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Through five local offices, our dedicated staff direct the operation of La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) in Texas. Office staff coordinates development, membership, and communication initiatives for the organization.

Have a question for our staff? Submit your question here.

LUPE’s team is composed of the following individuals:

SAN JUAN OFFICE

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Juanita Valdez-Cox, Executive Director
Juanita grew up in a migrant family in South Texas and came to know the struggles faced by farmworkers first-hand.  As a young woman she earned an Associates Degree  in Early Childhood Development and worked in that field for several years.  Since 1981 she has devoted her full energies to the Farm Worker Movement.  In 2000 she was elected to the post of National Vice-President of the United Farm Workers and now serves on the Cesar Chavez Foundation Board. In 2003, all LUPE operations were moved to South Texas and Juanita was named to lead the efforts as Director. Under the leadership of Juanita Valdez-Cox, organizers have made a lasting, true impact on the lives of LUPE members living in the South Texas area.
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Vaughn Cox, Program Development Director
After more than 20 years as a Movement Volunteer and a long professional career in Chemistry, first in the laboratory and then in a teaching role, Vaughn joined the LUPE team late in 2002. In addition to a variety of administrative tasks he performs, he works on researching and preparing grant applications and writing reports to funders. He feels privileged to work for LUPE members and help them build better communities for their families. Vaughn grew up in rural Illinois and is a graduate of Western Illinois University. Before working for LUPE he taught Chemistry/Environmental Technology at Texas State Technical College. Vaughn enjoys reading, working on the lawn and is looking forward to playing with his granddaughter, due in November!
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Martha Sanchez, Community Organizing Coordinator
Martha grew up in Cardenas, Mexico and became involved with the Holy Spirit Church upon coming to McAllen, TX. Here she learned about US foreign policy and involvement in Latin America in the 80s and other injustices in America, which stirred in her the passion to work for social justice. After working for the parish for more than 15 years, she joined the LUPE team in 2006 as the Community Organizing Coordinator. She guides LUPE’s team of community organizers as they work with local communities to identify and develop indigenous leadership and their ability to mobilize their friends and neighbors around local issues. Martha loves working with people to help them realize the power of unity and how they can build opportunities to work together to affect change.
2013 Veronica Villarreal crop Veronica Villarreal, Social Services Coordinator

