Carla Valadez, Regional President
(2YR FY 2021-2022) NCAC, Unit Manager - OHO
Hello! My name is Carla Valadez and I am currently serving in the capacity of Regional President for HAAC. I have been a member of HAAC since February 2006 and have served in various capacities, including Secretary, Bay Area Vice President, Mentor and Project Manager. Being a member of HAAC has helped me achieve many of my goals and has allowed me to create great memories and friendships throughout the years. As it relates to my background, I started my career with the agency as an SSI Claims Representative in the Antioch Field Office in 2005. Shortly after, I transitioned to Operations Supervisor in the (Northern Area), completed a yearlong detail with the Labor and Employee Relations team in Richmond, and served in the capacity of Assistant District Manager in the Suisun City Social Security Office (previously Fairfield) for several years. Currently, I am the Unit Manager of the National Case Assistance Center (NCAC) in Richmond, CA in the Office of Hearing Operations (OHO). I love meeting new people and have a lot of positive energy to share. In this new capacity, I hope to continue to promote training and career development opportunities to help our members achieve their own personal goals, as well as think of how we can also give back to our communities.
Sara Gonzalez, Vice President
(2YR FY 2021-2022) ADM - Merced
I started my career with the agency as a Customer Service Representative in the Merced Office (Northern Area), transitioned to CS, then OS. I had the opportunity to serve a detail in the Cal Central Area Director’s office as an AOA and in 2012, I served as the Level 2 District Manager in the Madera, CA FO.
I received a Master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University Stanislaus in Turlock, CA. I have been an active member of SF-HAAC since 2009. I have served as the Chief Editor of the Si Se Puede! Newsletter, Mentor in the Advisor Program, Secretary in the Executive Council and assisted with events during the Hispanic Youth Symposium at Fresno State University as well as facilitating workshops hosted by SF-HAAC (GOLD, Limitless, etc).
I enjoy meeting new people and have tons of positive energy to share. I will work with the Executive Council to promote training and career development, encourage improved communication and networking amongst our existing members and reach out to others to help our council grow.
Wendy Espinoza, Secretary
(2YR FY 2021-2022) OS - Merced
My name is Wendy Espinoza. Being part of the SF HAAC has been a wonderful experience. I have been able to network and get to know others through SF HAAC throughout my SSA career. SF HAAC has provided tools and resources to help me develop my career growth. I am grateful for SF HAAC’s support and would like to join the SF HAAC Executive Board as Secretary to help others as it helped me.
I would like to share a little bit about myself. I am currently the Operations Supervisor for T16 in the Merced Social Security office. I stared my career with the agency in 2005 as a Service Representative in the Hayward office (Bay Area), next transitioned to a Claims Representative and later to a Technical Expert, all while working in Bay. I then got the opportunity to transfer to the Merced office. I have been part of Northern for 3 years now.
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justice from California State Hayward University (now known as Cal State East Bay) in Hayward, CA. I have been an active participant of SF HAAC since 2006. I enjoy meeting new people, I am reliable, dependable and positive. If elected as Secretary of the SF HAAC Executive Board, I will support training and career development initiatives that will benefit you. I will motivate members to grow professionally and work with the Executive Council to encourage improved communication and networking amongst our existing members and reach out to others to help our council grow. Thank you for your vote!
Anzell Gonzalez, Treasurer
(2YR FY 2022-2023) CSR - Modesto
Hello! My name is Anzell Gonzalez, I was born and raised in Merced CA. I attended the University of California Merced in August of 2015. In May of 2019 I graduated receiving a Baccalaureate Degree in Sociology with a minor in Anthropology. Ultimately my drive comes from the influence of my grandparents as they immigrated to the United States. Their sacrifices have allowed me to be the first in my family to graduate from a 4-year University. I joined the Social Security Administration shortly after in July 2019. I have 2 years and counting as a Bilingual Customer Service Representative (CSR) in the Modesto Field Office. My focus and determination shifted from education to excelling in my career. I am currently serving as your new SF-HAAC Treasurer! I became a HAAC member as of 2020 and soon thereafter became Treasurer in 2021. I look forward to making new memories with HAAC and make an impact on peoples lives. The goal is to continue grow, create new relationships and give back to our communities.
Wanda Gonzales, Northern AVP & Advisor Program Co-Chair
(2 YR FY 2022-2023) AAA - Northern ADO
iSaludos SF-HAAC and Northern Gente! My name is Wanda Gonzales and I am excited to serve as your new Northern Area VP! I am also completing my third and final year as the Co-Chair for the HAAC Advisor Program. I am ready for this new endeavor and I will keep the lines of communication open, bring us together and find creative ways for us to network and navigate our new work culture. HAAC has truly supplemented my skills and abilities in the workplace. I joined HAAC early on in my career and the more I participated in events and engaged the trainings and opportunities that HAAC offered, the keys to my success multiplied.
A little about me. I have been a Northern employee for twenty years. I participated in the Regional Office Experience (ROX) and had the opportunity to detail to the Regional Public Affairs Office (RPAO). I am currently the Area Administrative Assistant (AAA) for the Northern Area Director’s Office. In my career, I have been lucky to serve as a SSI Claims Specialist (ten years), Operations Supervisor, District Manager, and Public Affairs Specialist. I like to participate in workgroups, cadres, and committees because it forces me out of my comfort zone. My passions are helping others, mentoring, the well-being of our community, and volunteering. I am a Tejana, born in San Antonio; first generation Mexican and Puerto Rican. I live in Sacramento, CA. Off the clock, you can find me exploring the town and discovering cool places to eat, hanging out with friends and family, traveling, and spending time with my most treasured accomplishment, Isabella, my 19-year old.
Andrea Garnica, Bay AVP
(2YR FY 2022-2023) CS - Salinas TSC
Hi everyone! It is an honor to serve as Bay AVP. My name is Andrea Garnica. I am a Title 2 Claims Specialist in the Salinas, CA Workload Support Unit located in the Salinas TSC. I started my career with the agency when I was 19 years old as a Teleservice Representative in 2007. I did a short detail as what is now a Lead CSR in 2010, followed by my promotion to what was then the Immediate Claims Taking Unit, now known as WSU.
Fast forward to 2019, I felt I needed change and gifted myself a ticket to the 2019 HAAC Gala as a birthday present to myself. Since then, I have met so many wonderful people and have written articles for the Si Se Puede! Newsletter. In the early part of the year 2020, I was selected to be a part of the SF-HAAC Advisor Program as a mentee. I had an amazing mentor who always encouraged me, which was no small feat given the challenges that came from various directions during the year 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. In December 2021, I finished a 120-day detail with the Center for Automation, Security, and Integrity (CASI) component as an analyst for the Security and Integrity Team (SIT).
I was born in Oxnard, CA and raised as a migrant kid between Yuma, Arizona, and California’s beautiful Central Coast. I am bilingual in English and Spanish and have two kids: a son and a daughter. I enjoy spending time with my family, exploring different cuisines, and going on adventures with my children. I love art, history, and architecture.
HAAC helped me so much and in return, I look forward to working with everyone and helping others with their goals as well!
Mirian Alvarenga, FHFB AVP
(2YR FY 2021-2022) AMM - WNPSC Richmond, CA
Hi! My name is Mirian Alvarenga and I am an Assistant Module Manager at the Western Program Service Center in Richmond, CA. I was born and raised in San Francisco and I am a first generation college graduate and proud daughter of Salvadorian parents. I am the youngest of five children and a proud aunt of six nephews and four nieces. Family means everything to me.
One of my dearest friends and role models invited me to join HAAC back in 2017. At first, I was comfortable staying in my shell, but my friend made HAAC sound appealing. She was not wrong. From the informative workshops and beautiful GALAs to the inspirational leaders and speeches, HAAC immediately drew me in. It feels incredible to be a part of a community that offers such a diverse perspective and voice in the work place.
In 2019, I completed my yearlong developmental journey as an SF-HAAC Advisor Program Participant. Through this program, I was able to work with my mentor, complete my SSA-45, and facilitate a workshop on a blog that I created about my study abroad experience in Japan. My biggest takeaways from this program were my mentor’s incredible support and my ability to step outside of my comfort zone.
For the past two years, I have helped lead the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee in the Frank Hagel Federal Building. From these experiences, I have learned that all successful projects need vision, dedication, and most importantly, collaboration. Last year’s theme was Hispanic Waves of Immigration: Our Historical Footprint, which focused on the many contributions to this country by Hispanic immigrants. We created lobby displays that included a Hispanic Waves of Immigration timeline, beautiful works of art, an interactive game, a video displaying episodes of PBS’ Latino Americans, and handcrafted jewelry. We also held a kickoff event that included a speech by Civil Rights Attorney and Immigration Rights Advocate, John Trasviña, a Mayan Art Workshop, and complimentary refreshments. It started with a vision that with many helping hands and collaboration with components such as CREO, ETDT, RPAO, and Facilities, turned out to be a huge success.
This event allowed me to take on a leadership role where I developed my skills in planning, organizing, developing others, collaborating, networking, writing and presenting. I will apply and strengthen these skills as FHFB AVP. I envision a community that keeps the essence and spirit of HAAC alive as we move forward in our new virtual reality. I hope to have your support and I look forward to working with you all. Thank you for your time.
Vanessa Davis, Sierra West AVP
(2YR FY 2021-2022) DM - Visalia, CA
I began my career in September 1999 as a Bilingual Spanish T2 CS in York, PA. In 2002, I was selected into the National Leadership Development Program where I did details as an analyst at OPSOS in Central Office in Baltimore and as an AOA (Area Operations Analyst) in the Harrisburg, PA area office. Soon thereafter, I was promoted to Operations Supervisor in Westminster, MD and in 2006 accepted a 1-year detail as ADM in the downtown Harrisburg, PA DO. In 2007, I was selected as Level 2 DM in Elkton, MD where I serviced a tristate area in MD, PA and DE. In 2010, I was selected into the Philadelphia region’s Regional Management Development Program (RMDP) where I had opportunities to work as Executive Assistant to the Assistant Regional Commissioner and as Deputy Director in the Wilmington, DE DDS. In 2012, I took a leap of faith and accepted a Level 1 DM position in Visalia, CA. Two years later, I was asked to accept a detail as DAD (Deputy Area Director) in the Cal Central area office in Fresno, CA. A year later, the area was realigned and I happily returned to my permanent position of record as the L1 DM in Visalia, CA. My three office district has transitioned three different times with three different area directors with varying workload expectations. In my tenure we have seen much attrition in the bargaining and non-bargaining unit, but we maintain loyal and positive to our mission. I am proud to say I had a hand in many former employee promotions ranging from Associate Commissioners to Claims Specialists. I formerly mentored LDP candidates in Phily and in San Francisco and informally continue to do so in not only the regions I worked in but other regions as well.
Vivian Recinos, La Metro AVP
(2 YR FY 2021-2022) OS - Glendale
Hello everyone, my name is Vivian Recinos. I have been an active SF-HAAC member since 2015. I have had the opportunity to serve as SF HAAC’s LA Metro AVP since 2018. I am excited and honored to be able to serve the LA Metro area again for the next two years. In the several years I have been in HAAC, it has made a huge impact in my personal and professional life. I would love to continue sharing HAAC’s mission with others in the agency.
I started my career with Social Security in 2008 as a T2 Claims Representative at the University Village FO in Los Angeles, CA. In 2016, I was promoted to a T2 Claims Technical Expert in the Glendale CA FO. In 2019, I was selected to participate in the San Francisco Regional Bridge Development Program with two assignments as an Operations Supervisor (OS). Following the completion of the Bridge program, I was selected as the Operations Supervisor in my home office of Glendale which I am currently at.
I was born in Taiwan raised in Walnut, CA. I live in Los Angeles with my husband and two daughters. I am trilingual in English, Mandarin, and Spanish. I love spending time with my family, Disneyland, cooking, eating, and watching football. I look forward to the next two years with you all. I cannot wait to meet each and every one of you virtually or in person soon. Si Se Puede!
Nolasco Pesina, South Coast AVP
(2YR FY 2021-2022) CS
Claudia Lamp, Southwest AVP
(2YR FY 2022-2023) CTE - Palm Springs
Buenos Dias! My name is Claudia Lamp. I’ve been a member of SF HAAC for most of my career and now am excited to take the next step as your Southwest Area Vice President.
I started my career with SSA as a Service Representative in the Morongo Basin office in 2005. In 2009, I was promoted to a T16 Claims Representative followed by T2 Cross Over training in 2012. I truly enjoyed being a Generalist CS and didn’t think I wanted to do anything else, until there was an opening for a Generalist CTE in the Palm Springs District Office. I was promoted to CTE in March of 2016. Along with the craziness of being a CTE, I was also a part of the Region 9 Trust Cadre workgroup, which helped develop the processes for trust reviews in our region. I am currently still a trust reviewer for the Southwest Area. It seems every 3-4 years I need to add something else to my plate, and so here I am joining the ranks of other SF HAAC council members.
I was born in Central California but have been in the Palm Springs area since I was young. My husband and I have been married for 15 years and have 2 smart and witty teenage girls (13 & 15).
I am excited for the opportunity to assist with SF HAAC and look forward to meeting and making new connections and friends.
Matthew Peralta, Inland AVP
(2YR FY 2021-2022) ADM - Reno
Greetings SF HAAC and Inland Area SSA Family! It has been an absolute honor and privilege to be a part of the SF HAAC team for these past few years. My experience working with the SF HAAC Executive Council and all of our SF Region HAAC members has enriched my development as a manager. However, the term has flown by, while presenting many new challenges. As a result, I would like to run for a second term to represent our Inland Area as Executive Council Area Vice President.
I began my career with SSA shortly after graduating from California State University, Stanislaus with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, focused on Human Resource Management. I began my SSA career in April 2010 as a Service Representative in Modesto, CA. This experience helped me build a strong foundation in SSA program knowledge and Customer Service skills, while also creating lasting relationships in the office and community. After three years in Modesto, I received a promotion to T16 Claims Representative in Sonora, CA. Because of the limited staffing at this facility, I received significant opportunity to learn SSA Management functions. Based on this mentoring and support, I pursued a Management role and received a promotion in September 2015 to the T16 OS position in Reno, NV. Relocating back to a large office that serves a vast service area has helped me develop new approaches to conducting business, while meeting the needs of the public we serve. In July 2018, I received a promotion to my current position as the Assistant District Manager in Reno, NV.
Amarjit Ghuman, !Si Se Puede! Co-Editor
(2YR FY 2021-2022) CS-Lodi
Greetings! My name is Amarjit Ghuman and it is truly an honor to serve on the Si Se Puede! Newsletter team. I graduated from CSU Sacramento with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration: Human Resources and Organizational Behavior. My career with SSA started in 2009 as a Case Technician at ODAR. Since then I have worked as a Senior Case Technician and then continued my journey to the Field Office as a Claims Development Clerk and a Customer Service Representative. I joined HAAC in 2014. Being a member of HAAC, I have had exposure to numerous networking opportunities through which I have gained valuable friendships. I am excited for what lies ahead and look forward to more opportunities to learn and give back.
Deogracias Santos, ¡Si Se Puede! Co-Editor
(2YR FY 2021-2022) OS - Sacramento
Greetings! My name is Deogracias Santos. I am privileged to serve as the Si Se Puede! newsletter contributor as well as, a contributing member to your Executive Council. My membership with HAAC began within a few months of my hiring date, in late 2003.
My career with the Agency began as a T2 Claims Representative in the Sacramento District Office. I later became an Operations Supervisor as part of the Sacramento Metro Leadership Development program and was then assigned to Northern Area Director’s Office as Public Affairs Specialist. These opportunities exposed me to the agency’s mission and objectives, and helped me in my position today, as permanent OS in the Roseville District office.
Through HAAC, I have met many fellow Agency employees, all seeking career success and development. I have participated in networking sessions, mixers, and trainings where I have been privileged to meet fellow HAAC members from other Areas and various parts of the Region. The best part of my HAAC experience is meeting executives, and members of upper management, who have all overcome similar obstacles and are all willing to share their stories.
I look forward to significantly contributing to the SF HAAC mission and objectives.
Didi Ruiz Meux, Elections Committee Chair
(2YR FY 2021-2022) AAA - Bay ADO
Hello fellow Hispanic Affairs Advisory Council members. I am excited to be your new Elections Committee Chair. I joined the San Francisco Hispanic Affairs Advisory Council (SF-HAAC) early in my career. SF HAAC appealed to me due to the support and community philosophy. I have past experience being in the HAAC Executive Council where I held the positions of Secretary and Editor of the ¡Sí Se Puede! Newsletter.
I began my career with SSA in May of 2001 as a Title XVI Social Insurance Specialist at the Los Angeles District Office (DO). I am a graduate of the 2008 Regional Leadership Development Program (LDP), where I completed assignments in the Field Office, Regional Office, DDS, and Central Office. After the LDP, I promoted to a Title XVI Operations Supervisor (OS) at the Walnut Creek DO and later with the Boyle Heights DO. I then joined Sierra West’s Area Director’s Office (ADO) where I held positions as an Area Operations Analyst (AOA) and an Area Administrative Assistant (AAA). In November 2014, I transferred to the Center for Disability and Programs Support as a Management and Program Analyst. I subsequently challenged myself and took a position as a Staff Assistant, and then as a Team Leader. I was fortunate to complete a two-year detail as a District Manager in the San Rafael District Office. I recently joined the Bay ADO where I am the AAA. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master of Arts degree in Communications from the California State University, Los Angeles.
I am excited to lead and assist in the Elections Committee Chair role. I look forward to working and meeting the SF-HAAC membership throughout the San Francisco Region. ¡Adelante, Juntos!
Maria Ballon, Advisor Program Co-Chair
(2 YR FY 2021-2022) ADM - Kearny Mesa
Hola! As a HAAC member since 2007, I have met many folks and fortunately have been graced with many friendships because of HAAC. Meeting many folks from AVP meetings to GOLD conferences, etc… Interacting with other members always gives you the feeling that you are not alone. YOU are not. I served as the SF-HAAC South Coast Area Vice-President (AVP) for three years then elected as SF-HAAC Executive Vice-President in 2010. I have been a mentor in the HAAC/PAAC Advisor Programs. I am currently a mentor in the BRIDGE Program. I am the co-lead to the Southern Border Workgroup collaborating with the Dallas Region. My career with the agency began in 1992 as a TSR in San Diego, since then I have held many positions in the agency. I am currently the Assistant District Manager in the Kearny Mesa District Office.
Michael Teixeira, Advisor Program Co-Chair
(2 YR FY 2022-2023) OS - Lodi
My name is Michael Teixeira and I am extremely grateful for this wonderful opportunity to take part in HAAC.
I started with the agency in the Sierra West area, where I worked in Lakewood, CA. In Lakewood, I was fresh out of college and was welcomed with open arms by a wonderful SSI team who took me under their wing. I quickly learned the importance of formal and informal mentorship. Shortly after being promoted to the CS position, I transferred to the Northern area and had the privilege of working in the Stockton district where I was a CS in the Lodi Field Office. In 2016, I was promoted to Operations Supervisor to the Stockton Field Office. I was recently promoted to Public Affairs Specialist for Northern, which has allowed me to continue to expand my SSA network. I enjoy attending various HAAC and SFRMA events. I enjoy meeting people throughout the area and region at the conferences and events. I have also had the privilege of being a mentor through various programs. Most importantly, I enjoy the lifelong friendships and family that I have created along the way. I highly encourage you all to “get involved” if you haven’t so already!
Through these experiences, I have seen the importance of collaborating with individuals of various backgrounds and on multiple levels. I feel that this open communication is crucial to our success, especially during these unusual times. I look forward to meeting and interacting with you all throughout this journey.
Eric Bencomo, Council Advisor
(2YR FY 2021-2022) DM- Watts
Eric Bencomo is currently SF-HAAC’s Member-At-Large. Eric joined HAAC back in 2000 when he attended a SF-HAAC conference in Tucson, AZ. It is there where he was enlighten by this great organization. Since then, Eric has actively participated in the SF-Hispanic Affairs Advisory Council (HAAC), serving as a mentor for the Advisor program, facilitating several developmental workshops, serving as Area Vice President in the LA Metro Area and the Frank Hagel Federal Building, and most recently as Regional President of the HAAC from 2012-2014.
Celia Andrino, Project Manager
(2YR FY 2021-2022) DM- Santa Barbara
My name is Celia Andrino. I am proud to serve as the SF HAAC Elections Committee Chair because I am dedicated to public service and leadership. I have been a member of SF HAAC for many years because I support the educational opportunities and mentorship SF HAAC provides to its members.
I started my SSA career over 30 years ago in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. Throughout my career, I have benefited from wonderful mentors and have served as a mentor to others. I am currently the District Manager of the Santa Barbara District.
Clare German, Project Manager
(2YR FY 2021-2022) ADM- Phoenix Downtown
SF HAAC Members, I am truly humbled at the opportunity to continue to be involved in our great organization. I have been a HAAC member for over ten years. During this time, I have had the privilege of serving on our EC board and I have held numerous positions in the organization—Inland Area VP, Mentor Program Co-Chair, Executive VP, and previous 2014-2016 President. I am a firm believer in paying-it forward and giving back. As your former SF HAAC President, and current Member-At-Large, I will continue to work tirelessly with the EC Leaders, to represent the SF HAAC membership to the best of my ability. I am committed to helping provide quality educational opportunities to develop and enable participants to realize their potential by strengthening their knowledge, skills, and professional competencies. Thank you. Albert Meraz
Rene Rubalcava, Member at Large
(2YR FY 2021-2022) DM- Merced
Saludos! Mi nombre es Rene Rubalcava. It is my honor to serve as SF HAAC Member At Large. It was truly humbling to serve as SF-HAAC Executive President from 2017 to 2020. I also had the opportunity to serve as SF HAAC Elections Chair for almost ten years. I am passionate about SF HAAC’s mission and have seen first-hand the benefits of participation in my personal and professional life.
I began my Social Security career in August 1999, as a Title XVI Claims Representative in the Merced Field Office. I promoted to Operations Supervisor serving in the Madera, West Fresno and Merced field offices. In 2008, I was selected to participate in the San Francisco Regional Leadership Development Program (LDP) with assignments as Modesto ADM, Labor Employee Relations Specialist, and Cal Central Area Director’s Office Supervisor. Following completion of the LDP, I have continued to serve as District Manager, Yuma AZ; Manager - Bay Area Tele-service Center; Staff Assistant, Regional Tele-service Operations; Assistant District Manager Visalia DO; and, Acting District Manager, Hanford FO. I am currently the Level I District Manager in Merced. Prior to working for Social Security, I was a Training Supervisor for the Merced County Human Services department for nine years.
I look forward to the next two years, in partnership with the Executive Council, continuing the excellent work of SF HAAC and carrying out its mission and objectives.
Si Se Puede!
Patricia Raymond, Executive Champion
(2YR FY 2022-2023) SF Regional Communications Director
My name is Patricia Raymond, and it is truly an honor to serve as the Executive Champion for HAAC. I want to thank each of you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this governing council. I have been an active member of HAAC since 1999 and have been fortunate to attend conferences, trainings, networking sessions, and other events where I have met many of you. This is only the beginning of my new adventure in this position, and I am very excited and looking forward to what the future will bring. Si se puede!
Tayo Ajose, Parliamentarian, Webmaster
(2YR FY 2021-2022) HR Specialist - Richmond CA
I am a Human Resources Specialist on the Employee Training and Development Team in CHR. I was born in Berkeley, California, and was raised in both California and England. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College and a Juris Doctor from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. I started my career in November 2010 as a Benefits Authorizer in Module 5. I have been a member of HAAC since 2014 and I participated in the 2015 SF HAAC Advisor Program. I also served as co-chair of the program in 2017 and 2018. I am honored to now serve as SF HAAC Parliamentarian, SF HAAC Webmaster, and National HAAC Webmaster.