Department of Iowa: Ehrig-McTurk Unit 127
Eligibility: Through grandfather, Roger Schroeder, a seaman in the Navy during World War II.
Offices Held: Served in several unit, district, and department level positions. National: served as Honorary National Junior President 1987-1988, national Finance chairman five of seven years on the committee, Children & Youth chairman, Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation chairman, Human Resources Committee member, Finance Committee liaison to Audit Committee, Finance Committee liaison to the ALA Foundation, Future Focus Committee vice chairman, ALA Foundation Board of Directors member, and National Executive Committee member.
Professional/personal background: Raised by her parents, Darrell and Jeanne Paustian, on a farm outside Gladbrook, Iowa. Nicole’s passionate journey for helping others came to fruition with a health care career following the achievement of both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing administration from the University of Iowa in 1993 and 1996, respectively. She is board certified in health care management and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Nicole climbed the corporate ladder of expanded responsibility, supervision, management, and leadership over the past 22+ years; preparing her for the administrative stepping stones of middle management, onto the role of vice president and ultimately, president and chief executive officer of a hospital. She has served on many health care boards at the local, state, regional, and national levels. In addition to volunteering for the American Legion Auxiliary, she enjoys assisting the Lion’s Club, PEO International, and the Peace United Church of Christ. In her spare time, Nicole loves cheering on her alma mater, the Iowa Hawkeyes! News Release | Iowa resident elected national president of American Legion Auxiliary | National President’s 2019-2020 Special Emphasis
National Vice President
Department of Kentucky: Latonia Unit 203
Eligibility: Through father Bill Kaelin, Korean Era Army veteran. Offices Held: Served in several unit, district, and department level positions. National: chairman of Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, Children & Youth, Poppy, National Security, Americanism, Membership, and Leadership committees, Children & Youth committee member, Junior Activities vice chairman, strategic plan member, long range strategic plan member, and technology team leader.
Professional/personal background: Kathy has two daughters, four grandchildren, and two sons-in-law. Kathy recently retired from a Fortune 500 company after more than 33 years where she worked in the information technology department. She earned her Associate in Science in business administration and her Bachelor of Science in information technology. Other organizations she’s part of include Board of Directors – Michelle P Waiver, Kentucky; served as president for two years for the Fellow Life Management Institute; Eight & Forty - Salon 585; served as vice president for one year with the Bellevue Veterans Auxiliary; Northern Kentucky Special Olympics Committee; volunteer chairman for the Joe Walters Celebrity Golf Committee; Kentucky Colonel; and Fraternal Order of Eagles, Bellevue, Ky.
Linda Boone, Department of Oregon
Sara Riegel Department of Indiana: eUnit 438Eligibility: Through the service of her grandfather. She joined ALA National Headquarters in 2011 as a compliance accountant. Riegel has a diverse background in nonprofit and for-profit entities, and small-business ownership. She has served on school commissions and neighborhood development organizations. Riegel is thankful for the guidance of her parents in setting the example of giving of one’s time and talent in service to their church and community, and has passed the same character-building values on to her four children.
American Legion Auxiliary members elect five national division vice presidents, one from each ALA division.
Central Division National Vice President
Department of Michigan: Dale H. Wheeler Unit 219
Eligibility: Through husband Lanny Gott and brothers, Winifred and Leonard Williams; all served in the Vietnam Era.
Professional/personal background: Worked in insurance and real estate as an agent. Graduated high school and took various business courses at the college level. Served on the Lake City, Mich. Chamber of Commerce and on a local political party board for several years. Partner of the 8/40 for 27 years having served as departmental chapeau and held several national chairmanships. Married for 51 years with one daughter, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Eastern Division National Vice President
Department of Massachusetts: Charles Kennedy Unit 275
Eligibility: Through father Ray Edward Singer, a veteran of the Korean War.
Professional/personal background: She is married to Robert Baranowski. Robert and Carolyn have five children and 14 grandchildren who belong to the American Legion, SAL, and American Legion Auxiliary Juniors. Carolyn is employed at the Springfield City Library and plans to retire in two years. When Carolyn has spare time, she enjoys bowling, sewing, crafts, making porcelain dolls, and spending time with her grandchildren.
