Our History

The Black Diamond Foundation was founded by Bernie and Cyndi Tacito, the daughter of a Navy veteran. The two launched the now defunct BacPac for Kids Program to provide school supplies to area children. When a friend’s son was injured in Iraq, they started the Veterans Program to train returning soldiers in project management. The program helps soldiers set goals and make the transition to civilian life.

Our current veterans program trains veterans in project management. This course teaches the students the tools and techniques that team members need to be successful. It is great therapy for recovering soldiers, helping them set goals for their transition to civilian life.

Our program is now being housed in Chicago, IL. with the partnership and volunteers of the Chicagoland Chapter of the Project Management Institute of Chicago (PMI ®) and IIT Stuart School of Business. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All our team members are volunteers. 

This is our dedicated team of volunteer board members and instructors.

Every board member is a certified PMP® who also serves as an instructor, and every instructor holds a PMI® certification.

We are 100% volunteers - one one receives compensation for their work.

LEE HENSEL, PMP
lead instructor

US Army, RETIRED

I volunteered for the BDC/PMI Veteran's PM Class because I am a retired Army veteran that wants to help my fellow veterans in the challenge of transition and their (and many times their family’s) "new life". I/we had challenges and one of the ways that I dealt with them was by getting my PMP. Veterans learn to lead people and manage things; a very important perspective that is needed in the commercial business cultures. This training helps the veteran to translate their leadership/management experience into terms and processes that are understood by companies and the communities.

Bill Baxter, PMP

course project manager and instructor

Grateful for the all-volunteer military we have in the US, I feel an urge to demonstrate my gratitude with concrete action, delivering value to those veterans I am able to help.  Aware of challenges involved in transition to a civilian career, I wish to help veterans overcome those challenges.  Seeing positive outcomes -- and feeling I played a part -- is very rewarding.  Then, too... I always enjoy hearing their stories.

 

gerald minZey, PMP®

instructor and board member

US ARMY

Gerald Minzey has 20 years experience as a consultant in Information Technology specializing in Software Development, Technical Project Management, Business Intelligence, and Sustainability.

He is a U.S.Army veteran with 20+ years in both active and reserve components. His career has encompassed Special Operations, Intelligence and Psycological Operations.  Affiliations include
• National Intelligence Agencies: NSA, CIA, DIA, DEA
• Tactical Intelligence Agencies: 319th MI BN, 224th MI BN, 525th MI BDE
• Special Operations Agencies: 5th SFGA, 12th SFGA, USASFC, SOCCENT


Gerald is a graduate of Illinois Institute of Technology where he received his MBA with an emphasis in Sustainable Enterprise. He also holds degrees in Computers, Management, Administration, Intelligence Operations and Mechatronics.

 

Judith Sol-Dyess, pmp®

instructor and board member

My formal education is in fine arts, and I maintain a studio practice. I've worked as a project manager in the nonprofit sector for 15 years, and received by PMP certification during this time. Most recently, I've worked in Agile project management at a custom software consultancy in Chicago. I am a native of Catalonia, Spain, and I'm married to an Army veteran.

I’ve been volunteering with Black Diamond Charities since 2015 - as a mentor, as an instructor, and most recently as a board member. I could not be prouder of the students and instructors with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. We always learn from each other and I continue to be awed at the commitment our veterans have made - not just to serving this country - but to society at large, even after transitioning out of the military.

Their commitment to excellence in all things motivates me to serve them, however I can.

 

Shailender Goswami, PMP

INSTRUCTOR

US Army

It started with a why, “Why do I want to go and take classes for the heroes of our country during my personal time”, and it was  the fastest response and an easiest answer for me. This is the very least I could do for the people who have been protecting us and is sacrificing their personal luxury. There is nothing that can make up for the things that armed forces are doing and have done. Teaching classes is my way of saluting them and saying “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE”.

Terry Radtke-LaCandia, PMP®

instructor and board member

I have been involved in the BDC Veteran PM training classes since January 2015.  As a military “brat” I witnessed the veterans in my life struggle to translate their military experience and careers into the civilian world and find immense pleasure in giving back to the veterans, especially those in transition.

I was exposed to project management growing up in a military family and found a natural inclination to the processes and methodologies when working on a post 9/11 project for the TSA re-framing effort in 2002. My career has been within the retail industry with roles spanning across business and IT PMOs in supply chain and workforce management, new business development, turnarounds, inventory management and controls, service management and reporting arenas. I am interested in international project management instruction and recently became TESOL certified.
 

 
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Anthony L. Costello (Tony), PMP®

instructor and board member

US Army

I was in uniform for over 21 years serving our country. While serving, I had the opportunity to earn multiple degrees, and qualify for my Project Management Professional certification. In the Army I built base camps for the Iraqi Police in Mosul, Iraq; I removed base camps in Wardak and Logar Provinces in Afghanistan; and finally, I built Ebola Treatment Units throughout the jungles of Liberia. I share a kinship with all the other veterans of the country no matter the era and want to do all that I can so that they can have the same opportunities that I had. When I first started working for my current civilian job, I was surrounded by very few veterans. I derive great satisfaction from sharing my stories and knowledge of the project management world I experienced while I was in the Army. Airborne!

 

Ira M. Hendon, MBA, PMP, CSM

Instructor

Whether coaching others through the PMI Chicagoland Chapter Mentor program, Black Diamond Charities (BDC), individual relationships, or during client engagements, I find helping others grow professionally to be extremely rewarding.

I learned about the BDC/PMI Chicagoland Chapter partnership through Bill Baxter at a PMI Chicagoland Chapter Dinner meeting.  I thought I would give it a try.

After two evolutions of classes, I have found the experience 2nd to none. I am very proud of our veterans and if in some small way I can assist with their transition from Active Duty to Civilian life, I am all in.

Emmem Ekorikoh, PMP®, CSM, LSSGB, ITIL, MSMIS/MPH

instructor and board member

I chose to volunteer with Black Diamond Charities because I believe in their mission and believe that the PMP certification can open doors and create opportunities for anyone who is passionate about project management, helping others, and creating solutions. The beauty of the certification is that it can be used across disciplines, can be used as a stepping stone in your career, or to enhance an existing skill set.

During my career and preparation for the exam, I have met great people who have provided me with guidance, support, and advance within my career. The best way to thank all of the individuals who assisted me in my journey is to ‘pay it forward’ by assisting others in their goal to get certified. 

 

Stacy meyer, PMP®

instructor

I am forever grateful to all of the men and women who serve our country. I wanted to do something to show my appreciation in a tangible way by helping them learn a new skill that might lead to a career in project management. I have been a PMP certified Project Manager since 2005 and have my Masters Certificate in Project Management.

I currently work in a Project Management Office in my company and for the past 4 years, have taught project management classes internally all around the world. With my experience, I thought I could make a contribution to this program. I really enjoyed teaching and learning from the veterans who participated in the session I co-taught and was impressed by their knowledge and wide range of work and world experiences. While helping them I also gave myself an amazing opportunity to meet and get to know these courageous men and women from all branches of service.

 
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Melody Moy, PMP

Instructor

Our veterans have given so much for our country -- who wouldn't feel called to help!  Project management is such a valuable business and life skill and I am honored to share my project management knowledge and expertise and am always amazed and humbled by the expertise and experiences that our vets bring to the program.

Delivering a high quality program like ours comes at a cost. Help us keep our delivery consistent by becoming a sponsor.

Black Diamond Charities with collaboration and partnership with PMI Chicagoland Chapter was beneficial for my career transition from IT Engineer to a Project Manager. The topics and processes that I learned during the course was instrumental in me being hired as Project Manager. I can’t thank the volunteer Instructors, Black Diamond Charities and PMI Chicagoland Chapter enough. The class was instrumental in starting my formal training that I will need to become a certified Project Manager soon. The work the Charity and the Volunteers do for the Veterans and Active Duty Military personnel is outstanding.
— Anil Raheja, US Navy. Electronic Warfare Technician, Petty Officer Third Class, E4
 

Sponsorship Levels

Veterans bring leadership skills, discipline, and the capacity to work well in teams under high pressure situations -- exactly what companies need today. Your sponsorship support helps us support them in their transition from the military to project management.  


$300 and higher

listed donor

Individuals or organizations who donate $300 will be listed on our website.


$500 and higher

premium listed donor

Individuals or organizations who donate $500 will be listed on our website with an optional hyperlink to an appropriate website page designated by the donor (individual or organization).


$1,000 and higher

silver donors

Individuals or organizations who donate $1,000 will be listed above the Listed Donor section of our website with an optional hyperlink to an appropriate website page designated by the donor (individual or organization).


Individuals or organizations who donate $5,000 or more will have their logos displayed more prominently on our website and be included in print materials.

$5,000 and higher

sponsors

 
 

Premium Sponsors

 
 
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Project Road Training, LLC

Project Road Training conducts project management training for individuals and organizations.  PMP Exam prep is a specialty, and we’ve cracked the code on making material in The PMBOK (R) Guide feel engaging and relevant to the student’s project work back at the office.  Our classroom course is complemented by a self-paced eLearning course, weekly webinars, web-based interactive exercises, and prescriptive study strategy recommendations.  All of this is designed to provide a continuum of care to help students all the way across the finish line to PMP exam success.

 

Contact Us

If you have questions about our program, or want more information before applying, feel free to reach out to us. We'd love to hear from you!

 

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