Sherri Anderson, Safety Analyst

“People sometimes see me as an impediment to productivity,” Sherri Anderson says. Nevertheless, Sherri persists in training transportation professionals around San Francisco in essential safety measures. She has helped save lives and prevent injuries.

“Most people don’t want to have to bother with protocol like wearing personal protective equipment such as safety shoes and safety glasses,” Sherri says. “But it’s necessary. I’ve given out over 2,400 pairs of safety shoes in this month alone. You have to change their mindset before they want to take the time to be careful.”

Sherri has taken the lead on projects such as “fall prevention,” making sure that any time maintenance personnel is repairing a vehicle over four feet above the ground, they are properly harnessed and secured. She also makes sure trolleys, which operate on over 600 volts of electricity, are disconnected from all energy sources before making reparations.

The California Occupational Safety and Health Program sets high safety standards, and it’s up to Sherri to make sure that worksites citywide are implementing them. Sherri says “It’s most rewarding when someone thanks me for showing them how to do something the right way.”

Sherri is one of twelve Safety Analysts in the City of San Francisco. She has a passion for helping others.

Adam Gubser, Transit Planner

Adam Gubser helped turn what was once a desolate and empty area into an intimate setting for neighborhood residents to relax and connect. He worked with Hayes Valley residents and businesses in a collaborative effort on Linden Street to transform an overlooked urban space into a pedestrian-friendly “green” street.

Adam carried the project from the design to legislative stages, resulting in an innovative, raised pathway and green area, increased foot and bicycle traffic, and thriving businesses such as the Blue Bottle Coffee Company.

Adam is a Transit Planner with the SFMTA, managing projects that promote safe and pleasant streets. He serves as a community liaison, listening to San Francisco residents’ requests to beautify their neighborhoods, while making sure neighborhood streets maintain a balance between bike paths, vehicle passageways, and pedestrian walkways.

Other recent projects designed and implemented by Adam include the Upper Market Street Bike Lane Project and the recently completed Newcomb Model Block Project, which remodeled a dilapidated San Francisco street full of potholes and graffiti, into a green and inviting urban hub. He says, “I find the projects I work on to be incredibly rewarding. Not only are we able to improve safety and aesthetics, but we are also able to see true community building and quality of life improvements firsthand.”

Maverick Madison, Electronic Instrumentation Technician

“I don’t think any of us would like to imagine San Francisco where wastewater wasn’t clean and flowing,” Maverick Madison, Electronic Instrumentation Technician, says.

Maverick works in the Oceanside Treatment Plant, monitoring water levels, flow, and pressure. Public wastewater treatment plants keep our city clean. “If you live west of Twin Peaks, your wastewater will be streamed to the Oceanside plant where I work. From North Point and the Marina, it funnels into the Southeast plant. Technicians like me are constantly checking the water levels in tanks and pumps around the City to make sure nothing is awry, and then treating the water once it gets to us.”

Maverick says environmental consciousness at the plant has increased since he started at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Wastewater Enterprise 23 years ago. “We’re currently experimenting with biosolids — the byproduct of raw sewage — to see if it can be put back into the environment without polluting the air or water. The technicians here are also experimenting with renewable energy, breaking down harmful raw sludge into inert sludge, which can actually be used as a form of power.”

Maverick emphasizes the importance of this work. “We’re running out of certified landfills where we could dump dangerous byproducts so we need to find alternatives.”

Anthony Tave, Assistant Engineer

Anthony Tave works behind the scenes to report spending and resource allocation for the Regional Water System. He studied Civil Engineering at California State Polytechnic University Pomona, and uses his skills to increase reliability within the water system.

Anthony helps to schedule regular inspections and preventative maintenance within the Regional Water System Facilities. As the water is brought from Hetch Hetchy reservoir through transmission pipelines, treated, and then distributed to 43 wholesale customers, Anthony is creating hundreds of work orders to skilled trades to inspect and diagnose potential problems with equipment responsible for water conveyance and safe drinking, before they become large problems and often very expensive.

One of Anthony’s primary roles is to make sure that the San Francisco Water Supply and Treatment Division is working effectively, and utilizing the most up-to-date maintenance techniques. The research and data that Anthony generates and reviews is compiled into one of the San Francisco Water Supply and Treatment Division general reports. He works hard to make sure that every dollar that customers spend is used to enhance the system’s reliability and function. He reports the labor and materials spending to ensure they are being properly utilized and allocated to the different facilities throughout the water system.

Anthony has been commended by his supervisors for diligently working to implement the fixed asset accounting system that works as a mechanism for accurate accounting of maintenance performed.

