Through These Doors Walk American Heroes

Board of Directors

(Click a name to learn more)

Jim Larson is the retired CEO of Cal State Central Credit Union with four branches in Sonoma County. He held this position 35 years and is a recognized business leader in Sonoma County.

Jim served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1970 in Tay Ninh Province near the Cambodian Border, fifty miles NW of Ho Chi Minh City (then Saigon). He received the Bronze Star in recognition of his service.

Jim joined the Board of VVC more than 20 years ago because he wanted to become active with a non-profit organization serving veterans in his community, and he was impressed with what VVC was doing and attempting to do.

Jim’s fiscal expertise contributes greatly to the agency. He is able to review and oversee the fiscal policies of VVC, as well as provide leadership in program development and planning.

Jim and his wife, Anh, a Vietnamese native and a U.S. citizen, led VVC in sponsoring and funding medical outreach clinics in Vietnam’s impoverished Luong Son area. Jim and Anh visit Vietnam yearly as liaisons for VVC’s humanitarian projects, which in addition to the clinic include three primary schools, two built by VVC in partnership with East Meets West. VVC also maintains a surgery fund for those individuals with more serious medical conditions.

Peter Cameron is a founder and the President and CEO of Vietnam Veterans of California, now Veterans Resource Centers of America (VRC). Organized in 1980, VRC is a community based non-profit organization providing employment and training, housing, rehabilitation and case management, small business and legal and advocacy services to veterans from all eras. VRC operates eight service centers in Northern California (Eureka, Sacramento, Redding, Menlo Park, Santa Rosa, Chico, Santa Cruz and Monterey), three service centers in Northern Arizona (Prescott, Flagstaff and Bullhead City) and two centers in Northern Nevada (Reno and Carson City). Additionally, VRC supports a clinic in the district of Luong Son, Republic of Vietnam, and has built three elementary schools in the district.

Peter was in the US Army, serving in Vietnam in 1966 and 67. He has worked with veterans issues for over 42 years. In 1972 he founded Flower of the Dragon (FOD), a non-profit agency that assisted Vietnam veterans in Sonoma County with the sometimes severe reintegration issues resulting from that war. One of the first Vietnam veteran community based organizations, FOD was recognized by the White House and replicated as a model for community based services to veterans across the nation.

He has been a consultant to White House, Department of Labor, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Action Agency, the Agent Orange Class Assistance Program and state and local agencies over the years. Through a grant from the National Endowment of Humanities he established the first archival collection of Vietnam veteran’s materials now at Cornell and oversaw the production of the first symposium on the issue of Vietnam Veterans in 1979 at California State University in Sonoma. In 1989 and 1990 he facilitated and coordinated delegations of Vietnam Veterans to the Soviet Union and Kazakhstan to meet with Soviet veterans of the war in Afghanistan. Recently, he served as Secretary and Board member of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

Peter lives in Cloverdale, California and has two sons; Simon and Christopher.

Lawrence S. Connolly (Larry) comes to VVC with many years of experience working with Pacific gas and Electric as an Employee Assistance Counselor, High School Counselor, working in his own business in the Vocational Rehabilitation field, and in private practice. For several years Larry owned and operated his own gem mining business in Sri Lanka and Pakistan and traveled to over one hundred countries during the course of buying and selling gemstones.

Larry Connolly served from 1967 to 1969 in Vietnam and was assigned to the 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd marine Division; and also with the Combined Action Program with 3rd Combined Action Platoon near Hue and Dong Ha.

Larry brings a wealth of board experience to VVC having served on the Board of Directors of many non-profit organizations; including the East Meets West Foundation as Treasurer, Consultants for Global Programs as Chairman, Arcata Rotary Club as President, Private Industry Council for Humboldt County, Mental Health Board of Directors for Trinity County, currently serving as Board Chairman for Humboldt County Northcoast Standown Committee and is the Vice-Director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Legislative Committee for the State of California.

Larry is very involved in his community, especially in the Arcata Rotary Club. Larry has been recognized by Rotary International by being awarded Rotary’s highest honor, The Service Above Self Medal, for individual Rotarians. This recognition was given to Larry for his work in Vietnam by bringing clean water to thousands of families as well as building homes and other humanitarian work.

