Sword & Plough has been in the making since Emily and her sister, Betsy, were born into a military family. Living at West Point, sharing Thanksgiving dinners with hundreds of soldiers in mess halls, and watching her uncle, a Marine NASA Astronaut pilot, launch his space shuttle, are just a few of the experiences that inspired Emily to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army. In order to give back to the men and women that serve our country, Emily started the upcycling company, Sword & Plough, with Betsy.
As a student at Middlebury College, Emily was the only ROTC cadet on a campus of 2,450 — most of her friends had never met someone in the military. After her sophomore year, Emily attended the U.S. Army Airborne School where she met soldiers who spoke of the struggles their veteran friends faced while attempting to gain employment after military service.
I wanted to create something that would emotionally and physically touch civilians in their everyday lives and remind them, in a beautiful way, of the challenges our country and servicemen face.
All of these experiences culminated in Sword & Plough's creation during Emily's senior year at college. After listening to a speech given by Jacqueline Novogratz (the founder and CEO of Acumen) during Middlebury’s first social entrepreneurship symposium, a light bulb clicked on – Wouldn’t it be neat to repurpose wasted military surplus into fashionable urban bags? By incorporating veterans into every stage of the business (as designers, managers, sewers, quality control experts and even models), the upcycling company could empower veteran employment. Through its branding and outreach, Sword & Plough could help bridge the civil-military divide. The repurposed bags could be used as conversation pieces and the company could become a platform to bring public awareness to veteran issues.
And so the Sword & Plough brand was born! Most individuals use some form of bag throughout their day. By recycling and repurposing military fabrics with a fashionable touch, and working with veterans at each stage (from product conception to order fulfillment), we create sturdy and sophisticated products. Selling these repurposed bags empowers veteran employment, reduces waste, and strengthens civil-military understanding. In this way, our bags are rugged, refined and relevant.
The Sword & Plough team invites you to join our story!
Made in AMERICA with care for the PLANET
We empower veteran employment by working with companies and non-profit organizations that employ veterans, and we ask our partners to scale with us by hiring veterans to meet the growing demand for S&P products.
We recycle thousands of pounds of military surplus that would otherwise be wasted and incorporate the fabric into the design of our bags whenever possible.
Our goal is to emotionally and physically touch civilians in their everyday lives. We aim to remind them, in a beautiful way, of the challenges our country and veterans face, and the power that every person has to help.
Emily Núñez Cavness, Co-Founder and CEO. Emily is the CEO and Co-Founder of Sword & Plough. Emily is also an active duty U.S. Army officer. Emily channeled her passion for social entrepreneurship, civil-military relations, veteran empowerment, and sustainable design to embody the core values of Sword & Plough. Inspired by her experiences at the U.S. Army Airborne School and childhood growing up in a military family, Emily and her sister Betsy co-founded Sword & Plough in 2012. As a Dell Social Innovation Fellow, Emily gained key insight to strengthen Sword & Plough's three core areas of impact. Emily is the major liaison between our veteran sewers, veteran charities, and communicator of S&P's mission. Emily leads the S&P team and oversees advocacy projects, veteran relations, and key brand relationships. She holds a B.A. in International Studies from Middlebury College.
Betsy Núñez, Co-Founder and COO. Betsy is the COO and Co-Founder at Sword & Plough. As a business professional and strategist with years of experience in sales and education based marketing, Betsy brings a strong operational background to the team. Coming to Sword & Plough as a proven leader and motivator, Betsy has organized multiple philanthropic endeavors in large metropolitan cities in the last seven years. She is also a 2013 Bold Academy Fellow. Passionate and dedicated to driving positive social change, Betsy's goal is to ensure brands, individuals and noteworthy products are given a well deserved and amplified voice. Betsy holds a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from West Chester University.
Cully Cavness, CFO. Cully believes that dedicated individuals with big dreams can change the world. And as an original member of the team that launched Sword & Plough, Cully believes in the Núñez sisters and their dream to improve outcomes for American military veterans. Cully leads the S&P team primarily in areas of finance and business strategy. He also brings experience from non-profits like Teach For America, The Lance Armstrong Foundation and Break Through. He received his MBA from Oxford and his undergraduate degree in Geology from Middlebury College. After college, Cully completed a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship on the topic of renewable energy entrepreneurship and finance in Iceland, China, Spain and Argentina. Cully previously worked at Petrie Partners, an energy-focused investment bank in Denver. Prior to Petrie Partners, Cully served as the Business Development Manager for Global Geothermal, a UK-based power plant development company that designs, finances and builds power infrastructure in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.
