Our Team

“I cast my lot in with a soldier, and where he was, was home to me.”- Martha Summerhayes

Amy Uptgraft

Founder and Artistic Director of The Veteran’s Spouse Project, Playwright and Actor

Amy is the founder and artistic director of The Veteran’s Spouse Project and co-playwright of the play, I Will Wait. Amy grew up in Woodburn, Indiana and received her BA in theatre performance from Purdue University.  She spent several years as a working actor in New York City, where she had the opportunity to act on the stage at the Public Theater in their renowned Shakespeare program, the Shakespeare Lab.


Amy has performed in numerous productions, including: Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Miranda in The Tempest, Brooke in Noises Off, Susie in W;t, Adam in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), and Vladimir in an all-female production of Waiting for Godot


Amy ran a children’s theatre in Killeen, TX where she taught hundreds of students and directed shows such as Charlotte’s Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Holes and Winnie the Pooh. She has also taught and directed at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for KidStage in Denver, Colorado and at the Alaska Fine Arts Academy in Eagle River, Alaska. Amy also wrote the play, Ridge Where They Cry.


Amy was a proud military spouse for 21 years before her husband, LTC (R) Jamie Uptgraft retired from the Army.  Amy, Jamie and their four children recently settled in Oak Ridge, TN. 

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Wendy Caldwell, BFA, M.Ed., LPC, NCC

Expressive Arts Director of The Veteran’s Spouse Project and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor 

Wendy is the  Expressive Arts Director of The Veteran's Spouse Project. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the State of MD, a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of AK, and a Nationally Certified Counselor. She is Certified in Expressive Arts through the Person-Centered Expressive Arts Institute in CA. She is the recipient of a Creative Arts Therapy Merit Scholarship and National Military Family Association Spouse Scholarship, has studied Creative Arts Therapy with Pratt Institute, and is certified through the Person Centered Expressive Arts Therapy Institute in CA. 


Her experience includes working within various school systems delivering SEL programming, providing social skills training for differently-abled populations, and responsive services for crisis events. As an inpatient clinician in a hospital, Wendy worked with adolescent and adult patients to deliver individual, group, and family therapy in crisis stabilization units. She has worked as an outpatient therapist, support group leader, and workshop facilitator. Her experience includes working in collaboration with a treatment team and special education staff in her various positions. Additionally, Wendy has a history of working with military populations  within schools, transition services, and nonprofit organizations attending to various stressors including, deployment, PTSD, TBI, maladaptive coping skills, and resilience as pertaining to veterans, spouses, and children. 


Wendy has been married to LTC Christopher Caldwell for 19 years. He is currently the Army Optometrist at Ft. Meade, MD. He deployed to Iraq in 2003 as the Commander of Headquarters Detachment, 205th MI Brigade; Wendy served as the Family Readiness Group Leader for the Detachment and was subsequently awarded the V Corps Heart of Victory and the Patriotic Civilian Service medal for her contributions to the military community in Wiesbaden, Germany. Wendy and Chris have 2 children. She grew up in NJ and has lived in VA, GA, CO, NM, TX, WA, HI, AK, and Germany. They currently live in the Ft. Meade area where she works as an outpatient mental health clinician and workshop facilitator in the community and virtually while continuing to serve veteran’s spouses through program development and healing arts workshop facilitation with The Veteran’s Spouse Project.

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Lea Johnson

Managing and Development Director of The Veteran’s Spouse Project, Owner and CEO of Sliger Holdings, LLC

Lea is the Managing and Development Director of The Veteran's Spouse Project.  Lea is passionate about community volunteerism. She has dedicated herself to helping community organizations. Lea was involved in community and military outreach at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre in Fayetteville, NC. Concurrently she sat on the advisory board for Elite Magazine, a local Fayetteville magazine that highlighted military interests. Lea and her family were named the Fort Bragg Family of the Year in 2014, thanks to her efforts in helping military families. She has been a tireless volunteer within her military communities by leading and advising Family Readiness Groups. During the height of the War on Terror, Lea spent her time as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Wounded Warrior Committee, where she would welcome wounded soldiers returning from war in an effort to make their initial transition smooth and successful. She also created and managed Care Teams in support of family members experiencing trauma during deployments. It was during these interactions with families and spouses that Lea became passionate about giving spouses safe spaces to express their stories and lead her to her work with The Veteran’s Spouse Project.


Lea holds a Masters of Science degree from the University of Florida, Gainesville in Elementary Education with a specialization in Literacy. She has taught in classrooms in both Florida and North Carolina. Lea is the CEO of Sliger Holdings, LLC, a real estate holding company in Port Orange, FL. She was an owner and board member of Sliger and Associates, Inc in Port Orange, FL for over 20 years. She is also the founder of the non-profit, Let it Shine Celebrations, based out of Fayetteville, NC.  Let It Shine provides birthday parties to families experiencing homelessness in the Fayetteville community. Lea also holds an Executive Certificate in Transformational Nonprofit Leadership through the Mendoza School of Business at Notre Dame. 


Lea has been married to LTC Rick Johnson since 2004 and has stood by his side for five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Rick is currently studying at the United States Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Lea and Rick have three children.

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Angela Caruso

Marketing &

Information Technology

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Kristie Rigdon

Finance &



Lydia Magallanes

Public &

Media Relations

Executive Leadership Team

Our Executive Leadership Team oversees all the VSP's efforts. The team meets regularly to ensure that all of our teams, both volunteer and staff,  perform efficiently and to facilitate cross-functional connections.

Operations Team

Our Operations Team is responsible for key business functions within the organization.

Chelsea Iliff
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I am so honored to be a part of The Veteran’s Spouse Project! I love that this organization

recognizes and highlights the importance of military spouses and their vital role in the health of ourmilitary. VSP has given us a voice and a comforting home for our commonalities.

Barbe Tarantino,
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I have found the VSP team to be a passionate and skilled group of professional women, dedicated to providing support to Military Spouses. I am honored to become a part of their organization.

Elizabeth Cook,
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VSP, quite simply, resonates with my heart. It provides a voice for all the emotions, thoughts, and experiences I have had as a 21-year military spouse.  It’s especially beautiful that VSP bridges the gap between the military family and civilian world, providing a path towards understanding and compassion.  I am fortunate to be a part of such a powerful organization.

John T. Hargrove
Civilian Aide to the
Secretary of the Army
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Coming Soon...

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors shapes and approves VSP's strategies, reviews results, advocates for the organization’s mission, and sets the organization’s overall direction.

Amy Uptgraft,
Wendy Caldwell,
Vice President
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Leadership Board 

Our Leadership Board is comprised of community leaders that strongly believe in, advocate for, and offer guidance to VSP's board and staff to fulfill the organization’s mission.