Sacramento Poderosa 2022
“Together we can create better systems that honor human dignity and empower people with the skills and resources they need to succeed.” –Rachel Rios
Rachel Rios has more than 30 years of diverse experience as a change maker for youth and community issues. Ms.Rios presently serves as the Executive Director of La Familia Counseling Center, Inc., a well-established and highly regarded community based agency, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for at-risk youth and families of diverse backgrounds by offering multicultural counseling, support and outreach services, and programs to help families to overcome adversity, to become empowered, and to succeed in their lives. La Familia has served the Sacramento area since 1973 and has two locations. Ms. Rios began her leadership role at La Familia in 2012.
Prior to coming to La Familia Counseling Center, Ms. Rios oversaw the State of California Division of Juvenile Justice, (formally known as the California Youth Authority). She was appointed to that position in 2010 by Governor Brown, making her the second woman to ever lead the agency and the only Latina. She had a long and successful career in Juvenile Justice beginning as a Parole Agent in Los Angeles, then returning to Sacramento as she advanced to serve in various leadership positions. Some of Ms. Rios’ past delegations include being a Parole Supervisor for Stockton Parole and Sacramento Parole. Additionally, she was an Assistant Superintendent at the Northern Reception Center Clinic, and a Youth Authority Administrator over Intake/Court Services and Transportation. In 2008, Ms. Rios was appointed to Director of Juvenile Parole by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Ms. Rios is highly accomplished and in 1999, was selected as one of 20 Women in the US to participate in the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI). As part of the NHLI network, she worked collectively with other women to advance Latina leadership opportunities. Ms. Rios currently serves on various local commissions in Sacramento, including the Sacramento Commission on the status of Women and Girls and Sacramento’s Juvenile Justice Commission. In 2016, she was appointed by Governor Brown to Chair California’s State Advisory Committee for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
In her youth, Ms. Rios worked as a farmworker during the summers where she became interested in social justice issues. She participated in MAYA/MECHA groups and Barrio Arts classes in high school and was introduced to many of Sacramento’s leading Chicano Artists, whom she learned about community issues from. Ms. Rios credits the Sacramento Concilio for helping her enroll in college and providing the foundation for her commitment to help other youth. Early in her career, Ms. Rios worked for non-profit agencies such as Consejos, a substance abuse counseling agency and Diogenes, a shelter for runaway and abused youth. Ms. Rios states the experience she obtained working in the community was the basis for her ability to succeed in her Juvenile Justice career. Throughout her career she has always believed in mentoring others. For many years she has offered her mentorship to Puente students.
Ms. Rios is a graduate of Sacramento State University with a degree in Criminal Justice. She has also completed the Women in Public Policy Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, the Non Profit Leadership Program at Harvard Kennedy School for Executive Education, and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform Program at Georgetown University
In 2021 Ms. Rios was awarded the Exceptional Women of Color (EWOC) award by the Sacramento Cultural Hub. That same year, La Familia was awarded the Sacramento Chapter, American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) award for Community Service. Ms. Rios began her career working in non-profit agencies in the Sacramento area and considers it a great honor to have made the full circle to return to the non-profit arena and lead La Familia Counseling Center, Inc.