National Senior Staff
Stephen J. Peck, who served as a Marine officer in Vietnam, heads the nation’s largest nonprofit devoted to providing housing and other essential services to at-risk veterans.
United States Veterans Initiative (U.S.VETS), which opened its first facility in Los Angeles in 1993, has grown to 11 sites in five states and the District of Columbia, serving more than 5,000 veterans a day. Yearly, U.S.VETS helps 8,000 veterans find housing and more than 1,500 veterans gain full-time jobs.
Mr. Peck says he learned in the Marine Corps, “If you don’t go where the trouble is, you can’t solve the problem.”
As the U.S. continues to send troops to the Middle East, the issues of veteran unemployment, homelessness, Post-Traumatic Stress, and other reintegration issues have reached critical levels. Twenty veterans a day commit suicide in the United States.
“Our job at U.S.VETS is to engage the enemy at home — the enemy of homelessness, disillusionment and disappointment — to let these men and women know there is a path forward,” says Mr. Peck. U.S.VETS strives to empower each veteran to take responsibility for his or her success, guiding them towards independence in the community, developing their workforce skills and supporting recovery.
Mr. Peck graduated from Northwestern University in 1968 and entered the Marine Corps that same year. In Vietnam, he was a first lieutenant in the 1st Marine Division, serving as a forward observer outside of Danang in 1969, receiving the Navy Commendation Medal.
After his service Mr. Peck became a documentary filmmaker. Eventually, a series of films on homelessness and veteran’s issues compelled him to change careers. Peck went to work helping the Veterans Administration place homeless veterans into housing and in 1996 joined the organization that became U.S.VETS as Director of Community Development, where he was involved with program design and funding, developing partnerships, and advocating on a State and National level to bring attention to possible solutions for homeless veterans. He was also the inaugural Director of U.S.VETS’ largest site in Long Beach. He was appointed president and CEO in August 2010. Mr. Peck earned his Master’s Degree in Social Work from USC in 1997. He is also the President of the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies (CAVSA) a consortium of seven nonprofit veteran service providers working in partnership to address the needs of California’s veterans.
He has been honored by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, the USC School of Social Work, Northwestern University, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the City of Long Beach. He was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa, by the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2012.
Mr. Peck and his wife, Kristine Kidd, a food writer and culinary consultant, and the former Food Editor of Bon Appetit magazine, live with their Labrador retriever, Atticus, in the Los Angeles community of Topanga Canyon. He has a grown son, Ethan, an actor; and a grown step-daughter, Marisa, a writer.
Darryl J. Vincent has been with U.S.VETS since 2003. As Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Vincent directly supervises all Executive Directors across the organization’s 11 services areas, and oversees overall operations of U.S.VETS nationally.
As a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Mr. Vincent has a long-standing commitment and sincere compassion for the veteran community. Mr. Vincent truly operates with the belief that any veteran who sleeps on the same streets they were once asked to defend represents a dishonor to us all – and that it is our job at U.S.VETS to work ourselves out of a job. After his military service, Mr. Vincent received his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services, a Master Degree in Social Work from the University of New England, and is a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. Earlier in his career at U.S.VETS, Mr. Vincent led the expansion of our U.S.VETS-Barber’s Point and opened U.S.VETS-Waianae. As the head of U.S.VETS programs nationally, his attention to quality and measurable outcomes led the organization to achieve CARF accreditation and to be recognized as a national leader in service delivery to homeless veterans.
During Mr. Vincent’s leadership in Hawaii he was recognized as one of the “ten people who made a difference in Hawaii” in the year 2007. In 2008, he was awarded the “Unsung Hero” award at NCHV. He also served as the Chairperson for the entire Continuum of Care from 2010-2013. In 2012, Mr. Vincent was honored at the Helping Hands Hawaii annual dinner, in celebration of his 19 years of work in the social service field. In 2013, Mr. Vincent received the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation AIM for Excellence Award. Mr. Vincent has been featured in local and national media including Hawaii Magazine, Honolulu Star Advertiser, ABC, CBS and Fox News, and has provided testimony at state and federal levels to government, community coalitions and Veterans Administration leadership, advocating for the needs of America’s veterans.
