Summit: Developing & Sustaining a Resilient Tactical Athlete

Health is the foundation. Performance is the job.

March 19 & 20, 2024

Legends Event Center in Midtown Park (2533 Midtown Pk Blvd, Bryan, TX)

Purpose: Understanding that many of our community-based tactical athletes (e.g., firefighters and law enforcement) are underfunded when it comes to physical screening, training, and monitoring, this summit aims to bring thought leaders to discuss potential solutions. The main themes of this summit are: Health, both physical and mental, and Actionable Data-Driven Decision Making. Topics that may be discussed include, but are not limited to:

  • Health and Wellness Screening

  • Optimal Training Strategies

  • Actionable Information with Real-Time Monitoring

  • Sex & Gender

  • Mental Wellness including preparation for trauma, burnout, and societal stressors

Attendees: Attendance is limited in an effort to keep discussions active. This is a working summit and all attendees are asked to participate fully. Invitations for attendance will be sent in January of 2024. If you do not receive a personalized invitiation, please reach out to us. In an institution of this size, we are not aware of all of the work within our community including industry, non-profits, private and public sectors, and faculty, graduate students, post-docs, and staff. You do not need to be affiliated with Texas A&M to participate. If you are a regional partner and would like to participate, please let us know. If you are interested in attending, please email

Outcomes: Funding to support our public sector, and even more so, our rural, tactical athletes is limited. The main outcome of the summit is a white paper that brings to light the problems and issues our tactical athletes are facing, and potential solutions. The goal is to highlight opportunities at Texas A&M University in collaboration with our regional partners to provide novel and unique solutions to these problmes. We hope that new research collaborations between campus groups will arise as a result of participation in this event.


Tuesday, March 19

  • 0730-0800 Check-in (Note: Breakfast is NOT served on Tuesday)
  • 0800-0815 Welcome and purpose of the summit
  • 0815-0830 Meet & Greet 
  • 0830-0900 Keynote: Patrick Michaelis
  • 0900-0940 Panel discussion: Annette Zapp, Matt Benson, Dr. Dave Alexander, Lauren Johnson, Patrick Michaelis
  • 0940-0945 Roundtable instructions: Erin Randall of Ad Meloria Coaching
  • 0945-1000 Break
  • 1000-1120 Round Table Discussion: Moderators: Dr. Dave Alexander, Dr. Joe Dervay, Christopher Brown, Joshua Hockett, Lauren Johnson, Annette Zapp, Alisa McDonald, Matt Benson
  • 1130-1200 Speaker: Dr. Joe Dervay
  • 1200-1330 Lunch provided and networking
  • 1330-1400 Speaker: Dr. Brittany Hollerbach
  • 1410-1530 Round Table Discussion: Moderators: Dr. Dave Alexander, Dr. Joe Dervay, Christopher Brown, Joshua Hockett, Lauren Johnson, Annette Zapp, Alisa McDonald, Matt Benson
  • 1530-1545 Break
  • 1545-1700 Recap of Round Table Discussions: Erin Randall of Ad Meloria Coaching
  • 1700-1900 Social with drinks, heavy appetizers, and pickleball! 

Wednesday, March 20

  • 0800-0830 Breakfast provided and networking
  • 0830-0840 Welcome & Recap
  • 0840-0910 Speaker: Christopher Brown
  • 0920-1040 Round Table Discussion: Moderators: Dr. Dave Alexander, Dr. Joe Dervay, Christopher Brown, Joshua Hockett, Lauren Johnson, Annette Zapp, Alisa McDonald, Matt Benson
  • 1040-1100 Break
  • 1100-1230 Recap of Round Table Discussions and Next Steps: Erin Randall of Ad Meloria Coaching
  • 1230 End Summit

Email for registration information

Registration is open until March 15th.

Meet our speakers, panel discussants, and moderators:

Patrick Michaelis '93, Brigadier General USA (Ret)

Brigadier General Patrick R. Michaelis ‘93, a distinguished military leader and alumnus of Texas A&M University, is the Commandant of the Corps of Cadets. After graduating from Texas A&M in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in history, he entered the Army as a Second Lieutenant of Armor. Throughout his decorated military career, General Michaelis has held various command roles at renowned locations such as Fort Hood, Fort Lewis, and Redstone Arsenal. He has also served in leadership positions in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, showcasing his expertise in combat situations. With his extensive experience, he aims to expand the leadership training program of the Corps of Cadets, focusing on the development of high-caliber leaders of character for the state and the nation. 

Brittany Hollerbach, PhD 

Dr. Brittany Hollerbach is an Associate Scientist and Deputy Director at the Center for Fire, Rescue & EMS Health Research, part of NDRI-USA. She has extensive experience working with the fire service on a number of federally funded studies. Dr. Hollerbach has an interest in firefighter health in general given her background as a former firefighter, and, specifically, the translation and dissemination of health research.

David Alexander, MD, MC, CFS, FAAEP

Dr Alexander was selected as a NASA Flight Surgeon in November 2004. His NASA Flight Surgeon Training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training and ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training. He is a certified Flight Controller for the International Space Station and Shuttle. He served as Deputy Crew Surgeon for Shuttle Mission STS-123 and ISS Expeditions 11, 23, and 47. He was the Lead Crew Surgeon for Expeditions 14, 33/34, 42/43 and 52. He was also Lead Crew Surgeon for STS-128.

