CoC Advisory Board Members
Sean Spear is the President & CEO of Community HousingWorks. Sean has served as a top local and state government leader in successive community development roles in the cities of New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and in Sacramento for the State of California.
Prior to joining Community HousingWorks in 2020, Sean was the Assistant General Manager at the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department where he was responsible for leading its housing production efforts and directing the operations of its Housing Development Bureau. The Bureau facilitates the financing of housing development projects with its business and community partners, leveraging its resources to the maximum benefit of the City’s residents and neighborhoods.
Sean was formerly the Managing Director with Hunt Mortgage Group where he consulted on the acquisition, development, financing and execution of affordable housing development transactions, and originated new debt and equity executions. He also most notably served as the Executive Director of the California Debt Allocation Committee (CDLAC) from 2009-2015, administering the $3.8 Billion private activity bond program for California. Sean brings additional private sector experience from his time with Fannie Mae; then providing housing development and public financing resources across the Western United States. Throughout his career he has developed both new project financing structures (especially for affordable housing preservation), as well as designed and implemented billion dollar governmental programs with the goal of building better communities for those in greatest need. Sean holds both graduate and undergraduate degrees from Cornell University, and is a member of the invitation-only Lambda Alpha International Society for Land Economics.
Deacon Jim F. Vargas
Homeless Service Provider – General
Deacon Jim F. Vargas, OFS, as President and CEO, oversees all facets of Father Joe’s Villages, the largest homeless services provider in Southern California. This includes the comprehensive housing and supportive services offered through St. Vincent de Paul Village, the Village Health Clinic, Therapeutic Childcare Center and the agency’s portfolio of affordable housing.
Prior to Father Joe’s Villages, Deacon Jim oversaw Human Resources operations for 5,000 employees across a chain of newspapers of The Copley Press, Inc., with news bureaus in multiple U.S. locations and Mexico. He also served in various director and vice president positions of Human Resources at Citicorp/Citibank. He is a deacon of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego serving the community of Mary, Star of the Sea in La Jolla, previously having served the community of Our Lady of Angels in downtown San Diego.
Deacon Jim holds degrees from New York University. He is the current Secretary on the board of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness in San Diego, a member of the Board of the Downtown San Diego Partnership and The San Diego County Tax Payers Association. He is the past Chair of the Board of the Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego Foundation, founding chair of Epiphany Prep Charter School of San Diego, and is current Chair of Casa Cornelia Law Center. Deacon Jim lives in La Jolla with his wife and has three adult children.
Ben Moraga made the decision twenty-five years ago to attend San Diego State University (SDSU) and call “America’s Finest City” home. While at SDSU, he earned a B.A. in Economics, with a minor in Public Administration.
Currently, he is Vice President, Sharp HealthCare Foundation. He leads a team of thirty-three across three foundations, representing four acute care hospitals, three specialty hospitals, and over twenty-four outpatient clinics. Sharp is San Diego’s health care leader and the largest private employer with over 19,000 employees. Prior to joining Sharp, Ben spent eight years with SDSU as the Associate Vice President, University Relations & Development.
Ben has had a strong sense of community service since a young age. In 2010, then Mayor Jerry Sanders appointed him a Commissioner of the San Diego Housing Commission. Along with Mayor Todd Gloria, Ben was one of the youngest Commissioners ever appointed. Ben brought a unique perspective to the Commission; his family was raised in public housing and has since left the system. He was a member of the Audit Committee and Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. In 2018, former Mayor Kevin Faulconer appointed him a member of the City of San Diego’s Library Commission.
In addition, Ben is a member of the Monarch School Board of Directors, Immediate Past Chair. A member of the U.S.S. Midway Board of Directors, and the SDSU President’s Latino Advisory Board. He is also a graduate of LEAD San Diego-Class of 2010; a member of the San Diego Bowl Game Association-Life Committee; Fieldstone Foundation Emerging Leaders-Fellow 2011; FBI Citizens Academy-Class of 2012; Herb Klein Leadership Round Table-Steering Committee; Phi Kappa Psi Alumni & Housing Corporate Board; and SDSU’s Leadership Advisory Committee.
Ben and his wife, Jamie, live in Del Sur with their six-year old son, Jack.
As President and CEO, Betsy Brennan leads the Downtown San Diego Partnership, a member-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the economic prosperity and cultural vibrancy of Downtown. This is accomplished through a unique combination of membership, advocacy and public services.
The Downtown Partnership proudly serves more than 300 member businesses, representing thousands of residents, employees, and Downtown property owners. Betsy and her staff are also responsible for administering the Clean & Safe Program, a $9-million Property and Business Improvement District of the City of San Diego, which offers enhanced maintenance and safety services throughout 275 blocks in the heart of Downtown San Diego.
