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About the Defense-State Liaison Office

The Defense-State Liaison Office provides state policymakers with expert insight on priorities affecting military families and their quality of life. This initiative is part of the Defense Department’s efforts to identify and address the most pressing needs of service members and military families. As a trusted resource, DSLO:

  • Provides reliable information and research
  • Shares knowledge of policies and process
  • Offers assistance with legislation at the state level

To contact DSLO, submit your question via the State Policymakers Inquiry form.

Meet the Leadership

  • Geraldine Valentino-Smith
    Ms. Valentino-Smith became director in 2022. Prior to joining the DSLO, she served three terms in the Maryland House of Delegates and also served on the House Appropriations Committee. She is a former clinical nurse and was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1992.
  • Meredith Smith
    Program Analyst
    Ms. Smith became a program analyst in 2023. Prior to joining the DSLO, she served in a variety of public policy roles, focusing specifically on K-12 education issues, workforce development and military family financial security. Ms. Smith is a military spouse and has volunteered in many ways to support military families and civilian communities.

Meet the Regional Liaisons

  • Christopher Arnold
    Mid-Atlantic Regional Liaison
    Mid-Atlantic Region
    DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA, VA, WV
    Mr. Arnold became Mid-Atlantic liaison in 2020. Prior to joining the DSLO, he spent eight years as a top-level staffer in both houses of the New York legislature, four years as director of public affairs in New York's third-largest city and three years managing several units of county government. Mr. Arnold is a former journalist and U.S. Army combat veteran.
  • Eric Sherman
    Southeast Regional Liaison
    Southeast Region
    AL, FL, GA, KY, NC, SC, TN
    Mr. Sherman became Southeast region liaison in 2005. Prior to joining the DSLO, he served for more than 21 years as a flight officer and aerospace physiologist in the U.S. Navy.
  • Jeremy Hilton
    South Central Regional Liaison
    South Central Region
    AR, LA, MO, MS, OK, TX
    Mr. Hilton began his duties as the South Central regional liaison in 2021. Prior to joining the DSLO, he worked in a variety of family services, community support and policy positions in the Department of the Air Force and as an advocate for enhanced pediatric health care for military children. Mr. Hilton is also a Navy submarine veteran.
  • Kelli May Douglas
    Pacific Southwest Regional Liaison
    Pacific Southwest Region
    AZ, CA, HI, NM, NV, UT
    Ms. Douglas became Southwest region liaison in 2018. Prior to joining the DSLO, she served as regional school liaison for Marine Corps Installations West. Ms. Douglas also served as an elementary school teacher in several states and in Department of Defense Education Activity schools, advocating for special needs education.
  • Melissa Willette
    New England Regional Liaison
    New England Region
    CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT
    Ms. Willette became New England region liaison in 2023. Prior to joining the DLSO, she served as director of the Maine Veterans' Cemetery System, director of communications for the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, and senior legislative aide in the Maine State Legislature. Ms. Willette currently serves in the Air National Guard.
  • Michelle Richart
    Midwest Regional Liaison
    Midwest Region
    CO, IA, KS, ND, NE, SD
    Ms. Richart became Midwest region liaison in 2023. Prior to joining the DSLO, she practiced law in the defense, corporate and nonprofit sectors and volunteered in a variety of military family advocacy and policy positions. Ms. Richart is a military spouse and graduate of the Nebraska College of Law.
  • Shane Preston
    Great Lakes Regional Liaison
    Great Lakes Region
    IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI
    Mr. Preston became Great Lakes region liaison in 2022. Prior to joining the DSLO, he worked at the Michigan State Capitol. Mr. Preston is a U.S. Marine combat veteran and graduate from Michigan State University College of Law.
  • Tammie Perreault
    Northwest Regional Liaison
    Northwest Region
    AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY
    Ms. Perreault became Northwest region liaison in 2018. Prior to joining the DSLO, she worked in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors in public policy development and advocacy. Ms. Perreault is a U.S. Army combat veteran.
  • Vacant Position
    DC Regional Liaison
    DC Region
    This position is currently vacant.