Meet the Staff of the VFW Foundation

For the last 25 years, the VFW Foundation has worked alongside VFW programs to help provide America's service members, veterans and their families with the assistance and support they need and deserve. 

As the VFW's official 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we have worked tirelessly to help close the gaps government benefits and support programs leave for our service members. 

With decades of combined years of VFW experience, the staff of the VFW Foundation is dedicated to ensuring the needs of America's service members, veterans and their families are met today, and well into the future. 



VFW Foundation Executive Director

Lisa Baronio, Executive Director

Announced as the new executive director of the VFW Foundation in August 2022, Lisa is responsible for attaining the VFW Foundation's philanthropic fundraising goals and objectives in support of the VFW.

As the former chief advancement officer of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and president of the UMKC Foundation, Baronio brings nearly 30 years of proven experience in fundraising and donor relations to the position.


Foundation Manager

Richard Freiburghouse, Manager

Richard Freiburghouse has been in nonprofit management for over 25 years. His position with a large urban school district led to consulting work developing 501(c)(3) educational foundations across the U.S. He has been a constant at the VFW Foundation since 2005.

In his current capacity, Richard has a variety of duties that include advising Posts on fundraising, specifically pass-through donations and technical charitable issues; assisting with major gift donors; overseeing the vehicle donation and employee federal/state giving programs.



Foundation Grants and External Relations Coordinator

Jason Couch, Grants Manager

After serving six years in the Army from 2003-2009, Jason later joined to VFW Foundation team in 2012. Jason manages the VFW Foundation’s grant programs, writes grant proposals and reports, conducts corporate and foundation research and assists VFW Posts with fundraising. Additionally, Jason works with select corporate partners on various campaigns.



Foundation Assistant Manager of Corporate Relations

Brooke Brown, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations

Brooke is a nonprofit professional with over 14 years of development experience and has a deep passion to help others. Brooke started her development career with Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami, Florida, and has worked for the American Heart Association as the Director of Go Red for Women in Austin, Texas, and Heart Walk Director in Overland Park, Kansas. While working as a Major Gift Officer at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, she was inspired to produce and curate a photography exhibition called Hope 22 which highlighted veterans overcoming PTSD and suicide. In 2017, Hope 22 was unveiled at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City over Veterans Day weekend and traveled throughout the Midwest giving the message of hope. 

In 2018, Brooke joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation in Kansas City as the Assistant Manager, Corporate Relations where she engages companies for social impact and cause marketing campaigns to help veterans and military families.

Brooke received her BSBA in Marketing at the University of Missouri-Columbia and is currently working on her MBA at UMKC. Brooke has also been involved as a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2009 in Miami, and recently became a Big Sis again in Kansas City. Brooke enjoys the arts, playing golf, hiking, traveling and watching Chiefs football. She currently resides in Prairie Village, Kansas, along with her boyfriend Joe, Persian cat Marley, Corgi dog Teddy.


Foundation Assistant Manager of Special Projects

Ben Vargas, Assistant Manager of Special Projects

Ben is the Assistant Manager of Special Projects with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Foundation. Ben has been with the VFW Foundation since February 2013. Ben currently recruits potential corporate collaborations for the VFW and VFW Foundation as well as managing several VFW accounts.

Ben facilitates the yearly (July and November) fundraising campaigns with participating Burger King franchises in raising needed funding for the VFW Unmet Needs program. Since 2007, Burger King franchises and their local customers have raised over $6 million to assist veterans, service members, and their families who are experiencing unexpected financial difficulties as a result of deployment or other military-related activities or injury.

Before joining the VFW Foundation, Ben worked with the VFW Development Department as a Donor Services Supervisor for seven years. Donor Services is responsible for all donation processing, telephone and direct mail communication with VFW member, VFW Auxiliary member and non-member donors.

Previously, Ben spent over 15 years in call center management for Sprint and H & R Block. Ben performed duties such as operations, employee recruitment, and account management working with companies such as Anheuser Busch, Rivertown Trading Company, and Home Decorators Collection.

Ben, raised, in Shawnee, Kansas, resides in Overland Park, Kansas. He attended Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. He was a member of the Lambda-Upsilon chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity where he served as president of the ESU/Lambda-Upsilon Alumni Association for four years. His father, a VFW Life member, is a Korean War veteran who served with the United States Navy aboard the U.S.S. Repose. His mother was employed with the VFW National Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, for nearly 40 years primarily with the Adjutant General’s office as an Executive Assistant for the Adjutant General.


Foundation Staff Member

Renee Martin, Program Coordinator

Renee Martin joined the VFW Foundation in 2014. She processes all the donations for the Foundation, as well as handles all the matching gifts for the organization.

Foundation Administrative Assistant

Rebecca Curtis, Senior Program Coordinator

Rebecca Curtis handles CFC/ICA State and Federal Campaign applications, grant disbursements, Board meeting preparations among other administrative duties. She joined the VFW Foundation in September 1999.