Willow Aray, Chief Operating Officer
Willow Aray grew up in North Carolina and in the rugged mountains of Colorado. She moved to Monterey in 2009 to pursue her MPA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies where she studied International Development, Global Policy, Non-profit Management and French. Passionate about social justice, she has been serving Monterey County’s most vulnerable populations for the past twelve years, always utilizing a healing-informed approach when addressing systemic inequities that cause individual and societal trauma. She spends her free time creating art, training her dog, dancing, playing her Ukulele, raising her son and exploring all the vast and beautiful landscapes that California has to offer.
Judith Vargas, Chief Financial Officer
Judith Vargas is the Director of Finance since July 2017. She graduated from California State University, Monterey Bay in December 2010, and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a dual concentration in Management/International Business and Entrepreneurship. During her educational trajectory, she got the opportunity to do study abroad in Queretaro, Mexico at the Tecnologico de Monterrey Campus Queretaro. She has a background in working in the non-profit sector in a finance setting and is a true asset to our staff. Among her many talents is a strong skillset for communication including a strong listening ear. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.
Jhanet Ramirez, Accounting Specialist
Prior to joining staff at the YWCA, Jhanet worked as Administrative Assistant for the Agriculture & Land-Based Training Association. Jhanet obtained a certification at Center for Employment Training for Business Office Technology. She has experience in Bookkeeping, including Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable. She also has experience in office management and human resource record-keeping. Jhanet is planning to continue with her education. She loves spending time with her family, traveling and walking with her dogs.
Socorro Ruiz, Front Desk Coordinator
Socorro is the Front Desk Coordinator for the Salinas office. She began working for the YWCA as an on-call office assistant and was quickly promoted to a Legal Advocate. Socorro holds her AA degree in Criminal Justice from Heald College. Similarly, she also graduated from the Salinas Community Police Academy. She is a rock and consistent team player on our staff. On weekends she loves spending time with her family.
Jamie Burch, Compliance Manager
Jamie Burch is our Volunteer Coordinator. She is originally from North Carolina but has loved the change of living in Salinas, California for the past year. She has a Bachelor’s in Sociology with a Minor in Criminology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Organizational Management. She chose to seek employment with the YWCA because of their mission to, “eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.” Being able to make a difference in others’ lives in any way possible is something that Jamie is extremely passionate about. She also loves spending time with her husband and traveling abroad.
Marisol Vasquez, Transitional Housing Case Manager
Marisol Vasquez has a passion to help others. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for 11 years for the community of Monterey County. Born in Michuocan, Mexico, she moved to the U.S.A at the age of 3. She has two children a 17-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter. She enjoys spending time with family.
Gayle Todd, Accounting Specialist
Gayle Todd is thrilled to join the YWCAMC team. She retired after a 25-year career with AT&T. Her positions, within the corporation, included Training, Management, HR Generalist and CFO/Controller of the Pacific Rim Markets. She was also awarded the prestigious AT&T Council of Leader’s Award. She holds a BS and an MBA in Management. She is a Past Board Member & Treasurer of Las Palmas Ranch, Founder of the Monterey Peninsula Underwater Photographers, Director or EPIC – the first underwater environmental image competition., volunteer and Foster mom for AFRP (Animal Friends Rescue Project), and AT&T Champion of the Environment Recipient. Her hobbies include underwater and topside photography, world travel and caring for her bulldog Miss Pearl Rose and Perseus the cat.
Prevention and Outreach
Emanuel Santillan, Outreach Specialist
Emanuel first became part of the YWCA family as a Youth Education and Advocacy (YEA) intern in 2012. He is an alumnus of California State University, Monterey Bay in Collaborative Health and Human Services. Emanuel has always had the passion to help others help themselves. As a native of Salinas, California, he has seen the high rates of violence among youth and is aiming to help educate and empower the community to help reduce violence.
Naudia Velarde, Prevention Specialist
Naudia is the Prevention Specialist for the YWCA. She is a recent graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies. She has had a long time passion of advocating for and supporting people, specifically youth. She is a firm believer that knowledge is power and hopes to help decrease oppression/violence through providing prevention and intervention services to our community. She has a fierce desire to see young people realize their true potential, become independent thinkers, and create their own legacy. She is a dog mom to a mixed breed dog named Czar.
