E. Matthew ‘Whiz’ Buckley
E. Matthew Buckley, a former decorated Navy fighter pilot, is the Chief Executive Officer for Top Gun Options LLC (TGO) and Strike Fighter Financial LLC in Boca Raton, Florida. Prior to starting TGO he was the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Options News Network, a financial media company headquartered in the Chicago Board of Trade. He rose from the position of Managing Director of a leading Wall Street firm to CEO in one year at the age of 38. His areas of expertise include strategic planning and execution, raising capital, mergers and acquisitions, managing profitability, public speaking and relationship building, charitable fund raising, leadership development and team building.
Prior to this Mr. Buckley was the Managing Director of Strategy for the largest Wall Street proprietary equity options trading firm. He was responsible for the strategic development, successful execution, and debriefing of all strategic plans across the firm and retail business units. His efforts enabled the firm to grow from 99 employees to over 600 and increase in enterprise value from $150M to over $2.5B in just 3 years.
Before heading to Wall Street Mr. Buckley was the Director of Leadership with a military themed consulting company, where he became an internationally recognized and highly sought-after public speaker. He created and deployed leadership and strategic planning processes and was a primary executive consultant to many Fortune 500 companies, including GE, Cisco, Sanofi, Macquarie, McKesson, AT&T, VMWare, Logitec, Fidelity, Cargill, Oracle, Capital One, MasterCard, Medtronic, VMWare, Medtronic, Siemens, and Gilead Sciences.
From 1991-2006, Whiz was a highly decorated Naval Aviator with the United States Navy serving at multiple duty stations worldwide. He was an F/A-18 Hornet Instructor and Adversary Pilot with combat experience. He flew 44 combat sorties over Iraq and was awarded 2 Strike/Flight Air Medals. He graduated from the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). He served as a Department Head in a fighter squadron responsible for the safe operation and combat capability of 12 F/A-18 Hornet aircraft worth over $500 million. His responsibilities included the supervision and management of 200 naval personnel and material assets during combat operations. He managed the career paths and professional development of officers and enlisted personnel, managed a $25 million operations budget, and was responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing allied assets in the Persian Gulf theater as the Mobile Targeting Officer in Riyadh, KSA. He conducted briefings for the highest levels of the National Command Authority and held a Top Secret/SCI clearance. He was recalled to active duty and served during Operation Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom.
Mr. Buckley lost his sister at the age of 19 to a drunk driver when she was a freshman at Villanova University. Whiz vowed to fight drunk driving and support Mothers Against Drunk Driving and their mission of ‘No More Victims’. He currently serves as the MADD Dash 5K honorary co-executive chairman and for 3 years in a row raised the most donations both as an individual and company.
Mr. Buckley serves on the Broward Sheriff’s Office Advisory Council as well as the Executive Committee for the Parkinson’s/Alzheimer’s Research & Education Foundation of Broward and Palm Beach counties.
He has combined his unprecedented experiences in the military and in corporate America in the writing of From Sea Level to C Level: A Fighter Pilot’s Journey from the Front Lines to the Front Office.
Mr. Buckley is married to Susan and has 3 children – Matthew, Jack, and Keeley. Matthew and Jack plan on following in their father’s footsteps by serving their country in the Marine Corps and Navy.
For over twenty years, Nicole Champagne has been involved in nonprofit work, focusing on positively impacting her community and improving the lives of those around her. Throughout her career, Ms. Champagne has provided hands-on capabilities in the sectors of trade, business development, brand advertising, and digital marketing. Ms. Champagne delivers industry-leading solutions tied to critical business objectives producing ancillary growth with a positive Return on Investment (ROI). Ms. Champagne is also an entrepreneur and the CEO of CCD. The organization that has grown over the last eight years to hold multiple web properties that serve channels such as Import, Online Retail, Wholesale, Logistics, and physical locations that provide Fulfillment and Distribution. 98% of CCD employees are veterans, women, and women of color. Additionally, Ms. Champagne is an active supporter and advocate for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, SickKids Foundation in Toronto, Paws 4 You, Pets Trust Miami, Honor Flight, in addition to proactively hiring retired military personnel.
Since she was a young child, Ms. Champagne felt a deep connection to military veterans and their sacrifice for both her native country, Canada, as well as her adopted home, the United States of America. When Ms. Champagne moved to the United States, she formed relationships with local veterans and became intimately aware of the struggles these individuals faced upon returning home from deployment. For some, the challenges involved in re-acclimating to life outside of military conflict and continue on a day-to-day basis for years after returning home, but most urgently, the staggering rate of veteran suicides could not be ignored. The culmination of all these experiences inspired Ms. Champagne to act. With longtime friend E. Matthew (“Whiz”) Buckley, a retired Topgun Navy Fighter Pilot, TOPGUN Fighter Foundation was born.
Ms. Champagne’s passion for work in service has a long history; from Dress For Success to UNICEF, to SickKids Foundation, Ms. Champagne ensured her career and her life would be inextricably tied to being of service to others. Be it as a volunteer, a donor, a speaker, or an advocate, Ms. Champagne has devoted her life to service. Soon after she received her Bachelor of Arts & Science from the University of Toronto, Ms. Champagne began a career in publishing. Still, she soon found a passion for advocating for the protection of children’s rights and felt strongly about taking action to expand children’s opportunities, especially for those who were disadvantaged. With Ms. Champagne’s bilingual capabilities in both French and English, and her desire to drive change, Ms. Champagne served as a French Field Coordinator for UNICEF. A few years later, Ms. Champagne would successfully secure a Major Gift that positioned her to become the Executive Director of a Toronto women’s charity, Family Abuse Crisis Exchange, that provided abused women with the tools to re-enter the workforce.
