Sam Suzuki Retires, Replaced by Lorenzo Hernandez as Manager
Pictured: Lorenzo Hernandez (left) and Sam Suzuki
Sam Suzuki Says Goodbye After 39 ½ Years at Lanterman
With Lanterman since June 1977, Sam Suzuki started his career as a service coordinator working with families in the Foothill communities. Lanterman was still part of Children's Hospital Los Angeles and had two satellite offices, one in Eagle Rock and one in Hollywood. He was one of just seven service coordinators covering the entire Foothill region, individual program planning had just started, and caseloads were small. Four years later, in 1981, he became a manager, a capacity he served in for 35 years.
Sam attended Loyola High School and decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Maryknoll Seminary where he was studying to become a priest. He obtained his master’s in social work at the University of Southern California in the 1970s and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 1981.
He championed inclusion of children with special needs, promoting social acceptance and working with school districts to address the fears and anxieties that came along with the growing push in the 1990s for inclusion of all children, including those with significant disabilities, in school and after school activities.
“I have equally enjoyed being a teacher and mentoring new service coordinators. I started the Center’s LA School Age unit in 1999 and have been its manager ever since. I have enjoyed the opportunities to pass on some of my experience and wisdom to others,” he adds.
And he wants everyone to know how touched he was by what he calls a masterpiece of a retirement party that was organized by his team. “Leaving Lanterman is bittersweet. I’m excited for what the future holds, yet sad for what I’m leaving behind. The team that I supervised was like family to me and I’m leaving a great part of my life behind by retiring,” he shares.
A resident of Montebello for nearly 40 years, Sam plans to spend more time helping at his parish church, Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Montebello. He and his wife, who also retired this year, plan to do some fall cleaning around their home they have lived in for 40 years, and he wants to replant his flower garden. He also plans to take up exercise classes at the local YMCA. Sam says, “I don’t have a major bucket list, my wife wants to travel a bit more and I enjoy sports, so I’ll be able to follow the LA Rams more closely.” And he’s looking forward to the joy of having grandkids, hopefully sooner rather than later.
From all of us at Lanterman Sam, fair winds and following seas.
Meet Lanterman’s New Manager for the Los Angeles School Age Unit
Lorenzo Hernandez started at Lanterman in July 2011 as a temporary service coordinator in the Los Angeles School Age unit, becoming a permanent employee in March 2012. Five years after coming on board, he became the Unit’s manager, replacing long-time manager Sam Suzuki upon his retirement.
Lorenzo has an undergraduate degree from California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Prior to coming to Lanterman he worked with school-age children and their families for about 10 years. His focus was on behavior modification, specifically ABA and parent training, as well as with parent support groups, and also in the area of mental health. He shares, “It was rewarding assisting a child via behavior modification to develop a better way to express themselves and use alternative forms of communications, instead of a tantrum to express their needs.”
In his new role as manager, he will be working towards developing greater collaborative efforts between the entire support system – the school district, parents, community agencies, service providers, and the students with developmental disabilities themselves. “Our goal by working collaboratively is to put the best supports possible in place to ensure the best outcomes for the child,” he explains.
Lorenzo graduated from CSUN with his masters’ in public administration in 2014. In his free time he enjoys photography, reading, and road and mountain bike events. And he is getting married this month.