Resolutions of the Directors of A Safe Haven Foundation

Resolutions of the Directors of A Safe Haven Foundation

ADOPTED: October 5th, 2022

(Concerning Appointment of Neli Vazquez Rowland as Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus)

WHEREAS, Neli Vazquez Rowland (“Neli”) has informed the Board that she is resigning her position as President and Director of the Foundation effective October 5th, 2022; and

WHEREAS, Neli Co-Founded the A Safe Haven Foundation mission and/or acquired related entities (ASH Companies) with her husband, Brian Rowland in 1994. She has been a visionary, advocate and the pioneering architect of one of the most robust, comprehensive, integrated, holistic and effective public and private partnership programs uniquely designed to end homelessness by assessing the needs of the individual and providing and coordinating the multidisciplinary services representing the fields of social services, behavioral healthcare, education, social enterprise, and real estate and housing development, while it is impossible to mention all of the milestones achieved throughout her 28 year history with the organization, below is a summary of some of her most game-changing accomplishments;

WHEREAS, Neli is the proud daughter of parents, Carlos and Lucila Vazquez who emigrated from Mexico in the 1960’s. She hails from Chicago’s Little Village community, a Latino enclave commonly considered one of Chicago’s most impoverished immigrant communities. She was the first in her family to graduate from College. Although she was fortunate to come, from a stable family structure as one of seven children, she grew up in an environment surrounded by drugs, gangs, high pregnancy rates among teens and an over 65% public high school dropout rate. She was very aware of the social, economic and housing challenges that faced people living in near poverty-stricken communities. Due to her proximity to these issues, she saw first-hand many of her contemporaries caught up in a cycle of gang violence, addiction, incarceration and premature preventable deaths;

WHEREAS, Neli is married to Brian Rowland, a military veteran also a first generation American and proud son of Eileen and Michael Rowland, a Bronze star military Korean War Veteran who emigrated from Ireland in the 1960’s. Brian is celebrating over 30 years of living in recovery. They met at Loyola University;

WHEREAS Neli supported his journey towards recovery and witnessed his personal positive transformation. She fully credits Brian’s personal experience in recovery as the inspiration for the co-founding of A Safe Haven. Based on his own journey and firsthand knowledge of the gaps and challenges he experienced and saw others faced in the system he made the decision to leave his career in finance to pursue his desire to invest in creating a better solution;

WHEREAS Neli credits her young sons Devin and Dylan with her efforts to pursue, research and support Brian’s original vision and efforts as they served as her moral compass. Concerned about the future of our society, as a parent she wanted to be a positive role model to her children by showing them, by example, the importance of balancing your life by doing well Resolution re: Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus and also doing your part to make this a better world for those in need. Her two children spent their childhood and youth volunteering at ASH at almost all breaks and holidays. As adults, they have made major contributions to the success and growth of the ASH mission and model by working in operations, expanding the real estate portfolio through a partnership with KMA Companies. KMA Companies President, Devin Rowland is responsible for financially turning around and stabilizing the property management operations of all supportive housing locations. Under his leadership KMA has also helped to plan, fund, build and manage new ASH Affordable, Veteran and Senior projects valued at more than $80 million dollars;

WHEREAS Neli’s compassionate approach to the highly stigmatized issue of alcoholism and substance use disorder was informed by the recognition from the American Medical Association that originally declared it in 1956 as a ‘disease’ not a ‘crime’. A “disease” is defined as chronic, progressive and leads to death if left untreated;

WHEREAS Neli was an experienced and successful 13-year veteran investment professional specializing in identifying emerging trends and new markets, she was a ‘first mover’ and instrumental in identifying the negative trends and gaps in the public and private philanthropy systems purportedly set up to help vulnerable, addicted and poverty-stricken populations, but recognized that in reality without individualized and comprehensive support and performance measures they seemed to put people on a path of cycling in and out of addiction, emergency rooms, prison and homelessness;

