Arturo Sandoval 

Arturo Sandoval is founder of the Center of Southwest Culture, Inc.

Arturo has dedicated his life to civil rights, economic justice, human rights, educational parity and conservation work. He was on the national organizing team for the first-ever Earth Day in 1970 in Washington, DC. There, he was charged with organizing events in the Western US. He was active in the Chicano Student Movement and the Chicano Civil Rights Movement beginning in 1967. He was a Vietnam War Resistor, who refused induction into the US Army in 1970 as a protest against the war’s immorality and illegality and was subsequently indicted, tried and convicted for refusing service.

He has been active for five decades in community-based economic development, cultural, environmental, educational and civil rights efforts in New Mexico and across the US.

Prior to his work with the Center, Arturo founded and ran a successful communications and organizational development consulting business, with clients across the US, in the Caribbean, in México and in Central America.

He also had a successful 15-year career in journalism and public relations. In that capacity, he won numerous awards and had his work published nationally and internationally.

He is a native of Española, a village in northern New Mexico, and has lived most of his adult life in Albuquerque.


José Castro 

Jose Castro works with Latino and Indigenous farmers in the CODECE project.

Castro was born in Mexico City and raised in New Mexico. He graduated from the South Valley Academy in Albuquerque and is a currently pursuing his degree in Tourism and Hospitality at Central New Mexico Community College. Castro is a young man passionate about his community; in 2010, he was awarded “Volunteer of the Year” from Rudolfo Anaya Elementary School.  His volunteer work with several community leaders has given him the dedication and patience to give back to the communities he loves.

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Lehua Lopez

Lehua Lopez is a native Hawaiian born and raised in Hawai`i she received her Master’s degree in cultural anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 1992.  She has worked for more than 40 years with nonprofits both in New Mexico and Hawai`i, specializing in Indigenous land, water and culture protection, health care, education, and environmental issues. 

Over the last 30 years, Lopez has been a founding president or director for several native and non-native organizations and continues to serve on two native boards of directors.  She also continues her work as a professional nonprofit consultant, trainer, and facilitator for organizations in Hawai`i and New Mexico.  In her spare time, Lopez teaches Hawaiian culture, a long-time passion and commitment of hers to preserve the knowledge and practices of her ancestors.

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Marco Antonio Nieto

Marco Antonio Nieto assists the finance manager and the Center’s Program Coordinator for Story Riders.  In May of 2018, Nieto graduated from Atrisco Heritage Academy High School where he was a member of the school’s National Honor Society and recognized as a national merit scholar.  In 2016, he was honored at his high school as the “Student of the Year.”  He was also an academic intern at the University of New Mexico’s School of Mechanical Engineering and at UNM’s Manufacturing, Training and Technology Center. 

He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of New Mexico, majoring in mechanical engineering, while continuing his position with the Center.  He enjoys repairing and maintaining cars as a hobby.

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Marco Sandoval

Marco Sandoval directs the Center’s Story Riders and Sembrando Salud programs and serves in other capacities at the Center as well.

He is currently earning his undergraduate degree at the University of New Mexico but brings years of organizing and educational experience to the Center. He has worked in public schools for a decade and in that capacity, has worked as a music teacher, and as a cultural resources expert for elementary school students in Albuquerque and New Mexico. He formerly worked as a music instructor at the Circo Latino, a summer theater, music and arts-related program hosted by the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

He is fully bilingual in English-Spanish and has family in both the US and Mexico


Noemi Davila

Noemi Davila has 30 years of experience as an accountant, both in New Mexico and Mexico, having earned a degree in accounting in 1988.  In addition, she also has decades of experience in business management, finances, and auditing.  In Mexico, she worked for the Ford Motor Company, the federal hospital system, as well as for a chain of pharmacies.  



Sarah Helene Dewey

Sarah works in the Story Riders program at the Center. She is a printmaker, costume designer, and an educator, who grew up in the South Valley. She has worked with youth and families in Albuquerque in several community art settings including National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Circo Latino and Circo Radical, Harwood Art Center, Arts Adventures at VSA, and Zia Family Focus Center. She worked as lead printer and manager at Kei and Molly Textiles for several years. Sarah has a deep commitment to building community. She is a graduate of the UNM Fine Art Department and on the board of Off Center Arts.


Key Contractors

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Joseph Alfaro

Master farmer 

Joseph Alfaro, CSC’s master farmeris the founder/owner of Valle Encantado Farms, based in the historic Atrisco Land Grant in Albuquerque’s rural South Valley and with growing sites in his homelands of the Sandia East Mountains. Joseph won the Educator of the Year Award in 2017 from the New Mexico Organic Farming Conference for his tireless work teaching Indigenous and Mexicano farmers the art and science of farming.  In his role as CSC’s lead farmer, Alfaro manages farm planning, marketing, and training of local farmers interested and committed to sustainable organic farming. He is a founding member/farmer of Agri-Cultura Network and La Cosecha CSA and has served as CSC’s master farmer for the past five years.

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Catherine Baca

Tourism consultant

Catherine is a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico with deep roots in the community, serving on several boards in the area. Her career spans almost 40 years in the hospitality and service industry and the non-profit sector. She managed group sales in a 5 star resort and was the manager of a German adventure company in the United States, planning high-end events and adventure tours throughout the southwest.  The past 12 years were committed to the non-profit sector dedicated to land health. This included extensive duties such as managing projects on the Navajo Nation and director for an annual conference of 600 people. She is dedicated providing first-rate service with exceptional results.