Betsy holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in International Politics and Spanish from the University of Richmond in Virginia (1998) and obtained her Juris Doctor, with a specialization in land use, at the University of San Diego (2003). After law school, Betsy served as Chief of Staff for the City of San Diego’s first-ever City Council President, Scott Peters, (2002 to 2008).
Betsy has a proven track record of leading civic engagement, grassroots community involvement, external relations, economic development, and innovative programs for institutions such as the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina (VP of Development, 2016-2018), Tahoe Forest Health System in Lake Tahoe (Executive Director, Foundation, 2015-2016), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (Chief of Staff to President, 2011-2015), and San Diego State University (Chief of Staff to President, 2008-2011).
Betsy has received several noteworthy acknowledgements of her community commitment, including San Diego Business Journal’s “500 Most Influential Business Leaders” (2019), San Diego Magazine’s “50 People to Watch” (2008), San Diego Metropolitan Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40” (2010), San Luis Obispo Tribune’s “Top 20 Under 40” (2013), and SDSU’s Associated Students Presidential Leadership Award for working alongside students to better serve the greater San Diego community (2011).
Carlos O. Cortez
Carlos O. Cortez, Ph.D., presently serves as the president of San Diego College of Continuing Education (SDCCE), one of the four divisions of the San Diego Community College District. In this capacity, he oversees more than 40,000 students annually at seven campuses and over 200 off-site locations. Cortez is also an adjunct faculty at John Hopkins University, New York University, and the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests center on the role of educators and administrators of color in the historical development of American social welfare and education policy. Cortez is also an expert in the area of promoting equity and access in urban education through literacy and policy initiatives.
Dr. Cortez has taught consistently for the past 23 years. He has served as an administrator for 16 years and as CEO for 11 years. Prior to leading SDCCE, Cortez most recently worked as the acting vice president of instruction at Berkeley City College (BCC). Before BCC, he served as director of Education Extension at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He began his career in education as a Teach for America Corps member. His experience spans the public, private, and charter school sectors in Washington DC, Houston, New York City, Los Angeles, Berkeley, and San Diego. Cortez served as principal of New Village Charter School in Los Angeles, and as assistant principal of special education services at Grape Street Elementary School.
In these positions, he was known for his dedication to teachers and students, the development of innovative programs and services, astute fundraising, and sound fiscal management.
Throughout his career, Cortez has elected to work primarily with underserved, ethnically diverse student populations from low income communities. He has been a staunch advocate for policy and finance reform as a member of various state and federal level legislative task forces, including his current service on the California League of Community College’s Advisory Committee on Legislation and the Noncredit Coalition. His commitment to social justice drives his passion for urban education reform.
Cortez serves on several regional and national non-profit boards, including the Campaign for Free College Tuition, the Trevor Project, the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), the San Diego Workforce Partnership’s Workforce Development Board, the Jackie Robinson YMCA, and Goodwill, Inc. San Diego.
Elected to the San Diego City Council in 2020, Council President Pro Tem Stephen Whitburn represents the city’s 3rd District. He previously served as an award-winning nonprofit leader, including at the American Red Cross which served sick and injured San Diegans, and advancing equality for the LGBT community.
His volunteer work has included serving on advisory panels for the City and County of San Diego, the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation Board of Directors, the Greater San Diego Business Association Advocacy Committee, and as Vice Chair of the North Park Planning Committee.
He was sworn in as Council member for San Diego’s District 3 in December 2020.
As a third-generation San Diegan, Terra Lawson-Remer is proud to represent District 3 on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer is an economist, attorney, and public policy expert who has dedicated her life to working for social, environmental and economic justice.
Terra has served as a Senior Advisor in the Obama Administration, written award-winning research books, taught graduate students as a professor of public policy, and worked with the United Nations, World Bank, Amnesty International, and governments worldwide to advance sustainable development and economic inclusion.
Growing up in San Diego, Terra’s first job in public service was nearly 25 years ago, as a San Diego City Council staffer. After graduating from Yale and earning her law degree and PhD on a full scholarship to NYU, she worked around the world as an economist to create jobs, restart businesses, and generate economic activity after a crisis.
A passionate environmentalist, Terra helped the World Bank create its Climate Finance program, which funds billions of dollars of clean energy projects around the world, and worked to develop policies to cut pollution from oil drilling and mining as a Senior Advisor in the US Treasury Department under the Obama Administration.
Terra was elected by a wave of grassroots support in November of 2020, and was sworn in to office on January 4, 2021, becoming the only LGBTQ+ member of the Board. As Supervisor, Terra Lawson-Remer is taking bold action and forging strong and effective working relationships with her fellow Supervisorial Board members and community partners.
