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Our Staff and Board

Staff Members


Lisa Bates

Chief Executive Officer

Lisa Bates is the CEO of Sacramento Steps Forward, the lead organization for the Sacramento Homeless Continuum of Care.

Prior to her appointment in February 2019, she served six years in deputy director positions for California Department of Housing and Community Development leading housing policy initiatives including adoption of a statewide housing assessment, and overseeing development and deployment of over 15 housing and community development funding programs to communities and affordable housing developers.

Lisa also spent 21 years with Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, including 11 years in senior leadership positions. While working for SHRA she provided strategic direction and program development in housing, and community development throughout the Sacramento Region.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from UC Davis in International Relations and is a graduate of the Sierra Health Leadership program.

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Michele Watts

Chief Planning Officer

Michele Watts is the Chief Programs Officer for Sacramento Steps Forward. She has been with the organization since its founding in 2011.

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Rolf Davidson

Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer at Sacramento Steps Forward, Rolf provides operational leadership, oversees grant management functions, administrative and financial procedures, human resource functions, SSF Board support, and operation controls to the day to day work of SSF.

Prior to joining our team, he served as Chief Operating Officer at California YMCA Youth & Government and the Executive Director for California Chapter 1 of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Rolf brings nearly 20 years of experience in non-profit capacity building, strategic planning and process improvement.

Rolf is a Sacramento native and a graduate of the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Leadership Sacramento Class of 2015.  In his off-time he enjoys spending time with his family and is active in scouting with his son.

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Ya-yin Isle

Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer

As the Officer of Strategic Initiatives, Ya-yin is responsible for developing, communicating, executing and sustaining SSF’s high priority state and locally funded initiatives, overseeing system performance, and assisting with stakeholder relations.

Ya-yin brings an extensive background working with local agencies, housing initiatives, project management and stakeholder relations.  She has lived and worked in the Sacramento region for over 20 years in both the public and private sectors.

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Tamu Green, Ph.D.

Systems Performance Advisor

As Systems Performance Advisor, Dr. Green provides leadership to and oversees the development and implementation of comprehensive system evaluations, data analytics, and the resulting strategic planning for system improvement.

For over twenty years, Dr. Green she has been engaged in power building efforts that synergize resources, facilitate equity-oriented decision making, and turn advocacy into outcomes. By prioritizing planning, research and evaluation practices that maximize stakeholder engagement, coalition building and strategic partnerships, Dr. Green has confronted the social determinants of health at the community, state and national level.

These efforts have been aided by her networks, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Leadership Forum, of which she is a senior fellow.

Prior to her arrival at Sacramento Steps Forward, she taught at her alma mater, the University of California, Davis, in the Human Ecology Department, and served The Center at Sierra Health Foundation and the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity, where she was instrumental in developing and implementing the inaugural California Statewide Plan to Promote Health and Mental Health Equity.

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Peter Bell

Coordinated Entry Manager

Peter Bell has been working with young people experiencing homelessness in Sacramento since 2010. Most recently, he has worked as a program and policy advisor, trainer, and data manager for Wind Youth Services. In 2019, Peter presented at the National Human Services Data Consortium on his participation in the Rapid Results 100-day Challenge to End Youth Homelessness, where he worked to identify and improve local system gaps in serving homeless youth. Peter has actively participated in many community policy and advocacy committees including the Homeless Youth Task Force, the Coordinated Entry System committee, and the HMIS and Data committee. Peter has also had the honor to serve as a co-chair on the following committees; the Systems Performance Committee, We Help Youth (WHY) Sacramento, and Sacramento County’s System Improvement Plan “S1” committee that provides recommendations and insights on how to reduce maltreatment in the Foster Care system. Peter is also an engaged father and family man for his two children, plays Jazz drum set, and is deeply passionate about helping others.

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Anita Roberts

Accounting Manager

Anita Roberts’ career in accounting spans more than 35 years and covers specifics of payroll, full-cycle accounting, funds management, and the development of budgets and audit protocols. She recently had the pleasure of working for the Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) as his Deputy Director of federal grants overseeing $184 million in federal dollars, and as the Commissioner for the Department of Human Services, overseeing programs which included Medicare, Youth Services, Senior Citizens residentials, and the territories’ homeless and mental health services. She frequently reported to the Governor’s executive team and the legislature on funding and program areas. She was responsible for compliance and uniform guidance training and policy development in preparation for annual audits. Additionally, she worked as the CFO for the Detroit Lions, and the Hovensa Oil Refinery, USVI. She currently serves as a planning commissioner for the City of Brentwood, where she resides. She attained her bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University in Boston, her Masters in Organization Management at the University of Phoenix, and she is finishing up her Ph.D. work in literacy development. She is married with two children and two grandchildren.

