Arcenio J. López is a Mixteco native from the village of San Francisco Higos, in Oaxaca, Mexico. He grew up speaking Mixteco as his primary language, and learned Spanish as his second language. When he arrived in Oxnard in 2003, Arcenio worked as a farmworker in the strawberry fields. In 2006, Arcenio was hired as MICOP’s first Community Organizer. He enrolled at Oxnard College where he received his Associate Degree in 2008.
Arcenio was hired as the Associate Director of MICOP in 2010. Eventually he was promoted in 2014, and became the first indigenous Executive Director for the organization. Under his leadership, MICOP has grown and flourished in size, scope and reach; from adult literacy classes to indigenous youth organizing to a community radio station. Because of his work, MICOP is the trusted voice of the indigenous community and a respected partner to dozens of local and statewide agencies.
Genevieve Flores-Haro serves as the Associate Director for the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project, a nonprofit serving California Central Coast’s indigenous migrant community. In this capacity, she oversees the organization’s policy priorities, special events, communications and is a founding member of the 805 UndocuFund. She also supervises MICOP programs specific to health access & advocacy, mental health and domestic violence, including two multi-year mixed methods research studies. Statewide, she co-leads the Culturally Responsive Domestic Violence Network, as well as MICOP’s climate adaptation/disaster response within immigrant communities advocacy efforts. Most recently, she is the lead on MICOP’s Census 2020 California farmworker outreach and education work.
Genevieve received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. She currently serves as Board President for Ventura County’s local LGBTQ organization Diversity Collective, and is a board member for the Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund. In 2018 she was awarded a Women of the Year Award by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assemblymember Monique Limón for her work during the Thomas Fire.
Ana Huynh has been an active agent for social justice for over 15 years. Ana migrated to the U.S. at an early age and navigated the public education system and society as an undocumented immigrant. As an English-learner and first-generation college student, Ana experienced and overcame obstacles that many members of our community still face today. While advocating for her daughter’s right towards equitable education, inclusion of all students and families became a passion that sparked her leadership in the Santa Barbara and Santa Maria communities. Cultural relevance, language access, multilingual/multicultural safe spaces and quality education -with and for indigenous students and families- has been the drive of the committed and hard work, where she thrives. Ana continuously creates opportunities to generously share her enthusiasm with others, empowering them to use their voice to speak up and advocate for their needs through dialogue and community building. Enjoying life with her daughter and husband is what Ana loves doing most when you don’t see her out there avidly learning, sharing and creating change.
My name is Dalia Garcia, I’m an indigenous Mixteca immigrant woman from San Juan Mixtepec, Oaxaca. I’m the daughter of a single mother. I’m the second of four children. My mother who had the determination to escape from the mistreatment of my father and the poor living conditions in Mexico decided to immigrate to the United States when I was 16 years old. Growing up in Santa Maria California an agricultural town predominantly Latino hard-working class community, has taught me to get closer to my indigenous roots.
The love and passion that I have for my Mixteca indigenous identity push me to get involved in the community to create safe and inclusive spaces for indigenous youth. In high school, I was the co-founder of the CE’ENI (the first indigenous youth collective in Santa Maria) and a volunteer to the Guelaguetaza organization. After years, I recently graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. in Sociology. I plan to continue my education to get a Master’s degree in Education to become a counselor. Among my hobbies, I like to go hiking, read a book and ride my bike.
Donna Foster is the Operations Manager at Mixeco/Indigena Community Organizing Project. She started working at MICOP in 2006 as an Administrative Assistant. In addition to Operations Manager, Donna is also the Human Resources manager at MICOP.
Donna was born in Brooklyn, New York. She has an AA from Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn. She has lived in Ventura for 36 years, has two children, and enjoys traveling, reading, photography, and spending time with friends and family in her spare time.
Dulce Ma. Vargas was born in Santa Cruz de Bravo Oaxaca, Mexico. Dulce is the youngest of five siblings and mother of two daughters. In 2002, she attended Benito Juarez University in Oaxaca. Presently, she continues with her education in Oxnard College. Dulce became involved with the program Mujeres de MICOP in 2009. In 2013, she coordinated and developed the MICOP’s Living with Love Program and co-authored along with Barbara Marquez, the Living with Love handbook that focuses on prevention, well-being, and domestic violence around the indigenous community in Ventura County. As of now, Dulce is the Program Manager of the Living with Love Program, which was selected as an evaluation project under the California Reducing Disparities Project. Dulce will be managing the Pilot Project in collaboration with the UCLA Center for Health Equity.
