Listen. Learn. Lead.
PATH Academy, our one-year leadership development program, incubates emerging leaders in the fields of housing and homelessness through training, mentorship, and professional development.
PATH ACADEMY OVERVIEW
HONE YOUR SKILLS AND DEVELOP PROFESSIONAL CONNECTIONS TO TAKE YOUR CAREER AND LEADERSHIP TO NEW LEVELS
1 YEAR PROGRAM
TWO MEETINGS PER MONTH (ONLINE AND IN PERSON WHEN PERMITTED)
5-15 HOUR MONTHLY TIME COMMITMENT
EVALUATION WILL BE A 360 ASSESSMENT TO MEASURE OUTCOMES OF CHANGES IN LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES
CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION FOR ACADEMY MEMBERS
UPON COMPLETION, SALARY INCREASE OF 2,500 PER YEAR
EACH MEMBER WILL RECEIVE IPAD OR MICROSOFT SURFACE/KEYBOARD/STYLUS
STIPEND OF $100 PER MONTH DURING THE YEAR OF ENROLLMENT
ALL EMERGING LEADERS ARE ELIGIBLE TO APPLY. INCLUDES ALL STAFF FROM ASSOCIATE THROUGH DIRECTOR LEVELS
PATH ACADEMY EXPERIENCE
Bringing together a statewide cohort of leaders, PATH Academy creates a vibrant community of leaders prepared to transform organizations, industries, and the world.
As part of PATH’s “Listen, Learn, and Lead” initiative, we are taking steps toward discovering how racial inequity causes homelessness and how PATH and PATH Ventures can further its mission to end homelessness.
A state-wide community of peers, learning a diverse set of perspectives on leadership, networking, and support.
MEET THE 2022 PATH ACADEMY FELLOWS
Housing Navigator III, SPA 7, Long Beach
Housing Navigator III, SPA 7
Alicia Albertson is thrilled to be a part of the PATH Academy so that she can maximize her impact as a new housing navigator on the South County SPA 7 recovery housing navigation team. She joined PATH in early 2021 and appreciates the organization’s commitment to ending homelessness and its exacerbating factors, particularly systemic racism.
With an extensive background in education, project management, and community development, Alicia is committed to identifying creative solutions to help Los Angeles’ most vulnerable residents—including strengthening programming for undocumented people experiencing homelessness. Her other passions include anti-racism, environmental justice, and immigrant rights. To relax, Alicia does yoga, cooks, and binge watches every murder mystery show available with her partner, Oscar. Her personal goal this year is training her cat, Leo, to be comfortable enough on his leash to join her on hikes.
PATH Ventures Project Coordinator, Los Angeles
Project Coordinator, PATH Ventures
Jennifer Barillas is a project coordinator at PATH Ventures, supporting the project management team through construction, financial closings, and supportive service plans, while also coordinating communications across PATH and PV. Long before joining PATH, Jennifer was an avid community organizer and volunteer, participating in protests for immigrant rights even as a young girl. She joined PATH in 2020, inspired by her drive to help and connect with her community, and soon after discovered a passion for affordable housing development.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and uses her background in multicultural advertising and marketing as an asset to her work. Jennifer is grateful for the opportunity to make an impact every day at PATH Ventures, helping our neighbors find a home and advocating for our community’s housing needs on a broader scale.
Associate Director of Administration, Los Angeles
Associate Director of Administration
Phillip Benavides joined PATH in June 2014 and serves as the associate director of administration. With over 15 years in non-profit office administration, facilities, operations positions, Phillip has overseen administrative, operations, security, and maintenance staff, coordinates vendor negotiations contracts/projects, works with auditors, and strategic partner relations.
Prior to PATH, Phillip was a senior executive office administrator for a community-based nonprofit public health organization. His team helped run the site’s $14M operations in addition to breast/cervical cancer detection; medical professional credentialing; quality assurance, safety/audits, employee wellness; and the annual patient giving, which raised over $100K annually.
Phillip is a true believer in lifelong learning and DEI and is passionate in helping our most vulnerable unhoused neighbors. In his free time, Phillip enjoys cooking, spending time with family and is currently training for a half-marathon while volunteering with two Los Angeles-based running groups.
