Our Board of Directors
Chione Flegal, Managing Director at PolicyLink, leads an extraordinarily committed team working to promote social, economic, and environmental equity in California. With deep expertise on issues of infrastructure and environmental policy, Chione has nearly 20 years of experience building coalitions and leading policy campaigns to improve outcomes for low-income communities and communities of color in California. Prior to joining PolicyLink Chione managed Latino Issues Forum’s Sustainable Development program and directed the organization’s environmental health and justice work. She has worked as a consultant for organizations in the United States and abroad including CARE International and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Chione currently serves on the climate justice working group for the California Natural Resources Agency and on the board of directors of Housing California. She holds a master’s degree in city planning and a BS in environmental science, policy, and management from the University of California, Berkeley.
1st Vice President
Director of the Los Angeles Program
Corporation for Supportive Housing
David Howden has nearly 20 years of experience assisting communities with sound strategies to address and end homelessness. As the Director for CSH’s Los Angeles Program, David has worked closely with public- and private- sector partners to align systems and increase resources. He has spearheaded efforts to strengthen the capacity of service providers and developers to bring supportive housing to scale. Over the past few years, David has worked with partners to design a Coordinated Entry System through the region. David also led a community-based planning effort to develop a regional homeless strategic plan for San Gabriel Valley, which included both a comprehensive needs assessment and an implementation strategy.
Prior to joining CSH, David was with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, where he was Funding Manager from 2001 to 2008. His responsibilities included oversight of the annual Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Programs application for one of the largest COC’s in the United States. David has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University.
2nd Vice President
Va Lecia Adams Kellum
President and CEO
St. Joseph Center
Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum joined St. Joseph Center in 2008. During her tenure, St. Joseph Center has tripled its staff, expanded its range of services, and broadened its geographic reach to encompass all of LA County, with major service centers on the Westside, in South Los Angeles, and in Downtown LA.
Under Dr. Adams Kellum’s leadership, St. Joseph Center consistently applies best practices to serve new populations and new areas through significant collaboration with governmental, nonprofit, and private sector partners. The Center is a trailblazer in deploying integrated, multidisciplinary teams to help the most vulnerable homeless individuals obtain and maintain stable housing. Since the inception of LA County’s Coordinated Entry System, St. Joseph Center has served as the lead agency for both Individuals and Families on LA’s Westside.
Dr. Adams Kellum serves on the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s No Place Like Home Program Advisory Committee, a role she was appointed to by Governor Jerry Brown and is continuing in under Governor Gavin Newsom. She is the former Chair of the Westside Coalition and represented the Westside on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Coordinating Council for many years. She currently serves on the board of directors for Tarzana Treatment Center, located in the San Fernando Valley, and Abode Communities, based in Downtown LA.
Born and raised in Southern California, Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum is a graduate of Culver City High School. She received her B.A. from the University of Southern California and earned an M.A. from Ball State University before completing her Ph.D. at Stanford University. Throughout her doctoral program, she examined the factors that create stress in ethnic minority youth, such as poverty, academic underachievement, and family dynamics.
Prior to coming to St. Joseph Center, Dr. Adams Kellum applied her research for six years as the Director of Transitional Living for United Friends of the Children (UFC). While at UFC, she helped create and oversee Pathways, an 18-month transitional living program that assists former foster youth with housing, college readiness, career development, financial assistance, mentoring, and individual counseling.
Senior Affordable Housing Finance Consultant
Lisa Motoyama joined Community Economics in 2018, bringing together her experience and expertise from work across the public, nonprofit and for-profit affordable housing development sectors, and through the life cycle of development from feasibility to refinance and recapitalization. With more than 20 years of housing development experience, Lisa brings her passion and expertise to improving the lives of low-income people.
Prior to Community Economics, she served as a program director at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development where she was primarily responsible for the infrastructure and real estate aspects of the nation’s first large-scale public housing transformation and reparations effort. During her tenure, 643 units were completed or started construction, and entitlements and development agreements approved for 3,300 units. Before her transition to the public sector, Lisa was an affordable housing developer and advocate in the nonprofit sector. In her previous position as Housing Development Director at Resources for Community Development, she was responsible for the development of more than 1,100 units serving 3,000 low income adults and children, many with special needs.
