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Volunteer Spotlight


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 Sarah Ahmad


 Human Resources Generalist

 Cares Community Health


 Member Since 2015




Tell us about your organization and your role


I have worked in HR, and at One Community Health, for more than 3 years and have had the opportunity to work alongside a talented team of dedicated HR Professionals. 


How long have you worked in HR? Discuss some of the highlights and challenges you’ve experienced.


I have experienced many challenges and highlights. The biggest challenge I have faced is the negative misconception many employees have had about HR. It has been a personal goal of mine to break down barriers that prevent employees from utilizing HR as a resource and for employees to understand they are the organizations’ internal customers.  Some highlights of working in HR is when I have been a part of aligning a right candidate for a role, or helping an employee realize both their strengths and full potential.


You have volunteered with SAHRA. What did you get out of the experience? 


My experience has taught me that as an HR Professional, I can provide support to employees, while also remaining aligned with organizational objectives and the two are not mutually exclusive. I have been fortunate to have gained some experience in a variety of HR Generalist functions, some of which are Employee Engagement and Retention, Employee Relations, Training and Development, Payroll, Benefits Administration, HRIS Systems, and Recruiting.


Why should others volunteer their time to assist with SAHRA programs?


Being a member of SAHRA has helped me in countless ways. I joined SAHRA 3 years ago and attended their New Member Orientation Meeting. It was my first time meeting other HR professionals who work in other industries and learn more about implementing best practices. I had the opportunity to network at various mixers, attend the annual conferences, and participate in the Mentorship Program. Through the Mentorship Program, I have connected with highly skilled, knowledgeable and supportive HR Professionals – all of whom I have learned so much from! I am so appreciative of all the SAHRA Volunteers and Mentors who have offered their time and resources to help myself and others.


For those of you who would like to grow personally and professionally in HR, I encourage you to be more active as a SAHRA member and use the resources that are available to you and for you.


Megan Cadd


Human Resources Analyst

College of Continuing Education


Member since 2014




Tell us about your organization and your role.


I work for the College of Continuing Education at Sacramento State. The College of Continuing Education is the only self-support college at Sacramento State and we operate much like a mini university, under the larger university of Sac State. Our College focuses on professional and continuing education for non-traditional students. My role for the College is Human Resources Analyst. This is similar to a generalist; however, my areas of focus are recruitment and enhancing the employee onboarding experience, organizational development, training and development and HR systems & planning. I also dabble in employee-labor relations, workers’ compensation, and risk management, since I am often fielding a number of questions on this topic and many of our HR processes must take into account this information.


How long have you worked in HR? Discuss some of the highlights and challenges you’ve experienced.


I have worked in HR since 2013


Highlights Working for Sac State has been a great experience. I have been so grateful to be in a learning environment that allows me opportunities to develop myself professionally and personally. I am lucky to be surrounded by such great colleagues and leadership that have allowed me to enhance my knowledge and skills in the field of Human Resources.

Challenges Speaking from the perspective of an early career professional I think walking that fine line of showing people that you know what you are doing but then also being humble enough to say, actually, I need to go ask someone or I am still learning about x, y, z, can be challenging at times.   


You are volunteering with SAHRA’s mentor program. What do you hope to gain from volunteering? 


I hope to develop more professional relationships with those that have been in the field a long time and those that are just starting out. I think building relationships is one of the ingredients to a successful career.  I can learn something from everyone and bring back new ideas to enhance my workplace.


Why should others volunteer their time to assist with SAHRA programs?


It is a great way to give back to give back to a supportive organization and an excellent way to meet other HR professionals. It gives you an opportunity to apply your skills or other areas of interest in a way you may not get to in your current job.


What’s one thing your colleagues don’t know about you?


I like a lot of different genres of music and I am really good at guessing titles of songs and/or the artist and I like to eat cheese!



Erin Dowdy


Human Resources Analyst

UC Davis Health


Member since 2015



Tell us about your organization and your role.

