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Meet the staff

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Dr. Marty Harris

President

Presidential Cabinet Member

PhD, Washington State University 

MS, Washington State University 

BA, University of California, Irvine

Dr. Martin Harris holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Irvine. He received an M.S. and PhD in clinical psychology from Washington State University (APA accredited). After, completing a professional psychology internship at UCLA (APA accredited), Dr. Harris carried out postdoctoral work at Cornell University. While at Cornell he developed a research program for students interested in working with migrant farm workers. Dr. Harris received several university awards for this work including the President’s “James A. Perkins Prize” award for Interracial Understanding and Harmony.

Subsequent to Cornell, Dr. Harris served as a Program Officer for the American Psychological Association. In this role, he managed and wrote grants from several federal agencies including, NIMH, NIA, SAMHSA, CSAP, CSAT & others.

Dr. Harris has served as a tenured faculty member at Vanguard University and Bethany University and has taught and/or served as adjunct faculty at Washington State University, Pepperdine University and UCI College of Medicine. Administratively, Dr. Harris has served in the roles of Department Chair, Graduate Director, Associate Provost, Acting Provost, Diversity Officer and Vice President of Enrollment, Advancement and Student Life.

From 2009-2012, Dr. Harris served as Campus President/Dean of Academic Affairs for The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles, Westwood and Irvine Campuses.  In this role he oversaw all aspects of campus operations, student services, and academic house including all faculty hires, annual program review, academic program growth, curriculum design, program specific accreditation, regional accreditation issues, implementation and related policy and practice.

For over ten years Dr. Harris has served as a pastor (licensed and ordained) to a homeless church in Santa Ana, California.

Fluent in both English and Spanish, Dr. Harris has carried out research, developed academic partnerships, lectured and facilitated faculty exchanges with universities in Mexico, including CETY’s University in Baja California and La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (Mexico City). He currently teaches counseling psychology (in Spanish) at Azusa Pacific University.

From 1995 to present, Dr. Harris has served on the APA Minority Fellowship Program initial review board. In this capacity, he has helped allocate millions to funding doctoral students specializing in clinical psychology, gerontology, neuroscience and medicine.  Dr. Harris has participated as a presenter, consultant or grant reviewer to several state and federal agencies. Including, the U.S. Department of Justice OJJP & ONDCP, SAMHSA, TCADA, HACU and others. In 2003, he developed and directed the first ever federally contracted conference (CSAP) on the efficacy of faith-based approaches to substance abuse treatment, prevention and education.

A published researcher, Dr. Harris serves on the Board of Editors for the Journal of Psychological Issues in Organizational Culture. Dr. Harris has extensive experience in developing, and leading academic programming, including those that require specific accreditation and or state approvals. These include programs for licensing in psychology, marriage and family therapy and applied behavior analysis.

Dr. Harris more recently served as Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean, College of Science and Integrative Health, and Professor (full) at Southern California University of Health Sciences.

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Rev. Gabriela Mora-Alvarez

Chief Financial Officer / Chief Operating Officer 

Presidential Cabinet Member

MBA, Azusa Pacific University

BA, Vanguard University

Asc, LABI College

 

Gabriel Mora-Alvarez is both an LABI and Vanguard Alumni. Gabriela serves as the Chief Financial Officer, some of her duties include overseeing Human Resources and payroll, as well as student accounts, student payments, accounts receivable and payable, donations, employee hiring, projections, and all departmental budgets.

Gabriela has worked with LABI since 2015. She is passionate about doing business as her ministry and loves being able to not only work within the college operations but also being able to pour out into the students. 

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Yvette Robles

Dean of Academic Affairs

Presidential Cabinet Member 

MS, La Verne University

BA, Bethany College

Yvette Robles earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Bethany College and a Master of Science in Leadership and Management from the University of La Verne. Her leadership experiences have ranged from church administration to youth ministries and adolescent treatment centers from the juvenile justice system. Her passion is instructing and equipping current and future leaders in healthy spirituality to develop their gifts and enhance Kingdom work. In addition to her role as the Dean of Academic Affairs, Yvette also oversees the internship program and teaches practicum courses. Currently, Yvette serves on the leadership team of a local church in Orange County.

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Rev. Nehemias Romero

Dean of Institutional Research and Accreditation 

Presidential Cabinet Member

 

MA, Fuller Theological Seminary

BA, Vanguard University

Asc, LABI College

 

Nehemiah is an alumnus of LABI (2009). He earned a BA in Religion from Vanguard University (2011) and an MA in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary (2015). Currently pursuing a Doctor in Education from the University of Southern California, Nehemiah has engaged and overseen various institutional initiatives, including state approval, accreditation, federal financial aid, and program changes/development. He has also served as adjunct professor teaching courses such as New Testament, Old Testament, Kingdom of God, and Pentecostal Theology. Nehemias lives with his wife and two children in Los Angeles, CA. 

