Editor’s note:  In this feature, we are proud to  introduce you to our newest team members, along with staff who have been recently promoted.

At the end of the article, we ask you to join us in thanking and wishing all the best to several team members who are continuing their successful careers with other organizations.

Accounting Associate

Michael Baron

“I’m very happy to be working at KidWorks and to play a role helping the children and youth succeed in life. As Accounting Associate, I’m focused on making sure all donations and grants are properly entered into our accounting system. Plus, I make sure all invoices and bills are paid in a timely manner. I’m most excited that KidWorks truly helps the community. That makes the world a better place, too.

Before joining KidWorks, I worked as a mechanical engineer at Haas Automation in Oxnard, California. My passion is travel; I’ve been to over 15 countries. I also played drums all through high school. In high school and college, I volunteered as a counselor at Camp James Kids Summer Camp in Newport Beach.

Volunteer Coordinator

Rachel Cervantes

“I view my new job as a great opportunity to onboard and welcome new volunteers to come alongside us and foster change. I am especially excited to grow professionally and support KidWorks students in additional and new ways. I’m so blessed and fortunate to have found a home at KidWorks over the past six years as an After School Program Leader and most recently as the Arts & Enrichment Coordinator. My favorite place to be is with my family or at Laguna Beach for a sunrise or sunset. I love poetry. I am a twin (older by a minute, which is big in my book!). My entire family has volunteered at some point at KidWorks’ after school programs, Love in Music and at KidWorks University workshops. My husband, Martin, and I have known each other since elementary school.” 

Receptionist/Administrative Assistant

Elizabeth Chavez

“I first became involved with KidWorks as a volunteer. I volunteered as a first and fifth grade tutor, plus helping with KidWorks University workshops, Trunk or Treat at Halloween, Thanksgiving feast for the families KidWorks serves and youth nights. Even though my new job doesn’t involve being in the classroom, I’m glad I can contribute to the students’ success in school. In my new role at KidWorks, I am assisting the Operations team while providing administrative help to other departments as needed. Helping parents is also something I’ll be doing. I’m a dedicated soccer fan, both playing the game and watching matches. In case there is any doubt, you should know that my room at home is filled with soccer posters!” 

Administrative Service Assistant

Nohemi Cohetzaltitla

I’m excited to get to know everyone and grow at KidWorks. I look forward to making great lifetime memories here. I see firsthand how excited the students are when they are at KidWorks. It makes me so happy to be part of such an amazing organization. Prior to KidWorks, I was employed as a receptionist and administrative assistant at a tax firm. I love animals and one day my dream is to own a ranch where I care for goats, pigs, horses and alpaca.”

Brizzy Cruz

“I’m beyond blessed to transition into the new Cedar Evergreen Site Director role. I will oversee kindergarten through 12th grade students. I look forward to continuing serving families in the Cedar Evergreen community. I’ll also continue to create kindergarten through fifth grade ‘Leader in Me’ lessons while implementing this curriculum at my site with students, volunteers, staff and families.

Feb. 7 will mark my 15th year serving alongside KidWorks. In my career I have grown professionally and learned so many leadership skills that make me forever thankful for my second home. In my journey I have been honored and blessed to have been a part of all KidWorks’ sites. I started as a volunteer in our state-licensed preschool and Alma Magana, still a teacher with us, believed in me and encouraged me to become part of the KidWorks team. Little did I know I would fall in love serving and walking alongside KidWorks’ mission and vision.

I first became the Townsend Center’s Program Coordinator, went back to school while doing my internship at KidWorks, was back on staff leading and implementing the Arts and Academics Coordinator position, was moved to lead the first  combo class at the Dan Donahue Center with kindergarten/first grades and third/fourth grades, transitioned into Cedar Evergreen Site Director, moved on to become the Bishop Manor Site Director and recently the Associate Site Director at the Dan Donahue Center while also in the classroom with kindergarten, third and ninth graders.

Students call me ‘Ms. Brizzy.’ I played the drums and the clarinet in elementary school. In middle school I played volleyball and joined choir. In high school I was a member of the Chicano Club and led assemblies and dances. In college I joined the Child and Adolescent Club and enjoyed my time as a volunteer. I love to dance, took salsa dancing classes and belly dance as my electives while pursuing my college degree. I have a beautiful family of five plus Rokey, my five-year-old pug that made me a fur mom and is my first pet ever. My nickname ‘MaNiNa’ was given to me by a child sent from God, my godson, Jose. It means mom and godmother and he is the world to me because he holds such a special place in my heart.”