Larry and his wife Ruth enjoy international travel, gardening around their home in McKinleyville, fishing, and visiting friends. They have two daughters each from previous marriages and three grandchildren.

Charles Helget has served as an Army Officer and legislative staff director, political and policy consultant and lobbyist. He formed the government affairs firm, Sector Strategies in January 1991. As the firm’s President, Charles, has developed extensive experience, in California and the Western States, organizing government affairs strategies for public organizations and private corporations and representing their interests before legislative bodies, state agencies and local governments. Through experiences as a senior legislative staff director, government affairs manager, and consultant, he has built an extensive network of public officials and community leaders throughout California, the Western States, and Washington, DC.

Mr. Helget has served as California Government Relations Manager for ARCO, managing the company's home state and local government affairs office. He directed and administered the political, lobbying, operating, and community relations programs. He was recruited by ARCO after successfully directing the Senate Democratic Caucus staff in Washington State. As Caucus Chief of Staff, he was responsible for reorganizing and managing a caucus staff of fifty professionals and ten clerical positions. He previously served in the Washington State Legislature as Staff Director for the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee and as a Research Director for the Senate Research Center. In 1985, Helget was Staff Director for Washington's Major League Baseball Commission, a public sector research commission appointed by the Governor, King County Executive, and the Mayor of Seattle.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Veterans Resource Centers of America and as Executive Director of the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies.

Charles holds a Masters degree in Public Administration, graduating with honors from the University of Puget Sound and a Bachelor's degree from the College of Saint Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, majoring in philosophy and pre-law. He served in the U.S. Army from 1973 to 1977, where he achieved the rank of Captain, holding positions as a combat arm's unit commander and senior legal officer.

He lives in Sacramento California with his wife Mercy. His son Kurt is a student athlete at Portland State University.

Burt McChesney is a retired policy consultant and advocate. Burt served as Special Assistant to the Speaker of the California Assembly, as Chief Consultant to the Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, advisor to the Budget Conference Committee, chief consultant to the Assembly Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee and as chief consultant to the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee. After leaving the legislature Burt worked for the California Association of Realtors and other business clients.

Interspersed with his legislative career, Burt worked on numerous political and issue campaigns for clients as diverse as Corazon Aquino, former President of the Philippines, and a Bay Area waste management firm. Most recently Burt led the campaign for Proposition 41, a $600 Million housing bond for homeless and at-risk veterans.

The son of an Air Force officer, Burt served in the United States Army in Vietnam and Europe as helicopter gunner and as the NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge) of flight operations.

Burt and his wife, Jo-Ellen reside in Southern California.

COL (Ret.) Michael N. Wells began his military career in 1983 when he received his commissioned from the United States Navy. COL Wells, of Sacramento, is a combat veteran of the Iraq War and service in the Balkans (NATO HQ, Sarajevo, and Bosnia-Hercegovina. He has served in multiple positions of authority at the California Department of Veterans Affairs (2013-2015) and the California Military Department (1991-2013), including Undersecretary, Operations, Deputy Commander of the Youth and Community Program Task Force, Director of Manpower and Personnel, Chief of Logistics, Director of Governmental Affairs, Plans Officer and Chief of Environmental Programs. Colonel Wells served in multiple positions of increased responsibility, including Deputy Commander, California Army National Guard and Commander of the 223rd Infantry Regiment and Camp San Luis Obispo. He served as the chief of Intelligence Operations at NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo from 2008 – 2009. He served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence at the 40th Infantry Division from 2006 – 2008. He also commanded the 250th Military Intelligence Battalion at Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq from 2004 – 2005. Colonel Wells is a graduate of the United States Army War College, Command and General Staff Officer Course, and holds a Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of Pacific, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science & Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

His decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Reserve Achievement Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Army Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon; Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M device, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Naval Reserve Medal; NATO Service Medal, Outstanding Unit Award and Combat Action Badge.

COL Wells resides in Sacramento, California with his wife Karen (married for 34 years), daughter Victoria and son Bryan.


