Our Team

Kory Apton
Founder & CEO

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“When I stand in the middle of the green pastures of Virginia facing the Blue Ridge Mountains, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for being an American. Our optimism is inherent and unique. It exists nowhere else in the world. This love of freedom, this ability to challenge authority and to dream big, this is what it means to me to be American. Our country represents hope and a better tomorrow. Yet, standing on these very hills that George Washington once surveyed, I know my good fortune only means something if I can help others in some small way. Teaching sustainable agriculture, growing healthy food and creating opportunity for others enables me to serve my country. I am incredibly grateful to be able to do that.”

Patriot Farmers of America is the brainchild of Kory Apton-Griffin, the creator and founder of the organization, leading all of our programs, partnerships and day-to-day operations. 

When she’s not on the farm, Kory passionately promotes education, literacy and athletics in New York City while serving on the Board of the Bronx Charter School for Excellence and as a volunteer for Harlem RBI.  Kory's career began in television production where she wrote, directed and produced more than 100 stories and personality profiles for major broadcast and cable networks including ESPN, CBS Sports, MTV and USA Network, among others.  Kory got her start at USA Today (The Television Show) in 1988 where she met her husband Philip Griffin, who is currently President of MSNBC. They have two college-aged children, Riley and Jackson, and have lived in New York City over 20 years. Kory is trilingual in English, Spanish and German and has lived in both South America and Europe. She is a graduate of Radio/TV Department of the University of Arizona with minors in Political Science and Humanities.

 


Bill Gust
Board Member

“Agriculture has become an overlooked and under-appreciated career path for America’s youth.  Finding ways to stimulate interest in a career in agriculture is critically important to this Country’s future.  The land that supports us all is our greatest national “treasure” and must be protected.”

Bill Gust brings over 30 years of business and legal experience to the board of Patriot Farmers of America. The son of a career soldier, Bill recognizes the importance of supporting our veterans as they transition from military service back to the civilian workforce.  Bill particularly appreciates “grass roots” organizations such as PFA, because of the opportunity to have direct contact with our veterans.  Bill’s favorite time of day is the 15 minutes between total darkness and sunrise as he believes such transition serves as a metaphor for his belief that each day brings new promise, new opportunity.  He is passionate about the outdoors where he learned from his father and grandfather how to hunt, fish and appreciate our place in the natural world and the importance of conservation.  He hopes to pass along this love of the outdoors and conservation to his own grandchildren. 

Bill is currently a Senior Tax Partner with Roanoke, Virginia based law firm of Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore, LLP.  For more than 30 years, Bill has worked with closely held business owners and charitable organizations relative to tax, corporate and sophisticated estate planning matters. With his expertise in implementing business succession strategies, Bill has assisted in the successful transition of many privately held businesses from one generation to the next.  A member of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) and the American Bar Association, Bill is a frequent lecturer on estate, business and tax planning as well as IRS and DOL compliance matters.  He is consistently noted as a Virginia Super Lawyer in tax law, based on his high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement, and earned a spot on the 2016 Best Lawyers in America list for his expertise relative to employee benefits (ERISA) and tax law.

 


Keith J. Apton
Board Member

“Americans gives back. We live in the land of opportunity, where we do care about human beings and family.  Our soldiers deserve a kick-start. They earned it by risking their lives and leaving their families to provide safety for us.” 

Keith is responsible for guiding our strategic initiatives and developing structure and processes in order to streamline execution and operations.  Keith was drawn to PFA because of his appreciation of our veterans making a sacrifice of their time, families, and lives to better our country and protect our wellbeing. He looks forward to the day when he can visit one of our vets and their families at the storefront of their own business. 

Keith is currently the Senior Vice President of Investments & Wealth Management for UBS Financial Services Inc, and a member of the UBS Capital Markets Advisory committee.  Prior to UBS, Keith was with Morgan Stanley where he was an integral member of the team responsible for handling all of Morgan Stanley’s ESOP transactions. Keith is a member of the Finance Committee for the ESOP Association and the National Center for Employee Ownership, and has co-authored the book "Selling Your Business to an ESOP.” He has a B.S. in business from Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia from the Pamplin College of Business.  Outside the office, Keith enjoys flyfishing, sports, traveling and spending time on our farm. Keith resides in Arlington, Virginia with his wife Kathryn and their daughter, Lyla. 

 


Jerry Castro
Board Member

“As a Spanish American born in Honduras, the words opportunity, freedom and liberty carry significant meaning to me.  Immigrating to the United States enabled me to pursue the American Dream.  A dream that is made possible by the men and women, who voluntarily sacrifice, commit and put their lives on the line in order to provide us with the freedoms and opportunities we often take for granted. These amazing human beings protect our rights, our land and freedoms without any complaints.”
 
Jerry is drawn to the PFA so he can help men and women who deserve opportunities upon returning from duty. Through innovative techniques in agriculture, Jerry’s goal is to provide the education and skills to help our veterans to fulfill their dreams of learning a trade and owning their own business in agriculture.  Like the other board members, Jerry looks forward to visiting our vets and their families long after they leave the PFA at their own businesses. 
 
Jerry is the Managing Director/Complex Director of Washington, DC for UBS Financial Services Inc., a position he’s held since 2009. Prior to that time, Jerry was the Executive Director of the Washington, DC. Market for 12 years at Morgan Stanley. Jerry served as a co-chair of the Branch Manager Advisory Council and holds a B.A. from Shippensburg University. He and his wife, Catherine, live in Annapolis, MD, and are the proud parents of eight wonderful children.

 

Kimberly Gutzler
Program Director

Since the inception of Patriot Farmers of America, Kimberly Gutzler has worked with the founders to build a sustainable program that can be replicated across America. She supports all aspects of PFA, from strategic planning to welcoming guests to the farm with wonderful farm-to-table meals.

Farming and Patriotism come naturally to Kimberly. Growing up in Miami, Florida, Kimberly spent summers with her grandfather, a Colonel, on his 5,000 acre farm in Illinois. As a college student in an era when members of the military were too often taken for granted, Kimberly implemented a campus-wide support group that sent letters and care packages to soldiers during the first Gulf War. 

Kimberly studied psychology and family studies at the University of Arizona before attending Arizona State University's Nonprofit Management School.  She has spent her career working in nonprofits and government relations. She is a prolific fund raiser for causes she believes in, as well as a passionate advocate for strong pro-family initiatives.

Kimberly lives in Virginia outside of Washington, D.C. with her boyfriend, Richard and dog Teddy. Kimberly additionally has a passion for food, cooking and entertaining.  She has spent the last five years teaching a weekly cooking class at Williams-Sonoma in the greater Washington area.