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This year the  South West Organizing Project is 40 years old!  To commemorate the occasion we will bring you a new podcast featuring SWOP supporters, employees and long-time swopistas. We'll bring you a new episode each month.

Episode Nine: Kathy Orgain-Kelly and Joaquin Lujan 

For our last 40th Anniversary Podcast episode we hear from Kathy Orgain-Kelly and Joaquin Lujan. These two longtime SWOPistas share their time, their favorite stories and their love for everything SWOP has accomplished and we are so thankful for it! Support SWOP by becoming a monthly sustainer here! 


About the hosts:

Kathy Orgain-Kelly is a native New Mexican. She was born & raised in Carlsbad in Southeastern NM where she has lived most of her life. Kathy has 3 beautiful daughters, 7 grandchildren & 5 great grandchildren who are the loves of her life! Kathy attended UNMC and attained an associates degree in Secretarial Administration in 1981. Her employment with SWOP began in 2007 when she was hired as a Field Organizer and opened an office in Carlsbad so southeast NM could have more representation. During that time Kathy and her team worked on the elections (phone banking & door knocking) and on GOTV. She also led campaigns around the 2010 Census & Redistricting efforts. Kathy says, "I loved working for SWOP as it allowed me to travel to places I would never have gotten to go to. During all those trips I met and made many many friends from Mississippi, Texas, Mexico, Kentucky, Michigan,& Illinois. My hobbies are cooking, music, dancing, working in my yard and raising 5 dogs & 2 cats."

Joaquin Lujan, a New Mexico Chicano activist for the last 50 years, working as a small cultural farmer in Polvadera NM since retirement, history of activism includes work with the NM Black Beret organization, El Grito del Norte newspaper, La Academia de la Nueva Raza, Chicano Communications Center, Venceremos Brigade, Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, and the Southwest Organizing Project.  Currently working primarily on food justice projects for SWOP.

Episode sponsored by: 

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Episode Eight: Franklin Gauna and Michael Leon Gurrero 

We have another generational episode for you this time around. Hosts Franklin Gauna and Michael Leon Gurrero talk about their time at SWOP as interns and organizers. Franklin grew up at SWOP and remembers a time when leadership taught youth the ins and outs of becoming leaders themselves. Michael shares a story of the budding environmental justice movement and how SWOP's work changed one community's air quality for the better. 

Transcript coming soon


About the hosts:

Michael Leon Guerrero worked at SWOP for 17 years, as a field organizer, lead organizer and Executive Director, leading local, state and regional campaigns on environmental justice. He also was National Coordinator of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and UNITY, a collaboration between six national grassroots alliances. Michael then served as National Coordinator of the Climate Justice Alliance, a national network of frontline, environmental justice organizations working for a just transition for the extractive, fossil fuel economy to local, living economies that sustain life and heal the planet. Michael currently serves as the Executive Director of the Labor Network for Sustainability, a national network working with the understanding that long-term sustainability cannot be achieved without combining three elements: 1) environmental protection, and in particular addressing climate change; 2) economic fairness, in particular addressing income inequality and jobs; and 3) social justice, in particular eliminating prejudice and defending human and civil rights and democracy.

Franklin Gauna grew up within the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP) where he experienced, at the home of his Aunt Jeanne Gauna and Uncle Eric Schmieder’s home, the first Green Chile Harvest Fiesta.  Steeped in social justice Franklin recalls being brought into SWOP as a 13 year old to join the youth arts and culture project called Jovenes. Franklin works with Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) as a Teacher’s Assistant and is a proud union member of the Albuquerque Federation Classified Professionals. In the 12 years he has been with APS, he continues to speak up publically for justice within the schools and has gotten to know each APS Board Member as they go and come.  “I am fearless about speaking up and this has gotten me in trouble … good trouble” he says. 

This episode is sponsored by: 


Episode Seven: Mariaelena Hernandez and Victoria Rodriguez

We have another powerhouse family SWOP episode for you this month. Mariaelena Hernandez and Victoria Rodriguez came to SWOP through their work in the community of Parjarito Mesa. We’ll hear how they learned about organizing and came to advocate for their families and their Parjarito Mesa community. Stay tuned to the end of the episode for a special SWOP treat, it will surely lift anyone’s pandemic spirits.