Leadership


Peter Cameron is a founder and the President/CEO of Vietnam Veterans of California, now Veterans Resource Centers of America (VRC). Organized in 1980, VRC is a community based non-profit organization providing employment and training, housing, rehabilitation and case management, small business and legal and advocacy services to veterans from all eras. VRC operates eight service centers in Northern California (Eureka, Sacramento, Redding, Menlo Park, Santa Rosa, Chico, Santa Cruz and Monterey), three service centers in Northern Arizona (Prescott, Flagstaff and Bullhead City) and two centers in Northern Nevada (Reno and Carson City). Additionally, VRC supports a clinic in the district of Luong Son, Republic of Vietnam, and has built three elementary schools in the district.

Peter was in the US Army, serving in Vietnam in 1966 and 67. He has worked with veterans issues for over 42 years. In 1972 he founded Flower of the Dragon (FOD), a non-profit agency that assisted Vietnam veterans in Sonoma County with the sometimes severe reintegration issues resulting from that war. One of the first Vietnam veteran community based organizations, FOD was recognized by the White House and replicated as a model for community based services to veterans across the nation.

He has been a consultant to White House, Department of Labor, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Action Agency, the Agent Orange Class Assistance Program and state and local agencies over the years. Through a grant from the National Endowment of Humanities he established the first archival collection of Vietnam veteran’s materials now at Cornell and oversaw the production of the first symposium on the issue of Vietnam Veterans in 1979 at California State University in Sonoma. In 1989 and 1990 he facilitated and coordinated delegations of Vietnam Veterans to the Soviet Union and Kazakhstan to meet with Soviet veterans of the war in Afghanistan. Recently, he served as Secretary and Board member of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

Peter lives in Cloverdale, California and has two sons; Simon and Christopher.

Byron Calos is the Chief Financial Officer for Veterans Resource Centers of America. He celebrates his 26th year with the organization, and is the second longest serving employee at VRC. He began as a volunteer grant writer in 1988 and has expanded his experience to include nonprofit fund accounting, grant writing, advocacy, project and organizational development. He has served as an advisor on community based veterans services to local, state and federal agencies, including the US Small Business Administration and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Byron attended the University of California Santa Barbara, graduating with a BS in Classics, and Sonoma State University, graduating with a Master’s in Business Administration.

Marc Deal is the Executive Director for Veterans Resource Centers of America. Organized in 1980, VRC is a community based non-profit organization providing employment and training, housing, rehabilitation and case management and advocacy services to veterans from all eras. VRC operates six service centers in Northern California (Eureka, Sacramento, Redding, Santa Rosa, Vallejo, Chico), three service centers in Central California (Menlo Park, Santa Cruz and Monterey), three service centers in Northern Arizona (Prescott, Flagstaff and Bullhead City) and two centers in Northern Nevada (Reno and Carson City).

With over 15 years of non-profit management experience, Marc began his career with VRC in 2010 as a Site Director. Marc holds a Master’s Degree in Philosophy and Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology and Biology.

Marc served active duty United States Army from 1986 through 1993 as an Airborne Medic and Flight Medic, and the United States Army National Guard from 1993 through 2006 as a Platoon Sergeant and Flight Medic. He received numerous awards and decorations during his service including; Air Medal with V Device, Air Medal, multiple Army Commendation Medals, multiple Army Achievement Medals, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal as well as the Combat Medical Badge.

Marc is at least the third generation of his family to serve his country in combat. His son Sgt. Caleb Deal and daughter Spec. Jordan Deal have both served in the United States Army and have both deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Kyle Scott is the Chief Operations Officer for Veterans Resource Centers of America. The Eastern Region consists of 5 service centers covering all of Northern Nevada (Reno & Carson City) and Northern Arizona (Prescott, Flagstaff, and Bullhead City). Kyle has been with VRC since 2012, and holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, as well as a degree in electronics from the Air Force.

Kyle served active duty United States Air Force from 2002-2008 as a Combat Communications Specialist. During this time, he received several awards and decorations including the Commendation Medal, Achievement Medal, Outstanding Unit Award with Valor Device and 3 oak leaf clusters, Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism, and Expert Marksmanship Ribbon.

Kyle was born and raised in Reno, and is the third generation of his family to serve in the military. He is engaged to be married to Danielle Phaneuf.