Anita can be reached at


Deborah Folayan

Contracts and Grants Manager

As Contracts and Grants Manager at Sacramento Steps Forward, Deborah Folayan is responsible for the overall direction and leadership of the Contracts Department and all of the associated grant management, reporting, and research.

Debbie has over 15 years of experience in financial management, budgeting, and financial analysis and a broad background working with national agencies and nonprofits. Prior to joining our team, she managed several multimillion-dollar Global Fund grants in the public health sector which contributed to the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Debbie is a Certified Accountant and a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a Master’s degree in Development Finance. She is married with three children and enjoys spending time with her family, music, and interior decorating. Her passion and fulfillment come from helping people and giving back to the community.

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Tina Wilton

HMIS Manager

Tina Wilton is the HMIS Manager for Sacramento Steps Forward. She has been with the organization since 2016.  Prior to working in the HMIS department, she worked with the Coordinated Entry team.

As the HMIS Manager, Tina is responsible for the daily management of the Homeless Management Information System, which includes technical support and training to the providers utilizing the system.

Prior to coming to SSF, Tina held leadership roles in a community-based mental health organization in the Bay Area that served both families and transitional-age youth.

Tina is a Sacramento native.

Tina can be reached at

Board Members


Ashley Brand


Community and Homeless Health System Director, CommonSpirit Health

Ashley Brand is the System Director, Community and Homeless Health for CommonSpirit Health, focusing on the legacy Dignity Health footprint in California. She focuses on the new California homeless health initiative which concentrates on transforming health and our communities by strengthening the continuum of care for those experiencing housing insecurities through innovation, partnership, and lasting impact. Prior to this, Ashley served as the Director of Community and Outreach for Dignity Health’s Greater Sacramento Service Area hospitals. As Director, Ashley was responsible for developing, implementing, managing, reporting, and evaluating community health and community benefit strategies that respond to priority health issues identified through assessments, support hospital business/clinical objectives, and involve collaboration with safety net partners for greater effectiveness and region-wide impact on health improvement.


Ashley has over 12 years of experience developing and implementing programs that target the underserved and uninsured populations in both Northern and Southern California and overseas in East Africa. Prior to Dignity Health, she was responsible for overseeing various programs, grant development and implementation, as well as community relations, with a focus on public and nonprofit safety net agencies. Ashley developed the California Endowment-funded Community Health Navigator Program under their state-wide Building Healthy Communities Initiative; she implemented and managed the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in Auburn, CA and in Long Beach, CA; and provided direct case management services for the Skid Row Families Demonstration Project which removed families from Skid Row in Los Angeles and placed them into housing under the Housing First model. Ashley currently serves on the Sacramento Covered and CARES Foundation Board of Directors.


Cassandra H.B. Jennings

Vice Chair

President & CEO, Greater Sacramento Urban League

Cassandra H. B. Jennings is the newly appointed President & CEO of the Greater Sacramento Urban League to promote economic empowerment through education, job readiness, training and placement programs and advocacy for underserved individuals and families. She most recently served as Senior Advisor to Mayor Kevin Johnson, City of Sacramento on key policy initiatives such as arts, homelessness, housing, volunteerism, public safety, health and community issues. Cassandra spent six years as the Assistant City Manager for the City of Sacramento and over 20 years with Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, including six years as Deputy Executive Director. She has provided great leadership in housing, community and economic development throughout the Sacramento Region.

Cassandra currently serves on the boards of Sacramento Region Community Foundation, Golden 1 Credit Union, Norwood Avenue Housing Corporation, Shasta Housing Corporation, The Sacramento Judicial Library and Learning Center Foundation, and Sacramento Steps Forward. She is also an active member of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and President of the Sacramento Chapter of The Links, Inc.

Cassandra has been recognized as: 2005 Women Who Mean Business, 2008 Mother of the Year by the Saint John’s Shelter Program, 2009 Black Expo Women of Inspiration, 2010 Zeta Phi Beta Woman of the Year, The Repairer of Breach Award, 2015 Asian Resources Community Service Award and 2016 California Legislative Black Caucus Black History Month Honoree.

Cassandra received a Masters in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco and Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. She and her husband, Rick, have been married thirty eight years and enjoy spending time with their adult children and their spouses and three beautiful granddaughters.