A graduate of the Health & Human Services Program at South Texas College, Veronica joined the LUPE team in the summer of 2007.  She was born in Harlingen, grew up in Pharr, and has worked in a variety of places including Purvis Bearing Service Inc, Texas Cooperative Extension and the University of Texas-Pan American. As the Social Service Coordinator for LUPE, she provides training and guidance to the team of Providers and keeps them informed of any policy or procedural changes. Veronica came to LUPE because she’s always been interested in helping others and has seen firsthand how people can change the social structure for a better place to live. She finds her work rewarding because she knows that LUPE helps others help themselves by empowering them to create social change. Veronica obtained her bachelors degree in Social Work from the University of Texas-Pan American.
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Maricela Martinez, Office Manager/Trainer
Born in Matehuala San Luis Potosi and lived there until she was 6 yrs of age then resided in Reynosa, Tamaulipas until 16 yrs of age. She finally made Las Milpas her home where she has been living until now. Graduated from Hidalgo HS then received her bookkeeping training from TSTI in Harlingen, Texas she came to La Union de Campesinos in 1989 through workforce due to a freeze that did not allow her to continue working in the fields with her family. She started working with La Union de Campesinos after completing her hours with Workforce. She worked with the Coperativa Septiembre 16 with accounting and shared in harvesting the field and became a Community Organizer and then a Social Services Provider and continued training and studies to become the Office Manager and Trainer for the LUPE Offices. Maricela is in charge of updating and supervising the Social Services Providers with immigration policies and procedures. She has dedicated many years of service in the different aspects of LUPE and enjoys working with the staff and clients that make up LUPE.
Mari Trujillo, Social Services Provider
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Rafaela Guzman, Social Services Provider
Fela grew up in the border town Reynosa, Mexico where she worked as an Assistant Accountant for six years before coming to Hidalgo, Texas in 1990, where she worked at a department story for 8 years. After meeting farm workers and learning about community needs, she saw how difficult things were, especially for those without documents. Many people did not have enough information or know where to go for important worker and legal services. This experience moved Fela to start volunteering for the United Farm Workers in South Texas in January of 2000, where she helped organize her colonia’s involvement in the union, and joined the staff working full time in September 2001 as a social service provider. She finds her work to be very rewarding, especially when members receive work permits and Legal Permanent Resident status as a result of her efforts. She is very proud of her history with the union, including her work, time volunteering, and involvement with the politics of her county precint.
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Carolina Ruiz, Social Services Provider
Carolina Ruiz is a resident of Hidalgo, TX and a graduate from The University of Texas at Austin where she earned a BA in History. She began volunteering at LUPE in the summer of 2012, and joined the LUPE Team in September of that same year as a social services provider. She is interested in learning more about immigration and ways that she can help the community through organizing.
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Tania Chavez, Special Projects Coordinator
As an immigrant from Veracruz Mexico, Tania obtained a Bachelors Degree in Finance, a Masters in Business Administration and a Masters of Arts in Communication from the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA). After working as a Student Affairs para-professional during her graduate years at UTPA, Tania Chavez discovered the world of organizing at a leadership training at the Harvard Kennedy School-Center for Public Leadership. Combining the power of organizing and her student personnel experience, she was able to start a student organization at UTPA, the Minority Affairs Council. This student-led organization originated from the tragic death of Mission DREAMer Joaquin Luna. In providing resources and information to undocumented youth in the RGV to be able to obtain a college education, Tania arrived to LUPE with the hope to harness the talents, abilities and determination of the RGV youth. Tania joined the LUPE Team as a service provider where she mainly helped with DACA applications and youth organizing. Tania is currently the Special Projects Coordinator and helps LUPE implement new ideas in service to our membership.
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Hilda Patino, Administrative Clerk
Born in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, Hilda immigrated to the United States in 1998 and received her education from the PSJA Independent School District. She came to LUPE as a volunteer in 2003 as an office clerk and also assisted the organizing efforts it the PSJA area. She then continued her work with the organization and started learning about how the organization can help community members in different ways and initiated employment as a full-time staff member in 2007. She is currently training in immigration and income tax services for assistance with client’s needs.
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Evon Bueno, Office Clerk
Evon was born in McAllen, Texas, grew up in Edinburg, Texas and is now a resident of Pharr, Texas. She came to LUPE as a volunteer, doing community hours as an office clerk through Workforce, where she learned about the different situations that many of LUPE’s clients struggle through. With fascination for the work LUPE does, Evon became more interested in how she could help with the cause. She was then offered a full-time position with LUPE after demonstrating a strong work ethic, an ability to learn new skills quickly and a dedication to helping others. She currently assists the Social Service Providers in processing and following up with clients’ immigration paperwork. She has been working with the organization since 2012.
Cristela Rocha, Community Organizer
Cris was raised in Michoacan, Mexico where she studied and received her secretarial degree in shorthand typing. Growing up she witnessed a lot of injustices, which is what brought her to work at LUPE. She wanted to be actively involved in social change work and making justice a reality for immigrant communities. As a strong believer in the power of spirituality, struggle and community service, Cris enjoys her work as a Community Organizer to bring colonia residents together to build power and realize change.
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John-Michael Torres, Communications Director
John-Michael is a long-time resident of the Rio Grande Valley and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where he got his initial involvement in organizing through the farmworker-led Campaign for Fair Food. When he graduated and moved back to the RGV he joined the World Peace Alliance, which organized with students and youth around farmworker solidarity, immigrant prisons, domestic violence and against corporate-led Free Trade globalization. He now works as the Communications Director for LUPE and is happy to add his granito de arena to the struggle for justice in the colonias.
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Esther G. Herrera, Land Use Colonia Housing Action (LUCHA) Project Coordinator
Esther G. Herrera obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish in 2010 and a Master of Public Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Administration in 2012; all from UTPA.  She enjoys working with and advocating for minority groups, first as a student advocate and liaison and now out in her community.  Herrera finds pleasure in working with highly motivated middle school, high school, and college students as well as parents coming from low income, migrant, and first generation college attendees.  As a member of the LUPE staff, Herrera has made good use of her experience to execute this passion.  She currently oversees two projects that engage RGV residents from several non-profits in discussions and trainings on how to identify issues that affect them and empower them to seek permanent solutions to benefit the communities of the RGV.
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Julieta Paredes, Youth/Community Organizer
Julieta Paredes was born in Veracruz Mexico, and came to the United States in 1999. She attended the Port Isabel school district and, growing up, she saw how difficult life was for immigrants and the injustices that occur everyday. She has always wanted to be involved in immigration and social change and LUPE has provided that opportunity for her. She was the first LUPE member to receive her DACA permit. Julieta’s hope is for a more permanent immigration reform law to be passed for students. She has faith that the DREAM act will be modified and finally be passed. Julieta currently attends UTPA and will continue furthering her education like she has done so far and once graduated, she hopes to become a professional and give back to the country that she has been calling home since she was 6 years old. Julieta is currently the new youth and community organizer for the San Juan/Las Milpas area and is interested in learning more about ways to better her community.
Eric Aguilar, Community Organizer
Eric es originario de Tamaulipas, Mexico y creció en Rio Grande City, Texas. El estudio en la Universidad de Texas-Pan Americana donde obtuvo su Licenciatura en Servicios de Rehabilitación con especialización en Estudios de la Adicción este verano. Además, fue un estudiante que recibió el permiso de acción deferida (DACA) y ha participado activamente en Minority Affairs Council, organización cuyo enfoque son los estudiantes indocumentados y trabaja hacia una reforma migratoria. Eric se identifica con muchos de nosotros y comenta que se siente muy agradecido por la oportunidad de servir a la comunidad, “Crecí en una comunidad agrícola y conozco de primera mano el trabajo arduo de nuestra gente y de igual manera conozco las carencias de las comunidades y colonias rurales.” El estará trabando en el área de San Juan, Donna, y parte de Edinburg.
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Maria Guadalupe Alanis, Maintenance