Currently I am the HR Analyst for the Department of Radiology at UC Davis Health. I oversee the HR function for about 300 Radiology employees.

How long have you worked in HR? Discuss some of the highlights and challenges you’ve experienced.

I have worked in HR for over 6 years. The rewarding part of my job is when I am able to support both employees and managers with professional and business growth. I have learned many lessons throughout the years of what to say or not to say, what to do or not to do when providing guidance to staff and managers. There are always challenges along the way but it's rewarding when you can overcome those challenges.

You have volunteered for SAHRA by facilitating study groups. How has this experience been beneficial for you?

Volunteering to facilitate the study groups has helped me to learn more about the field of HR to share with the group. It has helped me grow the network of HR professionals I can reach out to with questions. I enjoy getting to support the groups throughout the process the same way my facilitators did when I studied for the PHR.

Why should others volunteer their time to assist with SAHRA programs?

As someone who has gone through the SAHRA study group, I know how beneficial it can be to have dedicated volunteers. Many of the programs offered would not be able to continue without the support of volunteers.

What’s one thing your colleagues don’t know about you?'s hard to choose but I would have to say I love to spend time outdoors on my family's horse ranch or training my German Wire-Haired Pointer puppy.



Eren Ortiz


Director of Human Resources 
Crossroads Diversified Services


Member since 2008




How has involvement with SAHRA helped your professional growth? 


Since I became involved with SAHRA I feel catapulted into a powerful network of knowledgeable HR professionals. Having access to such a network instantly makes me a more valuable HR professional for my organization.  Even as an individual, being a member of SAHRA gives me a competitive edge.  I recommend HR professionals make the smart move of joining SAHRA.


You volunteered to facilitate SAHRA’s first SHRM certification study group. What did this teach you about the certification and how does it differ from other certifications? 


I volunteered to facilitate SAHRA’s first SHRM certification study group because I believe that growing our profession’s value is critical to reinforcing HR’s significance. I had facilitated HRCI’s study group twice before and was excited to facilitate SHRM’s certification study group to get and give exposure to a different perspective;  I believe that applicability of HR knowledge is just as important as knowing the information.


Tell us about your role within your organization. What do you enjoy about it? 


As the Director of Human Resources for Crossroads Diversified Services, I am depended on being knowledgeable on employment, staying abreast of the latest trends in recruitment, benefits, retention tactics, and overall HR strategic plans. I work as part of the Executive Team and am respected as a valuable member of the team. I enjoy bearing the responsibility of ensuring the organization is in compliance and working closely with our management in recommending best practices.


What’s one thing your colleagues may not know about you? 


Those who know me are aware that I like to incorporate a good sense of humor and learning. I take any available opportunity to learn something to add to my arsenal of knowledge… and share it!





Helen Patton


Business Partner, SMUD 


SAHRA Member Since 2013





You have facilitated the Strength Finders activity with many people, including HR professionals. What common strengths do they share and how does this help them excel in their field? 


There are definitely strength themes depending upon the group.  For example: Relator seems to be a common strength for those in HR – which of course is very helpful in their role.  For those in sales or relationship based roles WOO (winning others over) is a common strength.  For engineers (which I have worked with for most of my career) analytical is a common strength.


How has volunteering for SAHRA helped you with your own professional development?


Volunteering for SAHRA has helped me tremendously in my own professional development.  Every Mentee (I've had 6 so far) that I have had the privilege of being a Mentor for has taught me a tremendous amount.  Every Mentee has given me the opportunity to learn about a new company/industry in the Sacramento area and learn new ways to do HR.   I've learned different ways of handling difficult conversations, the variety of benefits that companies offer - all kinds of interesting things!  Not to mention all the interesting Mentee's I've had.  One of my strengths is individualism which means I am fascinated by each individual and learning about each of my mentees has been the greatest gift for me.



Tell us about your role at SMUD. What does a typical day look like?