WHEREAS, Neli credits her decision to support Brian’s original efforts, namely, due to some early findings in her research: a) the University of Chicago CALDATA Study of 1994 that was released in the same year as ASH Founding that clearly stated that by investing $1 in drug treatment programs the State of California saved $7, b) by understanding the long-term human and financial costs to society that the passage of the 1994 Crimes Bill she surmised  would create mass incarceration of addicted and populations living at the lowest economic rung of society and c) as a finance professional she was aware of the emergence of the HMO insurance programs that in filings to be publicly traded that in a cost cutting effort they cut and limited funding for mental health and drug treatment programs due to lack of positive outcomes and high readmission rates from 28 day treatment programs d) the scarcity of affordable housing and apartments based on the condo conversion boom of the 80’s and 90’s e) Nelson Mandela speeches blaring the news at the time regarding poverty and apartheid, for Neli drew many similarities to the ever widening American two tiered system. America seemed to be following a similar pattern of advantaging the rich, since they were more likely to be able to hire attorneys and go to expensive drug treatment programs and hurting the poor who were more likely to be arrested, and incarcerated for the same nonviolent drug offense, due to the lack of those same resources;

WHEREAS, Neli also researched the federal War On Drugs that was widely supported at the time to deal with the drug crisis. She found that the federal government was spending the vast majority of those resources on disproportionality investing billions of taxpayer dollars towards expanding the criminal justice systems and very little funding was going towards drug treatment programs. Through her extensive research on the flow of public and philanthropic capital, she identified that while most performance reports were based on the level of activity and  there was a lack of transparency, accountability and social impact and outcomes performance metrics that would warrant the growing public and philanthropic budgets allocated towards various seemingly well-intended yet siloed poverty programs that ultimately created more government dependence with no obvious path to leading people back to self-sufficiency and long-term success;

WHEREAS, Neli in the beginning helped introduce, mainstream and incorporate business concepts, terminology and nomenclature not commonly known or used at the time in the field of social services to describe our approach. The initial response by many established non profits in the field led to flat out ‘rejection’ of our work by some established homeless and social services providers and even traditional philanthropic funders. Examples of some of the terms she tended to use in the business community and applied to the work of ASH such as data collection, standard operating procedures and systems, performance metrics, triple bottom line, return on investment and impact, social impact, social entrepreneurism, for profit and non-profit social business enterprise, public and private partnerships, and corporate social responsibility principles. Today they are common but they were not known to apply to the field at the time;

WHEREAS, based on her research and due to her work in finance, she was privy to the emergence of ‘assisted living companies’ going public at the time, she saw a need to establish licensure for a field of recovery homes that were basically known as ‘warehousing’ people. In order to qualify for government funding licensure was required. She advocated to institute professional standards and licensure for ‘recovery homes’ (ASH became the first licensed recovery home in the State of Illinois);

WHEREAS, Neli believes that people deserve to live in dignity and became the first homeless program to provide non-congregate and semi-private or private living accommodations to ‘homeless and recovery programs across all levels of care;

WHEREAS, Neli has led the effort nationally to help inform decision-makers and leaders on the need to support and allocate funding for ASH-type transitional housing programs with wrap-around services as part of their ‘Housing First’ program funded by HUD to serve individuals, veterans and families in more acute situations and in need of comprehensive services;

WHEREAS, Neli has led the effort to address root causes of homelessness by fully integrating institutional healthcare with community based behavioral healthcare, economic and housing “human infrastructure’. She believes that now is the time to redefine and scale the continuum of care and standards of care for physical, behavioral and economic health of the future in a field that was originally typically led by either healthcare professionals or social service professionals each working in silos;

WHEREAS, Neli identified the need for person centered and individualized phased housing services for vulnerable populations similar to the assisted living, nursing homes, memory care and hospice for seniors type housing under one umbrella organization or network, as their need for services increased. In the same vein, but in reverse order, she recognized early on the need for transitional, supportive, affordable, senior and veteran housing to help put people on a path to the appropriate level of housing with customized wrap around services provided based on assessment to move them to their highest level of sustainable stability and self-sufficiency;

WHEREAS Neli and her husband Brian Rowland at their own expense and personal financial risk provided the initial capital, and financial resources to fund operations. Neli wrote the original business plan for A Safe Haven Companies and within 18 months she was instrumental in using it to help secure over $2 million of dollars in additional funding needed from four separate accredited funders to continue to scale and meet the organic and pent-up demand for services. For the first five years A Safe Haven housing, food and services for people in crisis were subsidized by the personal resources of the Rowland’s and by the funders to provide services to hundreds ASH residents of the program. The Rowlands did not secure outside government funding to pay for the cost of services until after she secured a Northwestern Study that was published in the American Journal of Public Health in 1999. Until recently the majority of all debt that was used to fund and finance the growth and operations was personally secured and collateralized based on the creditworthiness and the balance sheets of the Rowland family;

