Immersion Day Part 1: Speaker Bios

stephanie nguyen headshotStephanie Nguyen

As the Executive Director for Asian Resources, Inc. (ARI), Stephanie Nguyen has dedicated her career to ensuring that the underserved and the low-income communities have access to resources and have the adequate support that will get them one step closer to self-sufficiency. In an era of diminished resources, Stephanie thrives on expanding the possibilities for community development by emphasizing creative ways to use existing resources more effectively.

Stephanie credits her life experiences from growing up in a low-income family household to her professional experience where she has built the drive and passion to continue to work in the community to bridge the gap between those less fortunate than her to resources that can help them become sufficient.

On February 2, 2017, Stephanie was unanimously appointed to serve as the Councilmember for District 4 in the City of Elk Grove making her the first Asian American woman to serve as a Councilmember for the City of Elk Grove. On November 6, 2018 she was elected to continue her term as the only women on the Elk Grove City Council.

rachel rios headshotRachel Rios

Rachel Rios is the Executive Director of La Familia Counseling Center, Inc. a well-established community based agency in Sacramento. La Familia has two locations the Main Campus and the Maple Neighborhood Center, and is working on developing a new Opportunity Center.  La Familia is a trusted community partner and offers various programs and services including Children’s Behavioral Health services, Employment and Education services, Child Development and Parenting Birth and Beyond Program, a Family Resource Center, Health Enrollment and Navigation services, and youth services including working with at-risk youth.  Ms. Rios has over 30 years of diverse experience working with youth and community issues.  Ms. Rios began her leadership role at La Familia in 2012.

Prior to coming to La Familia Counseling Center, Ms. Rios was the Chief Deputy Secretary for the State of California Division of Juvenile Justice, (formally known as the California Youth Authority).  She had a long and successful career in Juvenile Justice.

Ms. Rios started her career working in non-profit agencies in the Sacramento area and considers it a great honor to have made the full circle to return to the non-profit arena and lead La Familia Counseling Center, Inc.

Ms. Rios is a graduate of California State University Sacramento with a degree in Criminal Justice.   She completed the John F. Kennedy School of Government “Women in Public Policy Program” at Harvard, the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform “Public Sector Leaders Program” at Georgetown University and the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in Colorado.  She is an alumnae of the National Hispana Leadership Institute program, She is the Chair for the California State Advisory Committee for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and a current member of the Sacramento County Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission.

Sarah-Michael Gaston

Sarah-Michael Gaston is the Policy Advocate of Youth Forward, a local organization that works to improve the health, education, and wellbeing of our most vulnerable children and youth. Youth Forward’s main goals are to support youth voice and leadership and to advocate for policy and systems changes that increase investments in children and youth and that reduce the criminalization of them.

Sarah-Michael is a Sacramento native passionate about serving her community and promoting social justice. Over the years she has held leadership roles in various social change efforts. She has been a dedicated volunteer for Sharing God's Bounty soup kitchen since 2008 - having become a supervisor in 2016. She is also a co-founder and former board member of Black Women United, a nonprofit that elevates and empowers Black women through the annual Black Women's March.

In her role at Youth Forward she focuses on ensuring that cannabis tax revenues go back to communities of color harmed by the War on Drugs and advocating for youth-friendly mental health services in schools. Before coming to Youth Forward in February 2019, Sarah-Michael worked in nonprofit housing and health-care organizations. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a Business Management minor from Linfield College.