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; Call George at (505)247-8832 ext. 122

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; Call Juan at (505)247-8832 ext.

Chief Financial Officer

Environmental Jus

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Alejandría Lyons

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 alejandria@swop.net

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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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.

 

Email Amanda at amanda@swop.net. Call Amanda at (505) 247-8832 ext. 128

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Lisa Padilla

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.

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; Call Janelle at 505-247-8832

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. Mik 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 Mik at Mikyle@swop.net; Call Mik at (505) 247-8832

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Amber Diaz

Office Manager

Amber Diaz grew up in New Mexico and is a passionate advocate for workers rights, environmental justice, women's rights, equity for our communities and works with our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated. Amber has been a member of SWOP for over a decade and haas been actively engaged in nearly all work areas of SWOP.

Email Amber at Amber@swop.net; Call Amber at (505) 247-8832

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; Call Sonai at (505) 247-8832

Chief Financial Officer

Alejandría Lyons

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Rodrigo Rodriguez

Field Organizer - Youth Justice

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; Call Rodrigo at (505)247-8832 ext. 118

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 Joseph at joseph@swop.net; Call Joseph at 505-247-8832 ext. 119

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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Yolanda Torres Martinez

Treasurer

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.

Executive Director

Executive Director

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Erik Rivera

Co-Chair

Born and Raised in Burque. Attended West Mesa HS and returned to school 17 years later…First at CNM and then at UNM. Americorps award recipient as well as a member of the National Philosophy Honors Society. He has worked in the non-profit sector for close to 8 years. Erik is a youth navigator and community organizer with La Plazita Institute. Who has worked hard for the youth and families in our community to combat recidivism and promote transparency and equity within the juvenile justice system. Mr Rivera enjoys organizing community events whenever possible including fundraisers, cultural, artistic, musical performance, holiday giveaways, haunted houses and collaborating with national/local organizations. He is part of the Albuquerque Justice for Youth Collaborative on the design team. One of the founding members of New Mexico Youth Justice Coalition. South Valley Mainstreet Board Member and Cochair to the Bernalillo County Alternatives to detention committee. A father to 4 beautiful children and proud partner to Victoria Lopez…Soon to be Dr. Lopez. 

Executive Director

Executive Director

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James Montoya

Board Member

James says SWOP found him after he started the Art Fight live art event. He has worked on the community mural against police violence and created a digital piece for the census. James believes that SWOP’s strength is the community it fosters around causes that benefit us all here in Albuquerque and New Mexico. James says that the  reliance on foundation funding keeps SWOP’s hands tied when it comes to some forms of community outreach and inclusion. Some of his goals are to reach new funding resources and come up with alternatives to the nonprofit industrial model of funding community work. James says that if he were an object from the PFTH community garden, he would be a wheelbarrow because he can carry and balance a lot of things at once.

Executive Director

Executive Director

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Steve Tafoya

Co-Chair

Steve found SWOP when he did his practicum for the 2020-2021 school year while attending Highlands University. He worked with Juan and Mateo and enjoyed every part of his learning experience as well as bringing some of his knowledge to the table. His participation with SWOP includes working in the community garden using heavy equipment, extending the chicken coop, donating tools and materials, helping build the raised garden beds, pulling weeds and planting cover crop seeds. He also worked with Juan on some grant related projects.  Serve believes that SWOP has many strengths such as we are involved in the community, we have a passion to help people, and we have proven our worth in the community by caring as well as giving back. The people who are employed as well as volunteers share the same passion and vision for helping people. SWOP has longevity as being one of the oldest non-profits in the city. Steve says he would like to be a hands-on board member who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get out to the community garden and pull weeds, plant, fertilize, harvest etc. Steve would also like to mentor people, especially the youth. He has an MSW and will be getting licensed shortly, therefore he would like to assist with the new practicum students coming.