Mental Health Counseling Services
Ana Vazquez, Clinical Supervisor, LMFT
I am a Licensed Marriage and family therapist. As the Director of Clinical Services, I oversee the counseling department. I work with clients who are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and other crimes. I work with children, adults, couples, and families. I provide the class that is required for people to modify a criminal protective order. I facilitate domestic violence psychoeducation groups to victims and perpetrators. I also mentor Masters level graduates inspiring to be in the field of psychotherapy.
Enrique Morales, Psychotherapist, LMFT
Enrique is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He counsels children, adults, couples, and families that are struggling with domestic violence issues. In addition, he provides Psychotherapy to victims of crime, and human trafficking. Also, I facilitate domestic violence Psycho-educational groups for victims and perpetrators who have an open case with the department of social services. Furthermore, I provide the class of psychoeducation on domestic violence for people that need to remove a criminal protective order.
Legal Advocacy Staff
Leonela Jara, Lead Legal Advocate
Leonela has been with the YWCA since 2008. As an Office Assistant, she played an important role in the functioning of the Monterey Administrative Office and Counseling Center. In 2010, Leonela moved to the Salinas Office, where she was in charge of managing the daily activities for the office and Counseling Center. In 2013 Leonela was promoted to Legal Advocate. She proved to be an asset and showed leadership qualities while in this role. As a result, she was promoted to Lead Legal Advocate in November of 2017 and is now in charge of the program and staff in Legal Advocacy. Leonela’s bilingual language skills enable her to do outreach and connect with the Salinas community. Leonela holds an AA degree in business administration with an emphasis in criminal justice. She enjoys spending her free time with her three children and husband.
Lily Flores, Legal Advocate
Lily Flores, went to school at both Santa Barbara City College and UCSB where she obtained a degree in Law and Society and obtained her AA at Heald College for legal studies. She has worked and interned in several family law firms in the Silicone Valley for over 6 years. Obtaining experience working with the court system and filing legal paperwork. She to returned to Salinas (born and raised) and worked at the Monterey County District Attorneys, where she gained knowledge regarding criminal matters, victims of crime, and was also able to collaborate with the local police agencies. Lily also has worked for the Monterey County Family and Children Services. There she was able to experience working with kids in need, supervise parent-child visits, and observe the adoption process. In her spare time, she enjoys working out and hanging out with family.
Domestic Violence Shelter Services Staff
Diana Elizondo, Shelter Services Manager
Diana Elizondo is our Shelter Services Manager. Diana is originally from San Jose, Costa Rica and has been working for the YWCA Safe House for the last 12 years. Diana has a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector. Diana is passionate about the needs and goals of her clients. In her spare time, Diana enjoys spending time with her family and seeking adventure in the outdoors.
Vileza Enriquez, Lead Domestic Violence Advocate
Vielka has been a Domestic Violence Advocate for three years and has over twenty years work experience in a a variety of helping professions throughout the Monterey County. Vielka is a natural caregiver who has a heart for serving others in particular women and children who have experienced trauma caused by domestic violence. Vielka lives by the principle of treating others with dignity and respect no matter what state of life that person is in. Vielka enjoys spending time with family, maintains a healthy lifestyle and is crazy about dancing.
Adriana Samson, Domestic Violence Advocate
Adriana Samson is an advocate at our confidential domestic violence safe house who is passionate about empowering those who have been under-represented in our communities. She believes that if a person who has been a victim of injustice is given the right tools and empowerment, they will be the ones to change their situation to become a survivor. Adriana will be furthering her education to continue to grow in the social work field, and be able to continue fighting towards creating social change. Adriana is also a U.S. Army veteran, and a mother who is raising two boys to be kind, strong men.
Marquise Davis, Childcare Coordinator
Originally from Birmingham, Alabama but most recently from Houston Texas, Marquise began her career in early childhood development in 2008 as a substitute teacher in classrooms ranging from infancy to five years old in a NAEYC accredited center while earning an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Alabama. In the fall of 2011, she became a young toddler teacher at the same center. During a five year tenure, she earned a Master of Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development from Capella University. After relocating to Houston in 2016, she worked as a General Educator for a Jewish based Early Childhood School in inclusion classroooms serving both typically developing and special needs three, four and five year olds. During the summer, she planned and operated a summer camp for kindergartners in the Community Center where the school was housed. Throughout her professional career she has given a number of presentations and trainings regarding different aspects of child development to various audiences including early childhood professionals, parents and summer camp staff.