Tenemos otro episodio de SWOP de la familia de la potencia para usted este mes. Mariaelena Hernández y Victoria Rodríguez llegaron a SWOP a través de su trabajo en la comunidad de Parjarito Mesa. Escucharemos cómo aprendieron sobre la organización y vinieron a abogar por sus familias y su comunidad de Parjarito Mesa. Manténgase atento al final del episodio para un tratamiento especial SWOP, sin duda levantará los espíritus pandémicos de cualquiera.


English Transcript

Spanish Transcript

This episode is sponsored by: 

The Progressive Technology Project 


Episode Six: The Roibal Family

We’ve got this family sized edition for you featuring the Roibal Family! The family has been involved with SWOP for all four decades of SWOP’s existence. Lucia, Lolita, and Rosina talk with their father Roberto about their favorite moments throughout the year and try to sing The Chile Song over a sketchy internet connection. It’s a pandemic podcast gathering that will warm your heart and fire up your desire to do the work.

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About the hosts:

Lucía Roibal

Lucía is an attorney working at Dropbox, where she counsels product teams on legal issues relating to privacy, data security, consumer protection, copyright, and content regulation. Prior to working at Dropbox, Lucía was a litigation associate for four years at the San Francisco-based law firm, Morrison & Foerster, where she focused on consumer class actions and various pro bono projects.  Lucía has lived in the Bay Area for 8 years. She received her law degree from Stanford Law School and her bachelor's degree in Spanish and Latin American Cultures from Barnard College in New York City.  Before going to law school, Lucía worked as a litigation assistant at the Natural Resources Defense Council. 


Lolita Roibal

Lolita has dedicated many years to the social justice movement, leading campaigns for youth rights, labor rights, and leading electoral organizing around numerous ballot measures and races.  She currently provides financial and administrative leadership as a consultant and on staff at Bay Rising, a progressive electoral coalition in Oakland.  She is also a Licensed Acupuncturist focusing on pediatrics and obstetrics and includes her studies in curanderismo, midwifery, and traditional healing in her approach.  Lolita is a tlauipuchtli for Calpulli Huey Papalotl, based in Huichin, Califatzlan and she hopes to impart the importance of our traditional ways onto her three inspiring children.


Rosina Roibal

Rosina is a licensed bilingual therapist with a Multi Dimensional Family Therapy program at a community mental health agency in Oakland, CA. She works with adolescents on probation and their families. Rosina has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology/Expressive Arts Therapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.

Roberto Roibal

Roberto is the office manager at SWOP. He was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is a graduate of the University of New Mexico, receiving a BA degree in anthropology, history and fine arts. Roberto’s first political work was in 1969 as a freshman at UNM when he worked with the UNM Draft and Military Counseling Center and was very involved in the anti-war movement. In the Spring of 1970 he was arrested with over 200 others who occupied the UNM Student Union Building in protest of Nixon’s illegal bombings in Kampuchea and Vietnam. He worked at UNM Chicano Studies Center for a number of years and was active in student organizing. Roberto headed up the Albuquerque Boycott Committee from 1974 to 1980 where they picketed every Friday in that time period, first in support of the United Farm Workers of America in support of the grape boycott and when the farm workers ended the boycott with major victories in 1976, the Committee switched over to support the Brewery Workers in their boycott against Coors beer. He also worked with El Taller Media in Albuquerque which did movement silkscreening, printing, graphic design and typography. At one point he was the President of the Board of Directors at the UNM Public Interest Research Group which was working on police brutality, grand jury abuse and supported the grape and Coors boycotts. He was also active with the NM Regional Committee of the Venceremos Brigade which sent people in the U.S. to Cuba to show solidarity and challenge the illegal U.S. blockade of Cuba.. Roberto has been a SWOP volunteer and member since 1980 and joined SWOP’s staff in 1991, where he’s had a number of positions, including the marketing and distribution of the book 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures, production of our news magazine Voces Unidas, field organizer, grant administration and now office management. He is responsible for our information and technology needs, and is our database developer and administrator. He has three daughters, all of whom have gone through SWOP’s youth internship programs. Two of his daughters were former SWOP staff members and youth organizers. Roberto is currently the Secretary-Treasurer of CWA Local 7011 and is their delegate to the Central New Mexico Labor Council where he also sits on their Board of Trustee. He is the president of his neighborhood association, the Pajarito Village Association and is the President of the South Valley Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. In the Fall of 2018, he was appointed to the Bernalillo County Water Protection Advisory Board.

