The Mission

Operation Valor Arts (OVArts) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded in 2012. Our Mission: To secure Veterans the necessary resources to design and construct interpretative public art as a means to

  • Process and interpret their experience of war

  •  Engage collaboratively with fellow service members to accomplish new missions on the home front

  •  Connect with opportunities in art, design and technology fields

  •  Create a lasting tribute to the service members and families who sacrificed so dearly



Our Vision

To be a national leader in creating exciting and innovative opportunities for Veterans through their design and construction of interpretative public art across America.

Design Team Hard At Work

Design Team Hard At Work

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Our History


Southwestern Pennsylvania Is Known To Have One Of The Largest Concentrations Of United States Veterans

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In 2011 a diverse group of Pittsburgh Veteran community leaders, health scientists and members of Veteran’s organizations met to discuss the development of a highly innovative visual arts - based program which would offer post 9/11 Veterans an opportunity to address needs that were not being met through traditional means.



OVArts Inspiration

Charles Hogue, MD, Colonel, U.S. Army

The group was inspired by the work of Charles Hogue, MD, Colonel, U.S. Army
(Ret.). From 2000 to 2009, at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Hogue directed the U.S. Military’s premiere research program on the mental health and neurological effects of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Hogue wrote, Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior, to help Veterans navigate the transition from combat to home. Here he established three basic needs:

  •  Camaraderie Through Companionship

  •  A comfortable environment in which to share their stories

  •  A means for Veterans to pay Lasting tribute to those with whom they fought

The group recognized the necessity of providing Veterans a mission that would continue to engage them in a significant way. Unlike pre -existing “mission” focused Veteran organizations, they felt the returning Veteran community needed a permanent aspect to this new undertaking; one to which they could directly attach their names and bring their children and grandchildren to witness.

Operation Valor Arts co-founders, Randy Castriota and Allyson Holtz, both have strong family military ties.  Holtz, an artist and great granddaughter of a Civil War Veteran, envisioned a Veteran- driven interpretative public art and civic engagement program could seamlessly dovetail with the needs Hogue outlined. She saw collaborative Veteran Design Teams using their personal experiences as inspiration for designs of large- scale outdoor sculpture and gardens.  Their creative expression would function as a context in which to convey their stories and, process their experience of war while honoring the service men and women (and their families) who made the ultimate sacrifice.

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Allyson Holtz - Executive Director

Allyson Holtz - Executive Director

Allyson Holtz is the Co-Founder of Operation Valor Arts.    A sculptor and painter, her work has been exhibited in museums, galleries and other venues in Manhattan, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and throughout New England.  Her monumental

Cor-ten steel sculpture, Star and Sea (25’ x 12 ’x 12’) is now in the permanent collection of the Lyman Allen Museum, CT.     Creating community arts programs has been central to her creative practice.   Holtz is the principal founder of the award winning Hygienic Art Inc. (New London, CT).  The Hygienic began in 1979 as a yearly art event and now permanently resides in a renovated landmark building, housing artists’ studios and public galleries, with an outdoor sculpture garden and amphitheater.  After moving to Pittsburg in 1996, she introduced the Hygienic model to the City’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. Today Art All Night marks its 19th year and provides a venue for over 2,500 artists.  Among her awards is a 2004 New Works/Residency Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.    Allyson is the great-granddaughter of Civil War Veteran, Herman Holtz, who fought and was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg.



Randy Castriota - Co-founder and Board Chair

Randy serves as President of Castriota Metals & Pittsburgh Roll-of-Services. Castriota Metals contributes shop space and materials used by OVArts Veterans in the design and construction of works of public art. In 2002, he served as President of the Institute of   Scrap and Recycling Institute (ISRI), which promotes the recycling of metals, paper and tires.    Castriota is a chartered member of Greentree Rotary and has served as the Chapter President. He is an active board member to a variety of civic and cultural organizations such as the Pittsburgh Community Storehouse and, Pittsburgh Renewal, Inc., which helps transitioning ex-offenders.  Castriota assists by providing ex-offenders with temporary housing. His civic and charitable contributions have been recognized throughout the Pittsburgh community.   Randy is inspired by the WWII service of both parents, Rose and Alphonse Castriota.

Randy Castriota    Co-founder and Board Chair


Daniel Fisher - Board Vice-President

Retiring in 2009 with the rank of Colonel, Fisher served in the United States Army for over 25 years.  Currently, he is the Assistant Chair for Administration and Operations, Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology (RST), University of Pittsburgh. Dan is responsible for planning, directing, coordinating and providing leadership for the day to day administrative operations for the Department.  The Department is designed to provide leadership in research, education and clinical practice related to rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities as well as the elderly.   Dan has over 30 years in healthcare administration and project management experience in a variety of business and healthcare delivery settings. He has a strong background in personnel management, project management, strategic and operational planning, problem solving, team building, customer service, training and decision-making. In addition, he has extensive experience working with local, state and federal agencies in emergency management planning. He holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from Rutgers University (New Jersey) and a Masters degree in Healthcare Administration from Baylor University (Texas).


James Lawrence - Treasurer

James Lawrence is a United States Army Veteran who served during the Vietnam War.  A graduate of Penn State, he is a member of the Advisory Board of Penn State, Greater Allegheny Campus, as well as Vice President, Board of Directors, Penn State World Campus.  For the past 40 years, Jim’s career has been focused on the scrap metal industry where he held positions of Vice–President and General Manager for several worldwide stainless and alloy scrap processors. His in-depth knowledge of the metals industry made Jim a sought after national speaker. Currently he works as a journalist for the American Metal Market, a euro money institutional investor company. A longtime resident of Franklin Park, PA, Jim serves as a councilman of the Borough’s Ward 3.

James Lawrence - Treasurer

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Michael Jehn - secretary

Michael Jehn is a Facilities Coordinator at the Software Engineering Institute, a federally funded research and development center headquartered in Pittsburgh. He is a 2004 Carnegie Mellon University graduate whose primary areas of study were creative writing and architecture. Michael serves on the Design Committee of the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation as well as the Wilkinsburg Parks & Recreation Advisory Board. He also volunteers with the Squirrel Hill Litter Patrol, a committee of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition. Michael works as an occasional freelance artist, enjoys traveling and outdoor activities, and holds a 'B' level license from the United States Parachute Association. He achieved the Eagle Scout rank of the Boy Scouts of America in 1999.