José A. Castillo

Interim Grants Manager

José A. Castillo is a musician, arts advocate, and social activist raised in San Antonio, TX, and Monterrey, Mexico. Prior to joining NALAC, he interned with arts administrations such as Mexic-Arte Museum, Ballet Austin, Austin Music Foundation, and the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra in a wide range of capacities such as development, youth programs, and digital marketing. Alongside his administrative work, Castillo is an active composer and educator in a variety of styles. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Composition and Business minor from the University of Texas at Austin where he routinely performed with university orchestras, jazz ensembles and combos, and the student-led Volunteer Chamber Orchestra which he also co-directed. Castillo’s musical output ranges from pieces for electronic media to chamber music to international mariachi collaborations. Most recently, Castillo has completed a solo harp commission for the Butler School Collage Series which is set to premiere in Spring 2020.”

Luis M. Garza, Database and Digital Media SpecialistLuis M. Garza

Director of Technology and Innovation

Luis M. Garza is the Director of Technology and Innovation for NALAC and is an alumnus of the NALAC Leadership and Advocacy Leadership Institutes.  He in a technologist, naturalist, artist and owner of LMG Photography and Art. Prior to joining NALAC Luis worked with Jowdy Photography for over eight years, contracting with associations, conventions and corporate events throughout the U.S. and abroad. His experiences have encompassed many facets of the photography business. ranging from fine art photography, video and photo documentation, studio photography, large format print, and digital photo editing. His core competencies include Salesforce Administration, computer networking and administration to digital content management including graphic design, web design and print output.  He continues to produce and exhibit work in San Antonio, TX while collaborating with artists in and around San Antonio to document their artworks, exhibitions, and events.

Frances Guajardo, Accounting ManagerFrances Guajardo

Accounting Manager

Frances Guajardo is the Accounting Manager of NALAC and has over 24 years of nonprofit experience working with community based organizations across the state. Ms. Guajardo joined NALAC in 2009 and worked closely on the implementation of upgrades to the Buena Vista Gardens building. She studied Nonprofit Management at University of Texas San Antonio. She actively volunteers in the San Antonio community.

Jennifer Guel

Chief Financial Officer

Jennifer Guel is the Chief Financial Officer for NALAC. She has over 10 years of experience with nonprofit accounting and auditing. She graduated with her Master of Science in Management Information Systems and Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting after completing the Professional Program in Accounting from Texas A&M University.  When away from the office, she enjoys spending time with her family and traveling to new and familiar destinations.

Mari Hernandez Program Manager, Leadership Institutes & ConveningsMari Hernandez

Deputy Director

Mari Hernandez is an Arts Administrator and Artist with nearly 23 years of experience in the nonprofit arts and leadership sector. She earned her BA in English from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Prior to joining NALAC she served as the Education Manager for the Contemporary at Blue Star where she developed and provided strategic oversight for the education department. As the Program Manager at San Anto Cultural Arts Hernandez directed programs focused on promoting human and community growth through the arts. She is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Grant and The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Fund for the Arts Grant. She was a finalist in the 2023 National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and has shown her work locally, nationally, and internationally. She is an alumni of NALAC’s Leadership Institute and Advocacy Leadership Institute. As an arts worker, arts advocate, and visual artist with training in servant leadership Hernandez has in-depth knowledge of the arts and culture ecosystem.

River Kiefer

Program Assistant, Grants

Growing up on a small border town farm, River Kiefer found a passion for expressing herself through visual and dramatic arts. After moving to the city and studying for four years at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in English and English Language Arts, with a minor in Expressive Arts. River enjoys participating in local theater productions, creating unique self-portraits, and singing loudly in her car. Her passions include learning more about the world, connecting with people of diverse backgrounds, and being of service to others.

Anna Laflin, Development AssociateAnna Laflin

Development Grants Manager

Anna Laflin is an artist from Houston, Texas who recently graduated in May 2019 from Trinity University with a Bachelor of Science degree in both Studio Art and Business Administrative  Marketing. Currently, Anna is the Development Grants Manager at the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) and the Director of Attendee Experience for TEDx Trinity University; a student-run organization dedicated to fostering creation and change by giving students, faculty, and alumni the opportunity and forum to share their ideas and learn from others. Prior to working at NALAC, she worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. As a multi-ethnic artist, Anna is passionate about breaking the glass ceiling in the business and art world for minorities and hopes to one day create a community for people of color to come together to discuss ideas and express themselves through the fine arts.

