​Juan Hernandez
Executive Director
Responsible for the management and operations of the affairs of
La Luz Center

Born and raised in the barrio of East Los Angeles, Juan is completely bilingual and bicultural. 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 University, 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 part of First 5 Commission, the Sonoma Sheriff’s Advisory Group, and Portrait of Sonoma County Leadership Team. He is currently part of the founding Latino Community Foundation Wine County Giving Circle. Juan’s wife Veronica is a high school Spanish teacher. His daughter is currently in pre-school.

Sutapa Balaji
Director of Finance and Administration

​Manages finance, human resources and operations

Sutapa moved to the US from India in 2001. Back home she earned an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management and worked in both the corporate and social sectors. In the US she has focused on the non-profit sector. Over the years, Sutapa has held a range of non-profit management positions. She started with program management and fundraising and now works in finance and administration. She is passionate about supporting non-profit organizations build for long term sustainability. Sutapa lives in Oakland with her husband and her son and loves exploring the outdoors and all the interesting cuisine on offer in the area. 

Maria Calvillo
Family Services Advocate

​Provides support services and direction to families and community members

Maria was born in Zirahuén, Michoacan.   Her family immigrated to the United States when she was seven years old.  She has lived in Sonoma Valley since then and she considers herself a SONOMAN at heart. Maria lives in the Valley with her husband and her two children. Part of her roll at La Luz is to assess the needs of families, connect them to community resources, and to provide one-on-one coaching and support, as needed. She also assists in coordinating the Volunteer Program. 

Yuliana Camarena Torres
Site Manager, La Luz Family Resource Center at El Verano Elementary
Works with parents in identifying and achieving goals; accessing support services, education, and training programs and opportunities; and facilitating positive parent, school and student relationships. Advances the El Verano Family Resource Center mission, vision, and programs through maintaining, sustaining, and developing new relationships with community partners and Sonoma Valley Unified School District.

 
Yuliana was born in Michoacán, Mexico and grew up in Sonoma. She earned a B.A. in Business Administration from Dominican University of California, with concentrations in accounting and marketing. From a young age, Yuliana has been connected with La Luz. She received the Language Award from La Luz while in both elementary and middle school and received the La Luz Scholarship in high school. Yuliana started as an intern in 2014 and joined the full-time staff later that  year. Yuliana enjoys creating learning opportunities through programs. 

Betzy Chavez
AVANCE Manager
Manages AVANCE early childhood programs,  and supports partnerships among families and community


Betzy Chavez manages AVANCE in Sonoma, a Parent-Child Education Program. For seven years, Chavez served as a bilingual school counselor at Sonoma Valley High School, where over 50% of the students are Latino. She has an M.S. in School Counseling from Sonoma State University.

Patricia Galindo
Family Services Coordinator
​​Works to bring together day-to-day activities of La Luz Center’s direct and indirect client service programs


Patricia immigrated to San Francisco from her native El Salvador when she was nine years old. She is proud of her earliest roots, but also appreciates her multicultural upbringing in San Francisco. Shortly after moving to Sonoma Valley in 1989, Patricia became a caseworker – one of the very first employees of what was then called La Luz Bilingual Center. After three years, she moved on to be a healthcare advocate for Saint Joseph Health System. Twenty years later, she is pleased to be back at La Luz and back on the job again with our Sonoma Valley community. She loves her work with the Valley’s residents.  In her spare time, she enjoys studying ancient cultures.

Jose Castro-Gambino
Job Placement Specialist
​​Supports clients in their employment goals and in coordinating the Building Trades Training Program


Jose was born and raised in Healdsburg, CA. He graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College with an Associates degree (A.A.) in Social and Behavioral Science and after pursued his Bachelors of Arts degree (B.A.) in Human Development at Sonoma State University. Jose has experience working in non-profit organizations such as Humanidad Therapy & Education Services, Center for Social Dynamics, and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). He plans to pursue a Masters degree in the near future as he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps whom recently attained his Masters degree. Jose enjoys podcast, being outdoors, and all around self-care. He comes from a big family of eight; he is the second oldest in the family of all boys and the youngest being his little sister. His father was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador, and immigrated to Healdsburg at the age of 19. Jose’s dad is a Spanish Teacher at Piner High School and a GED Professor at the Santa Rosa Junior College. Jose’s mother was born and raise in Sinaloa, Mexico; she immigrated with her mother at the age of six to the U.S and attained a Bachelors of Arts degree in Chicano Latino Studies. Jose’s future aspiration are to give back to communities that support families like his. Jose is very excited to be a part of La Luz Center!

Yatziry Galvan Guzman
Community Outreach Coordinator
​​Supports La Luz Center’s efforts to deepen the community voice through Immigration and Civic engagement


Yatziry Galvan was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and arrived to the United States at the age of six. She has lived in Napa, California since her arrival and has recently graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration. She graduated Cum Laude Honors, was SSU's first TheDream.Us scholar graduate and a CA Catalyst Fund Fellow. Throughout her time at Sonoma State University, Yatziry obtained a position as a student ambassador where she engaged with local high school students to provide assistance in navigating the higher education system. She then became a DREAM Center intern where she was able to support and advance the academic, personal, and professional development of undocumented students and allies on campus. Shortly after graduating from SSU, Yatziry participated in the UCLA Dream Summer fellowship which allowed her to work at La Luz Center as a community engagement intern. Today, she is the Community Outreach Coordinator and is very excited to have the opportunity to be able to directly engage and give back to her community. Yatziry, coming from an immigrant family herself, is committed to making a difference in the lives of immigrants and undocumented individuals in her community.

