Board of Directors
Kerre Randel Ortegel - Founder and President
Kerre Randel Ortegel is the Founder and President of Holidays & Heroes. She best describes herself as a community organizer and philanthropist with a passion for helping people. Living within close proximity to the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Kerre was inspired to find ways to support the military. Several years ago, she organized her family & friends to participate in a campaign called “Stockings for Soldiers”, by filling Christmas stockings to send to soldiers in Khandahar, Afghanistan (sending approximately 250 stockings. This led to an idea to do something for local military families at Christmas, and out of that idea, in 2015 “Holidays & Heroes” was born.
Kerre Randel Ortegel has been named an “Honorary Commander” for the 301st Fighter Wing as part of the “Wings of Honor” program of the US Air Force. She is a member of the Fort Worth Air Power Council, and serves on the HOA board for her neighborhood.
Kerre is married to Bob Ortegel, former television announcer for the Dallas Mavericks. She has 2 adult children and 5 beautiful grandchildren. Kerre and her husband are active members in their church. They love to travel, and Kerre enjoys travel photography.
Susan Howell Irvin - Vice President
Susan Howell Irvin is serving as Vice President of Holidays & Heroes. Susan was formerly owner and general manager of Smiley’s Fine Portrait Studio in Fort Worth, Texas for 30 years. She is the majority owner of Howell Instruments an aeronautical engineering firm that makes testing equipment for jet aircraft. She has recently started a marketing company called LoadStar Reality LLC that brings technology to life.
Because of her father’s business, Susan was raised traveling the world with her parents from a young age back in the 50’s and 60’s and watched the world go from the propeller driven aircraft to voyaging to Mars. The instrument that her father designed and patented, the JetCal, helped to stabilize the efficiency of the gas turbine engine that made jet travel safe. In the cockpit it reads out as the EGT gauge, Exhaust, Gas, Temperature gauge.
Susan graduated from a Swiss Boarding School. Because her father’s business required he travel all over the world, whenever he would leave the continent of the United States, he would call her and she would meet him at his various destinations. Many times she would end up meeting and dining with heads of states worldwide. In having a first hand view it gave her a very different and unique perspective of the worldwide geo-political climate.
During those years, Susan was given an opportunity to see how America affected the world. It gave her a greater appreciation of the many sacrifices this country has asked our men and women who have stood in harm’s way. Susan has had first hand experience and seen the cost of war. She has also seen the mighty footprint America has had on the world. Wherever we have stepped the world has benefited. No other country can make that claim. God Bless America.
Melanie Whitley - Treasurer
Melanie Whitley serves as the Treasurer for Holidays & Heroes. She comes from a strong military background. Her father served in the Air Force, and her mother was a Marine. She had 4 siblings who served, 2 in the Army, 1 Air Force and 1 Navy. Her husband is a former Marine who joined the Navy Seabee Reserves in 2004.
During her husband’s time in the Seabees, he was deployed 2 times to Afghanistan. During those deployments, Melanie served on the Family Readiness Group for NMCB 22. This involved supporting family members of those deployed by keeping open lines of communication and information.
Melanie is an active member of the VFW Arlington Heights Memorial Post 8235 Auxiliary since 2004 in which she serves as Treasurer. She is also a charter member of the Fleet Reserve Association Lone Star Unit 11 Fort Worth and has served as President, Vice President and Financial Secretary.
Currently Melanie works full time for the City of River Oaks, Texas and holds the position of Certified Permits Technician.
Anne Pottinger - Secretary
Anne Pottinger is a Director and Secretary of Holidays & Heroes. She is the wife of a retired Air Force veteran having lived across the southwest of the United States as well as in Germany and South Korea before being stationed in Fort Worth. Anne is a retired public and private school elementary teacher.
In the summer of 2019, Anne became the Executive Administrator of the Fort Worth Airpower Council founded in 1958. It is the oldest civilian military support organization in the United States. The 200 Council members volunteer to provide support for NAS Fort Worth JRB and other military installations in the North Texas area. Anne also is the Corporate Secretary of the Freedom Mobility Foundation, a 501(c)3 recently formed to provide mobility to active military, veterans, and first responders impacted by physical impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities.
Anne and her husband, Kevin, have two children. Their son is an Air Force Reservist stationed at Randolph AFB, Texas. Their daughter is a teacher at Westlake Academy in Westlake, Texas. Anne and Kevin are active in their church and try to serve others whenever they are able.
Brittany Rico - Director
Brittany Rico is a director on the board for Holidays & Heroes and is responsible for marketing & social media.She has had the opportunity to help with many different aspects of Holidays & Heroes since its inception in 2015.She is grateful to have had values instilled from a young age regarding the importance of volunteering in the community and abroad.Organizations like Holidays and Heroes not only bring joy to those who give and receive, but they bring together a community.
Since a young age, Brittany has been passionate about business.With a degree in Entrepreneurial Management from Texas Christian University, she continuously shares different business opportunities with friends and family, and has brought a few to fruition.She has learned over the years that where passion and creativity meet is where she thrives.
Professionally, Brittany has been in merchant services with First American Payment Systemsfor over 10 years.She enjoys helping businesses find the right merchant services solution to accept payments and help run their business.She also is an Independent Wine Consultant for Scout & Cellar.Additionally, she started a company called “Basically Brittany”. This business encompasses all of Brittany’s creative ideas, such as “Stovetop Potpourri” and her latest venture into monogramming for individuals and businesses.
Brittany is married to Andrew Rico and they have 2 young children.