HYA Staff

Mary Howe – Executive Driector

Kenn Sutto – Program Manager

Ale del Pinal – Outreach Counselor

Erick Salazar – Outreach Counselor

Saskia Biscoe – Outreach Counselor

Karin Adams – Program Manager

Amirah Bashir – Case Manager

Melissa Matheney – Case Manager

Micah Jorgenson – Case Manager

Shira Noel – Policy & Advocacy COordinator

Toivo Ollila – Operations Manager

Mental Health Team

Masa Fisher, MD

Maurice Byrd, LMFT

Jason Brown, LCSW

Joey Hess, ACSW

mary howe executive director

Mary Howe – Executive Director

Mary is a formerly homeless youth who has dedicated her career to developing and implementing interventions that empower young people to improve their own lives and those of their peers, and to addressing the structural causes of poverty and homelessness. Mary assumed leadership of HYA in 2006 when two longstanding grassroots programs—Haight Ashbury Youth Outreach Team and San Francisco Needle Exchange—ended their affiliation with Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, Inc. and merged to form a single organization under the name “Homeless Youth Alliance.” Mary secured fiscal sponsorship for the newly created HYA and spearheaded its consolidation and growth. She brings over ten years’ experience in direct service and outreach with marginalized and underserved populations. With each successive position she has held, she has been increasingly responsible for managerial, administrative, and supervisory duties, while still maintaining a hands-on approach to day-to-day operations. Prior to serving as Executive Director of HYA, Mary was an outreach worker and later the Center Manager for Haight Ashbury Youth Outreach Team, Program Coordinator for San Francisco Needle Exchange, and Trainer for the Drug Overdose Prevention and Education Project of the City and County of San Francisco. She is the recipient of a 2009 Bay Area Unsung Hero Award from KQED Northern California.

mary[at]homelessyouthalliance.org

Kenn Sutto – Program Manager

Kenn Sutto joined HYA in 2015. Before coming to the bay area, he was volunteering with the Emma Goldman Youth and Homeless Outreach Project in Olympia, WA, Second Cycle in Tacoma, Wa, and with the Catholic Worker House in Champaign, Illinois. When not working at HYA he spends time with his dog, his bicycles, and his loved ones.

kenn[at]homelessyouthalliance.org

Ale del Pinal – Outreach Counselor

Ale was born in Guatemala and grew up in the East Bay. She is passionate about harm reduction and helping underserved populations. She helped found the grassroots outreach organization Punks with Lunch in Oakland. She admires and is committed to HYA’s philosophy and commitment to the youth in San Francisco. When not volunteering or working, Ale spends her time with her dog and playing in her punk band.

ale[at]homelessyouthalliance.org

Erick Salazar – Outreach Counselor

Erick is an Outreach Counselor at HYA who is committed to the organizations goals working with youth and harm reduction. He moved to the bay from L.A and has worked with the homeless and queer community in the bay area. Erick enjoys volunteering, creating art, Chicano punk, pre- Columbian/Meso-American art and social justice.

erick[at]homelessyouthalliance.org

Saskia Biscoe – Outreach Counselor

Saskia is excited by the growing awareness and application of Harm Reduction philosophies and know by firsthand experience, the healing power this model of care can have.They deeply believe, that all people deserve to have support, tools and autonomy; by these means, folks can affect change in their lives and community. Saskia is originally from Arizona, by way of Chicago, where they learned how precious good weather and access to nature is. When they are not working, Saskia enjoys hiking, exploring by bicycle, reading and crafting practical pretty things, preferably in sunshine.

saskia[at]homelessyouthalliance.org

Karin Adams – Program Manager

Karin Adams has a long and fond history of working with marginalized communities and the field of harm reduction. Karin grew up in a working class family in Sonoma County and has been establishing roots in Oakland for the past nine years. Her personal history and life experience fosters her passion and commitment to this work. At age 17 Karin began distributing safer sex supplies at local punk shows and proceeded to work several years in the field of HIV and HCV prevention through mobile test counseling, syringe exchange, and street-based outreach in rural areas. Wanting to focus on working with youth, Karin joined the team at Homeless Youth Alliance (HYA) from 2010-2014. Continuing to feel a strong connection to the work, Karin returned to HYA in 2018 to help facilitate and guide HYA’s very first transitional youth housing program! She is so very grateful to work in an environment that allows participants to grow and develop according to their own character and experience. She has found that HYA continues to uphold the radical notion that the young people we work with are the experts and play an instrumental role in shaping their own programming. While frontline work is undoubtedly necessary, Karin also prioritizes her efforts in advocacy around the decriminalization of the poor and addressing systemic inequalities. In her free time you can find Karin dancing in a studio or in her living room, running after her wild dogs, reading books about revolutionaries and/or Harry Potter, or crafting away at homemade gifts.