Northwestern Division National Vice President
Department of Colorado: John Harold Buckley Unit 32
Eligibility: Through husband Robert, Vietnam, and daughter, Cheri, Gulf War.
Professional/personal background: Rhonda is a 24-year member of the Auxiliary. She has two daughters and six grandchildren, all of whom are members of The American Legion Family. Her husband Bob, and daughter Cheri, are dual members. Her home is in Longmont, Colo. She enjoys gardening, sewing, and spending time at their cabin at Beaver Lake. Her career has been varied. She’s groomed race horses, was a nursing assistant at the Nebraska Veterans Home, packed household goods for moving companies, and for the past seven years, has served as secretary/treasurer of the ALA in Colorado. She is retiring from that position in June of 2019.
Southern Division National Vice President
Noemi Burgos de Paneto
Department of Puerto Rico: Oscar A. Rolon Unit 48
Eligibility: Through deceased husband Samuel Paneto, Vietnam Army veteran.
Professional/personal background: She’s been a volunteer for 20 years at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she assists veterans and their families. She retired as executive director of Seafarer International Union where she worked for 36 years. She graduated with a degree in business administration from New York University and a master’s in business management from Rio Piedras University in Puerto Rico. Has a son, Frankie, and daughter Waleska, four grandsons, and six great grandchildren. They all are members of the Legion Family.
Western Division National Vice President
Department of Oregon: Milwaukie 180
Eligibility: Through father, Virgil Brown, WWII; and daughter, Becky Crosby, Gulf War.
Professional/personal background: Retired healthcare administration assistant, member of Skyview Baptist Church and choir, widow with two daughters, four grandsons, four granddaughters, two great grandsons, and one great granddaughter. Was an ALA Junior member. Enjoys volunteering, singing, scrapbooking, and teaching crafts.
American Legion Auxiliary chaplains express our founding principle of service to God and country and celebrate diversity among people and faiths. They also provide spiritual and emotional guidance, sending dignity and respect to the occasion.
Mary Anne Casadei
Department of New York: Henry P. Smith Unit 24
Eligibility: Through father Frank L. Smith Sr., U.S. Navy during WWII.
Professional/personal background: Worked as a youth director at Rome Family YMCA for youth at risk, mentally ill, developmentally delayed participants; Family Nurturing Center facilitator of parenting programs; Court Street Diagnostic Treatment Center Social Work Department patient advocate. She volunteers with the Rome VA Clinic, Rome Memorial Hospital, Annual Crop Walk, Rescue Mission, Ride for Missing Children, Honor America Days Parade, Wreaths Across America, Rome Republican Committee chairman for 10 years, Oneida County Republican Committee chairman two years. She is also a member of several organizations including Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, Zonta Club, Lions Club, Red Cross board of directors, Ride for Missing Children, Wreaths Across America, participant of St. John’s Church, Marion Guild, and Alter Rosery Society.
The national historian completes a historical record of the administrative year in which she serves, maintains, and updates the historical records of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Department of Tennessee: Unit 77
Eligibility: Through father Fred Robbins, WWII.
Professional/personal background: Peggy is a 39-year retired educator. She has a Bachelor of Science in education and a master’s in school administration. She has continued to substitute for the past 10 years after retirement. She coached 4-H judging teams for 20 years and continues to assist in judging other activities. She worked 10 years with the Boy Scouts as a merit badge counselor. She is a part time adult Sunday school teacher at her local church. She is also a member of the XI State Delta Kappa Gamma where she serves as a member of the legislative committee. She served as local president of the Tennessee Education Association.
Peggy has two sons, one daughter, and four grandchildren.
Information presented on this page was provided by the candidates.
When are ALA national officers elected?
These national officer positions serve one-year terms and are elected at National Convention each year. These officers will serve until adjournment of the following National Convention. In addition to these candidates endorsed by their states’ departments, any member in good standing may be nominated for these national offices from the floor at National Convention.