What you do for STEP: I am the Executive Director, and my primary focus is on advocacy, finances and team management
Why with STEP: Well, I founded the agency because people that were Deaf and or Deaf/Blind with an intellectual disability were undeserved and I wanted to make sure they had full communication access to all services and supports
Something fun about you: My nickname is Jack, Quie, JaQuie and JK. JaQuie was given to me by Scott Wirth the first person we served in SLS. JK was given to me by my Deaf family. I am a fluent signer and I am from a 4th generation Deaf family. I am a proud sister, Aunt and great-aunt. I am married to John Foss, we chose to not have children, but we have 3 dogs, all rescues, Edison is our rescued Deaf English Bulldog, then Maya a puppy mill rescue, and finally LeeLoo. I love to ride my recumbent bicycle while my husband rides his unicycle. My other passion is travel.
Director of Human Resources
Phone: 916-679-1555 Ext 101
What I do for STEP: Oversee the Human Resources Department and assist Management team with employee relations. Ensure that the Company stays in compliance with all employment laws, regulations, and requirements.
Why with STEP: It’s all about the respect we have for the people we support.
Something fun about me: Huge Stephen King fan and don’t get me started on Star Trek or Marvel superhero movies. Yay, Iron Man!
Director of Benefits & Compensation
Phone: 916-679-1555 Ext 121
How long with STEP: 25 years
What do you do for STEP: Human Resources with emphasis in Benefits and Compensation
Why with STEP: When finishing my Bachelor’s degree at Oregon State University, I did an internship at Oregon State School for the Deaf and worked in the after school vocational program for a year. After moving to Sacramento I worked at VTE as a job coach for 5 years, and met folks from STEP (David, Stuart, Tim, Suzanne, Jerry), then came to STEP as an ILS/SLS Instructor. After a few years moved into HR.
Something fun about you: I love horses, kitties, British mysteries and rain.
Human Resources Regional Manager
Title: Human Resources Regional Manager
What you do for STEP: Conduct Human Resources functions for the agency including but not limited to, recruitment and on-boarding of employees, employee relations, workers compensation, and office management.
Why with STEP: I am happy to work for a company that empowers and supports both its employees and the individuals we support.
Something fun about you (Collections, Hobbies, Funny Nickname): I’m a big fan of handbags and tennis shoes!
At Strategies to Empower People, my role involves Employee Relations, Reasonable Accommodations Requests, Leaves of Absences including (but not limited to) FMLA, CFRA, PDL, NPLA, etc., Internal Investigations, and Liaison on a Variety of Employment Issues.
I chose Strategies to Empower People because of my positive personal experiences with the supports and services our company provides to its clientele and my drive to ensure the continued success of our company.
My hobby since I was a wee bit of a girl is creating clothing from clothes for my baby dolls to a wedding dress for my sister and a variety of draperies designs for my home, all using my grandmother’s hand crank Singer sewing machine.
Human Resources Assistant
Phone: 916-679-1555 Ext 132
What you do for Strategies to Empower People: Assisting HR when needed, but my main focus is as a benefits representative: helping with enrollments, educating employees on benefits available, as well as the day-to-day operations including responding to employee’s inquiries and concerns of benefits processes, updating their benefits information, and resolving discrepancies and disputes.
Why with STEP: In addition to affordable health benefits and job stability, I stay for Strategies to Empower People’s company culture and values.
Something fun about you : I like cats, and all things purple, collecting dragon figurines, and trying to spend as much free time as I can reading or creating things in my craft room.
Alyssa Wade is one of the HR Coordinators working out of STEP Sacramento. Alyssa assists the HR managers with recruiting, hiring, and other administrative tasks. Alyssa began working with STEP in June of 2014 and has worked both in the office and in the field working within the Enhanced SLS unit. In her free time, Alyssa enjoys fishing, archery, hiking, and spending time with close friends and family.
I’ve worked in finance for my entire career. I started as a part time employee for my home town CPA while I was still in high school. Over the years I’ve worked for a software development company, a chain of women’s clothing stores, a tire recycler, a weather equipment manufacturer, a medical group and a Sacramento CPA. It was during my time with the Sacramento CPA that my relationship with STEP began. In 2005 I transitioned to STEP as a full time employee. A decision that I have never regretted. STEP is an organization that truly makes a difference in the world. I am proud to be a part of the team.