With a driving passion to positively affect the lives of children and families, Marquise provides a strong impact on our programs.
Human Trafficking Services Staff
Rhonda Burchett, Human Trafficking Program Coordinator
Rhonda Burchett is our Human Trafficking Program Coordinator. Rhonda was born and raised in Oklahoma and recently moved to Monterey, California to make a healthier new life for herself. She has an Associate in Psychology from Oklahoma City Community College; Bachelor in Psychology from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma and Master’s degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Rhonda is also a Licensed Professional Counselor for the state of Oklahoma since 2009. Finally, Rhonda has over 12 years of mental health experience. She has always been passionate about helping others recognize their strengths and provide the support and empathy to these ladies that have come from a tough and unimaginable life. One of Rhonda’s main goal is to help these ladies feel that they are not alone fighting this fight. “I am so excited to be part of YWCA Monterey County and I truly believe that this is where I am supposed to be.”
Betsaida Garcia, Human Trafficking Program Specialist
Betsaida Garcia, also known as Betsi serves as the Legal Advocacy Case Manager at the YWCA. She is committed to support, empower, and advocate for survivors of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence. Betsi graduated from CSU Monterey Bay with a BA in Collaborative Health and Human Services with an emphasis in Social Work, and a minor in Non-Profit Management. Her educational experience makes her an asset to our staff.
Even more, she is an asset to our clients. Betsi is a certified Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Overcomers Instructor. She strongly believes in the importance of challenging and overcoming the effects of stressful and traumatic events in our lives, in order to empower ourselves and others. In addition, Betsi has passionately been working with current and former foster youth for the past 8 years and is actively filling the role of a Wraparound Service Provider for the Action Council of Monterey County. There she is working directly with youth who are at immediate risk of out-of-home placement. “Supporting another’s success won’t ever dampen yours.”
Lena Bustamentez, Lead Human Trafficking Advocate
Lena Bustamantez is a current student at California State University, Monterey Bay set to graduate Spring 2019. Lena’s focus is the Interdisciplinary program with Collaborative Health and Human Services in the concentration of Public Health and Social Work. Lena works within the YWCA of Monterey County at the Human Trafficking Safehouse as an Advocate.
Lena was born in King City California in 1978 and was adopted at the age of 3 by two loving parents who gave her a second chance at life. She completed her Associate of Arts at Hartnell Community College in the area of Administration of Criminal Justice (ADJ). In her professional journey, Lena has lived by the philosophy “Only the Strong Survive” and that is what has kept her going to be that outfit for those in need to move forward with whatever traumatic circumstances they have come to face.
When not working she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and pets. Lena’s passion is to keep seeking wisdom and to continue to help in the battle of assisting others with support and encouragement and to let them know “they are not alone”.
Gabriela Rangel, Human Trafficking Advocate
Gabriela Rangel is a CSUMB alumnus who is originally from Los Angeles, CA and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Collaborative Health and Human Services. She has worked for various housing programs in Santa Cruz and Monterey County where she has had the opportunity to work with homeless families, single men and women, at-risk youth, and adults with severe substance abuse and mental illness. She is now working as a Human Trafficking Advocate where she can empower women and teach them the new life skills that she has learned along the way. Above all, in her personal time, she likes to practice self-care by doing DIY arts and craft projects, walk or drive down the coast, Mindfulness/Yoga, and spend time with friends.
Elizabeth Jorgenson, Human Trafficking Advocate
Liz Jorgensen is a human trafficking advocate for the YWCA of Monterey County. She began volunteering with the organization at the beginning of this summer, which turned into joining the team of staff members! She is a California native and is currently finishing her Master’s degree in International Policy and Development with a specialization in human security, migration, and trafficking at MIIS in Monterey. Her ultimate career goal of policy analysis regarding the issue of human trafficking led her to reach out to local organizations currently combating the problem, and the Y was the perfect fit! She’s excited to be involved with such an incredible organization that is allowing her to gain the first-hand experience.