Tod Lipka holds a M.P.A. degree and a M.S. from USC. With nearly 30 years in managing nonprofits, Mr. Lipka is a seasoned executive. He has been President and CEO of Step Up since 2001. In that time, Step Up has quadrupled its breadth of service operation and expanded from one supportive housing project to ten projects. Step up now provide services in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange counties. He was a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and Step Up’s work was recognized and endorsed personally by President Clinton in 2010 and 2013 as well as recognition by Kobe Bryant and the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation.
Lipka oversees the acquisition, development, and management and service provision of over 700 permanent supportive housing units, most of which serve individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, utilizing the Housing First model. He personally engages local stakeholders, and meets with key policymakers and constituencies to educate and advocate for effective mental health and housing policies and sustainable resource commitments at the County, State, and Federal levels of government. As an innovator and thought leader, Lipka educates and advocates directly on behalf of the individuals Step Up serves through sharing powerful personal stories from the field, increasing awareness and sharing best practices in the area of mental health, chronic homelessness, and permanent supportive housing.
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Barbara Bloom, LCSW
As a seasoned mental health clinician, Ms. Barbara Bloom has over 15 years experience working in mental health settings. Ms. Bloom, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is the Chief Operating Officer of Step Up and oversees clinical programs and operations of Step Up including Daniel’s Place. A member of the Executive Management Team, her responsibilities range from program development and planning, the hiring and supervision of Program Managers and Directors who oversee staff related to these programs (including staff psychiatrists) as well as related reporting procedures required for all programs. Ms. Bloom earned her B.A. at UCLA and her Master of Social Work at USC; she is also an Accredited Licensed Clinical Supervisor – for both students and interns earning hours for M.S.W. and M.F.T. and was an adjunct professor at USC School of Social Welfare.
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Kim Carson, Chief Financial Officer, directs all aspects of Step Up’s accounting and support activities: accounting; human resources; money management; property accounting; facilities management; and IT. Carson is responsible for the financial stability of the agency including assembling the agency’s annual budget, preparing annual contract reporting, coordinating the annual independent audit, as well as fiscal monitoring activity with government contracts and grant funders. With more than 20 years of experience in accounting/finance, oversight of large government grants, agency strategic planning, and operations management, Carson oversees a staff of 12 individuals serving Step Up and Daniel’s Places, and staffs the Finance Committee of the Board of Directors. Carson holds a BS degree in Accounting from Loyola Marymount University.
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Carolyn Baker, M.Ed.
Carolyn L. Baker, holds a M.Ed. in Organizational Development and leads all activities of the Fundraising and Housing Acquisition & Development teams. Additionally she staffs the Board of Directors, the Development Committee, the Public Policy Committee, and the Public Relations Committee; oversees External and Governmental Affairs; and facilitates effective working relationships with internal and external key teams and team leaders. In her nearly 30 year nonprofit career, Baker has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for important safety net agencies. Baker’s mantra is: “it’s the role of a community to heal and sustain ALL of its members.”
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Amy Stone has been with Step Up since 2004. She has 20 of years experience working in social services setting combined with an extensive background in food services, corporate restaurant training, and management. Amy attended Western Washington University and has a degree in Sociology/Criminology. At Step Up Amy oversees all Vocational services including Fresh Start Market & Catering, the Served Meals Program, Job Training and Community Employment Development.
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Aaron Criswell, M.A.
Aaron Criswell has been the Program Director at Step Up for one year and the Team Leader of the Service Coordinator Team at Step Up on Second for 7 years. As such, he is responsible for overseeing the Service Coordination and Member Services staff. Criswell also manages three City of Santa Monica contracts, including those for Dual Diagnosis and Shelter Plus Care Housing Assistance. With a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Kentucky, Criswell came to Step Up as a Registered Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner after having been an integral team member of Portals Mental Health Rehabilitation Services, Boulder County Behavioral Health Program, Portals Partners, Canyon Acres Residential Center, and Mental Health Corporation of Denver, Colorado.
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