Senior Staff and Board of Directors

Senior Staff

Marguerite Bachand, Executive
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 2017.

Tomika Perkins, Operations Director: 
Tomika has more than 23 years of experience (including more than 15 years at Operation Dignity) working directly to help individuals who are homeless secure housing through outreach, housing, and supportive services programs. At Operation Dignity, she successfully manages outreach programs serving between 60 and 125 individuals each day, as well as overseeing assessment and intake for more than 100 units of shelter and housing for veterans experiencing homelessness.

Renae Bell, Chief Administrative Officer:
Renae has been a passionate advocate for continuous improvement throughout her professional life. After working in a variety of industries, both for-profit and non-profit, including marketing, fitness, food distribution, and HVAC sales/manufacturing, Renae is privileged to bring her expertise in cross-functional team leadership, data analytics, and business process improvement to Operation Dignity.  Renae’s family has a deep and lasting commitment to service. Her father, father-in-law, grandfather, and uncles served in the US Air Force, Navy, and Army.

Mercedes Brown, Program Manager, Dignity Commons and Ashby House:
Mercedes has been serving with the homeless population for over 15 years. She started as an outreach worker specializing in harm reduction, disease preventative education, and case management. Mercedes received her AA in Community Social Service from Merritt College. She supervises transitional veteran housing and services at Dignity Commons in Alameda and Ashby House in Berkeley, where she leads with integrity, compassion and humility. When not working, she enjoys travel, music and spending time with family and friends.

Lola RockwellBrown, Program Director, House of Dignity:
Lola RockwellBrown started working in the nonprofit field in 2000, as a graveyard shift outreach worker in San Francisco.  It was a steep learning curve driving solo helping the homeless, but a wonderful experience.  From there she worked the drug and alcohol treatment field at Baker Places, serving the community of San Francisco again, then as a case manager at an adult shelter in Redwood City.  After some time off to focus on her family, she returned to work in parent enrichment and education in the Oakland Unified School District, where her main focus was empowering the urban community about the importance of early childhood education and focusing elementary, middle and high school parents on college prep.  Lastly, prior to coming to Operation Dignity, she was privileged to work in the foster care system as a case manager for a group home on the peninsula, where she collaborated with judges, social workers, parents and schools to help kids create a successful future.  She has held several positions at Operation Dignity as a case manager, after care case manager, senior case manager, and now Program & Site Supervisor for House of Dignity. Operation Dignity is her forever job – working with vets is a honor and a privilege.

Katie Derrig, Development and Contracts 
Katie works to build Operation Dignity’s financial strength and sustainability through fundraising, grantwriting, and fostering community relationships. She has worked in nonprofit communications for almost 10 years, and is committed to helping our community end homelessness. Katie is originally from Chicago and holds an M.A. in Classics from the University of California Berkeley.

Joe Wen, Project Manager:
Joe manages administrative and operational projects using a unique methodology which synthesizes a variety of best practices gained from his experiences in the military, corporate, nonprofit, and international art sectors. Areas of particular interest include: process improvement, hiring, coordinating with local government and developing formalized, high-efficiency work processes with associated documentation (such as manuals and standard operating procedures). Joe previously served as an officer in the U.S. Army Field Artillery Corps and deployed to Kandahar Province, Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division. He graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Foreign Service.

Board of Directors

Daniel Lopez, President
Daniel B. Lopez has over 35 years of experience in the affordable housing field.  Since 1994, he has had his own consulting practice specializing in affordable housing finance, program development, and general problem solving.  His clients have included the U.S. Circuit of Appeals, Ninth District; public agencies (cities, counties, and the U.S. Treasury CDFI Fund); for-profit developers, government sponsored entities (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae); tax credit equity investors; and nonprofit organizations.  He has served on a variety of nonprofit and public agency boards, committees, and commissions, serving as board chair for many of these efforts. He has a B.A. in Economics and Statistics from UCLA and a M.A. in City Planning from San Jose State University where he was a Ford Foundation Fellow.  He has received numerous national, regional, and community awards for his expertise and dedication to the affordable housing and community development field.