Mental Health Specialist, Metro LA Outreach, Los Angeles
Mental Health Specialist, Metro LA Outreach
Lauren Benjamin currently serves as a case manager on the Metro LA night outreach team. Inspired by her faith, she strongly believes in the innate dignity and worth of every person. She incorporates this philosophy in her work and life and provides high-quality services for our unhoused neighbors. In addition to her role as a case manager at PATH, she serves in several leadership capacities in her community, focused on arts and music, justice, and faith. Some of her efforts have included leading outreach teams in the fight against sex trafficking; providing spiritual leadership; mentoring musicians and artists; and providing statewide leadership for the grassroots organization and movement, Civil Righteousness. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts in kinesiology from California State University, Dominguez Hills and a Master of Social Work degree from California State University, Long Beach.
Shantal Bridgewater-Thomas, AMFT # 104276
Clinical Case Manager, Whole Person Wellness, San Diego
Shantal Bridgewater-Thomas, AMFT # 104276
Clinical Case Manager, Whole Person Wellness
Shantal Bridgewater-Thomas joined PATH in 2020 as a clinical case manager for the Whole Person Wellness Program in San Diego, serving medically fragile individuals in partnership with managed care plans. Her work is informed by her personal knowledge, professional experiences, her eagerness to make a societal impact, and dedication to equity.
In 2017, Shantal earned her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Argosy University and has since committed her focus to the social work field. She is an unapologetic and unabashed advocate for the well-being and stability of individuals in her community and other underserved populations. In her free time, Shantal enjoys discovering new hiking trails and taking part in community volunteer projects.
Community Affairs Associate, San Jose
Community Affairs Associate
A community affairs associate at PATH, Nicole Buccalo draws upon three years of experience as a clinical case manager in supportive housing programs. Today, Nicole is a social worker and currently works with PATH community affairs department in San Jose. Her focus is to gather feedback from people with lived experience of being unhoused and using this information to create recommendations that will improve the quality of services provided by the City of San Jose. In this role, Nicole amplifies our clients’ voices to ensure they are incorporated in local policy and systems change.
Nicole also sits on PATH’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee and is excited to continue helping PATH grow to be an anti-racist organization. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her family.
James “Jaime” Caraballo
Outreach Specialist, San Diego
James “Jaime” Caraballo
Jaime Caraballo has always centered his career around helping others. After leaving the military, where he was a U.S. Marine, Jaime dedicated his time to person-oriented work and volunteering. He was drawn to homeless services and gathered a wealth of experience across multiple roles before he found his passion as an outreach specialist with PATH, where he can offer resources and assistance to all our unhoused neighbors.
Today, Jaime is a program manager supervising his own homeless outreach team in North County San Diego, where he coordinates care and services for clients with other providers while also guiding his staff to implement successful placements. He is passionate about advocating for his clients and helping them build skills to achieve independence and is driven by helping the most vulnerable members within his own community.
Rosemae (Mae) Case
Program Associate Co-Chair, DEI Steering Committee, San Diego
Rosemae (Mae) Case
Co-Chair, DEI Steering Committee
Mae Case joined PATH in March 2020 as a program associate, providing administrative support to PATH San Diego’s regional director and leadership team. She also serves as the chair of PATH’s DEI Committee, which gives her the unique opportunity to build meaningful and productive relationships with individuals across the state who are passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Over two decades, Mae had built a career in communications, manufacturing, audio/visual engineering, business development, and higher education. However, world events at the time had compelled Mae to pivot her career goals and explore one of her passions—social justice. Today, she is passionate about her role in advancing PATH’s mission to become an anti-racist organization. In her spare time, Mae continues her long-time dedication to community organizing. She also enjoys live music; taking care of her 50+ house plants; and making time for daily reading, journaling, and meditation.
Problem Solving Specialist, Family Solutions Center, Los Angeles
Problem Solving Specialist, Family Solutions Center
Lucero Garcia is a problem solving specialist for PATH’s Family Connections program in Los Angeles. In this role, she helps individuals maintain their current housing or identify an immediate and safe housing alternative within their network of family, friends, and social support. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California to Mexican immigrant parents, she is passionate about creating social change amongst her community to support those experiencing homelessness. Specifically, she centers the essential role of engagement in the policy-making process, through advocacy and direct services, to help put an end to this crisis.