Beyond his professional community involvement, Mr. Vincent is a Weinberg Fellow and proud member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He is the proud father of two sons, the younger is a pre-teen and the older is a currently a cadet at West Point.
Dan Warzenski joined U.S.VETS in October 2015 after more than three decades in retail, bringing with him a wealth of big company experience. Twenty of those years in the for-profit world were spent in the Los Angeles-based Robinsons-May, where he held leadership roles from 1986-2006.
Among his accomplishments at Robinsons-May was the 1993 merger of Robinson’s financial systems into May Co. systems. In 2002, he also helped fold Meier & Frank stores into Robinsons-May.
A U.S. veteran, Mr. Warzenski served in the United States Marine Corps from 1969-71. After an honorable discharge, he would go on to attain an MBA from Seton Hall University in New Jersey, graduating in 1976.
Beyond work, Mr. Warzenski resides in Mt. Washington, is an avid runner and soccer fan, and enjoys spending time with his two grown children and three grandchildren
Lori Allgood joined U.S.VETS in April 2017, as Vice President and Director of Housing Development after working extensively in real estate development and nonprofit operations.
As VP of Housing Development, she oversees U.S.VETS portfolio of properties and manages affordable housing development, including property acquisition and development, financial structuring and acquisition, compliance and partnerships.
Ms. Allgood’s past accomplishments include implementation and direction of a $350 million dollar product philanthropy program, as well as over 20 years of real estate development.
Jeff Coleman is the Vice President of Fiscal Evaluation and Compliance. The primary responsibility of this position is to evaluate the financial performance of the organization as it relates to its budgets, sites, programs, and grants. This position also provides oversight of organization wide regulations and procedures to ensure fiscal compliance.
Mr. Coleman is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, where he earned a B.A. degree in Economics. Mr. Coleman began working with U.S.VETS in June 1994 as Program Officer of the Corporation for National Service AmeriCorps Program. As the organization expanded, the position of Program Officer also expanded to include financial reporting and accounting. Mr. Coleman has worked in all aspects of accounting for the organization and has years of experience in financial grant management. He was then promoted into the position of Senior Financial Analyst for U.S. VETS and experienced the growth of the organization to 14 sites in 7 states. He has worked closely with each of those sites and corporate accounting in providing financial assistance and oversight.
Laney Kapgan is the Vice President, Development & Communications for U.S.VETS, overseeing national and regional fundraising, communications and marketing strategy, and leading a team of regional and national staff in growing philanthropic engagement and increasing brand visibility across the country.
Ms. Kapgan has focused much of her career on expanding public and private funding, visibility and partnerships for key safety net programs supporting homeless and low-income individuals and families across Los Angeles. Prior to joining U.S.VETS, Ms. Kapgan served as Chief Development Officer for Venice Family Clinic, a UCLA Health System-affiliated community health center. In addition to significantly increasing both government and private operational funding, Ms. Kapgan led capital efforts to build and renovate two new health centers, and expand signature homeless and women’s health programs. Ms. Kapgan also held fundraising and leadership positions at Chrysalis, a social enterprise and nonprofit that helps low-income and homeless individuals secure employment, as well as GLAAD, Race to Erase MS and Break the Cycle. In total, Ms. Kapgan has raised more than $100 million to provide housing, health care, employment and other vital direct services for at-risk and underserved members of our community.
Ms. Kapgan received her B.A. in Legal Studies from University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a certificate from the UCLA Anderson School of Management’s Clinic Leadership Institute. In her spare time, Ms. Kapgan is hard at work perfecting her recipe for homemade bagels and taste testing the competition.
A veteran of the Marine Corps, Vietnam and three decades of top human resources management, Jim Lynch serves as Vice President of Human Resources for U.S.VETS.
After serving in the Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1968, Mr. Lynch attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, then started as a shoe salesman in Denver for May D&F and rose over 35 years to Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Robinsons May in Los Angeles.
During that period he managed HR assignments in New York, Ohio, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Missouri.
Mr. Lynch also served as a member of the Executive Committee of the board of directors for The Employers Group of Los Angeles.
Mr. Lynch, who lives is the San Fernando Valley, has three adult children and two grandchildren.
