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Homeless America: Creative and Compassionate Responses to a Cross-Sector Challenge

Homeless man sleeping on cardboard

Event Details

Tuesday, March 26, 2024 
11:30 AM PST

California Market Center Rooftop
Los Angeles, CA


For more information about this event, please email sppevents@pepperdine.edu, or call 310.506.7490

Before COVID struck the United States in early 2020, California governor, Gavin Newsom, gave his annual “State of the State Address”, which was focused on addressing the burgeoning homelessness crisis in the state. As the impact of the virus has receded, the issue of homelessness has returned to center stage. A recent survey of Californians by the Public Policy Institute of California found that a full 89% of those questioned view homelessness as either a “Big Problem” or “Somewhat of a Problem”. 

The issue of homelessness draws so many policy domains from housing to mental health services and public safety. It’s also a true “cross sector” challenge, requiring engagement by the government, nonprofit, and business sectors. Through an afternoon of panels and keynotes, we’ll explore how the public sector and nonprofit leaders are taking a variety of approaches to respond to this crisis.



  •  11:30 AM - 11:45 AM: Conference Check-in (Lobby, Building A)
  • 12:00 PM: Opening Remarks (Rooftop)
  • 12:15 PM– 1:15 PM: Lunch Keynote: Stephen Eide, Manhattan Institute, Author, Homelessness in America: The History and Tragedy of an Intractable Social Problem
  • 1:20 PM – 2:20 PM: Panel 1: Homelessness: The Role for Government
  • 2:20 PM – 2:30 PM: Break
  • 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM: Keynote: Michele Steeb, Author, Answers Behind the RED DOOR: Battling the Homelessness Epidemic
  • 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM: Panel 2: The Role of Nonprofits
  • 4:30 PM - 5:15 PM: Reflections on the Day: A Keynote Conversation with Dr. Robert Marbut, Professor, Northwest Vista College, and Byron Johnson, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Religious Studies and the Common Good, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University
  • 5:15 PM – 6:30 PM: Reception (Rooftop, Patio) 


Keynote Speakers

  Stephen Eide

Stephen EideStephen Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of City Journal. He researches social policy questions such as homelessness and mental illness. He is the author of the book Homelessness in America: The History and Tragedy of an Intractable Social Problem, which was published in June 2022 by Rowman & Littlefield. He was previously a senior research associate at the Worcester Regional Research Bureau and holds a B.A. from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in political philosophy from Boston College.

  Byron Johnson

speaker headshotByron Johnson is the founding director of the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion and a faculty affiliate of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University. He is a faculty scholar in the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health at Duke University; senior fellow with the Witherspoon Institute (Princeton, NJ); senior fellow at the Sagamore Institute (Indianapolis, IN); and a senior advisor at the Religious Freedom Institute (Washington, DC). 

Johnson is a former member of the Coordinating Council for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Presidential Appointment). He has been the principal investigator on grants from private foundations as well as the Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, and the United States Institute for Peace, totaling more than $80 million. He is the author of more than 200 journal articles, monographs, and books. He is recognized as a leading authority on the scientific study of religion, the efficacy of faith-based organizations, and criminal justice. Recent publications have examined the impact of faith-based programs on offender treatment, drug addiction, recidivism reduction and prisoner reentry. These topics are the focus of his book More God, Less Crime: Why Faith Matters and How It Could (2011).

Johnson directs the Program on Prosocial Behavior, which examines the ways in which religion impacts key behaviors like volunteerism, generosity, and purpose. These topics are covered in four recent books, The Angola Prison Seminary (2016), which evaluates the influence of a Bible College and inmate-led congregations on prisoners serving life sentences; The Quest for Purpose: The Collegiate Search for a Meaningful Life (2017), which examines the link between religion and finding purpose and meaning, and the subsequent link to academic integrity; The Restorative Prison: Essays on Inmate Peer Ministry and Prosocial Corrections (2021), which looks at the empirical evidence in support of the link between religion and the emerging subfield of positive criminology; and Objective Religion: Competition, Tension, Perseverance (2021), which examines the factors related to the resilience of religion. 

  Robert Marbut

Robert Marbut HeadshotRobert Marbut has worked on issues of homelessness for more than three decades: first as a volunteer, then as chief of staff to San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, next as a White House fellow to President H.W. Bush (41, the Father), as a San Antonio City councilperson/ mayor-pro-tem, and as the founding president & CEO of Haven for Hope for five years (the most comprehensive homeless transformational center in the USA).  He has also worked in 3 different US presidential administrations, including serving as the executive director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, often called the “Federal Homelessness Czar.” 

