In Honor of Those Who Came Before Us
First Five Black Naval Academy Midshipmen
James Henry Conyers, 1872 – 1873
Alonzo C. McClennan, 1873
Henry E. Baker Jr, 1874
James L. Johnson, 1936
George J. Trivers, 1937
Vision, Mission, & History
Carrying our need to serve from the military into civilian life, the 7TH BATT is here to connect, guide, engage, introduce, and bolster communities of color in order to achieve our vision of “A world with no barriers to success”!
We’re calling on all like minded people (military & civilian alike) to help us lift up scholars, mentors, educators, and USNA alumni charitable efforts focused on communities of color, through networking and fiscal support, to overcome and eliminate barriers to minority success and wealth!
Building on the shoulders of those who came before us, the 7TH BATT non-profit was started in June 2020 by black US Naval Academy graduates (USNA ‘93). We came together as a call to action after George Floyd’s tragic and unnecessary death to help address on-going social injustices, overcome systemic racism, and foster real lasting change.
BATT is military shorthand for battalion and the Naval Academy student body (Brigade of Midshipman) is traditionally organized into six battalions. Our 7TH BATT lineage can be traced back to the Annapolis, MD “yard” as a means for minorities to self-help. It was initially set in motion in King Hall when a few minority seniors (USNA ’72) dared to make a difference.
They orchestrated the idea of making an announcement during evening meals that “…anyone taking the ‘Sickle Cell Anemia test’ report to Chauvenet Hall Room 216 to review their results”. It was after this initial meeting that Midshipman 2nd Class K. D. Dunn and his classmates chartered the El Dorado Social Club (EDSC) forging a network for minority Midshipmen to enhance their own professional and personal development; essentially organizing an informal seventh battalion.
Over the past decades there have been many other great self-help champions, most notably Capt Ken Johnson and Lt Don Montgomery (USNA ’74). They all set the stage for what has since evolved into the Midshipmen Black Studies Club which current attendees and alumni alike all affectionately refer to as the 7TH BATT.
Board of Directors
Juan Silva, President
Originally from East Providence, RI, Juan attended the Naval Academy Prep School and graduated from USNA with a systems engineering degree after high school in Houston, TX. While in the Navy, he served as Communications and Auxiliary Officer onboard the USS FIFE (DD-991) as well as a Direct Support Cryptology Officer in Yokosuka and Misawa Japan.
After almost eight years of active-duty, Juan moved to California in 2000 for his first project manager role in the Silicon Valley semiconductor industry. He also held positions in electronics manufacturing before joining JLL and moving to Seattle in 2007 where he managed the Microsoft account interiors construction project management team. Juan left JLL in 2010 and, after 5+ years at Amazon.com, he returned in 2015 and currently leads a team that builds corporate offices and technical labs throughout North and South America for his Fortune 100 global tech company client.
The 7TH BATT non-profit is important to Juan, because two weeks after George Floyd’s June 2020 murder he needed to find a way of making real change for and within communities of color. He called his classmates to action with an initial scholarship fund idea and, after almost a year of discussion, the group’s Plank Owners (i.e. inaugural members) elected Juan and six other Board of Directors to figure out ways of creating a world with no barriers to success!
Jeff Barr, Vice President
Jeff Barr was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography. Jeff served in the U.S. Navy as a Naval Flight Officer and Mission Commander in the E-2C Hawkeye aircraft. He accumulated 20 years of technical and managerial experience in the U.S. Navy and DoD environments. He also served as a Project Manager working for Deloitte and the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) E-2/C-2 Program Office managing projects for various aircraft systems and programs. He retired from the Navy in 2013.
Jeff is currently the Chief Program Management Officer at the Office of Program Management - Ministry of Interior (OPM-MOI), a bilateral program through which the U.S. government provides training and advice to the Saudi Arabian government in areas of public security and critical infrastructure protection in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He develops and oversees project and program management specific activities for American and Saudi staff and leads a team providing support in planning and executing projects, managing project/program communications, and aligning projects with the overall OPM-MOI program.
7TH BATT is important to Jeff because while growing up in Newark he experienced the inequalities and challenges faced by many communities of color in U.S. inner-cities. He has always wanted to give back to such communities and understands the importance of exposing youth and young adults to better educational opportunities and arming them with knowledge of the numerous career opportunities available to them.
Lonnie Crawford, Director
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Lonnie grew up in Denver, Colorado and enlisted in the Navy after high school. While enlisted, he was awarded an opportunity to attend a Navy prep school called B.O.O.S.T; a program to help prepare enlisted Seaman and Marines for college. Lonnie was later accepted to, and graduated from, the U.S. Naval Academy even though he was told by the B.O.O.S.T guidance counselor that he would not graduate. She was wrong.
Commissioned as a Marine, Lonnie served as an Air Support Control officer spending 3 years in Okinawa, Japan as part of the 1st Marine Air Wing and 3rd Marine Expeditionary Unit as well as a Company Executive Officer in Quantico, VA responsible for the base range, band, and brig. After leaving active duty, he joined Susquehanna Steam Electric Station as a risk assessment engineer developing maintenance tools. He later became a licensed Senior Reactor Operator and has since been promoted to, and currently serves as, a Shift Manager overseeing day-to-day plant operations.
This non-profit is important to Lonnie because it is an opportunity to help. 7TH BATT’s mission and direction to give a hand to others, especially those in a marginalized group, is important. Even though Lonnie’s had people help him in his life, he’s unsure if they know the positive impact they had, so he hopes to make that same difference for other people who need it.
Edd Peyton, Director
Edd Peyton is originally from Yazoo City, Mississippi. He was nominated to USNA by Mike Espy, Mississippi’s first Black Congressman since reconstruction and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. After graduating with a B.S. in Political Science, Edd served on a Mississippi based frigate, a Virginia based destroyer and as a field admissions officer for USNA before transitioning to the Navy Reserve.
After serving six years on active duty, Edd began a career in operations/warehouse management for a national natural food distributor in St Augustine, Florida. After three years he returned to Mississippi to pursue a law degree at the University of Mississippi School of Law. After graduation, Edd was licensed and admitted to the Mississippi and Tennessee bar. He presently practices in Memphis, Tennessee in a regional firm with a practice focused on defending insureds in civil litigation.
Edd believes in 7TH BATT’s nonprofit initiative because he does not want to see the children in our community continue to reinvent the wheel. 7TH BATT has a wealth of experience across numerous disciplines and professions and strives to connect our youth to a network that will minimize false starts, sidetracks and facilitate a more direct route to personal success.
Jim Roots, Director
Jim was born and raised in Fairfax, VA. He attended the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, RI, graduated from USNA with a Political Science degree and was commissioned into the US Air Force. While on active duty, he delivered military systems technology through the Air Force Material Command and supported satellite ground stations from Los Angeles AFB and battlefield medical personnel at Brooks AFB, San Antonio, TX.
With years of project management experience, Jim transitioned to civilian life and continued to leverage his skills with internet and telecommunications companies including UUNet and NeuStar. He moved to the midwest to earn his MBA at the University of Wisconsin as part of the inaugural class of the Center for Brand and Product Management. After exploring medical product management, Jim settled into Best Buy where he focused on marketing technologies for a decade. Later, he consulted with Bain’s FRWD digital marketing agency and now leads the Program Management Operations team for Digital Marketing Operations at NVIDIA.
Jim is thankful and grateful for those that paved a pathway to explore opportunities. Jim fully believes the support and friendships formed through 7TH BATT are critical reasons why he made it at USNA and beyond. He also led the Military Employee Business Network at Best Buy, which formalized methods to engage like creating annual events to deliver care packages to the troops. Now aligned again with his classmates and friends, he fully believes in paying it forward to help others who may have not had the same access to support. 7TH BATT leverages networks and builds partnerships to create awareness, momentum for meaningful change.
Mark Ellis, Treasurer
Born and raised in Wakefield, Virginia. Mark attended the Naval Academy Prep School and graduated USNA with a B.S. in Economics. Mark went on to serve as a Surface Warfare Officer aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and Main Propulsion Assistant (MPA) aboard USS Austin (LPD-4). His eight years of active duty culminated with tours as Officer in Charge of Modeling and Simulations and an instructor at Little Creek Naval Station, VA. Mark returned to the reserves after 9/11/2001, serving until late 2009.
He then returned home in 2001 to become a Sussex Central H.S. math teacher where he was able to significantly boost his students’ state Geometry test scores and help them understand the value of producing results through consistent hard work. Mark also had the great pleasure of helping two students get accepted into the Naval Academy Prep School. One attended and ultimately excelled both academically and athletically at USNA. After teaching, Mark worked as a Process Engineer for Giant Eagle, a major supermarket chain headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. Since, 2007Mark has been a self-employed Real Estate Investor and Property Manager.
Mark appreciates the many hands known, and unknown, who helped guide him along his life. He has enjoyed numerous opportunities and activities that were not imagined as possibilities growing up in a small rural town like his favorite pastimes golfing and snow skiing. Mark believes the energy and resources of 7TH BATT’s global community and non-profit efforts will help our people to view everything as possible.
Ken Shropshire, Secretary
Ken grew up in a military family and graduated from White Oak High School in Jacksonville, NC (just outside the gates of the USMC's Camp Lejeune). Upon graduating from Annapolis, he served onboard the USS O'Brien (DD-975) as Engineering Officer and the USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43) as a Detachment Officer at both Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan during his seven years of service. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a BSc in Economics, University of Michigan with a MBA. He also attended the University of Chicago's MSc Analytics program.
After serving his country, Ken launched his career manufacturing military jet engines at GE Aviation in Boston, MA. He ultimately transitioned to the Biotech sector, working in various roles within R&D and Manufacturing at AstraZeneca, AbbVie and Baxter. He is currently Chief of Staff to the Senior VP of Manufacturing for Amgen, a biopharmaceutical company based in the greater Los Angeles, CA area.
Ken is passionate and is honored to be a member of the mission set forth by 7TH BATT. It is yet another opportunity to serve and give back to the community that's supported him during his entire career.