My name is Charles Miles. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1970s and 80s and served in the U.S. Army as an Abrams tank crewman in Saudi Arabia and Iraq in the early 1990s.
After leaving the Army, my career focused on the nonprofit and information technology sectors in Washington, DC, where I worked on veterans and national security issues. In 1995 I founded the National Gulf War Resource Center, a tiny organization devoted to helping sick veterans of the first Gulf War. By 2006 I was the IT director for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, a multinational veteran-run nonprofit which worked all over the globe to address the consequences of war. VVAF was a co-founder of the Nobel Peace Prize Winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
Like millions of other people, my job evaporated after the Great Recession hit. VVAF closed for business after 25 years serving veterans and addressing the aftereffects of war. For the next several years, I worked as a restaurant manager, running day to day operations of a small 24×7 diner in the Deep South.
I settled in South Hadley about five years ago. I’m back in the IT industry and currently work as a software developer for a packaging manufacturer based in Worcester. I stay involved in veterans issues and continue to serve on the board of directors of Veterans for Common Sense. My wife Andrea (who grew up in the area) and I purchased a home in South Hadley and have settled here as our forever home. We have five kids, ages 9 to 22. Four of them currently attend South Hadley schools.
I bring to the tablee a wealth of experience as a manager and leader. I’ve founded and run nonprofits, handled budgets, testified before Congressional committees and dealt with staffing and crisis management. I’ve seen first-hand the struggles of people working in low-paid hourly jobs trying to make ends meet for their families, and I appreciate the value of education more than most for that reason.
I’ve worked for a lot of my career in positions which required me to deal with data and information from the government–whether it was Freedom of Information Act requests from the Pentagon when trying to help sick Gulf War veterans, or dealing with records requests from the VA and other organizations. Those experiences have taught me the real value of open government and especially accountability for government positions.
What I bring to the school committee is a different perspective. That of a parent, a war veteran, an active citizen who wants to see all of our kids have opportunities to succeed and to become the leaders of our future.