Meet our Board of Directors

Jorge Garcia, President

Jorge Garcia founded CESOSS with the mentorship of Santiago Maestas back in 2011. Jorge has worked and studied at the University of New Mexico since 1997. Jorge currently serves as the Vice President for the South Valley Regional Association of Acequias (SVRAA) and as Mayordomo for the Armijo Acequia Association. Jorge's studies and work focus 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 co-founded CESOSS with Jorge Garcia to focus on projects that support the social, cultural, political and economic development of the South Valley of Albuquerque. Santiago 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 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. 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 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.

Andrea Lopez, Treasurer

Alicia Chavez is from New Mexico forever forever. Her mom’s family comes from Las Vegas, NM and her dad’s family comes from Torréon, NM. Alicia has dedicated her life to working in community for justice and peace. She currently works with Young Women United as the Community Organizing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and Journalism and a Master’s in Community and Regional Planning. Alicia loves plants, cookies, being an explorer and learning.

Alicia Chavez

Gema was raised in Sunland Park, New Mexico, a small city next to border town, El Paso, Texas. While she attended the University of New Mexico, she participated with El Centro De La Raza and a mentorship program called Women’s Impact. Her time in college is what led Gema to become highly passionate about civic engagement, youth advocacy, women’s rights, and education. In 2016, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Interpersonal Communication with a minor in Sociology and became the first person in her family to graduate from college. Gema is now a Youth Engagement Coordinator with NMCAN. She provides support, guidance, and coaching to young people engaged in NMCAN programming. She feels humbled to a part of the Albuquerque community and hopes to continue her advocacy work for first-generation, Mexican American students, women, and young people. 

Gema Gonzalez

Previous Board Members

Sonora Rodriguez

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.

Fidel Gonzalez

Nelmy Jerez