In 2007, frustrated by the lack of real improvement in reducing homelessness, and as part of the concept development phase for the Haven for Hope Campus, Marbut conducted a nationwide best practices study.  After personally visiting 237 homeless service facilities in 12 states and the District of Columbia, he developed "The Seven Guiding Principles of Homeless Transformation," which focuses on root causes and recovery, not symptoms nor short-term gimmicks.  These "Seven Guiding Principles of Transformation" are used in all aspects of his work to create holistically transformative environments to reduce homelessness.  

Since his national best practices study, Marbut has visited a total of 1,412 operations and has worked in all 50 states, plus Washington, DC, and Mexico.  He has helped hundreds of communities and agencies to dramatically reduce homelessness.  Marbut has consulted on issues of homelessness with more communities and organizations than anyone else in the USA.  He is the executive producer of the No Address movie starring Billy Baldwin, Beverly D’Angelo, Xander Berkeley, and Ashanti, the senior executive producer of Americans with No Address documentary, and Author of the No Address Inactive Study Guide. 

He earned a PhD from The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas in international relations (with an emphasis in international terrorism and Wahhabism), political behavior, and American political institutions/processes from the Department of Government.  

He also has two Master of Arts degrees, one in government from the University of Texas at Austin and one in criminal justice from the Claremont Graduate University (affiliated with the Peter Drucker School).  His Bachelor of Arts is a full triple major in economics, political science, and psychology (Honors Graduate) from Claremont McKenna (Men's) College.  He also earned an aviation technology level 1 certificate from Palo Alto College.  

Marbut also has completed three post-graduate fellowships, one as a White House fellow (USA's most prestigious program for leadership and public service), one as a CORO fellow of Public and Urban Affairs in Los Angeles, and one as a TEACH fellow in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Qatar (1 of 13 USA educators selected).  He was also a member of the Secretary of Defense’s Joint Civilian Orientation Conference 2000 class (JCOC-63) which is DOD’s premier civic leadership program and focused on special operations.

  Michele Steeb

Michele Steeb HeadshotFor more than 12 years, Michele Steeb served as executive director of Saint John’s Program for Real Change, transforming what was once an ordinary 30-day emergency shelter into a robust, comprehensive, 18-month program supporting homeless women and children in their battle to overcome the very root of the ongoing cycle of poverty. She worked tirelessly to incorporate, not just a roof over their heads, but mental health services, educational assistance, and extensive hands-on employment training in an effort to bring about real and lasting change.

In 2012, Steeb was appointed by California governor Jerry Brown to serve on the Board of California’s Prison Industry Authority. Her passion for helping those trying to gain a solid foothold and re-enter society quickly led her down a broader path, becoming an outspoken voice in the face of the growing crisis of poverty and homelessness in California. Serving on the Policy Board to End Homelessness, she led the effort launching numerous programs such as Sacramento Steps Forward and the Stepping Stone Task Force.

For her undying commitment and exemplary work, she has been honored with the Martin Luther King Jr. Difference Maker Award, recognized as a Regional Social Equity Leader, Women Who Mean Business Award, Non-Profit Visionary of the Year Award, Sacramento’s People of the Year Award, and the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Al Geiger Memorial Award. In 2013, congresswoman Matsui presented Steeb with the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus Allied Professional Award for her work as a victim’s advocate. She was also named one of the Top Execs of 2013 by Sacramento Business Journal. In 2014, she was named Woman of the Year by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson for District 7she was named one of the Top Execs of 2013 (Sacramento Business Journal), and in 2014 was named Woman of the Year by assemblyman Roger Dickinson for District 7. In 2015, she received the Women Helping Women Award from Soroptimist International, and in 2016 was the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award from APSEA’s Navigating Leadership Program. She is the recipient of the prestigious Santa Clara University Ignatian Award and most recently was recognized with the 2019 Community Service award from the American Society for Public Administration.


Moderators and Panelists 

  Rick Cole

speaker headshotRick Cole is the chief deputy controller for the City of Los Angeles who has been involved in homelessness policy since he organized California's first ever "homeless count" in 1993, during his term as mayor of Pasadena. Cole has spent three decades in public service as a deputy mayor in the City of LA and as city manager in Azusa, Ventura, and Santa Monica. He was recently elected to return to the seat on the Pasadena City Council that he held for 12 years. Cole has taught urban policy at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy and Occidental College and previously taught religion and politics at Fuller Theological Seminary and US History at Pasadena City College.

  Matthew Dildine

speaker headshotMatthew Dildine is the CEO of the Fresno Mission but prefers the title of “Professional Convincer”.  Dildine has dual bachelor degrees in Religion and Political Science, a Master’s in Public Policy, and his Juris Doctorate all from Pepperdine University. 

