Michael Kemp was born in Germany, the son of an Army major, and in 2000 he enlisted in the Army himself. He was stationed in Vicenza, Italy with the 173d Airborne Brigade as an infantryman and served in positions as a rifleman, radio operator, and sniper with the 503d reconnaissance platoon. In 2003 he was part of the initial invasion of Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In 2004 he was honorably discharged and moved to Minnesota, where he attended law school at the University of St. Thomas. Michael graduated magna cum laude in 2009 and opened his own law firm, where he focuses on litigation practice. Michael continues to be involved and volunteer with veterans’ issues, and he is happy to serve with the Ars Bellum Foundation.
Niles Thornburg, a sergeant first class in the United States Army, has served in combat through four deployments with the 3rd Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, affectionately known as the Rakkasans. Awarded the Bronze Star and the Combat Infantry Badge for his selfless service in Afghanistan and Iraq, Niles believes being an infantry platoon sergeant is the greatest position in the Army: still close to the troops, but in a position where he can make decisions that could potentially save lives.
His dedication to the soldiers he serves with is mirrored in his family life. Niles has been married to his wife Kate for nearly twenty years and through all the ups and downs of military life. They have five beautiful children together. Niles continues his military career stationed in Germany.
Matthew Vatter, A Colonel in the Minnesota National Guard is originally from Wisconsin and moved his family to Minnesota in 1995 to pursue a career as a corporate trainer with Play It again Sports® Franchise Company. Matt enlisted in the Army in 1981, serving with the 82d Airborne Division and Wisconsin National Guard before transferring to the Minnesota National Guard in 2000. Matt deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of Operation Joint Endeavor in 2003-2004 and to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009-2010.
He continues his service as the Director of Plans and Policy for the Minnesota National Guard. Matt earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Master’s degree from the United Sates Army War College. Matt resides in the Twin Cities metro area with his wife and son.
A Buckeye by birth, Kate Thornburg has spent much of her life traveling, first as a child with her grandparents and now as an Army wife with her husband, Ars Bellum Founder Niles Thornburg. She is the proud survivor of nineteen years of marriage, four deployments and five children.
In an attempt to cope with deployments, Army spouses, volunteering with the Family Readiness Group, and the joys of being the mother of five children, Kate created a blog as a means of venting about all the stupid that is the Army and as well as a means of releasing her inner grammar Nazi. She currently resides in Germany with her husband and family.
Bridget Cronin comes from a family of combat veterans who have served in nearly every war from the American Revolution to our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her own career in organizational management, fundraising and marketing spans 28 years in the private sector, non-profit world and in local elected office for ISD 199. In 2001, she became the advocacy and fundraising leader for a parent group called Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) and successfully won state recognition and funding for intensive early intervention behavior therapy for young children with autism. FEAT went on to become the Minnesota Autism Center, which is now one of the largest providers of autism therapies in the Midwest.
“Relentless” is practically her middle name, and it has to be. In addition to her work with Ars Bellum, Bridget is also the mother of three daughters and a son with autism. Her diverse professional experience, knowledge of mental health issues and understanding of both government processes and military culture make her uniquely suited to the task of fulfilling Ars Bellum Foundation's mission.
Craig Balfany is the Director of the Art Therapy Program at Adler Graduate School, our program development partner. He is a licensed professional counselor with 25 years of clinical art therapy experience with adults, adolescents, and children with a full range of mental health issues in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He engages the process of creativity through the use of painting, sculpting, clay work, mask making and photography to respond to the integration of internal experience to external stimuli. The creative interaction allows for personal expression, insight and healing.
His breadth and depth of experience, and his position as the Director of the Art Therapy Program made him a perfect partner to develop our art therapy programs, help us find qualified staff to run them, and assist us in planning long term for growth and further development.
Juliana received her Masters in Professional Studies in Creative Art Therapy and Creativity Development from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She has worked in a variety of facilities, including Adult Inpatient Mental Health, free programs for children with Autism, and group homes for adults with disabilities in Brooklyn, NY before moving to Minnesota. Juliana serves as the Treasurer of the Minnesota Art Therapy Association, where she helps develop fundraising opportunities, community education, and art therapy awareness in Minnesota.Juliana is a Registered Art Therapist with five years of clinical experience. Currently, Juliana works full time as an Art Therapist at Clara’s House which is part of the Behavioral Health Services Department at St. Cloud Hospital. In this role, Juliana facilitates group and individual art therapy sessions with adolescents who have mental health and/or chemical dependency diagnoses with a focus on trauma informed art therapy. She engages with many materials in her practice including clay, painting, drawing, printmaking, plaster work, and fiber arts.
Robyn Alliah is a board certified Art Therapist with ten years of experience. She graduated from Florida State University and earned a Master’s Degree in Art Education with an emphasis in art therapy. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Studio Arts, with minors in psychology and photography.She has worked in school systems providing art therapy in groups for K-12, specializing in children with autism to increase social skills. Robyn currently works with severe and persistent mental illness (TBI, PTSD, anxiety, depression, borderline personality) using art therapy to help clients work through the traumas causing their symptoms and teaching them skills to generalize their progress into everyday life.