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Robert (Bobby) Charles Robert (Bobby) Charles President and
Managing Member
Connor M. Martin Connor M. Martin Member and Senior Policy Analyst
Marina T. Charles Marina T. Charles Senior Vice President, Operations
Hayley Andrews Hayley Andrews Director of Government Affairs and Policy
Parker Erickson Parker Erickson Director of Legislative Affairs
Will Thompson Will Thompson Policy Analyst

Senior Advisors

David Abruzzino David Abruzzino
James Capra James Capra
John Cassara John Cassara
Brian E. Cooke Brian E. Cooke
ADM Ratti RADM Steven H. Ratti (Ret.)
Tom Whittles Tom Whittles

The Team

As a small firm we treasure our relationships with our clients. We are dedicated professionals with high-level government experience and particular expertise in congressional and federal processes.

Robert (Bobby) Charles, President and Managing Member

Bobby rejoined The Charles Group, LLC as President in April, 2005 after serving from 2003 to 2005 as Assistant Secretary of State, for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), under Secretaries Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. His tenure in the Bush Administration led to the development of strong international relationships, which reinforce his strong ties with many in Congress and the administration.

Charles founded The Charles Group, LLC in 1999 upon leaving service as Staff Director and Chief Counsel for the National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice Subcommittee (GRO) in the House of Representatives from 1995-1999. Charles also served as chief staffer to The Speaker's Task Force on a Drug Free America from 1997-1999 and as top staffer to the Bi-Partisan Drug Policy Group from 1995-1999. Charles maintains strong ties with House leadership.

A former litigator in New York and Washington, Charles worked at Weil Gotshal & Manges and Kramer Levin between 1988 and 1995, clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and taught both Government Oversight and Cyberlaw at Harvard University Extension School from 1998-2001. In 2000, he was awarded Harvard's prestigious Petra T. Shattuck Award for Excellence in Teaching by the University. In the first Bush administration, Charles served in the White House as Deputy Associate Director, Office of Domestic Policy and served as a temporary appointee in the first-term Reagan White House during three stretches of 1981, '82 and '83.

A regular writer and commentator in print and broadcast media, Charles remains close to many top decision makers in Washington, and formerly penned a column for the Washington Times. He authored Narcotics and Terrorism, a 2004 volume explaining national security and homeland security implications inherent in the worldwide illicit drug trade. He has also authored a number of academic studies and law review pieces. He was a Navy Intelligence Reservist for ten years, and served on active duty at the Pentagon immediately following the September 11th attacks.

Charles received his J.D. from Columbia Law School in New York, M.A. in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University in England, and A.B. from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Raised in Maine, he now lives in Maryland with his wife and two children.

 

Connor M. Martin, Member and Senior Policy Analyst

Connor Martin joined the Charles Group in 2007, advancing from policy analyst to project director and, more recently, to Member of the firm. At The Charles Group, Connor has developed unique expertise in a wide range of policy, program, congressional and security issues. His leadership experience spans the gamut, from depth in aerospace and defense technology to conventional and asymmetric threat dynamics; from strategic planning and subject matter expert support for multiple combatant commands, to wider geopolitical, security and federal process counseling. Connor also served four years active service in the U.S. Marine Corps, honorably completing his military service obligation as a non-commissioned officer in 2002. In 2007, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Wisconsin, with a B.S. in History, minor in Criminal Justice. He is an expert in selected areas of homeland security, foreign and national security, including specific areas of law enforcement, counter-narcotics, transnational organized crime and counter-terrorism. Originally from Wisconsin, he currently lives in Arlington, Virginia.

 

Marina T. Charles, Senior Vice President, Operations

Marina Charles has been with The Charles Group since 2003. She manages the company's operations and participates in the development of white papers and studies. Prior to joining The Charles Group, she spent twelve years as a corporate transactional attorney, first in New York City, focusing on corporate finance and venture capital work, then in Washington, DC as part of an international transactional practice group. Marina has extensive experience in contracts and regulatory analysis as well as international business matters. Marina received her BA, cum laude, in Government from Harvard University and her JD from Columbia University Law School, where she was a Stone Scholar. She is fluent in French and Russian and lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.

 

Hayley Andrews, Director of Government Affairs and Policy

With experience in international and national security issues, Hayley joined The Charles Group in 2015 after teaching in Washington D.C. through Teach For America, an AmeriCorps program. Advancing from policy analyst to Director of Government Affairs and Policy, Hayley manages a wide range of projects at The Charles Group, with a portfolio focusing on counternarcotics, national security, veterans’ advocacy, and education issues. She received her B.A., magna cum laude, in International Affairs with a Concentration in Conflict and Security Studies from the George Washington University and her M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University. As an undergraduate student, she interned at the White House and studied abroad in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo where she focused on regional security and post-conflict transformation. During her time in the Balkans, she conducted a month-long independent research project to analyze the effects of the economic sanctions imposed during the Yugoslav Wars. Hayley has extensive travel experience to over 30 different countries throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Central America. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia.

 

Parker Erickson, Director of Legislative Affairs

Parker graduated summa cum laude from the University of Utah, as a political science major, in December 2014. Taking two years from school to serve a religious mission to inner-city Detroit, Parker spent much of his time teaching those struggling to read.  He created and managed a two-level program that effectively taught both children and adults to become literate. Parker was a nominee for both the Rhodes and Truman Scholarships, having balanced premier scholarship with being a PAC-12 football player. He spent time in the offices of Senate President Pro Tempore and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Orrin Hatch (R-UT), where he assisted with the Senate Finance Committee’s investigations.  Parker thereafter went to work for Congressman Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), again focusing on domestic policy issues. His portfolio included transportation, education, health, medicine, welfare and women’s policies, NASA, small business, family and faith-based constituent concerns.  Having seen both the Senate and House up close, Parker focuses on a range of domestic policy issues at The Charles Group, from strategic support to top-shelf national non-profits, and research, to writing tied to major national issues. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, Parker now resides in Arlington, Virginia

 

Will Thompson, Policy Analyst

Will joined The Charles Group in September 2015 where he is now a policy analyst. Will graduated cum laude from Wake Forest University in May 2015, with a major in Politics and International Affairs, together with minors in Economics and Russian. In 2013, he studied European Security with New York University in Prague, guided by leading Czech revolutionary, Jan Urban. In Prague, he studied advanced Russian and Czech. Will has written on the complex legacies of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, and was selected into The Politics Honor Society, Phi Sigma Alpha, at Wake Forest. Will has spent time in the offices of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), where he gained exposure to congressional procedures, legislative processes, and selected domestic issues. As a policy analyst at The Charles Group, Will focuses on U.S. space and defense appropriations, international security and cutting edge education issues. Originally from Georgia, Will currently resides in Northern Virginia.

 

David Abruzzino, Senior Advisor

David has extensive experience with the United States Intelligence Community, including positions as an Intelligence Analyst with the Office of Naval Intelligence (1997-2000) and Central Intelligence Agency (2000-2005), a Professional Staff Member with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (2005-2007), and a Policy Advisor with Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (20087-2009). His areas of expertise include counternarcotics, counterterrorism, threat finance, intelligence analysis, and the use of social media as an open source intelligence tool. David holds a Master of Arts Degree in Military History from American Military University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Magna Cum Laude, from Hamilton College. In addition, David has completed graduate work in Strategic Intelligence at the Joint Military Intelligence College (now the National Intelligence University) and in International Trade Policy at The George Washington University. After leaving Federal service in 2009, David returned to his native West Virginia to teach National Security Studies at a local university and help out on his family's farm.

 

James Capra, Senior Advisor

James L. Capra (“Jimmy”) retired from DEA after more than 27 years in service of the country, having served as Chief of Global Operations responsible for 227 domestic offices and 86 foreign offices in 67 countries. Prior to his DEA career, Jimmy served in the US Navy, US Navy Reserves, Air National Guard and as a Military Intelligence Officer. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Marist College and Masters of Education from Seton Hall University. Today, in addition to serving as a Senior Advisor to TCG, he is CEO and founder of The Front Line Leadership Group, a leadership training firm located in Texas. He is author of a book entitled Leadership at the Front Line: Lessons Learned About Loving, Leading and Legacy from a Warrior and Public Servant, published by Lulu.com. He also recently published his first children’s book called: The Eagle and the Seagulls: A Wisdom Story for Children and Adults. Jimmy has been married for 32 years and has six children.

John Cassara, Senior Advisor

John Cassara is a widely recognized subject matter expert, his depth spanning international counter-threat finance, anti-money laundering, and understanding of terrorist finance, with 26 years of Federal Service in intelligence and law enforcement. John’s last Federal post was as Special Agent at Treasury’s Office of Terrorism Finance and Financial Intelligence (TFI), under the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), where he served 1996-2002. Particular expertise is tied to anti-money laundering in the Middle East, alternative remittance systems and forms of trade-based money laundering and value transfer. John is credited with originating the concept of international “Trade Transparency Units,” an innovative countermeasure for entrenched forms of customs fraud, trade-based money laundering, underground finance and value transfer, adopted into the 2007 U.S. National Money Laundering Strategy. From 2002-2004, Mr. Cassara was detailed to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Anti-Money Laundering Section. During his investigative career, John conducted cases tied to Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, ran a major international money laundering task force, and pioneered use of financial intelligence. Within Customs, John was operational in ways that led to his receiving “law enforcement officer of the year,” and began his career with the U.S. Secret Service and five prior years as an officer with a U.S. intelligence agency, including time overseas. John is a law enforcement “expert” for the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), provides educational instruction on specific anti-money laundering and threat-finance issues to a variety of audiences, and is a regular professional writer on these and other related topics. He wrote Hide and Seek - Intelligence, Law Enforcement and the Stalled War on Terrorist Financing, by Potomac Books, as well as co-authoring On the Trail of Terror Finance: What Law Enforcement and Intelligence Officers Need to Know, by Red Cell Publishing. He released a genre novel, Demons of Gadara, in 2013. He holds a master’s in international management, American Graduate School of International Management, Arizona, and AB (political science, magna cum laude) from the University of California, San Diego.

