Gabrielle Salazar


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Gabrielle Salazar is the Campus Director of “The Grove” with First Step Communities.

In this role she oversees daily operations of Emergency Bridge Housing for Transition Aged Youth in a tiny cabin community in Del Paso Heights.

Her role includes program integrity and improvement, hiring, staff training and competency, creating policies and procedures, ensuring quality data collection, client and partner relations, community collaboration, crisis intervention and prevention, and overall housing success.  

Prior to joining the team with FSC, Gabrielle was the Outreach Manager for Sacramento Steps Forward.

In this role she led the Outreach Team’s daily operations and directly managed 11 unique contracts including Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento Downtown Partnership, and The River District.

Initially hired by Sacramento Steps Forward as an Outreach Worker in the River District, Salazar was promoted to Team Lead and ultimately to Outreach Manager after demonstrating her compassionate ability to work with and house some of the most chronically homeless individuals in Sacramento.

Prior to her employment with Sacramento Steps Forward, Salazar was a Respite Service Coordinator at Hope Cooperative where she worked with individuals in mental health crisis, providing crisis counseling and resources to help de-escalate crisis and prevent future crisis.

Salazar has completed Mental Health First Aid Train-the-Trainer, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), Professional Assault Crisis Training (Pro-ACT), and Motivational Interviewer Training. 

Salazar is a current board member with the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness (SRCEH) and is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz. She currently lives in the City of Sacramento.

 Claire Bannerman

Director of north a


Claire Bannerman is the Director of Services at the North A Street Homeless Shelter with First Step Communities (FSC).

In this role, Claire manages the team of Client Support Associates (CSAs) who staff the front desk, security, and sanitation program.

She works closely with the Director of Case Management and Shelter Program Manager to ensure the integrity of daily operations.

Claire works to find collaborative improvements to site services and enhance the resources provided to clients. She utilizes data to keep policies, guidelines, and staff training up-to-date and provides crisis intervention on-site when needed. Claire is certified in First Aid and Mental Health First Aid and has extensive experience interacting with those experiencing mental health or medical emergencies.

Claire’s previous educational experience includes a BA in Criminal Justice from Temple University with Summa Cum Laude honors. When graduating from Temple she was awarded the Criminal Justice Faculty Award, given by the department for outstanding academic performance and community service. Claire also earned her MSc in Criminal Justice Policy from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in 2015 and graduated with Merit.

Claire has case management experience with both people re-entering the community from incarceration and those who are homeless. While studying at LSE she started her own charity called the Provision Project in London, which provided unsheltered individuals with basic supplies for survival in London and later in Sacramento. After her Master’s degree she joined the Single Homeless Project in London where she was a case manager in transitional housing for high risk men released from prison, who found themselves homeless. After moving from London to Sacramento, Claire started working with First Step Communities for the Winter Sanctuary program where she was the Wind Youth liaison for TAY clients utilizing the night shelter. Up until starting her position as Director of Services at FSC, Claire worked for the Placer County Re-Entry Program in Auburn as a Case manager for people on probation and parole in Placer County. She conducted 1:1 case work with clients and instructed classes on life skills and cognitive behavioral modifications, such as anger management and Courage to Change.

 Kathy Simms

Director of Case management


Kathy Simms is the Director of Case Management for all sites managed by First Step Communities. The North A Street campus is an 80-bed co-ed adult shelter with a case management team consisting of 4 case managers and 1 outreach staff. 

Emergency Bridge Housing aka "The Grove," is a 24 tiny cabin community serving transitional age youth. The Grove's case management team employs 2 case managers and a rapid re-housing specialist. First Step Communities also manages and operates 2 SafeGround sites employing 3 case managers and 1 outreach specialist. The focus of case management is not only removing barriers to housing but often addressing chronic medical and mental health issues. Kathy comes to First Step Communities with 30 years of job-related experience in the mental health field. Kathy was licensed as a Psychiatric Technician in 1989 and has worked in a myriad of environments. The highlights of her career started in the 80's working for California’s Department of Developmental Services, specifically Agnew's Developmental Center in Santa Clara, CA. In 1994 Kathy relocated to the Sacramento area and immediately secured employment at both Sutter Center for Psychiatry and Crestwood Behavioral Health, expanding her skills as a Psychiatric Technician in both the acute and chronic care settings of mental health. In 1997, Kathy joined Dignity Health, Children’s Center South as a Psychiatric Technician focusing her skills on working with “at risk” youth. In 2007, still wanting to gain new skills, Kathy returned to state employment within California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, spending a decade facilitating groups for California's most violent mentally ill offenders. In 2017, a family emergency arose which required Kathy to take a hiatus from her career. In late 2018, Kathy was once again looking for a new "adventure" and landed a part time job with First Step Communities as a case manager. Over the last several years, FSC has grown exponentially and in 2020 Kathy was promoted to the Director of Case Management services managing a team of 12 case managers. Compassion, a willing to serve those in need and a “whatever it takes” attitude best describes our case management team.


Joseph Pacheco

director of safeground

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Joseph Pacheco came to First Step Communities with 20+ years of program management and organization development experience in California State Government.  At the Department of Social Services, Joe’s teams ensured timely and accurate benefits decisions for California’s most medically vulnerable.  At the Department of Consumer Affairs, he successfully developed innovative health care consumer protection teams responsible for the investigation and resolution of health care consumer complaints.  He earned his Bachelor of Science at the California State University, East Bay and has dedicated his professional career to public service.  Joe is currently the Director of First Step Communities’ SafeGround program, where his dedicated and talented team provides safe refuge, daily meals, and wrap-around case management services to hundreds of Sacramento’s unhoused.