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Meet Elena Tothazan

Position: Grants Assistant in the Resource Development Department.

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you? “I am helping to make sure that everything is running smoothly on the grants and administrative side. Making sure that we get the funds that we need, so we can serve the clients that we have. That is why we are here. We are here to serve the immigrant community”

 

Learn more about Elena Tothazan

Meet Jennifer Hamamoto

Position: Managing Director of Immigration Services and VOV Lead Attorney.

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you? “It is important for them to know that I try to identify with them. I come from immigrant parents too.”

 

Learn more about Jennifer Hamamoto

Meet Judith Silva

Position: Benefits Enrollment Specialist/SNAP in the Family Stabilization and Well Being Department.

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you? “I’ve seen my parents struggle with the language – it can be very frustrating, and they can be very vulnerable about asking for help or knowing what resources are available for them. So, knowing that I have that connection or experience, hopefully helps them feel more comfortable with me”

 

Learn more about Judith Silva

Meet Lisette Mendoza

Position: Benefits Enrollment Specialist/SNAP in the Family Stabilization and Well Being Department

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you?

“It is really rewarding to see my clients realize that they have potential and that they are resilient. That is what I am set up to do, make our clients feel empowered so when they actually believe in themselves too, it is rewarding for me too.”

 

Learn more about Lisette Mendoza

Meet Rafa Huerta

Position: Outreach Manager at the NWGA Outreach Center

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you? “When I moved to Dalton back in 1994, I came to this exact building to apply for my first job with Mohawk. Now I am working here for the LAA. It really is full circle” (The LAA’s office in Dalton is located in Mohawk’s facilities.)

 

Learn more about Rafa Huerta

Meet Raquel Machuca

Position: College & Career Readiness Coordinator in the Youth Services Department.

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you?

“This job is super rewarding. Clients don’t know that a lot of the services that we offer are free. Maybe it is the Latino perspective of “owing” something to people, but they don’t owe me anything. I do this not only because it is my job but because it comes from my heart.”

 

Learn more about Raquel Machuca

Meet Rebecca Christenberry

Position: Employment and Corporate Relations Coordinator in the Economic Empowerment Department.

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you? “My job fits me; I enjoy being a liaison between the English speaking community and the Spanish speaking community. I love the people that I work with!”

 

Learn more about Rebecca Christenberry

Meet Elena Tothazan

Position: Grants Assistant in the Resource Development Department.

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you? “I am helping to make sure that everything is running smoothly on the grants and administrative side. Making sure that we get the funds that we need, so we can serve the clients that we have. That is why we are here. We are here to serve the immigrant community”

Where is home? Born and raised in Romania. Moved to the US in 2010.

College: International Affairs and French Minor from the University of Georgia.

Fun fact: She loves to paint!

Why do you do what you do?

“I care. Even when the work itself seems a little chaotic, just know that we all have really good intentions. I really truly care about the work that I do, and I put my heart and soul into it. Things are not always perfect, but I care about making the caseworkers jobs a little easier.”

What do you like about working for the LAA?

“The people! We get to work in a tight, collaborative, diverse environment.”

Meet Jennifer Hamamoto

Position: Managing Director of Immigration Services and VOV Lead Attorney.

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you? “It is important for them to know that I try to identify with them. I come from immigrant parents too.”

Where is home? Born and raised Los Angeles, California to a Guatemalan mom and Japanese dad. She moved to Atlanta for the LAA job.

College: Undergrad at University of Notre Dame. Law School at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Passion/Fun Fact: I find learning about other cultures fascinating!

Why do you do what you do? “My vocation is that I am here to serve other people. I do this because this is how I live out my faith. It is important for parents and kids to understand that education is key to the success in this country. With education, si se puede en este país. ¡Toca echarle ganas!”

What other employees say about Jennifer:

Jennifer is not only a great leader, but she is also a great example for our department. For example, she goes above and beyond for her clients. I have seen her reach out to other organizations asking for help in legal matters that go beyond our scope of work in order to achieve results for vulnerable clients. That shows her passion for service and community, and collaboration. She is also a great leader and her dedication empowers her staff to continue doing what we do.

Meet Judith Silva

Position: Benefits Enrollment Specialist/SNAP in the Family Stabilization and Well Being Department.

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you? “I’ve seen my parents struggle with the language - it can be very frustrating, and they can be very vulnerable about asking for help or knowing what resources are available for them. So, knowing that I have that connection or experience, hopefully helps them feel more comfortable with me”

Where is home? Born in Georgia to Mexican parents.

College: Oglethorpe University, Bachelors in Sociology with Concentration in Social Work.

Passion/Fun Fact: Judith loves to read.

What do you like about working at the LAA? 

“I like being able to meet so many people during our outreach events – it really feels like a community.”