 

Brian E. Cooke, Senior Advisor

Brian brings unique experience to TCG across national security, foreign policy, defense and global affairs, with particular expertise in addressing and analyzing political insurgencies, counter-insurgency, unconventional defense issues, and the convergence of counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism and transnational organized crime. As a Senior Advisor, Brian has also guided TCG efforts in strategic planning and performance management. From 2005-2008, Brian served on active duty as a US Army Field Artillery officer, deploying to Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom 07-09 as a platoon leader and staff officer in the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Following military service, Brian worked at the Institute of International Education as the Program Coordinator of the ROTC Language and Culture Program, a Department of Defense-sponsored program that delivers foreign language and cultural education to ROTC cadets. Between October 2010 to December 2012 he worked as a fulltime Policy Analyst and Senior Policy Analyst at The Charles Group, specializing in national security and management issues. Brian transitioned to the veterans’ advocacy field, where he continued to advance veterans’ health and other support issues. Currently, he is committed to advancing veterans’ treatment issues, as well as monitoring ongoing defense and national security priorities, including asymmetric threats, unconventional conflicts, and emerging counter-threat approaches at a Washington-based Veteran Service Organization. Brian is a 2005 graduate of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, where he majored in International Politics, specialized in Security Studies, and studied Russian. He also holds an MA in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.

 

Steven H. Ratti, Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.), Senior Advisor

RADM Steve Ratti (retired), served on active duty for over 36 years, managing and leading in the U.S. Coast Guard. Over his career, he led thousands of men and women, served in multiple AORs, and commanded four ships, with time in the Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean, Gulfs of Mexico and Alaska, and in the Bering Sea. His depth spans the gamut. He is a specialist in Operations, training, Joint and Interagency work, serving at the Director, Joint Interagency Task Force West, a post that landed him in countless Asian countries and put him at the helm in battling Transnational Organized Crime (TOC). Later, as Director of Operations (J3) for the U.S. Southern Command, Steve was only the second Coast Guard Officer to serve as a Director for a U. S. Combatant Command, from which he directed all U.S. Military Operations in the Caribbean, South, and Central America. Previously, as District Commander for the Mid-Atlantic Region, Steve worked daily across the Interagency and with policy leaders at all levels, from Congress to Industry. Also a gubernatorial appointee to the North Caroline Military Affairs Commission, he is a member of the non-profit Mission: Readiness, focused on improving the number of young Americans eligible for military service. Steve holds a BS from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (Economics and Management), MS (Human Resources Management) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and MS (Instructional Technology) from Florida State University.

 

 

Tom Whittles, Senior Advisor

Tom Whittles recently retired as a US Navy Captain, with 40 years of combined active and reserve service. He possesses deep knowledge and expertise in a number of national security and defense issues, particularly those focused on naval security and intelligence. His multi-decade tour of service in the Navy took him on numerous assignments both on ship and ashore, where he completed duties ranging from the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA), to serving as squadron Air Intelligence officer, targeting, geopolitical, and amphibious and helicopter landing zone analysts to top flight posts in counter-narcotics. Tom served as Assistant Counter-drug Program Manager (CNO-N20), Anti-Terrorist Watch Officer (NCIS-0166), and Deputy N2/N3, NWDC, coordinating Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) for Fleet Battle Experiments (FBE) and several operational missions. He served as Deputy Director of Intelligence (DJ2) for U.S. Central Command, where he led 1,600 joint intelligence personnel in support of combat and crisis operations in Iraq as well as Director, Combined Joint Intelligence Operations Center – Afghanistan (CJIOC-A). Tom’s depth spans time as the Director of Intelligence, Information Dominance Corps (IDC) and as the Branch Head of Naval Intelligence Strategy and Policy on the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) staff. His last tour was Special Assistant to Commander Office of Naval Intelligence (COMONI). Broadly, he has supervised compilation/coordination of Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) technical ISR tied to Naval/Joint Intelligence policy, products and missions, and co-chair of the CNO Navy ISR Architecture Working Group (NIAWG). Tom holds a M.S. degree in GIS (2016) and a B.S. degree (1979) from Northeastern University and graduated the Naval War College (1999) and Joint Forces Staff College (2008). He lives in the northeastern U.S., frequently returning to the National Capital Region.

 

 

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