COL (Ret.) Rob Choppa, President
Since 2018, Rob Choppa has served as President of the National Infantry Association, supporting the Chief of Infantry and all Infantrymen, past, present and future.
Rob served 31 years as an Infantry officer in the Army in a variety of Command and Staff positions, in peacetime and combat, commanding at Platoon, Company, Battalion, Brigade, and as the Chief of Infantry. Rob served in Korea, Europe, Hawaii, Iraq, Afghanistan, and twelve states in the Continental United States.
After retiring from the Army as a Colonel, Rob went back overseas as a contractor with Knowledge Point Inc., training Combined Arms Infantry Brigades for the United Arab Emirates. These Brigades deployed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and followed on into combat in Yemen. He also worked as Chief of the Defense Force for Iron Hand Security, part of the Jones Group Inc., in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a Defense Consultant to His Royal Highness. Returning to the US, Rob has worked for Vectrus Incorporated in Colorado Springs, and General Dynamics Information Technologies Incorporated in Fairfax, Virginia. He also served as the Executive Director of Historic Westville, a 501C3 non-profit organization.
Rob graduated from Siena College in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in Management, and earned a Master of Science in Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy from the National Defense University. Rob completed a National Military Strategy Fellowship at the Maxwell School of Government, Syracuse University.
Yvonne Petrasovits, Director of Operations
Yvonne serves as the Director of Operations for the National Infantry Association. Yvonne is new to NIA and the area having relocated from Florida where she was the Executive Director of Doorways NWFL, a Continuum of Care Lead Agency for a six-county area. Originally, she is from New York, where she has served as President of the READ Alliance, a Managing Director with Aetos Capital, an investment management firm, and an Adjunct Professor of Nonprofit Management and Entrepreneurship at IONA College. Ms. Petrasovits graduated from Iona College, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in business; she earned a Master’s of business administration from Sacred Heart University; and served in the United States Army as an Imagery Analyst.
Caitlin McLemore, Awards Manager
Brian Nelson, Chapters Liason
Brian Nelson serves on the team at the National Infantry Association handling chapters, membership, social media, and special projects. Brian also serves as an intern for the National Infantry Museum’s Education Department where he assists with instruction as well as curriculum and design. Brian spent 15 years in K-12 public education as a teacher, coach and athletic administrator. He was born at Fort Riley, Kansas but calls Childersburg, Alabama home. Brian has a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Information Management and a Master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has a Graduate Certificate and an Education Specialist Degree in Education Leadership from Auburn University. Brian is currently working on his Ph.D. at Auburn with a focus on “Leadership Identification, Selection and Development.” He is married to the former Katie Murry of Smiths, Alabama. They have two children Kayson (8) and Kinlee (5).
Chelsea Gradzik, Missions Coordinator
Chelsea Gradzik served as the Awards Manager for the National Infantry Association from September 2020 until May 2022 before taking on her new role as Missions Coordinator. She has a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University and a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University. She lives on Fort Benning with her husband, who is an XO for an Infantry OSUT battalion, and their dog, Ruthie. They are expecting their first child in August. Chelsea has enjoyed the opportunity to digitize many of the NIA’s systems and slowly pull them into the 21st century. Chelsea she also serves as our web manager, assists with membership, and special projects.
Jill Tigner, Infantry Bugler Editor
Jill Tigner has been the editor of the Infantry Bugler since 2014. A graduate of the University of Alabama, Jill has been in the field of journalism for her entire career. After 15 years at the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, she and her husband, Mike Venable, purchased the Phenix Citizen, a weekly newspaper in East Alabama. In 2000, they became owners of Columbus and the Valley Magazine. While they sold the newspaper in 2002, they continue to publish Columbus and the Valley and its sister publication, Valley Parent.
Jill is active in her church, St. Matthew’s In-the-Pines Episcopal where she serves as Jr. Warden and Bulletin Editor. She also serves on local non-profit boards. She and Mike live in Seale. They have four adult sons and one grandson.