Board of Directors
Steve Peck is a leader in the national movement to eliminate homelessness among American veterans. He served as a lieutenant in the 1st Marine Division in the Vietnam War, near Da Nang, from 1969 to 1970.
When Peck returned from active duty, he pursued a career in film making, but his experience in the service tugged at him. Twenty years later, while working on a documentary about a group of homeless veterans living on the beach in Venice, California, he met a paraplegic Vietnam veteran who was suffering from severe PTSD and living in his car.
“His wheelchair was parked outside the car door and his Silver Star [awarded to him by President Lyndon Johnson] was in the glove compartment,” Peck recalls. “I became a social worker to save guys like him.”
Peck promptly returned to school and earned a masters degree in social work from the University of Southern California. He joined U.S.VETS full time as Director of Community Development in 1996, and was named president and CEO in 2010.
“Our job,” he says, “is to engage the enemy at home in the U.S. – the enemy of homelessness, disillusionment, and disappointment – to let these men and women know that there is a path forward and that we support them and are tremendously grateful for their contribution to this country and the sacrifices they have made.”
A longtime aviation industry executive, Mr. Czyzyk is chairman of Los Angeles-based Mercury Air Group Inc.
He was born in Poland, the son of Holocaust survivors, and grew up in Canada. At the age of 16, he moved to the U.S with his parents and soon became a citizen. A graduate of California State University, Los Angeles, he served two tours of duty with the U.S. Navy Mobile Construction Battalions (Seabees) in Vietnam. He is a board member of the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation.
Mr. Czyzyk serves on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce where he was Chairman in 2011, and also serves as treasurer of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC). He is a member of the Board of Pepperdine University and the Chairman of its Board of Advisors for the Graduate School of Public Policy.
He is a past president of the City of Los Angeles Board of Taxicab Commissioners, having served on the commission since its inception in 1998 until his retirement in 2008. Mr. Czyzyk has the distinction of having served as a city commissioner under three mayors of Los Angeles.
In 2013, he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown of California to serve on the Governor’s Military Council, which reviews and facilitates California’s commitment to its military infrastructure.
He was elected to the U.S.VETS board in March 2012 and elected Chairman in February 2016.
Ms. Miles is the founder and chief executive officer of Arise & Shine Haven for Homeless Women and Children in Los Angeles. A U.S. Navy veteran with four years of active duty and six years with the Naval Reserve, she served with AmeriCorps before becoming a women’s outreach coordinator for U.S.VETS, where she helped develop our ADVANCE women’s program.
Ms. Miles knowledge of the problems faced by female veterans comes from hard-earned personal experience. Having suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a superior officer during active duty, she sank into homelessness and substance abuse following her separation from service and managed to turn her life around with the support of the U.S.VETS staff, who empowered her to be the best that she could be. She earned certification as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor from the University of California, Los Angeles, a B.A. degree in business from the University of La Verne, and two Masters degrees from the University of Phoenix, one in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) and one in Business Administration (MBA).
She was elected to the U.S.VETS board in December 2006.
Mike Roos is Founder and Chief Consultant of Mike Roos and Company, a public affairs management company founded in 1999. Mike Roos and Company specializes in government relations, corporate issues management, media relations and ballot measure campaigns.
Born in Memphis, TN, Mr. Roos received a Bachelors degree in political science from Tulane University in New Orleans. He then received a National Institute of Child Health Fellowship at the University of Southern California, where he graduated with a Masters degree in public administration.
A political strategist and legislative leader in California for over 14 years, Mr. Roos served as a member of the California State Assembly from 1977 to 1991. In his second legislative term, he was chosen by his caucus as Majority Floor Leader. He served in that position for six years until he was elected by the 80-member body as Speaker Pro Tempore of the State Assembly.
Mr. Roos recently served as chairman of the Fraternity of Friends of the Music Center. He served on the Queenscare Board of Directors, a nonprofit Healthcare Foundation, and is a Co-Chair of the Los Angeles Children’s Museum. He has also served as president of the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Commission. Prior to founding Mike Roos and Company, Mr. Roos served as president and CEO of LEARN, a coalition to implement systemic reform and restructuring within the Los Angeles Unified School District.
He was elected to the U.S.VETS Board of Directors in 2015.
He is also a principal in several Southern California and Washington-based businesses and serves on the boards of the Therapeutic Living Centers for the Blind and the Vintage Hollywood Foundation.
He was elected to the U.S.VETS board in August 2009.
