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Kelly Gilliland originally from Colorado and a Navy Veteran (10 years) has called San Diego home for over 30+ years.  He has dual master’s degree in project management and system Security.   After getting out of the US Navy he has worked for SAIC for over 20+ years. During that times he has been involved in teaching and curriculum development for the US Navy for various programs.  While teaching and molding US Sailors, Kelly has been volunteering here in San Diego.  First starting off with meeting Cheli and helping with San Diego Pride which lead him to find the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association Greater San Diego Chapter in which he was President for 9 years and Rodeo Director for 10.  He has also volunteered for other non-profit organizations within the LGBTQ+ community. 

Kelly is also a Court Appointed Specialty Advocate (CASA) to help kiddos in the foster care system here in San Diego.  In his free time, he loves working around his house doing DYI projects, landscaping, and gardening.  Kelly has also been on other Non-Profit bards.  He is a San Diego Veteran Wall of Honor recipient. Lastly one thing that Kelly has accomplished while being Co-Chair for the San Diego Military Contingent is to have divert San Diego Limberg International Airport, the first and only military jet fly over for a Pride Parade in 2019.

Kelly has volunteered with Cheli and for Volunteer with Cheli for over 15 years.

Sam Rodriguez


Founding President and Co-Chair

Susan L. Hartman

Volunteering Since 2014

Cathy Hemphill was born and raised in Detroit, then moved to California for college and most of the rest of her life. She graduated from California State University at Long Beach in 1967 with a BS in Business.  She received her MBA in Taxation from Golden Gate University in 1978.

Cathy spent her professional career working for the Internal Revenue Service in Long Beach, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and San Diego.  Along the way she worked in Bonn, Manila and Toronto. She was an auditor, Appeals Officer, Chief of Appeals Audit, Associate Chief of Appeals and Chief of the Appeals Office in San Diego.  Cathy taught many tax and management classes for the IRS, as well as tax classes at Los Angeles City College and UCLA Extension. She retired in 1995.

She is a life-long volunteer, starting with the Peace Corps.  She was a volunteer in Thailand from 1967-1969, teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL).  Since retiring she has spent several days a week volunteering for The LGBT Community Center, San Diego Pride, Councilmember Toni Atkins, The United States Police and Fire Games, and Volunteer with Cheli, where she is a Board Member.  Along the way, Cathy has been a board member of the San Diego Peace Corps Association and San Diego Front Runners & Walkers.

Contact Cathy:

Former Treasurer

Jonathan McMullen

Volunteering Since 2018

Sarah Buchanan grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, where she learned first-hand the importance of serving the community through volunteerism, empathy, and creativity. Now, with nearly 20 years of experience serving nonprofit organizations across the country in varied capacities, Sarah continues to make giving back a priority. She devotes significant time to serving the local and national communities through volunteerism, curating fundraising events, and music instruction for youth in the foster care system.

Sarah Buchanan serves as the Executive Vice President for the San Diego Housing Federation where she utilizes her skills in organizational strategy and effectiveness, strategic partnerships, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and board governance. Sarah understands that we all have the desire to be seen, heard, and loved and she offers this to everyone she meets with joy. She is best known for creating an organizational culture that thrives on authenticity, kindness, vulnerability, and transparency. Sarah believes that focusing on her team's well-being drives positive experiences for the sector.

Awarded San Diego Business Journal and San Diego Equality Business Association’s Top 50 LGBTQ+ Leaders of 2023, San Diego Metro’s Woman of Influence and 40 Under 40 in 2020, Bring the Music Initiative’s Music Mentor of the Year in 2021, she exemplifies what it means to go above and beyond in her work and life. Sarah currently serves as a board member for Circulate San Diego and ICON National Cares. Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Native American Studies from the University of Oklahoma.

When she is not serving the community, she spends her time exploring with her dog, Lola, creating in any form, and connecting with others. 

​Contact Sarah:

Kelly Gilliland



Elaine Lewis

Vice Chair


Founding Member/Former Secretary

Denice Cordova 

Volunteering Since 2015

With much appreciation and respect for the contributions you brought forth to ensure that Volunteer with Cheli thrived!

