New interim director Lucy Alvarez leads Gavilan’s Human Resources departmentby Jan Janes on Sep 3, 2020
With nearly ten years’ experience in Gavilan College’s Human Resources (HR) department, Lucy Alvarez was tapped to fill the leadership role when the former head moved to another college.
As new Interim Director of Human Resources,
Alvarez brings a perspective of service to others.
“When I moved to Gilroy, I came to Gavilan as a student,” said Alvarez. “The support network and teachers here were so much better than my past community college experience.” Early on, she decided she wanted to be part of the Gavilan experience.
Even earlier, she got her start in HR while in high school.
“In the electronics field, they would allow us placement in a field of our interest,” she said. “I was placed with a web hosting company as an HR assistant. After the summer, they offered me a regular position in HR, which got me passionate about it.”
After a four-year stint in technology, she ventured into social services, with her heart set on being a social worker. She worked as a community organizer, with an immigrants’ rights program, with at risk youth and people with disabilities.
“I made my way back into HR when I realized I might not have the emotional strength,” said Alvarez. “It was wonderful work, but I would be crying with my clients. I realized I needed emotional separation because the clients needed me to hear what they were going through.”
Alvarez describes HR at Gavilan as the confidential hub of the college, the place of safety employees can go to.
“I may not work in the capacity I had my heart set on,” she said, “But it prepared me for the role I have now.”
Alvarez returned from maternity leave, early, to fill the vacant position in May. Her predecessor had let her know he was going to be leaving and that he recommended that she step into the leadership position.
In HR she oversees hiring, recruitment, benefits, leaves of absence, workers’ compensation, database management, information systems that tie into Banner, labor relations, mentoring and supporting management.
“I hear from applicants, over and over, how friendly it is here,” said Alvarez. “There is a feeling about Gavilan I haven’t felt anywhere else, inviting and welcoming.”
In her new role, she is reviewing policies, procedures and hiring practices.
“We want to make a strong and deliberate focus on diversity,” she said, “Eliminate racism and institutional barriers, and barriers applicants might feel prevent us from being truly inclusive.”
“Research correlates diversity in hiring with student success," said Alvarez. “And that’s our driving force.”
Alvarez wants to focus on shifting more paper processes to electronic, making forms fillable. She is revamping the Human Resources website, adding more information for employees and applicants.
“We have an amazing team,” she said. “Everyone is a team player dedicated to the work we do, serving our employees and our students.”
Her return to campus coincided with the administration’s decision to conclude the spring semester online, and to offer online instruction for the summer and fall.
“This is an incredibly difficult situation everyone is going through,” she said. “I have gotten so much motivation from seeing the resilience of others.”
She observed that, in retrospect, everyone viewed working from home as ideal. “It’s actually quite difficult,” said Alvarez. “We don’t have the same level of communication and community.” For people feeling isolated, alone and disconnected, she noted that HR is available to talk about problems and link people to available resources and counseling.
“We are here to support Gavilan employees,” she said. Email Lucy Alvarez or call (408) 846-4964.