OYA’s Ambassadors of Public Service

For Public Service Recognition Week, OYA is highlighting three team members whose work stands out.

Today is State Employee Recognition Day, and this week is Public Service Recognition Week. We have been reflecting on the importance of the work of all our teammates, and we want to recognize their efforts. In particular, we’d like to recognize the efforts of three OYA team members who stood out over the last year.

We are so impressed with our team’s continued dedication to the youth in our care and to our communities. They keep showing up day after day. Some days are good and it’s easy to see the impact they are having. Some days are more difficult, more crowded – and it’s hard to imagine that extra moment or extra effort makes a difference. But we know that it does, and we see the work that they’re doing. Whether that work helps someone grow next week, next year, or in ten years, they have planted a seed that really does matter in someone’s life. Thank you.

We are thrilled to recognize three exceptional OYA team members who have gone above and beyond this year.

OYA Ambassadors of Public Service

Raca Chavez, implementation specialist

After three years of service to OYA in various support roles, Raca stepped into an Implementation Specialist role, where she is an agency leader in change management and implementation.

Raca is a fierce advocate our youth, our staff, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Her gift comes in her ability to question process and practice, amplify marginalized voices and challenge the status quo, without putting others on the defensive.

While out in the field/facilities, you can find her engaging with youth and staff in a way that develops trust. She listens intently and brings back what she hears to identify ways to respond so that youth and staff feel heard.

Thank you, Raca.

Reneé Hernandez, Juvenile Parole and Probation Officer

Reneé supervises a bilingual, bicultural caseload in Marion and Polk counties. Her ability to connect with youth and families professionally and personally is phenomenal. During the pandemic, she has been able to use creative ways to maintain close connections while at the same time managing her responsibilities at home as a new mother. Her caseload is extremely demanding with numerous high-profile cases occurring simultaneously.

She truly wants the best for the youth and families she works with and is able to use her own history as an example of what is possible. (Learn more about Reneé in this article.) Reneé is an inspiring leader.

From a provider: “Renee has been wonderful to work with. She cares about her clients greatly and is really supportive of the program perspective. She has a quick turn-around in responding to emails and calls, advocates for her clients’ needs, and is not scared of having difficult conversations or confronting her clients about what is going on for them.”

Thank you, Reneé.

Michelle Johnson, Human Resources Administrator

Michelle embodies the Oregon state government values of integrity, accountability, excellence, and equity in her everyday work. As the Human Resources Administrator, Michelle has advanced DEI more than any other department in OYA. Michelle and her team have woven DEI into workplace practices, reshaped how we recruit new employees, hired and trained a new DEI recruiter, and created interview panelist training for bias — the first such training for OYA and second in the state!

Additionally, she has shown exceptional leadership in workforce direction and management during the COVID-19 pandemic. She oversaw many Letters of Agreement, interpreted changing state and federal directions to agencies, held hiring extravaganzas, and continued to move HR into a developmental, people-centered entity.

Michelle co-leads the HR­ and Facilities Services Partnership workgroup and was the first to identify and compile themes identified by her HR analysts that are impediments to culture change and modern workforce management. She continues to lead the high-level developmental partnership as part of the agency’s strategic plan.

Thank you, Michelle.

Congratulations to these three exceptional team members, and thanks again to all of the OYA team for their service to our youth, their families, and the state of Oregon.

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