The City of Hawthorne has recently formed a Veterans Affairs Commission, which is chartered to support all veterans by fostering support and participation in related activities within the Hawthorne community. This commission is  comprised of five residents appointed by the City.

The Commission  will be developing relationships with local Veterans Service Organizations, appointed and elected officials, and the general populous as they determine the veteran constituency within city boundaries.

Longer term plans include supporting veterans through medical, counseling, employment and housing challenges, as well as developing a communications approach to create public support to help veterans.

The commission meets regularly on the first and third Monday’s at 3:15pm in City Council Chambers. Meeting dates/time are posted on the City calendar which can be viewed HERE

Contact information:


Neil Gafney, Chair

Neil recently served as the Vice President of Federal & Military Programs, with Enviance, Inc., from 2004-2011. During that period he directed the account and project management discipline across all federal agencies and DoD entities. He has more than 32 years as a commissioned officer with the Army Corps of Engineers, in both Active Duty and Reserve capacities, and retired as a Colonel while on his last assignment working for the Chief of Engineers in Washington, DC. 

From 1989-2002 Neil helped to develop, deploy, train, and deliver an environmental focus to the US Army, as a Team Leader, Director, and Chief of Staff for the US Army Facilities Engineer Group. This involved the rollout and implementation of the Army's Construction Engineer Research Lab Environmental Compliance and Assessment System (ECAS) to 1600 reserve facilities in the United States. During that 20 year period he has been involved in implementing environmental and energy solutions at more than a dozen military installations within the active Army, Reserve Command and National Guard. 

With more than 40 years of business experience, Neil has also served as CEO and COO of 4 Internet companies following his 27 year corporate career with AT&T, Mars, Inc., and Oracle. Neil currently works as Director of Parent Philanthropy at the University of California Los Angeles.

Neil holds a Bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering and a Masters of Industrial Management from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

  • Kyle Orlemann, Vice Chair
  • Robert Leon, Commissioner
  • Ken Lester, Commissioner

    Ken Lester has been a commissioner for the City of Hawthorne, Veterans Affairs Commission since December 2014. Ken retired from the United States Air Force as a Master Sergeant in 2000. Ken served in the United States Army for 4 years and the United States Air Force for 20 years, with a combined total of 24 years of dedicated service to our country. Ken has always been concerned of veteran’s issues and the desire to assist and serve to better veterans.

  • Carol Steinhauer