Donald Overton currently serves as Executive Director for the Blinded Veterans Association. His responsibilities include; the overall functioning and performance of staff; carrying out the directives, instructions, and policies legally adopted by the National Board of Directors; developing the organization's legislative programs; coordinating and monitoring advocacy and public policy activities; preparing and presenting congressional testimony, position statements and legislative proposals; and managing the organizations benefits teams. His teams support the cultivation and building of relationships with BVA’s key stakeholders including its members; donors; public and private sector partners; volunteers; and the media.
Donald previously served as the Director of External and Veterans Affairs for the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation. His responsibilities included supporting the cultivation and building of relationships with Fidelco Guide Dogs key stakeholders including donors; public and private sector partners; volunteers; clients; and members of the media. The External Affairs Department had primary responsibility for managing strategic communications planning and execution; public relations and media (traditional and social); and operational oversight for the company-wide Volunteer Programs. He was charged with building and maintaining Fidelco Guide Dogs gold-standard brand reputation through government relations, community outreach, marketing, media, special events and civic/community groups’ engagement activities.
Prior to joining Fidelco Guide Dogs Donald served as the Veterans Affairs and Business Specialist for the City of Palm Bay Florida, with responsibility for implementing programming that assisted local veterans and dependents in filing the proper forms to receive the maximum benefits available and provided business development services. He was responsible for recruiting new veteran owned small businesses, as well as assisting those businesses already located within the city to maximize their potential. He fostered collaborative efforts resulting in the establishment of a new Veteran Owned Chamber of Commerce tasked with advancing statewide contract preference policies, as well as consolidating various countywide initiatives under a newly established Veterans Resource Network.
Donald also served as the Executive Director for a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, which in conjunction with the City of Palm Bay, operated a one of a kind public private partnership (P3) veterans housing program. The mission of the program was to assist veterans with their housing needs while creating a community of support for veterans in transition, with a vision for restoring some of the freedom and independence veterans sacrificed while defending the country, and enabling them to focus on their family, recovery, and rebuilding their lives.
The housing program built and refurbished homes as a departure point for veterans, enabling them to rebuild their lives, and once again become highly productive members of their communities. Empowered by the freedom a mortgage-free and specially adapted home provides, disabled veterans could focus on their recovery and return to their life’s work of serving others.
Donald continues his service on the U.S. Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, Defense Medical Research and Development Program, and Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine scientific review panels. He recently concluded his service on the University of Southern California Center for Innovative Research Advisory Board for the Rapid and Revolutionary Response to the Needs of Wounded Warriors.
Since the mid-1990’s he has worked to help raise awareness regarding veterans’ health issues by providing congressional testimony and through public speaking and interviews that have appeared in hundreds of U.S. and foreign newspapers and radio stations. On these issues, he has also been an invited presenter before the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA), American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Veterans of Modern Warfare (VMW), United Auto Workers (UAW), United Spinal Association, and numerous state and local organizations.
Donald possesses a diverse occupational background to include positions held at the federal, state and local levels of government, not-for-profit leadership, and extensive volunteer experience. He has over 30 years of active service and leadership within multiple veterans service organizations to include service as; executive director; director of policy and government relations; national officer; national board member; post and chapter command; and veterans claims representative. He previously served as a project manager and subject matter expert for a national intuitive online military and veterans benefits navigator and calculator system.
Donald entered active duty in the U.S. Army on 2 February 1988 and was awarded the MOS of 31K, Combat Signaler. In August of 1990 he deployed with the Advance Party of the 82nd Airborne Division to Saudi Arabia in preparation of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was wounded in combat in March of 1991 and subsequently medically retired from the military in June of 1992. He is a 100% service-connected combat disabled blinded veteran that went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from East Carolina University with a degree in Social Work.
Donald has been recognized for his work on behalf of veterans with awards and commendations from the Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Modern Warfare, La Societe des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux, North Carolina Veterans Council, and East Carolina University.