Prior to becoming CEO of the Fresno Mission, Dildine was a partner at the law firm of Dowling Aaron where he practiced for more than a decade. From 2010 through 2018, Dildine was named a Rising Star by Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine.  In 2019, Dildine also received the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award from the Pepperdine School of Law. 

Dildine has accomplished very little during his time at the Fresno Mission but God has been doing some amazing things including the founding and development of City Center, which is one of the largest campuses in the nation focusing on families and youth in crisis which brings together more than 25 different organizations and ministries onto a 230,000 square foot 10-acre campus including crisis housing, a free grocery store, a charter school for homeless and foster youth, medical clinic, mental health care clinic, career technical school, youth drop-in center, human-trafficking youth shelter, coffee shop, urban soccer park, giant dinosaur and more all in an environment unlike anything else in the rest of the Country.  Dildine is also in the process of developing City Ranch, which will be California’s largest and first master-planned community for people cycling out of homelessness, human trafficking, and foster care.

In 2016, Dildine helped start and now serves as the president of Martin Park, Inc. which is a faith-based non-profit that seeks to expand the Gospel by building parks with a heart and community centers in Fresno’s most underserved communities.  Dildine is also the chairman of the Board for the Citygate Network which is the largest association of homeless services providers in the United States.

Dildine's wife, Kym (Pepperdine 04, Graziadio 08), is also the co-CEO of the Central California Food Bank, giving their household the unique burden of being responsible for leading the two largest hunger relief organizations in the region with the highest rates of food insecurity in the Country.

Dildine and Kym have five favorite tax deductions named Camden (14), Quinn (11), Hudson (10), Riley (10) and Dalton (7). In his spare time, he enjoys coaching his kids, participating in Ironman races, and running marathons.  The most important thing to know about Dildine however, is that he deeply loves Jesus and deeply hates poverty.  He deeply cares about expanding God’s kingdom in the darkest places in Fresno but hates seeing people living a life that God did not intend.  He is deeply committed to demonstrating how the community of Christ can change the brokenness of the enemy.  He also hates the Dodgers.

  Kevin Faulconer

speaker imageKevin Faulconer is SPP's Visiting Professor for Community Leadership & Government Innovation for 2021. He comes to this position after serving as mayor of San Diego for two terms. Under his leadership, the city became known for taking creative, cross-sector approaches to a variety of public policy challenges. Recognized nationally for its use of technology to simplify government processes, the City has earned awards ranging from its naming as a top "Digital City" by the Center for Digital Government to its top ranking as the American City most "Equip to Innovate" by Governing Institute to its "Silver Certification" as one of nation's few "What Works Cities" in the category of data transparency.

  Elizabeth Mitchell

speaker headshotElizabeth Mitchell has litigated thousands of cases in multiple jurisdictions. Her practice focuses on complex civil litigation, spanning a wide range of substantive areas including constitutional, commercial disputes, trade secret allegations, False Claims Act, and legal malpractice. She pioneered a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the City and County of Los Angeles demanding beds, services, and treatment for thousands of homeless individuals, and clean and safe streets for the community. The lawsuit prompted swift and dynamic action by the Federal Court during the COVID-19 crisis which ultimately resulted in a $4 billion commitment for an additional 20,000 beds with services and treatment for homeless Angelenos by the City and County of Los Angeles and commitment to encampment reduction. Mitchell has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal.  She has represented numerous Fortune 500 companies, and their executives and employees, collectively saving the companies hundreds of millions of dollars.

Some of Mitchell’s notable representations are:

  • Obtained a $4 billion settlements in a hard-fought and nationally publicized case about homelessness and mental health.
  • Won a $7.5 million arbitration award for a widow in legal malpractice against a prominent estate planning firm.
  • Represented Fortune 100 company in complex federal trade secrets case with highly favorable outcome.
  • Won full dismissal for executives of a startup in a suit brought by a former employer.
  • Represented a tech entrepreneur against high-profile allegations, winning full dismissal.
  • Successfully defended a national healthcare company in multiple cases, saving them hundreds of millions of dollars in potential damages.

Prior to entering private practice, Mitchell was an attorney with the fast-paced Police Litigation Unit in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office where she worked on complicated, high-profile, and high-exposure civil cases involving allegations of civil rights violations, excessive force, wrongful death, and false arrest, including several class-action lawsuits. In addition to trials, she handled all aspects of litigation, ultimately saving the city hundreds of millions of dollars. Before Police Litigation, Mitchell was a prosecutor focusing on violent and sexual crimes and trained new deputies and volunteers with the office’s high-volume Central Trials Division. 