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Rev. Dr. Isaac J. Canales, PhD

Chancellor

The Rev. Dr. Isaac J. Canales, PhD is the Pastor Emeritus of the great Mission 

Ebenezer Family Church in Carson, California. He received his B.A. in Religion, Summa Cum Laude, from Southern California College in 1974, his MDiv at the Harvard University (class of ’78), his PhD (’93) at Fuller Theological Seminary in New Testament under the late Prof. Ralph P. Martin of the University of London.  He joined the faculty of FTS as Asst. Prof. of New Testament and Director of the Hispanic Ministries Department until 1999 when he accepted the Presidency of the Latin American Bible Institute (now LABI College). In 2005 he left LABI to concentrate on his role as Senior Pastor of Mission Ebenezer Family Church until his retirement in 2019 to Pastor Emeritus.  

 

Married to his wife, Ritha Brubaker Canales, for 47 years, they have three godly sons, Joshua, David, and Jacob (Coba) and 10 grandchildren.

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Jonathan Peña

Director of Enrollment

Jonathan Peña is the Director of Enrollment at LABI College, where he plays a vital role in facilitating the enrollment process and ensuring the completion and submission of student applications and required attachments. He has a strong passion for education and a commitment to helping students achieve their academic goals, and he actively participates in various student recruiting events to promote the college and engage with prospective students. Jonathan began his studies at LABI College in the spring of 2020 and became an alumnus in May 2023, graduating from the Bachelor's in Theology program. Before his role in admissions, Jonathan's passion for music and faith led to extensive involvement in the Christian music industry. His commitment to supporting students and his rich musical background allow him to connect with individuals from various walks of life and help them discover the transformative power of education at LABI College. Outside of his professional pursuits, Jonathan enjoys spending time with his family, exploring different coffee shops, and reading good books.

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Krystal Baca-Matthews

Dean of Spiritual Formation and Campus Pastor

MLS, Vanguard University

BA, Vanguard University 

Asc, LABI College

 

Krystal Baca-Matthews is a proud church kid that comes from a strong legacy of ministers. She graduated LABI College with her Associates Degree in Bible and Ministry in 2006. Krystal also attended Vanguard University where she earned her BA in Theology with an emphasis in Ministry and Leadership as well as her Masters in Leadership Studies with an emphasis in Hispanic leadership. She has served in many impactful ministry positions. Krystal was a youth Pastor at Faro Church for nearly ten years. In 2014 she joined the LABI staff as the Woman's Pastor. In 2015 she was promoted to Lead Campus Pastor. This made her the first woman to ever hold the title of Lead Pastor since the school opened in 1926. Krystal gained further Higher education experience serving at Vanguard University as Associate Pastor from 2019-2023. 

 

In the Fall of 2023 Krystal clearly felt  God telling her it was time to go back home to LABI College. Krystal is now the Dean of Spiritual Formation and Campus/Enrollment Pastor at LABI College. Krystal is passionate about seeing young people accept, prepare, and walk in their calling. She believes that each student has the ability to reach thousands of people for the Kingdom of God! She is honored to be at an institution that allows her to live out her calling as she helps others step into theirs. She resides in Covina Ca with her husband Bo and their beloved dog Chicka. 

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Jose Luis Saavedra

Dean of Certificate Program 

Jose Luis Saavedra began his work in Latin American Bible Institute (LABI) in November 2010. planning, organizing, directing, and controlling extension centers. 

He came to LABI with extensive experience in economic and financial areas, working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as Coordinator and Director of the PL-480 program at the agency Project Concern International (PCI) regional area  in Bolivia. The developmental programs that he directed were focused on improving food security in countries of extreme poverty. Prior to that, Jose worked as Chief Financial Officer for Bread of Life, a company distributing Christian literaturenationwide.

Jose received his degree in Financial Auditing from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Bolivia. His postgraduate work was in Public Finances with a minor in development and strategic planning, with a specialty in international development. He did his biblical-theological studies at Alberto Mottesi University and Fuller Theological Seminary, obtaining a Master's Degree in Arts, Theology and Ministry.

 

In his newly expanded role, The Dean of LABI Extension provides visionary leadership for all LABI Extension sites, leading the development of a strategic plan that articulates a unified vision for the extension program and contributes powerfully to the fulfillment of LABI’s vision. In addition to strong in-class programs, the Dean will explore and lead the development of alternative deliveries such as online, hybrid, and accelerated programming. The Dean works closely with faculty and staff to assure that students receive first-rate instruction and spiritual formation consistent with the mission of LABI. 

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John Alvarez

Director of Spanish Accredited Programs 

Pastor John is a Colombian ordained minister in the South Pacific District of the Assemblies of God. He completed his Master's in Pastoral Arts at Azusa Pacific University and is continuing his education with his Doctor of Ministry (DMin). He serves as the Senior Pastor of Victoria Temple Church in Los Angeles, California. Pastor John is married to Margarita, and they have three beautiful children: Daniel, Mía, and Emanuel.

