Staff Annual Award Recipients

SF Pretrial’s Annual Awards are determined by our staff and given to individuals who exemplify our mission and contribute to our advancement of social and racial justice. Award recipients epitomize our dedication to client services, commitment to high quality care, and aspiration for social change.
We are grateful to our talented and diverse team who continue to champion community-centered justice reform. Learn more about our award recipients over the years by viewing the profiles below.

2020

Rookie of the Year 2020Reyna Serrano, Program Assistant

After a period of professional sabbatical, I applied to San Francisco Pretrial with a desire to continue my career in social work, having previously worked in property management for low income housing. In August, 2020, I started at Pretrial as a program assistant working at the front desk. As the job title indicates, I work as an assistant for our release programs, and the day-to-day work includes doing front desk triage of clients calling or coming in to the office, checking clients in, and functioning as a liaison between clients and their case managers when the case managers are not available. I make sure that clients are kept apprised of their next court dates, connect clients with community resources as requested by case managers, as well as relaying to clients any other important information that their case managers would like them to know. 

To me, every part of this job has been very rewarding. Whether it is giving a client a snack bag, another a hygiene bag, or making sure that clients connect with their case managers and get the service that they need, or just being of service, I find every workday to be absolutely fulfilling. 

Most Valuable Player 2020Charles Ryan, Assertive Case Management (ACM) Case Manager and Support Group Facilitator

I came to SF Pretrial in October 2019 thanks to the recommendation of William Cooper, a then Roads to Recovery case manager, and a good friend of mine. While having my own power washing business at the time, I have always had an interest in criminal justice and was a certified mentor for the justice-involved community, so the opportunities provided to me as an ACM case manager piqued my interest in working with SF Pretrial full time. 

I brought to SF Pretrial my personal experience as someone who had previously gone through the system. After being acquitted in 2016 and subsequently working as a case manager in SF County Jail 5, I started the ACM case manager position with a passion for working with individuals sharing this background, and helping change their lives for the better. “I walk it like I talk it,” I always say. 

In addition to being an ACM case manager and helping clients with their day-to-day case management, I also facilitate one of Pretrial’s counseling groups, Thinking for a Change. My background as a certified mentor has definitely helped bring about high success rates for my group participants. “Accountability breeds responsibilities”, that’s my motto. Tweaking the curriculum to adapt to our clients’ special needs, I help clients improve their social skills, putting in place behavioral changes that break the cycle of justice involvement. With my unique experience that provides me with some insight into the experience that our clients go through, I have succeeded in leading the vast majority of group participants to success.

To me, the best things about SF Pretrial are the endless opportunities to learn, to work with individuals sharing my life story, and helping them onto a better, healthier path. This is my lifelong passion, and something that I will continue to pursue.

People’s Choice 2020Steven Clark, Assertive Case Management (ACM) Case Manager

A few years ago, I started working for Pretrial, alongside other Diversion case managers Victor and Devin, on Project 20. Back then, I was known as the voice of Pretrial because I did all of the interviewing at the various weekly events that consisted of community leaders including Mayor Ed Lee and other San Francisco Assemblymen and Supervisors.  A few years later I came back to work for San Francisco Pretrial as a No Violence Alliance (NoVA) Assertive Case Manager, from the beginning to the end of the contract.

I returned to Pretrial on April 7, 2020 as an ACM Case Manager. I am focused on client centered work, having been doing case management for 20 years in the San Francisco community. I am grateful to Pretrial for the opportunity to be a change agent and give back to this community, having once been homeless and a drug addict in this very city. I also enjoy working with our incredibly committed and resourceful staff. I can’t express the gratitude that I have for Victor Lee giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful agency and seeing the best in me. Thank you all for the People’s Choice Award.

Standing Ovation 2020Ashley Hebert, Court Liaison Specialist

I am a Court Liaison here at San Francisco Pretrial Diversion Project and have been with the agency for two years. The Spirit of San Francisco Pretrial means working with an organization committed to providing support to a complex and often underserved members of the community, by assisting them with the release process, and providing them with meaningful opportunities for growth and alternative options to incarceration. Personally, helping someone obtain their freedom through the criminal justice process is absolutely rewarding.

Victor Lee Loyalty 2020Derek Wong, Pretrial Specialist II

I have been with San Francisco Pretrial Diversion now for almost 15 years. I first started out at SF Pretrial when I was in college studying criminal justice. Over the years I have mainly stayed in one department, the Own Recognizance project. Although I have worked in various other departments such as Project 20, Project 22, Street Environmental Services, restitution, and diversion, I am lucky to have learned how all the different programs function and are able to help clients during difficult times. I am honored to have been given the Victor Lee Loyalty Award. I am very grateful to have worked with Victor over the years and have been blessed to learn from the best. With that said, I am passionate and enjoy doing the work that I do. I would like to thank all my co-workers from past and present for nominating me for this award.

