Neli Vazquez Rowland
Neli Vazquez Rowland and her husband Brian Rowland, a military veteran, left their successful 13-year careers in finance to co-found A Safe Haven (ASH) 26 years ago.
Today they are recognized as the pioneering architects for one of the most lauded models in the world that helps break the cycle of homelessness.
Neli is a fearless advocate, entrepreneur, non-profit leader, author, and speaker. Since the inception of A Safe Haven (ASH), Neli has worked towards influencing a better paradigm for helping those in crisis and fighting to change the inefficiencies and gaps in government services by advancing an elegant solution to complex problems. Her organization’s innovative, comprehensive, vertically-integrated approach provides individualized, community-based, state-licensed food, shelter, substance abuse treatment, healthcare, education, job training, placement, and phased-housing programs to those in need.
ASH has moved more than 130,000 people including families with children and over 25,000 military veterans from social and economic crisis to independent living and self-sufficiency with their pride and purpose, restored. Thanks to Neli’s experience and training in finance and her entrepreneurial spirit, ASH was at the forefront of realizing the need to establish a more sustainable non-profit model to solve big societal problems. The ASH revenue model is based on private and public partnerships, including social business enterprises. Social enterprises also offer opportunities to employ the formerly homeless and help businesses meet their commitment to social responsibility. Decades before these concepts were mainstream issues and ideas.. .
Neli’s vision, concern for the homeless and quick instincts helped her organization be the first to be prepared to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, her organization serving 1,400 homeless, has earned distinction in the field as one of the safest homeless programs in the State with no reported virus outbreaks among staff or residents. Recently, A Safe Haven Medical Respite WON THE CHICAGO INNOVATION AWARD resulting from a partnership with Rush University Healthcare System and the City of Chicago’s department of public health to establish the first isolation 100 bed center in the City of Chicago for homeless people battling the COVID-19 virus.
Neli’s has helped author and pass landmark legislation in Illinois on expanding public and private insurance coverage for community-based state licensed mental and behavioral healthcare. She has received numerous awards and honors for her humanitarian work, and recently was named a Healthcare Hero by Crains Chicago Magazine and received the Chicago Innovation Award for her leadership and innovative response to the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a veteran non-profit leader and a highly sought after subject matter expert on various topics regarding poverty, opioid addiction, covid-19, economic and housing development and homelessness. She has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Magazine, Negocios Now, USA Today, and the Huffington Post and on NBC, ABC, FOX News, WGN America, The Steve Harvey Show and Al Jazeera. She has been invited to the White House twice: to be honored as a Rotary International “Champion of Change” and to address the Opportunity Zone conference.
Contact: Neli Vazquez Rowland