Staff

OCEA’s professional staff emphasizes team work, cooperation, heart and determination to fight for working people.

Leadership

Jennifer Beuthin

General Manager

Jennifer Beuthin is the General Manager for the Orange County Employees Association and works directly with the union’s 19-member board of directors to carry out the union’s vision and policies. Jennifer leads County negotiations and overseas staff for OCEA, Velece and the OCEA Health & Welfare Trust. She also serves on the Executive Board for the California Labor Federation, representing 2.1 million workers and serves on the Board of Concordia University's Center for Public Policy. A former investigative journalist, Jennifer writes a bi-weekly column that appears in the Orange County Register. She leads OCEA’s Leadership Team.

Charles "CB" Barfield

Assistant General Manager

CB began his career at OCEA in 2011 and he oversees OCEA's operations and directs the labor relations staff. He assists members regarding OCEA programs, and he represents members in grievances and disciplinary appeals. He provides advice and guidance regarding labor relations matters, and he participates in bargaining. He loves the outdoors, particularly when he has a golf club in his hands. CB has been in the labor relations field since graduating from college in 1985 where his primary area of study was labor relations/collective bargaining. He is also a member of OCEA's Leadership Team.

Don Drozd

General Counsel

Don has been with OCEA since 1995. As General Counsel, he provides professional guidance to the OCEA Board of Directors, General Manager and staff. He also oversees all OCEA litigation and arbitration, acts as liaison and counsel to the trustees of the OCEA Health & Welfare Trust, and is a member of the OCEA Leadership Team.

Tim Steed

Organizing Director

Tim oversees strategic organizing campaigns that focus on developing leaders from among OCEA’s ranks, increasing the strength and solidarity among OCEA members, and adding new members to the OCEA family. Tim joined OCEA in 2007 after working as a staff member in a number of political campaigns and working on several union organizing drives throughout California. He is a member of OCEA’s Leadership Team.

Melissa Brignola

Controller

Melissa manages the union’s budget and ensures effective internal controls are implemented over OCEA’s accounting and financial procedures. She also manages the Velece Insurance Corporation, a full-service insurance agency that is a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of OCEA. Melissa also oversees the finances of OCEA’s Health and Welfare Trust. She is a member of OCEA’s Leadership Team. Melissa enjoys traveling, hiking (especially with her two dogs), discovering new shows to binge-watch on Netflix, and cheering on her favorite hometown teams – the San Francisco 49ers and San Jose Sharks.

Cathy Yatch

Administrative Manager

Cathy ensures all aspects of OCEA’s building and property are in order, and makes sure the union runs smoothly each day. She oversees OCEA Special Events and Discounts programs and the administrative support team. She is also a member of OCEA's Leadership Team. Cathy also produces two of OCEA’s biggest annual events: The Health Fair and the Veterans + Labor: Partners in Service celebration on Veterans Day. Cathy loves the ocean and enjoys being on a boat on the water.

Staff

Saliem Aregaye

Labor Relations Representative

Saliem began her career at OCEA in 2017 and comes to us with organizing and representation experience working for SEIU members in the fields of education and healthcare. She assists members regarding OCEA programs, represents them in grievances and disciplinary appeals and negotiates contracts. Saliem also provides advice and guidance regarding labor relations matters with a focus on her assigned agencies. And she is a resource for workplace leaders providing education, worksite support and organizing guidance to OCEA members. Saliem earned her BA from CSU Long Beach. She enjoys spending time with her family, music, and traveling.

Jennifer Betancourt

Accountant

Jennifer “B” keeps OCEA’s balance sheets and financial reporting accurate. She provides expertise in preparing monthly financial reports, maintains OCEA’s general ledger and prepares bank deposits. Jennifer recently completed her accounting degree at UCLA. It is important for Jennifer to give back to others and she is very active in the community through her church. She moved to California from Puerto Rico in 2008 and speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

Gaston "Gus" Castellanos

Communications

Gaston “Gus” Castellanos ensures OCEA is communicating effectively and efficiently with members, the media and the community. Gus also manages OCEA’s social media program and is responsible for implementing strategic communications programs. Gus previously worked for the U.S. Congress, where he served as an Orange County representative as a District Director. He loves photography and likes nothing more than shooting a workplace action or protest.