Amanda Hernandez
Economic Advancement Program Manager
Leads our Economic Advancement Programs which include ESL, Computer Literacy, Microloan/ Business Development, Workforce Development, and VITA with the goal of building a pathway to as strong middle class


Amanda Hernandez was born and raised in Sonoma County. She attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Upon finishing her degree, Amanda returned to Sonoma County in order to serve the community that had provided her with the resources she needed to be successful and ultimately be able to attend college. Her professional work has consisted of designing and implementing programming to support youth and families in reaching self-sufficiency. Amanda also has a Master’s Degree from Regis University’s in Nonprofit Management. .

Juanita Padilla de Hernandez
Family Engagement Coordinator
Connects families with School


I'm Juanita Padilla de Hernández. I was born in Mexico and have been living in Sonoma since 1999. I'm married and have 3 children. I took English and Computer classes at La Luz Center, I have also been a volunteer and worked at El Verano School. Now I'm working through La Luz Center at the El Verano Family Resource Center as the Family Engagement Coordinator. My role will be to connect families with the school.

Rosie Hernandez
Family Services Resource Associate
As the first point of contact, provides welcoming experience and navigation of information, referral and services to community members


Rosie was born and raised in Mexico City where she lived for the first 25 years of her life. Since moving to Sonoma county she has attended SSU and SRJC and is certified as a Patient Navigator. Rosie has vast experience navigating complicated services both first hand and through professional experience. Coming to US and witnessing many cases of abuse decided to help by breaking the cycle of abuse. She started the first support group in Spanish for victims of sexual assault in Sonoma County. In 2003 she received the RAINN and Women of Color Humanitarian awards. In her spare time, she enjoys jewelry making, Aztec dancing, and singing.

Adriana Jacinto
Family Services Advocate
Coordinates health and wellness-related client services


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 in Income Qualifications and Enforcement of House Rules and 7 years in the 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.

Omar Paz Jr

Volunteer Coordinator

Supports La Luz Center programming in the community by providing outreach and engagement to increase the reach of our work​

Omar is a 3rd generation Sonoma County native and 1st generation Mexican-American. His father’s journey through emigration from Mexico at age 14 to citizenship and self-starting Paz Landscape inspires his community service. Omar holds three Associates Degrees (Environmental Studies, Natural and Social Sciences) from Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) and a combined B.A. in Latin American & Latin@ Studies and Sociology with a Minor in Global Information and Social Enterprise Studies from UC Santa Cruz. He served as the SRJC Associated Students President(‘13-’14), Student Trustee(‘14-’15) as well as the President of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (‘14-’15) representing over 2.3 million community college students throughout CA. He was also the Sheriff's Appointee to the Sonoma County Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force serving a half-term as chair of the Community Engagement and Healing Subcommittee. As a budding community advocate and non-profit professional, Omar is committed to social equity with the hope of providing better access to educational, civic, and legal resources and reforms to under served community members throughout Sonoma County.

​Angie Sanchez
Community Engagement Manager
​Leads La Luz Center’s community relationships both with partners and individuals, including the Cinco de Mayo and Dia de Los Muertos events   

Angie was born and raised in Sonoma Valley. From a young age she has been involved with the community as a volunteer, and she has returned as a staff member at La Luz Center. She is currently finishing her B.A. in Sociology at California State University, Sacramento. 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, which holds monthly meetings on alternative topics designed to improve the overall well-being of community members. She is very excited to have the opportunity and additional role as the El Verano Family Resource Center Coordinator.

Sandy Sanchez
Director of Programs
Provides management of La Luz Center’s programs

 
Sandy was born and raised in Sonoma Valley. Wanting to give back to her community, she began volunteering at La Luz Center and became an intern while attending university. In May 2015, Sandy graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelors in Sociology. While doing a year of service work through AmeriCorps, she was able to assist La Luz Center by developing the infrastructure for the Volunteer Program. Sandy has held several positions with La Luz Center since 2015 and hopes to continue a lifelong career in the nonprofit sector. In addition to her passion for service work, she is the proud mentor of Sahudy, a local middle-schooler.

Sharon Somogyi 
Donor Stewardship Manager
​​Works directly with the La Luz Board and donors.


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 Vences
Director of Development
​​Heads internal development team and oversees community engagement programs


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 as well as to value the importance of collaborative and equitable economic community development. Veronica received BA degrees in both Economics and Urban Studies from San Diego State University. After graduating, she worked with the County of Sonoma’s Human Services Department. She subsequently received a master's degree in applied Economics from San Jose State University. Her dedication is around serving the community and blending the use of data that guides effective evidence-based decision making, and, as a result, leads to fair economic development and healthier communities. She and her husband are both committed to serving through non-profit work and being active participants in the community. In their spare time they love to travel and volunteer. 

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La Luz Center is a 501 (c) (3) Nonprofit organization
​Tax ID #68-0228235

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