Before coming to PATH, she worked for nonprofit organizations that focused on child welfare and rehabilitation services. Lucero earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from California State University, Long Beach. She is currently pursuing her Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in nonprofit sector management from the California State University, Northridge.
Activities and Volunteers Coordinator, San Jose
Activities and Volunteers Coordinator
Jesse Gomez has served as the activities and volunteers coordinator at PATH for nearly two years. He is dedicated to creating meaningful events and workshops while also engaging volunteers and encouraging their passion for their community.
As he began his professional journey, Jesse was motivated by other people who worked with human services. This admiration inspired Jesse to build a purposeful, mission-driven career. While working at various healthcare facilities, Jesse was driven by an enthusiasm for meaningful work. Born and raised in San Jose, California, Jesse had observed firsthand the growing urgency of the homelessness crisis. The moment Jesse was introduced to PATH, he realized an enthusiasm for bettering the lives of those who are unhoused. He is grateful to help those in need and looks forward to carrying out person-centered work each day.
Lead Clinical Case Manager, Rapid Re-Housing, San Diego
Lead Clinical Case Manager, Rapid Re-Housing
Michelle Herson joined PATH in 2019 as a clinical case manager in our rapid re-housing program shortly after moving to San Diego and transitioned to a lead clinical case manager in January 2021. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in family and human services from the University of Oregon in 2010 and Master of Social Work degree from Colorado State University in 2018. She is on track to be approved for licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) by the end of 2021 and is pursuing an additional registration as a horticultural therapist. Born and raised in Northern California, Michelle’s favorite things include drinking water, drinking tea, eating kale, swimming, hiking, getting things for free, wearing scarves, her nieces, Ocean Beach Town Council meetings, hanging in OB with her partner, and all the plants.
Program Coordinator, Rapid Re-Housing, Santa Barbara
Program Coordinator, Rapid Re-Housing
With a professional background in property management, Lauren Hofmann joined PATH in April 2019, currently serving as the rapid re-housing coordinator in Santa Barbara. Lauren began her career at PATH as the LeaseUp program coordinator, expanding PATH’s LeaseUp program from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara County. Lauren takes great pride in representing PATH within Santa Barbara County and has served as an active participant on the Coordinated Entry Committee, developing policies and procedures to improve homeless services countywide. She is enthusiastic about applying her skills and experience to connect with community members and propel PATH’s mission of ending homelessness within individuals, families, and communities.
Before she began working with human services, Lauren attended the University of California, Davis where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and communication. When she is not at work, Lauren loves spending time with her four cats, listening to podcasts, and making ice cream.
Digital Media Specialist, Los Angeles
Digital Media Specialist
Gabbie Jablonski, digital media specialist, helps spearhead the strategy of PATH’s virtual platforms to provide a voice for our unhoused neighbors. An Arizona native and recent Master of Public Health graduate with an interest in using technology and digital marketing to enhance human health and wellbeing, Gabbie enjoys working with nonprofit organizations to help build their digital voice and use creative storytelling to engage their community and followers. She is passionate about nonprofit digital marketing and enjoys brainstorming unique and creative digital media campaigns with the goal of raising awareness and inspiring people to act and get involved with their communities.
When not at the beach, trying out new coffeeshops, or brainstorming digital campaign ideas, Gabbie can be found exploring new places in California, learning about environmental sustainability, trying delicious foodie spots, or enjoying a good book.
Outreach Specialist, Downtown Region Mobile Homelessness Resolution Team, San Diego
Outreach Specialist, Downtown Region
Mobile Homelessness Resolution Team
Shannon James-Keeper is an outreach specialist with PATH’s new Mobile Homelessness Resolution Team serving Downtown San Diego, strategically providing concentrated street outreach in localized areas. In her current role, Shannon assists individuals experiencing homelessness in maintaining their needs and reaching personalized goals on their unique path to housing.
Born and raised in San Diego, Shannon began her position with PATH in January 2021, bringing with her 10 years of professional customer service experience and six years of volunteer outreach experience to our unsheltered neighbors downtown. Shannon received her Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and media studies with a minor in justice studies from Arizona State University. Working at PATH has helped realize Shannon’s goal to use her education to advocate for marginalized communities within her hometown.
