MEET OUR TEAM

We are a collective of unique skills and diverse backgrounds, but we come together as a singular team bound by a passion for assisting our service members and veterans.
Steph-Drake-Headshot
Steph Drake

Executive Director,
U.S. Marine Corps Reservist

Allen Whiteside

Programs Director,
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

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William Prom

Development Director,
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

Ben Armstrong

Director of Outreach
& Strategic Partnerships,
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

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Charles Bischoff

Employment Coordinator,
U.S. Army Veteran

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Jeffrey McZeal

Employment Coordinator,
U.S. Army Veteran

Chris Brown

Louisiana Regional Expansion Manager,
U.S. Navy Veteran

Patrick McManus

Employment Coordinator,
U.S. Air Force Veteran

Stephen Sider

Employment Coordinator,
U.S. Navy Veteran

Joe King

Employment Coordinator,
U.S. Army Veteran

Maddie Zimmermann

Programs Marketing Coordinator

LEARN MORE

NextOp is a nonprofit organization engineered to meet the unprecedented employment challenges and opportunities facing military members and veterans today.

STEPH DRAKE

Executive Director

Steph is the Executive Director of NextOp. Steph was named to her current position in August, 2019.

Steph Drake is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy (2005) where she majored in Oceanography and played center midfielder for the Navy women’s soccer team. In 2005, Steph was commissioned as a US Marine Officer. During her time serving our country, Steph held multiple roles at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Camp Lejeune, and Marine Barracks Washington, 8th & I. Steph deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2007-2008) as the Executive Officer for Security Company, Combat Logistics Battalion-8 and Officer-In-Charge of Fallujah’s first Sisters of Fallujah program. Her other roles included Aerial Port Officer-In-Charge, Company Commander, Logistics Officer, and Regimental Operations Officer. Steph had the honor of being selected to the 8th & I ceremonial drill staff. While on active duty, Steph earned her MBA from Boston University.

Steph left the active duty Marine Corps in 2013, moving to Houston to start a successful career with Shell Oil Company. Steph’s roles at Shell included Contracting & Procurement, Materials Management, and Logistics Operations. Most recently, Steph led the Shell Lubricants Supply Chain logistics operations team for the south and west of North America.

Steph is a Marine Corps reservist and has served as the Houston Marine for Life Representative since February 2018, connecting Marines to local resources for various needs. She is also a Blue and Gold Officer for the US Naval Academy. Steph and her husband Taylor, also a US Marine and Naval Academy graduate, reside in Houston with their three young children.

ALLEN WHITESIDE

Programs Director

Allen is the Programs Director for NextOp and was named to his current position in August, 2021.

Allen joined the United States Marine Corps and served in various operational roles, including three deployments where he, as Senior Enlisted Advisor to Marine Corps Logistics Command (Afghanistan), managed the global distribution network supporting the Marine Corps’ Logistics Reset Strategy. He also served as the Operations Manager for the Marine Corps’ Maritime Prepositioning Program, which encompassed transportation and distribution networks across domestics and various international locations. Allen retired from the Marine Corps after 23 years of honorable service.

Allen then transitioned into management positions in a variety of industries, most recently at a global software company where he led teams in both North and South America.

Allen earned a Bachelor of Science in Management and is a Certified Project Manager with the Project Management Institute (PMI). Allen enjoys volunteering through coaching youth sports and serving as a mentor. He is an avid football fan, “Go Texans” and enjoys running in his spare time. Allen and his wife Frances have been married for 27 years and have two children.

WILLIAM PROM

Development Director

William Prom grew up in New Berlin, WI and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2009 with a B.S. in History (with Honors).  While at USNA, William competed in Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field (Indoor and Outdoor) and was the 2008 Cross Country Team Captain.  William commissioned into the Marine Corps in 2009 and spent the next five years as an Artillery Officer.  In 2012, he deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan as a Fire Direction Officer and in 2013/14 he deployed on the 13th Expeditionary Unit as the Fire Support Coordinator for Battalion Landing Team 1/4.