Lucila Lagace

Manager of Research

Lucila Lagace is the Manager of Research for NALAC. She brings over thirty years of experience to the nonprofit community and has spent her career as a leader of nonprofit and governmental organizations across the U.S. and Central America. She is known throughout Texas as “The Nonprofit Girl” based on her passion for nonprofit management and leadership. She founded the Lagace Consulting LLC, served on the board of the Texas Association of Nonprofit Organizations (TANO), and was one of eight Texans selected to serve on the Taskforce on Improving Relations with Nonprofits created by the Texas Legislature. She holds a BA in Spanish Literature from the University of Texas at Austin and attended the Spanish Graduate Program in Literature and Cultural Studies at Texas Tech University. Born in Texas as a first-generation American, Ms. Lagace was raised both in Mexico and the United States. In 2019 she survived a severe spinal cord injury and now views everyday joy as the heartbeat of life. Her greatest joys include writing creative non-fiction, dancing (classical ballet and Mexican folklórico), and traveling through the Pueblos Mágicos in Mexico.

Lucha Lopez, Operations ManagerLucha López

Operations Manager/Board Liason

Lucha Lopéz is the Operations Manager and Board Liason of NALAC. As a multi-ethnic native Texan, Lucha is guided by social, political, and economic equity. She brings over 16 years of diverse, grassroots non-profit experience. Lucha studied liberal arts locally and joined NALAC in 2017. Lucha retains her culture by practicing many forms of native ceremonial traditions including Aztec and Chichimeca song and dance along with American Indian singing and drumming. She also maintains an active lifestyle which includes yoga, pilates, meditation, and lifting weights.

María López De León, President and CEOMaria López De León

President, CEO and NALAC Board Member

María López De León is the President, CEO and board member of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC). In 2013, President Obama appointed Ms. De León to the National Council on the Arts. In 2012 and 2013, she was named among the nation’s Fifty Most Powerful and Influential People in the Nonprofit Arts. She serves on multiple arts and culture policy panels and is an advocate for arts and cultural equity. She serves on the board of the First Peoples Fund, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and the Performing Arts Alliance.

Armani Martinez

Armani Martinez

Technology & Creative Specialist

Armani Martinez (she/they) is the Technology & Creative Specialist at NALAC. She is a fronteriza and technologista from Brownsville, Texas. Armani is driven to using digital media and technology as a tool for social change. With over 5 years of experience, her expertise lies in computer networking, administration, and technical support. Armani is currently a Radio, Television, and Broadcasting major at San Antonio College. Outside of work and school, she enjoys staying active in her community and spending time with her husband and their dog Margot.

Alyssa Pineda Program AssociateAlyssa Pineda

Program Assistant, Leadership & Convenings

Alyssa Pineda is a Program Associate at NALAC. Born and raised in San Antonio, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree of Criminal Justice from The University of Texas in SA. Prior to working at NALAC, Alyssa brings her field experience in Theater Management and Festival Coordination from her time at The Majestic & Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, SXSW and Sundance Film Festival. Alyssa hopes to continue her education of the arts through advocacy and community. She is passionate about environmentalism, breaking generational trauma and barriers, as well as carving out safe accessible spaces to not only explore creativity but to encourage curiosity of expression through art. 

Estela RodriguezEsthela Rodriguez

Facilities Associate







Penny Rodriguez Communications CoordinatorPenny Rodriguez

Communications Manager

Penny Marie Rodriguez is the Communications Manager for NALAC. A Texas native, Penny obtained her B.S. in Public Relations from Texas State University and is currently pursuing her M.A. in Mass Communications. Prior to working at NALAC, she served as the marketing and communications contact for the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, lending key support to marketing, strategic messaging, and community engagement for multiple Cultural Arts programs. She hopes to continue the work of amplifying opportunities and resources for education, advocacy, and preservation of creative communities and cultural arts.

Jody Sarkozy-Banoczy, Development AssociateJody Sarkozy-Banoczy

Development Associate

Jody Sarkozy-Banoczy is an independent grant-writing consultant based in the Washington D.C. area. Her expertise lies in the arts and Native community development field. She has 15 years of experience and success writing grants to several foundations and federal agencies including the CDFI Fund, Administration for Native Americans, USDA, HUD and others. She is the former director of development for First Nations Oweesta Corporation and her work supports organizations focused on Native artist entrepreneurship, small business development, youth, leadership and affordable housing.

F Javier Torres-Campos

Interim President & CEO

F. Javier Torres-Campos (Javier) is the Interim CEO and President for NALAC. He has worked in philanthropy for over twelve years. His work centers on caring for people and community while investing in imagination, narrative and culture change, and power building. Most recently, he served as the director of Thriving Cultures at the Surdna Foundation, where he designed and implemented a national world-building portfolio of investments. Prior to working at Surdna, he served as the Director of National grantmaking at ArtPlace America. He is a co-founder of 2043 Ventures (a.k.a. The BIPOC Storytelling Fund) and the Constellations Narrative and Culture Change Fund. He is an alum of the NALAC Leadership Institute and has served as a board member for NALAC and as chair of the Boston Cultural Council. As a philanthropic leader, he is dedicated to liberated and self-determined futures for BIPOC, LGBTQI+ and disabled communities, and all peoples of the global majority.