Chairman of the Board/Co-Founder

Sam Cannan

Sam Cannan is Chairman of the Board and a Master Watchmaker.
Sam brings over 40 years of experience in the field of horology as well
as many years of business experience and organizational
skills to the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative Inc.

Board Member

Michael Benavente

Michael Benavente is a Watch Industry veteran with over 30 years’ experience managing brands in the Americas region. Michael is currently the Managing Director of Bulova and Accutron, part of
Citizen Watch Group America.  Michael’s previous experience has been in managing, marketing, and
setting distribution strategy for Movado Group, Swatch Group and Gucci. 
When Michael is not immersed in timepieces, he enjoys staying active, reading, and researching wine.

Board Member

Joe Borella

Owner of DRS in New York City, 40 years in the watch & jewelry supply business,
MA in Accounting at NYU, Board member of the Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking. 
Joe also owns Hero’s Outlet and Toscana Watch Products.

Board Member

LOUIS J. (Nick) Callazzo III

Nick is an Executive Servant-Leader, Educator, Communicator, Coach and Manager with decades of
impacting lives to enhance individual performance and organizational results in Fortune 500 companies,
small businesses and Non-Profits with an emphasis on advocating for Military Heroes.
He has been a Resource Specialist for 40 years and has founded consulting group of business professionals dedicated to helping individuals improve personal performance, decision making and
communications and organizations increase productivity and profitability.

From 2010-2021, Nick has been the Executive Director of Victory Village, a transition home for homeless veterans and an advocate for helping homeless Veterans make the transition from the streets to the
civilian community. Nick also serves as a veterans coach, educator and mentor for
SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) throughout the State of Delaware as
well as business coach for individuals starting and growing a small business.

Board Member


Rich earned his Securities Industry Institute certification from the Warton School of the
Univ. of Pennsylvania.  Rich has more than 35 years in the financial services industry,
starting his career on the trading floor of the American Stock Exchange.
He was also the chairperson of SIFMA executive committee and a frequent keynote speaker-speaking
about the future of wealth management. Rich worked with Lauren Alberti for three years to produce
“Sinatra UnderThe Stars at Bethany Club Tennis.  He supervised the event, arranged the talent and
also provided funding for the entertainment. Rich Franchella has his own
charitable foundation with expertise in Asset & Wealth Management.  

Board Member

Robert r. Howard

Robert Richard Howard was apprenticed to his father, a WWII Veteran, who was an electrician and became certified. He worked as an electrician for 52 years, working for General Motors for 31 years and starting his own business, Howard Electrical Service, in 2000. Robert has worked at VWI for the last 4 years doing the electrical work in all the buildings as well as supervising all the HVAC. He managed to get all the permits needed by the Town of Odessa for VWI and is well connected with contractors and plumbers in the area.
His expertise and dedication to VWI has been exemplary. Robert is at VWI almost daily to do anything
he can, at the School, the Service Center and the Biddle House.

Board Member


SCORE Delaware, Past President & Certified Counselor,
Dover Interfaith Mission Housing Vice Chairman & Board Member,
Recipient Governor Vol. of Year Award & Person of the Year Award;
State of Delaware Senior Service Award.


Board Member


He is a highly regarded, third generation jewelry designer and jeweler, whose
family has had a Jewelry Business in New York for more than 103 years.
He graduated from Fashion Institute of Technology and specializes in the design and fabrication of
one-of-a-kind jewelry as well as the restoration of antique and estate pieces.

Roger has served on many not for profit boards such as Educational Alliance West, Fresh Air Fund,
and Make A Wish Foundation; he is a past President of BNI Chapter Brownstone Business Connection
and he currently serves as Co-President of Consolidated Jeweler Association of Greater New York.
This organization provides a multitude of benefits for small to medium sized businesses.
He is currently the Vice president of the Brentwood Rotary Club and
Board of Directors for the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce.
His retail business is Satnick Jewelers, Southold, NY.


Board Member


President of PR Delaware & President Delaware Veterans Coalition,
Teaches communication courses at Delaware State Univ.,
Master Degree in Communications & Public Relations from Temple University.

Board Member


Xiao Li Tan is the President of Stetson Worldwide and President of the Bulova Stetson Fund. 
She is the daughter of Paul Bulova Guilden and Paul’s mother was Louise Bulova, the daughter of
Joseph Bulova and sister to Arde Bulova of the Bulova Watch Company.
Xiao Li is a Fullbright Scholar and a NY film director as well as a film maker.  She inherited the
Stetson Company and the Bulova Stetson Fund from Paul Bulova Guilden.

Board Member


General Francis D. Vavala is a retired Army National Guard officer who served as the Adjutant General of the State of Delaware. He received the promotion in February 1999 after the retirement of Major General George Hastings. In January 2017, Vavala was promoted to lieutenant general in the Delaware Militia.
In April 2017, Vavalawas promoted to general, in the Delaware Militia, in honor of 50 years of service.
He is the first Delaware National Guardsman to achieve four-star rank.
As the Adjutant General, Vavala was the highest-ranking member of the Delaware National Guard. He was responsible for managing the affairs of the Army and Air National Guard and for advising Governor of the State of Delaware, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Guard.

Board Member


Michael Wipf is a 30 year member of Local 542 and worked for Corrado Construction Company as an Operating Engineer. Presently he works as a Mechanic for the Delaware Dept. of Transportation.
He is a certified pipe welder and automotive repair man.
Michael joined Hogs & Heroes, a 501(C)3 organization that supports public safety and military personnel. He has been the Chapter 4 President for 6 years. Hogs & Heroes sponsors and holds fund raising events for charities, performs Honor Missions for fallen police, firefighters, military and veterans.
Since September 2015, Michael has donated endless weekends and free time to VWI.
He and Hogs & Heroes disassembled and brought the two modular buildings from PA to Delaware
as well as holding fund raisers to support VWI. Michael has built the handicap railing
and the handicap ramp at the school. He helped refurbish the interior of the VWI building
and turned a boarded up EMT building into state of the art classrooms and more.
He has accompanied Sam to pick up and install countless items that were needed at the school.
Michael continuously supports VWI whole heartedly.

Special Adviser to Chairman/Co-Founder


BS Business Administration, CUNY Baruch College..

In Memory of
1938 – 2024
VWI CONSIGLIERE – Technical Adviser to the Chairman

Mr. Simonin had Exceptional Experience as Watchmaker, Teacher of Watchmaking, Expert in the Swiss Watch Industry and Specialist in Horological Books, having published over 20 Titles. He was responsible for the creation of watchmaking training centers in Pretoria (South Africa) and in Neuchatel, Switzerland where WOSTEP (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program) was established.

Antoine Simonin was a gentle and humble man, whose love of family and his dedication to the world of horology will always be remembered. He shared his love of horology with everyone and
he inspired the creation of VWI.
Also, he created a bookstore with no equal: Editions-Simonin in Dombresson, Switzerland.

Antoine Simonin was awarded the special jury prize of the
2020 Grand Prix d’horlogerie de Genève – GPHG.
The prize honors the most influential player on the watchmaking scene.

In Memory of

30 years in field of horology, Watch & Clock repair instructor,
certificate from NAWCC School of Horology, PHD from Ohio State