I currently manage the finance team covering all aspects of day to day processes. I oversee month end reporting, workers’ comp and pension contributions, payroll, accounts payable and receivable, quarterly payroll tax returns, billing and more.
Outside of work time I do crafty things. My hands are always busy with some sort of paper or yarn or thread or fabric. I scrapbook, sew, quilt, cross stitch, crochet and more. I read every day. My current choice of topic is genealogy and tracing my family line.
My background includes over 35 year of accounting and finance experience in the environmental services and construction industries. At Strategies to Empower People, my role involves overseeing accounting, finance, asset management, contract management and IT management.
I chose Strategies to Empower People because of the desire to be part of a team that truly makes a difference in the community helping the people we serve achieve independence making one’s own choice.
Outside interest includes my lifelong passion of sailing small boats, tinkering with old cars and exploring/practice the healing arts of Reiki.
Why with STEP: Because STEP is the best and unique program that I have ever seen that helps to create a better environment in the lives of people with disabilities and help them to prosper in society with no labels
Something fun about you (Collections, hobbies, funny nickname, ETC) I love taking walks on the beach
I work in the finance department as a Finance Generalist. I can assist with payroll issues, employment verifications, accounts payable, and accounts receivable inquiries. I am with STEP because I find joy in supporting our team so our staff can go out into the community and help our employers. Through my journey at STEP, I have decided to further pursue a career in finance and am currently going to school to become an accountant.
Phone: 916-978-1555 Ext 116
I chose STEP because I value what STEP stands for in regards to supporting our employers to live independently, and for the accomplishments that our employers achieve, with the right support team supporting them. I have been with STEP since September 2013
I enjoy painting signs with Life Expressions Décor, which works with wood and vinyl sayings. I am not an artist, however, I really enjoy creating art that is so easy, and spending quality time with friends and family. If you saw my home you would find so many signs on my walls, as they seem to be everywhere.
I support both the Financial Department and Managers for the Deaf and Rocklin areas. In that support I assist with rental exceptions, IHSS, Calendar Support, monthly and yearly reports of employers and Monthly cash logs.
I chose to work for Strategies to Empower People because I love the values of the company and seeing the accomplishments of all the employers.
I like to spend time with my four year old son, going to parks and doing different activities around the area
IT and Asset Manager
Phone: 916-679-1555 Ext 110
Team member since: 2009
Member of the STEP family since: 1999
Areas of focus/degree: Computers, Tech. Writing, Photography, Graphic Arts
Beginning ASL skills
Small Bio: The IT and Asset Dept. handles IT, which includes computers, phones, other technology, the vehicle fleet, and the STEP buildings
Why with STEP: Couldn’t think of a better place to work! As a team, STEP does amazing things, and we are trailblazers for the folks we support. I have learned an incredible amount, in many areas, to help me be better at my work.
Something about John: Obsessed with Unicycling. Helped create an international organization that hosts the World Unicycling Championships and is the only person to have attended all 20 of them. Funny Nicknames: Uni-Cyclone, Juan Flores, Gizmo, and my wife calls me Fred.
IT and Assets Assistant
Phone: 916-679-1555 Ext 111
I assist with setting up all technology devices within the company, installing new software or hardware, repairing problems, while making sure we carry out security measures for a company to protect all the network, data, and systems. As well as assist in making sure our vehicles are maintenance, and reliable.
Why do you work with STEP? Why not? I have always been a problem solver, big helper, caring, kindhearted and outgoing. Feel right at home.
I love riding in classic vehicles, watching the San Francisco 49ers and Giants play ball. Love being around Family and Friends.
What do I do for STEP? It can change day by day being the Office Coordinator from setting up for a special event to daily events. But you can mostly see me running around the office as I manage and coordinate the Front Office Staff. Support all Directors and Management departments in all daily matters. Providing Front Desk assistance, greeting public, and providing direct communication to appropriate staff utilizing a variety of media outlets for Deaf & Hearing individuals. Responsible for all daily activities and professional appearance of office, including all office equipment and supplies.
Why STEP? I admire the company’s work ethic and HeartRight spirit. I believe STEP provides a safe and comfortable environment for individuals to live on their own. In the twelve plus years working for the company, I have never repeated the same workday. Every day is a new day to learn and a new adventure to experiences. Being able to communicate and support with so many different individuals throughout the day brings me joy and happiness. The bonds and relationships built here, will definitely exhibit what is meant to be HeartRight Always.
