Senior Leadership Team
Chief Executive Officer
John joined Hammer in February of 2012. He has more than 20 years of committed service with local nonprofits. Prior to joining Hammer, he served as Executive Director of Episcopal Community Services, and also as CEO of Catholic Charities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
John brings his visionary leadership, passion for service, and gift of collaboration to the Hammer organization. He is influential in upholding the mission and vision of Hammer, as well as keeping resources accessible for the people we support and for the staff who work at Hammer.
Chief Program Officer
Sue has been at Hammer for over forty years, starting her career as a care giver at Hammer. In her role as Chief Program Officer, (CPO) Sue oversees Hammer’s 36 homes, 10 apartment programs, and Hammer’s Individualized Community Services (ICS) Services. She also handles day-to-day operations in leading a staff team of close to 500 people, who provide personalized support to the individuals Hammer supports.
Chief Financial Officer
Kristin has been at Hammer for over ten years in the finance department. In her role as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), she is responsible for all financial functions, including the accounting of all revenue and expenses, finance management, budgeting, and reporting. Kristin leads and manages the finance staff members along with her fiscal responsibilities.
Director of Human Resources
In Kim’s 30-plus years of service to Hammer, she has held a variety of positions, including direct support professional. As Director of Human Resources, she is responsible for overseeing our hiring team, coordinating orientation with new employees, addressing personnel issues, and staff training.
Chief Development Officer
In 1982, Ellen started her career at Hammer as a direct support professional. Since then, she has served in a variety of roles. In 1999, she joined the Development and Communication Department and in 2006, became our Director of Development.
With the consistent growth in fundraising and outreach, Development and Communications split into two separate departments in 2012, leading to Ellen’s appointment to Chief Development Officer. She now leads Hammer’s fundraising efforts.
Director of Information Systems
In 1990, Dan came to work at Hammer as a direct support professional, serving four adults with traumatic brain injuries. He moved to our IT department in 2000 and has held his current position as Director since 2008. Dan is responsible for the overall vision, development, and implementation of our information and technology systems.
Director of Communication
Barbara has been a communicator and relationship builder for over 20 years with an accomplished background in writing, marketing, strategic planning, and community/public relations.
She shares impactful stories of the individuals Hammer supports, staff, and volunteers, board and family members, to increase the visibility of Hammer. She has a deep passion for Hammer’s mission, for the people Hammer supports, and making a difference in the community.
Director of Environmental Services
Tim has contributed to Hammer’s environmental services team since 1990. As the Director, he is responsible for maintenance, fire safety, and compliance to federal and state codes for all of our sites. Additionally, he oversees the requisition of all goods and services purchased for the organization. Tim is a Registered Accessibility Specialist for the State of Minnesota.
Director of Customized Support Services (CSS)
Emily joined Hammer in 2015, starting as a case manager, then moving up to Lead Case Manager. In 2019, she was promoted to Director of Customized Support Services (CSS). Emily is dedicated to her work as well as the individuals who are supported by Hammer.
Emily oversees the operation of the CSS department programs, as well as leading the staff, who are responsible for assisting families with personalized support services through Hammer.
Jenna Neal, BSN, RN
Director of Health Services
Jenna started at Hammer in 2014 as a direct support professional and assistant program manager. She became a Program Manager in 2015 and was inspired to go back to school for a nursing degree. She finished up her degree while managing a Hammer home for over two years. Jenna was welcomed to the nursing team in 2018 and accepted the role of Director of Health Services in 2020.
Jenna coordinates the health services of those living in Hammer’s residential programs as well as to support Hammer’s nurses and direct support professionals in providing proficient and person-centered health care. Her experience in the field and as a nurse aids in advocating for optimal health, safety, maximizing independence, and improving quality of life of those Hammer support.
Director of Hammer Travel and Community Life
Tom started his career at Hammer in 1998 as a part time Direct Support Staff. He soon became a Program Manager and held that position until 2009, when he co-founded and became Director of Hammer Travel. Tom has also been the Director for Hammer’s Community Life department since 2017.
His creative and innovative approach to Hammer’s mission has been his trademark throughout the years. He is also committed to finding ways to enhance Hammer’s employee level of job satisfaction, through meaningful incentives and inclusion.
Cate Saracen Peters
Director of Workforce Development
Cate began her career with Hammer as a Direct Support Professional in the 1980’s. In her 35 plus years she has served in a variety of leadership roles connected to Program.
In 2009 she co-led the development of Hammers Training Department. Cate has focused on key Workforce Development strategies, including: Person Centered Practice, Online Learning Management, and Leadership Development opportunities.
She considers it an honor to collaborate with all teams in working daily to fulfill Hammer’s mission.
Michele joined Hammer in 2020 as the Executive Coordinator. In her position she manages John’s schedule, coordinates work with the senior leadership team, Board of Directors, and supervises the front office staff. With a background in Health Care, Michele is very excited about getting to interact with the people we support in our homes and apartments.
Cathy Thoma, CVA
Director of Volunteer Resources
Cathy joined the Volunteer Department at Hammer in 2014, and became its Director in 2017. With a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management, Cathy brings extensive knowledge and experience to her current role. Cathy is responsible for recruiting, vetting, on-boarding and matching volunteers to Hammer’s various volunteer opportunities. She is most passionate about connecting volunteers to those we support, helping them to build strong relationships based on mutual interests.
Cathy has recently been awarded the credential, Certified in Volunteer Administration, and is entitled to use the designation “CVA.” This certification is internationally recognized and she joins a select group of over 1,100 professionals worldwide who currently hold this credential.