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Advisory Panel

Bruce OConnell for Congress Campaign

David W. Banks is a retired U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel having served 22 years of honorable, distinguished service to his country. He deployed to and led Marines in over 30 countries including Desert Shield / Desert Storm.  He was assigned to the Washington DC area twice, serving at the Headquarters USMC, Aviation Plans and Policy and The Pentagon, The Joint Staff J-8.  During his staff tours, he focused on Future Operations, Plans and Policy for Theater Air and Ballistic Missile Defense and was a voting member of two NATO panels.  

David’s personal military awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Three Meritorious Service Medals, The Joint Commendation Medal, and three Navy Commendation Medals.

After retiring from the Marines in 2002, David joined BAE Systems as a senior executive and focused on business development.  He worked with customers on Capitol Hill, The Pentagon, and the various military services located in the Capitol Region.  In 2010, David and his family relocated back to his roots in western North Carolina to be closer to family.  

David and his wife Theresa built a home in Etowah that they now call their final home. David and Theresa have been married almost 40 years and have three boys and 8 grandchildren.  David is a 1982 graduate of Western Carolina University with a B.S. in Education and also has an M.S. in Education from Old Dominion University.

Bob Ray is an Asheville native who grew up in a family-owned business in Buncombe County. He has been active with civic, business, and political organizations, including the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, Asheville Jaycees, Asheville Board of Realtors legislative/Rpac, where he served as committee chair, and the National Association of Realtors, among others.

Prior to his work in the hospitality business, Bob served as Director of Physical Facilities for Buncombe County government, serving there at the pleasure of the BC Board of Commissioners. During his tenure, he received a formal commendation for his service by former Superior Court judge, the Honorable Robert Lewis.

Bob began a career in the hospitality management business in 1985 with Holiday Inns and proceeded to manage at Hiltons, Radissons, and others. He got his real estate license in 1995 to help hotel owners buy & sell hotels and other properties. In 1998 Bob went to manage the Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center owned by the United Methodist Church. His responsibilities included overseeing all the operations of the center and working with the two Lake Junaluska property owners’ groups. He left Lake Junaluska after 13 years of management in December 2011 and went full time into the real estate business and purchased Asheville Realty & Associates. Bob and his wife Bobbi reside in south Asheville.

Steven L. Porter is an attorney and consultant with 30+ years experience in Federal Government contracting and 20 years of management experience at the US Department of Energy Laboratories.

He currently serves as Senior University Counsel/SLAC for Stanford University, and he consults for Battelle Memorial Institute and Princeton University/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

He previously served as General Counsel for SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and was a Member of the Laboratory’s Senior Management Team, and as General Counsel at Los Alamos National Laboratory, among other prestigious U.S. laboratories and institutions.

He attended Louisiana Tech University for his BS in Chemical Engineering, in 1973, and Louisiana State University Law Center for his JD in 1976. He and his wife Marti reside in

Pamela Owenby is a pro-life activist. Her primary core profile is Sanctity of Human Life. She has marched, protested, held life chains, prayer vigils, and committed civil disobedience against abortion.

Professionally, she owns a full-service insurance agency and is the past president of the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors, WNC Chapter. 

Pamela was voted "Volunteer of the Year" of the mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and has held numerous leadership positions. She is a former 
court-appointed Guardian ad Litem, serving abused and neglected children by advocating for their best interest in court.

She is also a passionate Patient Advocate and has conducted research on therapy efficacy and adverse reactions for an international neuro-science company.

Marcus Suess holds diplomas in International Business and Computer Information Systems. After completing college and working overseas, Marcus and his wife Carolyn started a small business out of their apartment. They grew their company to a 24,000 square foot structure in Fletcher that employed 100 people. They exited the company and now have several small companies in the health and wellness space that include pharmacies and naturopathic remedies, as well as manufacturing and development.

Marcus and Carolyn have raised their two children and handicapped niece in Fletcher since 2007. Their children attend a mix of public and private schools and they have advocated against radical school policy and for school vouchers. 

Bradley Johnston has been a resident of Mills River, NC for 58 years. He has worked and operated a family dairy farm for 45 years. Bradley is well versed in the nuances of farming in this area and has close ties to the Agriculture Community.

