Staff

 

Mike.jpgMichael Centeno, Executive Director, has been a consistent Tia Chucha’s volunteer since the space opened in 2001 organizing a weekly film series, then moving to the role of Centro coordinator when the non-profit was established in 2003. In 2006 Michael moved on to work for The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as other youth development organizations such as the Youth Policy Institute and Youth Speak Collective, eventually making his way back to become part of the board of directors for Tia Chucha’s. Under the umbrella of Youth Speak Collective, Michael co-founded Media Solutions, a social enterprise which pairs youth with mentors to produce video and photography services for other non-profit organizations and businesses. Michael has over 10 years experience in multi-media production with an emphasis in film production and is passionate about media literacy in underserved communities. In 2015 Michael was officially hired on as Development Director for Tia Chucha’s. In February of 2018 the Board of Directors voted him in as Executive Director. Contact info: michael@tiachucha.org

 

EhekaliSanVicente.jpgMelissa Sanvicente, Associate Director, began volunteering at Tia Chucha’s in 2002 as a Sylmar High School student, became a staff member over fifteen years ago, and recently was Tia Chucha’s Program Director for 5 years. Recently she was promoted to Associate Director. She has previously helped organize our annual literacy Celebrating Words Festival, holiday marketplace Winterlandia, and fundraising Gala celebrations. It is her connection to Tia Chucha’s as a youth that helped her reignite her love for the arts and her passion for music, dance, and indigenous spirituality. Melissa practices Mexica indigenous drumming, dance, and song for the past 14 years, as a member of Kalpulli Xochiyaoyotl. She is a graduate of Ethnomusicology at UCLA, with an emphasis on Mexica indigenous song and dance. She is a member of HOODSisters, an all womyn and womyn identified mural arts collective, and completed the 2017-2018 ACTIVATE Arts Advocacy Leadership Fellowship Program of Arts for LA focused on advocacy training and leadership development. melissa@tiachucha.org

 

Ruben_Guevara_(color)_0003_(2)_G.R..jpgRubén Guevara, Development Consultant, is a graduate from UCLA in World Arts & Cultures (cum laude) and an acclaimed performer, writer, musician, producer, and theater director combining his skills to promote the arts through community participation. He has been an advocate and leader for youth arts programming in the inner city of Los Angeles since 1993 as founder-director of Arts 4 City Youth, a free, multidisciplinary arts program. He was program manager of Community Bridges, a Latinx and Asian/Pacific Islander audience development and outreach program at the Ford Amphitheatre where their attendance was increased substantially under his direction. He has been on Tía Chucha’s development team since 2007 writing grants, organizing five art auctions and four concert benefits at the Ford Amphitheatre that included multiethnic performers reflecting his mission of celebrating Angelino culture: a culture of many autonomous cultures. Contact info: ruben@tiachucha.org

 

  

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Mayra Zaragoza is the Founder and Program Director of, Young Warriors Youth Mentoring Program.   She began her career in youth development in 2007 at the age of 16. Still a high school student, Mayra established the Young Warriors under the umbrella of, Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore with the help of co-founder and known author Luis J. Rodriguez. Young Warriors was created to meet the needs of the young people living in the low-income communities of the Northeast San Fernando Valley. The need being a safe, judgment-free space, in which young people from all walks of life could coexist, learn from each other, create self-expressive art, mature and contribute to the betterment of their community. Mayra has recently received her Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Chicano/a Studies along with two minors; one in Writing and Rhetoric and another in Recreational Management,  from the California State University of Northridge. She is ready to train the next generation in following the Young Warriors mission of helping young people understand their individual: mental, emotional and physical needs through the practices of proper mentoring in order to achieve the Young Warriors vision; which is to empower a generation of community leaders that live a balanced, purposeful and wholesome life. Contact info: mayra@tiachucha.org  

 

Rebecca Liliana Gomez started off attending Tia Chucha’s Centro’s events, and as a student of the Son Jarocho classes. She was fortunate enough to work for Tia Chucha’s as a Program Assistant in 2015. Currently, she is the Project Coordinator for From Trauma to Transformation. From Trauma to Transformation is a new Tia Chucha project, inspired by the work of Luis Rodriguez, to change the narrative by which society views mass incarceration, and the people impacted by it. Besides her commitment to Tia Chucha’s vision, Rebecca is driven by social justice, education and h[x]rstory. She received her Bachelor’s degree in 2012 from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in Gender, Ethnic and Multicultural Studies and received her Master’s degree in 2016 from California State University, Northridge in Chicana/o Studies. She hopes to continue to be an educator and lifelong student in a variety of settings through cultural centers, universities and colleges, and K-12 to encourage youth to work towards creating a better world. Contact info: rebecca@tiachucha.org