This episode is sponsored by

The Chinese Progressive Association

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Episode Five: Tomasita Espinosa and Sandra Montes

Longtime SWOPistas Tomasita Espinoza and Sandra Montes reflect on their favorite memories of SWOP. Tomasita disputes her mother's claim that she helped "steal" someone from the hospital, instead says her mother liberated them from ICE agents. They also share some favorite places SWOP has taken them, SWOP's connection to Pajarito Mesa and SWOP's superpower; being fearless. 

Las veteranas de SWOP, Tomasita Espinosa y Sandra Montes reflexionan sobre sus recuerdos favoritos de SWOP. Tomasita niega la afirmación de su madre de que ella ayudó a "robar" a alguien del hospital, en cambio dice que su madre los liberó de los agentes de ICE. También se comparten algunos lugares favoritos que SWOP las ha llevado, la conexión de SWOP con Pajarito Mesa y la superpotencia de SWOP: ser valiente.

About the hosts: 

Sandra Montes, is originally from Juarez, Mexico but has been a long time resident of Albuquerque, NM. Sandra has 4 children, 7 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. Sandra lives in the Pajarito Mesa colonia located in Albuquerque's southwest mesa. Sandra started organizing in 1999 through the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP). Sandra organized in her community for basic services and infrastructure for over 10 years. She supervised the 2010 United States Bernalillo County Census Team and participated in many other grassroots organizing activities along the way. Sandra was the founder of the Pajarito Mesa Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association where she served as Board president for many years. She also served on other non-profit organization boards such as the New Mexico Legal Aid and the UNM Literacy Center.


Tomasita Espinoza was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a mother of 4, Ruben, Hernan, Zantiago, and Malaya. She is a lifelong Burqueña. Tomasita joined SWOP’s staff in 2000 as an environmental justice organizer. She is a community expert on the effects of industrial pollution in the South Valley. She worked a number of years as a Promotora with the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation, and represented SWOP on the New Mexico Environmental Justice Planning Committee, helping that committee plan a series of EJ Listening Sessions around the state in 2004. In her time at SWOP, Tomasita ran Tax Fairness campaigns, civic engagement campaigns and border justice campaigns. She served many rolls at SWOP from community organizer, office administrator and chief financial officer. 

This episode is sponsored by: 


Episode Four: Rodrigo Rodriguez and Travis McKenzie

Whose streets? Our streets! But also, Rodrigo and Travis agree that SWOP needs more specific protest chants in the fourth installment of the 40th Anniversary Podcast. They recorded their conversation months before the COVID-19 pandemic, but their conversations about staying rooted in community is more relevant than ever…and also entertaining. Stay safe everyone and enjoy the episode. 

About the hosts:

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Rodrigo Rodriguez is an organizer and coordinator of SWOP’s community food justice initiative, “Project Feed the Hood”. His family has been sustainably farming in the communities of Northern New Mexico for many generations. Project Feed the Hood is based in traditional methods of farming and seed saving that are both sustainable and culturally relevant. Rodrigo and his fellow SWOP gardeners maintain a large seed library and host many workshops to assist community members, schools, and other community groups seeking to grow food and build healthy communities and lifestyles all over the state of NM. Rodrigo started at SWOP as a youth intern in 2006. He is the proud father of Juanita Maiz. 

Travis McKenzie is the co-founder of Project Feed the Hood and a middle school social studies and garden elective teacher. For over a decade, Travis has worked hard to uplift food justice values in schools, in state policy and in national movement work. When he is not growing food you may find him playing his sax or flute, or drumming it up—he brings music wherever he goes.  

This episode is sponsored by:


Episode Three: Karlos Gauna Schmieder and Robby Rodriguez

In this longer third episode of SWOP’s 40th Anniversary Podcast Karlos Gauna Schmieder and Robby Rodriguez share some hilarious moments from their many years at SWOP including shenanigans at the U.S. Mexico border. They also reflect on how organizing has changed and each generation builds on the next.

