Heather Kimmel
Board Chair

Smoki Francisco
Vice Board Chair

Larry Dano
Board Secretary


Lee'o Whisenant
Board Treasurer

Deborah Johnson
Board Member

Smoki Francisco

Education University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Master of Science, Nursing; Family Nurse Practitioner, with specialization in Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 1996
Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
Bachelor of Science, Nursing: June 1973

Certification ANCC Certified Specialist, Family Nurse Practitioner
California Board of Registered Nursing, Legal Nurse Expert
License California R.N. and F.N.P. License 234281 / 8423

Academic California State University, Bakersfield School of Nursing Clinical Preceptor

Professional Catholic Healthcare West, Bakersfield, CAExperience Director, Employee Health and Workers' Compensation 2002 to Present
Regional Manager, Employee Health Services 1999 to 2001

Department of Veteran Affairs, VISN 22, Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
Administrator, Bakersfield Community Based Outpatient Clinic 2001 to 2002

Mercy Healthcare Bakersfield
Supervisor, Employee Health Services 1992 to 1999
Nurse Practitioner, Urgent Care 1996 to 2001
Human Resources Advisor, Nurse Recruiter 1990 to 1992

Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield, CA
Employee Health Nurse, and Facility Safety Officer 1989 to 1990

San Joaquin Community Hospital, Bakersfield, CA
Director, Surgical Services 1982 to 1989
Staff Nurse, Surgical Services 1981 to 1982
Associate Director, Nursing Services 1979 to 1981
Nurse Clinician, Oncology Service 1978 to 1979

California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, CA
Department of Psychological and Social Medicine
Clinical and Administrative Supervisor, Nursing Service 1976 to 1978
Charge Nurse, Acute Psychiatric Service 1975 to 1976

Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA
Charge Nurse, Acute Psychiatric Service 1974 to 1975
Charge Nurse, Oncology/Hematology Service 1973 to 1974

Academic 1994 CSUB School of Nursing Research Award
Scholarships 1995 Sara Jenks Educational Scholarship Award, Occupational Health Nursing
1995 & 1996 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Grant


  • American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
  • California State University School of Nursing Advisory Board, Graduate Division
  • California Central Valley Occupational Health Nurses Association
  • Kern County Nurse Practitioner/ Physician Assistant Association
  • Kern County Homeless Task Force, Clinica Sierra Vista Homeless Shelter


Heather Kimmel

Heather Kimmel is a Bakersfield native, who graduated from North High School, and then attended Bakersfield College. She spent 6 years as the Site Supervisor of an afterschool program for North of the River (NOR) Parks and Recreation Department. After that program lost funding she started her career with homeless veterans. Heather joined CVAF in 2009 as the Operation Assistant, was promoted to the Operations Director in February of 2010 and Executive Director in April of 2010. In 2016 Heather left employment with CVAF to become the Assistant Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the County of Kern. 

It has become Heathers professional goal to offer assistance to every veteran she meets. "Even though I am not a veteran myself, I have many family members who served, allowing me to understand and uphold the motto, Veterans Helping Veterans."

Professional Affiliations:

  • Founding Member, Kern County Veterans Collaborative
  • Co-Chair, Kern County Veterans Stand Down
  • Proxy, Kern County Network for Children
  • Co-Chair, Kern County Homeless Collaborative; Housing Committee
  • Member, California Apartment Association


Deborah Johnson

Deborah Johnson is the President/CEO of the California Veterans Assistance Foundation. She is an honorably discharged Wisconsin Army National Guard veteran with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

Deborah enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 1985 as a senior in high school and reached the rank of Sergeant (E-5).  She was with the 107th Maintenance Company and served 9 years and 9 months.  She served during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm from Aug 1990 to Aug 1991 where she received the Army Commendation Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal and the Liberation of Kuwait Medal. In addition, she was Troop Command Soldier of the Year for 1987 and received the Wisconsin Guard and Reserve Military Achievement Award.

Deborah started her career with homeless veterans in 1996, as an Office Manager working at the Veterans Assistance Center at Fort McCoy, WI for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.  In the fall of 1996, the Veterans Assistance Foundation (VAF) took over operations of the homeless programs and she was promoted to Executive Director in 1999 where she stayed until January 2009.

In January 2009, Deborah transferred to the California Veterans Assistance Foundation in Bakersfield and was named President/CEO in December of that year.

Professional Affiliations:

  • VFW District 6 Commander (16-17)
  • Homeless Veteran Committee Chairman, VFW, Dept of California (3rd appt.)
  • Education and Training Committee, VFW, Dept of California (15-17)
  • State Surgeon, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Department of California (14-16)
  • Past All-State Post Commander, VFW Post 1468, Bakersfield
  • 2016 Humanitarian of the Year – Community Action Partnership of Kern
  • 2015 Igniting Hope Award – Stewards Inc.
  • By-laws and Manual of Procedure Committee, VFW National Convention (2015)
  • National Aide-de-Camp, Veterans of Foreign Wars (2012, 2013, 2015)
  • Chairman, Women Veterans Advisory Committee
  • Member At Large, Kern County Homeless Collaborative (Veteran Representative)
  • Member At Large, Past Chairman, Kern County Veterans Collaborative
  • Board Member, Kern County Network for Children
  • Board Member, California Association of Veteran Service Agencies (CAVSA)
  • Co-chair, Kern County Veterans Stand Down
  • Board Member, VFW Foundation
  • Board Member, VETFUND Foundation
  • Member, California Women Veterans Leadership Committee
  • Member, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV)