Our Team

The Project Cherry Tree organization is made possible by all the help and time put in by each team member. We are extremely thankful for all of our team members and everything they do to help the veterans of northern Michigan.

Meet Our Team

Meet the team members of Project Cherry Tree! Bios are a work in progess — please check back for more information on remaining team members.

Bob Johnson


Bob retired as an Aviation Electronics Technician from the United States Coast Guard in 2002.  Bob moved to the area with his family that same year. Bob currently works at Consumers Energy as an Senior Engineering Technical Analyst Lead. Bob is actively involved in the American Legion Post 35, American Legion Junior baseball, and holds an office in the district. Bob ran for Grand Traverse County Commissioner District 7 in 2014 and is currently serving his second term.  Bob also serves as the American Legion representative on the State of Michigan Board of Managers which oversees the operation of the 2 state veterans homes in Grand Rapids and Marquette.  Bob was the Grand Traverse Area Veterans Coalition Veteran of the Year for 2016–2017. Bob has a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Michigan and a Doctorate of Business Administration from Baker College.

Major General Mike Lehnert, USMC


Major General Mike Lehnert, USMC (retired) is a graduate of Central Michigan University and was then commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps as a combat engineer. After serving on active duty for 37 years, Mike retired as a Major General in 2010. He deployed to Japan, the Republic of the Phillippines, Cuba, and participated in combat operations in Panama, Kuwait, and Iraq. In 2003, he led 5,000 Marines and Sailors during the initial invasion of Iraq. Mike held thirteen separate commands from platoon commander to Joint Task Force Commander. His services included Chief of Staff Joint Force Panama overseeing the turnover of the Panama Canal, Joint Task Group Commander in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the Cuban Migrant crisis, Commander, Joint Task Force 160 to establish detention facilities for Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists, and Marine Logistics Group Commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  His last job on active duty was as the Commanding General of Marine Corps installations west of the Mississippi.  During that time, he was recognized for his work recovering endangered species on the Marine Corps bases under his command.  He also participated in an initiative to get more veterans into universities.  This effort grew into the Student Veterans of America.  In five years, the SVA grew from twenty veteran-led chapters in universities across the country to over 1,000 chapters in every state and in three countries. 

He was the subject of Karen Greenberg’s book “The Least Worst Place”.  This book is used in military and law schools as a study in ethical decision-making.

In 2010, he received the National Peacekeeper Award from the National Conflict Resolution Center.

After retiring from the Marine Corps, he served for two years as the senior advisor to the Commissioner for Customs and Border Protection in Washington DC.

His passions are the environment and education.  He heads the advisory board of the Endangered Species Coalition and as the Vice Chairman of the board for the Student Veterans of America. 

He lectures at universities across the country as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow on leadership, ethical decision-making and the environment.

Brig. Gen. Scott Dennis

Board Member

Brig. Gen. Scott Dennis (Ret) grew up in Michigan and graduated from Elk Rapids High School.  Upon entering the Air Force, General Dennis was commissioned through Officer Training School in 1985 after graduating from Michigan Technological University. He held various operational F-16 flying positions and served as a USAF Fighter Weapons School instructor pilot where he was the only two-time Instructor Pilot of the Year in the school’s history. His command experience includes: the 14th Fighter Squadron at Misawa Air Base, Japan, the 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group at Balad Air Base, Iraq, the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah, and the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing and Commander Kandahar Airfield (NATO), Kandahar Afghanistan where he was responsible for all force protection actions in defense of nearly 26,000 personnel.  He was also the Vice commander of US Air Forces Korea, and deputy Commander of US Air Forces Central Command conducting air operations in the 20-nation U.S. Central Command area of responsibility covering Central and Southwest Asia.  General Dennis is a command pilot with nearly 4000 hours in the F-16, including more than 800 hours of combat time.  His combat deployments include: operations Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.  He led the first attacks into Iraq during Iraqi Freedom as the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses package commander.  His major decorations include: Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters.  He lives with his wife in Williamsburg, and works in the aerospace industry as a consultant.  He volunteers on several projects in Northern Michigan, and serves as a board member for Project Cherry Tree.

