President & CEO
As Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Akilah Templeton oversees one of the nation’s oldest and “most valuable outreach programs for homeless veterans” according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Akilah is an experienced organizational change expert and leader whose career in mental health, substance abuse, veteran services, and homeless services spans more than 25 years. In addition, Akilah is a master’s Level Addiction Specialist and a recognized expert in the veteran and homeless services spaces. Templeton sits on several boards including the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies (CAVSA) where she uses her platform to contribute to the national conversation around improving the quality of life for our nation’s heroes and ending veteran homelessness.
Veterans Village of San Diego offers a full continuum of care and supportive services designed to assist the veteran with addressing barriers to housing, employment and successful reintegration into the community. VVSD is the only program of its kind in the United States and is nationally recognized as the leader in serving homeless military veterans. Each year VVSD provides services to more than 3,000 military veterans throughout San Diego County.
Prior to joining VVSD, Akilah served as the Executive Director of U.S.VETS-Inglewood. U.S.VETS is the largest non-profit veteran service agency offering transitional housing, permanent housing, counseling, and supportive services to veterans in the country. For her efforts Akilah was awarded Executive Director of the year by the national organization in 2019. During her tenure with U.S.VETS, Akilah expanded programs and services, led the site through a successful rebranding campaign, and doubled site revenues.
A California native, Akilah has been entrusted with the leadership of teams for nearly three decades. Before U.S.VETS, Akilah’s first major executive role was Managing Director for Phoenix House Los Angeles. Akilah enjoyed a lengthy career as a direct service provider in the public and private sector. Akilah has held positions within the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, and the Department of Behavioral Health in Ventura County. Akilah also spent several years working as a Program Director in the private sector where she managed residential care facilities providing services to developmentally disabled adults.
Akilah holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California with a sub-concentration in Military Social Work; a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership from California State University – Northridge; and a Bachelor of Arts – Sociology from California State University-East Bay.
In her personal life, Akilah prefers to be addressed as Akilah Templeton-Lewis. She is happily married to Gregory Lewis. The couple resides in San Diego, CA.
Ms. Neff has been an HR Professional for over 15 years. She has served in the non-profit sector, as well as in the healthcare, banking, and law industries. She is passionate about hiring the right person for the position, giving each employee the tools needed for success, and then watching that employee do what they do best. She also believes employee engagement, recognition, and training are key factors in having an amazing workforce.
Becki holds a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management and Organizational Development from National University. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with her family, walk, knit and crochet.
Cohen Clinic San Diego
Shari oversees all clinical operations at the Cohen Clinic at VVSD. The Southern California city is, at heart, a military town and Shari, a San Diego native, is thrilled to bring her more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and clinical experience to the clinic, with a long history of deep ties to the local community.
Shari has spent many years in nonprofit service in San Diego. For eight years she served on the Board of Directors of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, as well as the Social Action Collaborative. Additionally, she served on the Council to End Homelessness during its inception. She also received commendations from the Mayor of San Diego from 2009 to 2014 for excellence in treatment programs; recognition for innovation from the United Way of San Diego for creating the Recuperative Care Unit for medically fragile homeless and in 2007 she received the San Diego Business Journal’s Woman of the Year award.
A licensed marriage and family therapist, Shari received her Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of San Diego. Prior to her appointment to the Cohen Clinic, she was the Executive Director of Peninsula Shepherd Center and prior to that was the Vice President of Clinical Programs for San Diego Rescue Mission. She enjoys utilizing her skillset and experience to manage effective treatment programs that assist veterans in attaining recovery, self-sufficiency, and healing.
Having grown up with a father who served in the Air Force and in a military city, Shari knows it is an incredible honor to provide care to those who served our country. She also understands the endless stress and sacrifice military families experience and looks forward to providing care for all military family members, including children and spouses.
In her spare time, Shari enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, and 3 dogs, gardening and working out. She also volunteers at the local YMCA by working at gymnastics meets and as a captain of an annual fundraising camping to support underprivileged children.
Lisa Misraje has joined Veterans Village of San Diego as the Director of Development. In this role Lisa is the lead fundraiser, strategist and ambassador to help advance the organization’s mission and goals. Lisa is responsible for identifying, building and stewarding partnerships, cultivating donors and expanding markets. She believes that working together we can end veteran homelessness in San Diego.
Lisa has over 20 years of formulating successful development strategies, and securing principal gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations. Prior to VVSD, Lisa spent years oversees where she founded and cofounded two successful nonprofits whose focus was orphan prevention and rural poverty. Much of her work has focused on deinstitutionalization services to support vulnerable people in non-institutional ways.
Lisa recently completed her RCFE for the elderly with a goal of ending veteran senior homelessness in San Diego. She is a winner of the US Military Certificate of Achievement for Outstanding Support. Lisa is also a best-selling published author and producer.
Lisa earned her Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California – Sol Price School of Public Policy, where she focused her research in nonprofit management. She also received her Bachelor of Arts in Non- Governmental Organizations and Social Change from the University of Southern California.