Meet the People Behind Fairways for Freedom
Roger Schiffman is a Co-founder and Director of Fairways for Freedom, which conducts trips to such bucket-list destinations as Ireland, Scotland, England and Nova Scotia for combat-injured U.S. veterans. FFF also conducts retreats for veterans in the United States. Schiffman was the Managing Editor of Golf Digest from 1984-2013. He joined the magazine in 1979 and is currently a Contributing Editor. Since the early 1980s, he has written more than 250 articles for Golf Digest, working mostly with legendary player Jack Nicklaus and Hall of Fame teachers Jim Flick, Jim McLean, Rick Smith, Chuck Cook, and Martin Hall, among many others. He began his career at the USTA’s Tennis USA magazine and the USGA’s Golf Journal in 1977.
Schiffman has written six books on golf, including Perfectly Balanced Golf, with 1996 PGA Teacher of the Year Chuck Cook (1997), How to Win the 3 Games of Golf, with 2004 PGA Teacher of the Year Hank Johnson (1993), and A Golden 18, a large coffee-table book celebrating 18 of Jack Nicklaus’s signature golf courses throughout the country (2014). Schiffman’s history of Quaker Ridge, celebrating the club’s 100th Anniversary, was published in 2016. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, a grow-the-game initiative. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Schiffman holds a B.A. degree in Journalism. A 2-handicap golfer, he splits his time among Connecticut, Cape Cod, Jupiter, FL, and Northwest Ireland with his wife, Patricia Donnelly PhD, a sport psychotherapist and Fairways for Freedom Co-founder. Their daughter, Kate, is a licensed mental-health counselor in Boston and a Fairways for Freedom board member.
PATRICIA DONNELLY, PHD
Dr. Patricia Donnelly is a Co-founder and Executive Director of Fairways for Freedom. She is a sport psychotherapist who specializes in performance enhancement for all types of athletes. Dr. Donnelly works with both elite and recreational athletes to improve their performance through such techniques as simulating the zone, creating a sense of flow, goal-setting, relaxation, positive self-talk, thought-stoppage and enhanced concentration.
Dr. Donnelly is trained in Mindful Yoga Therapy for veterans coping with trauma and is a certified Veterans Yoga Project Instructor. She is also a certified health coach specializing in holistic nutrition. She designs personal mental/nutritional training programs to help individuals—from aspiring professional golfers going through Q School, to amateurs trying to win the club championship. She coaches clients to believe in themselves, even when they are losing, and trains them to stay in control and reverse their performance to achieve their goals. She trains her clients to find the positive by learning from mistakes, keeping things in perspective and taking risks.
Listed in the golfdigest.com registry of mental gurus, Dr. Donnelly received her PhD from the University of Connecticut. As an expert in the psychology of sport and leisure, she presents seminars for professionals and conducts workshops on sport psychology. She writes columns on sport psychology and leisure psychology for newspapers and magazines, has appeared on numerous major network radio and TV shows, including CBS Morning, and has authored papers presented at academic conferences, including on such subjects as the power of visualization at the Annual Conference of the American College of Sports Medicine, and on the motivation of golfers at the World Scientific Congress of Golf, in St. Andrews, Scotland.
Robert “Bob” Finley is a Director of Fairways for Freedom. He was born and grew up in New Castle, Del. After high school, he attended the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where he received a degree in Ocean Engineering. He served on the 270-foot Coast Guard Cutter Bear, out of Portsmouth, Va, as a Deck Watch Officer and the ship’s Weapons Officer. After flight school, he was stationed at Coast Guard Air Station, Cape Cod, Mass., then Air Station Astoria, in Oregon, Aviation Training Center Mobile, Ala., and finally the CG Aircraft Repair and Supply Center in Elizabeth City, N.C.
In addition to his flying duties, Bob was an aircraft maintenance management officer and was certified as a Project Management Professional. He flew the HU-25A Guardian (Dassault Falcon 20 business jet, which the Coast Guard modified for Maritime Patrol). Bob flew on the Coast Guard’s response to the tragic Exxon Valdez oil spill near Valdez, Alaska in 1989, mapping the oil daily for the NOAA scientist response efforts. He also flew many counter-narcotics patrols in the Caribbean. The Coast Guard’s “Bread-and -Butter” mission of Search and Rescue was always his favorite. After retiring from the Coast Guard with 22 years of service, he was a pilot for Southwest Airlines for more than 15 years. He is proud of his 16,000+ accident-free flight hours during his combined careers. He and his wife, Sue, have one daughter and two grandchildren. They live in Ocean View, Del. Bob enjoys playing golf, boating, crabbing, surf fishing, and traveling. He has served on two FFF trips as an Ambassador: Northwestern Ireland in 2017 and Nova Scotia in 2019.