In addition to her work experience, she has served in volunteer positions ranging from the Contra Costa County Affordable Housing Finance Committee, and the EBHO Board of Directors, to the El Cerrito Planning Commission and the Oversight Board of the San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure. She earned her master’s degree in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley.
representing California Coalition for Rural Housing
President and CEO
As President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association, Inc., (CHISPA) and CHISPA Housing Management, Inc. (CHMI), Alfred Diaz-Infante is responsible for the implementation of board policy, the overall administration of the development and direction of corporate programs. To date, CHISPA has developed more than 2,300 affordable housing units in the Central Coast of California.
Alfred has 26 years of experience in the real estate development industry. His experience includes project financial analysis, project and property management, and land acquisition.
Alfred serves as a trustee on several nonprofit and educational institution boards, including current President of the Hartnell College Foundation, the Community Foundation for Monterey County, Big Sur Land Trust, York School, Youth Orchestra Salinas (YOSal), and Salinas Regional Sports Authority. He also serves on the Citizens Advisory Committee of 1st Capital Bank. Mr. Diaz-Infante served as a member of the Monterey County Planning Commission from 1993-1998.
He is the recipient of the 2003 Distinguished Fellow Award from California State University Monterey Bay for his work in community and public service. In 2004, he received the Ben Heller Award for Leadership and Courage from the Center for Community Advocacy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving housing conditions and opportunities for farmworkers and other low-income families in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. He is also the recipient of the Junior Achievement 2015 Monterey Bay Business Hall of Fame award.
Alfred holds an MBA degree from the University of California, Berkeley, with an emphasis in Real Estate and Urban Land Economics and B.S. degree in Finance from California State University, Sacramento.
Alfred was born and raised in Salinas, California. He is married and a father of three children.
Rachelle Reyes Wenger
System Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy Engagement
Rachelle Reyes Wenger is the System Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy Engagement for CommonSpirit Health. In February 2019, CommonSpirit Health was formed by the combining of California-based Dignity Health and Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), making CommonSpirit Health one of the largest, private, not-for-profit healthcare systems in the nation with 137 hospitals across 21 states.
Ms. Wenger is primarily responsible for advancing the organization’s Public Policy & Advocacy Priorities at the local, state, national, and international arenas. She manages policy issues core to CommonSpirit Health’s commitment to its foundational priorities focused on social and environmental determinants of health. Her portfolio includes: health equity, economic and racial justice, immigration, housing and homelessness, climate change and the environment, nutrition and hunger. She serves on various hospital and community boards and committees. Through strong collaborations and speaking platforms, Ms. Wenger has worked to successfully provide the healthcare voice in support of landmark legislation and strategic initiatives while inspiring community and industry engagement to raise their voices in solidarity on common ground issues.
Ms. Wenger received her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and her master’s degree in Public Administration at California State University, Northridge.
Director of Planning and Development
San Diego Building Trades Family Housing Corporation
Murtaza H. Baxamusa, Ph.D., AICP is a certified planner, writer and thinker. He develops affordable housing for the San Diego Building Trades Family Housing Corporation, and teaches urban planning at the University of Southern California (USC). He has more than 12 years of experience in economic development and sustainable urban planning, and has previously worked for the USC Center for Economic Development as well as the Center on Policy Initiatives. He has doctoral and master’s degrees in Planning from USC, and a bachelor’s degree with honors from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. He serves and has served on several nonprofit boards, including Civic San Diego, the San Diego City-County Reinvestment Taskforce and the Middle Class Taxpayers Association. He received the Ruby Award for Outstanding Advocate from the San Diego Housing Federation in 2012, as well as the John Lyons Memorial Fellowship, an honor that was read into the Congressional Record of the 112th Congress. The City of San Diego proclaimed June 17, 2008 to be “Dr. Murtaza H. Baxamusa Day” in recognition of his contributions to the city. He is a home-owner in Bay Park, and lives with his wife and two daughters.
representing the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing
Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
Holly Benson is executive vice president and chief operating officer responsible for the organization’s real estate development, property management and resident service divisions. As such, she oversees the production of new affordable housing; creation of new business opportunities; management of existing real estate assets; and financial and operational performance of Abode Communities’ real estate portfolio and resident services program, Beyond Homes. Benson serves an integral role in operationalizing the organization’s strategic plan to ensure the organization meets and exceeds its strategic goals.
With nearly 20 years in the affordable housing industry, Benson’s depth of experience is underscored by her contribution to the production of more than 1,000 affordable homes and the procurement of some $300 million in loans, grants and equity from both private and public sources throughout California.
Benson is an esteemed affordable housing leader and serves as current board member and past president of the Southern California Association for Nonprofit Housing. She is a former board member of the Kennedy Commission and is often requested to serve as an industry expert by organizations such as Housing California, Urban Land Institute, Enterprise Community Partners, University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Affairs and University of Southern California School of Public Policy. Benson is passionate about advancing affordable housing policy and her expertise in the field has been featured on the Tavis Smiley Show, KNX Broadcasting and KPCC Public Radio in Los Angeles. She received a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Director, Real Estate Development and Property Management
Fresno Housing Authority
Michael Duarte is the Director of Real Estate Development and Property Management at the Fresno Housing Authority. Since starting his tenure at Fresno Housing Authority in 2007, Michael has been instrumental in developing over 35 projects resulting in approximately 1,400 new construction units and substantial rehabilitation of over 800 units totaling $600 million of investment in Fresno County. Developments completed include mixed-use and mixed-income projects and often focus on neighborhood redevelopment or developments in areas of opportunity. Michael has experience working with many local, state and federal funding programs including HUD low income public housing (LIPH), HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), 9% and 4% low income housing tax credits (LIHTC), USDA, California HCD, etc. In 2015, Michael assumed the dual role of Director of Property Management with responsibility of the Fresno Housing Authority’s diverse portfolio consisting of approximately 4,000 units.
Michael serves as a board member for a number of nonprofit organizations including the California Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies (CalALHFA), Chinatown Fresno Foundation and the San Joaquin Valley Housing Collaborative where he currently serves as Chair. Prior to joining the Fresno Housing Authority, Michael served as Regional Finance Manager for a NASDAQ 100 company.
Michael is a lifelong resident of Fresno County. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration –Finance from the California State University, Fresno.
Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California
Amie Fishman, the Executive Director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH) has more than 20 years of experience in the affordable housing and community development field. Prior to NPH, she was the Executive Director of East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) from 2006 to 2014. During her tenure there, she initiated major affordable housing advocacy campaigns with broad based community coalitions, initiated a resident organizing program, deepened EBHO's work throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties to advance local and regional policies for affordable housing and equitable transit-oriented development, and grew EBHO's membership by 300 percent to nearly 400 organizations and community leaders.
From 1994 to 2004, Amie worked at Mission Housing Development Corporation (MHDC) in San Francisco as the Director of Supportive Housing. In this capacity, she directed MHDC's programs and community organizing collaborations for homeless and formerly homeless adults and families, and spearheaded policy and electoral initiatives.
Immediately prior to her tenure at EBHO, she was a Dean's Scholar at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service, and received her MPA in public policy analysis with a focus on affordable housing and community development. Her Master's thesis was on grassroots anti-displacement strategies and the potential of nonprofit community development corporations to strengthen neighborhood movements.
Director of Legal Training & Professional Development
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
Fernando Gaytan is a member of the Board of Directors for the Child Care Law Center (CCLC) and the Director of Legal Trainings and Professional Development at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. Previously, Fernando served as Deputy Director for the organization and prior to that, as Managing Attorney of the South Los Angeles office and Housing and Communities Workgroup, where he led LAFLA’s affirmative housing litigation and policy work as well as community development. Fernando believes in improving the lives of poor and low-income individuals through dedicated and strategic legal advocacy to enforce their rights and create better opportunities for health and financial well-being.
Prior to LAFLA, he was an associate at the law firm Hadsell Stormer & Renick, LLC and specialized in representing workers in cases involving gender and race discrimination in the workplace. Fernando joined LAFLA in 2008 after working as co-counsel with LAFLA on a habitability lawsuit involving enforcement of key tenant protection afforded by local law. He has also litigated fair housing cases in both federal and state court. In 2016, Fernando received the Attorney Merit Award from the Legal Aid Association of California. Fernando earned his undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and his JD from USC School of Law.
Mutual Housing California
From his work with farmworkers in rural Oregon to his experience with real estate management in busy Southern California, Mr. Jimenez brings a deep understanding of community-building opportunities for people who live in affordable, multifamily housing. The CEO of both Mutual Housing California and Mutual Housing Management, Mr. Jimenez came to the organization most recently from Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation in Ventura, CA, where he was Real Estate Development Director.