karin[at]homelessyouthalliance.org

Amirah Bashir – Case Manager

Amirah first connected with HYA when she was looking for a crystal place in the Haight.  From there, she applied for and was hired as a housing case manager in 2019.  Amirah hails from the East Coast and is still becoming acclimated to West Coast living, especially in the Bay.  She has experience in case management, psychiatric rehabilitation and mentorship with youth and adults in places like New Jersey and Baltimore city.  Amirah enjoys colors, practicing healing and mindfulness, crystals/stones, making music references from anything, eating, cooking and dancing, along with encouraging her cat to make good choices, daily.

amirah[at]homelessyouthalliance.org

Melissa Matheney – Case Manager

Melissa is a Bay Area native and loves working in and giving back to the community she comes from. New to HYA in 2019 (but a long time admirer from across the Bay); Melissa started her career in Oakland as a volunteer with friends, and later joined an agency as an outreach worker and case manager. Melissa gives gratitude and thanks to the harm reduction model for both saving her life and allowing her to love herself and those around her, as they are. In Melissa’s spare time she enjoys parading around with her dog entourage and cat, spending time with her partner and friends, as well as yelling at the TV when the news is on.

melissa[at]homelessyouthalliance.org

Micah Jorgenson – Case Manager

Micah started as a case manager at HYA in 2019. They are a chihuahua enthusiast, who is originally from Texas, but have been living in the Bay Area for the last five years. They discovered a love for case management while working at housing organizations in Oakland. Working with youth has been a constant in their professional life. They say they are grateful to be at HYA, where they believe that harm reduction is a foundational and thoughtfully implemented model of care. In their spare time they enjoy leash training cats and eating breakfast tacos.

micah[at]homelessyouthalliance.org

shira noel - advocacy and policy coordinator

Shira Noel- Policy and Advocacy Coordinator

Originally from Venice Beach, Shira Noel started working as our Policy & Advocacy Coordinator in October 2013. Shira has a history with HYA and the community that spans over the last nineteen years. Coming directly from the population, she has a deep commitment to preserving the services HYA provides and personally knows how invaluable they are. She is dedicated and grateful to have an opportunity to represent the kids and the mission of the HYA and to be able to lend a voice and fight for them in ways she has long wanted to.

shira[at]homelessyouthalliance.org

Toivo Ollila – Operations Manager

Toivo is from San Francisco and grew up in the Fillmore and Mission neighborhoods. He has worked in community grass roots and harm reduction programs for over 20 years, but his heart has always been with and for the SF kids. He found his dream job at HYA in 2016. He stays up too late making art and music and playing video games.

toivo[at]homelessyouthalliance.org

masa fisher m.d.

Masa Fisher, MD.

“Dr. Masa’s” specialty is harm-reduction psychiatry. He is a San Francisco native and often expresses how happy he is to be able to be “helping the community I grew up in.” Dr. Masa works with participants one on one and in the group setting. He is often instrumental in getting a participant placed in housing and he is a tireless advocate for the homeless youth of our community. Dr. Masa brings many years of experience in public health and serving the mental health of homeless people. He was awarded the “Outstanding Chief Resident” award, from San Mateo County Psychiatry Residency in 2005 and continues to garner praise and recognition from the psychiatric and public health communities. His presence at HYA has brought a noticeably higher level of crisis intervention, mental health care, and effectiveness. We feel very fortunate to have him on board.

Maurice Byrd, LMFT

Maurice Byrd, LMFT, is a staff therapist with the Harm Reduction Therapy Center, where he provides mental health services in community programs and private practice. He is a graduate with an MS in Counseling Psychology with a Marriage and Family Therapy focus. He is also a Certified Anger Management Facilitator. Since beginning his work in community-based organizations as a counselor and intensive case manager in 2004, he has facilitated groups focusing on a variety of topics, including anger management, substance use, and harm reduction. He has worked with a diverse range of populations including adolescents, families, people court-mandated to treatment, the dually and multiply-diagnosed, homeless adolescents and adults, veterans, and violent offenders. Maurice is a San Francisco native who grew up in the Lower Haight/Western Addition area, and he has a great familiarity with and perspective on the homeless youth culture of the Haight Ashbury.

mauricebyrd[at]harmreductiontherapy.org

Jason Brown, LCSW

Jason is a staff therapist with the Harm Reduction Therapy Center.  He offers therapy and support to HYA clients and multiple community programs in San Francisco.  Jason uses a relational and collaborative approach and has ten years of experience working with diverse populations including transition age youth in extended foster care, individuals with severe mental health issues, teenagers and homeless adults in San Francisco and the East Bay.  Jason also has years of experience working with the LGBT community and is happy to support clients in accessing gender-affirming surgeries and healthcare.

jasonbrown[at]harmreductiontherapy.org

Joey Hess, ACSW

Joey Hess, ACSW, is a clinical social worker who works as a therapist on the Mobile Therapy team with Harm Reduction Therapy Center. Prior to joining HRTC Joey worked as a counselor for homeless youth and adults, people who use substances, individuals experiencing incarceration, people with dual diagnosis, and adults navigating the housing legal system. Joey utilizes a humanistic, relational, and trauma-informed approach guided by harm reduction philosophies when providing support to clients.

joeyhess[at]harmreductiontherapy.org