Bradley has experienced the ups and downs that come with farming in this area. Bradley has a wealth of experience with agricultural issues and currently owns and operates Mills River Creamery in Mills River.

He has offered to advise Bruce, educate him, and make him aware of the problems facing the agricultural community. Bradley is a supporter and an advisor to this campaign.

C. Marsh Bull is a Vietnam-era veteran who transitioned into the corporate world following service. He is a retired corporate executive and nonprofit consultant with more than fifty years of experience in both arenas. He rose in the executive ranks of Honeywell, Xerox, First Data Corporation/American Express, and IBM.

Marsh served on the board of directors of the Boy’s & Girls Club for over 20 years. He also runs his own nonprofit 501c3, Men’s Group Foundation, dedicated to providing free bible studies, men’s discussion topics, and more.

He currently serves as a member of Neighbors in Need Alliance (NINA) in Durango, CO., a coalition of concerned citizens and faith-based organizations advocating and working for the unhoused.  With NINA he became involved in the homeless topic almost three years ago.

Marsh has personally visited both unmanaged and managed homeless camps. Managed camps have proven to be effective in moving individuals out of homelessness. He recently traveled 900-miles from Durango to Las Cruces, NM with two homeless individuals to visit Camp Hope, a best-in-class organization.

Marsh believes homelessness is one of the toughest topics facing us today, which will not go away on its own and must be addressed strategically by communities.  

He attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln earning a BA in Marketing and later an Executive MBA in Management in Omaha. He and his wife, Peggy, reside in Durango and share four children and four grandchildren between them.

Karen McKay is a retired US Army lieutenant colonel--paratrooper, Special Operations, and a Foreign Area Operations Officer. She has extensive experience in the Middle East, Southwest Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Training and wartime missions included control of and care for major displaced populations; insurgency and counter-insurgency operations, terrorism, unconventional warfare operations, and nation-building. Briefed leadership of all four services and intelligence agencies on Soviet chemical/biological/toxin warfare capability, strategy, and tactics.
Following retirement from the military, Ms. McKay served 7 years as Executive Director of the Committee for a Free Afghanistan, followed by 14 years as President and COO of Americans for Freedom, in Washington DC. Both organizations advised and coordinated with all levels of government up to and including the White House concerning U.S. foreign and national security policy.
She has a BS degree in Animal Science, an MS in Military Science, and doctoral studies in WWII history.

Laura McCue is President and CEO of White Oak Financial Management, Inc., a registered investment advisor. For more than 40 years, she has managed the investments of her clients and guided their financial decisions. She has taught financial education classes to area businesses, colleges, church groups, and others. Laura subscribes widely to the importance of long-term demographic trends which drive the economic systems of every country.

Laura has lived in Asheville since childhood. Her active volunteer work includes as the NC State Director for The FAIRtax, as an Eagle Board of Review member at The Boy Scouts of America, and as a 3-time board member of the Friends of the WNC Nature Center. She is also currently serving on the finance committee of The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and as the Investment Chair of the French Broad River Garden Club. Past service includes on the boards of UNC-Asheville and Asheville GreenWorks.

For the past fifteen years she has been actively involved with Americans for Fair Taxation and North Carolinians for FAIRtax, serving as the NC State Director.  Laura was instantly hooked on the FAIRtax idea upon reading Neal Boortz’s first book, The FAIRtax, and set out to find out how she could help make it happen.

Laura lives in Arden with her husband, Mike. They have two grown sons, Colton 34 and Logan 31, both Eagle Scouts.

Dwayne M Dills founded his company, the Dwayne M Dills CPA PC and Security Planning Agency, in 1997. It provides tax returns, bookkeeping, and financial statement oversight for corporations and individuals. His agency is responsible for financial planning engagements and management of funds based on client needs and planning profiles. Dwayne served on the NC Association of CPAs Health Care Committee for 2 years. 
He received his BS in Accounting from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and passed the CPA exam in one sitting.  He currently holds the CPA licensure, Series 7 and Series 66 securities licensure, as well as Health/Life/Disability/LTC/Annuity insurance licensure.  CFP Exam Candidate, March 2022.

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