Joe Dervay, MD 

Dr. Joe Dervay is currently a Flight Surgeon at the NASA Johnson Space Center, having served there over 28 years.  Completing undergraduate studies at Cornell University, and a Doctor of Medicine at Syracuse - Upstate Medical Center, he subsequently trained to become a Navy Flight Surgeon, serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy. Dr. Dervay completed an Emergency Medicine Residency in Washington DC at The George Washington University; both a Space Medicine Fellowship and Aerospace Medicine Residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston/NASA; and Hyperbaric Medicine training at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston.  He is board certified in Emergency, Aerospace, and Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine. Dr. Dervay has served as Crew Surgeon for a multitude of missions, encompassing: Space Shuttle, long-duration International Space Station, and Commercial Crew. His roles have included work in Russia at the Star City Cosmonaut training center, and support of crewmembers during Soyuz launch and landing activities in Kazakhstan. He Co-Chairs the Multilateral Medical Operations Panel, comprised of medical representatives from the U.S, Canadian, European, Japanese, and Russian space agencies.  He has completed research on Bubble Nucleation at Altitude and has been deeply involved with development of NASA Extravehicular (EVA) Prebreathe Protocols.  Retiring with the Navy rank of CAPTAIN, he completed a combined 35-years of Active and Reserve service with numerous Navy & Marine Corps units worldwide. Dr. Dervay also currently serves as President of the Aerospace Medicine Association (AsMA), an international professional organization for aerospace medicine, physiology, and human performance.

Christopher Brown CAPT USN (Ret)

Mr. Christopher Brown serves as the Chief of Staff for the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health and he oversees the Center’s operations and its staff, while strategically coordinating the science, operations and education related support to the Center’s federal interagency partners.  Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Brown was the Director of Emergency Preparedness at the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), where he managed Navy Medicine’s Emergency Management (EM) and other enterprise-wide preparedness and response programs. While at BUMED, he led their Emergency Operations Center (EOC) support to their Crisis Action Team during the response to the 2014 Ebola and the 2016 Zika outbreaks, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, he managed the Navy’s pandemic response stockpile. Additionally, while at BUMED, he completed a detail to the Defense Health Agency as their interim EM program manager, and he served as an adjunct faculty member at the Defense Medical Readiness and Training Institute, where he was an instructor for the Joint Service Public Health Emergency Management courses.  Mr. Brown has also supported the DoD’s EM program in a variety of defense contractor assignments since 2004 and has previously served as the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Program Manager for Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC); as the Navy Service Lead for the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological Defense (JPEO CBD) Guardian Installation Protection Program; as the manager for contractor support to the U.S. Navy’s regional CBRN coordinator and EOC programs, and for Navy Medicine’s regional Medical Emergency Manager and EOC programs, as well as serving as an on-site EM and Force Protection technical advisor for the Navy’s Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, Africa.  Mr. Brown is a retired U.S. Navy Captain and his uniformed service spanned 28 years of active and reserve duty as a Surface Warfare Officer, including two tours in command of commissioned reserve units, six deployments to the Mediterranean and Pacific theaters, and contingency operations in the Middle East and Africa.

Lauren Johnson 

Lauren Johnson is the Assistant Chief of Safety and Wellness for the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department.  Chief Johnson’s responsibilities include managing the Department’s Fitness, Performance, and Operational Safety programs, as well as medical exams, peer support, chaplain services, and psychologist clinic.  She is committed to serving in positions of influence over safe emergency operations and injury and illness prevention.   

Annette Zapp

Annette Zapp, MA, CSCS*D, CISSN, is a recovering biochemist who wandered into the fire service 20 years ago and never left. She found what broke her heart and thereby discovered her purpose. The fact that firefighters pledge their lives in the service to the public, and yet no one is taking care of them while they die of complications of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and suicide, is unacceptable. AZ finds the research and resources and brings them to the fire service in a way that provides them with the "So what, now what?" AZ owns and operates Fire Rescue Wellness and hosts the FRW podcast, which drops weekly on Tuesdays.

Alisa McDonald 

Alisa McDonald serves as Program Director for Wellness & Resiliency at Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s (TEEX) Institute for Law Enforcement and Protective Services Excellence (ILEPSE).

Prior to joining TEEX, Alisa served as Regional Manager for Texas Department of Public Safety Victim and Employee Support Services for the North and Southeast Texas Regions.  Alisa has over 15 years of experience assisting and counseling victims of child sexual and physical abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault as well as working with first responders. Alisa earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Master of Arts in Counseling from Sam Houston State University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPC-S), and has certifications in trauma treatment, grief counseling, dialectical behavior therapy as well as trained to administer eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

Matt Benson

Lieutenant Matt Benson, 21 year firefighter with Lake Travis Fire Rescue. I am also the health and wellness coordinator along with 4 other coaches. I was the first “peer fitness” trainer for our organization and have obtained the TSAC-F certification. LTFR has been progressive with annual health and fitness exams as well as research with local collegiate organizations. 

Josh Hockett

Joshua has worked as a health, fitness, and nutrition specialist for 16 years. He recently completed a 3-year contract term at Goodfellow AFB, Texas. There he served as the DoD Fire Academy head strength and conditioning specialist, nutritionist, and data scientist for ~300 cadets of the academy. Joshua has served as a military health and fitness specialist for 9 years including 5 years with the Navy aboard 2 aircraft carriers with an overseas deployment. Joshua also supported the 57th Rescue Squadron in Aviano Italy in 2019 to help support the paratrooper human performance team. Joshua has also worked as an in-person and remote personal trainer/coach off and on for over 15 years. Joshua continues to work full-time on remote projects for the DoD via Booz Allen Hamilton. Joshua has lived in San Angelo since October of 2020. He lives here with his wife and 9-year-old son. Josh regularly partakes in powerlifting competitions and 5k races.

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