Integrity Award 2020Gerald White, Court Compliance Manager

My Name is Gerald White. I have had a relationship with Pretrial Services for more than 25 years. I have had two tenures of employment with the Agency. My first tenure was in the mid 1990’s as one of the first Case Managers hired to pilot a new release program called Supervised Pretrial Release-SPR. At the time releasing programs of this type were a unique entity. The idea that you could release a defendant from custody and provide intensive case management support in order to affect public safety outcomes and Jail overcrowding was in its infancy. Restorative Justice was not a widely known concept, making us pioneers in the field of Restorative Justice. I worked for pretrial for 6 years then, and have been back for almost 9 years now. That said, I never lost touch with my Pretrial family. The lessons learned at Pretrial prepared me for all my other employment explorations. However, it was Pretrial’s mission, spirit and soul of the work that has always been with me and led me to come back. I am now considered one of the leaders of the agency, and I remain humble and honored to be such. Compassion and hard work are the 2 most important things in my arsenal for success here at Pretrial. I have 35 years of work experience, and most of that work has been in the non-profit social services arena. I can with authority say that working at Pretrial has been the most influential of all those experiences.

2019

Rookie of the Year 2019Aram Gevandian, Court Compliance Specialist

My first impression of Pretrial was that it was a very fast-paced, client-centered office. From the very beginning of my role, I was entrusted with several reporting and housing-related projects that involved interdepartmental coordination. Through my role as a Court Compliance Specialist, I also assisted the Assertive Case Management (ACM) team to ensure that client records were up-to-date, reports were accurate. I also played a supporting role in making sure that the Court Compliance team had everything necessary to support our clients’ success. This position taught me tremendously valuable skills, from being detail-oriented, to being an effective communicator. I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn and be a part of the Pretrial family.  

Most Valuable Player 2019Vanessa Padilla, Diversion Case Manager

I am a simple individual who loves to work and share the knowledge acquired throughout my years working in this wonderful country and city. I came to Pretrial 3 years ago as a Case Manager of the Assertive Case Management team, and Group Facilitator for the Latino Group. I was hired with the intention to work with monolingual Spanish speaking clients. During this time I learned so much about the criminal justice system that I took a position as a Bilingual PTD Case Manager. I cherish the opportunities that I have been given, learning from my coworkers and supervisors past and present. Thank you and always remember that the best legacy that you leave behind it is your work ethics.

People’s Choice 2019Tony Beliso, Assertive Case Management (ACM) Case Manager

I’m a Lead Case Manager for Assertive Case Management (ACM). I was hired 13 years ago to work with a program called Court Accountable Homeless Services.

During the interview for my position as Peer Advocate I was given an opportunity to ask questions. My main question was “what would my job entail”. I was told that my team will get clients out of custody and it would be my job to help keep them out of custody. Not knowing how to respond I smiled and commented “that sounds easy…”. I got smiles and a few chuckles. 

I’ve been asked to explain what I like most about the people at Pretrial, so I will try. What we do is anything but easy. We work with good people in bad situations. Our main responsibility is to help our clients get through the Pretrial phase of their court case. I could go on and on about what I value about my family at Pretrial, but what I value the most is the compassion that is shown to our clients.

Standing Ovation 2019Kai Washington, Lead Court Liaison

I was born/raised in Charlottesville, Virginia; graduated from high school at the Miller School in Crozet, VA. A couple years later I moved to San Francisco on a full women’s basketball scholarship and graduated from San Francisco State University with my Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Studies. After I graduated from San Francisco State University, I was fortunate enough to be hired for a Data Entry position at San Francisco Pretrial Diversion. From Data Entry I was able to experience the amazing work being done from the majority of the departments. Four years later I am now the Lead Court Liaison for the Court Team. Pretrial is more than what meets the eye. It is an extension of the community and works every day towards a common goal of true justice and peace. I am thankful for being able to give back and take care of my community in a similar way that my community took care of me.

Loyalty Award 2019Marshae Rhymes, Pretrial Release Specialist

I started with Pretrial in the Own Recognizance department as a Pretrial Release Specialist I in February 2018. I immediately felt welcomed by the team, and found myself truly inspired by them. As I learned and grew in my entry position, I was also given the opportunity to hone my leadership skills. While the learning curve for all the duties and tasks required of my role was steep, it also motivated me to continue working in the service of our clients. 

I was eventually promoted to a Pretrial Release Specialist II and shortly thereafter, the graveyard shift Supervisor. My colleagues here at Pretrial taught me facilitating and training skills that proved to be invaluable to me as a supervisor. I feel lucky to have been a member of the talented and dedicated team at Pretrial. 

Integrity Award 2019Monica Perez, Own Recognizance (OR) Manager

I joined our agency in 2017 as part of our Own Recognizance team, and was quickly entrusted with significant responsibilities. Beginning in late 2019 and into early 2020, as the OR manager, I supported my team and our agency through the Buffin implementation that required the OR team to transition to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week operations. This included an intensive overhaul of the OR department schedules, policies, procedures and training. In addition, as a manager I also do my best to support my team’s human resources and supervision, while prioritizing our clients and the staff that are helping them. 

I was promoted to Program Director in September 2020. I was extremely grateful for this opportunity, which allowed me to expand on my understanding of our release programs, and the operation of a large department that’s composed of over 80% of our agency’s staff. I am so grateful to be part of SF Pretrial, and to have the opportunity to grow and learn with the team.