 

What other employees say about Judith:

“Judith has been with LAA as a volunteer since 2020 and quickly moved to a contract position as a homeless prevention case manager in 2021. During her time in this position, Judith showed her outstanding work ethic and met all of her clients with compassion. Although homeless prevention is very stressful and requires endless paperwork, I have not once heard Judith complain nor show her frustration. Anytime our Gwinnett office had food drives or vaccination events, Judith was always the first to volunteer and did not mind spending her weekends serving our community. At the end of 2021 when Judith was asked to step up in a new position as SNAP enrollment specialist, Judith rose to the challenge despite still having to complete work for her homeless prevention contract. Judith has been an amazing asset at our LAA Gwinnett office and embodies the true meaning of being a team player and leader!”

 

Meet Lisette Mendoza

Position: Benefits Enrollment Specialist/SNAP in the Family Stabilization and Well Being Department

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you?

“It is really rewarding to see my clients realize that they have potential and that they are resilient. That is what I am set up to do, make our clients feel empowered so when they actually believe in themselves too, it is rewarding for me too.”

Where is home? Born in Georgia to Mexican parents.

College: Bachelor’s in Social Work from Georgia State University

Passion/Fun Fact: Dancing

What do you like about working at the LAA? 

I enjoy the experience I’ve had here due to the diversity of our clients and services

What other employees say about Lisette:

I have had the pleasure of working with Lisette on our SNAP team since August 2020. Lisette is an amazing individual who is passionate about the work she does. Part of our position requires us to attend monthly outreach events to reach out to potential clients who are interested in applying for Public Benefits. Lisette is always volunteering to attend these events, even when they are usually all scheduled on weekends. She never minds taking time out of her non workdays to help the Latinx Community. Lisette also always assists all of our clients with so much compassion and care, oftentimes going out of her way to find solutions to our client's problems, even if that requires her to stay after hours. Lisette embodies the true meaning of a social worker and shows this not only to our clients, but also to everyone who comes across her.

Lisette goes above and beyond to assist FWB department as well as our clients. Lisette is always willing to step up to the plate and help out when needed regardless of her own workload which goes to show the amazing human being she is. Through starting a position during COVID-19 and being able to adjust to remote work right after finishing up college it goes to show that there is a deep passion for this work of service. Lisette is a key piece in what is FWB and we are grateful to have her as part of our team.

Meet Rafa Huerta

Position: Outreach Manager at the NWGA Outreach Center

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you? “When I moved to Dalton back in 1994, I came to this exact building to apply for my first job with Mohawk. Now I am working here for the LAA. It really is full circle” (The LAA’s office in Dalton is located in Mohawk’s facilities.)

Where is home? Born and raised in Juárez, Mexico. Moved to the US in 1994. Worked as a school teacher while in Mexico.

Why do you do what you do?

“I am doing this because I have a deep passion to help people. As a former educator and as a person that understands the needs in the community. My parents were farmers, so I understand. With this job, I have the opportunity of helping people by promoting and creating awareness of the LAA services. The rewarding part of my job is knowing that people are getting the services we offer.”

Meet Raquel Machuca

Position: College & Career Readiness Coordinator in the Youth Services Department.

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you?

“This job is super rewarding. Clients don’t know that a lot of the services that we offer are free. Maybe it is the Latino perspective of “owing” something to people, but they don’t owe me anything. I do this not only because it is my job but because it comes from my heart.”

Where is home? Born and raised in Honduras to a Guatemalan mom and Mexican dad and moved to the US in 9th grade.

College: Bachelors in Advertising from the University of Georgia.

What do you like about working at the LAA?  “I love my team!”

Why do you do what you do?

“My dad worked for the Honduran Consulate, and he always liked helping the community. When he passed away in May of last year, I moved back to Georgia and my mom encouraged me to go to the LAA and ask for job openings. So, a passion of mine is continuing on my dad’s legacy of help the Latino community.”

What other employees say about Raquel:

“I have nominated Raquel Machuca from the Youth Department; she is very committed to her community. She is always ready and willing to help out the team, she is a TRUE Team player. When it comes to her senior advising one on one sessions, she goes out of her way to make it possible for her advisees to reach their goals!”

Meet Rebecca Christenberry

Position: Employment and Corporate Relations Coordinator in the Economic Empowerment Department.

What is one thing you want our clients to know about you? “My job fits me; I enjoy being a liaison between the English speaking community and the Spanish speaking community. I love the people that I work with!”

Where is home? Born and raised in Alabama.

College: Bachelor’s degree from Duke University and University of West Florida, Postgraduate at NYU, Madrid.

Fun fact: Rebecca has a yoga certification.

What other employees say about Rebecca:

“Rebecca is constantly fighting to grow the Employment Services program. She is flexible, resilient and innovative in her approach to helping job seekers. She continuously seeks new partnerships and processes to better serve her clients. She has a wealth of knowledge not only in her own department, but is always available to talk through situations and advise her coworkers. To say that she is passionate about her program is an understatement! She provides excellent customer service in both English and Spanish and I believe that she is an absolute asset to the Latin American Association.”