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:
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 and daughter Lorena, walking his dog along the bosque, watching samurai movies, and kicking it in Los Duranes.
Email George at email@example.com; Call George at (505)247-8832 ext. 122
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 also has a lot of racism issues; Juan experienced many social justice issues on a firsthand basis. For the past seven years, Juan has been the Environmental Justice Organizer with SWOP, assisting environmental justice communities their fights for self-determination to achieve clean air and water. Before joining SWOP, Juan was the New Mexico Beyond Coal organizer for Sierra Club, an organizer with New Mexico Youth Organized, and a Green for All fellow. Juan has also helped run field for political campaigns and has led many youth leadership programs. Beyond his professional experience, he has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of New Mexico. Juan is a young man who brings a wealth of knowledge about the issues facing communities subject to polluting industry, and a strong skill set in organizing.
Email Juan at firstname.lastname@example.org; Call Juan at (505)247-8832 ext. 115
Chief Financial Officer
Marisol is a native Burqueña with a deep love for New Mexico. Marisol joined SWOP in 2008 as the Development Coordinator where she coordinated SWOP's grassroots fundraising program. Marisol became the CFO of SWOP in 2018 and works to build a feminist economy internally at SWOP and externally in the community. She is also responsible for the accounting, bookkeeping, grants management and grassroots fundraising for SWOP. Marisol serves on the Climate Justice Alliance’s Our Power Loan Fund Steering Committee and the Advisory Board of the Three Sisters Kitchen. Marisol has a Master’s degree in Special Education from New Mexico Highlands University and BAs from University of New Mexico in Latin American Studies and Political Science. Along with her husband Mark, Marisol has two chingonas in training, Adelita and Rosie. Marisol's daughters remind her to never give up. Marisol is proud to follow in a long line of powerful women in her family. A goal for Marisol as CFO of SWOP is to move money to our communities so we can heal ourselves. Every day, she carries with her the strength and memories of her great-grandma, Cesaria Rivera, who was a healer in her family and community, and of her grandma, Antonia Padilla, who was the first ever female Vice President of a bank in New Mexico.
Email Marisol at Marisol@swop.net
Environmental Justice Organizer
Alejandría Lyons is a Xicana organizer from Los Lunas, Nuevomexico and a first generation college graduate with a Master's in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico. Alejandría first joined SWOP staff as an environmental and food justice intern in 2015, then later worked as the YES! Team Lead during summer 2017. Throughout her graduate career Alejandría held multiple positions on the SWOP board. She continued to work on environmental justice related topics through her position as Program Assistant for the Center for Social Sustainable Research, here she focused primarily on issues related to acequias and water rights related matters. Alejandría has also worked with multiple agencies to help launch the Bosque Cultural Healing Initiative, a restoration project located near Barelas and South Valley, which aims to restore both the bosque and the connection native burqueños have to this natural landscape. Being from New Mexico Alejandría understands the importance of protecting our land-based cultures while standing up against opposing industry. She has also traveled to several places in Latinoamerica (South America, Cuba, and Honduras) to show solidarity for folks fighting against environmental racism as this relates to the battles we face here in New Mexico.
Email Alejandría Lyons at email@example.com
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.
Email Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call Amanda at (505)247-8832 ext. 128
Field Organizer - Gender Justice
Lisa Padilla is the Con Mujeres Gender Justice organizer for SWOP. Born and raised in Albuquerque, she attended St. John’s College in Santa Fe. She then studied psychology, anthropology, and Chicano studies at UNM, graduating in 2016. She went on to study for her Masters in Social Work at NM Highlands. In raising her three boys, she has aspired to educate them as feminists and activists. As a volunteer at their schools she frequently read to them and their peers in Spanish, with an eye towards appreciation for our New Mexican cultural heritage. Lisa imagines herself riding on the shoulders of her ancestors, especially those of her grandmothers and great-grandmother, who came to Albuquerque from Chihuahua Mexico during the time of the Revolution, against great odds. Her paternal family’s history is deeply rooted in New Mexico, going back hundreds of years. Her parents and her many aunts and uncles have schooled her in the pride and poder of Chicano Power all of her life. It’s for this reason that working in social justice for our community feels like a natural part of her evolution, as her life experiences have all led to this place.
Email Lisa at Lisa@swop.net; Call Lisa at 505-247-8832 ext.
Food Justice Organizer
Javier Matthew Carrasco (also known as Mateo) 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;
Media & Communications Designer
Mikyle is a 1st-generation Jamaican-American, born and raised on the eastside of Chicago, Illinois. Mik earned his BA in graphic design with an emphasis titled "Exploring Culture Through Visual Media and Graphic Arts". After participating in the YES Summer program in 2017, Mik 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 Mik at Mikyle@swop.net; Call Mik at (505)247-8832 ext. 120
Roberto 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.
Email Roberto at email@example.com; Call Roberto at (505)247-8832 ext. 114
Field Organizer - Food Justice
Rodrigo 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.
Email Rodrigo at firstname.lastname@example.org; Call Rodrigo at (505)247-8832 ext. 118
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 Joseph at email@example.com; Call Joseph at 505-247-8832 ext. 119
SWOP BOARD of DIRECTORS
Samia is a Palestinian-American activist who has strong family roots in New Mexico. She is a wife and mother to nine children, as well as a local business owner and is currently the President of the board at the Albuquerque Peace & Justice Center. Her most recent work involves being a part of 'Friends of Khuza'a Albuquerque' campaign to fundraise to build a kindergarten and a water filtration system in Khuza'a, a village in Gaza, Palestine. Samia prides herself in being a Palestinian-American and New Mexican, and finds that she can serve and will continue to serve both communities in her capacity as a community activist and organizer.
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.
Aidé González Espíndola
Aidé González Espíndola is a Special Education teacher for Albuquerque Public School. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in Bilingual Education and has a Masters in Special Education. She is an immigrant from Mexico D.F. and her interests are focused on increasing the participation of the Spanish-speaking community, low-income communities for the improvement of education and social justice in New Mexico. She has been a member of the Southwest Organizing Project since 2013.
Ingrid was born in Chihuahua, México in 1996. She came to Albuquerque in 2007. She works at South Valley Academy as the 7th grade Special Education Teacher. Her initial involvement was when she was a senior in high school and found herself struggling to attend college due to her immigration status at the moment. As a board member, she hopes to give back to SWOP and her community.
Yolanda Torres Martinez
Yolanda Torres Martinez is a social activist and organizer. She is most proud of being born and raised in New Mexico. She received her AA degree in Liberal Arts from Central New Mexico Community College in 2008. She then attended UNM. Yolanda has worked in the private sector doing data entry with Bank of America and First National Bank. She has been an active member and contributor to SWOP’s Con Mujeres Gender Justice, World March of Women and Universidad Sin Fronteras. She was one of the primary planners for the Women’s March 2018. She has worked on several political campaigns including a minimum wage campaign with OLE. Yolanda brings to the board her urgent and long-term sense of justice and equity for our families, communities and our mother earth.
Karlos Gauna Schmieder
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.