Director of the Farmworker Housing Development Corporation in Woodburn, Oregon, from 2005-2016. In those 11 years, he tripled the size of FHDC’s affordable housing portfolio, developed or rehabbed 330 units of diverse multifamily housing, and managed a variety of resident services programs. He then launched and was CEO of Evolve Workforce and Property Management, a nonprofit third-party property management organization that focused on providing job training opportunities while managing affordable rental housing. Mr. Jimenez has a diverse background in training, writing and communications for the nonprofit sector, including expertise in advancing diversity and inclusion. He has led multiple successful housing policy efforts at the national level as well as in the state of Oregon, including advocacy around issues specific to farmworkers and Latinos. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oregon in Comparative Literature and completed the NeighborWorks® Achieving Excellence executive education program at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Professor of Medicine and Director for the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations and the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at UC San Francisco
Margot Kushel, MD is a Professor of Medicine at University of California San Francisco, and Division Chief and Director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, and Director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative. She is a practicing general internist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Margot's research focuses on the causes and consequences of homelessness and housing instability, with the goal of preventing and ending homelessness and ameliorating the effects of homelessness and housing instability on health. She speaks at a local, state and national level about issues of homelessness, and frequently provides testimony to legislative bodies. She received her AB from Harvard College, her MD from Yale and completed residency, chief residency and fellowship in internal medicine at UCSF.
Chief Executive Officer
Visionary Home Builders of California, Inc.
For the last 30 years, Carol J. Ornelas has served as Chief Executive Officer for Visionary Home Builders of California, formerly ACLC, Inc.; a nonprofit residential development company and provider of social services in housing-related issues. VHB is headquartered in Stockton, California. Carol is highly recognized as a leader within the community, as well as nationally in the housing industry. Her strength is in building and creating partnerships, and collaborating with city and state officials and other agencies to provide quality affordable housing for the communities she serves.
Under Carol’s direct leadership, VHB has built and rehabilitated more than 1200 units of rental housing and more than 500 residential homes for first-time homebuyers within San Joaquin, Sacramento, Stanislaus and Merced Counties.
Carol is one of 49 leaders nationwide selected for the NeighborWorks® Achieving Excellence in Community Development program in collaboration with Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Through her leadership, she has been able to bring more than $600 million in grants and private dollars to develop affordable housing in the San Joaquin Valley.
William F. Pickel is Executive Director and CEO of Brilliant Corners, a nonprofit supportive housing provider serving people with developmental disabilities and other vulnerable individuals, with an emphasis on those transitioning from homelessness or institutionalization. Brilliant Corners develops, owns and manages both licensed residential care homes and multifamily affordable housing, and implements innovative scattered-site supportive housing programs in partnership with public health agencies.
Before joining Brilliant Corners in 2007, Mr. Pickel served as Director of Real Estate Development for California Community Housing, a leading affordable senior housing provider. He holds an M.A. in Religious Studies from Boston University, a B.A. in Literature from the State University of New Jersey, and an Advanced Affordable Housing Development Training Institute Certificate from the Local Initiative Support Corporation.
Residents United Network
Joyce Roberts is an active member of her community. She shows up, she brings people, and she gets things done. Having experienced homelessness and the hardship of having to move from an apartment she loved because she could not afford the rent by herself is why being involved with RUN and Housing California is so important to her.
Joyce lived in a MAAC property President John Adams Manor in Oak Park (PJAM) for 14 years. In 2010 PJAM was struggling with community violence as a result Joyce along with other community members began working with elected officials and management to improve safety at PJAM. Since then Joyce stepped up to become a Resident Popular Educator through the San Diego Housing Federation’s Civic Engagement Program. There, she trained alongside other San Diego residents. She challenged herself to learn more about systems, policy, and government. She learned about campaigns, participated in role plays, and mapped her community. She changed how she viewed her community’s issues, and she changed how she saw the solutions.
Joyce has become a more visible leader in her community. She has participated in community meetings about local transportation issues and how plans will affect her community. She has organized voter information sessions helping her neighbors understand the implications of propositions for their neighborhood. She has gone to City Council to advocate for equitable investment and development in her district. She has led deep conversations with local law enforcement about changing how they work with and respond to the community.