Terra understands that the issues of transportation and traffic, affordable housing, and environmental sustainability in our County are inextricably interconnected, and must be addressed with a bold plan. That is why she was proud to author and pass a proposal for a Regional Sustainability Plan with the goal of achieving zero carbon by 2035. This made San Diego County the largest region in the Country to commit to the ambitious target. She is also advancing innovative solutions to address our affordable housing crisis.
Since joining the Board, Terra has been appointed to represent the County on SANDAG, the regional transportation authority, where she will fight for investments in the green economy to tackle the climate crisis, and prioritize environmental justice and equity.
Supervisor Lawson-Remer has also brought forward significant policy proposals to reform the region’s incarceration system to reflect Smart Justice best practices, including free phone calls for incarcerated individuals, and the expansion of Mobile Crisis Response Teams instead of armed law enforcement. She has spearheaded the launch of San Diego County’s new Immigrant Legal Defense program to protect due process of law. She has fought for Small Business Relief Grants, rental and eviction protections for tenants, and a Youth Jobs Corps to tackle youth underemployment and provide good jobs in the green economy.
Terra lives in Encinitas with her young daughter, EevaKai. She is also a certified emergency medical responder (EMT), and in her free time, she takes kids on backpacking trips to teach teamwork, personal resilience, and respect for nature.
Reverend Rolland Slade
A native of San Diego, California, Pastor Rolland accepted his call into the ministry in 1987 under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Winters at the Bayview Baptist Church, San Diego. It was there that he was baptized, licensed and later ordained to preach the Gospel. While at Highland Park, Pastor Rolland served as Minister of Missions and Church Planter for the Meadowbrook Fellowship congregation located in a large apartment complex near the church, which was originally funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Additionally, he served during that time as the Development Coordinator for the church’s community retail ministry, called Stamps and Things. Pastor Rolland shepherded, qualified and secured the designation of Stamps and Things to become an authorized United States Postal Contract Station in the community. In 2016 Pastor Rolland was named to the fill the Faith Community seat on the San Diego Regional Continuum of Care Council. The San Diego Regional Continuum of Care Council recently (January 2017) merged with the San Diego County Regional Task Force on Homelessness in a combined effort to better serve those who are homeless in San Diego County.
Paul Downey is the President and CEO of Serving Seniors. Since being appointed the role in 1995, Downey has guided the agency’s innovative efforts to provide supportive services focused on keeping low-income seniors healthy and independent.
Under Downey’s leadership, Serving Seniors has grown to serve over 1.1 million nutritious congregate and home delivered meals annually, 365 days per year, at 15 sites in San Diego County. The agency’s service provision model – including case management, healthcare, mental healthcare, dental (through collaborative partner), activities and civic engagement — is considered to be a national model for seniors living in poverty.
Serving Seniors has provided transitional housing and wraparound case management for unsheltered older adults for more than 20 years and owns/operates 412 units of affordable senior housing with support services. A new 117-unit senior complex is under construction in City Heights and a 162-unit complex in Clairemont is in the pipeline.
Downey is currently on the board of the American Society on Aging (and co-chairs its Public Policy Committee), co chairs the County of San Diego’s Elder Protection Council, serves on the County of San Diego’s Social Services Advisory Board, and has previously served as the chair of the California Commission on Aging, chair of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board, SDSU College of Health and Human Services, among many other roles. As a result of these efforts, Downy was invited by President Obama to participate in the White House Conference on Aging in 2015.
Downey holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from San Diego State University and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Harvard Business School.
With lived homeless experience, an MBA in Marketing & Operations, and an entertainment background, John brings a unique set of skills, passion and perspective while leading the Lived Experience Advisers. For 5 years, John has been an active advocate for the unsheltered in the San Diego area. In this role, he has become educated in many of the issues that are relevant to our homelessness crisis on a local and national level. Currently, he is the Director of Lived Experience Advisers, a project of Catalyst San Diego.
His work had led to him becoming a media voice, cited in The San Diego Union Tribune, The Huffington Post, NBC 7, LA Times, and The Voice of San Diego, among many other media outlets. John is also a regular speaker at conferences, community groups, and governmental bodies. Additionally, he is the Vice-Chair of the SDMTS Security and Passenger Safety Community Advisory Group and serves on the Community Action Plan on Homelessness Leadership Council and The Homeless Court Advisory Committee.