Some of my hobbies include Working out, reading, hikes, bike riding and being a sport mom to my kid.
I am the Maintenance Director here at STEP. I am a supervisor to one of our employers Jerry Hadley who assists me in day to day service requests. Together we assist in home repair, hauling, landscape and even minor electrical work around the office. We are both general handymen who have a passion for improving others living conditions. Personally, I enjoy working for STEP because I receive satisfaction from helping those who cannot help themselves. It feels great to see the smile of someone who just had new floral curtains out up. Something interesting about me is that I used to do standup comedy and I enjoy skydiving.
Director of Medical Services
I provide consultation, training, and direct services to STEP employers in the mobile crisis unit, the Enhanced SLS program, and others. I am available to assist anyone at STEP when they cannot reach their regular doctor, or when there is some other medical question or worry.
My background: I am trained in psychiatry, neurology, and internal medicine and have specialized in persons with IDD and complex needs since 1989. I have admired STEP since the beginning, have done some consulting work here over the years, and am grateful to have been appointed medical director in 2017. In my work travels-50 states and a few other countries, I’ve learned to treasure organizations like STEP, where they live and practice their values. At the beginning of the pandemic i chose to close a very busy practice in another state so I could spend more time working for STEP.
More information than anyone wants: I prefer the original Star Trek over all the others, I drink way too much black coffee, and i use detective novels for brain candy.
Director of Operations SLS
Phone: 916-679-1555 ext 103
His tenure with STEP has included the roles of PCSF, Program Manager, Enhanced Program Manager and Regional Director North Bay and Enhanced SLS Services. With over 30 years’ experience in human services, behavioral supports and crisis management, Jay ensures quality person-centered services and supports for adults with disabilities. He has taught Pro Act at STEP for 9 years and Crisis Intervention for 21 years. Jay currently provides direction and support to a dynamic and eclectic team of directors, managers, supervisors, and DSPs in Supported Living Services Programs. Jay’s most important duty is the development of leaders, programs, and processes (to ensure he can retire before he is too old to enjoy it). When not at work, Jay is an advocate of human rights with emphasis on equality for all, disability rights and the LGBTQ community. He is supported by his new puppy/ therapy dog in training Scout “Sausage” Kolvoord and can often be heard singing (off key) through the halls.
Phone: 916-679-1555 Ext 127
Rebecca LaBoriel has worked in the field of disabilities for over 30 years. She began her career as a Direct Support Professional in Supported Living. As she received her B.S. in Psychology and a Minor is Women’s studies, she became an SLS roommate to a gentleman to whom she provided support to for over 17 years. Concurrently, she became a Supported Living Director and then transitioned into a Day and Employment Director. She received her Masters of Science degree in Educational Psychology, while finding her “niche” to transform traditional services into cutting edge, all maintaining a person-centered planning approach. Currently, Rebecca is the Director of our Comprehensive Support Services.
The reason I chose STEP: I love being able to transform and create new services for people with disabilities. The ability to create new employment opportunities for our employers and have the privilege to be invited to be a part of a person’s circle of support, makes this work rewarding as a career.
I work support ILS facilitators with their caseload with their daily schedules, capture employers’ POS hours, review employers’ ERSP to update documentations/reports, QA/COS/IPP, monthly meetings, communication with director/case managers/stakeholders
I stay with STEP because communication is a key to work with and STEP is best place to work with. That always make me feel comfortable to come to work with. But other than that, I love work and interact with DD employers because they are second family to me.
I love being outdoor activities such as kayak/Sup/hiking/walking/beaches to explore/loves being in water.My collection is rustic/country/farmhouse decoration/themes. As for the hobby, I love being around my family because they are my world.
Anita English is the program manager for the Mobile Crisis Unit. Anita has been apart of Strategies to Empower People since August of 2020. She brings many years of human service experience to STEP and ensures the day to day operations of the Mobile Crisis Unit. Anita is known for making clients feel comfortable and working hard to help them achieve goals and break down barriers in their lives. Anita grew up in Fresno California, where she attended Fresno High school and later graduated and began her journey at Fresno City College where she majored in Human Services. Anita’s passion is advocating for under served communities and empowering people to live to there fullest potential.
I have worked with STEP since 2010, and during my time with STEP I have come to love with the employers and staff. I am able to watch the employers grow skills that us managers have trained the staff. It’s all about Empowerment of the Employers. With the right team the Employers have a life of their own!!
