Sacramento’s largest homeless organization hires new executive director

Loaves & Fishes, the largest nonprofit agency in the Sacramento region serving homeless people, has selected a new executive director to replace Sister Libby Fernandez.

Noel Kammermann, who in recent years has run programs for homeless people in the Northeast, will lead Loaves, which offers meals, showers, legal help and other services to more than 700 people each day, officials announced.

Fernandez, a member of the Sisters of Mercy who has been a fixture at Loaves since 1985, has resigned to start a new “bicycle ministry” she is calling Mercy Pedalers.

Norm Fadness, president of the Loaves board of directors, said the agency received more than 200 applications for the executive director’s job. Fadness said Kammermann’s experience and personality were the best fit for the position.

“It’s hard to find someone with the same qualities as Sister Libby,” Fadness said. “But that’s basically what were looking for, and we think we found the right person.”

Kammermann is a passionate advocate and “committed to ending homelessness,” he said.

Kammermann, according to his LinkedIn profile, has in recent years directed programs at Inspirica, formerly St. Luke’s LifeWorks, on the East Coast. The agency, according to its website, aims to “break the cycle of homelessness by helping people achieve and maintain permanent housing and stability in their lives.”

Inspirica, according to the site, is one of the largest providers of services to homeless people in Connecticut, housing approximately 350 people each night and helping more than 800 people a year with support services, including long-term housing, vocational training and employment placement.

Prior to Inspirica, Kammermann worked for Project Renewal, a New York agency that also serves homeless clientele. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s in mental health counseling, according to his profile.

He is expected to start at Loaves in early July.

The Loaves campus on North C Street, which relies solely on private funding, has 12 programs, 80 employees, hundreds of volunteers and an annual budget of $6 million. It offers breakfast and lunch to hundreds of people every weekday.

The agency has generated plenty of controversy over the years, particularly during Fernandez’s push to establish a “tent city” for people who cannot or will not live in shelters. Fernandez and others within the organization have fielded criticism from neighborhood groups and businesses about trash and crime they blamed on Loaves & Fishes clients.

In her new mission, Fernandez plans to pilot an adult bicycle with an electric motor into areas where homeless people gather in Sacramento, offering friendship, counseling and connections to other services, she said.

Cynthia Hubert: 916-321-1082, @Cynthia_Hubert

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