WHEREAS Neli, unfamiliar with government funding criteria, assumed she needed to secure empirical evidence in order for Government funders to justify funding A Safe Haven programs.  As previously mentioned, in 1998, she pursued and secured an 18-month Northwestern Study on ASH Companies. The study stated that at the time ASH had an over 280% success rate compared to the National average. That study led to the initial funding from the State of Illinois to fund A Safe Haven services. Today, due to a long track record of success and pristine reputation, A Safe Haven is funded by almost all State, County, City, and Federal Agencies to provide services for people with barriers including but not limited to jail detainees on electronic monitor (Cook County men and women) prison reentry (IDOC men and women), military veterans, domestic violence including children (DCFS engaged) and youth and juvenile justice programs  in need of various levels of transitional and supportive housing, social services, behavioral healthcare, education, workforce training, permanent job and housing placement;

WHEREAS Neli has been a highly sought-after speaker, and media subject matter expert and since 2009 she has been recognized by over 56 local, national and international, business, government, academic, healthcare and community stakeholders as a visionary, pioneer, and trailblazer humanitarian, recognized for creating one of the most successful, comprehensive and vertically integrated social, behavioral health, education, economic and housing development public-private partnership systems and models that is designed to address and heal the unique and complex root causes of poverty and homelessness in a sustainable manner

WHEREAS, Neli has consistently proven her ability to identify an emerging trend, brainstorm an innovative solution, engage strategic partners and funders. As a proven innovator, she has found and acted on many unique ways to solve organizational and societal problems, by noticing trends happening on the streets or in the news, engaging and listening to ASH leaders and front-line staff through her annual department ‘listening tours’, or simply by getting a suggestion in passing by a staff member in the hallway or by meeting and bringing key partners to align with ASH on a common goal. She has hosted legislative meetings, high profile and community events, and galas and attended countless events and golf outings throughout the years as a result has established a broad and strong network of colleagues representing many leading political, governmental, private, healthcare, academic and community organizations;

WHEREAS, Neli had the foresight to create and register the A Safe Haven mark, brand logo, and slogans in the early and mid-2000s such as “HOUSING IS HEALTHCARE”®, “ASPIRE TRANSFORM AND SUSTAIN”® and “LINK, LEVERAGE AND ALIGN”® in an effort to help harness and protect the ASH unique logo, model and branding, educate the public on the respective concepts which today are more commonly associated with the issues represented by ASH;

WHEREAS, Neli among many introductions that have led to significant growth, presented the opportunity to acquire the Chicago Christian Industrial League (CCIL) to ASH leadership through the recommendation of a colleague in her professional network. It was during the height of the 2008 economic recession that CCIL was on the verge of closing down and at risk of putting hundreds of homeless on the streets. CCIL was also politically experiencing significant exposure due to the involvement of a high profile legal issue involving the family of a top executive. Upon assessing the situation and expressing interest the colleague introduced ASH leadership to the CCIL Board, the City of Chicago, and various leading Banks and Foundations involved in the effort to save CCIL. After a 14-month due diligence and competitive vetting process, A Safe Haven successfully acquired the assets of CCIL, which included a contemporary state-of-the-art campus included a 400-unit, 8 classrooms and office space located in a 130,000 square foot facility and 4 acres located in North Lawndale. The asset acquisition also included two multi-family tax credit projects including a property located at 600 S Wabash with 169 SRO housing units and commercial spaces and a 170-unit building at 1801 S Wabash located in Chicago’s loop;

WHEREAS, Neli was instrumental in completing the acquisition of CCIL by ASHF, at a time of major transition between the Daley and Rahm administrations, by also meeting with City of Chicago agency leaders and City Council members to help finalize and secure the formerly CCIL landscaping job training contract with the City of Chicago. As a result of her efforts, the transfer of ownership and contract by awarded by City ordinance to ASHF from CCIL was passed through a unanimous City Council vote. Today, ASH landscaping company is an award-winning landscaping company providing hundreds of job training opportunities and jobs annually through contracts with the City of Chicago and other municipal, healthcare, corporate, and private development clients. It is now known as ASH Landscaping and accounts for almost 1/3 of ASH Revenue;

WHEREAS, Neli established the ASH Board of Directors and Advisory Board. She recruited established and prominent business, legal and media leaders in the Community. In her role, she led, facilitated and ensured that the Board was provided with a regular schedule of meetings, agenda, minutes and reports in meetings, in accordance and in compliance with all not-for-profit requirements. ASH Foundation has consistently remained in good standing with the State of Illinois throughout its history;

WHEREAS, Neli is passionate about empowering the lives of the homeless, music and running. In an effort to help raise awareness, support and to help mainstream the cause of homelessness, as an avid runner and multi-marathon finisher and as a music lover, she combined her passions to help leverage and engage others with similar interests and to introduce the North Lawndale community to positive activities. She became the founding producer of Chicago’s inaugural ASH RUN/WALK To End Homelessness. It was originally held in Douglas Park in 2010, then moved to Montrose Harbor in 2017. Today it is celebrating its 12th consecutive year and due to the pandemic, she quickly pivoted to make it one of America’s first virtual events known as the Global Virtual RUN/WALK To End Homelessness. While it is yet to achieve the level of support of other causes and events, over the years, the event has helped to invite and engage top corporate sponsorship and support from major, media networks in television, radio, podcasts and social media influencers, ASH staff, volunteer and the community. The event has resulted in the naming of A Safe Haven Day several times over the years by the Governor and the Mayor. The event has received an aggregate value of millions of dollars worth of media acreage, sponsorships, and donors and has attracted more than 12,000 registered runners and walkers for the cause, representing the US, 32 states and 5 Countries, thus far, since 2010;

WHEREAS, Neli was the founding producer of the ASH Music Revolution To End Homelessness in 2010 which has also helped provide a platform for raising awareness and support for the cause through music. By highlighting successful Grammy award winning and legendary artists as well as serving as a launching pad for the music careers of new and emerging artists, that today perform on prominent stages around the world. She has helped elevate the issue of homelessness and build long-term relationships and support among many key members of the music industry;

WHEREAS, Neli for several years was responsible for hosting a public CAN TV Television show featuring the work and the stories of the people served at A Safe Haven;

WHEREAS, Neli authored the book “HEALING Real Stories Told by People Who Overcame the Opioid and Homeless Epidemic” featuring contributing authors and alums of A Safe Haven. It was released in 3/2021. Due to the pandemic, the book was launched at ASH HQ and on Facebook live featuring a top Hollywood celebrity reporter as the moderator. It became a number one ‘Best Seller’ on Amazon and is currently distributed through all major bookstores and online retail outlets. In late 2021, the book was purchased and widely distributed to detainees at Cook County Jail. Neli was a featured panelist among contributing authors of the book at the Cook County book signing event. All proceeds from the current book sales are to be donated to A Safe Haven Foundation;

WHEREAS, Neli has courageously spearheaded the ASH branding efforts and reputation it needed to help build support for the organization on behalf of people facing highly stigmatized issues. In doing so, she found herself often challenging powerful entrenched systems that benefited from the status quo;

WHEREAS, Neli has been able to lead the effort to bring to the forefront the attention, and public-private partnership alignment and resources needed to help create an ecosystem that is designed to understand and solve root causes of homelessness decades before the recognition of complex and multiple contributing factors were mainstreamed – namely, poverty, homelessness, the opioid epidemic, mental health, unemployment and the lack of supportive and affordable housing;

WHEREAS, Neli has helped to create the most comprehensive phased housing program in the industry transitional, supportive, affordable, senior and veteran housing;

WHEREAS, Neli is known as a prominent and respected leader in the community, and in the field due to her long history of working with the homeless, reentry populations and other vulnerable populations and for her role in starting and helping to build one of America’s most complete solutions to homelessness. Due to her legacy of bi-partisan/non-partisan advocacy work in Washington DC throughout Seven US Presidential Administrations, among her most prominent awards are when her work was nominated by Rotary International and was awarded the Champion of Change Award by the Obama Administration. Due to her reputation in the field, among many US Congressional and US senate leaders from around the Country, she was also nominated by various federal leaders, agency leadership members to serve as a speaker at the White House among America’s top Cabinet members and President Trump on behalf of Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones is a federal policy that passed with bi-partisan support called the 2017 Federal Tax Cut Bill designed to incentivize significant investments from high net-worth investors into disinvested and disadvantaged communities to create jobs and spur housing and economic growth and development. Neli, Brian, and A Safe Haven’s track record of investing in real estate, small business enterprises focused on job creation and economic growth in these same communities, made her uniquely qualified to speak on and write opinion articles on behalf of this issue at the White House and at several other Opportunity Zone conferences and events;

WHEREAS, Neli has been a featured keynote, panelist, and author and co-author of Oped’s, and she is also often quoted subject matter contributor and expert for all relevant topics mentioned on business, ivy league and community academic, governmental and community platforms. Her advocacy work, speaking and writing activities have helped raise the profile of A Safe Haven to achieve national and international prominence in the world. Her efforts have led to her hosting many national and international world leaders, including the Minister of Justice from China and the University of Colombia in Bogota, Colombia;

WHEREAS, Neli has been the subject of local, national and international major media stories including television, radio, newspaper, magazine and podcasts for many relevant topics;

WHEREAS, Neli’s tireless advocacy efforts on behalf of a myriad of multi-faceted issues impacting a community considered a voiceless and invisible population, have brought once highly stigmatized issues such as the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform and homelessness to the forefront of the national conscious and dialogue. These advocacy efforts have contributed to many recent national changes including the declaration of the National Opioid Epidemic and Criminal Justice Reform;

WHEREAS, Neli is unique because, at a time when society has tended to have more compassion for certain segments of the population, she has always been steadfast and unwavering in believing that we are all Gods children and that populations from all demographics, religious, economic and family make-ups deserve to be helped in their time of need, irrespective of their backgrounds;

WHEREAS, Neli due to an abundance of concern for the potential of widespread infection among staff and residents, the anticipated lack of attention and support for the homeless and the likelihood of rampant spread of the novel coronavirus disease among societies most vulnerable populations, led the humanitarian effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by a) initially requiring leadership to document and update all SOP’s and instituting amplification of infection control policies at all sites by sending an email to mobilize executive team on January 31, 2020; b) On March 11, 2020 and coincidentally on the date of federal declaration of the pandemic, she had a scheduled meeting with RUSH University Medical Systems leadership to discuss partnering to provide onsite healthcare services for COVID-19 positively diagnosed homeless patients; c) she connected with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) to request funding for the A Safe Haven COVID-19 Medical Respite Center and Isolation Space project d) the ASH Covid-19 Medical Respite opened on April 11th, 2020 and Neli participated in a televised press conference with Mayor Lightfoot to announce it on April 13th 2020;

WHEREAS, Neli’s proactive and calculated high health, financial, liability and reputation risk-taking efforts supported by the ASH Board led to a 2021 Chicago Innovation Award for the Best Response to COVID-19 category. Neli’s demonstrated leadership also led to many speaking engagements, recognition of homelessness as a public health issue and A Safe Haven as a vital component of the healthcare delivery system. Some of the highlights from the ASH COVID-19 response thanks to the collective efforts of the entire leadership team and staff led to a) minimized interruption of services to thousands of people in crisis, b) due to ASH unique non-congregate living accommodations there was no need to decompress in accordance with CDC recommendations, c) a total of 1,142 people served in the COVID-19 Medical respite and d) there were zero known mortalities among patients, residents and staff throughout the ASH network;

WHEREAS, Neli was the author of two new innovative State of Illinois Bills passed into law and a federal Medicaid policy approval. Namely, HB 5868, HB 3949 and a CMS Medicaid 1115 Waiver. The two Bills and the 1115 CMS waiver were introduced in an effort to help the State of Illinois expand and connect the healthcare system with the state-licensed community-based behavioral healthcare system. Neli has long identified the ‘missing link’ between institutional and community-based services have been sharing a common public and/or private funding stream to provide the resources needed for a discharged ‘homeless or behavioral healthcare’ patient from a hospital or healthcare organization to allow them to be sent to a place that can provide ‘aftercare’ type services. Without a mechanism to streamline the funding, too often homeless individuals experiencing mental, substance abuse, unemployment, etc and either due to catalytic or chronic issues, patients in need of more help typically ended up living on the streets only to be readmitted again or worse, die. Patients that are diagnosed to be suffering from underlying social determinants of health need to be referred to a setting that was ‘turnkey’ such as A Safe Haven and to a place designed to help the homeless and substance abuse-impacted populations learn to live in recovery, achieve minimum education standards, participate in workforce development and to get back to work or other income and access to permanent housing;