After leaving the Marine Corps in 2014, William briefly spent time racing marathons professionally and coaching cross country and track before beginning a career in writing.  He worked as a writer for CareerPro Global, Inc. where he focused on supporting servicemembers transitioning out of active duty and veterans seeking federal employment.  William has published dozens of articles in print and online with topics ranging from military history and national defense to athletics and biography.  His written work can be found in Naval History magazine, with the Center for International Maritime Security, and elsewhere.  His research has also been presented in the Proceedings Podcast from the U.S. Naval Institute and at the Houston Maritime Center.

William lives in the Woodlands with his wife, Emily, and their two children.

BEN ARMSTRONG

Director of Outreach & Strategic Partnerships

Ben is the Louisiana Regional Manager for NextOp and was named to his current position in October, 2017.

Ben is an educated Marine veteran with 18 years of experience in professional leadership. He served in support of Operation Enduring and Iraqi Freedom as an Aviation Electrician with Marine Attack Squadron VMA-231 from 1999-2004. Upon his discharge, Mr. Armstrong received his undergraduate degree from Texas State University and his Masters of Public Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

He served as the inaugural Director of Veteran Services for the University of Texas at Austin from 2011 to 2014. At UT Austin, he worked with the University to develop and implement the University’s nationally recognized Veteran Services Plan. In 2014, Ben was appointed as the Finance and Administration Chief in the City of New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness where he planned, developed, and managed the City’s $52 million annual security budget and special projects.

Ben is also an active member of the New Orleans VFW Post 8973, where in April 2017 he was elected Post Commander.

CHARLES BISCHOFF

Employment Coordinator

Charles is an Employment Coordinator for NextOp and was named to his current position in February 2022.

Charles was born in Chicago, Illinois but grew up in Port Charlotte, Florida. He joined the United States Army shortly after high school. Charles served as a healthcare professional during his tenure, including serving as a combat medic where he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and clinic administrator for both primary and specialty care clinics at a level III trauma hospital. Charles was medically retired after eight years of honorable service.

Charles and his family relocated to Houston where he shifted his focus from business and clinical administration to veteran services. Most recently serving as a Peer Service Coordinator for Texas Veterans Commission’s Veteran Mental Health Department’s Military Veteran Peer Network.

Charles has been recognized for being a mental health advocate, openly sharing his own personal struggles and successes. Charles enjoys everything fitness and sports related, from CrossFit to basketball. He is also an avid motorcycle rider. Charles and his wife Alexa have been married for thirteen years and have two young children.

JEFFREY McZEAL

Employment Coordinator

Jeffrey McZeal is currently an Employment Coordinator with NextOp and was named to his current position in April 2022.

Originally from Louisiana, Jeff signed joined the Louisiana Army National Guard in 1988, then went active-duty in the Army in 1999. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 2001. After discharge, Jeffrey worked in supervisory roles for Georgia Pacific, Premier Automotive Management, and Fed Ex Freight until discovering his passion for assisting military veterans. He then began to work hands on with homeless veterans and spent the next 12 years assisting military veterans and their families with employment, education, housing, and mental health. Jeff is an active member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Chris Brown

Louisiana Regional Expansion Manager

Chris is the Louisiana Regional Expansion Manager for NextOp and was named to his current position in February, 2021.

Chris Brown is from Portland, Maine and comes from a family with extensive military service. Chris started his Naval service in August of 1998 under the Navy’s Delayed Entry Program. After his graduation from Mess Management School, he reported to the USS Porter DDG 78 pre-commissioning unit as Mess Management Specialist Seaman. He then advanced to Petty Officer Third Class and took charge of the Wardroom, prepping it for a turnover with the shipyard. After several sea trials and a six month deployment to the Mediterranean, he advanced to Second Class Petty Officer.

