Houston’s 4th Annual Navy SEAL Foundation Evening of Tribute

It was my sincere privilege to host the 4th Annual Houston Navy SEAL Foundation Evening of Tribute in early February, honoring Navy SEALs and other members of the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community for the courageous and dangerous work they do to protect our freedoms. The event is a fundraiser for the Foundation and an opportunity to show appreciation for the sacrifice and commitment from these American heroes.

My wife Christine and I joined fellow co-hosts Elizabeth and Gary Petersen, Ellen and John Rutherford, and Nicole Hodge and retired Navy SEAL Will Hodge for this year’s tribute which featured Robin King, CEO of the Navy SEAL Foundation, and a keynote address by Admiral William H. McRaven, United States Navy (Ret), SEAL.

Robin King has been with the Navy SEAL Foundation since its inception in July 2000, and in addition to serving as CEO since 2013 has served as Chief Financial Officer, Deputy Executive Director and Interim Executive Director. I am truly in awe of her exemplary leadership and commitment to financial stewardship which has allowed the Foundation to grow from a small organization focused on scholarships and educational opportunities to a multi-faceted programmatic foundation with dozens of specialized programs and an annual program budget in the millions.

Under her command, the Navy SEAL Foundation has consistently achieved and maintained the highest rating possible from Charity Navigator, a national charity watchdog organization, placing it in the top 1% of all charities rated. In August of 2019, King was awarded the prestigious United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for her steadfast dedication and superior service to the NSW community including raising millions of dollars to fund programs touching the lives of tens of thousands of NSW warriors and their families.

Admiral William H. McRaven is a retired U.S. Navy Four-Star Admiral and the former Chancellor of the University of Texas system. During his time in the military, he commanded special operations forces at every level, eventually taking charge of the U.S. Special Operations Command. His career included combat during Desert Storm as well as both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. As Chancellor of the UT system, McRaven led one of the nation’s largest and most respected higher education systems, overseeing 14 institutions that educated 220,000 students and employed 20,000 faculty and more than 80,000 health care professionals, researchers and staff.

McRaven is a recognized national authority on U.S. foreign policy and has advised Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and other U.S. leaders on defense issues.

He’s authored four books, including SPEC OPS: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare, and three New York Times best sellers: Make Your Bed, Sea Stories and The Hero Code.

As Admiral McRaven quoted when he kicked off our evening, “These warriors do not fight because they hate what is in front of them, but because they love what is behind them.”

This sentiment reflects the unique combination of excellence and selflessness these brave warriors exhibit, not just on the field of battle, but in every part of their lives. I am honored to give them and their dedicated families the help they need and deserve in partnership with this important Foundation which delivers 93% of every $1 contributed directly to this community through its outstanding programs.

I continue to be honored to know and work with members of the SEAL community, and I am amazed by their strength and perseverance. To witness the work ethic, bravery and humility by which a SEAL seeks to protect American lives and values is to feel compelled to ensure the sanctity of their courageous community, including their families who also make sacrifices for our nation’s liberty.

The Navy SEAL Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt, national non-profit charitable organization. It provides immediate and ongoing assistance to the Navy Special Warfare community and its families. The foundation’s programs are designed to improve health and welfare, build and enhance resiliency, empower and educate families and provide critical support during times of illness, injury, loss, and transition. To learn more, visit: https://www.navysealfoundation.org/about-the-foundation/.

Shea Morenz is the CEO and President of Morenz Group and Bobcat Group where he and his team provide strategic guidance and expansionary capital to privately held companies with a core focus on long-term sustainability. Morenz played collegiate football and baseball at the University of Texas before being drafted by the New York Yankees in the first round of the 1995 Major League Baseball draft. He is a member of YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) and serves on the Texas Business Leadership Council, the Chancellor’s Council and the Development Board for the University of Texas System as well as the Advisory Council for the McCombs School of Business.