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Staff MeMbers

Executive Director

Executive Director

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George Luján

Executive Director

George joined the staff in 2008 having been a life-long member of SWOP. Before joining the staff, George worked on community garden and youth projects, and also contributed artwork for Voces Unidas magazine. George was introduced to the social justice practices and values of SWOP at an early age by his father, Joaquín Luján, a longtime organizer and one of the founders of Project Feed The Hood, among other SWOP campaigns. George studied Media and Fine Arts at the Universidad de Nuevo México and has spent the past ten years building SWOP’s media platforms and working with organizers to advance campaign strategies. George has been a regular presence in all of SWOP's work areas during his time here, and has steadily learned new roles and responsibilities, including work as the organization's primary grant writer for the past several years. George has learned a great deal from SWOP members, leaders and organizers over the years, and has shown the dedication and work ethic necessary to keep SWOP at the forefront of the movement for justice in New Mexico. George enjoys spending his free time with his wife Bridget, his daughter Lorena, and his son Emilio, walking his dog along the bosque, watching samurai movies, and kicking it in Los Duranes.

Email George at George@swop.net

Deputy Director

Deputy Director

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Juan Reynosa

Deputy Director

Juan is a Chicano and proud New Mexican. His hometown is Hobbs, New Mexico, which is the epicenter of the oil and gas industry in southeastern New Mexico. Growing up in an oil and gas town that has a history of racism; Juan experienced many social justice issues on a firsthand basis. This led Juan to pursue his degree in Environmental Science at the University of New Mexico in order to use his skills to combat the issues he faced growing up.  Juan was the environmental justice organizer at the SouthWest Organizing Project for 7 years, where he worked on environmental issues facing communities of color across the state. Now he serves as SWOP’s Deputy Director and helps organizers continue the vision of achieving social justice in the Southwest that our elders started.

 

Email Juan at Juan@swop.net

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Amanda Gallegos

Youth Organizer

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.

 

Email Amanda at Amanda@swop.net

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Alheli Caton-Garcia

Environmental Justice Organizer

Alheli Caton-Garcia (she/her/ella) is a Chicana from the South Valley Neighborhood of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Alheli began engaging in social justice movements with her mother Dr. Felecia Caton-Garcia as early as 2 years old. Alheli started professionally organizing and filling leadership positions in 2021 with La Plazita Institute and FoodCorps New Mexico. Alheli spent time engaging with students and community members in garden and healing spaces. As well as with youth inside Bernalillo County’s Juvenile Detention Center. Using SEL and culturally relevant teaching practices she taught kids in Detention and at the Native American Community Academy garden and food education. As she steps into her new position with us here at SWOP as the Environmental Justice Organizer, she hopes to be a student of the communities we serve. To elevate community needs, wants and community voices.

 

Email Alhelí at Alheli@swop.net

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Yahaira Carreras

Gender Justice Organizer

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Email Yahaira at Yahaira@swop.net

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Juanita Gallegos

Office Manager

Juanita was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is an alumni of Sandia High School and Cesar Chavez Community School. Juanita later attended Central New Mexico Community College for Paralegal Studies. Juanita has 5+ years in the legal and administrative field, and will provide support to the SWOP staff as Office Manager. Juanita is excited for the opportunity to work at SWOP, and will continue to support their mission with becoming involved with their awareness’s. On her free time, Juanita enjoys spending time with her family/friends, along with hiking and tennis.

 

Email Juanita at Juanita@swop.net or by calling (505) 247-8832 ext. 114

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Janelle Astorga Ramos

Development Coordinator

Janelle Astorga Ramos was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM in the barrio of San Jose. She started her career in  community organizing when she was 14 with the organization Bold Futures focusing on Reproductive Justice issues such as Sex-Ed, Access to reproductive health supplies and changing the stigma around young parents. She also helped with passing a memorial that made August 25th Recognition of Young Parents Day in NM. Janelle continues to work around reproductive justice through the organization Strong Families and their RJ Team where they work on changing policies related to this issue. When Janelle was 16 and a junior in high school, she was selected as an intern for the Youth Summer Employment Institute at SWOP and found her passion working in the area of Education and Youth Rights. As a senior in high school, she helped lead a state wide walk out against the PARCC test, high stakes standardized test and privatization of education which gained national attention. After the walk outs, Janelle co-founded the youth-led organization Youth Voices In Action (VIA) that provides students with leadership skill and resources to develop social justice campaigns inside their schools. Janelle continued as a senior intern at SWOP until 2017 where she also helped coordinate YES and also worked as interim Youth Organizer before joining the SWOP board as secretary and vice-chair. In 2021, Janelle graduated from the University of NM with a bachelors in Chicanx Studies and Political Science, as well as a race and social justice certificate. She also accepted a position as development coordinator for SWOP and is working as the co-director of the Learning Alliance of NM and VIA. Janelle prides herself in her dedication to engaging the youth of New Mexico in social justice.