Anne McNeil is a Director of Fairways for Freedom. She is an ardent supporter of combat-injured veterans and a fighter for veterans’ issues. She has taken an active role in several Fairways for Freedom trips.
Anne is a retired insurance professional whose career in the industry spanned more than 30 years. A specialist in property underwriting, she handled a wide range of complex commercial accounts for several insurance and reinsurance companies. Her responsibilities involved domestic and international travel to some of the world’s centers of insurance, including New York, Toronto, London, and Paris. Anne received a B.A. in Mathematics from Emmanuel College in Boston and was awarded the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (C.P.C.U) designation in 1980, after five years of intensive insurance studies and testing.
During her time at American International Group, Anne met her future husband, Martin Michelstein, a 30-year veteran of AIG. Marty introduced Anne to golf, and she enjoyed learning the game and was happiest when they were playing it together. Sadly, Marty was attending a business meeting at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 when he became one of the almost 3,000 casualties on that tragic day.
Now Anne divides her time between her homes on Cape Cod, MA and Naples, FL. She continues to play golf, enjoying the camaraderie and competition that the game brings. An avid sports fan, she is a loyal member of Red Sox Nation; she also loves spending time with her five sisters, one brother and her nieces and nephews.
DAVID SINGER, CDR USCG (RET)
David Singer is a Director of Fairways for Freedom. He is also Director for The Massachusetts Military Support Foundation supporting New England military and veterans with clothing and emergency aid.
David graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. His active tours of duty include: Engineering and Law Enforcement Boarding Officer on the Cutter Unimak; Distinguished Graduate of Naval Air Station Pensacola Flight School; Aircraft Commander on HU-25 Falcons out of Air Station Cape Cod, MA; HC-130 Aircraft Commander and Aeronautical Engineering Officer out of Barber’s Point, HI; and HC-130/HH-65 Dolphin Service Life Extension Program Manager out of Washington DC. As a Coast Guard Aviator he is directly responsible for the saving of a multitude of lives in various Search and Rescue operations throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Equatorial regions. He has been involved in a myriad of law enforcement operations, including environmental, drug and illegal migrant operations. In addition, he flew operations in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Storm.
Following 11 years of Active duty, David transitioned into the Reserve component to pursue civilian aviation. While in the Reserve contingent he rose to the rank of the Senior Reserve Officer in Boston, MA, managing one of the larger Coast Guard reserve components. He retired with the rank of Commander after 23 years of distinguished service. In the civilian sector, Singer has flown a number of corporate as well as commercial aircraft, including Falcon, Gulfstream, Boeing, Grumman and McDonnell Douglas products. He has operated with various aviation departments as well as a major commercial airline. He has circumnavigated the globe numerous times in his aviation career and most recently managed a corporate flight department in the Pacific Northwest for 10 years. David, an avid golfer, lives in New Albany, Ohio, with his wife and two children.
KATE SCHIFFMAN, MA
Kate Schiffman is a Director of Fairways for Freedom. She is a licensed mental-health counselor in Boston, MA. Working with patients from all walks of life, she conducts individual therapy sessions on a daily basis.
A graduate of Stonehill College and Boston College, where she earned her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology, Kate also trained at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA. In addition, she earned a Certificate in Expressive Therapies from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She taught golf for six years at the Club at New Seabury on Cape Cod in its summer junior program.
JOHN SANABIA, NAVY SEAL CWO5 (RET)
John Sanabia is the Military Spokesman and Logistics Coordinator for Fairways for Freedom. He is a retired SEAL Chief Warrant Officer Five with 30 years of Special Operations experience, from tactical to strategic level theater operational tours in Iraq, Bahrain, and eight other worldwide deployments. He is experienced in training, equipping and facilitating operational command, execution and control functions at the National and Combined Joint Task Force level.
Some of John’s Military Highlights: As a Project Manager for ADVENT LADEN operations, he served as Commander, Special Operations Troop and Commander, Regional Task Force—Gulf Cooperation Council, where he was accountable for the leadership, tactical guidance and operational control of deployed Special Operations Forces (SOF) and technical personnel in support of USSOCOM liaison programs for specified GWOT High Priority Countries.
