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.
Alberto Mejia is the Deputy Director at NALAC. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington and a BA in American Cultural Studies and Political Science from Fairhaven College. Prior to joining NALAC in 2020, he served as manager of Cultural Funding & Investments with the City of Austin, a senior director of Community Programs at Creative Action, Manager of the Dougherty Arts Center, Executive Director of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in Seattle, WA and Community Engagement Manager at MoPOP in Seattle, WA. Alberto is an alumnus of NALAC’s Advocacy Leadership Institute (ALI) and has served as panelist for local to national grant making programs including ARTPLACE and NEA Our Town. Alberto is active in cultural policy issues & dialogue. Alberto is an artist in the in hip-hop genre and devotes time to the practice of indigenous cultural tradition, community building & dance.
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.
Program Manager, Grants
Born and raised within the U.S./Mexico borderlands, Jackelin’s upbringing has inspired commitments to social justice and the arts which have guided her development. Holding a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Texas- Pan American, Jackelin gets satisfaction out of seeing collaborative projects evolve from thoughts into being. A classically trained Ballet dancer, this love for bringing the intangible into the physical drives her as a performance artist, theatermaker, and campaign strategist. In 2018 Jackelin received the Lone Star Sierra Club Chapter Service Award for her environmental leadership in Texas. She is a proud alumni of the Center for Progressive Leadership, Sierra Club Apprenticeship, and the Bill Archer Fellowship Programs. Jackelin spends her days loving on cats and her favorite human beings, teaching others what she knows about things she loves, eating and drinking yummy things, and deepening her spiritual, physical, and artistic practices.
Program Manager, Leadership Institutes & Convenings
Mari Hernandez is an Arts Administrator and Artist with nearly 20 years of experience in the nonprofit arts and leadership sector. She earned her BA in English from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She most recently served as the Education Manager for Blue Star Contemporary (BSC) where she provided strategic oversight for BSC’s education department. Prior to BSC, Hernandez was the Program Manager at San Anto Cultural 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 and has shown her work locally, nationally, and internationally. She is an alumna of NALAC’s Leadership Institute and Advocacy Leadership Institute. As a community servant, educator, and artist with skills in critical and creative writing, Hernandez has substantial knowledge in developing, facilitating, and managing programs and outreach.
Manager of Technology and Innovation
Luis M. Garza is the Manager of Technology and Innovation for NALAC and is an alumnus of the NALAC Leadership and Advocacy Institutes. He is an 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 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 other artists in and around San Antonio to document their artworks, exhibitions, and events.
Penny Marie Rodriguez is the Communications Coordinator for NALAC. A Texas native, Penny obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Relations and Mass Communication from Texas State University. 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.
Lucha Lopéz is the Operations Manager 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
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.
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.
Technology & Digital Media Specialist
Armani Villarreal (she/they) is the Technology & Digital Media Specialist at NALAC. She is a digital designer, technologist and creative from Brownsville, Texas. With over 5 years of experience, her expertise lies in computer networking, administration, and technical support. Armani is driven to using art and technology as a tool for social change. Prior to NALAC, she collaborated with Las Imaginistas, Taller de Permiso, and Cartlotta K. Petrina Cultural Center.
José A. Castillo
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.”
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.