After completing her undergraduate instruction, Belén interned with the Office of Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez. She helped constituents navigate federal matters including Social Security cases, Immigration and Veteran Affairs.
Armed with her academic and professional skills, and her renewed desire to serve her local community, Belén joined the South Gate District Office of Assembly Member Marco A. Firebaugh staff. In this capacity, Belén worked closely with local community groups and schools that focused on higher education, civic engagement, and health and human services issues.
In 2004, Belén began her career in nonprofit management, working as part of the management team at Oldtimers Foundation. She continued her journey in nonprofit management and today has over 15 years of experience working with local community members and overseeing nonprofit programs and operations.
Belén has worked with organizations throughout the Southeast Los Angeles region. She has worked in a consultant capacity to both nonprofits and a private affordable housing development firm. Her areas of focus have been operations, finance, human resources and program development.
Belén is proud of forming part of the services provided to enhance the quality of life of our local youth, families and senior citizens via these organizations.
Most recently, Belén served as Director of Operations for a local nonprofit that works to prepare students for various work based learning opportunities and successful futures. Belén left this role in late 2019 to care for her mother who was ill with cancer, while holding her part-time elected role where she continued to serve her community.
Belén's community involvement beyond her professional roles, include serving as a nonprofit board member, former youth catechist and young professional mentor. She has dedicated her free time to support Community Lawyers, Inc. and contributing to great causes that give back to the community.
Her interest to serve the community in a nonprofit and social setting made it easy for her to accept the call to serve her childhood hometown of South Gate, California.
In 2009, Belén was sworn in as City Treasurer and served the City for six years in this capacity. In 2014, she was encouraged to run for City Council by longtime Mayor Henry C. Gonzalez, who would retire the following year.
After qualifying to run for office, Belén was appointment to serve her first term on the City Council on April 14, 2015. Given her knowledge and support from her colleagues, Belén was selected to serve as South Gate's Mayor for a 1-year term in April 2018.
In September 2019, due to an unexpected vacancy on the City Council, Belén was once again selected to serve as Mayor by her colleagues. She honorably served as South Gate's Mayor through April 2020.
During her eleven years in office, Belén focused her attention to transparency in City finance and quality of life for all residents. She understood the needs of her community and supported timely balanced budgets, advocated for strong public and park safety agendas; and encouraged road and park improvement projects that enhanced the lives and environmental health of the youth, seniors and families in South Gate.
Belén enjoyed the numerous community events throughout the year but enjoys the one-to-one conversations with constituents and students the most. She always stressed the importance of civic engagement and education during her visitations with residents.
During her time as Mayor, she introduced events such as Reading with the Mayor at the local public library, Mayor Bernal's Youth Mentor Program, where she worked with one high school student per month and helped connect them to other career exposure opportunities; and the City Hall Open House, where she invited community residents to City Hall to learn more about the various departments and services in an informal and fun setting.
In addition to serving on the City Council, Belén represented the South Gate community on the following committees and outside agencies: