Elks National Foundation
2023-24 Board of Trustees
Michael F. Smith, Chairman
Michael F. Smith was born and raised in Plant City, Florida. He was the captain and MVP of his high school basketball team, which won the state championship during his senior year. He received a full basketball scholarship to St. Leo College in Florida.
After college, Smith married his high school sweetheart, Sandra, and they started a family. Smith joined Plant City Lodge, his father’s Lodge, in January 1979, and took to Elkdom as if he were driving to the hoop.
He served the Lodge in a variety of positions, including two terms as Exalted Ruler, and started an annual Christmas in the Park tradition that continues to this day.
Smith served the Grand Lodge as a District Deputy in 1998-99, as a member of the Lodge Activities Committee, as the Grand Esteemed Lecturing Knight in 2005-06, and as a member of the Board of Grand Trustees, including as Chairman, from 2006 to 2010. He served as Grand Exalted Ruler in 2010-11. He joined the ENF Board in July 2018 and is also a member of the Hoop Shoot Sub-Committee.
Smith made his living in the insurance business, primarily in the health care field. In addition to the Elks, he enjoys playing golf and boating. [Spouse: Sandra.]
Sponsor States: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Panama and Puerto Rico
Roger R. True, Vice-Chairman
Roger R. True was born on March 2, 1948, as the middle of three children. He spent his younger years in the small town of Perry, Kansas, before moving to Richland, Washington, where he lives today.
After graduating from Richland High School in June 1966, he entered the United States Army, where he served a tour of duty in Vietnam, receiving numerous awards and citations for his service. After being honorably discharged in 1969, he returned home and married his high school sweetheart, Marilyn.
The Trues have two sons, Thomas and Anthony--who both belong to the Elks--as well as two grandchildren. True is involved in service activities for the Catholic Church. He is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and holds membership in the American Legion and the Loyal Order of Moose.
While in High School, True held a 40-hour-a-week job, which allowed him to develop the values of loyalty, duty and hard work. These would help motivate him during his 12 years of employment at his family business while also attending Columbia Basin College in Richmond, where he majored in Business Administration. True served in management positions at nuclear facilities in Texas and Washington before finally accepting employment with Rockwell International at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland.
In 1974, True joined Richland Elks Lodge No. 2339. After serving with the Washington State Elks Association, Roger was appointed to the position of District Deputy for the Southeast District. In 1991, he was appointed as a Special representative of the Grand Exalted Ruler and served in that position until 1993. In 1996, he was elected to the Board of Grand Trustees. In 2002 at the Grand Lodge Convention in Reno, Nevada, True was elected to serve as our Grand Exalted Ruler. True joined the ENF Board of Trustees in February 2019. [Spouse: Marilyn]
Sponsor States: Montana and Washington
James L. Nichelson, Secretary
James L. Nichelson was born on May 3, 1948. He was the oldest of 10 children. Being raised on a farm helped instill responsibility in life from an early age. Following high school, Nichelson attended The Ohio State University and was a member of the U.S. Air Force and Army ROTC. Nichelson earned both a bachelor’s and master’s in 1971. After some consideration, he entered law school and earned a Juris Doctor degree from The Ohio State University school of Law, Cum Laude, in 1974.
Nichelson spent several months on active duty at Fort Ben Harrison in Indianapolis. He then spent the rest of his military career in the reserves.
Nichelson married Mary Carolyn Pearl in 1972. She taught elementary school while he finished law school. The two raised three children, Tom, Lauren and Ellen. They now have four grandchildren.
In 1977, Nichelson became a chief trial assistant in the Belmont County, Ohio, Prosecutor’s Office, and in 1980, he became a Belmont County public defender. Following this, he became a founding Belmont County park commissioner, serving as secretary/treasurer for 10 years. Nichelson is now retired and devotes his time to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
Nichelson was an active member in Martins Ferry Elks Lodge No. 895, which eventually merged into the Ohio River Valley Lodge No. 231. He served Ohio’s Southeast District and the state association in various capacities. He served the Grand Lodge as District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler in 1990 and later served for eight years on the Grand Lodge Committee on Judiciary. At the Grand Lodge Convention in Portland, Ore., in 2009, Nichelson was elected to be our Grand Exalted Ruler. He joined the ENF Board of Trustees in July 2019.
Nichelson is also a member of the Knights of Columbus, Eagles, Redmen, VFW and the American Legion. [Spouse: Mary Carolyn]
Sponsor States: Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia
John D. Amen, Treasurer
John D. Amen was born in Denver, Colorado. He met and married the love of his life, Marcia, during their freshman year at Colorado State University, where he graduated with honors.
Amen went on to law school at the University of Colorado. He worked for various oil and gas companies before joining a preeminent law firm, where he worked until retiring in 2004.
Amen joined Denver, Colo., Lodge No. 17, and with his experience as a lawyer, became involved in government relations at the Lodge and State levels. In 2008, he served the Colorado Elks Association as State President.