WHEREAS, Neli in her role with meeting leaders in the prior Quinn Administration and in serving on the HHS Rauner Transition Team she helped create and introduce the IL 1115 Medicaid Waiver to the office of US Central Management Systems, the federal agency which oversees and approves Medicaid waivers. The 1115 Waiver CMS Federal Approval was achieved in 2018. A Safe Haven served as the host site for the Governor’s press conference regarding the same. The 1115 Medicaid Waiver was designed to allow the State of Illinois to utilize Medicaid Insurance funding to cover the cost of community-based state licensed behavioral healthcare services; This served as an opportunity to help diversify funding towards more predictable and appropriate funding streams that follow and meet the health and behavioral healthcare needs of the patient and reduce the need for limited or unpredictable government contracting, philanthropic grants, fundraising and events and elevate the issue of behavioral healthcare and homeless services to be included as part of the ‘continuum of care and delivery system’. The idea was to help add ASH-type services to becoming a critical component to the human and healthcare infrastructure and delivery system to a seamlessly funded system, create continuity of care, reduce the high hospital opioid readmission rates, and death rates and to expand coverage, reduce overall systems costs and improve workforce productivity. For example, 25% of Medicaid members in Illinois or (800,000) are diagnosed with behavioral healthcare issues and they account for 56% of costs the goal was to reduce the cost to Medicaid by 2%. A 2% cost savings on IL and an $8.2 Billion dollar Medicaid budget today would result in over $160,000,000 in savings to an Agency that is funded by a 50/50 state and federal match. While Neli served on the Medicaid Advisory Committee and advocated strongly for its application and execution for over 4 years, as a mechanism to connect institutional healthcare and community behavioral healthcare services for Medicaid members, unfortunately it was never implemented, and other new ideas were introduced and pursued instead;

WHEREAS, Neli authored IL HB 5868. After the Opioid Epidemic was declared a federal national public health emergency and at a time when Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) providers were advocating for insurance companies to cover the cost of MAT drugs such as methadone, suboxone, Narcan and naloxone to prescribe to those addicted to combat the growing opioid epidemic,  Neli provided testimony on behalf of A Safe Haven’s holistic approach along with ASH Alums who gave strong testimony and credit to ASH model for helping them get off MAT and drugs altogether.  She followed up the hearing by introducing Bill 5868 for the purposes of providing alternatives for Private Health Insurance companies to expand coverage beyond institutional healthcare services and MAT to add community-based state-licensed behavioral healthcare providers with comprehensive and drug-free options as well as an approved service for recovery such as the services provided by  ASH. It passed in in 2018 both the house and the senate with the exception of one vote;

WHEREAS, Neli authored IL HB3949. As a result of noticing that in response to the pandemic, essential workers and organizations serving the homeless and behavioral healthcare-impacted populations, were not included in the Federal Funding from the CARES Act to support the increased costs, health risks and supplies needed to support front line providers and staff. HB 3949 was a Bill that would require municipalities to include homeless and behavioral healthcare providers among nursing homes and healthcare organizations as an important component of the

‘critical infrastructure’ qualified for funding relative to their needs in response to a humanitarian crisis. The record Federal humanitarian emergency resources to provide funding, personal protective equipment (PPE) and vaccines for hospitals and nursing homes are also needed for community based homeless and behavioral healthcare providers and workers during humanitarian crisis and pandemics. After personally providing public testimony which garnered unanimous support by the Human Services committee, the Bill was sent to the IL Rules Committee and not introduced for a vote at the time. Neli persisted and it eventually got introduced with amendments and passed with unanimous support by both chambers in the Spring session of 2022.  Both Bills were sponsored by Representative LaShawn Ford and Senator Tony Munoz and were signed into law by Governor Rauner and Pritzker, respectively;

WHEREAS, Neli has served and continues to serve on many prominent and relevant local and statewide government, business and healthcare boards and committees for the purposes of primarily advocating among the fields representing large and small business, social services, behavioral healthcare, recovery, the opioid epidemic, pandemic, social enterprise, criminal justice reform, reentry and homelessness and more.  She also represents the field of real estate development from the perspectives of a unique phased housing approach that includes private and publicly funded transitional, supportive, affordable, veteran and senior housing;