In 2005 Ms. Champagne jumped at the chance to become part of the distinguished SickKids Leaders team as a Development Officer at SickKids Foundation, the pediatric fundraising apparatus of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. It was here where Ms. Champagne’s honed her effectiveness as a fundraiser, her passion for stewardship, and determination to make a difference in the lives of the vulnerable. Ms. Champagne had the team task of raising significant funds from an over-saturated, donor-fatigued environment in excess of $20M. Challenge given. Challenge met. Ms. Champagne attributes the most significant part of her success to the strength of her team, her four colleagues, as well as the support of the President of SickKids Foundation at that time, Mike O’Mahoney, and Clinicians and Scientists from the hospital, most notably Chief Paediatric Cardiac Surgeon Dr. Glen Van Arsdell. Visually seeing the children and parents who were going through such exceptional circumstances, was both a source of inspiration and heartbreak for Ms. Champagne. Throughout her time with SickKids, Ms. Champagne successfully navigated through the endless red tape. She was able to make bold moves and in doing so, enabled SickKids Foundation to secure several Major Gifts as well as continue her work in the Leaders program. This program engages C-Level executives and continues serving their mission.
Upon Ms. Champagne’s relocation from Toronto to Florida in 2010, she found herself learning from several military veterans who have since become close friends. With her longstanding admiration for our veterans and through the open dialogue with her friends, Ms. Champagne truly began to understand the gravity of the veteran care crisis in our communities. Veterans face skyrocketing suicide rates, high homelessness and unemployment rates, and the prominence of mental health challenges. Ms. Champagne and her Co-Founder Matthew Buckley, a fifteen-year F/A-18 Navy fighter pilot veteran, felt that they were in a unique position to tackle these issues head-on.
Inspired by the challenges veterans face around the world, The TOPGUN Fighter Foundation is tasked to bring localized support and service to the veteran population. The TOPGUN Fighter Foundation aims to combat issues that many veterans face on their return home. The foundation’s mission is to drastically increase access to suicide prevention resources and decrease homelessness and unemployment within the veteran community. Further, its goal is not only to ensure veterans see another sunrise but also to have opportunities and options.
One would think that the experience of operating a robust organization and managing a team of 19 employees at CCD Worldwide would be overwhelming and would be considered a great impact on the local veteran population in South Florida. However, Ms. Champagne’s desire to help veterans and leverage their unique skill set to impact the community and the country, is what drives Ms. Champagne and inspires her to do more and reach more veterans. Ms. Champagne employs the rich set of personal experiences and wisdom she has developed through years of service within her businesses and nonprofit organizations to ensure that The TOPGUN Fighter Foundation is a resounding success. Ms. Champagne’s experience in establishing long-lasting relationships and strategic networks with directors, executive officers, management, and other external stakeholders will serve the foundation well. With a proven track record of hiring veterans, cultivating charitable donations and revenue, and elevating the profile of various nonprofit organizations, Ms. Champagne is in a uniquely qualified position to run this organization. With the help of her incredible partner, Matthew Buckley, Nicole Champagne’s desire to leave a lasting imprint on our veteran’s lives will be felt by many.
Born in Kettering, Ohio, and raised in Boca Raton, Florida, Suzi Buckley has seen most of the United States while living at different military bases as a Navy Wife. The many moves required constant readjustment to new environments, which brought a unique set of challenges. For those who know the bright-eyed, warm, ever-positive Suzi, it is easy to understand that while challenging, resilience is a part of her nature.
While her husband was flying F/18 Hornets during 44 combat missions over Iraq, Suzi was not just at home at their three children. Regardless of her home being off-base, the distance from her family and adjustment of living in a small town – Suzi was always actively involved in the Navy community.
When a spouse serves, the entire family serves, and it became a way of life to make sacrifices to protect the country they loved. Isolation makes casualties of many, yet Suzi’s indomitable spirit and commitment to her country only made her more committed to cause. She also spent time studying new courses to expand her mind, all while raising a young family.
As a wife to a veteran, and part of the Navy community, Suzi has seen firsthand how difficult the transition from military to civilian life can be on those who protect our country. Many of her husband’s veteran military brothers and she would see the impact firsthand it would have on them and their families. She also respectfully noticed with quiet reverence the many who did not come home.
The impact on her family and those around her she met during her husband’s time in service was undeniable. Suzi believed that those difficult moments could lead to opportunities or downfall and that for each veteran, and their family, it was different. She did not know when or how, but she knew she wanted to help others more than she could at the moment. Suzi’s impact on others did not go unnoticed.
Her husband retired as a decorated Navy fighter pilot and became Founder & CEO for his options trading school, TOPGUN Options. Suzi, who had found time for continuous learning while deployments, joined him to oversee operations, affiliate support, and client relations. Together they have built a multi-million-dollar business, which has enabled them to give back to the causes they hold dear.
Suzi holds a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Jacksonville University. She supports various causes, including serving as a Board of Director for the TOPGUN Fighter Foundation.
In her spare time, when not supporting her children’s competitive athletic events, Suzi loves to entertain, especially during the holidays, working out to stay healthy, watching hockey games, and spending time at the beach. She chooses to live each day with a remarkable sense of gratitude, a twinkle in her eye, an infectious laughter, and is never too busy to go out of her way for her husband, family, parents, friends, and often even a stranger.