Veronica L., MPA
Veronica Lewis was born and raised in South Los Angeles California and has spent the greater part of her life working to educate, empower and provide resources to underserved youth and families. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Business Law Concentration and received her Master of Public of Administration degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Veronica joined Special Service for Groups in 2004 and is currently Director of the Homeless Outreach Program/Integrated Care System Division (SSG/HOPICS) where she oversees more than 50 million dollars in annual funding for 30 different programs from 13 funders for mental health, substance use disorder treatment, reentry support, homeless and housing services, and trauma-focused services; and a multidisciplinary team of 275 employees. Veronica is a recognized leader in LA County in the homeless services and reentry sectors.
Under her leadership as Division Director since 2011, HOPICS’ annual budget has increased by 1000 percent and the staff pool has more than quadrupled. Veronica has worked tirelessly to improve and coordinate homeless services in LA County’s Service Planning Area Six (SPA6) and is co-founder and Founding Chair of the SPA 6 Homeless Coalition. She has played an intricate role in the development of the emerging new LA Continuum homeless systems of care as the lead for SPA6’s Coordinated Entry System for homeless individuals and through her involvement with the region’s Family Solution Center. She has worked diligently to secure housing resources and build the capacity of smaller agencies in South LA and the Cities of Compton and Lynwood. Veronica has also represented the interest of SPA6 and the LA Continuum of Care (CoC) as a whole as the primary representative on the CoC Coordinating Council, an advisory committee to the LAHSA Commission; and she previously served as Chair of the Coordinating Council for two years. Veronica regularly participates in advocacy efforts to increase housing resources; and is often invited to provide expertise and input related to County/City policy development, systems expansion, and program design. Veronica recently became a Commissioner- appointed by LA County Board of Supervisor Janice Hahn to the Los Angeles County Public Social Services Commission.
Veronica led and developed the one-of-a kind SPA 6 Family Crisis Housing Network that formed in response to the changing system of care for homeless families in LA County. The Network consists of a blend of homeless and housing providers that provide short to medium term crisis and bridge housing for families working toward permanent housing through the local Family Solutions Center. Under her leadership, HOPICS has permanently housed more than 2000 homeless families within the last six years.
Veronica is a part of the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership (LARRP) Steering Committee and serves as Chair of the Housing Committee. In 2007 she implemented and headed up the Re-Entry Employment Options Project- an intergovernmental demonstration project for inmates and parolees- a partnership with the City of Los Angeles and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. This project served as the model for California’s formal reentry program- New Start. She developed the concept of the AB109 Care Coordinator for the HOPICS operated SPA 6 Community Assessment and Services Center (CASC) - which is the entry point into LA County funded substance use disorder services. The Care Coordinator position was later adopted by LA County and funded in all of the other CASCs. This function increases the number of AB109 clients referred to treatment that actually show-up to and complete treatment. She also developed and founded the READY event for the reentry population in response to the State- LA County region of the Department of Corrections eliminating the Parole and Community Team (PACT) meetings. These fairs allowed individuals with felonies to connect to valuable resources onsite. R.E.A.D.Y. has been carried on and is now led and operated by another organization. Veronica has also participated in the LA County Probation Department’s Community Advisory Committee.
Prior to her current role Veronica served as the Associate Director for the SSG’s Faith in Communities (FIC) Capacity Building and Technical Training Program that helped strengthen community and faith based organizations in Los Angeles. FIC provided capacity building support to more than 250 organizations through: culturally relevant community based trainings for grant writing, strategic development, budget development and maintenance, program evaluation and outcomes; conducting organizational assessments and work plans for agency growth; and providing hands on technical assistance. Veronica has been the coordinator, and is now the Director, of the Los Angeles Al-Impics- a 4,000 participant annual Olympic style event funded by LA County Department of Public Health for the substance use recovery community that was founded in 1973.
Jessica Brown-Mason, MBA
Associate Director of Housing Programs
Jessica Brown-Mason joins the HOPICS leadership team as an Associate Director- Housing Programs. Her entire career has been dedicated to serving disenfranchised individuals and families to secure permanent, affordable housing with wrap around services. Housing placement is of utmost importance, but emphasis on supportive services and community linkages are equally important to the sustainability of the housing.
Jessica Brown-Mason moved to Los Angeles from Louisiana in the late 80’s. A single mother working to provide for herself and one minor child. Life was difficult, however she found herself working within the Human Services industry, which was beneficial in her personal journey. Travelers Aid Society of LA located in the heart of Skid Row was her first opportunity to service in Human Services. A young mother, she faced many of the challenges the clients she has served over the years face.
Jessica quickly recognized that hard work would only take her so far, the glass ceiling was upon her. Jessica decided to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree from Woodbury University in Business Administration. She continued working with disenfranchised Homeless Youth in the Hollywood; two years after obtaining her BA, she returned to Woodbury University to obtain her MBA, with emphasis in Management.
There was another opportunity in her career which allowed her to transition from business administration into direct services. Beyond Shelter gave her this opportunity to direct a team of dedicated professional to assist in rapidly rehousing homeless women and children. She continued to serve families, as well as assisted in the promotion of the Housing First Model around the country. Today this model is recognized as a Best Practice around America and is also recognized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Interagency Council on Homelessness. She is proud of the contribution she has made in promoting this model to achieve this national goal.
Jessica has a passion for those she serves. She brings a wealth of experience, demonstrated leadership, building program infrastructure, team development and non-profit organizational management.