Vice Admiral Jody Breckenridge retired after serving 34 years in the Coast Guard and now gives back to veterans, military members and their families, and the community. She is active in Mission Readiness – Leaders for Kids supporting evidence based public policy and smart investments in youth. Appointed by the Governor, she currently serves as Board Chair for the San Francisco Water Emergency Transportation Authority, a regional ferry transportation service and emergency response organization. Additional Boards include: San Francisco Fleet Week Association, Oakland Military Institute, Marines Memorial Association, Marines Memorial Foundation, the Association for Rescue at Sea, and First Command Financial Services. She is Vice Chair for the Governor’s Military Council and was recently appointed to the Board of Visitors for the National Defense University.
Vice Admiral Breckenridge’s last assignment in the Coast Guard was Commander, Pacific Area and Defense Forces West with responsibility for all operations across 73 million square miles of the Pacific, Arctic, and Antarctic Oceans. Her flag assignments included Director of Strategic Transformation guiding the largest business practice and organizational change in the modern history of the Service; Assistant Commandant for Human Resources; Commander, Eleventh Coast Guard District (covering California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, along with the West Coast of Central and South America); and Commander, Maintenance and Logistics Command Pacific (all logistic and support services.)
Vice Admiral Breckenridge holds a BS in biology from Virginia Tech, a Master in Public Policy from University of Maryland (graduated with honors), and a Master in National Resource Strategy from the Dwight D Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy of the National Defense University.
Carlos Contreras is currently the Vice President – Commercial Marketing for California Resources Corporation (CRC), the largest oil and natural gas producer in California and a spinoff from Occidental Petroleum Corporation (Oxy). Prior to joining CRC, Carlos has had a distinguished fourteen year career as an Oil and Gas executive with Occidental Petroleum. While at Oxy, Carlos assumed successive management positions of increasing responsibility encompassing business development, acquisitions and divestitures, marketing and operations.
In addition, Carlos has held positions of increasing responsibility with Arthur D. Little and Enron where he managed or worked on large scale projects, throughout the Americas, in oil, gas and power. He has also served in varying roles within the Field Artillery Branch of the United States Army.
Carlos holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Economics and Systems Engineering from The United States Military Academy and a Master’s of Business Administration degree from Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Carlos serves on the Board of Advisors to the USC MBA for Veterans Program.
Wilfred N. Cooper, Sr., is the founder, chairman of the board, and a director of WNC & Associates, Inc. The company’s core business is sponsoring investments in affordable rental housing tax credits. In this capacity, WNC and its affiliates serve as a general partner with expertise in structuring investment funds. This includes raising investment capital from individuals and corporations, selecting qualified properties for each fund, negotiating acquisition terms and actively monitoring the financial performance and compliance of each property.
Mr. Cooper is a U.S. Navy veteran with two years of active duty during the Korean war era (1951-1953) serving as a Hospital Corpsman.
Mr. Cooper is a recognized leader in the affordable housing industry. He was a panel participant in tax reform hearings before a committee of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. In 2001, he received the Limited Income Communities (LINC) Housing Honors award. Mr. Cooper was elected as Life Trustee in 2006 of the National Housing Conference (NHC) and is a co-founder and director emeritus of the California Housing Consortium (an affiliate of the NHC). In 2011, he was inducted into the Affordable Housing Hall of Fame of the Affordable Housing Finance Magazine. In June 2012, he was inducted into the California Homebuilding Foundation’s (CHF) Hall of Fame. He is a senior life director of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a national trustee for NAHB’s Political Action Committee, a past chairman of NAHB’s Multifamily Council, and in 2012, NAHB honored him with the Robert J. Corletta award for Affordable Housing. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Building Industry Association of Orange County (BIA/OC) and Southern California Building Industry Association (BIA/SC).
Mr. Cooper volunteers his time with several nonprofit organizations and serves on the Board of Advisors for Jamboree Housing (a non-profit developer of affordable housing) and the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance. In 2013, the California Housing Consortium gave Mr. Cooper the California Housing Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016, The Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition (AHTCC) honored him the David Reznick Lifetime Achievement Award. In June 2019, Mr. Cooper received the Carl A.S. Coan, Sr., Public Service Award from the NHC, in recognition of his outstanding commitment and leadership in the effort to provide decent, safe and affordable housing.
As a prior Board of Director for Volunteers of America National Services (VOANS), Mr. Cooper awarded U.S.VETS a VOANS grant to help support homeless and at-risk veterans. Over the past decade, Mr. Cooper has also participated in and sponsored several U.S.VETS Salute Gala’s.
Mr. Cooper graduated from Pomona College in 1956 with a B.A. degree and completed graduate studies at the University of Southern California.