Building on the agency’s nearly 100-year history, Michael has led JFS through a wide-reaching, collaborative strategic planning process, repairing the World: Guiding the Heart & Soul of Jewish Family Service, and a capital campaign resulting in the development of a client-centric JFS campus. Under Michael’s leadership, JFS earned Charity Navigator’s highest four-star rating for the eleventh year in a row, an achievement just 1% of reviewed nonprofits nationwide can claim. Michael became CEO in January 2012, continuing his 35+ years building and strengthening the Jewish community across the country. Prior to joining JFS, Michael served as Executive Director of Nehirim, a national Jewish LGBT organization, and CEO of Jewish Community Center (JCC) Metrowest, one of the largest JCCs in the country. Michael holds a Master’s in Social Work from the Yeshiva University Wurzweiler School of Social Work.
With lived homeless experience, Jo has a BS in Business Management, a degree from UCSD in Law – Paralegal Studies and has recently completed the Boards and Commissions Leadership Training through Mid-City Community Advocacy Network. As an advocate, Jo is committed to ending homelessness in San Diego and is dedicated to elevating the voices of those excluded from the decision making processes. Her vision is to be a part of the solution in moving agendas forward. Jo has demonstrated strong leadership skills and a deep commitment to ending the housing crisis, eliminating homelessness and building power for low-income and underserved communities. Jo has shared her story in major platforms, before news media, county board of supervisors and city council rules committee in support of a local bond measure for affordable housing. She is working to create the systemic changes needed to end homelessness and bring about positive change in policies and programs on the local, state and federal levels.
Amy Denhart is the Director of Funders Together to End Homelessness San Diego (FTEHSD) at San Diego Grantmakers, where she supports FTEHSD’s strategic grantmaking and advocacy in systems change and permanent housing opportunities to reduce homelessness. For the past 22 years, Amy held positions in fundraising, public policy, and community engagement. During more than a decade as Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood, she worked with donors and the Board of Directors to advance public policy in support of reproductive health care. Prior to that, she was Area Director for US Senator Barbara Boxer, serving as the Senator’s liaison to the San Diego community, connecting constituents to the Senate and other government bodies. Just prior to joining FTEHSD, Amy worked closely with the City of San Diego and County governments as the lead finance and contract management staff for a local community engagement and design firm. She has served on the City of San Diego’s Parks and Recreation committee and is currently a board member on the Regional Task Force on Homelessness.
Hafsa Kaka brings more than 15 years of experience in homeless, mental health and social services to the role of Director for the newly-established Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department for the City of San Diego. She has been charged with expanding the City’s current capacity to prioritize efforts with key partners to align resources to better address the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
Prior to civic experience, Hafsa Kaka worked at the Los Angeles Homeless Authority and in various homeless shelters, social service organizations and health clinics throughout Southern California. Most recently, she served as the Homeless Solutions Officer for the City of Riverside where she designed and implemented a program that removed the City’s largest encampment by placing individuals into housing. She also worked on a regional approach to address homelessness as the Homeless Services Manager for the City of Santa Ana.
Hafsa Kaka holds bachelor degrees in psychology and social behavior, and criminology, law and society from the University of California – Irvine, and also holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.
As President/CEO of HASD&IC, Mr. Alexiou provides leadership, representation, advocacy, and acts as an advisory on behalf of over 38 hospitals and health systems in the 2-county region. He also participates in the California Hospital Association’s Executive Management Group, representing nearly 450 hospitals and health systems statewide; and on CHA special committees to address issues of quality and patient safety, managed care, finance, and issues specific to non-profit hospitals, integrated systems, and academic medical centers. Nationally, he is engaged in hospital issues through the American Hospital Association Region Nine Policy Board and the Conference of Metropolitan & Regional Hospital Associations. Regionally, Dimitrios is active on a number of health-related boards and committees, including the County of San Diego’s Health Services Advisory Board and Healthy San Diego; San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage Board; San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Health Committee; County of San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness Governance Board; 2-1-1 San Diego Community Information Exchange (CIE) Advisory Board; San Diego Health Connect Board and the Children’s Initiative Board. He is also a member of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association Board and Issues Subcommittee on Quality of Life.
Karen McCabe currently serves as the Director of Community Programs Development for Scripps Mercy Hospital where she has served in the role for over 20 years. Karen previously served as the Director of Community Health Services for Paradise Valley Hospital/Adventist Health overseeing a Physician Primary Care Practice as well as Community Health Programs. Prior to that role, Karen served in Director roles at Family Health Centers of San Diego and for Pathfinders of San Diego.
Karen is currently a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and is actively involved with the San Diego Girl Scouts Council. She has previously served on several boards including the Community Clinics Health Network, Mercy Gardens Housing, United Way South Region Advisory Board, South Bay Human Services Council, Community Social Model Advocates, and National Health Care for the Homeless Council. Karen has a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University, a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling and Post Graduate Certificate in Rehabilitation Administration from San Diego State University along with post graduate studies in Leadership at the University of San Diego. Karen McCabe serves on the Board of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness as a representative for the health care role.
