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.
Director, Rural Housing Project, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
Brian Augusta is an attorney and legislative advocate for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, focusing on housing and land use policy in the California Legislature. Brian began working on affordable housing issues in 1991, as the director of the Sacramento Housing Alliance, a position he held for four years. In 1999, after graduating from Santa Clara University School of Law, Brian joined the staff of Legal Services of Northern California, where he worked for six years as a staff attorney. During his time with LSNC he has been credited with helping to expand affordable housing opportunities throughout the region, providing leadership on a number of policy initiatives and successful litigation.
In his current position, Brian has played a key role in legislation on affordable housing, land use, tenants’ rights and other housing-related measures over the past 15 years. Most recently, he was part of a team of advocates who helped negotiate and win passage of key parts of a 15-bill affordable housing package that expands funding and opportunities for new affordable housing.
He is a past President of the Board of Directors of the Sacramento Housing Alliance and a past member of the board of the East Sacramento Improvement Association. He lives in Sacramento with his wife Katy and their two teenage children.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Executive Director, Teichert Foundation
Fred Teichert is the Executive Director of the Teichert Foundation in Sacramento, California. Mr. Teichert serves on the boards of the City of Sacramento’s Policy Board to End Homelessness, People Reaching Out, Sacramento State University Foundation, and Sacramento Regional Community Foundation. Mr. Teichert is actively engaged with the Sacramento’s business, arts, and social service communities. Teichert’s construction company is known for building California’s infrastructure and Fred Teichert continues this tradition, building his Sacramento community.
Mr. Teichert holds an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from California State University, Sacramento.
Vice President, CFY Development, Inc.
Ali Youssefi is Vice President of CFY Development, a Sacramento-based firm that develops, builds and manages affordable and mixed-income housing. The family-owned company has a portfolio that includes over 3,000 apartment units in 25 cities. Mr. Youssefi oversees all phases of the development process, including project design, financial analysis, entitlements, permit processing, construction and property management. While CFY operates throughout the state of California, Mr. Youssefi’s primary focus has been on mixed-use, infill development in his hometown of Sacramento.
Mr. Youssefi currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Iranian American Council, Downtown Sacramento Partnership, VERGE Center for the Arts, B Street Theatre, E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts and the R Street Sacramento Partnership. Prior to joining CFY Development, Mr. Youssefi was an investment banking analyst at WR Hambrecht + Co in San Francisco. Mr. Youssefi graduated from DartmouthCollege in New Hampshire with a B.A. in Economics and Cognitive Science.
Chief Executive Officer
Lisa Bates is the Chief Executive Officer of Sacramento Steps Forward.
She recently 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. Prior to state service, Lisa 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 Bachelors Degree from UC Davis in International Relations and is a graduate of the Sierra Health Leadership program
She has been Sacramento area resident for 28 years and enjoys spending time with her husband of 23 years, children and grandchildren.
Chief Programs Officer
Michele Watts is the Chief Programs Officer for Sacramento Steps Forward. She has been with the organization since its founding in 2011.
Chief Operating Officer
Nicholas (Nick) Lee is the Chief Operations Officer for Sacramento Steps Forward. In this role, he oversees the organization’s overall business operations, human resources, and manages the day-to-day work of the Coordinated Entry System Team and the Homeless Outreach Team.
A native of Montana, Lee relocated to California in 2001 where he has become a leader in both the Human Services and Environmental Sustainability fields.
From 2001 to 2006, Lee was a Child Care Manager, Facilitator and Skills Training Supervisor for River Oak Center for Children. In this role he supervised 55 employees at a facility for children who were emotionally disturbed and had a very high level of need.
From there, he moved to Terra Nova Counseling where he was promoted from Program Manager to Program Director before his appointment as Interim CEO. Terra Nova Counseling provides counseling and educational services for children and caregivers. The program had a budget of $4.9 million and served 750 consumers per week ages 2-21 years old.
In 2011 Lee left Terra Nova to provide consulting services in business development, operations, human resources, and sustainability to an array of for-profit and non-profit companies.
In 2016, Lee joined Sacramento Steps Forward as Vice President of Operations. He was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2017.
Lee received is Masters in Business Administration from the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA with a focus on Sustainable Management and his Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Development, with a focus on Family and Consumer Sciences, from Montana State University.
Lee lives in the City of Sacramento with his wife and two children.
Chief External Affairs Officer
Ben Avey is the Chief External Affairs Officer for Sacramento Steps Forward where he is responsible for Public Affairs (government, community, and media relations), the Coordinated Entry System, and Access and Outreach.
A nonprofit professional with a record of success as a public policy and legislative advocate, strategic communicator, and community leader, Avey joined Sacramento Steps Forward in 2017 to help end homelessness in his hometown.