WHEREAS, Neli is proud to have been instrumental in, and a witness to, seeing the vast majority of over 140,000 people benefit from ASH mission and programs since 1994. A Safe Haven consistently boasts a high rate of success, based on the long-held belief and first-hand knowledge that while substance abuse is a disease, and is one of the leading causes of homelessness – it cannot be cured. However, with the right team and coordinated services provided by a balanced team of peer, experiential and professionally trained clinical staff, it can be managed. The cycle of addiction has proven to be broken by many whom have adopted a learned and practiced lifestyle of recovery fostered and developed often by living and building relationships with a strong community-based support system. Many among A Safe Haven’s own valuable staff, leadership teams and workforce in the industry are ASH alums that are providing crucial services that were learned through A Safe Haven’s own professional development programs and ASH funded higher education provided to many who have become respected leaders on the team. Therefore, while she believes that MAT may be necessary, for some, it should only be recommended and prescribed as a bridge or last resort, based on individualized assessments. She has primarily been a tireless advocate for programs and services that build, educate, train and empower those in need that include holistic services, healthy food and fitness, and drug-free, lifestyle recovery programs that include AA, NA, CA and others;

WHEREAS, Neli has successfully initiated and helped to secure a long-term partnership with the United States Veterans Administration which began following a local study that reported the disproportionate number of homeless veterans in Chicago representing 28% of the homeless population in 2007. Without a dedicated funding resource for military veterans, ASH had provided over $3,000,000 worth of services provided to them free of charge funded through our own personal and operational budget. This was unsustainable. The report allowed her to begin the process of seeking dedicated public funding for military veterans. She immediately began to work on setting up a roundtable meeting with Senator Durbin and veterans residing at A Safe Haven. That meeting occurred on July 1, 2008. She secured an apartment in Washington DC and for the next two years she focused on traveling to Washington DC and meeting with leaders on the US Veteran House and Senate Committees. In 2010, ASH applied and was awarded the first Transitional Housing program funded by the USVA under the General Shinseki goal to End Veteran Homelessness in five years. Today, the program continues and A Safe Haven has become the largest housing resource for military veterans in Chicago and is strategically co-located with the USVA Community Referral and Resource Center making it easier to get veterans the help they need from both the VA and ASH. Together they have provided housing, food and wrap around coordinated services to end homelessness for over 10,000 military veterans, since 2010.  In 2018 and in 2019 Neli traveled to DC to receive two GOLD Vet Hire Awards for ASH leadership in hiring, training and retaining military veterans on staff by the Department of Labor. In 2022, ASH in partnership with KMA Companies has recently built and opened 150 new veteran housing units located in Chicago, IL and Hobart IN the projects were funded by public and private partners, including the VA and HUD. Neli credits the entire team for many of these accomplishments;

WHEREAS, Neli has successfully secured $2 million dollars in necessary funding from Congressman Danny Davis through a Federal Government Earmark request to provide the seed capital to convert the ASH COVID-19 Medical Respite space closed by CDPH in March 2022 into a Community based behavioral healthcare clinic which will be able to recruit and/or retain behavioral healthcare professionals to expand behavioral healthcare services for both the residents of A Safe Haven and the Community, at large. The new ASH Behavioral Healthcare clinic is scheduled to be opened winter/spring of 2022/2023;

WHEREAS, Neli has been a staunch advocate for expanding public and private partnerships to decrease dependency on government grants; her efforts have helped to transform the field from a siloed approach to a vertically integrated eco-system designed to provide people in crisis semi-private living accommodations for individuals and intact families, proper nutrition, education, job training, employment and housing;

WHEREAS, Neli in her role as the President and Co-Founder has used her platform and vast network to market and increase brand recognition, reputation and funding for the Foundation’s and related portfolio; A Safe Haven has become an anchor organization in the City of Chicago and the Midwest, she has helped to grow the number of funded beds available for services, the social business enterprises such as catering, staffing and landscaping to generate unrestricted, earned income, these are resources that serve the dual purpose of providing job training and the funding to connect Foundation and community constituents with barriers to employment to permanent employment opportunities;

WHEREAS, Neli has a established a bi-weekly newsletter that is distributed to mostly her own personal and professional contacts that represent over 17,000 prominent leaders and community based like-minded stakeholders. She plans on keeping and continuing to engage her personal and professional lists and contacts to stay in touch with her network to promote her future endeavors;

WHEREAS, Neli has received multiple awards and recognition as a national and international leader in the respective fields featured throughout this resolution. ASH has also been recognized as a National and International model that started out as an idea borne in the Rowland home, today boasts a solid performance track record, strong balance sheet, proven leadership team, diversified public, private and earned income funding streams, and a mature and developed infrastructure that is ready to scale in the future;

