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, Director of Community Outreach and Special Projects:
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.

Laura Mason, Senior Director of Operations:
Laura brings more than 20 years of experience in philanthropy, affordable housing, and nonprofit leadership to Operation Dignity. Prior to joining the Operation Dignity team, Laura led operations and developed strategic partnerships, programs, and resources for EngAGE Northern California and held several positions in public and private charitable foundations, where she managed more than $5 million in annual grants across health, aging, and social services. Laura earned her B.A. in Social Science from San Francisco State University and a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco. She is an active community volunteer, and is proud that her father, uncle, and cousin all served in the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

Mercedes Brown, Program Director of Permanent Housing Programs & Dignity Commons:
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 Rockwell Brown, Program Director of House of Dignity & Reentry:
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 rerned 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 an honor and a privilege.

Laura Ross, Director of Development:
Prior to Operation Dignity, Laura worked for HomeRise in San Francisco where she spent 4 years managing grants that supported construction and operation of permanent supportive housing. She first began working with nonprofits while still in college. Her career began in theatrical production and gallery management while living in New York City, later transitioning to project management for private communities and local government in the Savannah, GA and Hilton Head, SC area. She began working with grants in 2008 while managing the construction of parks and nature trails for the Town of Bluffton, SC. Since then, she has dedicated her career to grants management and fundraising. She transitioned to social services and organizations focusing on homelessness in 2016 when she began working for Union Mission in Savannah, GA. After a long career in various fields, she feels that helping formerly homeless individuals and families to secure housing and regain happiness and stability is the most fulfilling job possible.

Board of Directors

Dr. Susan Sperling, Chair For over a decade, Susan served as the President of Chabot College in Hayward, California. During her tenure the College doubled its graduation rate and developed key partnerships with the City of Hayward, Hayward Unified School District, California State University East Bay, and a variety of local non-profits, increasing services and support for students facing challenges of economic inequality, racism, and xenophobia. She also guided the development of the new Chabot Library and Learning Connection,  the Space & Science Center building, and First Responders Training Center in partnership with the City of Hayward. She also worked successfully to increase the diversity of Chabot College’s faculty and staff.

Since retirement Susan is excited to begin a new chapter of non-profit service working on the Operation Dignity’s board, advocating for children in the foster care system, writing, and traveling with her husband Marc.

James De los Reyes, Secretary
James is an attorney with Fennemore Wendel in Oakland and represents a variety of clients in matters relating to construction, real estate and general litigation. His firm proudly and regularly supports Operation Dignity, its mission and mobile outreach efforts. While not a veteran himself, James remains indebted to the men and women who have served our country, including many members of his own family, and is grateful to serve as a member of Operation Dignity’s board. James received his B.A. from Stanford University and his J.D. from UC Hastings, where he often serves as an alumni coach and judge for Hastings’ nationally-ranked Moot Court intercollegiate competition teams.

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.

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.

Neil Saxby

Neil Saxby is an experienced development professional with a demonstrated history of working in the affordable housing real estate industry in Northern California. He has an MBA with a Finance focus from the University of California, Davis – Graduate School of Management. Neil is the principal owner of RENEW URBAN Development Consulting. Prior to that, he worked as the Director of Development at BRIDGE Housing Corporation and the Associate Director of Real Estate Development at Eden Housing.