Photo by Ignacio Colmenares
Connie Moreno-Peraza is the Deputy Director/Administrator of Napa County Alcohol and Drug Programs. She has an Associate’s Degree in Behavioral Science, a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, bilingual, with 26 years of combined experience in alcohol and drug, mental health, co-occurring disorders, integrated services, prevention services, working with children, youth and families, adults and older adults, disaster preparedness, response and planning, policy development, community development, and cultural competence.
She has extensive experience in county government; she has worked in multiple counties throughout California and has held multiple roles as supervisor, manager, administrator, and deputy director. In her leadership roles, Mrs. Moreno-Peraza has been developing programs and services that are linguistically and culturally competent to meet the needs of diverse populations, in particular for Spanish speaking clients and their families. She has also been instrumental in developing and improving policies to ensure services are easily accessible, timely, and appropriate for those in need of alcohol and drug, mental health, and co-occurring disorder services. In her former positions, and in her current position with Napa County, she has also been instrumental in ensuring educational campaigns, related to the risks and dangers of using or abusing alcohol and drugs, and other simultaneous disorders, are designed to reach the Hispanic community and the monolingual Spanish speaking community.
Mrs. Moreno-Peraza continues to remain focused in making services easily accessible for individuals and families in need of services. She is also a strong believer in recovery of alcohol and drug addictions and in health and wellness. Throughout her career, Mrs. Moreno-Peraza has helped develop and implement best practices and evidence based programs that are coordinated and integrated such as “One Stop Shops”, “Multi-service Centers”, “Community Corrections Service Center”, “Comprehensive Alcohol and Drug Continuum of Care Model”; and “Integrated Substance Use Disorders, Mental Health, and Primary Care Model”; so that, clients and their families can go to one place and get all the services they need. Mrs. Moreno-Peraza has also been a professor at California State University, Fresno, where she taught Social Work courses to undergraduate and graduate students. She also trained bilingual MSW Interns and helped develop leaders for the field of mental health and other disorders. She was also a small business owner of her clinical private practice and consultation services, where she focused on the provision of bilingual, bicultural counseling and parenting, plus provided trainings on cultural competence throughout California and in some parts of the United States.
She has also traveled to Mexico and did some work with DIF, “Desarollo Integral Familiar”, where there was an international exchange of clinical practices and programming for the Hispanic population in California. Throughout her career, Mrs. Moreno-Peraza has also planned and lead multiple Cultural Competence statewide conferences, has participated in several expert panels on alcohol and drug, co-occurring disorders, mental health, prevention, and service model, has participated on radio and television shows to educate the community on addictions and services, and has published information on mental health for consumers and families for the Mental Health Association, “Reaching for the Light”. Mrs. Moreno-Peraza has served as President, Vice President, and chaired multiple committees in her statewide association, CADPAAC (County Alcohol and Drug Program Administrators Association of California). Mrs. Moreno-Peraza is married to Mr. Jose Peraza. She has two children, Melissa, age 25, and Jose, age 17. She was born in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. She has a big family and is very proud of each of her siblings for their accomplishments and for remaining true to our roots. She is proud of her Mexican heritage, family, language, and culture. She is fluent in Spanish and strongly believes in retaining her cultural values as part of maintaining a solid foundation and strong ethnic identity. Knowing who she is and where she comes from has been critical to her success and her healthy development, mentally, psychologically, and spiritually. Never forget who you are!
I have been blessed with awards and recognitions during in my career; however, this one is very special because I am being recognized during Hispanic Heritage Month. Our culture, our history, our heroes are being celebrated during this important month. This is a great honor. To be part of a group of fifteen women in Napa County representing the Hispanic community as leaders making a difference in our communities is an amazing, yet humbling experience. I cannot believe I am one of the fifteen women nominated and selected for a once in lifetime event! This recognition means that the community values my contributions which I think are small in comparison to all the work ahead of us. We need to continue helping our community with all the challenges being faced by them.
This nomination means that I need to continue doing the work that I have been doing and continue serving as a role model for our Hispanic/Latina women. It means that I need to continue reaching out to them and help develop the leaders of today and tomorrow! It means that I need to continue transferring my Hispanic cultural values and traditions so they can pass them on to future generations. It means that I need to continue showing pride for who I am so it can help break the barriers and help Hispanic/Latina women get their education and select careers where women are not traditionally not represented such as careers in politics, management, technology, engineering, and so forth. It means that I am responsible for continuing “las tradiciones, los valores, la famiila, y la fe en que si vamos a sobresalir y a superar como Hispanos”.
Why motivates you be involved in the community?
The thing that motivate me to be involved in the community is that I want to help change the history. A professor I had at Fresno State, Dr. Lea Ybarra, told me “History will repeat itself if you don’t change it”. I have never forgotten her advice. This is a big motivator for me. When I continue to see that in 2013 our Hispanic people are still suffering from serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, lung cancer, tobacco and alcohol and drug addictions, mental health conditions, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and being arrested and put in jail or sent to prison, gang involvement and crime, poor academic achievement, etc., it tells me that we still have a lot of work to do and need to work together, with a united front, and a united voice to change history so it does not repeat itself.
We cannot afford for our people to die at younger ages due to lack of medical coverage or lack of access to appropriate health care. We need to work together and develop policies and ordinances that will help improve the environment we live in. We need to work with our educational system to hire teachers that know the culture, the language, and know the teaching methods to engage our young students and our college students as well. We need to help create jobs that match the skills sets of our people so they can afford afford to buy nutritious and healthy food. We need to build more parks so children can play in safe and clean places, have access to health clubs to exercise, use alternative modes of transportation to reduce the smog, develop more bike routes. Our environment is very important.
We also need to develop programs for our youth so they can be active and productive. They are the leaders of tomorrow. I get motivated when I talk to my colleagues, partners, and community leaders so we can help reduce the challenges that our Hispanic poeple are experiencing and help come up with solutions together . This is what motivates me to get involved in the community: I want to help change history, so it does not repeat itself. I want to continue to help make difference!