Rowena is a Client Services Manager who began at Alta California Regional Center (ACRC) as a Service Coordinator in 2016. Her passion for helping others is consistent in work and in her personal life. She continues to pursue her education to further help the community she serves.
In 2000, Rowena intended to begin law school after graduating with her Bachelor’s of Business Management. She moved from Los Angeles to Sacramento in hopes of being a lobbyist. However, life presented a change in career goals when her cousin was diagnosed with autism at four years old. Rowena’s uncle and aunt did not have the knowledge of what to do for their daughter to help her developmentally, but she became a client of Harbor Regional Center, and it was the family’s first exposure to regional center system.
Rowena was inspired by the Service Coordinator assigned to her cousin and decided to join the profession. She pursued a Master’s of Counseling in 2014 and transitioned to the field of social work, or what she lovingly refers to as the “helping hands profession.” After graduating with her masters, Rowena first worked for a methadone clinic which provided services and supports to individuals with substance abuse and addiction. While maintaining employment at the clinic, Rowena would work toward her Marriage and Family Therapy hours as a counselor. Once she met her required hours, Rowena transitioned to CBEM (Creating Behavioral + Educational Momentum), a vendor of ACRC, as a Critical Intervention Specialist.
In 2016, Rowena became a Service Coordinator for ACRC for the Residential Unit. She moved to the Adults Unit and was then promoted to Client Services Manager for the Residential Unit in 2020. Her favorite part of her job, besides working with her team, is advocating for clients in residential who may not be able to advocate for themselves or have families who advocate for them. Rowena continually provides education and knowledge to her team to ensure clients receive all the supports and services they need.
Outside of ACRC, Rowena has continued to pursue her education and is on the path to obtain a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She chose this course after noticing the barriers that clients face when it comes to accessing mental health resources. Additionally, Rowena and her husband, Eric, have opened a driving school business where they have helped people with developmental disabilities learn how to drive and advocate for them to gain their independence. One of her favorite stories while providing services for her business was about a young man with autism who was told he would never be able to drive. With Rowena’s and Eric’s driving knowledge and encouragement, he went on to receive his driver’s license.
Autism Awareness Month is important to Rowena because she would not be where she is today without her cousin, who turned 20 in February. Autism awareness helps educate people that autism doesn’t have to limit someone. Rowena is proud to see her cousin who recently was accepted into University of California, Irvine Bachelor’s of Arts in Japanese Language and Literature for Fall 2023 and is pursuing her dreams of being a Japanese Interpreter.