Operation Dignity’s Founder and Vietnam War veteran, Alex McElree, dedicated his life to ensure that no veteran suffers the indignity of homelessness and isolation upon their return home. After returning from three tours of duty in Vietnam, Alex lost everything. He became homeless, battled alcoholism and experienced trauma from war experiences.
Once he recognized the acute needs of other homeless veterans, he vowed to do what he could to house and support them. Starting with only his Social Security check, Alex rented a house in Oakland, bought some beds and invited a few veterans to his home. Operation Dignity was born.
From our pioneering start in 1993, Operation Dignity has grown to a veteran-run, service-enriched 501(c)(3) non-profit, serving homeless veterans and their families, as well as homeless population of Alameda County, CA. Former and current Operation Dignity residents help operate our housing facilities by providing peer support to other veterans and supporting day-to-day operations. Many former residents are now even employed by Operation Dignity.
Alex’s contributions to the veterans’ community are a testament to his personal determination and leadership. In 2009, the California Legislature Assembly selected Alex McElree as the 16th District Veteran of the Year for his work.
Marguerite Bachand, Executive Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marguerite is a non-profit executive with over 20 years of experience creating new programs and leading organizations through periods of change and growth. She developed a program for economically disadvantaged students at the University of California Office of the President that she implemented at multiple campuses, and has more recently worked in global development for an organization that removes land mines and works with farmers on sustainable farming practices in Afghanistan and Vietnam. She has dedicated her career to promoting equity and empowerment by working to broaden access to education, healthy environments, and economic opportunity for all individuals. Marguerite joined Operation Dignity in January 2016.
Barbara Edmondson, Housing Program Director: bedmondson@operationdignity.
Barbara has been with Operation Dignity since 1998 and currently oversees the operations at House of Dignity and Ashby House. Barbara has worked as an advocate for the voiceless for over 20 years. She is committed to ensuring each veteran feels a sense of self-worth and dignity, is shown there is hope, gains stable housing, and arrives at their full potential. Barbara graduated from Merritt College with a degree in Human Community Social Services. When not serving the community, Barbara loves to go walking and watch nature unfold, spend time with close friends and family, and indulge in good books, suspense movies, and seafood.
Katrina Oberhouser, Clinical Services Director: koberhouser@operationdignity.
Katrina joined Operation Dignity in 2010. At Operation Dignity, Katrina oversees the operations at Dignity Commons, and regularly collaborates with VA liaisons and Alameda County agencies to ensure that each veteran receives necessary comprehensive services. She is committed to helping others and firmly believes that anything is possible through motivation, kindness, and patience. Katrina holds a Master’s Degree in Social Sciences from San Francisco State University and Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from University of California, Santa Barbara. When not glued to her desk, she enjoys spending time with her partner and family, going on hikes, cooking, and yoga.
Tomika Perkins, Mobile Outreach and Operations Director: email@example.com
Tara Singh, President
Tara is deeply honored to serve our returning and long returned veteran heroes’ during reintegration into civilian society as Operation Dignity’s Board President. She currently is the Founding Chair of NEXUS India, where she leads the South Asian division of NEXUS Global Youth Summit, an international non profit youth philanthropy organization whose mission is to catalyze new leadership and accelerate global solutions. Tara has previously worked in financial risk management for the FDIC, developed micro-finance programs to assist women in South Asia in achieving financial self-sufficiency and entrepreneurial skills, and worked with the support of the United Nations as a regular forum and session participant, serving on working groups and committees focused on youth and women’s issues. Tara has her Bachelor’s degree in Political, Legal and Economic Analysis and a MBA in Finance from Mills College in California, as well as a Post Graduate Professional Certification in Environmental Policy from Bard College in New York. In addition, Tara is passionate about promoting peaceful conflict resolution, economic and social justice, environmental conservation, and animal welfare.
