EXECUTIVE leadership

Kyle Kennedy

Chief Executive Officer

Kyle Kennedy, joined the Urban Corps as Chief Financial Officer in 2013, taking on the added roles of Director of Operations in 2016, Chief Operating Officer in 2018 and then Chief Executive Officer in 2019. He is responsible for the management of the day-to-day business operations essential to the organization, including overseeing a $14 million annual operating budget and a multitude of environmental, conservation, and construction projects which offer a vast array of services to the San Diego region while providing job training and education to over 400 at-risk youth per year.

Kennedy is a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) with nearly 20 years of experience developing and implementing financial systems, strategies, processes and controls that have helped companies and non-profits succeed in their mission. He has managed the accounting departments of multiple clients ranging from manufacturers to non-profits. Kennedy is a proven leader with a record of success in communications and in building strong unified teams. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from San Diego State University. His volunteer activities include financial counseling for the Rock Church, Mountain Bike Ministry leader, Do Something Events leader, and Foster Youth mentor.

Kyle is a marathon and ironman triathlon competitor and car enthusiast. He is married with two children.

Dr. Marie Brown-Mercadel

Chief Operating Officer

Dr. Marie Brown-Mercadel has served as a human services professional for 36 years.  Her experience includes working at the executive level in North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, and California serving individuals with substance abuse disorders, developmental disabilities, behavioral health issues, abused and neglected children, and older adults.  At the state and local level Dr. Mercadel has been a staunch advocate for vulnerable children and families and has strived to ensure that disenfranchised communities are treated fairly. 

 

Dr. Mercadel began her career in California with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency in 2000 serving as the executive assistant to the Director of Aging with responsibility for business planning, monitoring operational outcomes, program design, and the implementation of the strengths-based management paradigm. She was later appointed to the position of Regional General Manager/Director with the responsibility for providing day to day oversight for regional programs related to eligibility operations, child welfare, public health nursing, and community health promotions.  Most recently she served as the Assistant Director for the Department of Public Social Services in Riverside County.

 

Dr. Mercadel is married with three daughters and two grandchildren. She enjoys running, CrossFit, cooking, and shopping for shoes.  She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from North Carolina Central University, and a Master’s and Doctorate in organizational leadership from the University of Phoenix.

Dan Thomas

Executive Director, Urban Corps Charter School

         

Dan began his career in teaching and educational leadership more than 30 years ago after obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a Master’s Degree in Science and Technology from Mississippi State University. Dan joined Urban Corps of San Diego County as a teacher in 2001. His classroom experience includes a variety of subjects and instructional methods geared to meet the diverse learning needs of students of different ethnic, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds ranging from pre-teens to young adults.  As Urban Corps’ onsite charter school grew in student population, Dan transitioned into educational leadership. He obtained his Administrative Services Credential in 2010. In 2011 he helped transition the school into a stand-alone non-profit under its current charter through the Mono County Office of Education, simultaneously obtaining Public Charter School Grant Program funding.  Under his leadership Urban Corps Charter School obtained e-Rate funding eligibility in 2011, became WASC Accredited in 2012, began the National School Lunch Program in 2013, and added campuses in National City and Vista serving the youth of the California Conservation Corps in 2014. In this time the school also adopted an intensive wrap-around student support services department known as Corps-to-Career, which aids students in career planning, job placement, and life skills, through counseling, case management accessing additional resources from a plethora of community partnerships. When Dan started at Urban Corps in 2001, he was the single teacher serving 70 total students and teaching a class of 10-15 each day per week. Today Urban Corps Charter School attendance has grown by 250% and the school now boasts 15 credentialed teachers (including administrators), 17 classified and support staff, and five permanent volunteer aides, serving a student body of between 250-300 Corpsmembers attending school two days per week.

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board of directors

Tracey Williams

President

 

Tracey Williams has over 15 years of accounting and finance experience.  Until recently, Tracey has been the Principal Tax Analyst for Sempra Energy.  Prior to joining Sempra Energy she was the Chief Operating Officer of a local fitness chain in San Diego.  Tracey received her Bachelors in Accounting from San Diego State University and is currently pursuing her CPA license.  Tracey’s other affiliations include:  LEAD San Diego Graduating class of 2009, actively participating in the Big Brother Big Sister program, Sempra recruiting, and Junior Achievement.

Bob Benson

1st Vice President

Mr. Benson serves as 1st Vice President on the Urban Corps of San Diego Board of Directors, the LEAD San Diego Alumni Council, and has been a member of other boards such as the Community Resource Center and the Carlsbad Library Board of Trustees. He is a graduate of the City of Carlsbad Citizens’ Academy and the LEAD San Diego Program where he was awarded the LEAD San Diego Herbert G. Klein Visionary Award for making significant leadership contributions to the San Diego community. He served in Bolivia as a Peace Corps Volunteer and as a member of the Butler University Board of Directors. Mr. Benson was also selected as a “Power to Be” in the December 2008 issue of San Diego Magazine.

