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Honor - Veterans Recognition Luncheon

Honor - Veterans Recognition Luncheon

Monday, April 29, 2024 (11:00 AM - 1:00 PM) (EDT)


Join us for the annual HONOR Veterans Recognition Luncheon, a hallmark event organized by Wilkes-Barre Connect. This year's luncheon will once again bring together the community to honor and celebrate the local veteran and veteran entrepreneur community in the Wyoming Valley.

The HONOR Veterans Recognition Luncheon serves as a platform to recognize the remarkable contributions of veterans and veteran entrepreneurs in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It is a testament to their resilience, dedication, and entrepreneurial spirit. This event is not only a gesture of gratitude but also a reaffirmation of our commitment to supporting our veterans as they transition into the business world.

Our 2024 keynote speaker will be Michael Hawkins, President, and CEO of Netizen Corporation.

Named one of the U.S. Army's "most proficient and capable leaders" during his 6 years of military service with the US Army as a Military Police investigator, Michael went on to earn a degree with honors in Computer Science from the University of Maryland and managed large scale federal government software engineering and cybersecurity programs at executive levels for a decade prior to founding Netizen Corporation.

After his military service and a stint in the private sector, Michael went to work for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a Software Engineer and Data Management Specialist where he served in an interim position as the Deputy Chief Information Officer of the Philadelphia VA Medical Center focusing on health data security. He then went on to manage portions of then-Secretary Shinseki's "T21 Transformation" initiatives that sought to bring VA technologies and practices up to 21st century standards. In this role, he collaborated directly with political appointees in the Obama administration at both the Pentagon and VA headquarters to better and more securely integrate VA and DoD systems, practices, and information.

In 2013, Michael founded Netizen Corporation to provide cybersecurity and related services to government, defense, and commercial markets worldwide. Netizen would become the 47th fastest growing private company in the nation in 2019 according to Inc. Magazine and the 184th fastest growing in 2020. It was the second-fastest-growing company overall in the state of Pennsylvania, the fastest-growing veteran-owned company in the country, and the fastest-growing cybersecurity company in the nation those years as well. Netizen has also been recognized multiple times as the Lehigh Valley Business of the Year, the Chamber of Commerce Veteran Owned Business of the Year, a Platinum Medallion awardee from the US Department of Labor for Veteran hiring and support, and a national Best Workplace from Inc. Magazine and others. With employees in 7 states and customers in 5 countries and growing, Netizen has been repeatedly recognized as a preeminent provider of cybersecurity solutions by customers ranging from federal agencies to the Fortune 500 including schools, colleges, municipalities, banks, manufacturers, the defense and intelligence community, and beyond.

We are also excited to award three local veteran entrepreneurs with grants to help advance their ventures. Our 2024 Honor Veteran Award Winners are:

Michael Szklanny, Author of The Shadow Within, a fantasy novel and the first installment of a future three-part series.

Amber Viola, Founder and Co-host of Politics but make it Fashion, a podcast that explores the intersection of politics and fashion, discussing how clothing style trends can reflect and impact political and social issues.

Vincent Balint, Owner of Bulldog BBQ, a catering business, and roadside stand that will soon be constructing a brick-and-mortar location.

Holiday Inn East Mountain
600 Wildflower Drive
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702 United States
Monday, April 29, 2024 (11:00 AM - 1:00 PM) (EDT)
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