Sanabia has also been instrumental in formulating and implementing successful SOF training programs. Serving as the Officer-in-Charge & Training Officer for SEAL Qualification Training, Naval Special Warfare Center, he managed its $2.6 million budget, mentored and supervised 24 Special Operations Instructors and 11 Civilians in the education and training of more than 250 aspiring patriots each year with the end goal of graduating the 31-week SEAL NEC-awarding course.
Sanabia, an avid golfer, and his wife, Michelle, a retired Navy Nurse, also enjoy their three German Shepherd Dogs, “Warrant, Spike and Chief,” who help him cope with his service-connected disabilities.
RICHARD CONNER, CHIEF COUNSEL
Richard Conner and his law firm Conner Gwyn Schenck PLLC serve as General Counsel to Fairways for Freedom.
Richard grew up in Greensboro, NC, where he and his wife, Vicki, now live. He has been practicing law since 1973. As a part of his private practice, he served for 16 years as general counsel to the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA). He also served as counsel for the Golf Course Builders Association of America (GCBAA).
Conner is a graduate of Guilford College and the University of North Carolina School of Law
He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1962 and later served active duty aboard the USS Okinawa LPH-3 during the Vietnam War. Okinawa was a mobile base from which a well-equipped force of marines could quickly strike via helicopters. While on active duty he worked in the Captain’s Office as YN3.
In addition to representing clients, Conner works as a mediator and arbitrator in complex business disputes. He is a member of the American Arbitration Association Construction Mega Project Panel and its Large, Complex Case Panel of Arbitrators and Neutrals. He is certified as a mediator in North Carolina. His dispute resolution experience as a neutral includes extended service as a member of dispute review boards for multi-billion dollar toll roads.
Conner is a Fellow in the American College of Construction Lawyers. He served as a board Member of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, City of Greensboro, N.C. Transit Authority, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and as Chairman of the Guilford County North Carolina Board of Elections.
Conner, Gwyn & Schenck, PLLC
JAMES S. KREITLER, AAMS®, CFP®, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
Jim Kreitler is a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones Investments in Fairfield, CT. He is the Investment and Financial Advisor for Fairways for Freedom and is a keen supporter of veterans issues and an avid golfer. Jim grew up in Fairfield, CT, attended Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, served in the Peace Corps in West Africa, attended Columbia University and completed a graduate degree in international politics and economics. He worked for 12 years in New York for large financial institutions prior to joining Edward Jones. He can be reached at 203-255-2237. firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. AIR FORCE (RET) PARARESCUE JUMPER
United States Air Force Senior Master Sergeant (ret) Pararescue Jumper Tim Young is a Military Advisor to Fairways for Freedom. He joined the military at age 19 in 1976 in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines IL. He went on a delayed enlistment program until graduating high school in June of 1977, joining the military outright later that year. Tim spent 26 years in the service, two years as a firefighter and the remaining 24 training and serving as a Pararescue Jumper stationed worldwide. He was deployed four times: Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait again. He has been involved in many life-saving missions. “I even saved a whale,” he says. Retired in 2003, he began a second job as a civilian Firefighter/ Par-amedic for a Northern California municipal fire department and retired as a Captain in 2014.
Tim is a proud husband and father to his family: Leslie, Colin and Allyson. He fly fishes, rides his Harley, camps, rides horses, boats, hangs with their dog Molly and, yes, plays golf. He says he spends a lot of time in contemplation while participating in these pursuits.
TERRY FINLEY, SPECIAL FORCES MASTER SERGEANT
Terry Finley is the National and Military Outreach Director at Clear path for Veterans, in Chittenango, NY, and a Military Advisor to Fairways for Freedom. He uses his experience, knowledge and networking to help educate, promote and expand worthy causes and organizations. Clear Path for Veterans’ outreach covers a 23-country region in New York State, and touches more than 1,000 veterans, military and their family members each month through its programs and services. Clear Path’s programs and services are diverse, and they emphasize community partnerships and collaboration.
Terry served more than 27 years on active duty with the Air Force and Army. He retired as a Master Sergeant after 24 years in Special Forces and has worked, lived and played golf on five continents, participating in operations around the globe. He loves the camaraderie and relation of the game of golf.