PHARR OFFICE

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Laura Quiroz, Receptionist
Born in McAllen, Texas and was raised and currently a resident of Las Milpas. She attended and graduated from Hidalgo HS and received her education as Medical Assistant in McAllen, Texas. She worked as a farmworker for about 10 years in Texas and during those 10 years migrated to the states of Michigan and Idaho. In 1986, she began to travel with a UFW Community Organizer, Maria Gomez in Hidalgo County and continued with the program called 16 de Septiembre which was a nutritional program implemented in the organization. She also opened up her home hosting students coming in from higher education institutions from the northern states. In 2008, started to volunteer at LUPE through the Workforce Program and on September 2011 started working part-time at LUPE. Recently, Laura has become one of our more recent Office Clerk/Social Service Providers in 2013 in order to assist the client’s needs in our Pharr/Las Milpas area.

ALTON OFFICE

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Carmen Limas, Office Manager
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Yvette Salinas, Community Organizer
Yvette Salinas is an Alton, TX native. She received her B.A in English Literature with a concentration in Ethnicity and Women Studies from the University of Texas at Pan American. As a college student Yvette worked with youth teaching creative writing at a local juvenile correctional facility in Edinburg, TX and organized alongside student and youth groups in solidarity with farmworkers through the campaign for Fair Food.  Yvette is a community organizer on the West side of Hidalgo county and is thrilled to explore the strong, effective vehicle for change that is organizing alongside colonia residents as well as the workers who are active in Fuerza del Valle’s Worker Center.
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Claudia Garcia, Social Services Provider
Claudia Garcia is an immigration case worker in LUPE’s Alton office. She was born in Houston, TX and as a child lived in Reynosa, Tamaulipas and Celaya, Guanajuato. At the age of 11, she moved to Mission, Tx. For five years, she worked as a migrant farmworker in Indiana and Iowa before joining the LUPE team in 2010. Claudia began as a volunteer and quickly became a receptionist at LUPE. Upon becoming an immigration casworker in 2012 she was able to help her mother legalize her status. Claudia finds gratification at the sight of relief in people’s faces who leave her office with a new opportunity to help their families live better lives—the same look of relief she saw in her mother’s face when she was finally welcome into the United States as a legal Resident. Claudia, along with her family, is an active supporter of immigration reform, worker justice and better living conditions in the colonias.
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Nancy Rodriguez, Receptionist (part time)
Nacida en Monterrey, NL, México, Nancy Rodríguez estudió CPA y se graduó del Universitario Oxford. Ha sido involucrada en asociaciones no lucrativas, ayudando y apoyando en la superación personal de  jóvenes y niños. Empezó como voluntaria en la unión del pueblo LUPE en el 2011, y encontró la oportunidad perfecta para seguir sirviendo a la comunidad. A partir del 2012 se adhirió al staff de LUPE  en el área de recepción. Su interés es esforzarse día con día para ofrecer un trato digno, amable y oportuno a la comunidad.
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Nelson Antonio Solis, Social Service Provider
Nelson Antonio Solis was raised for most of his life in the Valley. He graduate from UTPA where he earned a Bachelors of Science. Helping people is in his nature. His curiosity for U.S. politics made him develop an interest in groups involved with action for civil rights. The themes of Civil rights, the Constitution, U.S. politics and U.S. history have always interested him and this interest is one of the reasons he joined LUPE.

MERCEDES OFFICE

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Daniel Diaz, Community Organizer
Daniel Diaz is the organizer in the area of Mercedes. Originally from Palmview, TX, he began organizing when, as a college student in Arkansas, he saw the injustices faced by his friends who grew up in the U.S. but did not have documents. That led him to begin organizing for the DREAM act on his college campus. He has worked in immigration services and volunteered in workers rights at the workers center in northern Arkansas.
2013 felix Felix Rivera, Social Services Provider

Felix Rivera is the social service provider for the Mercedes office. Himself an immigrant, he is here at LUPE working for those who want to make this great country their home.
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Lupita Lopez, Office Clerk

$50 could help LUPE provide five hours of English classes for thirty immigrants trying to make a better life for their family.