Over the last 25 years Jeff Gering has been working in various capacities with homeless populations Washington DC, Chicago, Ohio and San Diego. He has expanded mental health, substance use disorder treatment and homeless services to the veteran population in Washington DC; expanded medical and outreach services to the homeless veteran population in Chicago; enhanced outreach, case management and housing services to the homeless veteran population in Southeastern Ohio; and as the CEO of the VA San Diego Healthcare System served in a lead capacity on the “25 Cities” initiative for San Diego County. The 25 Cities initiative resulted in the VA and homeless providers adopting the VI-SPDAT, HMIS, and the Coordinated Entry System as their standard practice. Since 2016, Jeff has and continues to develop and expand services for the homeless as the Vice President of Support Services & Planning for Family Health Centers of San Diego County (FHCSD). As one of the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in the nation, FHCSD cares for over 26,000 patients each year who self-reported as homeless. For over 30 years, FHCSD’s Health Care for the Homeless Program has provided case management and navigation services to the homeless population. Jeff chairs the Homeless Bridge Shelters Providers Meeting, which is a collaboration of the tent providers, San Diego County HHSA, San Diego Housing Commission, the City of San Diego and FHCSD who collectively focus on wrap around services for the three bridge shelters. FHCSD is in the process of implementing the Housing Navigation Center which is to serve as the entry point for the Coordinated Entry System, provide core homeless navigation and case management services, and help participants access a range of medical, mental health, substance use treatment and social services that impact housing stability.
Jonathan Castillo serves as PATH’s Chief Regional Officer. As the CRO he is responsible for the operations of PATH in San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Jose, and Sacramento. His tenure in homeless and human services give him invaluable and diverse expertise from his time working in homeless services, healthcare services, and child welfare. Jonathan’s drive and passion are fueled by a need to serve those who are marginalized and unable to advocate for themselves. He strives to identify and fill gaps within communities by expanding programs that respond to the needs that exist. Prior to being appointed CRO, he served as PATH San Diego’s Regional Director for three years. As Regional Director, he more than quadrupled operations from being primarily Downtown to a County-wide provider and expanded the permanent supportive housing portfolio. Jonathan previously served as PATH’s Director of Veteran Services which served 1800 Veterans annually through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families and the HUD VASH contract with the Greater Los Angeles VA Medical Center. PATH’s HUD-VASH program was responsible for supporting 1300 Veterans throughout Los Angeles, Kern County, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Orange County. Prior to joining PATH, Jonathan began his career in homeless services working at the Greater Los Angeles VA Medical Center as a case manager in Project 60 (comparable to San Diego’s Project 25 pilot) before being promoted to the Associate Coordinator/Social Work Supervisor overseeing HUD-VASH operations and managed partnerships with 7 public housing authorities. Jonathan’s inspiration to serve Veterans and the homeless services industry was influenced by his experience as a case manager at LA County’s Department of Children & Family Services, where he witnessed the educational, racial, socioeconomic disparities that perpetuate the homeless challenges in our communities.
Homeless Service Provider – Central
Walter Philips has a passion to work with troubled youth that stems from his own immigrant experience growing up in Los Angeles. This passion led him to receive his Master’s in Social Work from SDSU. Since first working on the streets of Southeast San Diego with gang kids in the 1980s, he made it his life goal to save one kid at a time. Walter was fortunate to become the CEO of San Diego Youth Services (SDYS) in July 2000. SDYS serves over 20,000 homeless, abused and at-risk youth and their families each year. Walter has worked for over thirty-five years in San Diego as a social worker, including over twenty-five years in administrative leadership positions in community based non-profits. In addition, he has served on numerous local and statewide committees and boards. This includes serving as the immediate past Chair and current Vice-Chair of the California Coalition for Youth, which is the main voice and advocate for homeless youth at the State level. In addition to raising their own two biological children, Walter and his wife have been foster parents to a son who experienced homelessness and incarceration in the juvenile and adult correctional system. Walter is an avid endurance athlete who has combined his passions by raising funds and awareness for at-risk youth through several running/biking endurance events.
Homeless Service Provider – East
Ms. Tancredi-Baese has been an asset to the San Diego nonprofit community for over 25 years. After earning a Masters Degree in Social Work at San Diego State University, she then went on to earn a license as a clinical social worker. Her extensive experience also includes management of child and youth development and transitional living programs for young persons, and executive leadership. As a recognized leader in her field, Laura was the founder of several transitional living programs in San Diego for transition-age homeless youth (aged 18-24). Since May of 2007, Laura continues to be a passionate force to promote our mission and vision that every child in San Diego live in a safe and nurturing home. Through her efforts, Home Start has opened the doors to our Maternity Shelter Program providing support to pregnant or parenting young women and their children facing homelessness, and founded their Thrift Boutique/social enterprise to support these families. Additionally, Laura serves on the Board of Directors for the California Coalition for Youth (CCY).