​Mr. Benson earned Bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Political Science from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. He also holds a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of California, San Diego and a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University.

Kevin Schlegel

2nd Vice President

Program Manager

Viasat, Inc.

 

Recently retired Executive Officer Lieutenant Colonel Kevin A. Schlegel, USMC, is Program Manager for Viasat, Inc. a global communications company with 26 offices world-wide. He resides in San Diego with his wife and three children.

 

In his more than 20 year career with the Marines, Lieutenant Colonel Schlegel served primarily as a Naval Aviator with multiple overseas and stateside assignments and as an Aviation Acquisition Management Professional. He was assigned to the Pentagon as the Chief of Staff for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation. He also attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA and led the USMC Regional Contracting Office Far East in Okinawa, Japan where his office handled procurements for the entire western Pacific region. Additionally, he has served as a Program Manager on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with a focus on jet engine production as well as a professor of DoD Systems Acquisitions Management at the Defense Acquisitions University in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Lieutenant Colonel Schlegel has degrees from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics & Letters and a Masters of Business Administration "with distinction" from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. He is a graduate of the Naval Aviation Safety School, Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, and the Program Manager's Course.

 Lieutenant Colonel Schlegel has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours in the KC-130 "Hercules" and his decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Korea Defense Service Medal, and various unit awards and citations.  He is the recipient of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development and Acquisition Award for Acquisition Excellence and the Defense Acquisition University Military Officer of the Year Award.

Jim Madsen

Treasurer

Executive Vice President 

Loan Administration, Guild Mortgage Company

Over 30 years of broad financial services experience. Key strengths include project management and implementation of government compliance regulation, management of loan servicing operations, financial planning & analysis, management reporting, due diligence reviews and valuation analyses and employee development. Maintain ability to work rapidly and effectively in a dynamic environment. Possess strong work ethic and attention to detail, combined with technical and people (team building) skills and an ability to balance compliance with business unit goals.

Camille L. Gustafson

Secretary

Associate

Paul, Plevin, Sullivan, & Connaughton LLP, Attorneys At Law

Camille Gustafson represents private and public employers in all aspects of labor and employment litigation, including suits for wrongful termination, harassment, defamation, discrimination, wage and hour matters, and Workers’ Compensation discrimination.

 

Camille also counsels employers on day-to-day employment matters and advises employers regarding new legal developments in the workplace. Prior to joining the firm, Camille served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Judith McConnell, California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, and for the Honorable Anthony Battaglia, United States District Court.  She also worked as a law clerk for the Employee Rights Center and the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program.

 

In addition, Camille has nearly 20 years of professional experience in marketing, communication, and development.  She has extensive experience with non-profit organizations and the hospitality industry.

Ingrid Nielsen

Board Member

 

Ingrid Nielsen was born and raised in San Diego and is an active community member with a long history of support for the Urban Corps. She served as Secretary on the Board of Directors for Nielsen Construction, and served for seven years on the board of San Diego Youth and Community Services. Ingrid holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Economics and Sociology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Ingrid succeeds her mother, the late Charlotte Nielsen who served on the Urban Corps board from 2003-2011. Ingrid also serves on the Urban Corps Charter School Board of Education.

Leon Brooks

Board Member
Principal, Leon Brooks & Associates


Leon Brooks is the Principal of Leon Brooks & Associates, Designers - Planners.  He has been on the Board of Directors of the Urban Corps since 1995. Leon also serves on the County of San Diego’s Planning Commission, and is a member of the San Diego Unified School District's Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee (ICOC) for Proposition MM School Bond.

Matt Manning

Board Member

Finance Automation Controller, Intel Corporation  

As Finance Automation Controller at Intel Corporation, Matt Manning is responsible for the identification, planning and implementation of all Robotic Process Automation, Cognitive Learning and Artificial Intelligence projects for the Finance and Accounting organizations across the globe.  Matt has a demonstrated history of leadership and accolades within the technology industry specifically in the areas of wireless communication, education, and robotic automation.  Prior to joining Intel Corporation in Portland, Oregon, Matt spent 12 years at Qualcomm overseeing the financial reporting for multiple start-up companies under the Qualcomm umbrella.  Matt served as project lead for the launch of a Qualcomm Global Shared Services Center in India as well as drove the roll out of Robotic Process Automation across Qualcomm Finance. 

 

As Intel Corporation and Qualcomm have global operations, Matt has been fortunate to have visited many of these locations over the last 12 years.  His past responsibilities have also allowed him to live in Hyderabad, India and Taipei, Taiwan to support his business projects.   

 

Matt earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from New Mexico State University. He lives in Portland with his husband, Joe.