Mitchell was a Dean’s Merit Scholar at Pepperdine School of Law, graduating cum laude and serving as Managing Editor of the Dispute Resolution Law Journal. She also served as the vice president of the International Law Society, was a member of Advocates for Public Interest Law, and published an article, Towards Enforcement in the [International Criminal Court]. During law school, she clerked at the United States Attorney’s Office, focusing on organized crime and terrorism, and in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Sex Crimes Division. Prior to law school, Mitchell graduated cum laude from the University of California, Riverside with a joint degree in Psychology/Law and Society, was on the Dean’s List, was a member of the Golden Key Honor Society, Phi Alpha Delta, Politics and Law Students Club, and studied abroad in Goettingen, Germany. 

Mitchell has served on the boards of Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and California Women Lawyers, the Cedars Sinai NICU Parent Family Council, is active in her church, and has a wonderful time with her three rascal children, two rascal dogs, and one very patient husband.

  Jim Palmer

speaker imageJim Palmer excelled in leadership roles across diverse industries, including non-profit, government, healthcare, faith-based, and social services. Palmer’s skills have earned accolades at both national and local levels, and I have had the honor of contributing to multiple boards of directors. 

Palmer aims to facilitate meaningful change and contribute to making the world a better place. I am deeply committed to aiding those often disregarded in our community — particularly those marginalized due to substance abuse, mental health, and housing challenges. Palmer believes that through genuine collaboration and fostering a culture of trust, we can achieve verifiable outcomes and positive results. This necessitates breaking down barriers, forming strategic partnerships, implementing trauma-informed approaches, and shifting the focus from program-centric to person-centered practices.

  Brian Ulf

speaker imageBrian D. Ulf is the chief executive officer of SHARE! The Self-Help And Recovery Exchange in Los Angeles and president emeritus of its board of directors. SHARE! is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Los Angeles residents pursue recovery from substance use and mental illness and provides housing and supportive services to those in need. Ulf has more than 41 years of experience as a principal shareholder and top producing broker in the commercial real estate industry in California and throughout the United States. On behalf of SHARE!, Ulf will continue to participate in the acquisition, disposition, syndication, and development of collaborative and permanent supportive housing to serve the homeless population in Los Angeles County and beyond. In addition to directing the organization, he joins the street outreach teams to offer supportive services to Angelenos in need.

Ulf is a director on the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles Board, the LAPD Community Police Advisory Board, the UCLA Extension School Advisory Board, the Venice Neighborhood Council Homeless Committee, and the Venice Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Ulf served for 11 years on the Weingart Center Association on Skid Row, the Casa de Amigas’ women’s recovery home in Pasadena, and the Promises Recovery Alumni Advisory Board. Ulf is also a member of the Jonathan Club & the California Club in Downtown Los Angeles.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Ulf attended the School of Business at the University of Southern California majoring in business finance & marketing. In addition, he received a BA in Human Behavior from Ryokan College in 2012 and has completed year one of a two-year master’s program in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica. Ulf is a Certified Peer Specialist, a Reiki Practitioner, and has lived a life of Recovery since April 26, 2002.

Ulf lives in Venice Beach and has four adult children, son Lukas (24), twin daughters Abby and Amanda (33), and son Connor (35). Ulf enjoys all sports, sings in a gospel choir, loves the beach, and his dog Charlie, and leads a very active Southern California lifestyle.

  Ursua Soledad

speaker imageSoledad Ursua is a finance professional and elected board member of the Venice Neighborhood Council. She addresses social policy questions such as crime, homelessness, and drug addiction. She has written for many publications, including City Journal, Los Angeles Times, American Mind, and the California Globe. She holds a BA from the University of California, at Santa Barbara, and an MS from The New School for Management and Urban Policy.

  Brandon Young

speaker headshotBrandon Young is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, and national practice head of the firm’s government and regulatory group.        

Young dedicates his time on regional homelessness issues. Young assisted the City of Los Angeles’ HHH Citizens Oversight Committee in developing a set of recommendations to expedite the development of HHH-financed housing for persons experiencing homelessness.  Following this work, he represented the County of Los Angeles in the early stages of LA Alliance v. City of Los Angeles, et al.  Later, he was engaged as special counsel to the County of Los Angeles’ Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness. Currently, Young is the chair of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness. He also donates his time to civic causes. Among other roles, Young serves on the board of directors for the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Discovery Cube LA, and Project Restore.  

In 2019, Young was named as one of three “Rising Stars” in Government Contracts by Law360.  In 2020, Brandon was named on Daily Journal’s 2020 “Top 40 Under 40” list, which recognizes the top 40 lawyers in California under the age of 40.  He has also been named as a rising star multiple times by Super Lawyers, published by Thomas Reuters.


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