Anissa Lopez-Flores, MA Psychology
Program Manager, Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, San Diego
Anissa Lopez-Flores, MA Psychology
Program Manager, Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program
Anissa Lopez-Flores works as the program manager for PATH’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program in San Diego. In her current role, she supports a team of three employment specialists, with the goal of helping Veterans fully reintegrate back into the labor force. She joined PATH in 2019 and leverages her commitment to humanitarianism, compassionate leadership, and servitude as she helps unhoused Veterans gain employment and permanent homes. Her work is fueled by her passion for mental wellness, social and racial justice, and community engagement.
Before joining PATH, Anissa worked with children who have autism, providing ABA therapy to them and their families. She completed her bachelor’s degree in exercise science and master’s degree in psychology. In her free time, she enjoys seeking out authentic Southeast Asian restaurants, eating street tacos, trail running, Disneyland, and spending time with her family.
Abel Martin, MSW, PSS
Program Manager, Veteran Interim Housing, West Los Angeles
Abel Martin, MSW, PSS
Program Manager, Veteran Interim Housing
West Los Angeles
Abel Martin is a program manager at the PATH West Los Angeles Community Hub, serving medically fragile Veterans experiencing homelessness who are residing in our dedicated interim housing program. He was born and raised in Los Angeles as a first generation Mexican American, or Chicano, nurtured by immigrant parents who came to the United States with the hope of making life better for themselves and their children.
His lived experience has positioned him to effectively reach the population he serves. Before PATH, Abel served in the United States Navy for nearly five years before moving on to work in Veterans Services for more than a decade. As a Veteran who has personally experienced homelessness, he brings a great deal of passion and consideration to his role at PATH. Abel believes that his experience as an unhoused Veteran brings him a unique perspective and informs his work in important ways.
Associate Director, Yale Navigation Center, Orange County
Associate Director, Yale Navigation Center
Charity Mostafa is passionate about serving our residents with respect and dignity in her role as associate director of the Yale Navigation Center in Orange County as a part of her three-year journey at PATH. She is passionate about providing our guests with warm meals, assisting them with housing navigation, and serving them with compassion. Her daily goal is to advocate among community partners to defeat the social justice issues and biases around homelessness and ultimately better serve our unhoused neighbors.
In addition, Charity also has the privilege of serving this population with a cohesive, empathetic team, which has sparked her interest in learning new skills to help develop and boost the member moral at PATH. She looks forward to her continued growth and is excited to join her colleagues in the first cohort of the PATH Academy.
Associate Director Community Affairs, Los Angeles
Associate Director of Community Affairs
Waverly Paradox, associate director of community affairs, is a savvy non-profit professional with more than eight years of professional experience managing volunteers and community partnerships. After pursuing a graduate degree in nonprofit management, Waverly joined PATH as the volunteer manager for Los Angeles County in 2019. As she has grown in her career at PATH, Waverly has simultaneously strengthened our infrastructure further to amplify organizational impact, build sustainable programs, and develop passionate community leaders and advocates more effectively. Waverly has enjoyed being a part of a dynamic team of like-minded individuals at PATH who are actively engaged in creating proactive solutions to complex problems.
Program Manager, Metro LA Outreach, Los Angeles
Program Manager, Metro LA Outreach
Joining PATH in 2017, Mary’s career has been dedicated to working with marginalized groups in community mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, and homeless services. She currently serves as a program manager of the Metro Transit Multidisciplinary Outreach Team, a unique program that delivers services to people experiencing homelessness on Los Angeles County’s public transit system.
Mary’s life experiences have been touched by violence, substance abuse, and mental health issues. She overcame these challenges and persisted along a pathway to individual, educational, and career success. Her personal history informs her work as she helps at-risk populations overcome barriers and adversity so they can thrive. She earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and religious Studies from Whittier College and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Boston College. Mary is also certified as a peer professional and a counselor advocate for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Sara Sgarlata, MSW
Associate Director of Quality Assurance and Compliance, Los Angeles
Sara Sgarlata, MSW
Associate Director of Quality Assurance and Compliance
Sara Sgarlata joined PATH in September 2020 and currently serves as associate director of quality assurance and compliance for the organization’s statewide operations. She brings more than 10 years of experience in nonprofit leadership roles, overseeing program operations, community organizing, capacity building, and a larger commitment to tackling financial insecurity for Angelenos. Her dedication to these passions led her to pursue and complete a Master of Social Work, with an emphasis in community, organizing, planning and administration, from the University of Southern California. Further diversifying her background, Sara is a certified income tax preparer and financial coach; serves as a board member for Legacy LA; sits on California State University, Los Angeles’s field education advisory board; and provides field instruction to student interns across Los Angeles.