Email Janelle at Janelle@swop.net

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Mateo Carrasco

Food Justice Organizer

Mateo Carrasco is a Chicano from El Paso, Texas. Migrating to Albuquerque in 2012, he is a graduate of Albuquerque High School. He later graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2018, attaining a BS in Biology, a BA in Chican@ Studies, and a minor in Sustainability Studies. Mateo began working in Food Justice in 2014.  A former sembrando semillas intern through Grow the Future in partnership with the New Mexico Aceqiua Association, Mateo went on to work with SWOP in 2017 through the YES Summer program. He later became a Youth Justice intern and a Food Corps service member with the organization before becoming the Food Justice Organizer. You can find Mateo in the community garden, working with students, or helping partners build gardens throughout the International District.

 

Email Mateo at Mateo@swop.net

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Mikyle Gray

Communications Coordinator

Mikyle is a 1st-generation Jamaican-American, born and raised on the eastside of Chicago, Illinois. Mikyle earned his BA in graphic design with an emphasis titled "Exploring Culture Through Visual Media and Graphic Arts". After participating in the Youth Empowerment Summer program in 2017, Mikyle joined SWOP as a media communications intern. He has since participated in several youth organizing conferences, digital security trainings, nation-wide campaign delegations, rallies, protests, marches and more. You can find Mikyle via any of SWOP's social media accounts, or newsletter messages, as well as managing several design projects for SWOP both on and off-screen.
 

Email Mikyle at Mikyle@swop.net or by calling (505) 247-8832 ext. 120

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Sonaí Perez

Grants Administrator

Sonai is a first generation Mexican-American, born and raised in El Paso, TX. She graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2008 with a bachelor’s in Communications and Political Science. Sonai first joined SWOP’s team during the 2012 Get Out the Vote campaign and was a contender for the annual green chile stew cook-off. She currently serves on the council for Kalpulli Izkalli and is a volunteer with Abuela’s Medicina. She is a lifelong student and advocate of traditional medicine to help support the spiritual, physical and mental well-being of the community.

Email Sonaí at Sonai@swop.net

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Rodrigo Rodriguez

Youth Justice Organizer

Rodrigo is a longtime SWOPista, community organizer, and more recently a father to the one and only Juanita Maìz Fatimah Rodriguez. He is a co-founder of SWOP's food justice initiative, 'Project Feed the Hood' and served as the initiative's lead community organizer for almost 10 years. During his time with Feed the Hood Rodrigo served on the governing board for the New Mexico Food and Ag Policy Council, and in 2014 presented on the opening panel at the National Food Policy Council conference in Portland Oregon. He also served in an advisory capacity with the Praxis Project and their national 'Communities Creating Healthy Environments' initiative. Rodrigo has also represented SWOP and New Mexico's farming and food communities with the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, the Climate Justice Alliance and Grassroots Global Justice. Currently he serves as a SWOP Justice Systems Community Organizer working on issues of criminal and punitive justice systems reform and abolition locally and nationally. He is a co-founder of the New Mexico Youth Justice Coalition, SWOP's juvenile justice campaign working to close youth prisons in New Mexico. Over the years Rodrigo has represented SWOP and New Mexico in many spaces locally, nationally, and internationally. He was a member of a Grassroots International delegation to Palestine in 2015, and in 2016 he completed the English Language Political Educators course in São Paulo Brazil at the Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, the national School of the Brazilian landless workers movement (MST- Movimento Trabalhadores Sem Terra). Rodrigo also served as the campus coordinator for the Albuquerque campus of the University Sin Fronteras from 2016-2019. In 2019 he was a P2P Fellow with the W. Hayward Burns Institute and the Open Society Foundations for community leaders impacted by the criminal justice system. He currently serves on the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Center for Systems Innovation(CSI) Family and Community Partnership workgroup. Which has been formed in response to the Foundation’s 'Thrive by 25' primary focus on youth and young adults ages 14-24 who are disconnected from opportunities in workforce, careers, family, and education. Rodrigo's previous criminal justice reform experience included work with Public Allies New Mexico and the New Mexico Youth Violence Prevention Network an initiative of the New Mexico Forum for Youth in Community and as a youth member of FILO (Families of Incarcerated Loved Ones). As a young person whose life was impacted directly by the criminal and juvenile justice systems Rodrigo credits Southwest Organizing Project and community organizing with saving his life and helping him to break cycles of incarceration and addiction. His most sincere hope is to continue working alongside the dynamic young people of New Mexico whose lives haven't been impacted by criminalization and incarceration to build a world where we don't put humans in cages.

