Luis J. Rodriguez, Executive Board Member, President, is a leading Chicano writer with fifteen books in poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and nonfiction. His first memoir, 1993’s “Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.” has sold close to 500,000 copies and is considered one of the 100 most censored books in the U.S. by the American Library Association. He is cofounder of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore and founding editor of Tia Chucha Press. He is also a renowned gang intervention/urban peace leader and has traveled throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, and Japan to read poetry, do workshops and speak — including in prisons, juvenile lockups, universities, colleges, public & private schools, homeless shelters, migrant camps, conferences, libraries, and more. His book “Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times” offers experience, analysis and advice on healing through community building.In addition, he is a Native American/Mexican healer and thinker, and has been involved in revolutionary social change for over forty years. His sequel memoir is entitled “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing,” which in 2012 became a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His latest poetry book is "Borrowed Bones," a chapbook from Curbstone Books/Northwestern University Press. Luis was the official Poet Laureate of Los Angeles from 2014-2016.
Trini Tlazohteotl Rodriguez is co-founder of Tia Chucha’s and served as Executive Director until February 2018. A graduate of CSU, Northridge, she has experience as an educator, editor, writer, interpreter, business manager, and mentor. Adopted by a Navajo Nation Dine family, Trini conducts women’s sweat lodge ceremonies and talking circles for personal and collective healing. She views the arts and the recovery of ancestral knowledge as necessary to reconnect people to their natural creative capacities as artists and thinkers whose combined gifts can help realign our world to its most caring transformative possibilities. Active all her life, she writes, speaks and strives to impact systemic social change so that we may fully express our authentic selves and live the lives we were born to lead. Awards include: 2003 Local Hero of the Year, Hispanic Heritage Month KCET/Union Bank of CA; 2010 Mujeres Destacadas, Arte y Cultura Award, La Opinion; 2014 Mujeres de Corazon, Comision Femenil/San Fernando Valley; 2016 Community Hero Award, Los Angeles Dodgers; 2017 Maestro Award, Latino Arts Network; 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award, Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore. She and husband Luis J Rodriguez produce “The Hummingbird Cricket Hour” podcast to explore thoughts and move hearts on pressing matters of life, social change, and philosophy. Contact: TriniRod@gmail.
Robyn Gomez, Executive Board Member, Secretary, is an Associated Clinical Social Worker in the local community. Raised in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, she attended L.A. Mission College, CSU, Northridge and USC. She first became involved at Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural in with Tonantzin Del Valle, our first women's circle which became its own non-profit in 2004 (Huexotlalli Tonan Foundation). She has over 15 years of community organizing experience working with local families in mental health, medical-social work, gang intervention, and school (K-College) settings. She utilizes her clinical skills to engage families and the community through healing in the arts and literacy. She is a long time supporter of Tia Chucha’s and also volunteers with Comision Femenil San Fernando Valley.
Michael De La Rocha, Board Member, drawing inspiration from soul music, classic singer-songwriters and socially conscious artists like John Lennon and Bob Marley, Mike de la Rocha has been described as a modern day Bob Dylan who’s taken his brand of acoustic folk-rock all over the United States and Europe. As a featured artist for Rock the Vote and a contributing writer to Russell Simmons’ Global Grind website and HyperVocal.com, Mike continues to garner national attention as a writer and musician. Mike’s also actively involved in reforming the juvenile justice system and advises a number of Congressional members and elected officials on the issue of violence prevention. Visitwww.mikedelarocha.com andwww.onestorymanyvoices.com for more info.
Daniel Olivas, Board Member, is the author of seven books including the award winning novel, The Book of Want (University of Arizona Press), and Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature through Essays and Interviews (San Diego State University Press). He is the editor of the anthology, Latinos in Lotusland (Bilingual Press), and co-editor of The Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles (Tía Chucha Press). Widely anthologized, his writing has been featured in Sudden Fiction Latino (W. W. Norton), and New California Writing 2012 (Heyday Books). Daniel has also written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, El Paso Times, Jewish Journal, Huffington Post, and La Bloga, among other print and online publications. By day, he is a supervising deputy attorney general in the Public Rights Division of the California Department of Justice. Daniel and his wife make their home in the San Fernando Valley, and are the parents of a son (and UCLA graduate), Benjamin. Website: www.danielolivas.com.
Denise M. Sandoval, Ph.D Board Member, is a Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at CSU, Northridge since 2002. She received her doctorate in Cultural Studies from Claremont Graduate University in 2003, her Masters of Arts in Chicana/o Studies from CSU Northridge in 1995, and her Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley in 1993. She was the guest curator/community researcher for two exhibitions on lowrider culture at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles: La Vida Lowrider: Cruising the City of Angels (2007-08) and Arte y Estilo: The Chicano Lowriding Tradition (2000). In May 2012, she co-edited a book with award winning author Luis J. Rodriguez titled Rushing Waters, Rising Dreams: How the Arts Are Transforming a Community for Tia Chucha Press which documents art activism in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. The book was awarded a bronze medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) in June 2013 and also was awarded the PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award in December 2013. Her next book project is titled White Washing American Education: The New Culture Wars in Ethnic Studies, which is a co-edited two volume set with contributed essays on Ethnic Studies in K-12 and higher education to be published by Praeger in Fall 2016. She has been a professor in Chicana/o Studies/Ethnic Studies for over 17 years and teaches courses such as Introduction to Chicano Culture, History of the Americas, History of the Chicana/o and Third World Woman and La Chicana. Her research interests include popular culture and the arts, cultural histories of Los Angeles, oral history and community histories.
Dr. Acuña earned her PhD in Social Welfare from UCLA and her MSW from UC Berkeley. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and holds a Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPSC) in Child Welfare and Attendance and School Social Work. In nearly 30 years of work in health and human services, Dr. Acuña has experience in macro- to micro-level social work practice primarily with low-income ethnic minority urban youth and families in various settings – non-profit community based organizations, child protective services, and public school districts. Dr. Acuña has taught social work courses at CSULA, UCLA and CSUN and won local and national awards for field instruction. Dr. Acuña provides consultation and training, presents at conferences locally and nationally, and is the lead author of several peer-reviewed journal articles on topics that include school-based interventions, parenting & family communication, PTSD & resilience, Latin American immigrants, and minority male college student success. Her research interests include urban youth and families, trauma- and resilience-informed and responsive systems, and cultural/traditional approaches to mental health treatment.