DIRECTOR of THE GROVE
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.
Justin Pagdilao is the Program Director at the Mobile Temporary Shelter (MTS) in Auburn, California, a 50-person safe-camping program. In this role, Justin is responsible for the management and direction of all employees and operations at the MTS. Justin works closely with the Director of Case Management and Site Supervisors to ensure the integrity of daily operations.
Justin graduated from Sacramento State with Magna Cum Laude honors in May of 2020, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. In the midst of the pandemic and as a new college graduate, Justin was eager to create change within his community.
Justin joined First Step Communities in February 2021 as a part-time CSA in warming centers. As FSC grew, so did Justin. Justin became a full-time CSA in April 2021 and helped with the start-up of the W/X project, SafeGround Safe-Camping; a sanctioned encampment for the unhoused. Justin was quickly promoted in June of 2021 to site supervisor for the SafeGround Safe-Parking program; a sanctioned place for unhoused individuals to park their vehicles/trailers. In February 2022, SafeGround moved locations and became Miller Park SafeGround. In May of 2022, Justin was given the opportunity to run both Miller Park SafeGround sites, Safe-Camping and Safe-Parking, and did so gracefully, resulting in his promotion to Interim Program Director of both SafeGround sites in July 2022. Justin was officially promoted to SafeGround Program Director two months later. SafeGround was forced to close for the safety of clients and staff in December 2022 due to extreme flooding; Justin was then asked to oversee a 200-bed emergency weather respite at Cal Expo. In February of 2023, Justin transitioned to Auburn to help assist with the start-up of SafeGrounds second location, Mobile Temporary Shelter (MTS), and is the current Program Director of the site.
Director of Case management
Kathy Simms is the Director of Client Services for all sites managed by First Step Communities. Her team includes 14 Case Managers, 2 Navigators and 1 outreach staff.
First Step Communities Case Management team serves some of Sacramento and Placer County’s most vulnerable residents. The team rises to the occasion, inserting our passion into all that we do; using integrity and compassion to guide us.
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 started her career in the 80's working for California’s Department of Developmental Services. Throughout her career she has worked in both Acute, Chronic and Community based mental health. Kathy ended her mental health career working for California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, spending a decade facilitating groups for California's most violent mentally ill offenders. In 2017, Kathy retired from State service. Returning to the workforce in 2018, Kathy joined FSC as a part time case manager. In 2020, Kathy was promoted to the Director of Client Services. “Thinking outside the box and embracing a whatever it takes attitude,” can make all the difference when helping to serve our neighbors.
Chief Operating Officer
Joe 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 directed the startup of our SafeGround tent encampment program, where his dedicated and talented team provided safe refuge, daily meals, and wrap-around case management services to hundreds of Sacramento’s unhoused. Joe now brings his leadership talents to all our shelter programs as our Chief Operating Officer.