Anthony says, “I like how this job provides me with insight of what needs to be done once the planning and construction phase of a project is over. It gives me a better understanding how to increase longevity and sustainability of San Francisco Water Supply and Treatment projects. San Francisco has always been a city of Invention and cutting-edge-technology. It’s where art and engineering meet, making it an ideal place to be an engineer.”

Taryn Mead, Criminalist II

Taryn Mead works in the Forensic Biology unit at the SF Police Department’s Crime Lab, performing biological screening and DNA testing on evidence for criminal cases. The majority of her casework consists of sexual assaults and homicides.

Taryn explains the process of detecting DNA on evidence items and comparing the results to reference samples: if there is an unknown DNA profile it is uploaded to a database that is able to compare the unknown DNA profile against DNA profiles from known offenders and other unsolved cases. She finds it equally rewarding to exonerate the innocent through DNA testing.

Taryn will never forget the homicide of Kathleen Horan, which she says was one of the most vicious homicide cases she has been assigned: it was the Halloween weekend of 2010, and a man dressed as a utility worker knocked on Horan’s door. Horan answered her door; the man entered her home and murdered her. With no leads on who might have committed this crime, Taryn was assigned the urgent DNA assignment on the crime scene evidence. As a Criminalist, she helped identify the suspect within a few days, and the murderer was apprehended and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges. Taryn was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for her work on this case by the San Francisco Police Department.

Taryn enjoys science and working as a Criminalist. “I love that every day and every case is different. It’s never a boring day. My coworkers and I help to make San Francisco neighborhoods safer for everyone who lives, works or visits here.”

Taryn has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with a Biochemistry emphasis from the University of San Francisco and lives in San Francisco. She is participating in San Francisco’s 7th Annual Walk Against Rape to raise money for the San Francisco Rape Crisis Center.

Isabel Olivares, Housing Inspector

As a Housing Inspector, Isabel Olivares provides vital services to the property owners and tenants of San Francisco. She identifies health and safety issues impacting existing and aging homes. She investigates and resolves complaints from residents and makes sure that necessary repairs are made in apartment units, houses and residential hotels in order to preserve the integrity of the San Francisco neighborhoods. She routinely inspects apartment buildings and hotels that have three or more units to see if they have necessary smoke detectors, emergency exits, heat and other requisite components to make a residence safe and comfortable.

Isabel says that she enjoys her job, as it gives her the opportunity to improve the living conditions of San Francisco residents. “If landlords don’t maintain their properties, they end up spending more money in repairs. As a result of these inspections and follow up, you could see the improvements in the quality of life and habitability.” Isabel also has the opportunity to use her Spanish at her job. “I answer most of the phone calls that come in from Spanish speakers,” Isabel says. “We also have Cantonese and Mandarin speakers in the office in order to serve the needs of San Francisco residents.”

Isabel Olivares has worked for the City and County of San Francisco for the past 23 years: 11 years as a Housing Inspector, 10 years as a Health Inspector and 2 years as a Disease Control Investigator. She lives in John Avalos’ district and recently visited her district supervisor as a part of the Unsung Heroes campaign’s public outreach effort. She brought her teenage daughter with her, who sings Latin Jazz at venues and festivals throughout the City, and is currently a senior in high school.

Mei Ling Hui, Urban Forest and Urban Agriculture Coordinator

Some of Mei Ling Hui’s earliest memories are of the natural world. All of her childhood vacations were family camping trips, surrounded by trees and lakes, and every summer she tried to grow carrots in the heavy clay soil behind the garage. She carried her interest in the environment from childhood into her college studies, obtaining a degree in Culture, Ecology, and Sustainable Communities, with an emphasis in Ecological Agriculture. After graduating, she worked for Friends of the Urban Forest as Planting Manager, before coming to work for the City in the Department of the Environment (SF Environment) as the Urban Forest and Urban Agriculture Coordinator.

One of Mei Ling’s favorite projects at the SF Environment is the annual “Dreaming of a Green Christmas” program, where city residents celebrate the holidays with a tree that will later be planted as a street tree. She’s also enjoyed using her training in Ecological Agriculture to develop SF Environment’s Urban Agriculture program over the past few years.

“I, and all my colleagues, truly see ourselves and public servants. Through our work, we get to help make San Francisco a better place to live. I’m able to give back and benefit the City as much as living here has benefitted me, and I’m grateful that I’ve had opportunities to be able to do that.”

Marilyn Thompson, Senior Architect

Have you noticed the newly renovated public libraries and hospitals around the City of San Francisco? Marilyn Thompson is one of the hard-working architects at the Department of Public Works responsible for these designs. She has been with the City for the past 21 years, working hard to improve public spaces for San Franciscans.

After studying architecture at Virginia Tech, Marilyn began her career in the private sector. She made the switch to Public Works in order to have a more direct impact on the everyday life of San Franciscans.