I am a Business Partner for the Grid Strategy & Operations area of SMUD.  I work closely with the Chief Grid Strategy and Operations Officer and his team of directors.  I work as a change manager on projects that require major shifts in our culture or behavior changes.  I work with teams on engagement, conflict resolution and team building.  I work with leaders on leadership development and team development.  We have a strategic workforce plan that requires taking leaders through a process of identifying key drivers of change, analyzing attrition and retirement data and I translate all that into staffing plans, succession planning and knowledge capture.  That is just the tip of the iceberg of my job.  I also am involved with any organization restructuring and design and creating alignment on major initiatives.  I truly enjoy what I do because I use all my strengths every day.  A typical day - every day is so different, I can't describe a typical day.



What is one thing your colleagues may not know about you? 


I originally majored in Nursing and I was about 24 months from graduating and I had an awful experience working in a hospital as a Nursing student and I quit Nursing school.  My parents were devastated.  Looking back it was the best thing for me.  I thought Nursing was going to be about caring and comforting patients and I was so disappointed that it was purely clinical and based on profits (how many IV's you get done).  I am so glad I quit.  My dad then steered me in the direction of human resources and I went on to get my masters degree (MPA) in Human Resources.  I've been in the field of HR for 25 years and I've enjoyed every year.




Allison Davis
Executive Recruiter 

Nelson Staffing

New SAHRA Member





What is your role and how long have you been in the HR industry? 


I am currently an executive recruiter at Nelson Staffing. I focus on direct hire placements for marketing, sales, HR, and customer service-related positions. I have been in recruiting for close to three years and I am passionate about bringing people together and being a helpful resource for both candidates and clients.


You recently began volunteering for SAHRA on the membership committee. What do you hope to get out of volunteering and why should others volunteer? 


I hope to be able to meet new people as well as help others get connected to the Sacramento job market. I believe volunteering is a great way for me to give back to my community and develop a significant number of meaningful relationships and others should volunteer for the same reason!


Have you had any mentors in the HR industry? What is one piece of good advice they have imparted on you?


I have had wonderful mentors throughout my time at Nelson who have offered a variety of advice. Two things that stick out to me are, “If you don’t take charge and plan your day, your day will plan you,” and, “Be present in every conversation.” Good planning and strong communication are both crucial in being successful day to day in this industry. 


Where do you hope to be in five years, professionally speaking? 


In five years, I hope to advance and continue my tenure with Nelson while building my executive recruiting business. I take pride in my quality-driven process and long-term relationships that continue to build over time.


What is one thing your colleagues don’t know about you? 


My colleagues don’t know that I love documentaries and reality TV! I find it fascinating to learn about other perspectives and lifestyles. Maybe my interest in different types of people has something to do with why I enjoy recruiting!



Ruth Jensen

Human Resources Manager

Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency
SAHRA Past President




You have served on the SAHRA board for years. What has been one highlight of your time volunteering?  


 The connections I have made with so many wonderful HR professionals.


How long have you been working in HR and how has the industry changed over the years?


I have been in HR for about 16 years. I see the biggest change as a transition from HR viewed as a transaction department, i.e. pushing papers, to now more a valued business partner that can help move the organization forward.


What advice would you give to someone just starting out their career in HR? 


Be willing to take an entry level role, by learning the HR functions at a junior level it will provide a solid foundation on which to grow.


How has your involvement with SAHRA affected your career?


SAHRA truly has been life changing, it has pushed me out of my comfort zone. As an introvert, my roles on the board have provided opportunities to lead teams, speak in public and navigate change management.


What is one thing most of your colleagues don’t know about you?


I am naturally an introvert who struggles at making small talk at mixers or social gatherings.  


What challenges do you believe will face the HR industry in the future?


In the near future I see challenges in hiring with a tight labor market and in the next 5-10 years in my organization a loss of institutional knowledge as we have a large number of employees retiring.


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