Ms. Rohac earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology at Michigan State University and her Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She completed the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling Core Counselor Training program and served two terms representing veteran services in a governor-appointed seat on the State of Nevada Advisory Committee for Problem Gambling.
Ms. Rohac joined U.S.VETS in September 2001 as a Case Manager at the Las Vegas site. In 2011, she received national recognition as the recipient of U.S.VETS Manager of the Year Award. The following year she joined the executive team at U.S.VETS – National office.
Ms. Rohac is a Field Instructor for the University of Southern California Military Social Work Program and formerly for the University of Nevada Las Vegas Social Work and Counseling Programs. She has also served as a member of Veteran Stand Down Committees as Co-Chair and Treasurer, the National Association of Social Workers Student Member, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals, and the VA Mental Health Consumer Council.
Carla A. Ford is the General Counsel for US VETS. She is responsible for providing legal advice to officers and directors in the organization, assisting in the management of company risks, and overseeing the company’s legal matters, including contract formation, litigation, dispute resolution, and protection of the company’s property rights.
Ms. Ford served for 16 years as an Assistant United States (“AUSA”) in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office (“USAO”) in Los Angeles, where she represented the government in a varied civil litigation practice. In 2010, Ms. Ford left the USAO to join Walmart Stores, Inc. as a senior member of their field-based Environmental Compliance & Ethics Team, which helped the Fortune One’s 300+ California facilities stay in compliance with State and Federal environmental laws. During her legal career in Atlanta, she served as an AUSA and, later, she was appointed chief executive officer of Georgia’s Commission on Equal Opportunity, the agency that investigated claims of discrimination in housing and in state employment. Ms. Ford has also been in private practice at law firms in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Pasadena.
Involved in her community, Ms. Ford serves on the board of Being Alive!, a nonprofit organization that helps those affected by HIV/AIDS and she is a life member of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Ms. Ford is a graduate of Boston University, where she earned a B.A. in English, cum laude, and Georgetown University Law Center. She and her husband have one adult son and reside in Mid-City L.A.
Larry D. Williams is the Vice President of Programs. Mr. Williams completed a four year enlistment in the United States Army; he was discharged honorably in 1989.
Mr. Williams graduated from the University of Phoenix in 2009 with a Bachelors Degree in Human Services and obtained his Masters of Business Administration in 2011. Mr. Williams has been serving veterans for 10 years, and has received several awards for his service to the homeless population – including two senatorial commendations, and 2 congressional recognitions and a Congressional Record from the House of Representatives, signed by Congressman Jon C. Porter. Mr. Williams has a long history of receiving accolades from veteran clients for his remarkable contribution in assisting them with acquiring food, housing, clothing, and employment services.
His proudest accomplishments are his marriage, four children and four grandchildren. Mr. Williams considers them his greatest sense of motivation and his greatest sense of support.
Carole Benedict is the Executive Director for U.S.VETS – Prescott.
Benedict spent the greater part of the last two decades working with the community-based Verde Valley Sanctuary.
Based in Sedona, the Sanctuary provides intervention and prevention services for at-risk youth across 14 schools and serves an average of 1100 students annually.
Benedict is also a licensed child, adult and family therapist with experience facilitating anger management groups for high school and middle school students. She holds a master’s degree in education from Northern Arizona University.
Shalimar Cabrera is the Executive Director for U.S.VETS — Las Vegas.
Ms. Cabrera earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, and Masters Degree in Social Work, with a concentration on Management & Community Practice, from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She began working with U.S.VETS in 2003 as an Outreach Specialist, then continued on as AmeriCorps Program Director then National AmeriCorps Director prior to assuming the role of Executive Director of U.S.VETS Las Vegas in 2008.
Ms. Cabrera is the Chairperson of the Las Vegas Veterans Stand Down, coordinating outcome-driven services to meet the needs of hundreds of veterans each year.
Dr. Kim Cook is the Executive Director for U.S.VETS — Barbers Point.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, and completed the Masters and Psy.D. Clinical Psychology programs at Argosy University Hawaii in 2006 and 2008, respectively. After working many years in the non-profit sector with children with autism, adults with severe mental illnesses, and in the field of Chemical Dependency, Dr. Cook joined U.S.VETS in 2009 as Clinical Director. She transitioned in to the role of Executive Director in 2012.