Director of Accounts Payable
Director of Accounts Payable
Elizabeth Suarez manages all of PATH’s disbursements for PATH. Elizabeth has been with PATH since April 2017.
Elizabeth has over 11 years of experience in finance and business analysis in both for-profit and non-profit settings. Additionally, she has 15 years of research, project management, and data analysis experience in academia.
Elizabeth earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Loyola University of Chicago and her Master of Business Administration in Finance from the Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a PhD in Chemistry from Northwestern University.
Program Manager, Metro LA Outreach, Los Angeles
Program Manager, Metro LA Outreach
Andrew Tisbert is program manager with PATH’s Metro LA outreach team, co-supervising four interdisciplinary teams who conduct outreach on the metro transit system. They provide services beyond triage and referral, assisting highly vulnerable individuals and families on the road to sustainable housing through engagement, holistic support, and advocacy.
Before coming to PATH, Andrew built an in-depth career in the human services industry, from management of services and care facilities for people living with intellectual disabilities and autism, to outreach, case management and supervision of services for unhoused people—while also spending time honing his skills as a writer and musician. Andrew is driven by the opportunity to listen and provide support to those who are discarded, excluded, alienated, and marginalized, on their own terms.
Outreach Coordinator, SPA 7, Los Angeles
Outreach Coordinator, SPA 7
Viron Vargas is an outreach coordinator in East Los Angeles County, working with unsheltered individuals and families to help them move into safe, stable, and healthy environments. Born and raised in Long Beach by migrant parents, Viron has always been involved with his community. His professional experience has ranged from corporate settings to local community centers, and he has discovered a home with PATH, happy to be giving back to his community every day.
He has always been interested in innovating solutions to homelessness and is grateful to have a hands-on opportunity to pursue them at PATH. His role also allows him to strategically pinpoint the hardest-to-reach individuals experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles and provide them with direct services. Viron is excited to develop his leadership skills and personal growth through PATH Academy.
Assistant Project Manager, PATH Ventures, San Diego
Assistant Project Manager, PATH Ventures
Cynthia Wong is an assistant project manager with PATH Ventures, currently managing four development projects that require her to consume at least two cups of black coffee every day. After growing up in government-assisted housing, Cynthia developed a robust educational and professional background in urban studies and planning, with a focus on land use planning and affordable housing.
She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in urban planning and has always been inspired by architecture and urban design and how they intersect with equity. Cynthia is passionate about creating beautiful and equitable living spaces so she can help prove that affordable housing does not have to look institutional or built to lower standards. She resides in San Diego but visits Los Angeles often to manage most of her projects. In her free time, Cynthia enjoys camping and exploring her newfound hobby of sport fishing.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR FELLOWS
The first PATH Academy year-long cohort launched in August 2021 after a selection committee comprised of one board member, one leadership staff and a consultant group, Racial Equity Partners, narrowed down the applicant list to 25. The first meeting in August set the structure for learning and sharing together as the fellows shared their history and their ambitions for shaping the future of the academy.
In September, our board mentors joined the fellows, and shared why they became involved in ending homelessness and how critical the board of directors are to meeting the organization’s mission to end homelessness for individuals, families and communities. In breakout sessions, board mentors met their mentees and began the foundation for a long-term supportive relationship.
In October, the academy fellows came together in person for a training on media and oral presentations and then the fellows met in their mentorship pods to reflect on the training and plan for future sessions.
For November, the fellows will be receiving an overview of PATH’s public policy work and learn how to be successful advocates at the local, state and federal level. There is much more to come, and the most powerful component is how, in just three sessions, the fellows have shared the significant impact of their time together, the excitement for what is next and how quickly the PATH Academy has become the highlight of their work within the organization.