Mark Lewkowitz

Board Member

Senior Vice President, Colliers International

Mark Lewkowitz is a 10+ year veteran in the commercial real estate business in San Diego and has been a part of the significant growth in the San Diego market over that period of time. Mark specializes in providing successful business solutions for industrial owners and investors, specializing in warehouse, manufacturing, and distribution facilities. His years of experience in dealing with strategic planning, financial analysis, and 1031 exchanges have resulted in a very loyal client list.

 

Mark is known for his hard work, dedication and always exceeding his client’s expectations. He keeps abreast and current of the ever-changing industrial and office markets. He has been responsible for negotiating a wide range of transactions, including leases, subleases, purchases and sales.

 

Mark is an active member of NAIOP Developing Leaders and the Smart Growth Coalition. His civic affiliations include the National City Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County.

 

Mark earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from University of California, San Diego. While he attended UCSD he was a member of the Men’s Basketball Team.

Richard Barrera

Board Member Ex-Officio
Secretary-Treasurer/CEO
San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council

 

Richard Barrera has spent more than 20 years as a community and labor organizer, helping working families build power to win economic, political and social justice. As a community organizer with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Consensus Organizing Institute, Richard worked with residents of neighborhoods from San Diego to Chicago to Little Rock and Las Vegas to build affordable housing, improve schools and public transportation, establish job training programs and increase voter participation. As a union organizer with the United Domestic Workers of America, SEIU United Healthcare Workers, and the California Nurses Association, Richard helped home care providers and service workers in hospitals win new organizing drives; negotiate higher standards in wages, benefits and patient care protections; and build political power.

 

In 2008, Richard was elected to the San Diego Unified School Board, representing the communities surrounding San Diego and Hoover High Schools. During a period in which public schools in San Diego faced historic budget cuts from the State of California, Richard helped build coalitions of parents, students, teachers, classified workers, administrators and community leaders to protect the outstanding work going on in neighborhood schools. This process of community-based reform - distinct from top-down corporate reform - has produced unprecedented gains in student achievement, narrowing of the achievement gap, and reduced dropout rates in San Diego's public schools. San Diego Unified is now recognized as one of the top performing large, urban districts in the nation, and has received prestigious awards for its groundbreaking work in science instruction, arts and music education, career technical education, and classroom technology. Under Richard's leadership, San Diego Unified has also passed two bond measures totaling nearly $5 billion in taxpayer investment. Richard was re-elected to the School Board in 2012 with 100% of the vote.

Dick Freeman

Board Member Ex-Officio
President and Chief Operating Officer, San Diego Padres, Retired

 

Dick Freeman joined the Padres as Chief Financial Officer on January 1, 1981. Prior to joining the Padres, Dick served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, as a CPA with the firm Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co. (Today’s KPMG) and Controller and Treasurer of Central Federal S&L of San Diego.

 

Dick became President of the Padres in September 1988 and served as President until 1995. He became Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1996 serving in this capacity until 2002 when he returned to the Padres as President and Chief Operating Officer.

 

Dick currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Salk Institute and the National Board of the March of Dimes Foundation, the San Diego Economic Development Corp. and the San Diego International Sports Council. He and his wife Judi have one daughter, Heather. She and her husband Rob are attorneys living in Boston. The Freeman’s live in La Jolla, CA.

Gino Mazzanti

Board Member Ex-Officio
Attorney-at-law

 

Gino Mazzanti is an attorney who earned his law degree from California Western School of
Law in 1976. He has been in private practice with the Law Offices of Gino V. Mazzanti
in San Diego since 1977. His practice concentrates in the field of business law where he
is engaged in forming and advising partnerships, corporations (both for profit and not for
profit) and limited liability companies. He also handles business litigation. He is

currently general counsel for the following nonprofit corporations: Interface

Community Services, Inc., OpenOceans Global Inc., and Chapel Of Awareness Spiritual

Church Corporation.

Wil Williams

Board Member Ex-Officio

 

Wil Williams is past Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for Titan Corporation (now L-3 Communications). Wil has served in various public affairs and communications positions in government and industry, ranging from the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs to prominent Fortune 500 companies. He is a retired Air Force officer, pilot, and author.

 

As Former Chairman of the Board of Selectmen for the town of Windham, New Hampshire, Mr. Williams oversaw the acquiring and conserving of land and maintained direct authority over the Conservation Commission, a  Board-appointed and advisory body that oversees day-to-day conservation matters and conducts research into local land and water areas, dealing with habitat, wetland and aquifer protection. He oversaw Site Plan, Subdivision, developmental, and land-use approvals for adherence to local and state requirements and regulations, and to provide buffer zones between and prevent any impact with habitat, wetland and aquifer protections or any land deemed to be conserved.

 

Mr. Williams resides in Carlsbad with his wife, Clare.

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