Pamela Maxwell


Community Development Manager for Government Relations & Community Development, U.S. Bank

Pamela Maxwell joined U.S. Bank in July of 2010 and currently works as the Community Development Manager for Government Relations & Community Development at U.S. Bank. Ms. Maxwell is responsible for the development, coordination and management of community relations and development activities within the Sacramento area, Northern California and Utah. She collaborates with community groups focusing on affordable housing, small business development, capacity building and financial education. The primary focus of her work is serving community needs within low-to-moderate income neighborhoods and meeting corporate CRA objectives. In addition, she manages the corporate giving budget for Sacramento and Northern California.

Pam has been working in the banking industry for over 25 years. She previously worked for Wells Fargo in Retail Banking for 19 years. She is a board member of Junior Achievement of Sacramento, Hands4Hope, Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento Steps Forward, committee member of Sacramento Self Help Housing, and is on the Lighthouse committee for the Women’s Fund El Dorado. She resides in Shingle Springs with her husband and has two daughters.


Erin Johansen

Continuum of Care Representative

Executive Director, Hope Cooperative

Erin became the CEO & Executive Director of Hope Cooperative in 2016 after serving as the agency’s first Development Director for a period of three years. Prior to leading Hope Cooperative, Erin spent over 25 years in the food business as a sales and marketing professional. In 2008, she co-founded and served as Executive Director for a non-profit substance abuse treatment program for teens in Placer County. After successfully merging that program into a larger non-profit, Erin found her niche in the non -profit world. Serving as the first Development Director for Hope Cooperative was an incredibly rewarding and energizing experience. She looks forward to building the resources to offer expanded services to enhance the lives of the people we serve. Erin holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from San Jose State University and Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Sociology from San Diego State University.


Stephen Perez


Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs and a Professor of Economics at California State University, Sacramento

Stephen Perez is Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs and a Professor of Economics at California State University, Sacramento and serves as the University’s Chief Academic Officer. After receiving his B.A. degree in economics at the University of California, San Diego, he received his Ph.D. degree in economics from the University of California, Davis in 1994. He taught economics at Virginia Commonwealth University and Washington State University before coming to California State University, Sacramento in 2001. He has taught macroeconomics at all levels as well as econometrics, sports economics, labor economics, and mathematics for economists.

Professor Perez’s research explores most macroeconomic topics. But, in particular he is interested in evaluating the ability of econometric techniques to discover the truth, issues of causality in macroeconomics, and sports economics. His articles appear in many economics journals, including The Journal of Sports Economics, The Journal of Monetary Economics, The Econometrics Journal, Economics Letters, The Journal of Economic Methodology, Public Finance and Management, The Journal of Economics and Business, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, The Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking, Applied Economics, and The Journal of Macroeconomics.


Matthew Keasling


Attorney - Taylor & Wiley

Matthew Keasling is an attorney at the law firm of Taylor & Wiley. His practice focuses on land use, environmental and regulatory matters, he specializes in securing and defending discretionary entitlements for development projects located throughout the Sacramento Region and Northern California. In his professional capacity, Mr. Keasling successfully represented, pro bono, the Sacramento Area Emergency Housing Center and River City Food Bank in the expansion and relocation of their family shelter and food distribution facilities, respectively.

Mr. Keasling currently serves on the City of West Sacramento’s Economic Development and Housing Commission and on the Board of Directors at Sacramento Steps Forward. He formerly served on the Board of Directors of Next Move, including two terms as board president, served on the YLG executive committee of the Urban Land Institute, Sacramento Chapter, and participated in the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce’s leadership program.

Matt earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A Sacramento native, Matt now lives in Southport with his wife, Leslie, and their young son.


Alissa Ko


Director of Strategic Giving and Community Engagement

Alissa Ko is the Director of Strategic Giving and Community Engagement at Health Net, a subsidiary of Centene Corporation. At Health Net, she oversees community engagement, public affairs, and corporate giving for the company. She works with local community based organizations, local elected officials, and stakeholders to transform the health of the community, one person at a time.

Prior to Health Net, she served as Vice President of Policy, Government Relations & Advocacy for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, leading a team to advance the organization’s political and electoral strategy, policy, brand awareness, and community engagement statewide. Ko also served as the Senior Associate Director at the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Office of Public Affairs, where she worked with attorneys general, state legislators and the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. During her tenure, Ko built a program that engaged state legislators from all 50 states to advance President Obama’s domestic policies, on issues such as paid sick days, minimum wage, and the “second chance” initiative for former inmates.

