What is a VBOC?

The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veteran Business Development and is directed by the Small Business Act (Title 15 U.S.C. sec 637 (b)) to participate in the Defense Department’s Transition Assistance Program.

The Southern California (SoCal) VBOC coordinates and facilitates the Boots to Business program held at Vandenberg AFB, Edwards AFB, Fort Irwin, Los Angeles AFB, Naval Base Ventura, Twentynine Palms, Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Naval Station San Diego and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar military bases. These programs are taught by staff members of SoCal VBOC and the SBA District Offices along with staff from SBA Resource Partners (SDBC, SCORE, WBC).

There are 22 VBOCs around the country, with two locations in California – one in Sacramento and the other at MiraCosta Community College District in Carlsbad, California.

The SoCal VBOC opened in 2016 and serves transitioning service members, Guard, Reserve, Veterans of all eras and military-connected family members in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Imperial Counties.

Serving Veterans and their spouses in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Imperial Counties.

Due to COVID-19, our team is working remotely, therefore, please send us an email as we currently do not have access to the telephone system and voice mail. Thank you.

Meet Your Director – Hazel Beck

Amit Shaunak, Deputy Director, Veterans Business Outreach Cener

As Director of the SoCal Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), Hazel is responsible for the overall management of the VBOC, ensuring that business development services are provided to transitioning active duty service members, Guard, Reserve, Veterans and military-connected family members.

Before joining the SoCal VBOC, Hazel served as the Director of the VBOC in Chicago and as the Center Director for the Hawai’i Small Business Development Center (SBDC) located in Kailua Kona on Hawaii Island providing a range of business consulting services to aspiring entrepreneurs, start-up companies and existing businesses.

Hazel is a Veteran of the United States NAVY and holds a B.A. in Business Management, cum laude, from Hiram College. She has owned and managed three consulting companies from 1990 through 2006. With over 16 years of consulting experience, she worked with global manufacturing clients and their Tier 1 suppliers in North America, the UK and Western Europe to increase collaboration throughout supply chains, improve manufacturing processes and reduce costs.  Major clients included Ford Motor Company, Rolls-Royce Aerospace and Lucent Technologies.

Meet Your Associate Director – Keli Benham-Anthis

Mike Sabellico, Business Advisor, Veterans Business Outreach Center

Keli Benham-Anthis is the Associate Director for the SoCal Veterans Business Outreach Center.  She is a progressive-minded professional with more than 20 years of combined experience in education, small business development, economic development, civic and non-profit management, workshop curriculum development and presentation, hospitality and tourism, project coordination and community outreach.

Her passion is assisting veteran entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses through marketing, business plans and access to capital. Keli received her MBA from Cal State University Chico.

Meet Your Administrative Support – Ashley Sherrell

Mike Sabellico, Business Advisor, Veterans Business Outreach Center

Ashley Sherrell provides Administrative Support for the SoCal Veterans Business Outreach Center. She assists with managing the day-to-day operations of the SoCal VBOC and is often the first point of contact for Veterans and their military-connected family members. Ashley has worked in various industries such as manufacturing, public safety and higher education, providing lead administrative and program support.

Ashley has two Associate Degrees, a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and ambitions to obtain her Master’s degree. She is passionate about higher education and assisting Veterans and the military community. She is very excited to be part of the SoCal VBOC team.

Meet Your Business Consultant – Maria Hughes

Mike Sabellico, Business Advisor, Veterans Business Outreach Center

Maria Hughes serves as a Business Consultant for the SoCal Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) at MiraCosta College since July 2019. Her subject matter expertise is finance. She also provides general business counseling for start-ups and existing businesses. She also represents the SoCal VBOC at Veterans outreach events in Southern California.

Prior to joining the SoCal VBOC team, Maria was the Lead Lender Relations Specialist and Veteran Affairs Officer for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) San Diego District Office. She was responsible for marketing SBA’s financial and management assistance programs in San Diego and Imperial Counties. She served as a financial resource for the San Diego District Office and provided training to banks and borrowers as needed. As the Veterans Affairs Officer, she provided financial training support for the SBA’s Boots to Business Program since its inception on 2013. She has assisted small businesses in obtaining financing and referring them to additional Resource Partners. Her other responsibilities included working with the SBA’s Surety Bond Guaranty program, assisting businesses to obtain bonding for their projects. Prior to SBA, Maria worked for the Navy at Naval Oceans Systems Center (formerly SPAWAR) as a contract negotiator. As an SBA team member, she was a frequently-requested speaker and panelist at many government and military functions, UCSD, USD and CIBU, as well as other finance and business events.

Maria also has experience as an ICU RN and a medical reviewer in the insurance industry. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, a Master of Business Administration Degree in Finance and a Juris Doctorate (JD) Degree. She is certified as a legal nurse consultant through UCSD (LNC). She is a proud Vietnam War Army Veteran.

Meet Your Boots to Business Facilitator – Ashley Lambeth Christian

Mike Sabellico, Business Advisor, Veterans Business Outreach Center

Ashley Lambeth Christian is currently a SoCal VBOC Boots to Business Facilitator and Associate Faculty at Miracosta Community College. She teaches entrepreneurship, feasibility studies, business plan development, and business law. She obtained a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and Strategy.

Ashley has launched multiple business ventures ranging from women’s clothing to real estate investment. Her career has included leadership roles in hospitality, education, construction and over a decade of public speaking and training experience. Ashley feels privileged and honored to be able to serve this great nation’s service members and their families as they begin or expand their business ventures!

Meet Your Boots to Business Facilitator – Peter Ovwiovwio

Amit Shaunak, Deputy Director, Veterans Business Outreach Cener

Peter Ovwiovwio is an Associate Faculty of Business at MiraCosta Community College and Palomar College. As an Associate Faculty, Peter teaches Introduction to Business, Business Statistics and Introduction to Supply Chain Management. Peter has created, grown and sold two small businesses and currently owns two national franchises.

Peter is a Veteran of the United States Navy and holds a BSc in Business Management, graduating Summa Cum Laude, from Colorado Technical University. In addition, Peter has a master’s degree in Supply Chain Management from University of San Diego and a Doctorate in Business with a concentration in Supply Chain Management. As a certified college instructor and an industry practitioner, Peter has strong expertise in entrepreneurship, business creation strategies and effective cost management methodologies.