Jason Henry is a Senior Regional Director Resource Centers of America (VRC) and the Site Director of the Sacramento Veterans Resource Center. Jason began his career at VRC in 2011 as an Employment Training Specialist and quickly worked his way up the ranks from Coordinator, Transitional Housing Services to his current position as Regional Director, charged with oversight of eight Veterans Resource Centers across Northern California.

Jason served in the United State Navy from 1993 to 1997 as a Damage Controlman and received numerous Decorations, Medals and Ribbons during his service including; National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, Coast Guard Unit Commendation Ribbon, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Armed Forces Service Medal, NATO Medal and a Good Conduct Medal. In addition, he holds Bachelor’s Degrees in both Business Administration and Economics.

Jason lives in Amador, and when not working enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his Dogo Argentino puppy.

Tom Isakson is Regional Director for VRC in Arizona.  He leads the Flagstaff office and supervises staff stationed in Bullhead City, Prescott and the Navajo Nation.

Tom hold a BA in Math Education and a Master’s in Ministry.  He started volunteering with homeless persons 1980 and made this work his full-time career since 1992.  Prior to VRC, he served as Case Manager, Programs Director and Executive Director for family shelters, men’s shelters and emergency assistance programs in Nevada, Indiana and Arizona.  He is the proud dad of a middle-school son and daughter.

Staci Jones is the Regional Site Director of the North Coast Region for the Veterans Resource Centers of America (VRC). Staci operates three service centers in the California North Coast Region (Santa Rosa, Vallejo, and Eureka). Passionate about serving the underserved, Staci and her staff provide essential services that help veterans achieve housing stability, increase their skill levels, income, and obtain greater self-determination. One of Staci’s favorite things to do with clients is to have annual BBQ’s with the residential programs and connect through mutual humor.

In 2014, Staci began her career with VRC as a Mental Health Clinician for the North Bay Veterans Resource Center. She promoted to Lead Case Manager in April of 2015, and then Site Director in March 2016.  Through her proven dedication and performance, Staci became Regional Site Director of the North Coast Region in September of 2016.

Staci holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a focus in Military and Mental Health from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Sacramento State University. Staci also holds an associate clinical social worker license and is working towards obtaining her LCSW.

Ingrid Trejo, MPH is the Regional Site Director of the Central Coast for the Veterans Resource Centers of America (VRCOA). VRCOA is a community based non-profit organization providing housing, rehabilitation, case management, employment & training, and advocacy services to veterans from all eras. VRCOA operates three service centers in the Central California Coastal Region (Menlo Park, Santa Cruz, and Monterey). Passionate about serving the underserved, Ingrid and her staff provide essential services that help veterans achieve housing stability, increase their skill levels, income, and obtain greater self-determination.

In 2014, Ingrid began her career with VRCOA as a Site Director for the Santa Cruz Veterans Resource Center. Her past experience includes serving as a Chief Operations Officer and a Director of Volunteer Services for non-profit healthcare centers in Central and Southern California. Ingrid is no stranger to non-profit management, having spent 10 years in various roles; she has built and guided programs, directed fundraising events, engaged in effective advocacy and has consistently created strong community partnerships.

Ingrid holds an Executive Master’s Degree in Public Health with a focus in Health Policy and Management from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Services Administration from Florida International University. Ingrid has also been certified as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and holds a graduate certificate in Global and Immigrant Health.

David Perez is Regional Director for VRC in Nevada. He leads the Reno staff and supervises the Carson City VRC and Reno BHC. He began working at the Northern Nevada Veterans Resource Center in February 2014 as a case manager and was soon promoted to Site Director Carson City VRC.

David enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1993. In 2014, he retired after more than 20 years of honorable service and achieved the rank of Master Sergeant. During his time on active duty, he served in the First Marine Division as a scout sniper, and ended his career at Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) where he served as a Team Chief at 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, and as the operations planner at the Marine Special Operations School. He is a combat veteran and participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom Caribbean and Central America. Some of his personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, with Combat “V” device for valor, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Meritorious Unit Citation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the Korea Defense Service Medal.

After his retirement from the Marine Corps he relocated to Reno, Nevada to complete his education in Social Work with a minor in Addiction Treatment Services at the University of Nevada Reno.