Homeless Service Provider – North Coastal
Greg Anglea’s career has been devoted to helping others. After graduating with a B.A. in political science from University of California, San Diego in 2003, he worked at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice at the University of San Diego. In 2006, he joined Interfaith Community Services as the Volunteer Coordinator and Faith Liaison, and went on to serve as the Director of Development for five years. In 2011, he moved to California State University San Marcos as the Director of Major Gifts, building community support for a regional guaranteed-admission program that provides a path to college for low-income, under-served youth.
Greg returned as Interfaith’s Chief Executive Officer in May 2014, leading an inclusive Strategic Visioning process that returned ownership of Interfaith Community Services to its many stakeholders and produced a clear vision for the future of the organization. That vision supported the creation of the Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center, a recuperative care program for homeless exiting hospitals; the launch of a new regional system of care for all persons experiencing homelessness, bringing together more than 30 community agencies in partnership; the opening of the Haven House Year-Round Emergency Shelter, North County’s first year-round emergency homeless shelter for both men and women; and the launch of Recovery & Wellness programs to address addiction and mental health issues.
Greg is currently the Board President of the Alliance for Regional Solutions, Board Member of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness, Co-Chair of the North County Live Well Leadership Team, and Immediate Past President of the North County Philanthropy Council. He received his M.A. degree in Leadership and Non-Profit Management from University of San Diego in 2009. He lives in Escondido with his wife and two daughters, and when not at Interfaith, he can usually be found playing in a park with his kids or trying not to burn food in his kitchen.
Homeless Service Provider – North Inland
Dr. Laura Otis-Miles is the Senior Vice President of Clinical Services and joined Mental Health Systems in 2010. During her tenure, she has brought tremendous growth and success to behavioral health operations that are supported through County, State and Federal funding. Some of these initiatives include Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and Supportive Housing and Homeless Storage Connect Centers. She also assisted with MHS’ expansion into the San Francisco Bay Area in 2015. Dr. Otis-Miles has 17 years of behavioral health experience within San Diego County, having completed her predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychiatry and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, where she was later appointed to the Clinical Faculty as a Licensed Psychologist and Clinical Instructor. Dr. Otis-Miles has been actively involved in numerous boards and committees and in 2016 was the winner of the MHS Employee of the Year Award. She obtained her Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of South Carolina and Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, she is a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP), Licensed Health Service Provider in Psychology (Indiana) and a Licensed Psychologist (California).
Homeless Service Provider – South Bay
Since 1971, South Bay Community Services (SBCS) has been transforming San Diego County communities supporting the well-being and prosperity of children, youth, and families. More than 400 SBCS staff are stationed throughout the county providing targeted programs and prevention initiatives to respond to community need. SBCS President and CEO Kathryn Lembo has been leading the agency since 1982 working collaboratively with a broad cross-section of individuals including schools, nonprofit partners, health, and business leaders as well as policymakers and residents to build true measurable solutions that respond to our community’s challenges.
Ellis Rose has a broad background of experience, having been involved in many political campaigns, including as a staff member of Atkins for City Council and Vince Hall for Assembly. He was the recipient of the 2001 Brad Truax Political Action Award from San Diego Democratic Club (Democrats for Equality) for political organizing and advocacy for City Council redistricting in 2001. He has education in Political Science, Pre-Social Work, Psychology, Sociology, as well as Alcohol and Drug Counseling and Developmental Disabilities training. As a person with lived experience, Ellis is a liaison for the general public, community groups, faith-based groups, and the homeless population, particularly those who are unseen and unrecognized. He sees needs such as improved outreach efforts, increased shelter for those who have not been successful seeking shelter, and a broader geographic distribution of homeless shelters and services. Ellis sees a great need for improved, appropriate, innovative supportive services for those who need it after housing placement.
Bernie Colon has worked with the San Diego Police Department since 1989. In 2021 he was promoted to the rank of Assistant Chief, with oversight of the Neighborhood Policing Division. In that role, he has responsibility for addressing the city’s homelessness issues through outreach and enforcement. Prior to his promotion, he served as Captain of the Investigations 1 Division which includes Narcotics, Narcotics Task Force, Sex Crimes, Sex Registrants Unit, Child
Abuse, Internet Crimes Against Children, Vice, Human Trafficking and the Domestic Violence Unit.
