Community Spotlight: CET – Center for Employment Training #CET50


by Linda Castillo

This year marks the CET’s (Center for Employment Training) 50th Anniversary. The mission of CET, an economic and community development corporation, is to promote human development and education by providing people with marketable skills training and supportive services that contribute to self-sufficiency. Since opening its doors over 200,000 individuals  have been served, lifted from poverty and obtained living wage jobs.


The history of CET is deeply entwined in the city of San Jose’s roots. Founded during the 1960s, a time for activism and social justice, Father Anthony Soto and Russell Tershy established CET’s first job-training center to assist seasonal farm workers to seek permanent work and a better life. The first home of CET was Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, which is now known as McDonnell Hall. This National Historic Landmark was the home to the Community Service Organization (CSO), which spurred Cesar Chavez’ United Farmworkers Union (UFW) during the Chicano movement.

Center for Employment Training Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

The Golden Anniversary was an epic celebration including special performance by Los Lobos and in attendance icons of the Chicano Movement, Dolores Huerta and Luis Valdez.

At the event, CET also debuted the video below that truly captures its mission and spirit.

Microsoft Grantee | CET from FORWARD storystudio on Vimeo.

HermalindaPast and present members, leaders, administrators, instructors, counselors, mentors, employers and volunteers have carried on the vision and mission of CET’s founders for over half a century. And the heart of the organization is Hermelinda Sapien, CET’s current President and CEO. She is an original staff member and has dedicated her life tirelessly to the work of CET. “It has been a lifetime love story,” stated Hermelinda.

Hermelinda’s passion and commitment to the community is infectious. “When I first learned about CET, I fell in love with the organization and its mission. When I first met Hermelinda, that’s when I grew passionate about what CET has created and wanted to join the board. She is the most humble, generous, open, kind soul that really makes the foundation of CETs community so strong. From janitors to executives, she treats everyone like family. It is such an honor to be on the board of CET and have the opportunity to work with Hermelinda,” said CET board member Karina Deras.



CET is continuously making strides to improve its services. “Being in the heart of Silicon Valley, CET is looking to expand programs to offer more advance technology training,” stated Hermelinda. She noted ways that you can help advance CET’s mission by becoming a role model, tutoring for the immigration program to teach English, and making a donation.

For more information and to support CET’s work in the community, visit 

Linda Castillo is the Founder and Executive Editor of She writes on topics that empower and inspire Latinas including art, motherhood, green living, culture, travel, and issues transforming the Latino community. Linda has earned a B.S. in Business and a M.S. in Mass Communications from San Jose State University.