Leonardo Lobato
Executive Director 
Lobato has more than 20 years of international business and education experience. He was founder and CEO of the International Center for Reciprocal Training (ICRT), an organization supporting Latinx higher education students with international internships. At IAESTE Mexico (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience), he facilitated internships for STEM and life sciences students in more than 80 countries. His business experience includes positions at Coors Brewing Company and Johnson and Johnson. Lobato, a native of Mexico, holds master’s degrees from Stanford University and Thunderbird School of Global Management.


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.

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. 


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. 


Juan Torres

Senior Program Manager

​Provides support for our Family Services and Economic Advancement Team.

Juan was born in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. At the age of seven, Juan and his family migrated to California to work in the vineyards of Sonoma County. He is a graduate of the Santa Rosa Junior College obtaining an A.A. in Social and Behavioral Sciences and transferring to Sonoma State to receive his B.A. in Political Science.
Inspired by great leaders like Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr., Juan is passionate about systemic change to help our most vulnerable reach their full potential. As the father of two young children he sees the importance of supporting both parents and children to set a solid foundation for their future success.


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.

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. 


Adriana Plascencia
Family Services Resource Associate
​​Communicates with community members about resources and referral to support them with any questions.

Adriana, Immigrant to the United States with her parents and two brothers at the age of 10-years-old. Her parents wanted to build a better life for their kid. Her first two years in the United States was in Los Angeles until her parents decide to move to Sonoma for a better environment and jobs opportunities. Adriana continued her education from L.A. to Sonoma Valley High School. She has lived in Sonoma for over 20 years with daughter and partner.  

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.


Thalia Ruiz

El Verano Family Resource Center Family Coordinator 

​​Works to bring together day-to-day activities of El Verano Family Resource Center's direct and indirect client service programs

Thalia was born and raised in Petaluma, CA. She received her Bachelors of Arts degree (B.A.) in Communications, from Sacramento State University. She is the first person in her family’s history to receive a degree from a university. She is the daughter of an immigrant single mother, and the youngest of three children. Coming from a humble upbringing, she is determined to give back to the community just as she did, when she was growing up. In her spare time she enjoys going on hikes, and believes it's always a great day when there is a coffee cup in her hand.

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.

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.


Genesis Botello

Community Engagement and Communications Coordinator

Provides support with multimedia communication, internal development and program management at La Luz Center


Genesis was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California. While working for several non-profit and governmental organizations she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Media Communications (B.A.) and Bachelor of Fine Art in Photography (B.F.A) at Sonoma State University. During her time at Sonoma State University, she was recognized for her outstanding photojournalism and writing contributions to the STAR Newspaper. And had her photographic work, focused on her local community's hardships, was selected for the Juried Student Exhibition at the University Art Gallery. Also, she interned for an organization named Civity, where she developed an interest in building diversity and inclusivity between members of communities and to support marginalized groups. She uses the power of digital media to creatively communicate the organization’s mission. She looks forward to earning her Master’s Degree in the future. Genesis enjoys spending time outdoors with her camera.


Nidia Figueroa
​​Estrellitas Community Liaison

Nidia was born in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. Her family migrated to Sonoma at three years old. After graduating in 2015, she attended Santa Rosa Junior College, where she attained her Associate of Arts in Psychology and Behavioral Science. In 2018, Nidia transferred to the University of California, Davis where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. During her free time, Nidia enjoys spending her free time outside in nature. You can always find her at the beach or up on a trail. Nidia is excited to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector and continue helping her community.