About Us

SGT Hobson's Purple Heart
Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Sellars, Land Component Commander, Massachusetts National Guard, awards the Purple Heart to Staff Sgt. Heath Hobson, a member of the 101st Field Artillery Regiment during the 101 FA Welcome Home ceremony.

1. Why Guard Support?

There are 8,300 Soldiers and Airmen in the Massachusetts National Guard, serving in Air Force and Army units, in both combat and support roles. Since September 11, 2001 more than 9,600 Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been mobilized into federal service, and more than 7,100 of those served overseas.

But they are not the only ones making tremendous sacrifices.

The families left behind must cope with a host of challenges. When a National Guardsman gets suddenly deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, or other distant locations, his household may lose overnight the one who made sure the bills got paid, fixed the appliance, and provided some childcare relief.

Under such constant stresses, the family left behind can get further overwhelmed by emergency needs such as unexpected doctor bills, a car failure, or suddenly much higher phone bills incurred by calls made overseas.

Guard Support stands by these families, providing emergency assistance in a quick and personal way.

For more regularly anticipated needs, the federal and state governments have created some programs to help these families. But these programs suffer from a lack of resources.

Guard Support helps fund these programs to improve and expand their services.

Finally, it is not enough to merely help these families survive. When a National Guardsman returns home from service, he and his family face numerous adjustment challenges, often involving employment, family counseling, and medical needs.

Guard Support is committed to supporting and developing new programs to ensure this adjustment happens in a manner befitting the tremendous sacrifices made by these families.

2. Who is Guard Support?

Soldiers cut cake at a veterans day event

Guard Support was created in the summer of 2007, by a small group of Massachusetts citizens led by our founder, Nate Dalton.

One of Nate’s neighbors is Guard Support Director Michael Finer who is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Massachusetts National Guard. In the summer of 2007, Michael received word that he was going to Iraq for a year. Out of a conversation about how Michael’s home and business would run in his absence, and then conversations about how the soldiers under Michael’s command were going through similar processes, Nate’s idea for Guard Support was born. Nate was struck by the need for more resources to be devoted to these problems. Since the federal and state government infrastructure seemed insufficient, Nate believed the private sector had to step up.

One of the hopeful experiences for us at Guard Support is that once the need is identified, the almost universal reaction is “How can I help?” Two people in particular leapt to the task, John Kingston and Victoria Sassine. From this core team, Guard Support's Board of Directors was formed.

Other key partners in Guard Support's efforts are the women and men of the Family Program Office and the Family Assistance Centers of the Massachusetts National Guard. These public servants do an amazing job and are intensely dedicated to their tasks, but often without enough resources. Guard Support feels privileged to stand with them and support their effort


Sherry Handel, Executive Director

Sherry was previously a Director at the Center for Women and Enterprise, as well as the Marketing & Communications Manager of a leading nonprofit health care organization. She has held positions in direct sales for leading corporations managing and growing multi-million dollar territories. Sherry is the past-founder of two socially responsible companies. She knows from first-hand experience how to build organizations from the ground up.

Sherry served in the U.S. Army Reserves in Worcester, MA and in upstate NY working in personnel and finance from 1987-1995. She earned a B.S. degree in Business Management from Northeastern University and a Certificate in Sustainable Business Practices from the Global Sustainability Institute at the University of Vermont. Sherry currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Boston Entrepreneurs’ Network and on the Program Committee of the WPI Venture Forum.


Nate Dalton is President and Chief Operating Officer of Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. AMG is a publicly traded asset management company that operates through boutique investment management firms.

Mr. Dalton is the Treasurer and a Trustee of the Tower School in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and is the founder and President of Guard Support of Massachusetts, Inc., a charitable organization that provides assistance to units and families of the Massachusetts National Guard.

Michael Finer is the President and Chief Financial Planner of Major League Investments, a financial planning firm. He also serves in the Army National Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel and Battalion Commander in the Infantry with the 1-181 Infantry Battalion.

Mr. Finer serves as an officer of and/or a Director of several for-profit entities, including the Feinstein Foundation of Rhode Island, My Brother's Table, Temple Shirat Hayam, and the First Corps of Cadets in Boston.

John Kingston, III is Vice Chairman and General Counsel of Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. Prior to joining AMG, John worked in the investment management division of Morgan Stanley & Co. and with the law firm of Ropes & Gray. Mr. Kingston has played key roles in a number of public charities in the Boston area, including serving as the founding chairman of SixSeeds, a national partnership of families empowering family based service and giving.

Mr. Kingston received a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.S. and B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Victoria Sassine is currently a lecturer of finance at the Graduate School of Business at Babson College. She has held strategic financial and brand management positions in a variety of industries, including biotechnology (Biogen Idec), consumer products (Kraft Foods, Phillip Morris Companies, and Polaroid) and petrochemical (Royal Dutch Shell). Ms. Sassine also serves as a consultant to non-profits, developing operational and financial metrics to measure economic impact. She is an angel investor in several women owned businesses. She serves on various boards of several non-profit organizations, focusing on entrepreneurship and women’s economic empowerment.

Ms. Sassine received an MBA from the University of Chicago, with a concentration in finance and strategy. She also earned a B.S. and B.A. from Kansas State University, and is a CPA.


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