Amen has been deeply involved with Colorado’s State Major Project, Elks Laradon Hall, which meets the needs of more than 500 people with developmental disabilities. He served six years on Laradon’s Board of Directors, including five as Chair, and as director of Laradon Hall’s supporting foundation.
Amen served the Grand Lodge as a member of the Judiciary Committee for seven years, including two as Chair.
The Amens had two children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Marcia passed away in November 2020. As First Lady, Marcia spoke about hope for cancer survivors at all 50 stops on the national tour. She herself survived cancer—and is remembered for her grace and energy.
Sponsor States: Colorado, New Mexico and Texas
F. Louis Sulsberger, Assistant Secretary
F. Louis Sulsberger was born in Flora, Illinois, and continues to give back to his hometown through the Elks. In 1973, Sulsberger became active in Flora, Ill., Lodge No. 1659. After progressing through the chairs and serving as Exalted Ruler in 1986-87, Sulsberger was elected to the Board of Trustees, where he served as Chairman in 1988-89. As Ritual Coach, he also led his Lodge to five state championships.
During this time, Sulsberger also served on various state committees, as District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler, on the Board of Directors for the Illinois’ state major project, and as president of the Illinois Elks Association.
In 2003, after three years of serving on the Grand Lodge Ritualistic Committee, he was elected to the Board of Grand Trustees, where he eventually served as Chairman. In 2007, he became Grand Exalted Ruler, and in 2014, he joined the ENF Board of Trustees.
In addition to his service to the Elks, Sulsberger boasts an impressive career. After graduating from Olney Central College, Sulsberger became an independent petroleum land man working in the Illinois Land Basin. In 1983, he formed his own oil company, Lou-Lin-Co., Inc., where he currently serves as president. Decreased activity in the oil production business brought Sulsberger to utility-right-of-way work throughout the Midwest. In 2002, after years of traveling, Sulsberger settled back into the community where he was raised, accepting the position of sales manager for a local General Motors dealership.
Despite his busy career and service to the Order, Sulsberger is also involved in the Sons of the American Legion, the Flora Jaycees, the Olney Petroleum Club, and St. Stephen’s Catholic Church. [Spouse: Beth.]
Sponsor States: Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin
Louis J. Grillo, Assistant Treasurer
Louis J. Grillo was born and raised in Stockton, Calif. When visiting home from college, he joined the Stockton, Calif., Lodge in March 1974, where his father served as State Vice-President of the Central District of the California-Hawaii Elks Association. An active member, Grillo became Lodge Exalted Ruler in 1987. He has since served on various district and state committees, and held numerous chairs. In 2005, he was elected Grand Exalted Ruler. Grillo joined the ENF Board of Trustees in July 2011.
Grillo graduated from California State University with a degree in Criminal Justice. He played baseball throughout college, reaching the semipro level. After an injury prevented him from pursuing a career as a professional baseball player, he launched a successful 27-year career as a sales representative.
In addition to his Elks duties, Grillo is a third-generation member of the Bersaglieri Society, one of the oldest Italian organizations in the United States. The Society originated with a group of guards who protected the Italian royal family.
He has also been a member of the Stockton Emblem Club since 2004. He currently lives with his wife on a ranch established by her father in the early 1920s in Linden, Calif. At the ranch, they oversee the operations of the walnut and cherry orchards. [Spouse: Lucia.]
Sponsor States: Arizona, California-Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Guam and the Philippines
James M. McQuillan, Past Chairman
James M. McQuillan was born in Greeley, Nebraska. After graduating from Creighton Unversity, he married his high school sweetheart, Karen Kennedy, and then enrolled in Creighton's School of Law 10 days later. On earning his law degree, McQuillan moved with his growing family to Ogallala where he would practice law for 47 years.
McQuillan joined Ogallala, Neb., Lodge in 1966, where he served on and chaired a number of committees. He served as a Trustee and Treasurer of the Lodge, as well. He was Exalted Ruler in 1977. At the state level, McQuillan served on the Laws Committee for 12 years. He was Nebraska's State President in 1988-89.
McQuillan served the Grand Lodge as a member of the Judiciary Committee for eight years, including two as Chairman, and as a Justice of the Grand Forum for five years. He was the Chief Justice in 2002-03. McQuillan served as Grand Exalted Ruler in 2004-05. He joined the ENF Board of Trustees in February 2017.
In addition to the Elks, McQuillan has been active in his Church and in numerous community and professional organizations. He coached youth sports for many years and served on the Ogallala Airport Authority and the Board of Education.
He and Karen were parents to six children, and have 18 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. Karen passed away in February 2016.
McQuillan married Therese Bartosh on 10 August 2018, and they currently live in Omaha, Nebraska, where he moved in 2013 upon retiring from the law practice. Therese has four children, nine grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. [Spouse: Therese.]
Sponsor States: Kansas and Nebraska