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Leadership Team

Maria Sittmann

Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer

Maria Sittmann serves as the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer (ED/CEO) at the Veterans Medical Research Foundation (VMRF) in San Diego, CA. She joined VMRF in 2004. 

Ms. Sittmann has an accomplished career as a business leader, university faculty, board member, executive, and consultant at for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, academic and educational institutions, and also for the Department of Defense. 

She has developed and implemented strategic plans that improved operational efficiency and aligned the corporate vision and mission, policies and practices with organizational objectives and corporate culture. 

Ms. Sittmann has presented at several national conferences and events on many topics such as executive leadership and development, strategic planning, and corporate cultures that deliver successful results. 
Ms. Sittmann has a well-balanced and diverse executive business background and expertise. She possesses an M.B.A and a B.S. in Business Administration. 

Her dedicated commitment to veterans and research and all who devote their time and effort in collaboration to this noble cause is perfectly aligned to honor our nation’s veterans’ service with science. 

Adam Cassius

Chief Financial Officer

Adam Cassius joined the Veterans Medical Research Foundation as the Accounting Director in 2015 with extensive experience involving corporate and foundation budgets, grants, financial studies, and related financial programs, as well as a variety of professional senior level accounting duties. In 2018, Adam was promoted to Chief Financial Officer.


Adam has over 20 years of experience as working as a CPA and most recently in the medical industry.  He is well versed in preparing and presenting a variety of technical financial reports to Executives and various levels of management, board members, and employees, as well as coordinating and preparing agencies’ annual budgets and external audits.

Adam graduated from San Diego State University with a B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting. He shares a passion for the mission of serving Veterans and for research that affects their care and as well as the care of many others through the advancement of medical research. Adam also brings financial acumen, high degree of professionalism, decorum, a collaborative style, and a forward focus to problem recognition and solution, in addition to extensive knowledge and experience in financial accounting, forecasting, budget preparation, auditing and directing fiscal and financial functions.

Matthew (Matt) Dohner

Revenue Cycle and IT Director

Matthew (Matt) Dohner serves as the Revenue Cycle and IT Director at the Veterans Medical Research Foundation (VMRF).  He joined VMRF in 2015 and brought with him 20 years of for-profit and non-profit accounting and finance experience. Matt is an instrumental member of the Leadership Team.

Matt’s history of understanding the intricacies of both the programmatic and fiscal components of an organization has led to his capacity to serve both components in a cohesive and collaborative manner.  Gleaning from his insight of the importance that both components must coexist, Matt has developed comprehensive fiscal reports geared toward the programmatic audience and provides leadership to both VMRF staff and the research community in the areas of fiscal stewardship, compliance and adherence with applicable industry, federal, state and local legislations.

Matt has been influential in fostering relationships with the VA and UCSD regarding systems development that enhance collaboration and effectiveness.

Matt graduated from San Diego State University with a B.S Degree in Finance. He thrives on process improvement and creating efficiencies and enhancements to VMRF processes/systems that results ongoing support for VMRF Principal Investigators and the veteran community.

Jean Freiser

Contracts and Grants Pre-Award & Business Development Director

Jean Freiser serves as Contracts and Grants Pre-Award & Business Development Director at the Veterans Medical Research Foundation.  She joined Veterans Medical Research Foundation (VMRF) in July 2016. She also served in a consultancy role at VMRF previously.  

In her capacity as Director, she provides management and direction for all pre-award grants and contracts activities, as well as clinical trial development. Jean is responsible for the research business development opportunities consistent with VMRF’s priorities, mission, and annual Strategic Goals.  Jean is an instrumental member of the Leadership Team. She is proficient in the development and successful submission of grants, contracts and industry sponsored research agreements.  In addition, she develops strategies to identify and obtain Federal funding for the VMRF research programs. Jean was instrumental in the development of a VMRF Pilot Project Research Award Program. 

Jean is an accomplished research administrator with a broad knowledge of pre and post award grant and contract management for Federal, State and private foundations.  She has proven ability to identify funding opportunities and has a comprehensive knowledge of governmental and other research funding agencies. 
Jean is a Certified Research Administrator and is an active member of the Society for Research Administrators International (SRA), the Associated Independent Research Institutes (AIRI), and the National Association of Veterans’ Research and Education Foundation (NAVREF). 

Sherill David

Administrative Director

Sherill David serves as the Administrative Director at the Veterans Medical Research Foundation (VMRF).

Sherill joined the organization in 2007. During her early career at VMRF, she assumed different roles and responsibilities within VMRF Human Resources department, prior to transferring to VMRF’s Executive Office as the Executive Assistant in 2014. 

In 2022, Sherill was promoted to Administrative Director, and is an instrumental member of the Leadership Team. She is responsible for overseeing the corporate administrative functions of the organization and providing executive support to the ED/CEO, CFO, and other Executive Management members, as well as the VMRF Board of Directors. In her capacity, Sherill also coordinates the organization’s day-to-day operations and oversees the implementation of corporate documents and policies. 

Sherill earned her B.A. Degree in Psychology from San Diego State University. Prior to her career at VMRF, Sherill had years of experience working with office administration and payroll.  

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