Dr. Cook was born and raised on the island of Oahu and is involved in a number of community groups, including the West Oahu Professional Network (WOPN). She serves as a member of the Argosy University Hawaii psychology board.
Nicole Starks-Murray, a proven visionary and strategic leader, has over 33 years executive and senior management experience working for nonprofit, government, profit and public entities. She has an extensive background in Business Management, Finance, Contract/Program Administration and Continuous Quality Improvement processes.
Before joining U.S.VETS — Inland Empire, Ms. Starks-Murray was the Program Director for Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino, where they focused on programs geared towards assisting families impacted by the drivers of poverty. She worked with former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as Treasurer for the Greater Los Angeles Vendor engagement project, where they helped to ensure small businesses had the opportunities to compete and work with larger metropolitan businesses. Ms. Starks-Murray was the Executive Director of Assistance League of So California, leading the efforts of reunifying parents with their children in the court system while providing compressive support services that included mental health services, childcare, case management, housing and referrals. Nicole also launched her own consulting firm which provides services to entrepreneurs, grass root organizations, and individuals looking to start a business.
She graduated in 2001 from California State Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Business Management and then went on to receive her Master of Business Administration in 2006 from University of Phoenix. Both disciplines had focus on non-profit management/administration.
Ms. Starks-Murray is passionate about people and has enjoyed working with organizations with missions outlining their commitment to serving people in need and having a social impact that results in tangible outcomes.
Clifton Lewis is the Executive Director for U.S.VETS — Washington D.C.
Mr. Lewis has more than 16 years of experience in the social service/nonprofit field assisting vulnerable populations. His roles include serving as an integral member of The Community Partnership team as a Housing Subsidy Coordinator; a supervisory, clinical and assessment role with the Family Tree Healthy Families Program and a Program Coordinator with the Young Fathers Responsible Fathers Program. Mr. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Tele-Communications from Morgan State University.
Michelle Jameson is the Executive Director for U.S.VETS — Phoenix.
Ms. Jameson spent the last four years working as the education social services manager with Salt River Indian Community Schools in Scottsdale-a multi-faceted job that entailed everything from overseeing day-to-day operations at four sites to making home visits to acting as liaison between state, federal and local representatives and the Native American families they served.
During her tenure at Salt River, she was nominated and recognized as one of the Top 5 Employees (out of 7,600), for her “outstanding commitment and leadership.”
Before moving to Arizona, she worked for more than a decade in Minnesota schools. During that time, she designed and launched an alternative learning center in Pelican Rapids, MN. She holds a Master of Science in Educational Administration from Minnesota State University.
Oudrey Hervey is a retired Navy Commander with 25 years of experience in leadership, strategy, human resources, safety, operations, emergency response, global policies, and organizational development. He possesses a wealth of experience leading and developing people from entry-level through executive-levels and recognizes people and processes as organizational success drivers. Mr. Hervey has a diverse professional background, which allows him to draw upon cross-departmental experiences to enable success.
Mr. Hervey has held director-level positions over the past 15 years in operations, human resources, and safety. He has managed organizations during transformations and workforce development reforms, requiring leadership skills in group cohesion, conflict resolution, change, and interpersonal communications. He has provided global consultative services to assist businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations to solve complex issues, generate value, and maximize growth.
As a social responsibility and veteran advocate, Mr. Hervey also served as a veterans’ career adviser, where he provided individualized career services to meet the employment needs of disabled and other veterans who are economically or educationally disadvantaged.
Mr. Hervey joined U.S.VETS in 2019 and is eager to galvanize the Houston site, cultivate meaningful relationships, and positively impact the growing number of veterans across the state of Texas.
Mr. Hervey’s educational accomplishments include a B.S. in Electronics Engineering from Southern University, a M.S. Public in Service Management from DePaul University, and a M.A. in National Security & Strategic Studies from the Navy War College. Additionally, he holds recognized HR certifications as a Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) and as a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).
Sylvia Carter is the Program Director for U.S.VETS — Wai’anae. As the first person in her family to obtain a college degree, Ms. Carter is passionate about serving Hawai’i’s youth and has directed programming that made dreams of higher education a reality spanning from high school to college for the past 12 years.