Mitchell Enright

Director of Information Technology

Mitch directs OCEA Information Technology operations providing the organization with critical data services. He also is the principal technology advisor to the organization and implements database security policies and procedures. Mitch also provides technology services to OCEA’s Health & Welfare Trust. In his free time, Mitch enjoys hiking, trail running and photography.

Belle Franco

Office Specialist

Belle brings her administrative skills to a variety of organizational support functions at OCEA including data entry, file documentation and integrity, and making sure OCEA’s archive is up to date. She assists members at the OCEA reception desk, and works throughout all OCEA departments to keep the organization running smoothly. Belle is very active with the kids in her church’s youth ministry and loves to prepare healthy lifestyle recipes.

Bo Gutierrez

Labor Relations Representative

Bo began his career at OCEA in 2008 after working as a Sheriff’s Special Officer in Orange County. He assists members regarding OCEA programs, represents them in grievances and disciplinary appeals and negotiates contracts. Bo provides advice and guidance regarding labor relations matters with a focus on his assigned agencies. And he is a resource for member leaders, providing education, worksite support and organizing guidance to OCEA members. Bo loves horses, always wears cowboy boots and doesn’t eat meat.

Sunny Hermosillo

Administrative Assistant

Sunny began her career with OCEA in 2000 assigned to Anaheim Municipal Employees Association. She transferred to OCEA headquarters in 2007. Sunny answers phones, distributes mail and faxes, mails out welcome letters to new members, and creates, maintains, and closes files for labor relations staff. She is a multi-skilled multi-tasker and it’s a good thing because she is the kind of parent/volunteer school principals dream about.

Jerry Martel

Office Specialist

Jerry helps configure meeting space and equipment for a demanding schedule of union, political and community events. He is also an OCEA ambassador as one of the two grill men on the union’s famous hot dog wagon. Jerry assists his coworkers at OCEA’s front desk and provides other administrative and maintenance support. He is finishing his studies in Business Management at Cal State Dominquez Hills.

Tracie Mills

Member Benefits Representative

Tracie is part of the OCEA Benefits Team. With almost three decades of experience at OCEA, she assists members with their benefits as they walk through the door as new hires all the way through to retirement. Tracie can assist any member through the details of the dental, vision, disability and life insurance benefit plans and do it with a smile. She is a life-long cinema fan with a head full of movie trivia.

Joanna Nachurski

Program Coordinator

Joanna manages OCEA’s Special Events programs including “Member Only” seminars and events aimed at improving the personal and professional lives of OCEA members. She coordinates monthly meetings for the OCEA Board of Directors and Stewards to name just two. Joanna also runs the discount tickets program, making theme parks and other attractions affordable for members. She is relentless in identifying discount deals that save OCEA members money. Joanna also coordinates OCEA’s annual Health Fair, the Veterans Day celebration and the Holistic Lifestyle Mini Fair.

Aaron Peardon

Senior Labor Relations Representative

Aaron began his career at OCEA in 2005 after working as an Orange County Superior Court Processing Specialist. He assists members regarding OCEA programs, represents them in grievances and disciplinary appeals and negotiates contracts. Aaron also provides advice and guidance regarding labor relations matters with a focus on his assigned agencies. Aaron studied history in college with a BA from Pepperdine and a MA from UNLV. He is a resource for member leaders, providing education, worksite support and organizing guidance to OCEA members. He is a die-hard sports fan and especially loves the Green Bay Packers, as well as any Little League team where his two sons are on the roster.

Veronica Rodarte

Labor Relations Specialist

Veronica began her career at OCEA in 2017 after working for the City of Placentia’s Community Services Dept. She assists members regarding OCEA programs and represents them in grievances and disciplinary appeals. Veronica also provides advice and guidance regarding labor relations matters with a focus on her assigned agencies. She is a resource for member leaders, providing education, worksite support and organizing guidance to OCEA members. Veronica received her BA in Political Science from UCSD and has a Master in Public Administration from CSULB. She enjoys volunteering in her community, traveling, trying new cuisines, and watching the Anaheim Angels play.

Carlos Rosales

Administrative Assistant

Carlos configures meeting space and equipment for a demanding schedule of meetings and community activities. He is also an OCEA ambassador as chief grill man on OCEA’s famous hot dog wagon. Carlos assists with Discount Program ticket sales and provides other administrative support. He loves the Raiders.

