Excellence in Human Capital Services
Human Performance is a mindset forged from experiences, education, and a strong sense of purpose. HigherEchelon’s approach to leader development is grounded in principles from the science of high performance and organizational psychology; and has been solidified through our experiences working with experts in business, military sport, and surgery. HigherEchelon’s mission is to enhance the self-awareness, agility, and adaptability of leaders through customized programs designed to meet your unique challenges.
Two decades of research has shown resiliency in an organization starts with the leader’s ability to deliberately and consistently apply cognitive and emotional skills to enhance performance. Resilient individuals can cultivate positive emotions in themselves and have the skills to elicit positive emotions in others because of their ability to effectively communicate, solve complex problems, and the confidence to lead in challenging environments. Resilient leaders align their own values and vision with that of the organization, while inspiring those around them to thrive to push the organization forward.
Human performance is regulated through cognitive, emotional, motivational, and decisional processes, especially during setbacks and challenging circumstances, thus leaders should invest in the development of adaptive mindsets, goal achievement, energy management, situational awareness, and self-awareness to improve performance. HigherEchelon understands the systematic approach to building resilient and adaptable leaders.
Visit the Resilient and Adaptable Leader© web page to learn more about the benefits of our program.
Meet the Team
Dr. Ross (Retired, US Army) is the President of HigherEchelon, Inc., which is an Organizational Performance consulting firm with offerings in leadership, technology, and engineering to both public and private sector clients. Joe’s background includes diverse leadership assignments, years of performance study, and the development of organizational effectiveness programs, culminating in HigherEchelon’s flagship program, The Resilient and Adaptable Leader ©. Since 2012, Dr. Ross has been the lead consultant for Army Game Studio in developing the GoArmy Edge, a free software application adapted to help football athletes learn their team’s playbooks, make proper reads and play calls, and mentally practice their assignments in a virtual environment before taking the field. GoArmy Edge takes virtual coaching simulation and training to a new level through unprecedented detail and customization, helping improve football team performance through more effective and safer player practice capabilities. Joe works with NFL, college, and high school teams, Nike Clinics, and Football University Camps about state of the art technology to enhance coaching and player learning.
As a 1995 West Point graduate, Joe was a three-year letter winner and co-captain of the 1994 Army Football team. During his career as an Infantry Officer, Joe led 144 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division and deployed to Kosovo in 2001. The Secretary of the Army commended Joe’s unit for capturing two insurgents on the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) top ten most wanted list and bringing the Serbian and Albanian leadership together to start a dialogue of reconciliation. Joe served as the Director of the Military Enhancement Program at the United States Military Academy (USMA) from 2003 – 2008. During his tenure, Joe consulted with Pentagon leadership to operationalize the Warrior Ethos by changing the culture of the Army to be more agile and adaptive. Dr. Ross helped write the Soldier’s Creed to establish a warrior mindset and advised the Army on developing a standardized framework for training all military personnel about the intangible emotional and mental skills of performance. In 2009, Joe joined the Army Football coaching staff as the Special Teams and Fullback Coach, where he helped lead Army Football to the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl victory. Joe received a Master of Education in Athletic Counseling from Springfield College and his Doctorate in Organizational Psychology from Walden University.
Rick Roper is the Senior Vice President of Human Capital Services for HigherEchelon. Based out of Kansas City, he oversees the “people” aspect of HigherEchelon’s framework for optimizing performance thru “people, processes, and tools”. In this capacity, Rick leads HigherEchelon’s business development and capture efforts, and maintains oversight on programs related to human performance and leadership development for both government and private sector clients who are seeking to optimize organizational performance.
Rick has a diverse background with over 21 years of applied leadership and operational experience as an officer in the U.S. Army. As a former college athlete, he was an early student in West Point’s Center for Enhanced Performance, which oriented on mental skills and high performance training. In addition, he taught undergraduate studies at West Point—one of the nation’s most renowned leadership institutions.
Subsequently, while serving as Director of Operations and later as Chief of Staff, he established leader development programs and oversaw the strategic planning, training management, process improvement, and program/project management for organizations consisting of several hundred to several thousand people. Rick has also served in advisory positions helping leaders overcome systemic organizational problems related to human resources, supply chain management, and operations. Later, he was an assistant professor at the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, which is a graduate-level institution focused on leader development and education. There, he developed curriculum and learning solutions focused on design, critical thinking, training management, and problem solving for students now serving in executive positions world-wide.
Rick is a 1995 graduate of West Point, and earned a Master’s degree in Administration from Central Michigan University.
Dr. Eric Bean is a high performance and leadership consultant. Through both one-on-one and group trainings, Eric has worked with Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, surgeons, business professionals, and athletes on the psychology of high performance, leadership development, culture, and team dynamics. Recently, Eric developed a comprehensive leadership development program for leaders of all levels at UCSD Health. Eric is a Certified Consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology and works with individuals and teams to strengthen their ability to lead others, maximize team functioning, perform at an elite level under high-pressure conditions, and maintain consistency despite changing circumstances. Dr. Bean has taught a master's level Leadership Theory and Application course at Boston College while also consulting with Fortune 100 companies, government agencies, and athletes of all levels. Eric received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from the University of Southern California, a Master’s of Science in Sport Psychology from Cal State Fullerton, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Eric lives in San Diego, Ca with his wife, two young sons, and two dogs.
Mark Bartholf, PMP, is the Human Capital Services Director of Operations, whereby, he oversees the development, delivery, and program management of services to both commercial and government sector clients. In this capacity, Mark oversees two multi-million dollar programs – the U.S. Army Multi-Source Assessment and Feedback (MSAF) Coaching program and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Executive Leadership Coaching and Training program, as well as numerous commercial sector programs across various industries. Mark’s background in the public and private sectors make him uniquely qualified to ensure delivery of effective training and quality operations for all customers. Mark is a former US Army Green Beret Colonel with over 30 years of experience in strategic planning and managing operations for organizations undergoing complex organizational challenges. His corporate experience includes financial services information technology operations, development, planning, and management supporting over 13,000 end-users. Mark is a 1987 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English. Mark also earned a Master’s in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA and is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP).
Dr. Nic Bencaz is an accomplished learning and organizational development consultant with over 14 years’ of hands-on experience assessing and implementing improvement initiatives that align employee strengths with organizational strategic plans. Nic received his PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida, specializing in teamwork, organizational culture, and mentoring in the workplace. Since that time, Nic has led numerous efforts developing workforces and shaping performance and training needs in private, government, military and educational spheres: driving multimillion-dollar contracts from concept to delivery. His specialty understanding how businesses reason and people think, with the proven ability to translate high level, corporate strategies and goals into practical, grounded solutions relevant to all key stakeholders.
Dr. Bencaz brings a wide-breadth of knowledge and background, with prior roles ranging from Deputy Chief Scientist and Operations Manager, to Associate Professor and Subject Matter Expert Consultant. His work background includes: acting as the lead learning and development manager on a $300 million video game training platform for the US Navy; facilitating training workshops and creating blended learning courses to commercial, defense, and university audiences; developing expert performance strategies to reduce training times for US Marine Corps, US Border Patrol, US Army, and the FBI; implementing internal change management practices that have reduced production times and cost measures; and providing needs analysis with recommended best practices for the Department of Defense. Dr. Bencaz is a current member of the National Defense Industrial Association, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the Greater Orlando Organizational Development network, and is consistently motivated to improve himself and the companies he is honored to serve.
Derrick Smits is the Fort Gordon Site Lead for HigherEchelon and has been a Unified Land Operations Instructor supporting the Army Cyber School since 2016. Derrick maintains oversight of HigherEchelon Instructor support to the Cyber Captains Career Course, the Cyber Basic Officer Leaders Course, Cyber Common Technical Core, the Cyber Officer Planners Course, and other mobile training team efforts. Derrick has a proven and diverse background with over 20 years of applied leadership at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels while serving as an Infantry and Military Intelligence officer in the U.S. Army. Derrick is a 1995 graduate of the University of North Georgia, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. Derrick has achieved Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification and earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from American Military University.