About the hosts:


Karlos Gauna Schmieder has been a SWOP stalwart for most of his life, as his parents, founder Jeanne Gauna and Eric Schmieder, were cornerstones of the organization. Karlos was active in our youth group in the 90s, served on our staff in a Communications role in the 00s, and is now facilitating the ArribaNM project, which works with talented local people to create mobile engagement tools to spur community vision. Today he serves as a board member for SWOP.

Robby Rodriguez is originally from Pico Rivera, California by way of Tucson, Arizona and has called New Mexico home for most of the last twenty-some years. Robby cut his teeth as a community organizer, working on issues such as youth development, corporate accountability, environmental health and indigenous rights.  During his six years as the Executive Director of the Albuquerque based SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), Robby helped the organization achieve key policy changes related to economic development and environmental protection at the state and local level.  During this time, he co-authored a book on generational change in the non-profit sector titled Working Across Generations:  Defining The Future of Non Profit Leadership (Jossey Bass, 2008). 

This episode is sponsored by:

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Episode Two: Amanda Gallegos and Janelle Astorga-Ramos

The second episode of SWOP’s 40th Anniversary Podcast features a conversation between the fierce and hardworking Amanda Gallegos and Janelle Astorga-Ramos. They talk about haunted hotels, out of town conference shenanigans and how proud they are to be a part of the SWOP family.

About the hosts:


Janelle Astorga-Ramos and Amanda Gallegos after a successful podcast recording session

Amanda Gallegos

Field Organizer - Youth Rights

Amanda was born and raised in the North valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico and is almost 20 years old. She was lucky to grow up deeply ingrained in her Chicano/ Mexican roots, farming on her grandparents land. Amanda got involved in SWOP in 2010 while her mother, Trish, was doing a

college internship at SWOP. Since then she has spent many years organizing within the SWOP youth group, and food justice areas. Amanda has contributed to numerous campaigns at SWOP including being one of the writers on our Student Bill of Rights, leading the largest ever youth employment program in New Mexico two years, and has planned and executed several local and national conferences. She has also been a critical member of the SWOP fundraising team, leading many of our grassroots fundraising programs and foundation fundraising for our youth organizing campaigns. Amanda has been the youth organizer at SWOP since February of 2017. Amanda is also a student working on her Bachelors in Chicana/o Studies.


Janelle Astorga-Ramos

Janelle was born and raised in Albuquerque, and grew up in the San José neighborhood. Janelle is Junior at the University of New Mexico studying Political Science and Chicano/a studies. She has advocated for educational equity for many years and is especially focused on the testing epidemic. Janelle has organized walk outs that received national attention as well as campaigns and training's in collaboration with Albuquerque Public Schools and Youth Voices in Action for Change (VIA). Janelle has been a member of the SouthWest Organizing Project since the summer of 2014 when she was a YES intern and has stayed dedicated to the mission and vision of SWOP. She now proudly serves SWOP as the board secretary.

This Episode is Sponsored By:


They have a podcast too!

Episode One: beva sanchez-padilla and Divana Olivas

For our inaugural episode beva sanchez-padilla and Divana Olivas sit down and chat about their dreams for SWOP, share some favorite stories and challenge each other to answer questions "all fast."


About the hosts:













beva sanchez-padilla (left) and Divana Olivas record episode 1

beva sanchez-padilla is a native New Mexican and a long-time Chicano rights activist, artist, poet, and film maker. She is a long time member and board member of SWOP before coming on staff to facilitate our feminisms organizing work in 2015. She honors her mother Maria Barbarita for giving her the foundation to care for women, families and communities. She is proud of her daughters Micaela and Siboney who are strong activists in their communities. 

Divana Olivas is a former SWOP Board Member and Youth program participant who is currently working on her PhD. Her dissertation is focused on: Race, Gender, and Activism in Transnational Agricultural Policy in New Mexico: 1912-2010s. She is working on a chapter about SWOP and Anti-colonial Food Activism with Project Feed the Hood.

Divana participated in SWOP’s Youth Employment Summer program in the summer of 2014. Since then she has been a key volunteer in the organization’s youth and food justice programs.


This episode of the SWOP 40th Anniversary Podcast is sponsored by

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