WHEREAS, Neli believes that while the pandemic has finally helped to expose the gaps in the systems, the aftermath of the pandemic has also accelerated the need to meet the significant new demand for ASH services. Today, there is a perfect storm of needs that ASH has a unique infrastructure in place to help address and heal. Namely, there is a record number of people in America being released from the prison system and people facing issues with the opioid and mental health epidemics, poverty, and hunger. There is a significant lack of housing affordability and record number of people facing homelessness. There are a record number of job openings from employers finding it difficult to find a job ready workforce. All issues that A Safe Haven has spent 28 years building a foundation to address and solve;

WHEREAS, Neli further believes that we are also at a ‘tipping point’. While these issues are finally on the forefront of the national dialogue and for the first time, we are seeing a record number of federal and philanthropic dollars committed to combatting these issues, it presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to reimagine and replace our broken systems with systems that work. We have a short window of opportunity to decide on what type of system America wants to support;

WHEREAS, Neli acknowledges and appreciates that it has been the greatest privilege and honor of her life to have served as a co-founder and president serving at the helm of A Safe Haven Foundation and related companies, she attributes her success to deep faith in God, partnership with her husband Brian Rowland, sons Devin and Dylan who have always served as her moral compass, partners and support system;

WHEREAS, Neli’s role as a visionary, leader and ambassador on behalf of A Safe Haven and the cause she humbly recognizes that nothing could have been accomplished or come to fruition without the talents and support of a committed and dedicated board, executive leadership team, executive staff, managers and front line workers nor without the support of many supportive government agency leaders, elected officials, volunteers, donors, sponsors, friends, family and ASH Alums who have remained committed and proud champions of the vision and mission of A Safe Haven, many of whom she calls friends today;

WHEREAS, Neli has demonstrated the strength and the will to power through many times that A Safe Haven faced severe budget cuts, budget impasses, and prolonged federal, state, and city delays in payment, due to external economic and political pressures that could have led to the demise of A Safe Haven, yet she remained steadfast and focused on the main vision, mission and goal of doing our part to continue to rally, innovate, lead, design, delegate, build, execute and steward the growth of a model that  has helped to positively transform lives of some of even some of the most challenging homeless cases and distressed communities in a sustainable manner;

WHEREAS, Neli is proud to have played a leadership role that leaves behind a fully integrated and proven model and leadership team that in the future has the ability to transcend all of us and may continue to serve people in need in the future and serve as one of our generations best and lasting legacy;

WHEREAS, Neli believes that ASH offers a better system that is proven and can and should replace many of our broken, siloed and fragmented systems that have proven to work for no one and replace them with public and privately and health insurance funded systems that are guided by compassion and data-driven performance metrics that can and should work for most stakeholders in society including taxpayers, funders, especially on behalf of people in crisis;

WHEREAS, Neli is confident that ASH’s established and committed Board, and executive leadership team is experienced, battle tested and proven to be able to rise to the challenge of meeting America’s most urgent humanitarian issues facing society today and that they can continue to grow the mission and organization to help meet its fullest potential;

WHEREAS, Neli has authored and published an anthology called ‘HEALING Real

Stories Told by People Who Overcame the Opioid and Homeless Epidemic’ sold through all major book store outlets and has achieved top seller status on Amazon. She also has written a personal memoir and yet to be published book called an “An Elegant Solution” that may be released in the future to give an honest and a more in depth behind the scenes look from her own perspective at her trials, tribulations, triumphs, and recommendations for a better future;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors is deeply grateful for Neli’s decades of commitment and her exceptional courage, service, leadership and dedication to the cause, the Foundation, her entire team and to the homeless population that Foundation serves;

FURTHER RESOLVED, that in honor and recognition of Neli’s unique role, vision, leadership and stewardship to the cause and the organization the Board of Directors hereby creates and bestows upon Neli Vazquez Rowland the honorarium and exclusive role of being named CoFounder and Chairman Emeritus for A Safe Haven Foundation into perpetuity; and  

FURTHER RESOLVED, as Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus, the Board hopes, but there is no requirement, that Neli will continue to serve in an advisory role to Foundation and its work; that she will continue to support the Foundation, and although Neli will not vote on matters or be counted for the quorum, Neli will generously be available to the Board and the incoming President to provide advice and historical perspectives to the founding and history of the Foundation