Sam is a national expert and policy advisor on at-risk foster kids, specifically the issues they face as they transition into adulthood. In his 20 years of work in the nonprofit field, he has created and implemented programs that successfully reduce poverty and homelessness among vulnerable young people and has been one of the leading voices in advocating for better access to housing, education, employment and health programs that improve their lives.
Sam joined First Place in 2005 and under his strong leadership, the organization swiftly grew from an Oakland grass-roots organization to become a nationally-recognized model and one of the largest providers of housing to former foster kids in California. Today, the organization serves more than 2,300 youth annually.
Sam has been recognized for his leadership by national organizations and has been awarded the Anne E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellowship, the 2010 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, and the Red Cross Community Hero Award. He has been recognized by Senator Barbara Boxer, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, California Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass, Assembly Member Jim Beall, Assembly Member Leland Yee and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for his tireless commitment to youth. Before First Place, he served in leadership positions at Larkin Street Youth Services, Juma Ventures and the Boys & Girls Club of Oakland. Sam has a Master’s in Counseling from California State University, East Bay.