Irene Gómez was born in Santiago Asunción, Silacayoapan, Oaxaca, Mexico. At the age of 14, she migrated to the US and worked alongside her family in farming jobs in Oxnard, Sacramento and Washington State. Irene speaks fluent Spanish and Mixteco, and learning English. Irene currently resides in Oxnard CA and has four children, three girls and one boy. In 2001, Irene became involved with the Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) as a volunteer. In 2007, Irene joined MICOP staff as a Community Promotora, assisting families in accessing needed support. Irene is now the Program Manager for the women’s empowerment, mental health, and Puentes case management programs at MICOP.
Jack is an experienced accountant and business manager specializing in charities. He holds a Masters in Accounting and a Masters in Business Administration. His last position was the Financial Officer for the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation in Oregon. He was the Treasurer and one of only three non-attorneys on the civilian oversight Board of Trustees for the Public Defender of Marion County. He has been volunteering at charities for over 40 years. Jack grew up in Los Angeles, has lived in Oregon for the past 21 years, is divorced, and has two sons.
Hello my name is Javier Garcia. I am originally from San Martin Peras, Oaxaca. I came to the U.S at seven years old and I have been living here for eighteen years along with my family. I attended Rio Mesa High School and graduated in the year 2015, and I plan on continuing my education very soon. My first language is Mixteco but growing up and studying here I learned Spanish and English and it became my second and third languages. I work as an Interpreter Coordinator with MICOP and at the same time learning more about the problems related to language access that are happening inside and outside of our county.
In my free time I enjoy playing the guitar and go hiking in California’s backyard accompanied by my camera.
Jessica Brandon has been a Fundraising Events Planner for almost 20 years in San Diego working for various non-profits. She is one of the first to graduate from SDSU’s Meeting and Events Planning Program in 2006. In her career she has served on the San Diego Meeting Professionals International (SDMPI) Board of Directors as their Director of Special Events, Director of Strategic Alliance, Director of Membership, and VP of Communications. Receiving the SDMPI President's Award for Event Planning Excellence in 2005. In January of 2018 she was invited as a guest speaker at the International Live Event Association's (ILEA) conference "The Special Event”. Her topic, Creativity on a Shoestring Budget, was well received by planners all over the globe.
Juvenal Solano is originally from the community of San Sebastian del Monte Oaxaca, he came to the United States in 2001, he worked harvesting strawberries for 8 years, in the last 4 years working in strawberries he began to get involved in defending his labor rights and that of his colleagues, that's how he began to work as an organizer with the United Farm Workers (UFW) which he served for about 6 years where he also learned the method of organizing house meetings, a model that Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the UFW used in his day to organize farm workers in California. In 2014 he arrived as a community organizer with MICOP, in his first year with the organization he led the language access campaign in the Department of Motors and Vehicles (DMV) to ensure that our community that speaks Mixtec and other indigenous languages could take their driver's knowledge exam in their own languages. By 2015 Juvenal was part of an 8-member committee to create the Farmworker Resource Program, unique in Ventura County. He is a person who likes music, reading and learning something new every day.
Kelsey Hood Cattaneo was born and raised in Ventura but for the last 14 years worked in international development across the globe. She has worked in western and eastern Europe in education, youth and community development, as well as, South East Asia.
After completing her degrees in politics (B.A.), public policy (M.A.), and International Law (LL.M.), Kelsey is currently completing her Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) from York St. John’s University, focusing on effectiveness of development aid on education.
I hope to be able to support MICOPs vision of supporting the local indigenous migrant community, and I appreciate the opportunity to be here.
Leticia Sandoval was born & raised in Oxnard by immigrant, farmworker parents from Guadalajara & Piedras Negras, Coahuila. For more than 18 years, Leticia’s work has centered on empowering Latinx families in Ventura County by helping create access to much needed resources. Her focus has ranged from issues related to foster & kinship care, small business support, food security, linguistic justice, and nutrition advocacy/education.
Leticia graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, with an emphasis in education and racial inequality. She practices the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira, which uses movement and music to teach students of all ages and abilities about resilience, resistance, and cultural preservation.
Liliana Manriquez (Chicana) is an Oxnard Native, raised by two Mexican immigrant parents. Working as the Coordinator for Proyecto Acceso with MICOP and as a Research Assistant and Evaluation Coordinator for MICOP’s Healing the Soul –Curando el Alma – Na Sana’e Ini’e project, she is utilizing her degrees in Psychology (CSU Channel Islands, 2016) and Mexican American Studies (The University of Arizona, 2018) to help better the people in her community. Liliana has experience working as a teaching assistant for universities, community organizer, and student outreach for higher education. She has worked as a long-term substitute teacher for the Ventura school district and is studying to be a Reiki Master. Her goal is to do work in life that makes an impact on the people in underserved and underrepresented communities, but most importantly she values the impact of her family.