College & Career Manager

Brenda Trujillo Sanchez

It’s exciting to move up from my position as College Readiness Coordinator to my new leadership role as College & Career Manager. I will oversee college and career readiness programs and services for kindergarten through 12th grade students enrolled in our programs. Additionally, I have responsibility for our College Success Initiative, which ensures our students have the resources and support to graduate high school and pursue higher education. We call this ‘From Pre-K to B.A.’

As I continue my career at KidWorks, I see my new responsibilities as a way to continue to lead a team that’s dedicated to creating opportunities for students to dream big, envision themselves on a college campus, explore their interests and be introduced to a variety of meaningful career options. In my spare time, I enjoy nature, hiking and running. One of my 2022 goals is to run a half-marathon. Wish me luck!”

Long-term Program Assistant Substitute Teacher

Alyssa Saucedo

“In my new job at KidWorks, I’ll work with kindergarten, third and ninth grades. I’m so excited to now be part of the amazing KidWorks organization and its wonderful after school program team. I can’t wait to watch my kiddos grow and discover new things about themselves. I’m not entirely new to KidWorks.

I began as an after-school programs tutor in 2014, working with the same grade levels I’m now teaching. I also partnered with KidWorks and ran the Nike Community Outreach program. In addition to my love of teaching, I also enjoy hiking and exploring new trails and states with my family.” 

Youth Program Assistant Substitute

Elise Schroeder

“While on staff part of last year through early this year, my focus was on assisting staff with planning and teaching lessons, helping students with homework and building positive relationships with kindergarten through 12th grade students; as the Youth Program Assistant Substitute, my emphasis was grades six through 12. In addition to supporting our incredible students, I assisted staff, volunteers and interns at two of KidWorks’ centers, specifically the Dan Donahue and Townsend centers. 

As I joined the KidWorks team last year, I was excited to build and deepen my relationships with my students and to have the opportunity to play an active role in their lives as I watched them grow both academically and personally. Serving as both a teacher and mentor to my students truly excited and fulfilled me. Before becoming the Youth Program Assistant Substitute, I volunteered at KidWorks for over two years during after school and summer programs.

Prior to graduating from the University of California, Irvine last year, I was a youth intern at KidWorks for several months as well. I’ve also worked as a tutor and provided in-home tutoring services to K-12 students. When this story is published, I will no longer be on staff at KidWorks because I will be earning my teaching credential from California State University, Long Beach as I work towards my dream of becoming a high school history teacher. Although I will not be at the center as frequently (I still hope to volunteer and give back whenever I can), KidWorks will always carry a special place in my heart. As my team members would say, ‘It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later’!”

Vanessa Sedano

“I’ve been KidWorks’ Volunteer Coordinator for the past several years, and I’m now excited to move into my new leadership role as Volunteer Manager. Overseeing the entire volunteer department will be so rewarding, and I’ll put my past experience as coordinator to work making sure the volunteer experience is the best it can be.

I’m also thrilled to be working with Rachel Cervantes, who has moved into my prior role as Volunteer Coordinator. Together, we’ll further sharpen and build on the systems and processes created by Gerardo Magaña, our former Senior Director of Volunteer and Leadership Resources, now at Young Life, a Christian ministry. I am also exited to continue to build meaningful connections with our volunteers and see them as equally excited to walk with students on their journey at KidWorks and in life.”

Roving Program Substitute Teacher

Van Vo

“As a roving program substitute teacher, I have the wonderful privilege of being able to work with students at all three of KidWorks’ centers, the Dan Donahue, Cedar Evergreen and Townsend Street locations. I work with each of the site directors and program leaders wherever I’m needed.

And I’ve been forming connections with students at all three locations. I’m personally focused on getting to know all of the students and building relationships with them. I’m most excited to have the unique opportunity to meet and work directly with all the students and to experience the love and fun that is KidWorks.

I graduated from the University of California, Irvine last June. I’ve had a variety of part-time jobs in school. Now, along with working at KidWorks, I’m also a preschool paraeducator with the Tustin Unified School District, while also holding down a part-time weekend job at Chipotle. I love baking and trying out new recipes, even though I’m not an expert at it yet!”

Best Wishes to our former colleagues

Please join us in thanking these former colleagues and wishing them all the best in their new roles: