Workforce Training Heroes Honored

SAN JOSE, Calif. – On December 8,San José’s work2future program recognized workforce training heroes –  local adult and youth job seekers who have overcome career challenges by participating in its training and education programs.

The 13th Annual work2future “Community Builder Awards” event also celebrated regional business and community leaders for creating job opportunities and supporting the development of the regional workforce.

“I thank work2future for your consistent work to serve thousands of individuals and businesses,” said San José City Councilmember Johnny Khamis. “Preparing job seekers to succeed in today’s dynamic and demanding workplaces is truly important, as is the role you play in bringing together businesses, government, and non-profits to meet our community’s workforce training challenges.”

Approximately 5,000 San José job seekers and 250 businesses annually receive assistance from work2future, including training, job-seeking skills, and placement services.

“The hard work of the work2future staff, Board, and partners has paid off by getting thousands back into jobs,” said Jeff Ruster, Executive Director of work2future. “work2future has exceeded federal workforce training performance targets for 12 years and has been recognized by the State of California as one of the few High Performing Workforce Development Boards.”

In anticipation of the stories that are presented each year at the awards, Joe Flynn, work2future Board Chair, said, “I think that the Community Builder Awards are great.  They remind us of why we are here and why we do it.”

Awards and Recipientssam_5302

 Youth Job-Seeker Awards are given to youth participants who are transforming their lives in a way that motivates others, showing a dedication to lifelong learning, and are actively setting goals and overcoming barriers.  This year’s recipients were Salvador Montelongo, Nataly Ceja-Sanchez and Michael Rene Morales.

  • Salvador Montelongo was intrigued by the idea of working in Information technology and needed a better paying job to financially help his mom. Working many long hours, Sal pursued his Tech Cadre training commitment, even when this meant starting at 4 am to be at work by 5 am, using his skate board and buses as transportation.  Even though the training was challenging and his mother passed away during the training, Sal did not give up.  He only missed two days of the training and was able to get his compTIA Fundamental certificate.  He excelled in his internship and is using the skills he learned to work for work2future Foundation’s IT Manager.  His next goal is to take his A+ Certification. “I love all the staff at work2future because they make me feel so welcome,” he said.
  • Nataly Ceja-Sanchez leveraged experience that she obtained while enrolled in San José Works to get full-time work in the retail sector to help her family financially. She has since advanced her career at a new retailer and is preparing to enroll into community college in 2017. She is committed to life-long learning and will transfer to a four-year college.  “Being part of work2future has been a great learning experience,” said Nataly.
  • Michael Rene Morales entered foster care around 5 years of age and became an emancipated youth before his 19th Though he made some big mistakes when he was younger, he has turned his life around. He completed his AA, transferred to San José State University, and intends to attend Santa Clara University Law School. He has been actively involved with California Youth Connection since 2010, advocating for the rights of foster youth. He has vowed to dedicate his life to making a better life for his 5-year-old daughter. “Being at work2future has been great.  They’ve allowed me to get work experience related to my field of studies – social work. This award is very motivating,” he said.

 Adult Job-Seeker Awards are given to adult participants who are transforming their lives in a way that motivates others, showing a dedication to lifelong learning, and are actively setting goals and overcoming barriers. This year’s awards went to Devin Tryon, Sahar Soufi and Alex Senegal.

  • Devin Tryon has shown tenacity and commitment to upgrade his skills. Tired of working a series of minimum wage jobs, Devin enrolled into work2future’s welding training. His perfect attendance and participation, even considering that he became a new father during his last week of training, contributed to his new job at MASS Precision.  He and his family are looking forward to a brighter future. “Thank you to work2future for the great training. I truly appreciate everything that you’ve done for me,” said Devin.
  • Sahar Soufi worked as a Software Engineer for nine years and upon losing her employment realized she needed to upgrade her skills. She took advantage of online training available to her through work2future. In describing her new job at the US Patent Office, Sahar said, “One of my friends suggested work2future and with you I was able to upgrade my skills. Because of work2future I was able to land it and be part of that team.”
  • work2future’s HIRE (Helping Individuals Reenter Employment) program helps homeless individuals get their careers back on track. “Participating actively in HIRE gave me hope, a sense of purpose and regular specific steps for my job search,” said Alex Senegal.  He added, “HIRE helped me get my job with Destiny Re-Entry Center – and I love helping people.”  In his new job he has taken on a difficult calling of coaching individuals as they return to the community following incarceration. Using his first-hand experience of accepting general assistance, food stamps, and utilizing any resource he could find to get back to work, Alex assists his clients to find needed resources to facilitate their transition back into the workforce.

Outstanding Partner & Business Awards recipients included Citi Community Development, Working Partnerships USA, San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, MASS Precision, the Office of the City Attorney at the City of San José, and The Hub, Foster Youth Resource Center. These awardees are recognized for their commitment and collaboration to promote workforce training and economic development for our community and its residents.

Will Jones, CFO of MASS Precision joined the other partners in saying how happy his organization is to be collaborating with work2future, particularly in training the next generation of workers. The challenges and constraints in achieving a vision are never-ending, but “now we have a partnership to allow us to get there,” he said.  “Thank all of you for giving us the opportunity to come here to receive an award that should really go to you.”

work2future works closely with employers, job seekers, and partners to foster a skilled regional workforce that is able to stay competitive and satisfy employers’ needs in a rapidly changing environment. The organization offers a range of services for individuals seeking retraining and reemployment, and also for regional employers needing human resource solutions. work2future operates Job Centers in San José, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014. While administered by the City of San José, work2future also provides workforce development services in the cities of Los Gatos, Morgan Hill, Los Altos Hills, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, and the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. For more information, visit


The San José Office of Economic Development is committed to a vital, competitive San José economy that increases prosperity for people and companies. OED guides the city’s economic strategy, provides assistance for business success, connect employers with trained workers, and provides art and cultural resources to our community. For more information, go to


San José, Capital of Silicon Valley, is the largest city in Northern California and the 10th largest city in the nation, with an ethnically diverse population of more than one million. San José was founded in 1777, once served as the state capital of California, and encompasses 180 square miles. The City’s website is