Board of Directors

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:

  • Co-Chair, Kern County Veterans Stand Down
  • Proxy, Kern County Network for Children
  • Chair, Kern County Homeless Collaborative; Housing Committee
  • Lead, Built for Zero Movement
  • Member, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials
  • Member, California Association of Housing Authorities
  • Member, California Apartment Association

Smoki Francisco

Smoki Francisco is a Registered Nurse, graduating with her Baccalaureate degree from Loma Linda University in 1973. In 1996 she became a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner receiving her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of California at Los Angeles. Additionally, she became certified as a Nursing educator through work at Fresno State University.

Her specialty includes family, occupational health and environmental practice.

In 2000 she became the administrator for the Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Bakersfield. She became involved with her serve to Veterans then, and it was that year she became involved with the annual Homeless Veteran’s Stand Down for Kern County. Smoki was responsible for the medical services coordination at the Stand Down for the next 12 years.

In 2006, she was the recipient of a Congressional request to work toward the procurement of land and establishment of the Bakersfield National Cemetery. When the land offered by El Tejon Ranch was accepted, she met with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration team, over the next two years, both in Kern County and Washington D.C., convinces with could be “Arlington West”.

Smoki joined the Veterans Assistance Foundation board, based in Wisconsin in 2004. She remained with the board, when in 2009, the California Veterans Assistance Foundation was created.

While on the board, Smoki has had a particular interest in expanding services to homeless or at risk female veterans and identifying unmet special needs of females and their families. Additionally she has encouraged the foundation to recognize the physical housing needs of the growing, aging homeless veteran population.

Lee’o Whisenant

Lee’o Whisenant has been working in the Oil / Gas and Construction Industry as either a Supervisor or Safety Consultant for the two decades. He is a decorated US Army Combat Veteran having served four years in the 1st Armored Division. He holds a Bachelor of Business Management from the University of Phoenix as well as a Masters in Occupational Health and Safety Management from Columbia Southern University. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals has certified him as a Construction Health and Safety Technician CHST, an Occupational Health and Safety Technologist OHST and a Certified Safety Professional CSP. Lee’o is a former homeless veteran who now serves as the CVAF Secretary and Treasurer.

Marcia Sutton

Marcia Sutton is a human resources professional with over 30 years experience, all in California working in various industries.  Currently, Marcia has been at Barrett Business Services, Inc. in Bakersfield as of January 2014 supporting small businesses throughout Kern and Tulare Counties, specializing in compliance, employee development and training.  Marcia’s Dad was a WWII Veteran of the Navy and her Mom worked Civil Service for 25 years for the Air Force and Seabees starting during WWII.

Natalee Garrett

Natalee Garrett has over 10 years of experience in Physicians Practice Management, most recently in her role as Senior Director of Outpatient Integration and Whole Person Care. She has acquired expertise in developing business strategies, streamlining operational efficiencies and maximizing ancillary office services for Private Enterprises, and Hospital-based outpatient clinics in addition to the development of waiver and pilot programs in Kern County.

Natalee received her Master of Science degree in Leadership Management with concentrations in Human Resources and International Business from University of Laverne.

As a Practice Management Consultant, Natalee has worked with numerous medical specialties including; Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, General Surgery, OB/GYN and has provided start-up consulting for Medi-Spas in California, Las Vegas and Utah. Natalee is presently the Senior Director of Outpatient Integration and Whole Person Care for the Kern County Hospital Authority (Also known as Kern Medical), a 222-bed Tertiary Care and Academic Teaching facility.

Operationally, Natalee has been pivotal in successfully launching Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) in Kern County. Through her work in Whole person Care and in collaboration with various County Departments such as Sherriff, County Administrative Office, Department of Human Services, Behavioral Health and the Hospital Authority, Natalee developed Kern’s MAT Re-Entry Program.

Natalee is a mother to an adorable daughter and adores her husband of 13 years, she enjoys traveling, cooking, fishing and crime novels.

Brett Moseley

Brett Moseley is a young business professional with over 15 years’ of experience in the field of Occupational Safety and Operational Management. At the age of 18, Brett Moseley began working for his father’s business, American Safety Services, where he “learned the ropes” of the safety business. Brett also went to Taft College in pursuit of a degree in Occupational Health and Safety. After working for American Safety for several years, he went on to be the Area Safety Manager for a Fortune 500 construction company for 2 years then was given an opportunity to hold the position of Director of Health, Safety and Environmental for the world’s largest Almond, Pistachio and Pomegranate grower, Wonderful Orchards where he spent another 2 years. Once Brett gained the experience he set out to acquire, he began working for American Safety as their Vice President and simultaneously opened up another business in Midland, TX by the name of Signal Safety Services. Over the years, Brett has presented at many different training and information sessions for his own employees, customers and outside organizations. Brett also offers his time to outside organizations such as the; CVAF, ASSP, AADE, and AESC. Aside from all of the professional information given, Brett is a Husband and a father. Most of all, he enjoys spending time with his family outdoors Fishing, Hunting, Camping and Skiing.

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 and reached the rank of Sergeant (E-5).  She was with the 107th Maintenance Company and served 9 years and 9 months.  While serving in the Wisconsin National Guard, 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 the spring of 1996 in the state of Wisconsin and 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:

  • Chair, Bakersfield Kern County Regional Homeless Collaborative
  • 2017 CalVet Trailblazer of the Year Award
  • 2016 Humanitarian of the Year – Community Action Partnership of Kern
  • 2015 Igniting Hope Award – Stewards Inc.
  • Board Member, Kern County Network for Children
  • Board Member, California Association of Veteran Service Agencies (CAVSA)
  • Co-chair, Kern County Veterans Stand Down
  • Legacy Life Member, Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Member, California Women Veterans Leadership Committee
  • Member, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV)