Born and raised in the barrio of East Los Angeles, Juan is completely bi-lingual and bi-cultural. He is a counselor, coach, and a seasoned advocate for youth and community outreach. He earned a B.A. degree from UC Riverside, a Fellowship in Management Leadership from New York, and an M.A. in Psychology and Organization Development from Sonoma State University. Juan served as Director of Educational Programs at the Calistoga Family Center, and, while in Calistoga, was elected to the board of the Napa Community Foundation and the Napa Valley Hispanic Network. Juan has been appointed (Sonoma Country) First 5 Commissioner, and he serves on the Sonoma Sheriff’s Advisory Group, the Sonoma Valley Health Roundtable, Portrait of Sonoma County Leadership Team, and the Latino Leaders of Sonoma County. Juan’s wife Veronica is a high school Spanish teacher.
Client Resource Associate
Born in Zirahuén, Michoacan. Immigrated to the United States when she was seven years old and since then she has lived in Sonoma Valley so there for she considers herself a SONOMAN at heart. She lives in the Valley with her husband and her two children. She is the second oldest out of six children. She has worked since she was fifteen years old in Sonoma Valley. Her focus has always been to work for and with the community of Sonoma Valley. She volunteers as a translator for F.I.S.H as needed. She loves and enjoys what she does and she knows that if made a difference in at least one person she knows that she has done her job correctly.
Yuliana Camarena Torres
Yuliana Camarena Torres was born in Michoacán, Mexico and grew up in Sonoma. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Dominican University of California, with concentrations in accounting and marketing. She has volunteered at Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH), the La Luz Center and the Leadership Lecture Series held by Dominican University’s Institute of Leadership Studies. Aside from being part of La Luz Yuliana is also an intern at Women’s Global Leadership Initiative (WGLI), where she servers as their media relations specialist. Yuliana believes that it is important for women to realize their full potential and to follow their dreams. Today, she is working toward opening her own business.
Parent Engagement Coordinator
Mario Castillo was born and raised in Michoacan, Mexico. He then migrated to Sonoma at the young age of 15 on his own in search for better opportunities. He has been part of the El Verano community area for many years. He has always had an interest in getting involved and helping in his own community by doing volunteer work and working for various local non-profits. He then became involved with El Verano Elementary School as a parent. With being a parent he became aware of the needs to get parents to be engaged in their children’s education. Through his observations he made it his personal commitment to help with the process of developing spaces for parents to be involved in their children’s success. His desire to create the capacity for parents to engage is what led him to be hired as the full time Parent Engagement Coordinator at the new El Verano Family Resource Center. In this new role he will be able to expand programs, classes and services for parents to become full participants in their children’s school success.
Client Resource Associate
Patricia immigrated to San Francisco from her native El Salvador when she was 9 years old. She is proud of her roots, and also thankful for her multicultural upbringing in San Francisco. Shortly after arriving in Sonoma Valley in 1989, Patricia become a community worker –one of the very first employees of what was then called La Luz Bilingual Center. After three years, she moved on to become a healthcare advocate for Saint Joseph Health System. Nineteen years later, she is pleased to have returned to La Luz to share her knowledge and experience by working more closely with our Sonoma Valley community.
Health & Wellness Advocate
Adriana Jacinto was born and raised in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She graduated from the University of Guadalajara with a major in Business Administration. A few months after graduation, she moved to the United States and into a new world. She now lives in Napa with her husband and two daughters. For the last 20 years Adriana has worked for Low Income Housing-- 13 years in the Housing Administration Department as an Income Qualifications and Enforcement of House Rules, and 7 years in Resident Service Department, as a Health and Wellness Advocate. She has a strong background and experience working in the community. One of her biggest passions is to better the quality of life and provide equal opportunity for the underserved.
Technology & Employment Navigator
Jerardo Martinez was born in El Salvador, but moved to Nicaragua with his family when he was just a few months old to escape the violence of the Civil War. After living in Nicaragua for ten years, Jerardo, his mother, and two brothers moved back to El Salvador. In 2007, he earned a degree in Computer Science from the Universidad de Monseñor Arnulfo Romero in Chalatenango—the first in his family to graduate from college. He worked for five years at the nonprofit FUSALMO in San Salvador, where his duties included teaching computer classes, providing IT support, and coordinating a number of technology programs. He moved to Sonoma in 2013 and immediately volunteered at La Luz Center. Jerardo loves having the opportunity to share his passion and knowledge of technology with others. In his spare time, he also enjoys volunteering with other organizations and coaching youth sports teams.
Born and raised in West Virginia, Anna received a B.A in English from Wellesley College, an M.A. in Italian from Middlebury College, and pursued doctoral studies in Romance Languages at UC Berkeley. She is a bilingual teacher, community educator and professional baker. She currently teaches Spanish for adults.
Anna has been Director of Educational Programs and Executive Director for CommonBond Foundation. She led the Sonoma Nonprofit Collaborative’s youth advocacy forums and served as their representative to the committee on youth resources. She is a past advisor and member of the Board of Directors of Nuestra Voz.
Anna and her husband Will, a local ecologist, have lived in the Sonoma Valley for the past 23 years. They are the parents of six children and three grandchildren. Anna is a lifelong knitter, amateur calligrapher and gardener, and has a dedicated yoga practice.
Family Resource Center Coordinator
Angie was born and raised in Sonoma Valley. From a young age she has been involved with the community as a volunteer and she is a returning staff member at La Luz Center. She is currently finishing her B.A. at California State University, Sacramento, in Sociology. After graduation she plans to continue her education for a Master’s degree in Social Work. Angie’s passion for helping families has motivated her to coordinate and facilitate programs like Family Latino Literacy, Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors parenting workshops and Charla Café, monthly meetings with alternative topics designed to improve the overall well-being of community members. She is very excited to have the opportunity and role as the El Verano Family Resource Center Coordinator.
Program Assistant and Health Advocate
Sandy was born and raised in Sonoma Valley. Wanting to give back to her community she began volunteering at La Luz and then became an intern while attending university. In May of 2015 Sandy graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelors in Sociology. She is now an independent contractor working in various programs for La Luz Center. Sandy has a passion for non-profit work and is also an employee at Seeds of Learning, a Sonoma-based organization that builds schools in Latin America.
Operations and Donor Stewardship Manager
Sharon moved to Sonoma in 1993 and fell in love with the beauty of the valley, the culture and the sense of community. A lifelong believer in the value of strong communities, Sharon has spent her career in the non-profit world, over 25 of those years with Boys & Girls Clubs. Sharon brings a diverse background in programs, operations and development to La Luz. In addition to working with the staff and board at La Luz, Sharon enjoys spending time with her grandson and volunteering for various events and charities.
Veronica was born and raised in Sonoma County where her parents settled to work in agriculture, after emigrating from Mexico. Her family background has played a significant role in fostering her commitment to help individuals reach their full potential with the appropriate resources and guidance, as well as to the importance of collaborative and equitable economic community development. Veronica received her Bachelor of Arts from San Diego State University in both Economics and Urban Studies. After graduating she worked for four years with the County of Sonoma’s Human Services Department. She then returned to school and is currently working towards a Masters of Arts in applied Economics at San Jose State University. Her research and area of focus is in gathering empirical data that guides effective evidence-based decision making, which as a result leads to fair economic development and healthier communities.