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!
Jessica Meija-Romero, Treasurer
(2YR FY 2021-2022) CS - Huntington Park
Alma Cortez, Northern AVP
(2YR FY 2019-2021) ADM - Roseville
Buenos Dias! I am feeling grateful for the opportunity to serve on the Executive Council as Nothern’s AVP. In my new role, I would like to inspire others to achieve their career goals and objectives.
As a SF-HAAC member throughout the years, I enjoy participating in the HAAC mixers and workshops and SF HAAC Advisor Program. I enjoy supporting others in career growth and inspiring them to turn their visions into reality!
I have been with SSA for 20 years and I am grateful to be working for an organization where I could serve and help people. Since I joined SSA, I have worked in the following capacities: Stay-In-Schooler, Customer Service Representative, Claims Specialist, Operations Supervisor, Area Operations Analyst, and currently, Assistant District Manager. Every office I worked in has provided me invaluable experience and an opportunity to work in diverse environments. I have also had the opportunity to meet, and work with great people in every one of my positions. As it relates to my education, despite working full time with the agency, raising two young children, and being married, I set a goal for myself and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Management. I look forward to working with everyone.
Gloria Rodriguez, Bay AVP
(2YR FY 2019-2021) DM - Santa Cruz
Hello everyone! I am pleased to have the opportunity to serve as BAY AVP. I am currently the District Manager in the Santa Cruz FO. I joined SSA as a T16 Claims Specialist 30 years ago in the Gilroy FO. I promoted to Operation Supervisor in the same office. I did a short detail as AOA in Cal Central, and DM details in both Gilroy and South San Jose.
Throughout my career, I have met many wonderful and supportive individuals who have taken the time to share their knowledge with me. I look forward to working with all of you and find out what we can do to support you in your professional development within the agency.
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
Michelle V. Hernandez, Southwest AVP
(2YR FY 2019-2021) ADM - Palm Springs
Hello! My name is Michelle Hernandez and I’m excited to serve as Southwest Area Vice President of SF-HAAC
I began my career with Social Security in February 2005 as a T16 Claims Specialists in the New Bern, North Carolina Field Office. In 2008, I relocated to the San Francisco region and began working in the South Coast Area. I was promoted to Operations Supervisor in the Downtown San Diego office in 2010. In August 2015, I relocated to the Southwest Area. I was promoted to District Manager for the Morongo Basin office in April 2019.
I have been an active member of my community and have served in councils through military and local organizations. I look forward to helping HAAC carry out its mission in the Southwest area. I believe diversity is key to the success of our agency. I enjoy being a leader in this organization and working to help others achieve their career goals.
I was born and raised in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of California at Riverside and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from University of North Carolina at Wilmington. In my free time, I enjoy traveling with my immediate and extended family; we enjoy visiting national parks and hiking. I also enjoy dancing and checking out the local food scene in Palm Springs.
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.
Martin Aguilar, ¡Si Se Puede! Chief Editor
(2YR FY 2021-2022) MA - CDPS
Hello fellow HAAC members! My name is Katalin Ribeiro and I am ecstatic to serve as a Team Member for the ¡Sí Se Puede! Newsletter. I have been a San Francisco HAAC member since 2014 and I recently participated as a mentee in the 2018 SF HAAC Advisor Program.
My passion for writing peaked while attending college at California State University, Stanislaus. Prior to graduating in 2008 with a Bachelor in Humanities and Social Sciences, I was the Managing Editor, Writer and Photographer for the CSU Stanislaus Communication Studies Yearly Newsletter, Connections.
In 2010, my career began with the agency in the Merced Field Office as a Service Representative. After three years, I promoted to a Title XVI Claims Representative in the Sonora Field Office. I then promoted to my current position as the Claims Technical Expert in the Sonora branch in 2016. A year later, I participated in the SF Regional Public Affairs Critical Congressional Unit as a detailee where written and oral communication was crucial to resolving public relations issues.
I look forward to meeting you at future HAAC events and publishing your thoughts and articles in the ¡Sí Se Puede! Newsletter. Thank you!
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.
Wanda Gonzales, Advisor Program Co-Chair
(2 YR FY 2021-2022) PAS - Northern ADO
I began my career with SSA as a T16 Claims Specialist in September 2001. In my seventeen years of federal service, I have held a range of increasingly responsible positions. In July 2011, I was promoted to Operations Supervisor (OS) in the Sacramento District Office; I supervised various units during her OS tenure. In January 2015, I served as a Public Affairs Specialist for RPAO. Later that year, I began the position of District Manager for the Sacramento Card Center. I am active in various SSA workgroups, cadres, and committees representing the California Northern Area and Region. I am an active member in the Hispanic Affairs Advisory Council, as well as the San Francisco Region Management Association.
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!
Judy Mottini, Executive Champion
(2YR FY 2021-2022) AD - Northern Area
Judy began her career with the Social Security Administration in 1984 as a Summer Aid in the Sacramento District Office. She advanced to Claims Development Clerk, Administrative Assistant in the Sacramento Area then to Claims Specialist in Stockton, CA in 1987. Judy transferred to the South Sacramento office in 1990. She advanced through various management positions in South Sacramento, Sacramento, West Sacramento and North Sacramento. In 2010, Judy was reassigned to Northern Deputy Area Director. In March of 2011, she was promoted to Northern Area Director. The Northern Area assists a diverse clientele from the Oregon border (Crescent City and Yreka) down to Sonoma County (Santa Rosa and from the Nevada border (Susanville, CA) to Merced County. She manages 25 field offices and a Card Center. Judy has mentored in LDP, SFRMA, in SF Action Committees; i.e.: LGBT and HAAC. She has participated in the GOLD conference since 2010. She was Area VP, Executive VP, and President for the San Francisco Regional Management Association. This enabled her to participate in various National committees. She also was co-lead of the FO/PSC/TSC Cooperative Efforts Workgroup. She participates annually in the HAAC conferences/meetings. Judy has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services Management. Judy is first generation Portuguese/American. Her parents immigrated to the U.S. from Pico, Azores Portugal. She is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish in addition to English. Judy is married to Phil Mottini and has two sons: Michael and Matthew Teixeira, one stepdaughter: Jacquie Mottini and now her 9 month granddaughter, Olivia. She is busy taking care of her elderly parents and loves every opportunity she has to babysit Olivia. Judy loves to travel; Portugal, Azores, Hawaii, Spain, hopes to visit Italy, Greece and Brazil.
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.