Ms. Carter held office in state and regional TRIO organizations, raising money and awareness to advocate for underprivileged youth, garnering a 95% college going rate for pre-college students. In her role as a counselor at Windward Community College, she used innovative strategies to increase freshman enrollment by 10%.
Ms. Carter is extremely motivated to provide comprehensive services to U.S.VETS and Hawaiian families. She is dedicated to developing leadership skills and providing a platform to discuss homeless issues.
Ms. Carter holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Nevada, Reno. She is pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Florida Gulf Coast University.
Robert Stohr is the Executive Director at U.S.VETS — Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
Mr. Stohr earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from California State University. Following a 20 year career as a psychotherapist, Mr. Stohr acted as Division Director for the Suicide Prevention Center at Didi Hirsch, where he managed the operation of The Suicide Prevention hotline, as well as supervised education, outreach, and training. In this position Mr. Stohr trained FBI and SWAT teams on crisis negotiation for suicide prevention, and met nationally at SAMHSA to discuss partnerships with local emergency departments. He has presented at national conferences on a manual that he co-authored about working with suicide attempt survivors.
Mr. Stohr joined U.S.VETS in January 2016.
Akilah Templeton is the Executive Director for U.S.VETS — Inglewood in California.
A native of Inglewood, Ms. Templeton jumped at the chance to return to the community she knows and loves. She has worked in substance abuse and mental health for more than 20 years. Her commitment to service is deeply rooted in a family legacy of giving back. This dedication is evidenced by a conscious decision to work in public service and in the non-profit sector with the hope of improving the quality of life for those who may otherwise have difficulty accessing the care they need.
Prior to joining U.S.VETS, Ms. Templeton served as Managing Director for one of the largest substance use disorder and mental health treatment facilities in the country. She has also worked for the Department of Mental Health in Los Angeles County, the Department of Behavioral Health in Ventura County, and as a Program Director providing housing and supportive services to adults with developmental disabilities and chronic mental illness. As Executive Director for U.S.VETS — Inglewood, Ms. Templeton is committed to championing the cause of veteran homelessness and the myriad barriers that adversely affect our nation’s heroes.
Ms. Templeton holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from USC with a sub-concentration in Military Social Work. She also holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Leadership and Public- Sector Management, and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Through the course of her career she has held certifications as a Master’s Level Addiction Specialist, a Certified Addiction Counselor, and a Group Home Administrator. She has contributed to the national discussion on the importance of individualized and integrated care for individuals with co-morbid disorders through her professional associations and participation on panels and boards in the role of Director.
Erik Miller was born in Long Beach CA to Navy Veteran Gilbert Miller and his wife Penny Jones-Miller. He grew up in Long Beach spending most of his youth playing sports and singing in his church choir. As a former student athlete, he was recognized for his performance on the football field by earning All-Moore League Honors while also graduating at the top of his class. His scholastic accolades helped him become the first person in his family to attend and graduate from college when he earned his bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Woodbury University in Burbank CA.
Mr. Miller began his career as an Architectural Designer with Steinberg Architects in Los Angeles where he learned to manage major construction projects and work with large budgets. He took these project management skills to the non-profit sector 11 years ago where he started as a Director of a Long Beach based mentoring organization. In response to the gang and gun violence crisis impacting his students, Mr. Miller joined the Long Beach GRIP (Gang Reduction Intervention and Prevention) Taskforce where he served as the Chairman from 2012-2014. As the chair, Mr. Miller worked to implement a federal grant focused on youth programs that have reduced violence throughout the city. In his career Mr. Miller is most noted for his tenure as the Executive Director of PVJOBS, a county wide initiative that provides employment opportunities for the at-risk. With his efforts, PVJOBS has serviced over 20,000 people throughout the county. In the past 20 years PVJOBS has placed over 8,000 people in career track employment opportunities and has helped people break the cycle of poverty in some of our most disadvantaged communities of Los Angeles.
Mr. Miller and his wife, Rachel, are proud residents of Long Beach where they raise their 2-year-old daughter and he serves as a youth mentor with Operation Jump Start.