Deaf Enhanced and Supportive Living Service Director
VP Phone: 916-999-1600
What you do for STEP: Develop focused planning, maintains positive proactive effective professional compassionate, and encouraging working relationships with employees, program participants, their families, representatives, employers, regional center case workers and community at large. This includes STEP program budget, implementation, Staff Orientations, Trainings, supervises managers, Facilitators, staff and directions its efforts on the inclusion of individual with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). Creating opportunities for IDD to be recognition in the Deaf community equality, integrity, and respect between people with and without IDD in the community in State of California. Further expansion growth in our Deaf Enhanced Supported Living Service and Supported Living Service program. To engage Person-Centered approach person with IDD to have their Quality of Life just like us. Our goal of our agency is to continue our mission of inclusion in the workplace and into employers’ own home that includes their own choices and decision in their life. To develop collaboration, invest in this incredible of employers we support, and Direct Support Professional (DSP) employees to support in growth, improving, and effectively provide hiring/recruiting to support people with IDD.
Why you chose STEP: 20 years with STEP employment and plus 30 years of experiences with this Intellectual Developmental Disabilities field, I see this opportunity of motivations and enthusiasm as a way to contribute to Strategies To Empower People Deaf employers and Deaf employees we support “Mission and Values” Good Enough for Me of S.T.E.P. Strategies To Empower People is a cultural diversity and strongly encourages employees and employers growth and development strategies plan. I am convinced STEP is a strong work ethic and my commitments will enable our Deaf team to flourish to make a meaningful contribution to STEP’s company to success. “Stop being afraid of what could go wrong. Focus on what could go right”- Tiny Buddha.
Something fun about yourself: I’m nature lover. I love to adventure in the wilderness. Get out in the woods, exploring, and wilderness finds you. Hiking is one of my favorites! Surround with wild animals are also my favorite! The best thing about nature is IT’S FREE! The only investment is your time, which you will most likely get back to stronger focus, fresh ideas, and a better functioning body. Kayaking, surrounding with love ones, Life is full of beauty. Notice it J
-I oversee the DSP4 Supervisors and help support employers build a life that is their own surrounded by people they pick.
-I have loved helping people since childhood. Growing up being trilingual I always enjoyed being a resource for others to communicate and share information. More recently I’m learning about my passion to motivate others as well as teaching.
-I’m an animal lover with an eclectic taste in music. I enjoy exploring and reading.
Phone: 916-679-1555 Ext 122
Title: Program Director Central Hearing Supportive Living Services
What you do for STEP: I started with STEP back in 2001 wanting to work in the medical field. I started as a Direct Support Professional, Medically Fragile Job Coach, Independent Living Instructor (also with the ILS Parenting Program), Personalized Community Support Facilitator for both high behavioral and high medical, Program Manager for Central Hearing Supportive Living Services, and Program Director for Central Hearing Supportive Living Services and COVID Testing
Why STEP: Love the mission and the advocacy.
Something fun about you (Collections, Hobbies, Funny Nickname): In my limited free time, I teach and assist non-profits to organize and manage events to raise capital.
Michelle’s experience includes 8 years with Strategies to Empower People Inc. Michelle graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Science and is a Certified Medical Assistant. In her time with Strategies to Empower People, Michelle has risen through the ranks, holding positions of Direct Support Professional 1-4, Community Support Facilitator and Program Manager 1. Michelle’s open approach makes her a favorite amongst employers. When not working, Michelle enjoys spending time with her oversized lapdog Roman Reigns and her spoiling her nieces and nephews.
What do you do for STEP: I support individuals with disabilities living in their own homes, being able to get out in the community, making their own choices, with a support team using person centered active support.
Why with STEP: Strategies To Empower People is an organization that is truly heart right about the people we support and how each person is treated with love and respect. I enjoy working with people who truly enjoy life. It’s a grand adventure!
Something fun about you: Love going to the ocean every month and spending time with family and friends!
Holly Laney began her career with STEP as a Program Manager at the height of the COVID pandemic. Despite the circumstances of her entry, she has quickly become an asset to the Unit displaying her ability to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances starting Day1. Holly began her career in Human Services in 2004 , her almost 20 year her background includes working with youth and adults. Holly specializes in working with diverse populations with challenging behaviors and traumatic backgrounds. This includes level 12-14 treatment facilities, group homes, and crisis management. Her knowledge of behavioral supports and trauma informed care are the focus in her job and the Enhanced unit. Holly’s calm and quiet demeanor, make her an asset in dealing with crisis or intense situations. When not working, Holly spends her time developing her love of art and traveling with her partner (Wedding planned for 2024).
Marshonda DeGroat is a Program Manager in the Central Enhanced Support Living Services Unit. Her career has spanned over 15 years and she has been an asset with Strategies’ to Empower People since 2013. Marshonda graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from University of Phoenix in 2012 and has extensive experience working with at risk and marginalized populations. In her career, she has been a DSP, DSP 4, PCSF and includes day programs and group homes in her experience. Marshonda advocates for our employers and the I/DD Community as a whole and she loves being one of the Strategies to Empower People “Steppers” (always out in the community, moving and creating change). Her upbeat style and hands on approach are her trade mark while supporting her supervisors, DSP and employer. In her spare time, Marshonda volunteers her time to the Mutual Assistance Network /Partnering with Kings and Queens Rise to motivate youth for success. Marshonda enjoys spending quality time with her three children and is sports mom whether it’s football or basketball season.
Director of North Area Services
Stacy Sisson joined Strategies to Empower People in 2009 after leaving a position at the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services. Stacy initially studied nursing at the University of Oklahoma and found a passion for advocacy while working with the elderly and disabled population during her clinical rotations. She has worked as a Social Worker and Human Services Supervisor in Child Protective Services, Adult Protective Services, and In-Home Supportive Services and was a Grants Administrator after completing an internship at First 5 Children and Families Commission. Stacy has a Bachelor of Science in Human Services and a Master of Arts in Psychology, a California Real Estate License and holds certifications in Public Relations, Fair Housing, Medicaid and SSI Administration, and copy/content writing and grant writing. Stacy also has intermediate ASL skills (on a good day) and is also the current Board President for HeartRight Foundation, the non-profit organization started by S.T.E.P. If ever she left her current vocation, you’d either find her hanging out with her family, friends and dogs; relaxing with a good book and a good glass of wine; on a beach somewhere; or pursuing her love of musical theater. For now, she’s perfectly content traveling, attending as many concerts and musicals as she possibly can, and annoying her staff, co-workers and anyone else within earshot by regularly belting out songs in the office whenever she feels it’s too quiet.
** Office management, Customer Service, support for all office units – HR, Finance, SLS, ILS and Day Services, Party and Events planning, Special Incident and APS reporting.
** Through the years, STEP has provided me the opportunity to grow as a person and as a professional. I appreciate the agency’s constant strive to provide optimal services to individuals with disabilities, along with the strive to provide favorable working opportunities for all staff.
** In the past, I was a part of the performing arts community, performing in a couple of musicals, a men’s chorus, and other shows here in the Sacramento area and my hometown area in San Luis Obispo County
Nicole Geames is the Program Manager 2 for Strategies to Empower People’s Northbay SLS and Enhanced SLS Programs. Nicole’s experience includes over 20 years of providing services and supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her vast experience includes an Associated Degree in Science, as well as certification as a Medical Assistant and as a CNA. She also comes with experience in SLS and Employment Services with her previous agencies. Since her hire in 2021, Nicole has held the position of Community Support Facilitator and Program Manager 1. When not at work, Nicole is focused on family as the mother of four children (2 of which have support needs) and a new grandmother of one. She also cares for her own mother and enjoys taking her to bingo regularly.
Human Resources Coordinator
What I do: I’ve worked on auditing projects for STEP and as program support for all departments; HR, finance, Central and North front desk, SLS & ESLS units. The last 2 years I have been Director of Operations Jay Kolvoord’s assistant and currently am hiring North Bay SLS and ESLS DSPs.
Why with STEP: I’ve grown up at STEP my whole life and have a deep connection with and love for the employers and staff here at STEP. I’m considered one of the “STEP kids” and I am proud to have been serving the employers the last 6 years in various roles. My worldview and philosophy have been greatly influenced by STEP’s values and approach to providing in home supported and independent living services for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
Fun thing: My name sign is a letter “S” tapped on the belly and was given to me by STEP employer Stuart Tallmon because he knew me when my mom, HR Director of Benefits and Compensation Patti Dixon, was pregnant with me. It’s a unique name sign given to me only because of the employer-employee relationships at STEP.