The majority of the work of CESOSS is carried out through volunteer-driven efforts that includes our director, board members, our Leadership Institute interns, and the larger community.  We are proud to say that we are a community-driven and community-supported organization. We are striving to think of creative ways of building our resources so that we can one day secure full-time staff.



Jorge Garcia

Executive Director

Jorge Garcia founded CESOSS with the mentorship of Santiago Maestas and the support of Virginia Necochea back in 2011. Jorge has worked and studied at the University of New Mexico since 1997. He is currently working for El Centro de la Raza, and he is enrolled in the Chicana/o Studies program working toward getting a Ph.D.  Jorge currently serves as the 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 an 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 in the United Nations Initiative on the Development of the Information Society. He is directly associated with many other local, national, and international community initiatives, including international efforts to safeguard Traditional Knowledge associated with Biodiversity, as well as the study and implementation of indigenous calendars.  For more information, go to


Lauren Baca

Program Coordinator 

Lauren Baca is originally from Gallup, New Mexico. She moved to Albuquerque in 2016 to attend UNM and earned her Bachelor's in Philosophy Pre-Law & Women's Studies in 2020. She is currently working towards her Master's in Legal Studies at the University of Arizona. We are proud to announce that Lauren is an alum of our Leadership Institute and now coordinates CESOSS' educational programs.

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Xavier Vallejo

Program Coordinator 

Xavier Vallejo was born in Pomona, California and raised in Tijeras, New Mexico. His pronouns are he/him. He is a business student at the University of New Mexico and a member of the Red Wolf Clan. Xavier holds several years of professional experience in community relations, program development, event production, and servant leadership. He is passionate about issues related to health and social equity.

Board of Directors


Alicia Chavez


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 Food Corps. 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.


Santiago Maestas


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 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.

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Dr. Rip Anderson


Newest Board Member (2019 - present)

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Marcia Fernandez

Board Member

Newest Board Member (2019-present)

Past Board Members


Virginia Necochea

Past Board Member

Dr. Virginia Necochea has been working in the field of education for over 15 years.  She began her formal teaching career in Oakland, CA and has continued to work with youth and young adults in the formal classroom setting and through community work.  Dr. Necochea completed her doctoral program at the University of New Mexico's Educational Thought and Sociocultural Studies (ETSS) Program.  Her 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.


Sonora Rodriguez

Past 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.


Fidel Gonzalez

Past Board Member

Fidel Gonzalez serves as the current President of the ACN Board of Directors. He is completely a self-taught farmer and has learned what he knows through the process of farming. He is also a board member for the Downtown Growers’ Market. Fidel began studying music at the age of 15 years old, in Mexico City where he hails from. He is also an Aztec dancer. Fidel centers his life and work philosophy around the concept of Gross National Happiness, which speaks of peace, and leading a balanced life where work does not overshadow the importance of family and pursuits of happiness.  


Gema Gonzalez

Past Board Member

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.