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. 

 

 

Foundation Executive Director

Lisa Baronio, Executive Director

Announced as the 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.

Baronio brings more than 30 years of proven nonprofit experience in fundraising and donor relations, where she spent the last 13 years in leadership positions, primarily with large, public, higher educational institutions.

Most recently, Baronio served as the president of the University of Missouri Kansas City Foundation. Immediately prior, she served as the president of the University of Northern Iowa Foundation. 
Ms. Baronio earned her undergraduate degrees from the University of Iowa – a Bachelor of Business Administration in management sciences, and a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science. She also earned her Executive Master of Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

She and her husband enjoy traveling, spending time on their boat, and supporting their two grown children (Stefan and Sofia) in their career ambitions, as well as taking daily walks with their two big dogs. She is a life member of the VFW Auxiliary.

 

lbaronio@vfw.org
816.968.1158

Foundation Director of Donor Relations

Richard Freiburghouse, Director of Donor Relations

Richard Freiburghouse has been a nonprofit management professional for over 30 years, serving in almost every capacity imaginable from grant procurement to planned giving. His position with a large urban school district initially led to consulting work developing innovative 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.

Richard has a Bachelor of Arts degree in both industrial relations and political science from Rockhurst University (Summa Cum Laude). He is a Certified Grants Administrator via coursework at Research Associates with continuing education credit through the University of South Carolina – Columbia.

Among other diverse experience, Richard is a past member of the Kansas City Metro Safe Cities Youth Violence Prevention Committee. In 2015, he was a special consultant to the U.S. State Department assisting the nation of Kazakhstan on the development of its fledgling veteran charities.

With his wife Claudia, Richard enjoys restoring their 1923 Dutch Colonial home (an ongoing endeavor) in the historic Loose Park area of Kansas City. He is also a sports blogger, podcaster and the co-developer of the cult classic “Hughie Jennings EE-YAH! Baseball Game.”

 

rfreiburghouse@vfw.org
816.968.1124

 

Foundation Grants Manager

Jason Couch, Grants Manager

After serving six years in the Army from 2003-2009, Jason later joined the VFW Foundation team in 2012. He was named as the Foundation’s grants manager in 2022. 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. 

Jason is a VFW Life member of Belton Memorial VFW Post 8220. 

 

jcouch@vfw.org
816.968.1174

Foundation Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations

Brooke Brown, Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations

Joining VFW Foundation in October 2018, Brooke is responsible for creating strategic corporate partnerships, managing donor relations with key stakeholders and philanthropic fundraising campaigns to support VFW programs.

Brown brings over 15 years of successful nonprofit experience in fundraising, cause marketing, event management and creativity to special projects.

In 2017, she was inspired to produce and curate a photography exhibition called Hope 22 which highlighted veterans overcoming PTSD and suicide. 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 and connection to veteran nonprofit communities. 

Brooke earned her Bachelor of Science in business administration major in marketing at the University of Missouri – Columbia and her master’s in business at University of Missouri – Kansas City. 

 

bbrown@vfw.org
816.968.2766

 

Foundation Assistant Director

Ben Vargas, Assistant Director

Ben has been with the VFW Foundation since February 2013. Ben currently recruits potential corporate and philanthropic collaborations for the VFW and VFW Foundation as well as facilitating the yearly BURGER KING/VFW Unmet Needs fundraising campaign.

Before joining the VFW Foundation, Ben worked as a supervisor with the VFW development department from 2005 until 2012 at VFW National Headquarters. Donor services is responsible for all donation processing, telephone and direct mail communication with VFW members, VFW Auxiliary members, and non-member donors.

Previously, Ben spent over 15 years in call center management for Sprint Corporation and H & R Block where he wore a variety of operation hats including recruitment, training, and account management with companies such as Anheuser Busch, Rivertown Trading Company, and Home Decorators Collection.

Ben attended Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. He is the past president of the Alumni Association for the Lambda-Upsilon chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He was recognized twice by the chapter as “Alumnus of the Year” in 2010 and 2012.

A life member of the VFW Auxiliary, Ben enjoys spending time with his family and friends, attending live music shows, boxing, and Kansas City sporting events. Ben is an avid supporter of Emporia State University and the University of Kansas athletics. Stinger Up and Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

 

bvargas@vfw.org
816.968.2720

 

 

Foundation Donation Specialist

Renee Martin, Donation Specialist

Meet Renee Martin, our dedicated donation specialist at the VFW Foundation. With over eight years of experience at the VFW and 15 years of total experience in the industry, Renee has gained an extensive amount of knowledge and expertise. A native of Kansas City, she holds a Bachelor of Science in technical management from DeVry University.

Renee has a true passion for the nonprofit sector and discovered her dedication while working for another membership-based organization. She deeply values our veterans and is committed to helping those in need. Renee is honored to be a chaperone for the annual Voice of Democracy winners trip to Washington, D.C. 

When she is not working, Renee enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved corgi, Roxy. She also loves crafting and playing her guitar. 

 

rmartin@vfw.org
816.968.2784

Foundation Senior Program Coordinator

Rebecca Curtis, Senior Program Coordinator

Becky Curtis joined the VFW Foundation in September 1999. When she began with the Foundation, she and the director were the only two employees, and feels she has grown along with the Foundation as it has become a strong asset to the VFW.

Becky’s responsibilities have continued to change over her years of tenure as the Foundation staff has grown from two to its current staff of seven. At present, her responsibilities include preparing applications for submission to the Combined Federal Campaign and numerous Independent Charities of America’s state campaigns. She collaborates with the director of Donor Relations to ensure all requirements are met to best secure admittance to these campaigns. She works with the executive director and the Board of Directors to prepare materials and assists with coordinating the logistics for board meetings and other meetings. Becky tends to various administrative duties and assists the Foundation staff as needed working with the grants manager, donation specialist and VFW accounting department to prepare and ensure the timely disbursement of grants, restricted gifts, and payment of invoices.

Becky is a gardening enthusiast who maintains an indoor jungle during the winter months. She enjoys cycling with her husband and grandkids and spending time with their family. With their children now grown, Becky dotes on her four adorable fur babies who she loves to talk about nearly as much as her beautiful grandchildren.

 

rcurtis@vfw.org
816.968.1128

VFW Foundation Consultants

 

Foundation Consultant

Anthony "Tony" Lowe, VFW Foundation Consultant

Meet Anthony "Tony" Lowe, a dedicated professional with a rich background in both military service and non-profit leadership. Tony embarked on his journey with the VFW Foundation in June 2023 as a contracted consultant, drawing from a wealth of experience gained during his extensive 29-year tenure in the United States Air Force. His commitment to the betterment of veterans' lives has been unwavering, transitioning seamlessly into his role as a tireless advocate after retiring from the Air Force in 2016.

Tony's nonprofit journey also began in 2016, where he flourished as an executive director and operations manager, making significant strides in the sector. This path led him to the VFW Washington Office, where he embraced various full-time roles, ultimately ascending to the position of chief of staff & director of operations. In his current capacity, Tony serves as the Commander of the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee VFW Post 341 in Washington, D.C., passionately championing the rights and welfare of veterans and their families.

Beyond his professional pursuits, Tony is an enthusiastic (though self-proclaimed not particularly gifted) golfer, often found navigating the woods in search of his errant shots. His dedication to veterans, coupled with his sense of humor and commitment to continuous improvement, make him a true asset to the VFW Foundation team. For inquiries or connections, reach out to Tony directly.

 

tonylowe.consultant@vfw.org
202.210.4599

t

o

p