Andrea K. Urton, Chief Executive Officer
Andrea joined HomeFirst in March 2015 after serving as the agency’s Interim CEO. She received her MS in Clinical Counseling Psychology from San Jose State University in 2001 and her license as a Marriage Family Therapist in 2005. She has spent her career in mental health striving to provide the highest quality, innovative and culturally competent services for youth and families in Santa Clara County’s highest risk communities. Andrea has focused her energies on operationalizing practices and systems that allow agencies programs to grow and sustain. She has a strong passion for diversity and inclusion and has brought this passion at the agencies she has supported, as the Program Coordinator for Gardner Family Care Corporation Prevention & Early Intervention Services and as the Clinical Director responsible for EMQ FamiliesFirst Diversity and Inclusion practices in Santa Clara County and the Chief Operating Officer for Alum Rock Counseling Center as well an Adjunct Lecturer for Santa Clara University, where she works to increase awareness around issues of diversity and inclusion and organizational implementation and sustainability of these best practices. Her personal and professional goals are to ensure that everyone has the cultural and linguistically competent resources and supportive services that allow them to thrive. Andrea holds an MS in Clinical Psychology from San Jose State University.
Jess Gutierrez, Chief Financial Officer
Jess is a Partner and leads the NPO Practice Group for CFOs2GO, which sources seasoned financial professionals on an interim and consulting basis in the U.S. and internationally. He works with management teams and boards on the development of financial reporting systems, policies and procedures, strategic planning, forecasts and budgets, and recruiting and training accounting personnel. For the past twenty-five years, Jess has supported non-profit organizations as a senior executive, Chairman of the Board, and non-board member advisor, working with foundations, research institutions, land trusts, and children’s support agencies. Jess was previously the CFO for a San Jose-based credit union and a development-stage technology company. He holds a BS from Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business and received his MBA from Pepperdine University.
Rene D. Ramirez, Director of Services
Rene joined HomeFirst in May 2015 and oversees HomeFirst’s client programs and IT services. He has spent nearly 20 years supporting youth, families, and communities in Santa Clara County. Rene began his career with the City of San Jose’s Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services division. He spent 11 years with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, where he helped SVEF grow from serving one school district with a $100K budget to serving all of Silicon Valley with an $8M budget at its peak. In his final position as Vice President, he was responsible for building and launching programs, as well as directing the agency’s IT, HR, finance, and operations departments. Most recently, Rene served as the Director of Programs for the Alum Rock Counseling Center, where he led the development and implementation of the agency’s 12 programs at two office sites and more than 50 schools. Rene holds a BA in Psychology from San Jose State University and is bilingual/bicultural (Spanish).
Xian Ballesteros, Director of Development
Xian joined HomeFirst in 2008 and has served in a variety of positions, including public and private grant management, donor services, and database management. In his prior role as Development Manager he oversaw the procurement of two corporate product grants to build and sustain the agency’s infrastructure. As Director of Development he manages private fundraising, individual giving, and volunteer engagement. Prior to joining HomeFirst, he worked for the Santa Clara County Library Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau. Xian is a native of East San Jose who grew up witnessing the plight of homelessness in his community and is driven to effect change through his work. He holds a BA in Literature with an emphasis in Cultural Studies from University of California, Santa Cruz.
Claire Wagner, Director of Communications
Claire joined HomeFirst in July 2013, having previously served as a marketing consultant to the agency. As Director of Communications, she is responsible for direct mail and email fundraising, media relations, newsletters, the website, social media, videos, advertising, event promotion, and literature. She also managed the rebranding of EHC LifeBuilders to HomeFirst in 2014. Claire previously consulted with other local organizations including Applied Materials Foundation, Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Stanford Hospital & Clinics, Second Harvest Food Bank, and United Way Silicon Valley. She also served as the Director of Communications for Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. Prior to starting her own business, Claire worked in technology marketing as an agency Operations Director, Public Relations Director, and Copywriting Manager. She began her career in Business Development and holds a BA in Economics from the University of California at Davis.
Sarah Swanson, Director of Human Resources
Sarah joined HomeFirst in February 2015, having previously served as the Human Resources Manager for Alum Rock Counseling Center in San Jose. She specializes in the development, implementation, and execution of Human Resource operations including employment law, record management and retention, building and leading teams, creating policies and procedures, communication and negotiation, and talent management. Prior to joining ARCC, Sarah worked for ZEDventures, Inc., a Silicon Valley IT start-up, where she was responsible for building and managing both the Human Resources and Finance/Accounting departments. Sarah previously worked in property management, teaching, and as a training specialist in the insurance industry. She holds a BA in Anthropology from California State University, Chico, and an MA in Anthropology from California State University, East Bay.