Chief Colon earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, a Master’s in Public Administration, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy Class 265. He has extensive teaching experience both on-campus and online since 2003, as well as teaching at the Regional Training Academy since 1996.
Chief Colon grew up in the Chicago area and moved to San Diego after high school to attend college. He is married and has 5 kids as part of a blended family. He stays busy with work and family, but really enjoys teaching and hearing different perspectives in each class.
Public Housing Authority
A 25-year veteran of the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC), Jeff Davis leads an award-winning agency with more than 350 employees and a budget of more than $604 million.
SDHC provides federal rental assistance to more than 16,000 families with low-income who live in the City of San Diego. SDHC also is a leader of collaborative efforts to address homelessness, including HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO, SDHC’s homelessness action plan, which has created more than 10,200 housing solutions since 2014 for San Diegans experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. In addition, SDHC, including its nonprofit affiliate, is an affordable housing developer, investor and lender to affordable housing developers and owns or manages more than 4,100 affordable rental housing units.
SDHC is one of 39 original public housing authorities, out of approximately 3,200 nationwide, to receive a “Moving to Work” (MTW) designation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mr. Davis oversaw SDHC’s request for reinstatement as an MTW agency and implemented its first MTW Annual Plan. MTW status provides SDHC the flexibility to implement innovative approaches to provide housing assistance for families with low income and/or experiencing homelessness in the City of San Diego.
Mr. Davis currently oversees all of SDHC’s major divisions, including Real Estate, Rental Assistance, Homelessness Initiatives and Policy.
Mr. Davis’ previous leadership positions at SDHC include serving as Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President of SDHC’s largest division, Rental Assistance.
He serves on the board of the National Leased Housing Association, is a member of the Housing Committee for the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) and serves as a board member of the Pacific Southwest Regional Council of NAHRO.
Public Housing Authority
David Estrella joined the County of San Diego in 2002. He is currently the Director of Housing and Community Development Services where he oversees funding for the development of permanent affordable housing, community improvement projects and the Housing Choice Voucher program, which provides rental subsidies for approximately 11,000 families. He is the former Director of the Office of Integrative Services for the County’s Health and Human Services Agency. The Office of Integrative Services was created to focus on addressing homelessness and functionally threading housing solutions throughout the County of San Diego’s various departments. Prior to joining HHSA, David was the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for the County of San Diego’s Community Services Group.
As the DCAO for Community Services Group, David ensured fiscal responsibility and provided management direction for five County departments including: Animal Services, County Library, Registrar of Voters, General Services and Purchasing and Contracting.
David is also the County of San Diego’s Executive Sponsor for Diversity and Inclusion and the Chair of the County’s Diversity and Inclusion Executive Council.
David is a graduate with distinction from San Diego State University. He holds a degree in Mexican-American studies and a law degree from California Western School of Law. Prior to joining the County of San Diego, David worked for LISC AmeriCorps, the Fair Housing Council of San Diego and the Legal Aid Society of San Diego.
San Diego Workforce Partnership
Shaina Gross is currently the Vice President of Client Services at the San Diego Workforce Partnership. She provides strategic vision and implementation for a portfolio of over $22 million in workforce funding, helping Youth and Adults with education attainment, skill development and job placement. This includes managing six job center locations across the county, serving 100k customers annually, as well as serving specific population such as individuals experience homelessness, opportunity youth, individuals with disabilities, and justice-involved individuals. Prior to coming to the Workforce Partnership, she served as the President & CEO of Susan G. Komen San Diego and the Senior Vice President at United Way of San Diego County. She has spent her career designing programs, developing partnerships, and creating policy to address the social determinants of health, including education, income and opportunity.
Born and raised in New York, Shaina received her BA in Sociology and her master’s degree in Public Health, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a LEAD San Diego Graduate, a nominee for the Herb Klein Visionary Award, was recognized as a 40 under 40 business professional in San Diego, and was a winner of the San Diego Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business award. She previously staffed Funders Together to End Homelessness, is active with Women Give San Diego and has served on various local town councils and committees.
Outside of work, you can find her spending time with her family, seeking out live music, watching Tar Heel basketball, and enjoying the many great restaurants San Diego has to offer.
SD County Health and Human Services Agency
Community Operations Officer, Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities
With over 30 years of experience in the planning, management and delivery of social and human services, Ms. Jiménez serves as the Community Operations Officer for the newly formed Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities. Ms. Jiménez is responsible for ensuring coordination of existing and new County homeless and equitable community efforts and her department serves as a central point of collaboration for outside partners to ensure equity.
