Sunday morning Stu picked up GSF Vice President, Dr. Keenan Yoho, at his home in Orlando, FL. This is where the real magic begins. Stu and Keenan don’t waste their time on the road together, and they discuss all matters of things from current events to overarching GSF strategies. The rest of the staff is always intrigued to see what comes of their leadership spending these long stretches together in an enclosed space… usually, it involves work!

They kept the team posted on their progress, sending updates as they passed each “milestone,” a.k.a. State lines and memorable landmarks involving sombreros.

Director of Partner Relations, Steve Jones, also drove in from his new home base of Arlington, VA to join up with the team, while Chelsea and Chief Operating Officer, Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew, received the star treatment and flew in to North Carolina from Tampa.

Setting the Stage

Monday was set-up day, so the team got up nice and early to make their way into Ft. Bragg. Some of us were first-timers, while others had spent years of their career based there.

As non-CAC holders, Chelsea and Meaghan had to go to the Visitor Center to get passes. After a bit of a loop-de-loop and accidentally causing a “HOLD TRAFFIC,” they got to the Visitor’s Center. Just so any other first timers know–it’s very easy to pass the turn off to get into the Visitor’s Center, so keep your eyes peeled to your left!

The convergence of groups into a GSF event venue is often rewarding; we do so much long-distance coordination, so that when we’re finally seeing everyone come together it’s pretty cool. We had our GSF team, the eventPower ladies, a variety of USASOC representatives, our industry exhibitors, and the supporting vendors. It’s quite the group!

That’s not to say it’s without its hiccups…We had a day of highs and lows, ranging from the Lafayette Ballroom looking stellar thanks to the hard efforts of our vendors Heritage and DCE to some last minute program edits that required all hands on deck to update.

By the time we left Iron Mike Conference Center, it was clear that we still had some work to do!

Impromptu Icebreaker Reception

We had previously decided not to host an Icebreaker Reception at this Symposium, but when you bring a community like this together that’s often inevitable. While we’d planned to do a team dinner that night, an unexpected project kept us in our hotel lobby working as a group, and as they say… if you’re building it, they will come! (It’s something like that).

Either way, we were honored to see that so many of our attendees, panelists, and even some new friends were happy to join us in the lobby of our hotel while we worked, to network and talk about the upcoming week.

Folks were so engaged in conversation that they didn’t even notice when they’d been recruited to fold Program Addendums… 😉

It was an encouraging end to the evening, and we are thrilled to keep up this sense of community and productivity as this week truly begins!

Remember to check the week’s agenda if you have any questions about what is to come.


Don’t miss the recaps of the Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 of the inaugural Modern Warfare Symposium and Expo.