Our Staff and Board

Board Members


Matthew Keasling

Board Chair

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.


Brian Augusta


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.


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.


Cassandra H.B. Jennings


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.


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.


Sarah Bontrager


Housing and Public Services Manager, City of Elk Grove

Sarah Bontrager is the Housing and Public Services Manager for the City of Elk Grove, where she has the unique opportunity to do high-level policy work and meet many of the people who benefit from it. Currently, she oversees the City’s affordable housing policy and programs, homelessness policy, and grant programs for nonprofit organizations. She also manages several housing and community development grant programs, including the Community Development Block Grant, affordable housing development loans, homebuyer assistance, and home repair programs. In her time with Elk Grove, she has underwritten more than $27 million in City funding to support over 500 new units of affordable housing for families and seniors, and oversees a loan portfolio of more than $70 million in affordable housing investments. She also served as the liaison to the nonprofit Senior Center in developing and constructing a new facility in coordination with the City.


Prior to joining the City of Elk Grove in 2011, Sarah spent six years with a private consulting firm, doing work in small and large cities nationally, primarily in California, Arizona, Oregon, and New York. She focused on long-range housing planning and policy, including development of Housing Elements, Consolidated Plans, and Analyses of Impediments to Fair Housing. She also designed and administered direct housing programs, including homebuyer assistance and housing rehabilitation.


Sarah received a Master of City and Regional Planning from the Ohio State University, and a bachelor’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University.  She currently serves as the Chair of the Sacramento Continuum of Care Board and on the board of the Senior Center of Elk Grove.


Ashley Brand


Director of Community Health

Ashley Brand is the Director of Community and Homeless Health for Dignity Health focusing 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.


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.

Staff Members


Lisa Bates

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 29 years and enjoys spending time with her husband of 25 years, children and grandchildren.


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.


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.


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 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 sector. She is excited to be joining the SSF team and is looking forward to working with all of our community partners in our fight to end homelessness.


Tamu Nolfo Green, Ph.D.

Systems Performance Advisor

As Systems Performance Advisor, Dr. Nolfo 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. Nolfo 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. Nolfo 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.


Hamid Bashiri

Lead Data Analyst

Hamid Bashiri has over ten years of reporting and data analytics background.  He has delivered data solutions in different business verticals, including technology and finance, for companies such as US Bank, Walmart, Symantec, and Cisco.  Among Hamid‘s experiences are, data engineering using a variety of tools and techniques, evaluating the rationale for the key performance measures, finding insights in data to help improve the decision-making process.


Hannah Beausang

Communications Manager

Hannah Beausang is a multimedia journalist who has reported on local governments and communities in San Diego and the Bay Area for more than seven years. Her reporting has included coverage of issues relating to housing and homelessness. She has won state and national awards, including for investigative pieces on local governments.

She most recently spent nearly a year living in Central America, where she taught English, freelanced and studied Spanish.

She is passionate about giving back to her community and finding collaborative solutions to homelessness in Sacramento. She is a new Sacramento resident, but she was raised in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

She can be reached for media inquiries at hbeausang@sacstepsforward.org.


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.


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


Susan Emmington

Accounting Manager

During her nearly 25-year career with the State of California, Susan served in various accounting systems and management positions.  She was responsible for direct oversight, training, and management of accounting operations, accounting systems, general ledger, fund accounting, and preparation of year-end financial statements at several departments.  Over the course of her tenure, Susan was admired for her technical ability and ability to problem solve.  Her knowledge of the California State Accounting and Reporting System (CalSTARS) led her to serve as one of two statewide CalSTARS trainers, providing training and technical support to statewide agency accounting staff.

After leaving State service, Susan was responsible for all accounting and administrative functions for D&J Kitchens and Baths, Inc.; a local contractor specializing in remodeling residential homes.

Susan holds a double Bachelor’s Degree from William Jessup University in Theology and Leadership.

Outside of work, Susan enjoys snow skiing, hiking, bicycling, yoga, and gardening.