Email Rodrigo at Rodrigo@swop.net

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Loren Gomez

Youth Justice Organizer

Loren Gomez joined SWOP 13 years ago as a volunteer and went on to become a co-founder of the food justice initiative “Project Feed The Hood”. Due to his background in agriculture, and being raised in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Questa, Northern New Mexico, Loren had close roots to the work. Loren was formally incarcerated for 12 years, sentenced in Colorado and served in New Mexico. While inside, he dedicated his time and efforts to help reform the failed “Scared Straight Program” here in New Mexico Prison. The Program took youthful offenders inside NM Prisons and had Inmates then try to scare the youth from their “Criminal Paths”.  Loren, changed the format of “Scared Straight” to a testimonial conversation with incarcerated men that made a terrible choice in life and was willing to share their knowledge to help youth become “successful members of Society” serving as club president for two different prisoner Chicano groups “Haceindola” (Doing it!) and “Apprende” (Learn). These groups promoted: self-accountability, self-responsibility, cultural awareness, life skills, parenting skills, G.E.D. tutoring, along with an annual BBQ hosting incarcerated family members-- all within the confines of incarceration. 

In 2013 while at “Project Feed The Hood” Loren lobbied for the Healthy Kids, Healthy Economy, House Bill 247, which provided healthy, organic, locally grown Foods to school children during lunch. House Bill 247 passed during its first year, and returned as Senate Bill 27 which allotted more money to school children’s lunches and became a re-accruing bill, passed in 2014. In 2014, Loren co-founded “Grow The Future” a micro-farm based in the south valley of Albuquerque which engaged communities members as well as youth in organic, cultural, community and holistic farming while making a profit from farming in New Mexico. 

As of 2023, Loren is currently co-founding the New Mexico Youth Justice Coalition working alongside youth that have been impacted by the Juvenile Justice System in New Mexico to Abolish Youth Incarceration not only locally but nationally as well. So far, the NMYJC has helped support the NM ACLU and the New Mexico Fair Sentencing for Youth Coalition on the 2nd Chance Bill which advocates for no youth sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.The bill successfully passed as Senate bill 64 during the 2023 NM legislative session.

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Joseph Stacey

Mass Base Organizer

Joseph joins the staff after contributing his time and skills to a number of SWOP campaigns, from canvass operations, to mural painting, to catering community events. Joseph has been involved with community organizing from a young age, and is a skilled and inspirational trainer, having developed dozens of community members for SWOP canvass teams and others across the state. Joseph's civic engagement campaign experience ranges from phone banking for the Native American Voters Alliance, to walking door to door at the Pueblos for Diane Denish, to coordinating campaigns for Healthy Workforce Albuquerque, APD Forward, and Medicaid. He also has experience as a tribal liaison, and has worked with young people to preserve Hopi culture. Between campaigns, he continues to work on different community issues, from agriculture to legislative policy. Joseph has been a huge asset to SWOP over the years, from getting out the vote for school board elections, to educating people about the Kirtland Air Force Base fuel spill, to leading community art projects, to entering our green chile stew cook-off, and we’re elated to finally have him on our full-time staff.

 

Email Joe at Joseph@swop.net

Board MeMbers

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Dr. Alyosha Goldstein

Board Member

Alyosha Goldstein is a professor of American Studies at UNM and was part of the SWOP organizing committee for Universidad Sin Fronteras. He teaches classes on food justice, racial capitalism, decolonization, and global justice movements. In his food justice classes, students have worked with SWOP’s Project Feed the Hood, Three Sisters Kitchen, Los Jardines, Agri-Cultura Network, and several South Valley farmers. Goldstein writes about histories of colonial dispossession and anticolonial, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist movements for liberation. Before going to graduate school, he was a member of Paper Tiger Television, a collective that makes videos on social justice issues and media representation for public access television. 

Deputy Director

Deputy Director

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Bheira Ugalde

Secretary

Bheira Ugalde comes from the earth, the sky, and the sea. Daughter of immigrant parents, fighting every day to create a new tomorrow filled with equity, justice, and brotherhood in our communities. Student at UNM pursuing a bachelor's in Interpersonal Communications, actively working to enhance community organizations to reach desired goals. 

 

Chief Financial Officer

Environmental Jus

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Isabella Moya

Board Member

Isabella is a chicana born and raised in New Mexico. She received her BA in Psychology and Chicano/a Studies with a focus in Politics and Social Movements from UNM in 2020. She has been a community organizer since she was 14 and began working with SWOP in their Project Feed the Hood and Youth Rights programs shortly after that. She is passionate about empowering youth and above all believes that youth are the solution and that we follow their lead. She is prided on her work with young people in Albuquerque through movement building to create a transformative education sector in New Mexico and because of this she worked as a high schooler to co-found and co-lead programming for Youth Voices for Action which aims to empower and teach anti-racist organizing skills for self advocacy and leadership to youth in Albuquerque. She continues this work additionally as Learning Alliance of New Mexico's Co- Executive Director and member of Transform Education New Mexico's advisory board and steering team. She additionally works with Forward Together as a national Network Organizer to do reproductive justice network building throughout the Southwest and in the Caribbean.  

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