Meet the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

Whether working in the nation’s capital or in States and communities across the country, USICH’s team of talented and resourceful professionals are committed to carrying out the Obama Administration’s mission to prevent and end homelessness. As USICH moves through a leadership transition from Barbara Poppe to Laura Zeilinger as the new incoming executive director, we thought a “refresher” on the complement of USICH team would be helpful. Below are short profiles of policy and program staff who work directly with our Federal partner agencies, and State and local leaders.


Laura Green Zeilinger, Executive Director

On March 7, Laura Green Zeilinger stepped up to the role of Executive Director and now leads the implementation of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, an effort that includes the coordination of all Federal homelessness policies among 19 Federal departments and agencies as well as partnerships among State and local communities, non-profits, and the private sector. “Making the policy work that happens in the interagency space on the Federal level meaningful for States and communities is what energizes me most. I’m also excited about working with our partners to bridge what is happening in the field back to the Federal level,” she said. “In the coming months, I’m looking forward to accelerating our interagency work around employment for families and other populations who are experiencing homelessness.” Recently, Zeilinger worked with Federal partners to create Family Connection: Building Systems to End Family Homelessness. USICH will provide more resources and guidance that will help communities operationalize that framework.


Richard Cho, Senior Policy Director

Richard Cho is based in Washington, DC, where he coordinates USICH's Federal policy efforts and the implementation of Opening Doors. One area of his work that will have long-lasting impacts is his effort to promote housing as a health care intervention. “Because of the Affordable Care Act, we are on the verge of having a transformed health care system that is oriented to addressing the needs of the whole person, including housing needs and homelessness,” Cho said. “I firmly believe that when we have a health care system that is able to provide the supports people need to achieve housing stability, homelessness will be a thing of the past.”


Matthew Doherty, Director of National Initiatives

Matthew Doherty is based in San Diego, Calif., and oversees USICH’s work with State and local leaders across the country. Doherty specializes in working with communities to design and implement newly coordinated systems for linking people experiencing homelessness to the housing and services that best fits their needs and best supports their achievement of their goals. “In the coming months, I am especially excited by the opportunity to add another Regional Coordinator to our team, which will enable USICH to deepen our work with states and communities in the Western U.S,” Doherty said.


Jay Melder, Director of Communications and External Affairs.


Jay Melder is based in Washington, DC and is responsible for planning and managing communications and media information programs regarding the work of USICH and its initiatives. Additionally, he develops and manages our legislative priorities and processes, including the management of relationships, initiatives and work related to federal and national partners. 


Jasmine Hayes, Policy Director

jasmine hayes policy director usich

Jasmine Hayes is based in Washington, DC, and works across Federal agencies to help shape policies that address homelessness among families, children and youth, as well as increasing access to employment and education. Jasmine Hayes has devoted much of her career to the field of child welfare, starting as a case-carrying social worker in Child Protective Services where she worked with youth and families who often struggled with unstable housing, periodic homelessness, unemployment and co-occurring disorders. “I have seen firsthand the impact of homelessness on short- and long-term outcomes for children,” said Hayes. “I believe that there are opportunities in child welfare reform to end homelessness among families.”  


Beverley Ebersold, Regional Coordinator

Beverley Ebersold, based in Detroit, Mich., focuses on achieving the goals set forth in Opening Doors by fostering collaboration and partnership among leaders within communities, local, state, and at the Federal level to promote evidence-based best practices, cost-effective use of resources, and peer-to-peer sharing opportunities across the midwest and far reaching to the northwest. “Over the next few months, I am looking forward to traveling to communities in my regions and visiting leaders across the country, to learn local and state dynamics while building, strengthening, and encouraging partnerships to achieve the goal of ending homelessness,” she said.


Katy Miller, Regional Coordinator

Katy Miller is based in Seattle, Washington, and serves as a principal  representative and bridge between the work of the full Council and states and communities. In this role, she is responsible for facilitating the strategic implementation of Opening Doors specifically in Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington state. Katy has been working for more than 18 years as an advocate, housing provider, and funder of homeless housing and services. She  played an important role in launching new initiatives and funding resources to help people move out of homelessness into permanent housing, such as the Washington Families Fund, Landlord Liaison Project, Career Connections, and the Client Care Coordination system for targeted recruitment of the most vulnerable and high utilizers of expensive systems into permanent supportive housing.


Robert Pulster, Regional Coordinator

Robert Pulster is based in Boston, Massachusetts, and works with State and local stakeholders in the northeast, south, and central regions to implement evidence-based practices that are proven to be successful. Specifically, he said he is “looking forward to working in communities to advance USICH's vision of Family Connection: Building Systems to End Family Homelessness. We have the opportunity to expand key actions and I am excited to support the tremendous energy and commitments among our partners to set us on a path to prevent and end homelessness among families.”


Amy Sawyer, Regional Coordinator

Amy Sawyer is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and works with leaders in states on the east coast and southeast to grow momentum and find ways to leverage and target resources in order to reach the goal of ending homelessness across all populations. “Right now, I’m really excited about my work on human rights and finding alternatives to criminalization. I think it is important for our conversations about homelessness to focus on real people and what they are experiencing,” Sawyer said. Stay tuned for blogs, webinars, and conversations about this important issue.  


For the full list of our talented staff, click here