Haik Kavookjian, Creative Director. Haik joins the S&P team from the entertainment industry. After working in film distribution and talent, Haik transitioned to the creative side, producing web-based content for companies like Disney and Yahoo. His creative marketing and production experience has helped shape S&P's unique look and brand awareness. As Creative Director, Haik oversees the product development process from design through production, and handles all photography, videography and graphic/web design. He is excited to be sharing his creative and business experience with the Núñez sisters and the rest of the Sword & Plough team. He holds a B.A. in American Studies from Middlebury College.
Laura Keenan, Marketing & Sales Director. Laura is the Marketing and Sales Director for Sword & Plough. Laura served as an active duty United States Army officer for over eleven years before transitioning to the Army National Guard. During her tenure on active duty, Laura served as a Human Resources Officer and as a Congressional Fellow. She deployed to Iraq for over 15 months with the 1st Infantry Division and then went on to serve in the Pentagon, the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and in the White House. After transitioning from active duty, Laura worked at Facebook and at the White House. She holds a B.S. from the United States Military Academy, an MBA from the University of South Carolina, and a MPS from The George Washington University.
Shelby Black, Community Programs Manager. Shelby is driven by the passion to help people through business and brings a strong sales background to the team. She comes to Sword & Plough with a range of experiences focused on mission-centric products, and is dedicated to promoting people and products that create positive social change. She could not think of a more worthy brand or mission than Sword & Plough's! Shelby has extensive community engagement and sales experience through her time at EF Education First, 5-Hour Energy, and Michael Kors. Shelby holds a B.S. in Communications, Leadership & Civic Engagement from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Zach Greenberg, Strategy Advisor. Zach’s connection to Sword & Plough is inspired, in part, by examples of entrepreneurship, military service, and high-quality bags in his own family heritage. His great-great grandfather was a founding team member of another Colorado bag business, Samsonite, and he is extremely proud of his grandfather, Major Abraham M. Greenberg, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped liberate a concentration camp during World War II. Supporting S&P as a key strategic advisor and as an investor, Zach is honored to help advance the founders’ vision of building a thriving and mission-focused business. He worked at the private equity firm KKR & Co, where he focused his efforts between the healthcare and technology sectors. Prior to KKR, Zach worked in the investment banking division at Morgan Stanley in their San Francisco office, advising clients in the consumer, retail, and industrials sectors. Currently a Bay Area resident, Zach received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, where he was a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Academic Achievement from the School of Earth Sciences.
Thomas Nunez, Business Development Analyst. Thomas empowers the Sword & Plough team with his tenacious research and warm personality. He informs the team about military history and the historical importance of military equipment used in Sword & Plough products. He also helps the team generate and pursue business development and sales opportunities. The son of a Colonel in the U.S. Army, Thomas grew up in a military family and pursued the ROTC experience during college. Thomas strongly believes in Sword & Plough’s mission to empower veterans while reducing waste and strengthening civil-military understanding. Thomas started his career with Sword & Plough in the summer of 2013 at our Mass Challenge office in Boston. In addition to his research, he helped the team pitch at the World Innovation Summit and World Innovation Forum.
Alan Hassenfeld As CEO and Chairman of Hasbro Toys from 1989 to 2008, Mr. Hassenfeld led Hasbro’s growth strategy and eventual IPO. He is credited with diversifying Hasbro’s portfolio of companies and expanding international operations to grow Hasbro into a multi billion-dollar brand. Alan also initiated a singular brand of corporate activism designed to improve the lives of children. He was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 1996, and is now a leading voice in the world of social impact investing.
In addition to serving as a trusted advisor and mentor, Alan Hassenfeld became Sword & Plough’s first investor in April, 2015: “I have always believed in the founding team and guiding mission behind Sword & Plough. It has been my honor to serve on the company’s Board of Advisors since its incubation and launch through Middlebury College’s Center For Social Entrepreneurship. I now consider it a privilege to join the company as its first equity investor. Together with the deeply passionate Núñez sisters and their committed team, we can scale this business and achieve significant impact in the military veteran community.”
Annie McChrystal is a lecturer with the McChrystal Group. As an Army spouse for over 34 years, she was involved in family readiness programs for the military and was a lecturer on family issues, tragedy in the unit, and resilience. Annie also has a passion for education. She taught at Troy State University and St. Leo College; she has worked in admissions at St. Leo College and Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, the Council on Foreign Relations with National Programs, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), and the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF). Annie received a B.A. in Sociology from Stroudsburg University and an M.A.Ed in Counselor Education from East Carolina University. In addition to her professional efforts she is on the Board of Directors for the Yellow Ribbon Fund, a charitable organization that supports wounded service members and their families, and Aschiana-USA, an organization providing support for the street children of Afghanistan. She and her husband reside in Alexandria, VA..
