Dr. Virginia Necochea, Executive Director
Virginia is a South Valley resident and has been working in the field of education for over 15 years. She began her formal teaching career in Oakland, CA at the age of 23 and has continued to work with youth and young adults in the formal classroom setting and through community activism. Virginia completed her doctoral program at the University of New Mexico's Educational Thought and Sociocultural Studies (ETSS) Program. Virginia's main research areas include analyzing the structural foundations of race as it relates to the educational system, educational programs and research as tools for transformation, and critical teacher education. She is the proud mother of 3 beautiful daughters and a wonderful son who provide her with the hope that transformation is possible.
Jorge Garcia, President
Jorge Garcia has worked and studied at the University of New Mexico since 1997. He received his BA in Sociology in 1999, and his Master degree in Education in 2004. He is currently in the process of earning an EMBA from the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico. Jorge served as Senior Program Manager and Vice President for Program Development for the Iberoamerican Science Technology and Education Consortium (ISTEC). Jorge currently serves as the Vice President for the South Valley Regional Association of Acequias (SVRAA) and as Mayordomo for the Armijo Acequia Association. He was co-founder of La Plazita Institute, a non-for profit in the South Valley of Albuquerque, and provided the seed funding for the organic initiative that led to the creation of the Agri-Cultura Network in the town of Atrisco in the South Valley in Albuquerque, NM as well. Jorge's studies and work has focused on projects that support the social, cultural, political and economic development of marginalized communities. He has served as advisor to the Indigenous Women Network from Latin America on issues related to biodiversity and the protection of traditional knowledge. He developed a social paradigm known as the Quadruple Helix of strategic alliances that was endorsed by the Organization of American States and presented at various forums in the United Nations. He is directly associated with many other local, national, and international community initiatives, including international efforts to safeguard Traditional Knowledge associated to Biodiversity and indigenous calendars. For more information, go to https://unm.academia.edu/JorgeAGarcia.
Santiago Maestas, Secretary
Santiago Maestas retired in 2001 after 25 yrs. of public service to the citizens of the State of New Mexico. He received his BA in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology in 1970 and obtained a Bachelor of Social Work License in 1996.
Santiago served in several professional positions with the New Mexico Department of Labor, Social Services Department, Children, Youth and Families Department, Dept. of Education Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the University of New Mexico. Santiago currently serves as the President for the South Valley Regional Association of Acequias (SVRAA), Mayordomo for the Don Gabino Andrade Acequia Association, Commissioner of the Pajarito Acequia Association, and member of the Concilio of the New Mexico Acequia Association. He is also President of the Board of Directors of La Plazita Institute, a non-for profit in the South Valley of Albuquerque that rehabilitates adjudicated youth and adults, and a founding member of the Indio-Hispano Academy of Agricultural Arts & Science.
Santiago’s studies and work has focused on projects that support the social, cultural, political and economic development of the South Valley of Albuquerque.
His English name is James, he was baptized Santiago, he was born Xochitl on the 20th day of the Calendar of the Sun, and has been named Tzam A' (protector of water) by Mayan Mam Elder Kamilakap.
Andrea Lopez, Board Member
Andrea is a grandmother with four grandchildren Bobby, Fabian, Veronika and Sebastian, the mother of three daughters, Aurora, Marisol and Marina and wife to Pablo Lopez whom she married in 1975. She holds a BA in Child Development with a psychology minor from Cal State University, Northridge. She taught for 18 years in the LA Unified School District, Child Development Division in California. She worked 5 years for Camp Fire Boys and Girls here in Albuquerque and voted as employee of the year in 1997. Since 1999 she has worked for Youth Development Inc. as a Head Start Teacher at the Alameda Center. Andrea dances with the Aztec Danza group, Circulo Solar Ollin Xochipilli and is the women’s leader at the Tsa-ya-toh Wi Wang Wacipilo (Sundance). She has always been involved in community work since her high school days in Los Angeles. She loves the South Valley and has lived there since 1996.
Sonora Rodríguez, Board Member
Sonora Rodríguez was born and raised here in Albuquerque and is currently an undergraduate student working on a Dual Degree in International Studies, Spanish and Chicano Studies and Sustainability, she is expected to graduate Fall of 2015. Sonora has lived, worked and study abroad in Panama, Ecuador and Mexico and hopes to continue to travel in her graduate and professional studies. Sonora is active in the community and has recently fallen in love with research. Her research interests include community development, sustainability and natural resource management as well as cultural preservation and youth empowerment. Sonora’s future goals are to apply to Community and Regional Planning Masters programs across the nation but ultimately she would like to come back home and give back to the community that has given her so much. She is proud to be one of the youngest board members of CESOSS and hope she inspires youth to get involved in community organizing and higher education.
CESOSS firmly believes in the power of working in collaboration with other nonprofits and organizations. Working collaboratively to tackle issues in our communities will yield the most positive results.
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