Jake Wood (veteran)

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Jacob Wood
Team Rubicon meets with Barack Obama.jpg
Wood (left) and members of Team Rubicon meet President Barack Obama in the Oval Office in 2013.
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin
OccupationSocial entrepreneur
Known forCo-founding Team Rubicon
  • Take Command: Lessons in Leadership: How to Be a First Responder in Business
  • Once a Warrior: How One Veteran Found a New Mission Closer to Home
AwardsPat Tillman Award for Courage ESPY
Big Ten Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award

Jake Wood is an American military veteran and social entrepreneur.[1] He is the co-founder of Team Rubicon and is the recipient of the 2018 ESPY Pat Tillman Award for Service. He is the author of the books, Take Command: Lessons in Leadership: How to Be a First Responder in Business and Once A Warrior: How One Veteran Found A New Mission Closer To Home. He is also the founder and CEO of Groundswell, a corporate philanthropy platform.[2]

Early life[edit]

Wood was born in Bettendorf, Iowa and played football for Pleasant Valley High School.[3] He then played as an offensive linemen for the Wisconsin Badgers, though had his career hampered by shoulder injuries. In 2004, he graduated with a double major in real estate/urban land economics and political science from the University of Wisconsin.[4]

Military career[edit]

Following his graduation Wood joined the Marines, and was sent overseas during the Iraq War in 2007 after his promotion to a lance corporal, and helped lead a squad of twelve infantrymen in al Anbar Province.[5] During his tour he wrote about his experiences in a blog, which brought him to the attention of local news.[6] Wood was deployed as a sniper to Afghanistan in 2008,[7] and was promoted to the rank of sergeant before his honorable discharge in 2009.[8] During his career he was awarded Navy-Marine Commendation Medal with valor distinguishing device for actions taken in combat.[9] He then began advocacy work for military veterans.[10]

Business career[edit]

In 2010, Wood co-founded Team Rubicon with William McNulty and two Milwaukee firefighters. They traveled to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake to help in the rescue and recovery efforts. Between 2010 and 2018, the organization has been part of the response team for about 300 natural disasters. For his work with the organization, he received the Pat Tillman Award for Courage at the ESPYs in 2018.[11] That year he was also awarded the Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award from the Big Ten Conference.[12] In 2015, he received the 20th Annual Heinz Award in the Human Condition with William McNulty.[13]

In 2021, Wood co-founded Groundswell, a corporate philanthropy platform that turns donor-advised funds (DAFs) into an employee benefit and raised $15 million in venture funding.[14][15]


In 2014 Wood authored the book Take Command: Lessons in Leadership: How to Be a First Responder in Business, which outlines decision-making as being composed of four steps: prepare, analyze, decide, and act. Publishers Weekly reviewed the book stating that, “All lessons are illustrated with high-testosterone stories from the front lines of war and disaster zones, and each chapter ends with top-level advice (“mission briefs”),” writing further that the work added, “a new twist on accepted leadership wisdom.”[16]

He, along with former governor of Missouri Eric Greitens, is also the subject of the book Charlie Mike by Joe Klein.[17][18]

In 2020, he published the memoir Once a Warrior, which outlines what American veterans are capable of and how he developed Team Rubicon.[19]


  1. ^ Gelles, David (24 November 2021). "Once a Warrior, Then a Nonprofit Leader, Now an Entrepreneur". The New York Times.
  2. ^ News anchor (November 11, 2021). "'Halftime Report' on Veterans Day". CNBC TV.
  3. ^ "Pleasant Valley High Alumni celebrates Jake Wood after winning ESPYS service award". 19 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Jake Wood '05". Wisconsin Alumni Association. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  5. ^ "Former Wisconsin football player Jake Wood now serving in Iraq". 12 May 2007.
  6. ^ Mulhern, Tom. "From the Badgers line to the front line in Iraq". madison.com.
  7. ^ "Crossing the Rubicon". University of Wisconsin–Madison. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  8. ^ Nash, Noah (22 June 2018). "Marine veteran, Team Rubicon co-founder to receive Pat Tillman Award for Service". Marine Corps Times.
  9. ^ "Team Rubicon founder Jake Wood selected for PV's Wall of Honor". The Quad City Times. February 8, 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  10. ^ "Former Badger to receive Pat Tillman award". ESPN.com. 11 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Former Wisconsin football player Jake Wood to get Pat Tillman Award for Courage at ESPYs". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. June 11, 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  12. ^ "Big Ten Announces Humanitarian and Leadership Awards". Big Ten Conference. November 21, 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  13. ^ "Heinz Awards - Jacob Wood".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Primack, Dan (September 1, 2021). "Team Rubicon's Jake Wood launches corporate philanthropy startup". Axios.
  15. ^ Tsai, Diana (September 27, 2021). "How Groundswell Is Shifting Giving From The 1% To The 99%". Forbes.
  16. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: Take Command: Lessons in Leadership: How to Be a First Responder in Business by Jake Wood. Crown Business, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8041-3838-3". PublishersWeekly.com.
  17. ^ McKelvey, Tara (2015-11-20). "Joe Klein's 'Charlie Mike'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2021-05-07. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  18. ^ Locker, Ray (8 November 2015). "'Charlie Mike' explores plight of veterans". USA TODAY. Archived from the original on 2021-05-07. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  19. ^ Huffman, J. Ford (2021-01-29). "Review: 'Once a Warrior' Is One From the Heart". Coffee or Die Magazine. Archived from the original on 2021-05-07. Retrieved 2021-05-07.

External links[edit]