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Justin Choi

Head Librarian 


MS, San Jose State University
JD, Regent University School of Law
BA, University of Chicago


Justin Choi is the Librarian at LABI College. In this role, Justin manages the library team by
providing support to all patrons at the Dr. Simon Melendres Library. Justin also leads the Dr.
Joel Torres Writing Center.


A lifelong learner, Justin is committed to supporting the LABI community to growing not just in
knowledge but wisdom and understanding. Justin is a qualified Librarian and graduated with a
Master’s in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. He was the
previous Librarian at Angeles College in Los Angeles. Prior to that, Justin has spent nearly 10
years in the software industry writing documentation.

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Brian Alvarez

Chief of Marketing 

BA, Biola University

 

Brian Alvarez is currently serving as the Chief of Marketing at LABI College. He studied film production and theology at Biola University, obtaining his Bachelor of Arts in 2013. With extensive post-graduation marketing experience, including roles at Azusa Pacific University and Biola University, Brian is a strategic thinker and visual storytelling enthusiast who thrives on collaboration. His role at LABI College involves key responsibilities in branding, social media, design, web maintenance, alumni engagement, event marketing, and more. Outside work, he enjoys family time, travel, and nurturing his photography and videography passions.

 

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Rev. Aneeth Rico Ocegueda

Business Office Assistant

BA, Azusa Pacific University 

 

Aneeth Rico Ocegueda earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Azusa Pacific University (2019). She is actively pursuing her Masters's in Marriage and Family Therapy. As the Business Office Assistant, Aneeth assists in the small-scale operations within the Business & Finance Office; these include overseeing student accounts and the implementation of financial policies, rules, and regulations. Working at LABI College has given Aneeth a new perspective on ministry in the education field. Outside of her professional pursuits, Aneeth is the Secretary Chair at Iglesia Primitiva, where she and her husband currently serve as the Youth Pastors working with youth and young adults. 

 

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Francisco Ocegueda

Oddo Diner Chef

Chef Francisco worked at Azusa Pacific University (APU) from 2006 to 2018, starting as a prep cook and advancing to the position of Assistant Manager/Chef at one of the busiest dining venues on campus, Cougar's Den. He has also gained experience working at other universities, including UC Irvine, Pepperdine University, and the Galen Center Food and Beverage at USC. During his tenure at APU, Chef earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with an emphasis on criminal behavior. Chef serves as the Chairperson and Youth Pastor at Iglesia Primitiva in La Puente, CA. Furthermore, he has answered the call to return to academia and is currently pursuing a second Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology at LABI College.

 

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Erika Ramirez

Oddo Diner Assistant 

 

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Sandi Pirir

Residence Director

Asc, LABI College

 

Sandi serves as the Resident Director and Front Office Manager here on campus. In the residence department, some of her duties include working hand in hand with her RA to ensure that the needs for the residents living on campus be met. Sandi strongly believes that Residence Life expectations all have a huge role to play in the student's journey here at LABI. She is also the voice you will hear if you ever call our main phone number and she is happy to help answer or redirect any questions and needs you might have. 

 

Sandi has been part of LABI's legacy since fall of 2017. She became an alumni in May of 2019 earning her associates degree. During her time as a student she was RA to the Women's Hall and assisted the Extensions Department. She is thrilled to share that being invited to come back and be part of the staff team is a tremendous blessing for and her gratitude to this amazing college.

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Evelyn Mora

Financial Aid Advisor and Registrar

Evelyn Mora serves as the Financial Aid Advisor and Registrar at LABI College. In 2020, Financial Aid was implanted to LABI College, and we are excited to have someone appointed to serve our students with federal aid. Evelyn assists students with applying for financial aid and reviews their awards with them each academic year. As a registrar, she advises and guides students in pursuing their associate's or bachelor's degrees by assisting them with registration and academic advising. Evelyn is actively pursuing her Bachelor's in Business Administration and is delighted to work closely with our LABI students. 

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Alma Rincón

Spanish Certificate Program Office Assistant

Asc, LABI College

Alma has been a part of LABI since August 16, 2016, serving as the Assistant and Registrar of the Spanish Certification Program. She is currently completing her Bachelor's Degree in Theology.

Her professional experience in the areas of finance and customer service has facilitated her relationship with students, making her time at LABI very rewarding as she assists students in their decision to continue their Bible studies through LABI Extensions.

Alma is passionate about Biblical education, having taught the Word of God for almost 30 years in ministries with adolescents, children, and adults within her church. She is married to Guillermo Rincon and has three children: Eileen, Jonathan, and Analie. Alma also serves as a member of the board of directors at her church and enjoys helping and serving others. She has great expectations for her continued growth in Biblical education.

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