Cathie Anderson

Sacramento Habitat for Humanity taps new leaders

Sacramento Habitat’s Ken Cross hands over the key to a home to Bouchaib Achak during a dedication ceremony of homes built by Habitat for Humanity in Sacramento last January.
Sacramento Habitat’s Ken Cross hands over the key to a home to Bouchaib Achak during a dedication ceremony of homes built by Habitat for Humanity in Sacramento last January. Sacramento Bee file

Both the chief executive and chief financial officer at Sacramento’s Habitat for Humanity are exiting the organization at the same time: CEO Ken Cross has left to do consulting on the state level for Habitat, while CFO Anne Gambino intends to focus on a business she owns with her husband and on volunteer work.

Habitat has tapped an experienced nonprofit leader, Pam Saltenberger, who retired in 2013 from her position of CEO of Girl Scouts Heart of Central California, to lead the organization until a new CEO is recruited.

“Pam is helping the board organize around a search for a new CEO,” Gambino said. “They’re interviewing recruiting companies, and the plan is to actually have a recruiter in place and start the formal search in January.”

Gambino got to know Habitat’s work while serving on her church’s board and raising money to help the organization build a home. Before coming to Habitat, Gambino worked as an investment banker for Chase and as a CFO for a small company that she had helped to find startup capital. She has a master’s in business administration from Columbia University.

During her 10 years as CFO, Gambino has functioned as both the financial officer and the lead fundraiser for the organization, said Laine Himmelmann, Habitat’s corporate development and public relations officer.

“Eighty-eight of our 129 homes have been completed during Anne’s time on staff,” Himmelmann said. “Anne has had a hand in every one of those homes being built and in every life that was changed because of it.”

Gambino said that she and her husband, general contractor Michael Gordon, own a real-estate development firm called 2G Ventures, and she will be lending more of her finance expertise to that endeavor. She’s also going to be expanding her volunteer work with The Africa Hope Fund, a local group that supports conservation through education.

Two people are taking on work that Gambino had done. Leah Miller, who has seven years of fundraising experience with organizations such as the Mercy Foundation and EMQ FamiliesFirst, joined Habitat in July as director of fund development. Gambino groomed longtime Habitat bookkeeper Heidi Stauffer to take over the organization’s mortgage portfolio, grant compliance and financial reporting. She is now Habitat Sacramento’s finance manager.

Cross said Saltenberger is doing a great job in leading the organization into its next stage. He said he is now working on issues that require a collective or collaborative effort by all of Habitat’s California affiliates: developing and maintaining public funding sources, advocating for legislation and disaster preparedness. It’s an area that Cross said he has grown more passionate about over his nearly 12 years at the helm of the Sacramento affiliate.

Soleil opens in new home

Roughly a year after closing his downtown Sacramento cafe, restaurateur Jorge Ix is jumping back into the game with Soleil Mexican American Cuisine near the UC Davis Medical Center.

Ix opened the new restaurant Tuesday in a building at 2784 Stockton Blvd. that once housed a Merlino’s Freeze. Ix ran Cafe Soleil at Cesar Chavez Plaza with his wife and business partner, Nicole Ix, for more than 20 years. His wife died in February 2013. Prior to her death, Nicole Ix told me that the business had been struggling because park traffic had declined during frequent park renovations. In addition, she and her husband told me, competition from mobile food vendors had increased during festivals at the park.

Jorge Ix closed the downtown restaurant in December 2014. He’s opening the new business with his brother Manuel Ix, who also worked at the original Cafe Soleil. Right now, their hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., though that could change in summer.

“I come here at different times, just to look at how many people are cruising by,” Ix said. “That’s how I decided that 8 is when everybody starts coming into the area around here.”

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee