Wind Youth Center shifts lead staff role

Sher Barber
[Courtesy of Nonprofit Resource Center.]

Following a tumultuous end to 2013, Wind Youth Services, which battled cash-flow issues and possible closure at its popular drop-in center for homeless youth, is now in transition mode.

Sher Barber officially resigned as executive director the week before Christmas, citing health reasons. But the challenges of keeping the area’s only hub of services for homeless youth afloat also likely took their toll.

That responsibility now falls to Suzi Dotson, who takes over on January 6, after spending four-and-a-half years as the program manager of the Sacramento Children’s Home’s crisis nursery. Before that, she served as coordinator of its Valley Hi Florin Family Resource Center in south Sacramento.

That pedigree made Dotson a “great candidate under any circumstances,” said Chris Russell, vice chair of Wind’s board of directors. “She has the perfect experience for us,” Russell added. “We feel she knows the industry and the people who work in this field.”

Dotson takes over an assortment of youth homeless programs facing numerous uncertainties. While a flurry of late-quarter donations and community pleas kept Wind’s youth center open beyond a feared November 15 shutdown last year, the organization lost out on a $540,000 federal grant it had received for several years that would have secured the center’s existence until 2017. The Sacramento Employment and Training Agency also recommended denying a $30,625 funding request, meaning Dotson will have to scramble to find other funding sources.

When Barber last spoke to SN&R in November, she said any lost funding sources were significant. “Every bit of money that comes in or goes out is huge,” she added.

Despite resigning, Barber appeared last week at the drop-in center to help serve Christmas dinner.

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