Kory Hansen

Board Member

Kory Hansen serves as the Administrator/CEO for Grand Traverse Pavilions, the region's largest continuing care senior community, providing healthcare and residential services to more than 300 residents and employing over 450 staff. Kory has spent his entire 27 year professional career in the senior healthcare field. Kory has been a licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 2005 and is a member of the American College of Health Care Administrators. He is also an Associate member of the Michigan Association of CPA's. Kory received his Bachelors in Business Administration from Western Michigan University, majoring in Accounting and later obtaining his MBA from Lake Superior State University through the NMC University Center. Kory currently serves on the boards for the Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Michigan, Project Cherry Tree, Grand Traverse County Hospital Finance Authority, and the Grand Traverse Pavilions Foundation. He previously served on the Grand Traverse County Commission of Aging board and the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce Healthcare Committee. Kory is also a member of Rotary International of Traverse City's Noon Club.

A native of Traverse City, Kory is married and has four children. His father served in the Army during the Korean War and is honored to help Project Cherry Tree be an advocate for Veterans in our region and improving their access to healthcare.

Martin Jackier, MD

Board Member

After medical school, Dr. Jackier completed his internship and joined the United States Public Health Service in July, 1971. He became the first physician in the National Health Service Corps., formed in 1970, and was assigned to be the medical director of the Seattle Indian Health Board. He remained in that position for two years, and to this day, he considers it the best experience of his career. Dr. Jackier's career focus became emergency medicine and in 1976 he was appointed as the Chief of Emergency Medicine at South Macomb Hospital in Warren, Michigan. After two years, he was appointed Project Medical Director of Macomb county Michigan and was responsible for all emergency services for the 600,000 residents of the county. After eight years in that position, he joined Henry Ford Hospital as the head of their Emergency Medicine Division and the Associate Medical Director for the Northeast Region. After eight years in this role he moved to Boulder, Colorado to enjoy retirement while riding his motorcycles. While retired in Colorado, Marty opened Rocky Mountain Kawasaki, due to his passion for motorcycles. Wishing to once again be near his two daughters, four grandchildren, and two brothers, Marty and his wife returned to Michigan and settle in Traverse City.

Marty is a member of Project Cherry Tree because he is a veteran that is committed to making the lives of other veterans easier and more fulfilling. He believes there are many great opportunities in these areas and hopes to be able to help in that regard.

Thurlow "Sam" McClellan

Board Member


Joseph D. Sarafa

Board Member

Joseph D. Sarafa started in the real estate development and property management business in 1990, joining his father-in-law’s company. From 1990-2005, they developed and managed over 125,000 square feet of property. In 2005, Mr. Sarafa took over as president of the company, and since then, the company has experienced rapid growth. Sarafa currently co-owns over 500,000 sq. ft. of property in Michigan. Sarafa has no plans of slowing down. Mr. Sarafa and his partners control three properties in Traverse City, MI. They intend to develop 415,000 sq. ft. of additional office, retail, and residential space on these properties by 2021. Envision Development, owned by Sarafa and his wife, is the umbrella LLC that manages and develops properties throughout the state.

Sarafa is very involved in the community, serving multiple business and charitable organizations in several capacities over the years. He currently serves on the board of a publicly traded insurance company, a winery, Project Cherry Tree and more.

Sarafa has a Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Detroit. He is a life-long Michigan resident and has been married to his wife Kelley for thirty years. They have two children and three dogs.

Ed Smith

Board Member

Image and Bio — COMING SOON!

Steve Chowen

Executive Director

A Michigan native, Steve was born and raised in Onaway, Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University with a BS in Public Health Education. Shortly after, he enlisted in the Army and was commissioned a Distinguished Military Graduate from the Officer Candidate School, in Fort Benning, Georgia. Steve is a graduate of Enlisted Basic Training, Medical Service Corps Officer Basic Course, Initital Entry Rotary Wing Course, Aviation Officer Advanced Course, Army Airborne and Air Assault Qualification Courses, the Combined Arms Services and Staff School, and the Command and General Staff College. He commanded at various levels to include ground and air medical evacuation units, and hospital troop commands. Retiring from active duty in 2003, Steve has held civilian healthcare leadership positions in post-acute care, dialysis care, home care, and mobile radiology services. Steve also holds a MS in Human Resource Management from Troy State University and a MHA in Healthcare Administration from Baylor University. He is married to the former Lea Anne Adams of Riverview, MI, and together they have three grown daughters and two grandchildren.