Johanna is passionate to work and engage the Latin@ community with the outdoors. She cares a lot about the environment and how environmental issues impact communities of color.
Coming from a communications and programming background, Johanna hopes to encourage and foster learning about the watershed within the Latin@ community.
Valeria is a nature enthusiast and animal lover that is impassioned about reconnecting with the natural world. She has a deep belief in the healing and balancing properties that nature brings. Valeria seeks to share this love with her community as she has was raised in northern VA and wants to help others share in the beauty of the outdoors. She has volunteered with Defensores de la Cuenca in the past which is how she came to be part of the team.
With experience in management, event planning, and a creative background she hopes to help further the organizations goals and connect with the latino community on a deeper level.
Jorge Abraham Lopez Trejo
Abraham was born and raised in northern Mexico and moved to the US when he was a teenager. He has been working to increase access to nature for the Latine/o community of Maryland since 2017. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Education.
Following an internship with the USFW, and over five years of experience as an educator and community coordinator at the National Audubon Society in Baltimore MD, he joins Defensores de la Cuenca to keep expanding nature access and opportunities for the Latine/o community in the Chesapeake watershed. He enjoys using nature to bring people together and believes in the healing power of natural spaces.
A climate change professional, certified in the territorial management of forests and watersheds, Morales is an expert in beekeeping and has extensive experience in coffee growing, propagation, and crop maintenance. Morales has a strong passion for the environment and loves being out in nature.
Nancy was born and raised in Prince George's County, Maryland. She's always had a passion for helping people, and animals, in any way she can. Since childhood, her dreams for the future always included assisting others - varying from wanting to be a fireman, marine biologist, or perhaps a social worker.
Currently, Nancy is fulfilling her childhood goals in a different way, through working with La Academia cohorts to support and execute capstone projects. In addition, she is studying for a B.A. in Anthropology. One day, she hopes to earn her PhD. When not working, she enjoys the company of her two Halloween cats, Salem and Pumpkin.
Araceli Muñoz Chaira
Araceli is an enthusiast of all things outdoors. She has 3,000+ miles of long distance hiking experience, including the iconic Appalachian Trail stretching from Georgia to Maine. Traveling by foot through communities and ecosystems in the United States has had an impact on the way she views life today. She is interested in creating opportunities for outdoor spaces to become more accessible to all.
With a background in administration, finance, trail management, hospitality, and live events, Araceli hopes to further Defensores de la Cuenca’s mission. When not hiking, you can find her rock climbing, running, gardening or cycling.
Co-Founder & Executive Director
An advocate and policy expert by training, Olivo is excited about his role in bringing more resources and opportunities to the Latino community in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. A board member of the Audubon Naturalist Society, an alumni from The Ohio State University, and an advocate for a greener, healthier world, Olivo looks to bring more Latin@s into the environmental space as an education interest, personal experience and career choice.
Educator, Community Liaison
A passionate admirer of nature and defender of the right to education of constant preparation, with fifteen years of teaching experience in her beloved Guatemala.
Svetlana seeks to share experiences with the Latino community, learn together and hopes that her cross knowledge is transformed into value, into awareness for the care of the watershed, of the life cycle that is gestated, coexists and develops around a healthy watershed.
Elicet Rosas Gaspar
Elicet is a faithful admirer of nature and passionate about its landscapes and its natural environment. Originally from Puebla, Mexico, she dedicated part of her life advocating for people with disabilities and supporting her Hispanic community.
She is excited to be able to connect the Hispanic community and enjoy the benefits and resources of nature. Elicet has a great love for butterflies and hugging trees!
Board of Directors
Eric has a deep seeded love for nature and the outdoors, sparked in his childhood when he began spending time with his family in San LuisPotosi, Mexico. His goal is to help the community interact with the Chesapeake Watershed in a fun and equitable manner and to help Defensores de la Cuenca create lasting memories for the youth of the DMV. It is his long held belief that we must advocate for the conservation of our watersheds and protect them. He is grateful for the opportunity to serve the DMV community and to partner with the fantastic team at Defensores.
Juan Lazo Bautista
Member of the Board
Manager of Environmental Leadership Program's CoreFellowship Programs. Previously, Juan worked with USDA Forest Service supporting partnership development where he led a national program to engage diverse communities in conservation education action projects and increase access to their public lands. Juan also has experience in labor organizing, youth development and immigrant rights work. He is a graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, receiving a B.A in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on environmental sustainability. For fun, Juan enjoys leading "nature bathing" walks, connecting people to nature, themselves and others through sensory experiences of their natural environment.
A member of the National Parks Conservation Association’s Government Affairs team. Melissa helps guide onshore and off-shore oil and gas, energy and clean air federal policy work. She believes in a just and equitable energy transition, holding industry and gov’t accountable, and that access to land, clean air and water are basic human rights. Her biggest accomplishment to date is not having lost her grandmotherly and adventurous dog on a single hike in their 17 years of friendship.
Member of the Board
Chelsea is an outdoor kid at heart and believes that everyone should have access to greenspaces. She is a firm believer that nature is the best teacher and that you can learn a lot about yourself and the environment just by spending time outside. In her free time she enjoys hiking, bird watching, and trying to get a glimpse of the flying squirrel that lives in her neighborhood.
Chelsea has nearly ten years of experience working in energy and environmental science and currently works for the Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program. She has served on the District of Columbia's Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency as the Environmental Justice Chair and earned her Masters degree in Environmental Geochemistry from the University of Michigan.
Member of the Board
Sonia enjoys spending time outdoors. She reconnected with nature while working with colleagues and in community at an environmental nonprofit. Rangel has worked as an external affairs manager for the State of California, in multiple nonprofits that empower communities, strategic communications firms, and as a Congressional fellow. Her vision is to create space for others to flourish their authentic selves, and she believes it can be done by integrating with our natural environment. Rangel is honored to be on the Defensores de la Cuenca board.
She earned two Masters' degrees in Public Administration and International Relations and a Certificate of Advanced Study in the Program for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Rangel earned a bachelor's degree in History with a concentration in Latin America and a minor in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.
Member of the Board
Jonathan has close to a decade of experience working in Labor & Employment consulting as an economist, statistical programmer, and pay equity consultant. For fun, Jonathan enjoys running in his neighborhood, and hiking & camping around the broader DMV area.
Jonathan believes the best way to change the world is to start with your own backyard, so he is honored to serve on the Board of Defensores de la Cuenca to assist in its mission of empowering local communities to defend and preserve the Chesapeake Bay watershed.