James De los Reyes, Secretary
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 who 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.

Cathy Boer, Treasurer
Cathy is a principal at Ryan-Boer Solutions, which specializes in accounting for small businesses and nonprofits.  After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Economics from UC Berkeley, she obtained her M.B.A from California State University, East Bay.  She has been an active volunteer for much of her adult life, primarily on school-related boards and activities where her twins were involved.  Cathy is passionate about veterans’ support as her dad, uncle and father-in-law all served and her brother is career Navy.  She is excited to make an impact as a board member.

Dale Adams
Dale is a Navy Veteran with a history of commitment to community service. He spent seven years doing missionary work in South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda, leading community development projects and helping youth build leadership skills. His professional background is in IT, where he combines technical proficiency with customer service and problem solving. He joined the Operation Dignity Board in March 2019 to give back to other veterans and contribute his team- and infrastructure-building experience.

Morgan Clyde
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. In 2017, he completed a graduate degree in Public Management and Policy Analysis at California State University, East Bay, working with one of his professors to do 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, in a civic duty to facilitate the reintegration of veterans, and in protecting the inherent dignity of all – regardless of their present circumstances.

Nick Friend
Nick currently acts as Vice President of Lending at Century Housing’s Northern California office. Century is a non-profit CDFI assisting developers in providing affordable housing in the state of California. Nick enjoys helping clients solve problems in site acquisition and financing, make connections and assemble capable teams and has worked in diverse communities throughout the state. Prior to his role at Century, Nick worked at the Community Preservation Corporation in New York, Citi Community Capital and the New York City Economic Development Agency. Nick studied architecture and urban studies at Yale University and received an MBA from Columbia University, focusing on real estate and entrepreneurship. Born and raised in San Francisco, Nick lives in Berkeley with his wife, daughter and dog where he enjoys tinkering on home projects and exploring the east bay.

Saleemah Jones
Saleemah is a Community Development Specialist with the County of Alameda where she manages several affordable housing projects. Prior to entering into the development of affordable housing field she practiced law for sixteen years in various areas that included family law, civil litigation, and housing. Upon moving back to California, Saleemah saw the housing crisis the Bay Area was faced with and was determined to assist with the problem head on.  She has always  been involved with helping the community and helping the homeless population. Saleemah also has a non-profit theatre productions (Put Ur Play On Productions) where she writes, directs, and produces thought provoking stage plays.

Sylvia Soublet
Originally from Indiana, Sylvia has lived in Oakland the past 26 years with her husband and two children. Her proudest accomplishment by far are her two exceptional daughters.  Sylvia has spent her entire professional life working in public service agencies whose mission is to improve the lives and circumstances of marginalized communities and the people who inhabit them. She is currently the Public Affairs Director for the Alameda County Social Services Agency. Her 25-year-long (and counting) career spans a variety of areas, including public policy, program development, and marketing and public awareness.  Sylvia firmly believes that it is her mission to continually find ways to directly impact the quality of life of veterans, seniors, children, people with disabilities, and poor families.  When speaking of her life’s work, Sylvia often says, “To do this work well, you must view it as a calling and be about the business of perfecting your vocation.”

Gretel Tortolani
Gretel comes to the Board of Directors of Operation Dignity with over 20 years of experience in finance and accounting.  She is currently the Chief Financial Officer for Otis McAllister, an international food and beverage company.  She was previously the CFO & VP of Human Resources at Operation Dignity and prior to that has held positions with the Mt. Diablo Region YMCA, Mi Pueblo Supermarkets, Best Express Foods, Sage Software and Dynamic Office and Accounting Solutions. She is very excited to be a part of Operation Dignity once again! Gretel graduated from St. Mary’s College with a degree in Management.  When not working she enjoys spending time with her kids and great friends. She also loves to travel, do sports and go on hikes with her two Nordic Spitz.