He was elected to the U.S.VETS board in May 2018.
Robert (Bob) G. Foster served as Mayor of the City of Long Beach, the sixth largest city in California, from 2006 to 2014.
Mr. Foster received a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from San Jose State University before starting a career in the energy sector. Prior to being elected Mayor of Long Beach, he was president of Southern California Edison where he established renewable portfolio standards and led the nation’s leading energy efficiency program.
Mr. Foster serves or has served on a number of governing bodies for civic, cultural and governmental organizations and non-profit agencies, including the board of directors of the Alliance of Save Energy, the California Foundation on the Environment and Economy, the Long Beach Aquarium, and the Advisory Board for Long Beach Memorial Hospital. He also served as a trustee of the California State University system and is currently on the California State University-Foundation Board.
He was elected to the U.S.VETS board in September 2016.
Mr. Kirman is a trial lawyer who draws on his experience as a former federal prosecutor to represent clients in government investigations, prosecutions, and business disputes.
With extensive experience in healthcare, he represents clients in civil and criminal trials, white collar criminal defense, False Claims Act cases, business litigation, and internal investigations. In addition to understanding the complex regulatory and compliance issues unique to healthcare, Mr. Kirman focuses his practice on clients in the financial services and defense industries.
Before rejoining O’Melveny as a partner, he spent seven years as a federal prosecutor at the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, where he was a member of the Major Frauds Section and served as the Criminal Healthcare Fraud Coordinator. As a federal prosecutor, he served as lead or co-lead trial counsel in jury trials, argued appeals before the Ninth Circuit, and directed complex grand jury and wiretap investigations.
He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army from 1996 to 2001.
He was elected to the U.S.VETS board in January 2018.
Mr. Neuman is a partner at Liner, LLP in the Real Estate, Land Use and Government Relations department, and is one of California’s preeminent land-use, environmental and government law attorneys.
He received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and graduated from Columbia University School of Law. He has acted as lead negotiator and project coordinator for many of Southern California’s real estate, green energy, infrastructure and governmental procurement projects.
Mr. Neuman has worked on the Mixed-Income Housing Technical Advisory Committee in Los Angeles and has served on the Fresno General Plan Implementation & Infill Development Task Force. He has been awarded the Crystal Eagle Award for outstanding leadership in public affairs, and a was named one of California’s Top 50 Development Lawyers by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. He is also a founding director of Mission Valley Bank and is on the executive boards of many Los Angeles commercial and charitable organizations.
He was elected to the U.S.VETS Board of Directors in October, 2016.
Major General Peter S. Pawling was born in Palm Springs, CA and spent his teenage years living in Palm Springs and Kingsburg. In 1967, his family sailed to Hawaii, where he lives today. He attended the University of Hawaii where he earned a degree in psychology.
General Pawling was commissioned in 1972 through the Officer Preparatory Academy at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Tennessee. While assigned as the 154th Operations Group Commander, he served as Detachment Commander for the Wing’s first F-15 combat deployment to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey in 1994, and Detachment Commander for the KC-135 squadron deployment to Istres, France, during the Kosovo campaign in 1999. He was Commander of the 154th Wing, Hawaii Air National Guard from 2003 to 2009. General Pawling also served as past chair of the F-15 Weapon System Council and the Fighter Task Force chair for National Guard Association of the United States.
General Pawling assumed duties as Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, United States Pacific Command in June 2009 to 2012. He was the principal advisor to the Commander regarding reserve component readiness and operations and facilitates Homeland Security activities between State, National Guard, active military and Federal agencies.
He was elected to the U.S.VETS board in 2015.
Mr. Siegler is an attorney whose practice focuses primarily on business litigation, construction, real estate finance and entertainment litigation matters. He also served as a judge advocate in the U.S. Army Reserve, retiring at the rank of Colonel.
In 2008, Mr. Siegler was mobilized for a 12-month tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he deployed with the 11th Military Police Brigade to Baghdad, Iraq. He served as the detention operations attorney for a forward operating base, for which he received the Bronze Star. In 2005, he was mobilized by U.S. Central Command to serve in Egypt.
Mr. Siegler received the Army Core Values Award in 2001 from the command chaplains of both the 63rd Regional Readiness Command and the 311th Corps Support Command for pro bono legal services to soldiers.
He holds a double B.A. degree in history and political science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and he graduated magna cum laude from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. In 2013, he graduated from the Army War College with a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies. He was awarded the Wiley M. Manuel Award for pro bono legal services and has been a leader in providing free legal assistance for Veterans.
He was elected to the U.S.VETS board in December 2006.