Meet our Team
The executive board consists of seven highly motivated men and women, with diverse professional backgrounds, who understand the devastating impact PTSD can have on the afflicted and their loved ones. Some of the trustees of Unbroken Warriors have completed residential trauma treatment and are driven to offer that opportunity to veterans in need. Unbroken Warriors is dedicated not only to fundraising for veteran PTSD care, but also for raising awareness to the daily struggles that our returning veterans are faced with.
Board of Directors
Michael Dowens is currently a township police officer, lifelong New Jersey resident, and a graduate of Albright College who earned a Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice. He is also a United States Navy veteran who served as a Search and Rescue Swimmer and Boatswain Mate in Liberia, Somalia, Haiti, and the Norther Arabian Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since his discharge from military service, Mr. Dowens struggled with civilian life. He experienced firsthand the lack of funding available to returning servicemen and servicewomen who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After receiving residential trauma treatment in 2016, he confronted his military experiences and was motivated to pay it forward. It was there he devised his first endeavor to raise awareness for a mental disease most, including him before this experience, know nothing about. Michael Dowens raised $30,000 for walking from the NJ Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial to the Washington DC Veterans Memorial in June 2016. From the recognition the cause received, Mr. Dowens put all his military-minded determination into creating a nonprofit organization to help other veterans. He is fulfilled knowing he is leaving a positive legacy, along with his devout following of the Miami Dolphins, behind for his young son, Greyson. Mr. Dowens has shown natural leadership abilities throughout all his personal and professional undertakings and successfully leading this organization is in the forefront of his heart because it is so personal to him.
Christine Dowens is a dedicated wife, a mother to a precocious toddler, and a public school elementary educator for 14 years. She is also involved in various educational groups, committees, and honor societies while also teaching evening college courses. Previously, Mrs. Dowens earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Special Education and Regular Education, a Master’s of Science Degree with a concentration as a Reading Specialist, a Post Master’s Certificate as a Learning Disabilities Teacher-Consultant (LDT-C), and an Educational Supervisory Certification. Her professional experiences are directly related to the organization and planning necessary to keep all events related to Unbroken Warriors running efficiently.
Although she enjoys traveling, New Jersey has always been Mrs. Dowens’ home and has been home for all her lineage since her relatives immigrated here several generations ago. Christine Dowens takes great pride in being born and raised in a country where so many people stand up for her freedoms day in and day out. Her love for her family and her love for the freedoms she wants her son to enjoy in his future, compelled Mrs. Dowens to help start Unbroken Warriors. She’s looking forward to augmenting her knowledge of mental health and special needs while dedicating her time to helping our military veterans regain their lives.
Donna Erskine is a wife of 26 years to Andrew Erskine, and mother to twin teenage girls, Isabelle and Olivia. In addition to taking care of her family, Mrs. Erskine currently works part-time at Schwartz Design Showroom in Metuchen, NJ. Mrs. Erskine has over 25 years of financial, sales/marketing, and media experience with an additional five years of entrepreneurial experience. She has lived in Holmdel for 16 years and is well-known in her community where she has managed many event planning teams for local schools and various charity organizations. Mrs. Erskine received a BA in Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA., and graduated from Red Bank Catholic High School. She is honored to be an Unbroken Warriors Trustee, and looks forward to lending her personal and professional expertise in fulfilling all of Unbroken Warriors’ endeavors.
Mary Dowens Evernham
Mary Dowens Evernham is a devoted mother and caregiver to her son, a New Jersey native, and someone who is well-versed in how PTSD impacts individuals and their families. Ms. Evernham is a Board Member of The Evernham Family Racing for a Reason Foundation, which has been working to raise funds for the Autism Society of North Carolina. She is also the co-founder of IGNITE, which is a community center for young adults on the Autism Spectrum in North Carolina. IGNITE is a community center that offers activities, skills training, and educational workshops to help autistic young adults gain independence in all areas of their lives. Mary Dowens Evernham retired from the banking industry and left her lifelong Jersey Shore hometown to relocate in North Carolina. She is an asset to Unbroken Warriors because of her diverse background and experiences with nonprofit organizations and their start-ups.
Board of Trustees:
Although Vincenta Raya was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she has called Marlboro, New Jersey her home for the past twenty years. Having worked as a legal secretary for two senior partners in a prominent Manhattan law firm, and then as a Para-professional in the Special Education Department of the Marlboro Board of Education, Mrs. Raya’s prime focus was raising her two children. In her spare time, Mrs. Raya has been involved in event planning for friends, family, and local schools and hopes to bring that knowledge to Unbroken Warriors fundraising endeavors. Mrs. Raya feels very honored to be selected to serve on the Board of Trustees for Unbroken Warriors. This gives her an opportunity to acknowledge her father and uncles as being World War II Veterans. Additionally, Unbroken Warriors gives Vincenta Raya an opportunity to show her gratitude to all of our Veterans and active servicemen and servicewomen who continue to sacrifice so much to afford us the freedom and liberties that we enjoy on a daily basis in this great country.
Board of Trustees:
Robert Pietrafesa is a loving father and current Connecticut resident. He currently serves as a trustee for the Syracuse Community Health Center, Director of Eagan Family Trust, and a Trustee of the Montessori Learning Center, Syracuse, New York. Mr. Pietrafesa is an investor and executive with an exceptional record of creating value by driving organic and acquisition growth in companies. Among his diverse professional experiences, he is an asset to Unbroken Warriors because of his multi-year general management experience for companies ranging from start-up to over $100 Million in revenue, 1000 employees in four locations. Robert Pietrafesa has extensive CEO experience building powerful strategies, energizing high performance teams and executing superior results. He graduated Philadelphia University with a BA in Business Management and has held three CEO positions, including CEO of Arpeako for 19 years. Mr. Pietrafesa was compelled to dedicate time to Unbroken Warriors because of his extensive knowledge of PTSD and his compassion towards those afflicted with the detrimental side effects, such as substance abuse. Mr. Pietrafesa fits in his love for exotic cars and outdoors activities among the extensive work he does merging and integrating companies and their management teams. Unbroken Warriors is fortunate to have someone so knowledgeable on corporate structuring and minimizing overhead on the team raising money for our veterans in need of treatment.
Native to Newton, Massachusettes, Bruce Kopelman left the area after graduating high school there. He attended and graduated from Northeastern University and then lived in New York and New Jersey. He and his wife Karen have three children, Douglas, Adam, and Samantha, and four grandchildren. Mr. Kopelman currently is employed with the Kopelman Group, a real estate investment corporation, which he founded in 1992. Mr. Kopelman has an array of business ownership experience and will bring his knowledge of budgeting and networking to the Unbroken Warriors. He ran Kopelman Industries, founded Made Here Inc., owned Rich-Par Dye Finishing Corporation, and founded Bal-Togs Inc. Bruce Kopelman has extensive experience overseeing the start-ups and creations of businesses and has a keen sense of money management. He has an unwavering sense of patriotism and immeasurable respect for those who have, and are currently, protecting our country. He hopes to pay forward all the blessings his life has had by helping veterans treat their PTSD.