On January 14, 2002, the Charter for the Medal of Valor Review Board was signed by the Attorney General. As required by the legislation, the eleven-member board was appointed by the President, the Majority and Minority Leaders of the U.S. Senate, and the Speaker and the Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The board, which comprises representatives of the public safety community and the general public, reviews the nominations and recommends individuals for recognition.
Chief Whipple has spent his entire working life devoted to public service, and in particular as an emergency responder. Early in his career, he was certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and worked on a part-time basis in New Hampshire for almost five years. He also served with the East Barre Fire Department; held the positions of dispatcher, patrol officer, juvenile officer, and investigator; and served as the Chief of Police in two Vermont police agencies. He currently serves as Chief of Police for South Burlington—the third largest municipal police department in Vermont. Chief Whipple attended Northeastern University, obtained an Associate's degree from Castleton State College, a Bachelor's degree from Johnson State College, and received his Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Vermont. He also teaches criminal justice, paralegal, and pre-law courses at the Community College of Vermont and Woodbury College.
Abbey Gail Johnston is the President of the Lynchburg Firefighters Association, Local 1146, a subsidiary of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), located in Lynchburg, Virginia. She represented the IAFF in 2009 as a guest of Mrs. Obama during the State of the Union address. Mrs. Johnston is a Master Firefighter/Paramedic with the Lynchburg Fire Department where she has been employed since 2004. She holds several instructor certifications and teaches in the Lynchburg area regularly. Her instructor certifications include Firefighter I and II, CPR, Advanced Life Support Coordinator teaching EMT-B through Paramedic, Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and International Trauma Life Support (ITLS).
Captain Gaynor joined Connecticut's Meriden Police Department in 1996, where he was promoted to Detective in 2005 and Lieutenant in 2007. In 2012, Gaynor was promoted to Captain and Detective Division Commander. He served on active duty with the Marine Corps for 4 years and is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield. He graduated from Saint Leo University and is completing his Master's degree in Criminal Justice Management at American Military University.
Chief Al H. Gillespie currently serves as the fire chief of the City of North Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the years, he also has served as fire chief in Augusta, Georgia and Yakima, Washington and has had wide-ranging experience as a leader of organizations that provide fire and emergency medical services, code and fire inspections, fire prevention, emergency management, and public education. In addition, Chief Gillespie has acted as the chief officer in charge of the dock-side shipboard firefighting on the Columbia River and served in several statewide mobilizations for wildfires. His many accomplishments include a fellowship at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, a B.S. degree in fire administration, and two associate's degrees. Chief Gillespie is the President and Chairman of the Board of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), where he has held several other positions. He also has served in several capacities in the National Society of Executive Fire Officers and is a Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers (MIFireE).
Joanne Hayes-White was sworn in as the 25th Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department on January 16, 2004. Chief Hayes-White oversees a Department of approximately 1,500 members and an operating budget of $300 million. She is responsible for providing fire, emergency medical services, special operations, and public education to 775,000 residents of the City and County of San Francisco. As Chief, she has enhanced community-based programs through the Department’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT), San Francisco Firefighters in Safety Education (SFFISE), and Senior Home Safety and Asthma Outreach programs. She was hired as a Firefighter in April 1990, promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1993, and to the rank of Captain in January 1996. In May 1996 she was made acting Battalion Chief with oversight of the department’s dispatch and communications systems. Promoted to Assistant Deputy Chief in 1998, she was responsible for the Division of Support Services, the Bureau of Communications, the Bureau of Equipment, the Bureau of Engineering and Water Supply, Management Information Systems, and all facility repairs, maintenance, and renovations.
Chief Hayes-White graduated from the University of Santa Clara with a degree in business. She is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and served on the Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee. In June 2007, she was selected to serve on the National Advisory Council to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In April 2010, Chief Hayes-White was selected as one of six Senior Fire Officials by the U.S. Fire Administration, Fire Protection Publications/International Fire Service Training Association, International Fire Chiefs Association, and the National Fire Protection Association for a fellowship to attend the Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.