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Meet the people who make it all possible



The Beginning

When I started Academy Insider back in 2017 during the week of my commissioning, I was providing solely my perspective and insight into life at the Naval Academy.

This platform then grew beyond what I could ever imagine and needed to put it on pause as a result of my operational Navy duties.

But now Academy Insider is back! And with its return, I knew I needed to bring in a team trusted friends and mentors to help me build a product that best serves the Naval Academy community.

I am now joined by an Advisory Board of some of the most talented USNA alumni and supporters. Together we are able to provide a more holistic perspective into life at the United States Naval Academy. 

Academy Insider has been granted public charity status through the IRS. Yes we are a 501(c)(3).

I am a true believer in being a man for others, and it is my desire to use Academy Insider as a way to pay forward all the good that the Naval Academy did for me.

Meet the Team

Grant Vermeer '17


Grant is the person who started it all.  He is the founder of Academy Insider and the host of The Academy Insider podcast and the USNA Property Network Podcast. He was a recruited athlete which brought him to Annapolis where he was a four year member of the varsity basketball team. He was a cyber operations major and commissioned into the Cryptologic Warfare Community. He was stationed at Fort Meade and supported the Subsurface Direct Support mission.

He separated from the Navy in 2023 and now owns The Vermeer Group, a boutique residential real estate company that specializes in serving the United States Naval Academy community PCSing to California & Texas. 

Troy Thompson

Troy is serving as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy. He spent five years forward deployed to Japan as Navigator on board USS Germantown.

A fellow cyber operations major from the class of 2017 and a member of the Navy football brotherhood, Troy is currently stationed in Washington D.C.

He just completed his rotation as a Defense Fellow in the Office of Senator Susan Collins in the 118th Congressional session, and just began his time as a Congressional Appropriations Liaison for the Navy and Marine Corps Appropriations Matters Office (FMBE).

Captain Shakir S. Robinson

Shakir (Shak) Robinson is a 2015 graduate of the Naval Academy and commissioned as into the United States Marine Corps.  After graduating from The Basic School, he attended and graduated from his logistics course with Honors and received the Logistics Officer military occupational specialty.

He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in anti corruption as an Olmsted Scholar in Mexico City, Mexico.

He also annually funds the "Dare to be Your Best Scholarship" to give back to his hometown. He continues to provide college-bound senior students in the city Brunswick, Georgia with scholarships for their hard work and commitment to being their best. 

Lieutenant Jarred R. Reid-Dixon

A native of Suffolk, Brandon England, Lt. Jarred Reid-Dixon graduated from Caesar Rodney High School in Camden, Delaware in 2012.

Following high school he reported to the Naval Academy Preparatory School and graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a bachelor of science in economics, commissioning as a Supply Corps Officer in May 2017.

He laterally transferred to the Public Affairs community during the February 2020 board and assumed duties as the Assistant Public Affairs Officer for Commander, Naval Surface Forces/Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet in February 2021 where he earned his Independent Duty Public Affairs Qualification.

He is currently receiving his Master Degree from San Diego State University


Jen Pilcher

Jen was Grant's sponsor mom at The Naval Academy.

She is a former Speech-Language Pathologist turned founder, investor, and consultant. 

Jen is a born and raised "Jersey girl" and started, a digital media company, in 2011. She then launched its subsidiary brand, MilSpouseFest, in 2015, providing the largest in-person nationwide events for military spouses.

In April 2015, Jen oversaw the successful acquisition of her digital media and events company by Suddath, a $600-million ARR global transportation, relocation management, and logistics company. She remained as CEO until entirely exiting the company in 2017.  MilSpouseFest proudly continues to serve military spouses worldwide and is now owned by Recurrent Ventures.

Jen lives in Annapolis with her family and loves to spend time on the boat with Zoe, their Golden Retriever, serving as the happy Captain.

Lowell Krusinger

LtCol Krusinger was the Officer Representative to the men’s varsity basketball team when Grant was a Midshipman and player on the basketball team. LtCol Krusinger became a great mentor to Grant and has continued to stay a part of his life.

LtCol Krusinger served as the Staff Director to the Commandant of Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy from 2014-2017, where he worked with leadership and staff to coach and mentor the future officers of the Navy and Marine Corps.

 He was selected to be the Senior Defense Official/ Defense Attaché for the Dominican Republic, and is currently serving at the U.S. Embassy, Santo Domingo.

He is married to Amy, and together they have three children, a daughter, Aubrielle, and two sons, Gavin and Jude.

Andrea Howard

Andrea Howard is a class of 2015 graduate from the United States Naval Academy and currently serves as a submarine officer.  Andrea was an Arabic and Political Science major at the academy.

She is a Marshall Scholar and pursued graduate education directly after graduation. She earned a MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy from Oxford and a MA in Science and Security from Kings College London.

She is a top voice on LinkedIn and a trailblazer in her community.  She is an incisive and empathetic leader at the nexus of security, technology, and diplomacy in nuclear policy.

JD Kameen

JD Kameen is a graduate of the The United States Naval Academy class of 2015. He commissioned as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps where he served until 2022.

He is now an expert in real estate lending and is a top producer in the real estate lending industry with a specialty in serving the military.  He founded the USNA Property Network which serves USNA graduates in all things real estate related across the fleet.

He is also the Co-founder and Director of Development of Paintru. 

Jeff Kirby

Command Master Chief Jeff Kirby proudly wore the uniform for 33 years. In his final assignment, he was the Command Master Chief of the United States Naval Academy.

He retired in 2020 and was recognized as an honorary graduate of the great United States Naval Academy class of 2020. Jeff will provide the Academy Insider audience with a better understanding of knowing why senior enlisted are assigned to the Academy in support of Midshipmen development, which he firmly believes sets Naval Academy graduates ahead of their peers in the fleet.