Ms. Jiménez is passionate about serving and working closely with the community. She leverages long-standing County and Community partnerships to achieve the Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities goals to improve upon current systems and expand the range of programs and initiatives to better address homelessness, economic equality initiatives, poverty reduction and focus on immigrants, refugees, and other newcomers. Ms. Jiménez is bilingual and has extensive experience working on border and binational health issues. She most recently served as the Director for Regional Operations, responsible for ensuring the development and implementation of regional strategies, programs and activities to ensure family and community needs are met in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. In addition, Ms. Jiménez serves as the COVID-19 Sector Public Outreach Lead for Cities, Government, Tribal Nations and Binational Affairs and is the Executive Lead for the San Diego County Independent Redistricting Commission responsible for drawing the County’s supervisorial districts that occurs every ten years after the Census.
Camey Christenson is the Senior Vice President at 2-1-1 San Diego/Community Information Exchange. She is dedicated to driving the movement to shift systems of care to a proactive, holistic and person-centered model through meaningful collaboration, data sharing, technology advancements and bridging diverse sectors necessary to address an individual’s social determinants or indicators of health and wellness. A lifelong social worker and advocate who has worked in the nonprofit field for more than 25 years, she believes in the power of collaboration and is steadfast in her commitment to improving services to our community and shaping the person-centered movement across the nation. Camey works with more than 12 different communities across the country to replicate the CIE technology to facilitate cross sector collaboration and data integration. She also leads the annual 3-day CIE Summit that brings together technology companies, healthcare and social service companies from across the country collaborating and sharing best practices to improve communitywide care collaborations. Prior to 2-1-1 Camey consulted with nonprofit organizations throughout Southern California offering project management, grant writing, funding research, strategic planning, program development, marketing and outreach planning, government relations, best practices research, programmatic evaluation and outcome measurement, contract compliance reporting, quality control, collaboration building, and technical assistance. Camey has been involved with the CoC, RCCC and RTFH for more than a decade. Throughout her career in San Diego she has worked on the frontlines at a men’s homeless shelter, managed domestic violence transitional housing programs, worked in development supporting a continuum of homeless services and served at the CoC’s consultant responsible for submitting the City and County’s CoC HUD funding.
US Dept. of VA
Jessica Chamberlain is the Chief of Social Work Service at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. She is responsible for the operation of all Social Work services, and the oversight of Social Work Practice for over 200 Social Work staff. Ms. Chamberlain is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has spent the past 22 years providing clinical and administrative services to Veterans. Her VA career began in the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans program where she spent nine years providing clinical care and implementing new programs for the homeless. Born and raised in southern California, Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at the University of California, San Diego and a Master of Social Work degree from San Diego State University.
Tamera Kohler, Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness (RTFH), has 19 years of senior leadership roles in state and local government specializing in poverty and homelessness, nonprofit, and mortgage lending experience, including spending more than eight years helping lead nationally-noted homelessness reduction programs in the State of Utah. Since assuming the role of CEO in November 2018, Ms. Kohler has led the RTFH in its growth as a trusted leader and expert for the San Diego County region.
Her strategic planning expertise and deep knowledge of the issues and proven solutions have framed the organization’s growth, strengthened connections to the community, and fostered trusted relationships with government, civic leaders, and service providers alike. She has attracted top talent to her executive team and has increased funding for the San Diego Region to address homelessness by $40 million annually, which she and her team administer to programs throughout the region.
At RTFH she has created a unique two-board structure to help ensure that homelessness is a rare, brief and nonrecurring issue for people. One, a 31-member advisory board that brings together a deep array of lived experience, government, civic and nonprofit leaders to enact policy and best practices to address and end homelessness. The other, a smaller non-profit board formed of executives focused on fiscal oversight and philanthropy.
Ms. Kohler joined the RTFH after having served in Seattle’s Human Services Department as Division Director of Homeless Strategy and Investment where she oversaw 45 employees, a $58 million budget, and the implementation of a new homeless strategy. Before Seattle, she served eight years at the State of Utah as the Assistant Division Director of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. There she oversaw federal and state funding and strategic planning for CSBG, CDBG, HOPWA, HOME, LIHEP, WAP, EITC, FEMA, TANF, the State housing loan fund, State homeless trust fund, and the Emergency Food Network. She staffed and facilitated the Utah Lt. Governor’s Homeless committee with all department heads on the board and oversaw the Community Impact Board fund, including the state mineral rights resources.
Ms. Kohler has served on national committees and panels and as the Vice President of the National Association for State Community Services Programs board. She has a strong track record in community engagement, strategic planning, contracting, and the data-driven system improvements critical today to achieve measurable results and ensure resources are allocated wisely. She is well known and a trusted, effective change agent with indispensable big picture, system-level planning expertise and brings a unique connection and network to the highest level of national and state leaders in homelessness.