Bethany Joy Clark is the granddaughter of a Marine General and has 20+ relatives in her family serving across all five branches of the U.S. military. Since June 2013 she has been actively mentoring the Nunez sisters through the Dell Social Innovation Challenge. Bethany is presently the Director of Community for TOMS, the One for One® company where for every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. Her work focuses on supporting and inspiring individuals and groups to create positive change in their communities. Bethany has led the expansion and growth of TOMS Community by collaborating with new audience groups and creating programming and resources that help all members of the community tell TOMS story. Prior to joining TOMS, she spent her twenties at The Walt Disney Company heading up the Disneyland Grad Nite program and helping market the Disney Endurance Series sports programs. Originally from Fredericksburg, VA, she completed her undergraduate degree at James Madison University (JMU) in 2003. She remains an active alumnus specifically with the JMU Office of Residence Life and Women for Madison Advisory Council. Bethany is an experienced traveler and last year had the opportunity to participate in a TOMS Giving Trip to Peru. She and her husband reside in Los Angeles, CA with their yellow Labrador Duke Dog.
Dr. Charles MacCormack is currently the Executive Chair of the Millennium Development Goal Health Alliance. He serves as Executive-in-Residence at Middlebury College, is the Senior Fellow for Private Development Assistance at InterAction and works with other international think tanks. From 1993 through 2011, Dr. MacCormack was President of Save the Children, the world’s leading independent nonprofit organization serving children in need. Dr. MacCormack served as Board Chair of InterAction, the national association of over 160 U.S. international humanitarian and development organizations from 2006 to 2009. He currently serves on the Board of World Learning and is a Founding Board Member of Malaria No More. Prior to his position at Save the Children, Dr. MacCormack was President of World Learning (formerly known as the Experiment in International Living) from 1977 to 1992. He was a research fellow in foreign policy studies at The Brookings Institution and served as Assistant to the Dean of the International Fellows Program at Columbia University. Throughout his career, Dr. MacCormack has served in many consultative and official roles. He sat on the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid and the Food Security Advisory Committee, and was President of the Non-Governmental Committee on UNICEF. He was selected by the United Nations Secretary General to participate on the Founding Committee of the United Nations University and served as a member of the United States Delegation to the 1997 World Food Summit and the United States Delegation for the 2002 General Assembly Special Session on Children. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Education by Middlebury College, and an honorary Doctor of Law by Clark University. He was made a member of the Grand Cordon of the Order of Al-Istiolal by former King Hussein of Jordan. Dr. MacCormack received his doctorate and master's degrees from Columbia University and his undergraduate degree from Middlebury College. He was a National Science Foundation Fellow at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City and a Fulbright Fellow at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas. Dr. MacCormack resides in Easton, Connecticut and Middlebury, Vermont. He is married to Susan Ross, Former President of the Fairfield County Community Foundation. They have two sons, Cameron and Fraser.
Charlie Zabriskie Jr. is currently the President of The Holland Society and a U.S. Army veteran. He received a Bachelor of Science in Banking and Finance from the University of Vermont in 1953 before joining the U.S. Army as a commissioned Second Lieutenant. After his military service, Charlie continued to serve as a member of the Active Reserve while beginning a successful career in banking. He has held positions as the SVP with major banks in Detroit and Cleveland; Partner of Worldwide Public Accounting and Consulting Firm Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co; EVP of Investment Banking and Corporate Finance at Faulkner, Dawkins & Sullivan; President and COO of Boston-based Banking Organization; and President of executive recruiting firm, Charles Zabriskie Associates, Inc. He is currently the President of the Holland Society of New York. He is also a recipient of the U.S. Army's Civilian Distinguished Service Medal. Charles is married with five sons.
Chris Hsu is a Senior Vice President of Operational Performance at Hewlett- Packard and will be the Chief Operating Officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise when it separates on November 1, 2015. Before HP, Chris served as Managing Director of KKR Capstone at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. While at KKR, Chris cofounded KKR Vets @ Work, an initiative aimed at recruiting and hiring veterans across KKR’s private equity portfolio companies. Previously, Chris served at McKinsey & Company, where he was a leader in the retail and consumer industry group with functional expertise in marketing and operations. Prior to joining McKinsey & Company, he was a Product Manager at General Mills and a Captain in the U.S. Army. Chris Hsu holds an M.B.A. with distinction from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Northwestern University) where he received the award for top student in Marketing. He graduated as a Distinguished Cadet with a B.S. in Mathematical Economics from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
David Bornstein co-authors the Fixes column in The New York Times Opinionator section, which examines solutions to major social problems and how they work. He is a co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, which advances the practice of solutions journalism (rigorous reporting about problem solving), and the media site, Dowser.org, a platform for young journalists who report on creative responses to social problems. He is the author of How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank, and Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages.