Alex McElree, Founder and Originating Executive Director
Alex has dedicated his life to ensure that no veteran suffers the indignity of homelessness and isolation upon their return home. After three tours of duty in Vietnam, Alex lost everything: he became homeless and battled alcoholism and PTSD. Alex founded Operation Dignity in 1993, by renting a house in Oakland and buying a few beds, then inviting his fellow homeless veterans to move in. Alex worked tirelessly as the Executive Director until his retirement in 2015. He remains in service with OD as a board member and the agency’s Ambassador, continuing to share his story, passion, and vision with our community. In 2009, the California Legislature Assembly selected Alex as the 16th District Veteran of the Year and in 2016, he was named Oakland’s Humanitarian Citizen of the Year for his contributions to the veteran community. In retirement, he’s hoping to spend more time with his other passions: motorcycles and camping.
Rosa Maria Zanolli, CFO
Rosa Maria became the organization’s CPA in 2002 and in 2009 she accepted the Board of Director’s invitation to serve on the board and to act as the CFO of the organization. When she was first approached by a colleague to do some accounting for Operation Dignity, she was drawn to its worthy cause, and to this day is still an enthusiastic believer of the positive impact the organization has on the lives of so many people. Rosa Maria graduated in Business and Administration at the University of Rome, Italy, eventually moving to San Francisco for a job as an audit manager. She soon became a CPA and has had a private practice, providing consulting, accounting, auditing, and tax services for many years. During the 5 years she took off to raise her children, she volunteered in various school activities and was PTA treasurer. When not working, she enjoys traveling to foreign countries, hiking, and scuba diving.
Alicia Anderson, Vice President
This is Alicia’s first year serving on Operation Dignity’s board. She currently works for Santa Clara County’s Behavioral Health Department as a Manager of substance abuse treatment programs. Prior to that, Alicia worked for ten years with homeless and at-risk individuals in Alameda County, both on the ground and as an administrator of street outreach and housing programs. She believes that everyone deserves compassion, grace, and affordable housing and works tirelessly towards these ideals. Alicia has her Master’s in Social Work from San Jose State University, and earned her BA in Global Studies from Azusa Pacific University, during which she lived abroad in Russia, working with homeless youth. Weekends not spent traveling the globe, she usually spends with her husband and two bulldogs exploring the Bay Area.
James De los Reyes, Secretary
This is James’ first year as a board member for Operation Dignity. James is an attorney at Boornazian, Jensen & Gerthe and concentrates in construction defect and general civil litigation. While not a veteran himself, he is indebted to the men and women who have served our country, including the many members of his family that helped raise and inspire him, and is passionate about serving his local community and the larger veteran community. He is a Legal Clinics Co-Director for the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC) and recently served as pro bono counsel for Bay Area Legal Aid’s family law clinic. James received his J.D. from UC Hastings and his B.A. from Stanford University. He enjoys time with family and friends, and occasionally going lindy-hopping in San Francisco.
Morgan joined Operation Dignity’s board in July of 2016. After graduating high school, Morgan joined the Air Force as a member of the USAF Security Forces where he worked in law enforcement, force protection, and corrections. He was stationed for four years in New Mexico, and served one tour in Mosul, Iraq, after which he transitioned to the Air Force Reserves and served five more years at Travis AFB in Fairfield, until 2013. While in the reserves, Morgan completed a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at Sonoma State University. Currently, he is a graduate student in Public Management and Policy Analysis at California State University, East Bay and works with one of his professors doing research on behalf of a local police department. He enjoys traveling with his wife, reading, and visiting the Bay Area’s museums and craft breweries. Morgan believes strongly in public service ethos, in a civic duty to facilitate the reintegration of veterans, and in protecting the inherent dignity of all – regardless of their present circumstances.
Judy Hui Pasquini
Judy is a graduate of Mills College with over twelve years of experience with direct services and management in the homeless programs sector. Most recently, Judy had worked as a consultant in Alameda County, assisting a variety of non-profits to assess, prioritize, and maximize their homeless programs. While coordinating a homeless veterans program, she developed a passion for helping veterans obtain permanent housing. At Operation Dignity, she has continued her work in serving veterans by making an impact on their lives. She is also committed to serving the community by volunteering her time on several Bay Area boards. When she is not busy working, she enjoys cooking, baking, creative arts, and traveling.
Homeless Vets Find Housing, Services in Alameda County Through New Program (San Jose Mercury News, 2014)
Helping Homeless, Jobless Veterans in Oakland (Street Spirit, 2011)
Alex McElree: Crusader against homelessness (SF Gate, 2003)
Hunting in the Shadows (SF Weekly, 1999)