From the year 2000 until the middle of 2008, Marilyn was the Manager of the Branch Library Improvement Bond Program. She helped direct $195 million to renovate 16 branch libraries, build 8 new branch libraries and provide a new centralized Support Service Facility for the library system.

Marilyn attended many of the openings of San Francisco libraries, and remembers ones like the Richmond library opening with fondness. “They shut down the entire block, and turned it into a big block party,” she remembers. “Libraries bring the entire neighborhood together. Everyone loves their branch library. The kids go there after school; adults go there to read their newspaper. They’re very vibrant places and I’m happy to have a part in making the physical spaces more beautiful.”

Other projects that Marilyn has helped with include the Laguna Honda Hospital Replacement Program. She helped procure funding for the nursing facility replacement scheduled for completion in 2013, developing the initial bond proposal and managing the project through environmental review and planning phase. She is also active on the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond Program for the City, renovating and upgrading Fire Stations.

Marilyn is presently in charge of various construction projects at San Francisco General Hospital. They are putting in extra X-ray machines at the facility, and building a learning center where doctors and nurses can be trained on new procedures. They are also renovating rest rooms and entryways throughout the campus for improved accessibility. Marilyn says that she is proud to have a positive impact on so many public facilities that San Franciscans depend on for their livelihood and wellbeing.

Gina M. di Grazia, Occupational Therapist

Gina di Grazia’s serves as an Occupational Therapist, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, as well as Certified Low Vision Therapist at Laguna Honda and San Francisco General Hospital. She helps low vision and blind patients maximize their independent function, and help prepare for discharge from the hospital. She was inspired to get into the field after a friend acquired diabetes and started losing her vision while in her twenties. Gina wanted to find a way to help her friend and others in similar situations, her enjoy life despite their visual impairment.

Within the hospital, Gina helps patients take advantage of high-tech equipment recently acquired during the renovation of Laguna Honda Hospital. She says, “Some patients who haven’t read the newspaper for years because of their limited vision, can now read again with the help of the services offered at the Vision Rehabilitation Services Program (VRSP). I have one patient who is 102 years old who can now enjoy the simple pleasure of reading a newspaper.” Gina wants to encourage other San Franciscans to take advantage of the services that her department offers. “There’s a big difference between wearing glasses and being diagnosed as clinically blind. People who fall in between these categories often don’t know who to turn to. That’s what me and my department are here for.”

Gina has been an Occupational Therapist at Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for 18 years. In 2005, she completed a Masters Degree and national certification as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and in 2009 she became nationally certified as a Certified Low Vision Therapist (CLVT).

Gina says that she enjoys working with inpatient and outpatient clients regarding changes in their vision that can’t otherwise be corrected with glasses or contacts. She helps the client learn about changes in their vision, the optical and non-optical devices that are available for them, community resources, and also provides family/caregiver education. In addition, since 2008, Gina has had the honor of assisting fellow rehabilitation staff at SF General evaluate and treat clients with low vision or blindness.

Kristen Belcastro, Physical Therapist

Kristen Belcastro is a Physical Therapist for patients receiving acute care at San Francisco General Hospital.

Working in a trauma hospital, many of her patients have sustained injuries from gun shot wounds, car accidents, pedestrian/auto accidents, and suicide attempts. Many of the patients that Kristen and other Physical Therapists at SF General serve are marginally housed or homeless.

“We help people get back on their feet again and win the psychological battles that they’re up against as they’re healing,” Kristen says. “I often talk to my patients five times a week, at about 40 minutes a session. By the end of our time together, I feel that we’ve formed a friendship. It’s also incredibly rewarding when as a result of my work with my patients, I’m able to catch something about their condition that isn’t in their chart. I can then recommend to their doctor that my clients receive follow up and additional tests to get them the services that they need to recover.”

When asked about a specific incident, Kristen remembers, “One patient I worked with was complaining about a headache. The doctors originally thought the pain was caused by a head trauma, but after I spoke extensively with the patient and conferred with the doctors, they were able to determine that the patient had a cerebrospinal fluid leak. I felt happy that after my recommendation, my patient got the treatment that she needed.”

Kristen says that she loves her job. “SF General is a teaching hospital. People are constantly learning. There’s great communication between residents, interns, and all health care professionals. It’s definitely a team, a family, working together to make sure that patients get the best care possible. We don’t have all the money in the world, so we brainstorm how to give patients the best possible care with limited resources.”

Kristen lives in Nob Hill, San Francisco and helps out at the Healthy Dancers’ Clinic at the ODC Dance Studio in the Mission. She is also the secretary for the Golden Gate District’s California Physical Therapy Association.