 

 


Jessica M. Wilson Cárdenas is a Chicana Poet born in East Los Angeles, CA. She is a 3rd generation Beatnik by way of Jack Spicer through Paul Vangelisti; with her MFA in Poetry from Otis College of Art and Design and BA in Creative Writing and Art History from UC Riverside. She is the founder of the Los Angeles Poet Society, (a bridge to LA's literary network), an educatoand an activist. Jessica has the best spoken word album for 2018 from the Independent Music Awards, with Violinist JenniAsher. Their album is called Freedom. Jessica's latest collection Serious Longing is available from Swan World Press, Paris, France. www.jessicamwilson.com | www.lapoetsociety.org  Jessica is the Tia Chucha Press Coordinator, managing Tia Chucha's own 29-year-old small press, originally founded by TC Co-Founder and Poet, Luis J. Rodriguez in Chicago, Illinois. Jessica takes care of our authors' needs, promotes the press, and looks forward to continued growth and success for the press. Contact: tcpress@tiachucha.org

 

 

Since 2011, Rosalilia M. Mendoza has volunteered, helped organized several arts and music programs, and taught music for youths and families at Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural and bookstore and is currently the bookstore manager. Born and raised in the northeastern valley, after she graduated from the master’s program in Counseling Psychology and Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian studies from WI, Madison, Rosalilia had a strong desire to return to her community to create, transform, and build using the arts for healing and growth. As a child, she developed a passion for reading, but would find herself disappointed with stories or books which didn’t represent the realities of herself, family, and community. Having been a former therapist, music instructor, and poet, Rosalilia has seen the power of the arts and story to transform trauma into healing.

 

 

Susan Gonzalez is the fundraising summer intern at Tia Chucha's. She recently received her Associate's degree in Theatre from College of the Canyons, but is switching her major to Communications with a minor in business, in the hopes to transfer to California State University of Long Beach. When she is not on stage she is always trying to crack a joke and make someone laugh, one day she hopes to perform stand-up comedy and make a whole audience laugh. Helping others is extremely important to her, as a result, she joined the American Red Cross and the Community Emergency Response Team. Contact: fundraising@tiachucha.org
 

 

 

Caro Vera, Transformation Project Intern, is a current undergraduate at Yale University majoring in Sociology. Caro’s interest in arts education is shaped by how art has played a transformative role in their life. Growing up in front of Chicano Park in San Diego has deeply impacted their sense of cultural, historical, and political consciousness. Once ashamed of their neighborhood, —of its poverty and seeming powerlessness — the themes of the park’s murals and history of its creation have since inspired love for community and a sense of agency in a world rampant with structural inequalities. Caro’s belief in the significance of preserving marginalized communities’ histories so that they may serve as sources of healing and inspiration has led them to intern at Lambda Archives of San Diego, a non-profit which documents LGBTQ history, and to found the Historical Preservation and Education Committee at Yale’s La Casa Cultural: Latino Cultural Center. Caro believes that archives can serve as more than a repository for academic research, but also as wellsprings for historical outreach into the very communities they document. Through history, using art as a tool for education, communities can perceive patterns of inequality and learn from the past to change the future. Caro feels very passionately about public art and other accessible pathways for audiences to engage with art, and, for that reason, they see an internship with Tía Chucha's as an important opportunity to learn how to empower communities through arts education. They look forward to learning from everyone at Tía Chucha's and working with formerly incarcerated individuals through the Transformation Project to change the narrative on mass incarceration! Contact: outreach@tiachucha.org 

 

Brenda Yera is a student attending CSUN. She’s currently studying with the department of Chicano Studies with an option of teaching. She has always had a passion for serving her community. She has volunteered with the non-profit Meet Each Need with Dignity(MEND) by tutoring kids from working class families in the Education center. She also worked at a student-run nonprofit “Inside Out” where the group created a space housed by Valley Performing Arts Center at CSUN to provide a study space- free for students. The organization also created & hosted events for students to engage with the arts. She is currently the Development Intern at Tia Chucha’s where her job duties include providing administrative and project assistance to development staff for ongoing projects.

 

 


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