As for his team, Jeff says, “Fresno EOC has been a part of my extended family over the past 42 years, and I have been blessed to have a wonderful, supportive, and inspiring family.”
Brandy Tarquino is Jeff’s right-hand person. She started as a client of Fresno EOC 32 years ago in one of its job training programs and is now the Administrative and Operations Manager for the agency’s Training and Employment Division. She has worked alongside Jeff for decades and says she appreciates his thoughtful leadership. “Jeff believes in his employees and our clients. He will always go the extra mile for the people enrolled in our programs. And when it comes to his staff, he has always treated us like family. We spend more time here than we do with our actual family, and he’s always treated us as such. So, when he called another program manager and me into his office and told us he was retiring, I bawled. I couldn’t stop crying.”
Michelle Tutunjian, Chief Operating Officer at Fresno EOC, is Jeff’s supervisor. She says Jeff has been a strong leader, a caring advocate, and a good friend. “Jeff embodies the spirit of community action dedicating more than 40 years at Fresno EOC, cultivating self-sufficiency for youth and young adults by creating programs to support career development pathways. Jeff is a poverty fighter and a champion of the Training and Employment Division. He has always been a committed leader who has empowered this staff in times of uncertainty. In addition, he is a compassionate friend and a source of encouragement.”
Jeff has been instrumental in forging community partnerships with agencies, including the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board and the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), to create career opportunities for local residents. Sherry L. Neil, Chief Operating Officer of the EDC and Fresno EOC Commissioner, gives a little insight into his personality and winning ways, “You know, he’s the cool uncle at the barbecue. Everyone wants to flock to him because he’s always dropping those words of wisdom.”
Fresno EOC’s Chief Executive Officer, Emilia Reyes, says Jeff has left a lasting impact on the agency. “Jeff has spent decades dedicating his time and energy to work with staff and develop avenues for Fresno County residents to grow and learn valuable job skills necessary to change lives. We are grateful for his contributions and the foundation he has laid in our Training and Employment Division.”
Jeff says he is grateful for the opportunity, the memories, and the friendships. “When I started my career, the person who was instrumental in connecting me with Fresno EOC was Arthur Littlefield. This was back in the 70s. He was the Director of Employment and Training. And he’s the one that interviewed me and selected me for my initial position, Vocational Counselor Trainee. There was also Mr. Roger Palomino, former Executive Director of the agency. I had a very close relationship with Mr. Palomino over the years, and he was instrumental in my growth. He mentored me and provided me opportunities to grow in terms of a leadership role. Then, of course, there was Naomi Quiring-Mizumoto, former Chief Programs Officer. She was my supervisor and Naomi always made me feel like she had every confidence in my leadership and direction along with always supporting my efforts. More recently, Michelle Tutunjian has done the same through friendship, mentoring, and leadership opportunities. She challenged me to do new things that maybe I wasn’t comfortable with or maybe I hadn’t done before. So, she was very, very instrumental in my growth. And I’ve had a number of friendships throughout the agency. All of my friendships, I feel are important. There’s no one more important than another. I am constantly inspired by the collective individuals here at Fresno EOC who are committed and dedicated to improving the conditions of the community that we serve.”
Brandy says Jeff has left his Fresno EOC team in good shape. “I read a quote by author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek that fits perfectly. It says, ‘A leader’s job is not to do the work for others; it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.’ So, I firmly believe that’s what Jeff has been doing with his management team over the last few years. He’s been giving us tools and guidance to help us make thoughtful and informed decisions for our clients. We are grateful for that, and we wish him the very best.”
Jeff’s last day of work at Fresno EOC will be Friday, August 26, 2022.