Joyce has been a RUN member from the start and continues to step into leadership roles within the program as they are presented. Through her work, she has helped residents see individual problems as connected to greater policies and the greater community.
Vice President of Operations
Kendra Roberts possess 20 years of experience as an advocate in affordable housing and has devoted her career to ensuring that everyone has a safe place to call home. As a young professional, she worked in elderly affordable housing and is currently the Vice President of Operations for HumanGood Affordable Housing. In her role, she oversees the Northern California and Washington portfolios which consists of 30+ communities and is responsible for the compliance of complex housing programs, staff development/training, and every aspect of operations.
Kendra’s expertise includes the oversight of Low-Income Tax Credit and HUD funded communities (e.g. Section 8, Section 202, Section 236 and PRAC’s); review of financial and maintenance performance goals to ensure residents are provided cost effective, high quality, well maintained housing. She works closely with the development department and is responsible for lease up of new affordable housing communities while serving as the organizations 504/Fair Housing Coordinator. She also serves on the organizations homelessness task force and is the co-chair of the Inclusion Council.
Kendra has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Hampton University and a Master’s in Non-Profit Administration from the University of San Francisco. She has earned a Certified Professional of Occupancy (CPO), Tax Credit Specialist (TIC), and a Fair Housing Specialist (FHC) certifications. For fun, Kendra enjoys traveling, spending time with her family, and reading.
Legal Services of Northern California
Sarah was admitted to the bar in 2007 and is a graduate of University of California-Davis School of Law. Sarah has worked with Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC) since 2007 representing low-income clients and community-based organizations in individual cases as well as broader impact litigation. She has litigated before a variety of courts and administrative tribunals including the California Supreme Court, Third District Court of Appeal, Sacramento County Superior Court, Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, California Department of Social Services, Social Security Administration, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
San Diego Housing Federation
A 2005 graduate of the NewSchool of Architecture & Design, Stephen has a 20-year history working in community and economic development in the Mid-City region of San Diego. He served as Executive Director of the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement District, where he was responsible for implementing an economic development strategy for an aging commercial district. He later served as an advisor to then-San Diego City Councilmember Toni Atkins on issues related to redevelopment, infrastructure financing, small business support, and the City’s General Plan (the “City of Villages”).
Since then he has served as volunteer board member and President of the City Heights Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing affordable housing, employment opportunities, and quality neighborhoods in the community of City Heights. Stephen has served on the NewSchool Foundation Board since 2009 and as President of the Board since 2011.
Prior to joining the Federation as its Executive Director, Stephen was a member of the firm Platt/Whitelaw Architects, Inc., a full-service architecture firm specializing in sustainable design.
Residents United Network
A Willie Stevens is an engaged leader in his community in the bay area. He advocates for Affordable Housing and has firsthand experience and a well-rounded perspective informed from twenty-four years of being a property manager and from currently being a resident of affordable housing.
He is a member of various groups like the United Stingers of Oakland and Alameda County and the LeadingAge California. He was an active member of a team of East Bay Housing Organizations’ (EBHO) Resident and Community Organizing Program (RCOP) to pass Measure A1. He was involved from the beginning of the campaign providing tenant education in affordable housing buildings. He visited multiple housing complexes and educated over 120 people on Measure A1.
One of his leadership roles includes being the Vice President of Allen Temple Arms Resident Council. This role has given him the opportunity to organize the residents to demonstrate their power and encourage participation in decision making. I organize them to care about community issues such as homelessness and affordable housing.
Additionally, he is working to end homelessness around Oakland and statewide by advocating for policy with Residents United Network (RUN). He is part of the Policy Committee where he influences the policy strategy that the program will take and helps decide the legislative priorities.
LISC, Los Angeles
Tunua Thrash-Ntuk is the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) office. A native Angelino, Tunua is an established leader in the city's community and economic development industry. Before coming to LISC, she spent five years as the executive director of the prominent West Angeles Community Development Corporation.
Her strengths range from community advocacy to asset and real estate development around neighborhood revitalization. She has already led a number of important urban initiatives in Los Angeles focused on affordable housing and commercial development as well as transit-oriented projects.
After doing her undergraduate studies at University of California at Berkeley, Tunua continued her education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she received a Master's degree in city planning with a focus on urban economic and real estate development. With her passion for the industry, Tunua will lead LA LISC into a new era of helping low-income families and L.A. neighborhoods.