She has a career that spans two decades encompassing high-level national community organizing, organizational change, fundraising, coalition building, and successful legislative and issue campaigns. Ko has been recognized as a Rising Star by Campaigns and Elections and has been included on 40 under 40 lists by the American Association of Political Consultants and the National Association of Asian Pacifics in Politics and Public Affairs. She previously served on the board of National Women’s Political Caucus- Capitol Caucus, Organizing Corps, and California Young Democrats. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from University of California, Los Angeles.


Michelle Odell


Director, Public Affairs, Kaiser Permanente

Michelle Odell is the Director of Public Affairs for Kaiser Permanente. Her responsibilities include overseeing all aspects of Public Affairs including community relations, government relations; community health and community benefit planning; and internal and external communications, including media relations

Prior to joining Kaiser Permanente in 2008, Odell spent nine years at The Sacramento Bee, serving as Public Affairs Manager where she oversaw public affairs and corporate communications initiatives, including branding, community outreach, media relations, and charitable contributions. Prior to The Sacramento Bee, she spent eight years as Associate Vice President of Investments at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.

Odell currently serves as Chair for Sacramento Covered, and as Director on the boards of the local PBS affiliate KVIE, and the Los Rios Foundation. She is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum and a member of the City of Sacramento Gang Prevention/Intervention Task Force.

She previously served on the Board of Directors of WEAVE, Elk Grove Economic Development Corporation, The Sacramento Ballet, The Sacramento Public Library Foundation, Sacramento Children’s Receiving Home, The Sacramento Theatre Company and Stanford Home for Children.

Odell holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon. She live in Sacramento with her husband Kevin and their three daughters.


David Husid


Director of Community Development - Cottage Housing Inc.

David Husid is Director of Community Development for Cottage Housing, Inc., a non-profit that develops healing communities that are solution-focused, participant-driven and strength-based, where homeless people help themselves – and each other – through their transition from the streets to self-sustainability.

Husid, who was adopted at birth, was raised in a middle class neighborhood south of San Francisco. Growing up, he was told that he was the “chosen one” and had a great childhood with great parents.

However, alcohol and drugs became a problem early in life, leading to repeated cycles of homelessness. A conviction for computer-fraud led him to state prison. At the time, he thought this was the end, his life was over.
It was not. Through a journey of recovery and with the help of great counselors and mentors, Husid found his strength and regained hope. He got his life back on track.

Nearly twenty years later, Husid is a respected leader in the addiction and recovery fields and is a non-profit executive responsible the operation of two permanent supportive housing programs serving approximately 150 adults and 175 children who have previously experienced homelessness.

As someone with lived experience of homelessness, addiction, and incarceration, Husid has become an advocate for those he serves and uses his story to speak for those who have been silenced by their situation. Recognizing his work as an advocate, Husid was honored by the Sacramento Housing Alliance in 2016 with their Homeless Justice Award.

Husid is a graduate of the Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Leadership Program and Sierra Health Foundation Leadership Program. He has served on the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness Board of Directors and the Sacramento Homeless Continuum of Care Advisory Board.

Husid is Internationally Certified Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor and California Board Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor. He holds Associates Degrees in Human Services and Chemical Dependency.


A. Jonathan Porteus, Ph.D.


Chief Executive Officer, Wellspace Health

A Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Addictionologist, Dr. Porteus has extensive experience in health and behavioral health integration, evidence-based practice and clinical research and evaluation. He also has extensive experience in program development, including outpatient, residential, and systems-level interventions (e.g. creation of trauma- informed initial assessment for NY State Office of Mental Health
psychiatric facilities). His clinical practice includes addiction and compulsive behavior, trauma practice, integrated behavioral health, primary care, and behavioral health treatment across all levels care.

As a trainer, Dr. Porteus has conducted training in Motivational Interviewing, behavioral interventions around compulsive behavior, PTSD, complex trauma, and co-occurring disorders treatment and built the Outpatient Drug Treatment system for the Republic of Vietnam.

Dr. Porteus brings unique perspectives to the understanding of addiction, health care, supply and demand reduction, and our current opioid epidemic. He began his work with WellSpace Health as Clinical Director in 2002. He has been Chief Executive Officer since 1/1/11 and has received accolades for his systems integration work bringing a ‘blanket of care’ comprised of a network of Federally Qualified Community Health Centers to a region with a historically tattered ‘safety net.’ In his tenure as CEO, Dr. Porteus has overseen a ten-fold expansion of the patient population (5,000-70,000 persons served in the FQHC CHCs) across multiple regional Health Centers.