Liza Diniakos began working with MICOP in 2018 as its DOJ Accredited Legal Representative.
In December 2020, Liza became the Program Supervisor of MICOPs Immigration Legal Assistance (MILA) program to assist in moving the program from immigration assistance for positive relief, such as citizenship and lawful permanent residents, to include Removal Defense for persons in deportation proceedings. MILA is working at MICOPs Santa Maria and Oxnard offices, has a full-time immigration lawyer, and is host to two Removal Defense Fellows. Prior to her work at MICOP, Liza worked with Freedom for Immigrants as its Volunteer Visitor Coordinator for Adelanto Detention Facility.
Lorri J. Santamaría (Louisiana Creole Choctaw descent) is the Director & Principal Investigator for Healing the Soul –Curando el Alma – Na Sánaeé Inié and Director for Proyecto ACCESO at The Mixteco Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP). Dr. Santamaría is a former Professor of Multilingual and Multicultural Education and Educational Leadership in the Schools of Education at California State University, San Marcos and The University of Auckland in New Zealand. With over 60 scholarly books and publications, her research interests are centered around critical aspects of social justice & equity, Indigeneity, Indigenous healing, and diversity as a resource. Her focus is on international culturally responsive/ sustainable educational leadership, Spiritual Activism and anti-racist research practices. She has recently given a TEDx Talk titled, “Co-Decolonization as Spiritual Activism: A Matter of Life and Breath.” In 2017 she was granted the Jeffrey V. Bennett Award for Outstanding International Research for the University Council of Educational Administration (UCEA). Selected publications include: Applied critical leadership: A way forward through shared disproportionate trauma. Academia Letters, Article 592; Developing and Sustaining Mixtec Thought Leadership: Immigrant Indigenous Women’s Construction of Community Serving Research (with others in press, Transformations series by the University of Illinois Press); Culturally Responsive leadership in Higher Education (with A. Santamaría 2015, Routledge); and Applied Leadership in Education (with A. Santamaria 2012, Routledge).
Melissa Cuevas joined MICOP in July 2019 and serves as the Project Coordinator for Conexion Con Mis Compañeras. Melissa is a local to Ventura county growing up in Port Hueneme until she left for college in northern California. She went to school at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she majored in Community Studies and minored in Education. Melissa has experience working in the non-profit sector and within education supporting the Latinx community. She is passionate about connecting individuals to resources, learning from the community, and working towards a mission to achieve greater good for all.
Norma Gomez has been a leader in MICOP since 2001. She first participated as a volunteer in organizing MICOP’s monthly community meeting, then trained as one of MICOP’s first Health Care Promotoras in 2004.
Norma helped to create the hands-on culturally and linguistically appropriate Well Baby (Bebe Sano) program in 2004 and Learning with Mom and Dad (Aprendiendo con Mamá y Papá) in 2011. She continues to coordinate those programs in her role as project manager. In 2014, Norma helped to develop and lead MICOP’s ongoing collaboration with UCLA to improve health access and outcomes for the indigenous community of Ventura County.
As project manager for the UCLA-MICOP participatory research studies, Norma has played a vital role in developing curricula, training community-based research investigators, developing unique tools and approaches to cancer prevention such as the RadioNovela, and interpreting research data and the production of evidence-based reports.
Victor was born in Ventura and raised in the city of Santa Paula, CA. As a Mexican American growing up in Santa Paula, Victor’s family instilled in him both social awareness and the importance of serving one’s community.
Victor completed his education in the Environment and Community Masters in Social Science program at Humboldt State University, where he conducted research on Indigenous knowledge and culture in Northern California.
He joined MICOP in 2020 as the Census Data Manager and later as the Census Project Director. In his current role as Grant Writer, Victor seeks grant opportunities that align with MICOP’s mission and strategic goals to meet the needs of Indigenous communities.
Vanessa Terán is a Mexican-American, social justice, environmental & human rights political advocate. They joined the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project in the summer of 2013.
At the Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), Vanessa previously oversaw programming in indigenous youth leadership, higher education, adult education, literacy, indigenous migrant culture, indigenous women’s workforce development and economic security, indigenous language services, language preservation & maintenance, indigenous reproductive justice and early childhood education.
They currently serve as Policy and Communications Associate for MICOP, with a focus on COVID-19 community mobilization and rapid response, health access, public charge, and environmental justice policies; as well as supporting the organization's policy priorities in education, language access, labor, and immigrant justice. Through their work at MICOP, they envision a strong & vibrant indigenous community, actively engaged to achieve just working and living conditions, equality, and full human rights in the broader community.
Vanessa is from Oxnard, California and a graduate of Chicana and Chicano Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.