Chauntee’ S. Coleman, DSW
Associate Director of Department of Health Services Programs
Dr. Coleman joined the HOPICS leadership team as an Associate Director in 2017. She manages Single Adult Housing programs dedicated to improving the quality of life for homeless and justice- involved individuals. Dr. Coleman earned a Doctorate Degree from the University of Southern California. Her research focused on transforming the emancipation process and creating better outcomes for transition-aged youth exiting child welfare systems. Dr. Coleman also holds a Master of Social Work degree from USC and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from CSU Dominguez Hills.
Dr. Coleman’s quest for social equality and prevention/intervention resources began as a research assistant collecting data for education, health, and housing studies that informed policy federal legislation. Her passion to provide direct services and help others be their “best-self” was highlighted in her work as a Program Manager at the County of Los Angeles where she cultivated community partnerships, developed social programming, and planned community events to benefit youth, adults, and seniors residing in public housing.
Her commitment to volunteerism led the path to working with homeless veterans and families as a Social Worker at the Veterans Administration ensuring their ability to maintain housing stability while managing mental, physical, and behavioral health challenges. As a Senior Social Worker, Dr. Coleman oversaw community-based VA contracting and was part of the founding community design team in service planning area (SPA) 6 that spearheaded the collaborative effort with community partners and local government entities to pilot and formally implement the homeless Coordinated Entry System for the region.
Prior to Dr. Coleman joining HOPICS, she served as the Director of Housing Services for a non-profit mental health agency. During her tenure, she created a housing department that garnered success in securing and maintaining permanent housing to end homelessness for adults and youth through integrated care and service teams.
As an independent consultant Dr. Coleman has worked in higher education as a Recruiter for Springfield College, and a Field Instructor for the USC School of Social Work. She has also provided technical training and assistance in Crisis Intervention, Medical Social Work, Grant Writing and Program Development.
Dr. Coleman is a strong-operations professional and an experienced leader with a demonstrated history of success working in non-profit organization management and government.
Associate Director of Data and Quality Assurance
Cristina attended San Diego State University and is a proud Aztec. While at SDSU she majored in International Security and Conflict Resolution with an emphasis on Mediation, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in hopes of a career in National Security however while she interned at the San Diego Mediation Center she decided she wanted to pursue a career working with families and individuals. Cristina returned to Los Angeles and worked as the Associate Director for Hearings at a Social Security Disability law firm. Four years later, Cristina found herself at HOPICS and has worked at SSG-HOPICS for eight years. During her time here Cristina has overseen several rapid rehousing programs for families and singles, employment services, data integration, and quality assurance. Cristina states that she finally found her passion and her calling at SSG-HOPICS. She is proud of the work she and her colleagues have accomplished together to serve the community. Cristina’s colleagues refer to her as the person that saves lives, as she has saved the lives of multiple individuals and families by assisting them in their individualized needs.
Associate Director of Interim Housing
Victor James is the Associate Director of Interim Housing. He has worked in Homeless Services for over 17 years. Victor is extremely passionate about seeing individuals progress in their lives, and his current positions as Associate Director of Interim Housing for HOPICS allows him to do just that.
Jovon English, MBA
Associate Director of Division Operations
Jovon joined HOPICS as Senior Manager for Division Operations in September 2012, bringing over 10 years of extensive finance, operations and management experience to her position. Jovon holds a M.A. in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Southern California. Before coming to HOPICS, Jovon spent over 10 years in banking honing skills that will sure enhance her primary focus; increasing fundraising and meeting strategic goals and financial targets.
Marion Sanders, MPA, MSW
Associate Director of Homeless Systems Integration
Marion Sanders is a uniquely qualified social service expert with a drive to transform the lives of underserved youth, individuals, families and communities. Her childhood experiences have made her a fierce advocate with an empathetic understanding of the complex barriers that people face within their environment.
Marion has more than 10 years of experience working in the field of social services. She began her tenure with Special Service for Groups in May of 2007 in the Occupation Therapy Training Program (OTTP) division as a case manager working with transitioned aged youth. Subsequently, in May of 2011, she transitioned to the Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (HOPICS) division and developed her love of working with individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Marion has served in various leadership roles at HOPICS. One of which, afforded her the opportunity to be a part of the regional collaborative that designed the single adult continuum of care known as SPA 6 Coordinated Entry System. In 2017, she was appointed as the Regional Homeless Advisory Council (RHAC) representative for SPA 6 tasked with providing strategic leadership to all homeless stakeholders with an emphasis on systems alignment, resources sharing, and accountability to people experiencing homelessness. Additionally, she served as the SPA 6 representative on the Measure H Revenue Planning committee charged with determining funding recommendations for the Homeless Initiatives for consideration by the LA County Board of Supervisors.
In her role as Associate Director for Homeless Systems Integration, she will be responsible for leading the charge to strategically integrate the three homeless systems of care (Youth, Individuals, and Families) and others that impact people experiencing homelessness, with a specific emphasis on regional coordination, outreach, and education.
Marion received her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from California State University, Long Beach and a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in mental health from the University of Southern California. Marion attributes her success to approaching her work from a learning prospective, remaining connected to the people she is serving, and a “whatever it takes- for how long it takes” attitude.
John Helyar, LMFT
Senior Manager of Street Based Outreach & Engagement
John Helyar is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He has been serving the homeless since 2008 throughout Los Angeles, as a therapist, drug counselor and program manager. Previously, he has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for the LA County Dependency Court, was a professor at Woodbury University in Burbank for ten years, and is an internationally exhibited artist. He is married and has three children, and enjoys his friends, reading and photography.