Sam Rodriguez (they/them) hails from Houston, Texas, where their path of service and advocacy began with volunteering for Meals on Wheels during high school.  Armed with dual bachelor’s degrees in psychology and criminology, Sam enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2015, dedicating themselves to their duties while pursuing further education. Their academic pursuits culminated in the achievement of a Master of Social Work degree in 2022.

Sam's commitment to embracing gender-creative parenting alongside their Deaf spouse, who embodies a unique intersection between the hearing and Deaf worlds, fosters a profound awareness of intersectionality and the complex dynamics of discrimination. Together, they passionately advocate for the Deaf community, tirelessly working to promote accessibility and inclusivity in every facet of society.

Passionate about supporting fellow transgender and nonbinary service members, Sam assumed the role of Navy Chapter Leader for SPARTA, a nonprofit organization committed to fostering inclusion and support within the military. Alongside this role, since 2020, Sam has served as a
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Uniformed Victim Advocate, offering vital support to survivors. More recently, as of 2023, Sam has been humbled to serve as a consultant for the Office of Victim Crimes, furthering their commitment to advocating for justice and support.

Driven by an unwavering passion for social justice and a deep-seated desire to cultivate inclusive communities, Sam Rodriguez is dedicated to inspiring positive change within the Navy and beyond.

​Contact Sam: 

Elaine is a second-generation San Diegan.  Her volunteer career started at the age of 7, collecting bread wrappers for Scouts.  For over 50 years, nonprofit work is all Elaine has known.  Elaine earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from SDSU; a Master's degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from USD.  After 14 years as Executive Director for Developmental Services Continuum, Inc. (DSC), Elaine retired to complete a Leadership PhD at USD. Elaine taught at USD’s nonprofit Master's program for 6 years and is currently teaching in the School of Professional and Continuing Education.  In the 1980’s Elaine traveled across California with a team of consultants hired by the Association of Regional Center Agencies, providing HIV/AIDS education and prevention for people visually impaired, hearing impaired, persons with hemophilia, and persons with developmental disabilities. Elaine’s interests include nonprofit governance, risk management, nonprofit finance, and human resource development and retention. 

Elaine co-authored several reports for the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research and wrote for the Center’s blog. Elaine has presented at conferences for the International Leadership Association (ILA) and for The Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA).

Elaine has volunteered with Volunteer With Cheli (VWC) for nearly 5 years. She is inspired by its mission and vision and is proud and honored to serve on the Board of Directors.

Contact Elaine:

Cynthia Uybungco


Former Treasurer 

Nicole Verdes

Volunteering Since 2017

Former Treasurer

Danielle Lopez

Volunteering Since 2020

Cathy Hemphill



Cynthia (Cindy) Uybungco is a native San Diegan and an Army veteran.  In 1995, Cindy opened her own business, Uybungco Grafix & Signs, where she is known as the “Sign Girl.”   Cindy is able to share her many creative talents to the community in the form of banners, business cards and stationery, postcards, and promotional items.  

Cindy has enjoyed volunteering since 1991 and is most proud of her volunteer work and the impact that volunteering has had on her.  She has enjoyed working with San Diego Pride, Habitat for Humanity, AIDS Walk & Run San Diego, the LGBT Community Center, Imperial Court de San Diego, Volunteer with Cheli, and many more well-known organizations and businesses in San Diego.

Ben Orogovan



​Ben Orgovan-Lee was born and bred in Chula Vista.  He graduated with honors at Southwestern College with an Associate’s degree in Science/Computer Information Systems with an emphasis on Application Programming.  Ben is a Special Projects Manager with the California Police Athletic Federation where he handles logistics for national and international sports events, manages grant applications and submittals, and other activities.  He has held positions at San Diego LGBT Pride, and ResortCom International.

Ben’s love for volunteering was really awakened during his time at San Diego Pride where he saw how volunteering makes a positive impact on the quality of life around us.  Ben continues to make major contributions to volunteering, especially with Volunteer with Cheli as its immediate past Co-Chair and current Tresurer!

Contact Ben: 

Sarah Buchanan