In August 2001, Chris transitioned to military recruitment. He served in Levittown, Huntingdon Valley, NRD San Francisco, and Northern CA as the Recruiter in Charge until 2010. He then attended instructor training school, earning the Navy Enlisted Certification 9502. He served as an Enlisted Recruiting Instructor, Senior Chief Petty Officer, Master Training Specialist and Assistant Chief Recruiter until 2018. After his retirement from the military, he started at Ochsner Health as a Talent Acquisition Recruiter.

Chris and his wife Stephanie reside in Mandeville, LA with their four teenage children.

PATRICK McMANUS

Employment Coordinator

Patrick is the Louisiana Employment Coordinator for NextOp and he was named to his current position in January, 2019.

Patrick McManus is a native of Louisiana. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1991 and retired in 2011. During his time he served in support of Operation Sea Signal, Task Force Katrina, Operation Deep Freeze, and Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon retirement, Patrick worked as a project manager building commercial diving equipment.

Patrick volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America and is an active member of the New Orleans VFW Post 8973.

STEPHEN SIDER

Employment Coordinator

Stephen is the Louisiana Employment Coordinator for NextOp and was named to his current position in April, 2021.

Stephen Sider is a native of Louisiana. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1992 and retired in 2013. During his time in the Navy, he served in the Persian Gulf during Desert Shield. Stephen is well versed in leadership and team building. He served as a Navy recruiter for 15 years and gained extensive experience in sales, customer relations, and management.

Stephen holds a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix.

JOE KING

Employment Coordinator

Joe King is part of the Program Support Team for NextOp and was named to his current position in April, 2021.

Joe grew up in a military family moving around the U.S. and the world, but graduated high school in Goldsboro, NC. He enlisted in the US Army as a wheeled mechanic in 2008, serving a total of 8 years including 1 tour to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010.

Joe currently resides outside of Ft Bragg, NC with his wife and 2 small children where he volunteers his time as the VP of Young Professionals with AUSA- Braxton Bragg chapter.

MADDIE ZIMMERMANN

Programs Marketing Coordinator

Maddie is the Programs Marketing Coordinator for NextOp and was named to her current position in September, 2021.

Maddie Zimmermann is a proud graduate of Texas Christian University with experience in digital marketing and public relations. She is passionate about working for organizations with a focus on mission and service. Most recently, she contributed to the communication efforts for non-profit organizations like the College Advising Corps and the Kimbell Art Museum.

When she isn’t running social media accounts or strategizing email campaigns, you can find her in Fort Worth, Texas reading a good book or enjoying a long bike ride.

ALLEN WHITESIDE

Programs Director

Allen is the Programs Director for NextOp and was named to his current position in August, 2021.

Allen joined the United States Marine Corps and served in various operational roles, including three deployments where he, as Senior Enlisted Advisor to Marine Corps Logistics Command (Afghanistan), managed the global distribution network supporting the Marine Corps’ Logistics Reset Strategy. He also served as the Operations Manager for the Marine Corps’ Maritime Prepositioning Program, which encompassed transportation and distribution networks across domestics and various international locations. Allen retired from the Marine Corps after 23 years of honorable service. 

Allen then transitioned into management positions in a variety of industries, most recently at a global software company where he led teams in both North and South America.

Allen earned a Bachelor of Science in Management and is a Certified Project Manager with the Project Management Institute (PMI). Allen enjoys volunteering through coaching youth sports and serving as a mentor. He is an avid football fan, “Go Texans” and enjoys running in his spare time. Allen and his wife Frances have been married for 27 years and have two children.

TIFFANY BRADBURY

Senior Employment Coordinator

Tiffany is an Senior Employment Coordinator for NextOp and was named to her current position in February, 2021.

Tiffany enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1995 as a Supply Apprentice and would deploy to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch during her enlistment. She would eventually transition to the Air National Guard in 2000, but missing wearing the uniform every day led her to return to active duty in 2003. Volunteering for recruiting duty, she would fulfill her desire to help young men and women reach their goals through military service. Tiffany spent the next 15 years in Air Force Recruiting Service before finishing her career at the Pentagon and retiring in December 2018.

Striving to complete her education prior to retirement, Tiffany graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ashford University with a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management.