Doug Rauch spent 31 years with Trader Joe's Company, the last 14 years as President, growing the business from a small, nine-store chain in Southern California, to a nationally acclaimed retail success story with more than 340 stores in 30 states. He developed their prized buying philosophy, created their unique private label food program, and wrote and executed the Business Plan for expanding Trader Joe’s nationally. In 1996 he moved to Boston to bring Trader Joe’s to the east.He received his Executive M.B.A. from the Peter Drucker School of Management, Claremont University, where he won several honorary awards including the Early Career Outstanding Entrepreneur Award from Peter Drucker. Doug retired from Trader Joe’s in 2008. He is now CEO of Conscious Capitalism Inc., a Trustee at Olin College; Chairs the Board of Overseers at WBUR; a Senior Fellow in Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative; and serves on the board of several for-profit and non-profit companies.He is currently working on a non-profit solution to the issue of “food waste” and hunger/obesity by bringing high quality, nutritious food at affordable prices to the underserved in our inner cities. He is a resident of Newton, MA.
Gemma Bulos is a multi award-winning Social Entrepreneur. Currently she is the Director of the Global Women’s Water Initiative. Prior to co-founding GWWI, Gemma was the Founding Director of A Single Drop for Safe Water in the Philippines, creating income-generating community-led water service organizations. For this innovation, Gemma received national and international social entrepreneur awards including Echoing Green, Ernst Young and Schwab Foundation. Her programs also won accolades including the Tech Museum Tech Equality Award and Warriors of the UN Millennium Goals, sponsored by Kodak Philippines. In 2011, she was recognized as one of the Most Influential Thought Leaders and Innovative Filipinas in the United States by Filipina Women's Network and in 2012 she was named one of the Top 10 Water Solutions Trailblazers in the world by Reuters Alertnet. She has presented alongside such dignitaries such as Jane Goodall, Vandana Shiva, Wangari Maathai at events such as the World Economic Forum, UN Water for Life Conference and others. Gemma is also the recipient of the CG Vibes Award from Queen Latifah and CoverGirl for “Women Changing the World Through Music” for building the Million Voice Choir global peace movement to raise awareness of the global water crisis.
Jon Isham is the faculty director of the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship. He is also a professor of economics at Middlebury as well as the director of Middlebury's environmental studies program. Jon teaches classes about social entrepreneurship, 21st-century global challenges, climate change, environmental economics, environmental policy, and microeconomics. In the last few years, students who have led research projects in his classes have gone on to found Brighter Planet, Step It Up, 350.org and Power Past Coal. In 2005, he was chosen by Middlebury students as the first recipient of The Marjorie Lamberti Faculty Appreciation Award. He co-edited and Ignition: What You Can Do to Fight Global Warming and Spark a Movement (Island Press, 2007) and Social Capital and Economic Development: Well-Being in Developing Countries (Edward Elgar Publications, 2002) and has published articles in Economic Development and Cultural Change,The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Rural Sociology, Society and Natural Resources, The Vermont Law Review, and the World Bank Economic Review, among other journals. Jon currently serves on the Board of Directors of Brighter Planet, Climate Counts, and St. George's School; and the Advisory Board of Focus the Nation. Jon has an AB in Anthropology from Harvard College, an MA in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Maryland.
Joseph Núñez completed a 30 year career in the U.S. Army in 2007, retiring as a Colonel. During his military service, he commanded a battalion in the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, New York. Joe also served as an Associate Professor of Comparative Politics in the Department of Social Sciences, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, and as a Professor of International Relations in the Department of National Security and Strategy, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He recently completed an assignment with the Department of State as the Senior Political Advisor for U.S. Consulate Kirkuk in Iraq. Dr. Núñez has spent four of the last five years in Iraq, almost all of it with State, focusing on capacity development through advising, establishing programs, and reporting on politics, governance, economics, security, and humanitarian assistance. He is a 1977 graduate of St. Lawrence University, and holds M.A. (Public Administration) and Ph.D. (International Relations) degrees from the University of Virginia.
Tom Gart has been President of The Gart Companies since 1993. His business career started with Gart Brothers Sporting Goods Company, a three generation family owned and operated retail business founded in 1927 by his grandfather. He was President and Chief Operating Officer from 1985 until 1992 when the company was sold. In 1992, he founded Gart Real Estate. Tom is currently a Board member at The Nature Conservancy, First Western Trust Bank, Beth Nehamah Hospice, Colorado Succeeds, Shalom Park, and serves as Board Chair of National Jewish Hospital. He is a member of The World Presidents Organization (WPO). Graduating from Stanford University with honors in 1980 where he was Student Body Co-President, he received an MBA from Harvard University Graduate School of Business in 1984. In addition to his community and business activities, Tom is a passionate skier and fly fisherman. He is a 5 time Ironman triathlon finisher, completing his fifth triathlon in Kona, Hawaii in October, 2013. He has also completed numerous running marathons. Tom and wife Margie have three children.