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Compassionate leadership and passionate bicultural personal development have gone hand in hand throughout Araceli Gonzalez’ journey with AbilityFirst. Her AbilityFirst career started in 2013 as a Recreation Therapy intern, followed by the position of Programs Supervisor at the Joan & Harry A. Mier Center, and then as Education Navigator Supervisor in the College to Career program. Today, she is the DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) Projects Manager. In her roles, she has been able to see participants achieving both big and small milestones, and she loves the opportunity of being in the front row, cheering them on! She feels personally rewarded by watching individuals build confidence, participate in their communities, and to see the lasting impact AbilityFirst has on their lives, and their families. Araceli’s background includes a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Administration and a minor in Spanish, certificates in a variety of training modalities, strong fluency in Spanish, and former membership in Toastmasters International. She has an innate ability to navigate diverse settings, and a range of different projects, and enjoys artistry and handicrafts. Coupled with her achievements and vision for AbilityFirst participants, is a nod to the small moments in her life. She lives by the creed that caring for each other doesn’t have to be complicated. She finds genuine meaning in sharing something as simple as a smile, a caring message, a helping hand, or a good laugh together.

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