Staff

José A. Castillo

Grants Manager

jcrocha@nalac.org

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

Chief Operating Officer

lgarza@nalac.org

Luis M. Garza is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for NALAC and is an alumnus of the NALAC Leadership and Advocacy Leadership Institutes. He is 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

Operations Manager

fguajardo@nalac.org

Frances Guajardo is the Operations 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

jguel@nalac.org

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

Chief Strategy Officer

mhernandez@nalac.org

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

Grants Associate

rkiefer@nalac.org

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.

Lucila Lagace

Research Manager

llagace@nalac.org

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

Executive Assistant

llopez@nalac.org

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.

Armani Martinez

Communications Manager

almartinez@nalac.org

Armani Martinez, the Communications Manager at NALAC, embodies a dynamic blend of her roots as a fronteriza from Brownsville, Texas, and her passion for technology. Armani is driven to use digital media and technology as a tool for social change. Currently pursuing her Electronic Media studies at Texas State University, Armani is a perpetual student, constantly seeking new avenues for creative expression and impact. Beyond her professional endeavors, Armani is an aspiring DJ, multimedia journalist, and visual storyteller. Actively engaged in her community, she dedicates herself to initiatives that uplift and empower those around her. Armani enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog/daughter, Margot.

April Orci

Senior Technology Manager

aorci@nalac.org

Meet April Orci, a tech enthusiast born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, who found her calling in San Antonio in 2012. April kickstarted her career in tech as a radio operator for Multimedios Estrellas de Oro in Mexico back in 2010. However, it was her transition to non-profits that sparked her passion. Beginning as a broadcast and IT engineer for Texas Public Radio in San Antonio, April dedicated four transformative years to the cause. Seeking new challenges, April made the leap to the corporate sector, serving as a Multimedia Producer for VMware, a leading player in multicloud and SaaS solutions. Driven by her love for immersive experiences, she ventured into corporate events, mastering the art of orchestrating live, hybrid, and virtual events on a global scale. April’s journey led her to NALAC, where she combines her diverse skill set in operations, production, and IT services to make a  meaningful impact. Outside of work, she cherishes moments spent with her wife and their four feline companions. Among them, her 14-year-old cat, who accompanied her on the journey from Mexico to the US, holds a special place in her heart. Join April as she continues to blend passion, technology, and community to create impactful experiences in both her professional and personal life.

Alyssa Pineda Program AssociateAlyssa Pineda

Convenings Manager

apineda@nalac.org

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. 

Cat Rodríguez

Director of Programs

crodriguez@nalac.org

Cat Rodríguez (she/ella) labors alongside collaborators to collectively create and enact shared vision, from an imagined artwork to more just, liberatory futures. For over a decade, Cat’s worked across artistic forms and media, regions, borders, languages. She wears many wigs: artist, advocate, arts administrator (among others). Whatever the role or task at hand, Cat centers people and works from a jubilant anti-oppression framework. Black / Latiné feminisms as well as collectivist organizing experiences fundamentally inform her artmaking and pathtaking. A “people person” with a politic and a love for the Ridiculous, she’s all about bringing critical rigor, playfulness, and specificity to process. Cat maintains an active artistic practice in theater + new media as a performer, director, dramaturg, and translator. She is co-foundress of the queer collective Fake Friends, who were Finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and with whom she won an Obie Award. Cat’s an alumna of the NALAC Leadership Institute and Sundance’s Latiné Fellowship and Interdisciplinary Program. She lives and labors in english y español, talks with her hands, and also anda con ganas. Cat names New York, New Orleans, and Nicaragua home.

Estela RodriguezEsthela Rodriguez

Facilities Associate

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penny Rodriguez Communications CoordinatorPenny Rodriguez

Director of Communications

prodriguez@nalac.org

Penny Marie Rodriguez is the Director of Communications 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 Consultant

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

fjtorres@nalac.org

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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