Executive Leadership Team


James Bond, Secretary-designee

James Bond serves as the Secretary-designee for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. He is the chief advocate for more than 330,000 veterans in Wisconsin and their families. As Secretary, he is responsible for the leadership and management of the WDVA, including strategic and long-range planning initiatives that will align with the department's vision. 

​​​Secretary-designee Bio

Christopher J. McElgunn, Deputy Secretary​

The Deputy Secretary is responsible for day-to-day operations, as well as directing and coordinating the Department's strategic planning and program development. Christopher is a Navy veteran with more than a decade of state civil service experience. 

​​​Deputy Secretary Bio


Josephy Hoey, Asst Deputy Secretary

The Assistant Deputy Secretary is the primary contact for inter-governmental agency functions, as well as the agency's legislative liaison. 

​Assistant Deputy Secretary Bio


Chad Koplien is general counsel for the department with 27 years of private and public sector legal experience. He manages the Office of Legal Counsel and provides counsel to the Office of the Secretary and the department's leaders, with a focus on healthcare law for the department's 3 long-term care facilities. He also serves as the administrative law judge for all department benefit appeals.

He is a Veteran with 21 years of military service. He currently serves as command judge advocate for the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (2nd tour), Wisconsin Army National Guard in its OCONUS mission. He previously served as the state deputy judge advocate overseeing legal operations for Wisconsin's covid and public security missions, to include the Democratic National Convention security task force in 2020. Koplien has served as the command judge advocate in 64th Troop Command (2 tours) and as deputy command judge advocate for the historic 32nd Brigade. As a former active-duty enlisted Airman, he was assigned to the U.S. Air Force, 820th RED HORSE Squadron at Nellis AFB, NV.  

Koplien is a graduate of UW Oshkosh and received a post-graduate certification in Long-Term Care Administration from UW Madison. He earned his law degree from Marquette University Law School and holds advanced military degrees from the US Army Judge Advocate's Legal Center, Command and General Staff College, and the US Air Force War College.​

He is a member of the Wisconsin State Bar and holds a life membership with the National Guard Association of the US (NGAUS)/Wisconsin National Guard Association (WINGA). He resides north of Madison with his wife of 25 years. His two daughters are attending college at the UW.​

Colleen Flaherty BIO photo 6.29.22.jpg

Colleen Flaherty is the Communications Director for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. As the Communications Director, she manages the Office of Public Affairs overseeing all communications, media relations, and public relations efforts to enhance the visibility of the Department's programs, services, and benefits.

Colleen has over a decade of communications, nonprofit, and legislative experience. Colleen received her undergraduate degree in Journalism and began her career as a sports stringer for a Minnesota daily. She went on to live in New York and Washington D.C., working various communications positions, including production assistant, freelance writer, and education advocacy communications specialist. She returned to Wisconsin in 2015 where she spent several years working for state legislative offices. Before joining the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, she worked as a communications specialist for the Department of Tourism while obtaining her master's degree in communications from UW Whitewater.

Colleen lives in Monona with her husband, David, and their daughter, Elaine. ​​

James A. Parker serves as the Administrator of the Division of Enterprise Services. The Division provides administrative support to the department. It  consists of four Bureaus; the Bureau of Fiscal Services, the Bureau of Budget and Facilities, the Bureau of Information Technology and the Bureau of Human Resources. Its responsibilities include, but are not limited to; development, monitoring and managing of the department’s annual, biennial and capital budgets, fiscal services, internal control, internal/external audit services, risk management, purchasing, policy and strategic planning, bonding and statistical analysis, information technology and support, human resources, fleet management and  the Continuity of Operations and Continuation of Government Plans.

Prior to employment with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, James was an Executive Manager in the private sector and later became an entrepreneur.  He has 21 years of state service with several state agencies (DWD, former DHFS, DOR and DSPS) and the University of Wisconsin.  His positions were responsible for budget, finance, human resources, policy and information technology. He has performed in multiple Division Administrator roles and Director of Finance and Budget roles.

James received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  

Brian Jones serves as Division Administrator of the Division of Veterans Benefits, which administers an array of grants, benefits, programs, and services to all eligible state veterans, their families, survivors, and to many organizations that serve veterans. Assistance to veterans includes education grants to expand employment opportunities, transportation assistance to ensure veterans can access VA medical services, additional medical support and services not provided by USDVA, and intervention services for veterans experiencing life's many forms of hardship. The division also maintains responsibility for the department's Military Funeral Honors program, Milwaukee Claims Office, and the three state veterans' cemeteries, located in Spooner, King, and Union Grove.

Brian served initially from 2011 through 2018, as the Veterans Outreach Supervisor where he was responsible for leading a team of Agency Liaisons and Veterans Program Specialists in providing awareness to the Veterans of the state of Wisconsin on information pertaining to the various benefits and services offered by the state and how to access them. He later transitioned to the role of Program Section Chief for the WDVA and was instrumental in the development and implementation of WDVA initiatives such as the MyWisVets Portal and VBRC (Veterans Benefits Resource Center).

Prior to employment with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, Brian served in and retired from the United States Army after more than 26 years of service. Brian also served 3 years with the U.S. Government Civil Service at the Milwaukee Army Recruiting Battalion.

Brian lives in Brooklyn, WI. with his wife Michelle. They have two sons, two daughters, and eight grandchildren.​

Diane Lynch serves as Administrator of the Division of Homes. As Administrator, she is responsible for long-term care policy for the Department and overseeing the Wisconsin Veterans Homes at Chippewa Falls, King, and Union Grove.

Diane has 19+ years of experience as a leader in the senior care industry in a variety of Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Skilled Nursing Facility, and Long Term Care​ settings as well as in startup construction projects in Long Term Care and Assisted and Memory care living. She is committed to providing seniors with high quality, person-centered care and exceptional customer service and employees with a workplace culture that is n​ot only dynamic, but offers a positive, supportive environment.

Diane holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, a Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Management from Metro State University in St. Paul, an LNHA from the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, and is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator in 3 states.

Diane and Serge love the great outdoors, two adult daughter’s and 3 grandpups. 

Chris Kolakowski DVA-WEB-196x270.jpg

Christopher L. Kolakowski is the Director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, an educational activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs. As the Director he is responsible for the award-winning museum and research center that acknowledges, commemorates, and affirms the role of Wisconsin veterans in the United States of America's military past and present..

Chris has his  BA in History and Mass Communications from Emory & Henry College and his MA in Public History from the State University of New York at Albany. He is a proud descendent of Wisconsin Veterans from the Civil War through the Cold War.

Chris has spent his career interpreting and preserving American military history with the National Park Service, New York State government, the Rensselaer County (NY) Historical Society, the Civil War Preservation Trust, Kentucky State Parks, the U.S. Army, and the MacArthur Memorial. He has written and spoken extensively on various aspects of military history and leadership from 1775 to the present, and was the inaugural Director of the General George Patton Museum and Center of Leadership at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Chris has published three books on the Civil War and two on World War II in the Pacific. He is a reviewer and contributor to the Air Force Journal of Indo-Pacific Studies and a Senior Fellow at the Consortium of Indo-Pacific Researchers. His latest book, titled Nations in the Balance and released March of 2022, is about the 1944 India-Burma battles.