Kevin Rush

Communications Production Manager

Kevin began his career at OCEA in 2008 bringing expertise in graphics design, visual communication, and website development to his job. He produces an array of literature, including OCEA Employee magazine, brochures, flyers and mail flair. Kevin also shoots photos and manages large scale communications productions. And he can generally fix anything that’s broken.

Heather Sutherland

Assistant to the General Manager

Heather provides technical and specialized executive-level support and oversight on various projects for the General Manager, Leadership Team and the Board of Directors. She has 30-years of administrative experience in the legal, higher education and labor relations fields. Heather also works with the employee relations representatives to maintain file accuracy and integrity. She and her daughter Chelsea regularly volunteer throughout the community for a variety of causes.

Amy Trinh

Member Benefits Representative

Amy assists members in matters relating to OCEA-administered benefits, including Health and Welfare benefits and supplemental benefits. She also assists others who are entitled to OCEA-administered benefits. Amy has a keen interest in interior design and loves to attend the opening of new home developments with her husband.

Denise Velasco

Senior Labor Relations Representative

Denise began her career at OCEA in 2013 and comes to us with organizing and representation experience working for Justice for Janitors and SEIU Local 721. She assists members regarding OCEA programs, represents them in grievances and disciplinary appeals and negotiates contracts. Denise also provides advice and guidance regarding labor relations matters with a focus on her assigned agencies. And she is a resource for member leaders, providing education, worksite support and organizing guidance to OCEA members. Denise earned her BA from UC Berkley and an MA in Public Administration from Harvard. She enjoys multi-cultural music and art and is busy raising her two children.

Bridgette Washington

Senior Labor Relations Representative

Bridgette began her career at OCEA in 2016 coming to us from the Teamsters where she represented public employees in San Bernardino County, Cities and Special Districts. Having worked in Human Resources in both public and private sector for over twelve (12) years along with over ten (10) years in Labor, she prides herself on her understanding both sides of the table. She obtained her degree in Legal Studies and Human Relations. Bridgette assists members regarding OCEA programs, represents them in grievances and disciplinary appeals and negotiate contracts. She also provides advice and guidance regarding labor relations matters with a focus on her assigned agencies. And she is a resource for member leaders, providing education, worksite support and organizing guidance to OCEA members. Bridgette enjoys camping, spending time with family and friends, and performing spoken word at local venues.

Barbara Wilcox

Member Benefits Representative

Barbara assists members in matters relating to OCEA-administered benefits, including Health and Welfare benefits and supplemental benefits. She also assists others who are entitled to OCEA-administered benefits. Barbara is one of OCEA’s longest serving workers having dedicated her career to the working families of OCEA. She enjoys spending time with her family and watching her granddaughter play soccer.

Kate Wolf

Labor Relations Specialist

Kate began her career at OCEA in 2016 after serving as a Congressional campaign Field Director. She also has private sector experience which includes preparing bid proposals for a major civil engineering firm. Kate assists members regarding OCEA programs and represents them in grievances and disciplinary appeals. She also provides advice and guidance regarding labor relations matters with a focus on her assigned agencies. Kate has a BA in Cultural/Political Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz. She’s an almond croissant connoisseur and an all-around foodie.

Advisor

Nick Berardino

Senior Advisor

Nick is OCEA’s former General Manager and brings more than four decades of experience in labor relations to his current role of Senior Advisor. Nick provides consultation to OCEA in areas such as political action, strategic planning and worker representation. He is a proud Marine Corp veteran and helped found the Heroes Hall Veterans Museum through his role as an OC Fair Board member. He was also voted OC Weekly’s 2011 Best Voice for the Little Guy.

Velece Insurance

Doug Dittrich

Velece Insurance Agent

Doug is a licensed Insurance Agent for Velece Insurance Corporation, serving OCEA members, county and court employees, and the general public. Velece insurance provides for all home, auto, and commercial insurance needs.

Sonja Lindquist

Velece Insurance Agent

Sonja is a licensed Insurance Agent for Velece Insurance Corporation, serving OCEA members, county and court employees, and the general public. Velece insurance provides for all home, auto, and commercial insurance needs.