Avey started his career in politics working on local political campaigns before making the leap to public policy as a legislative aid and district representative for members of the California State Senate and Assembly. From there he became a local government lobbyist for the biotechnology and life sciences industry.
In 2007 he met his wife Kyla, an Ensign in the United States Navy’s Nurse Corps, who stole his heart before the two married and moved to her next duty station in Yokosuka, Japan. In Japan, Avey became a civilian Public Affairs Specialist for the forward-deployed naval base and later a Public Affairs Officer for U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and its eight branch clinics spread across the far-east. In his role, Avey was awarded the Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service medal for his service during Japan’s 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear emergency.
Returning to the United States, Avey joined the team at Family Health Centers of San Diego where he developed a passion for helping low-income and working communities. Following the birth of his second child, Avey returned to his hometown of Sacramento and served as a state-wide advocate for community clinics at the California Primary Care Association before joining Sacramento Steps Forward.
Avey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from San Diego State University. He served as an appointed member of the Sacramento County Public Health Advisory Board and is President of the nonprofit Friends of Camp Sacramento. Before moving to Sacramento was named one of San Diego’s 40 Under 40.
Avey lives in Fair Oaks with his wife Kyla and their four children.
Homeless Outreach Manager
Gabrielle Salazar is the Outreach Manager for Sacramento Steps Forward. In this role she leads the Outreach Team’s daily operations, recruitment and hiring, staff training and competency, program integrity and improvement, client and partner relations, and overall housing success.
She directly manages outreach workers who are contracted with Sutter Health, Dignity Health, CARES Community Clinic, Sacramento Public Library, City of Rancho Cordova, Regional Transit, Sacramento Downtown Partnership, Midtown Business Association, Florin Road Partnership, Mack Road Partnership, River District, and the County Sherriff’s Smart Policing Initiative.
Initially hired by Sacramento Steps Forward as an Outreach Worker in the River District, Salazar was promoted to Team Lead after demonstrating her compassionate ability to work with and house some of the most chronically homeless individuals in Sacramento.
As Team Lead, she guided her staff using her newly formed best practices and built a new healthcare specific outreach model which is currently in use today at CARES Community Clinic, Sutter Health, and Dignity Health. Thanks to the success of this program, she was again promoted to be the Interim Continuum of Care Manager and then to her current position as Outreach Manager.
Prior to joining Sacramento Steps Forward, Salazar was a Respite Service Coordinator at TLCS where she worked with individuals in mental health crisis, most of whom were homeless, providing crisis counseling and resources to help de-escalate crisis and prevent future crisis.
Salazar is a certified as a Mental Health First Aid Train-the-Trainer and has completed Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), Professional Assault Crisis Training (Pro-ACT), and Motivational Interviewer Training.
Salazar is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz and currently lives in the City of Sacramento.
Data Analytics and Research Manager
Chris Weare, Ph.D., Manager of Data Analytics and Research for Sacramento Steps Forward.
He received a BA in Government from Harvard University and a MPP and PhD in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
In addition to his work at Sacramento Steps Forward he lectures at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley where he teaches courses on program evaluation and performance management.
Dr. Weare has wide ranging experience as a policy analyst and program evaluator. He has conducted major, multi-year evaluations of a citizen participation reform in Los Angeles and Mayor Garcetti’s initiative to introduce data-driven management into Los Angeles City Departments.
Beyond teaching and conducting research at Berkeley and USC, he worked in the US Congress where he drafted amendments to the bill that became the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act and worked as a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.
Coordinated Entry Manager
Tristina Stewart is the Coordinated Entry Manager for Sacramento Steps Forward. She is also the organization’s Mental Health First Aid Trainer. She joined the organization in 2018.
As Coordinated Entry Manager, Tristina oversees the system by which people experiencing homelessness are assessed to determine their relative vulnerability, and when appropriate based on established criteria, referred to a housing program within the Continuum of Care. In more common terms, she makes sure the right person is referred to the right bed when it becomes available.
Tristina’s experience is well suited to the task. She is a professional Social Worker who has served as Manager of Transitional Housing programs, Housing Coordinator, Case Manager, Tenant/Landlord Hotline Supervisor, and Services Coordinator for several partner organizations including Sacramento Self-Help Housing, the Sacramento Veterans Resource Center, and Alta California Regional Center. Long committed to the welfare of veterans, she is a member of the region’s Veteran Leadership Team.
Tristina is a certified Mental Health First Aid Trainer by the National Council for Behavioral Health, holds a certificate from the same organization for Youth Mental health First Aid, and has successfully passed the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) for educators. In addition, she has completed SAFE ZONE training, working with the LGBTQ community in 2013.
Tristina holds a Bachelors of Social Work from California State University, Sacramento.