Our Team

STAFF
Crimilda Andrade

Crimilda Andrade

Administrative Assistant

My name is Crimilda Andrade, I am a Mexican immigrant from Sonora. I have
lived in the U.S. since 2001 and moved to Albuquerque in 2010. That has been
the best decision my family and I made. In New Mexico, we have met many warm
people with enormous hearts for the plight of immigrant communities; this is
how we got involved with Encuentro, El Centro and other organizations. I now
work for Encuentro, which is a blessing, and am the person who greets the
community with a smile and kindness to comfort them and make them feel at
home as we address their different needs.

Brook Bernini

Brook Bernini

Training and Employment Coordinator

I moved to Albuquerque in 2018 from Tucson, AZ and am excited to join Encuentro as the Training and Employment Coordinator. In the past, I have worked in adult and experiential education, as a doula and interpreter, and helped run a community farm. I have a masters degree in Geography with a focus on solidarity economies, and am now studying cooperative development as a tool to promote social and economic justice. 

 

Norma Casas

Norma Casas

Pathways Navigator

Norma is Encuentro’s case manager. She was born and raised in Chihuahua, Mexico and has been living here for more than 15 years. Her work at Encuentro began 8 years ago  as computer student, then as a childcare provider and supervisor. After that, she had the opportunity to work as an administrator assistant. Later on, Norma became CCHW (Certified Community Health Worker) and thanks to that and her 8 years experience working with the community she is now our Pathways Navigator.  She knows our community and health system better than anyone and she is always willing to help and provide resources to our community.

Julia Cusatis

Julia Cusatis

Development Director

Julia moved to New Mexico from North Carolina in January 2019 and joined the Encuentro team as the Development Director.  Over the course of her career, she has worked in higher education, experiential training, organizational development and fundraising. She has a Master’s Degree in Education, a post graduate certificate in Training and Development, and is eager to work with the Latino immigrant community to positively impact social justice, equity and inclusion in Albuquerque.

Ilse Grijalva Lastiri

Ilse Grijalva Lastiri

Communications Manager

My name is Ilse Grijalva, I was born in Cuidad Delicias, Chihuahua and have been living here in Albuquerque for nearly 10 years. During those years, I have been actively involved with many other organizations as a volunteer. I have experience as a health promoter and consular agent. Currently, I’m the Communications Coordinator for Encuentro and am the person in charge of the Encuentro’s community journalism project “Tu Voz Digital”. My experience in the field of communications has been in radio (AM and internet), as well as written media production (magazines), social media management and story development. What I like the most about my position at Encuentro is the opportunity that I have to continue developing my communication skills at the same time that I keep working with my community.

Teresa Guevara

Teresa Guevara

Educational Programs Director

Teresa identifies herself as a Mexican immigrant with roots in Sonora and Sinaloa. Her linguistic, ethnic and cultural background brings an understanding of the issues facing immigrant families in the US, as well as awareness of the needs and strengths of the Latino community. With over 20 years of language teaching experience in Mexico and in the US, Teresa provides expertise in ESL and adult education with a focus on social justice. She is a doctorate candidate in Language, Literacy and Sociocultural studies at the University of New Mexico.

Iliana Lopez

Iliana Lopez

Educational Programs Coordinator

Hello my name is Iliana López, I am proudly from Sinaloa, and I have lived for more than 10 years in Albuquerque, NM. I’m very dedicated to my work. My journey at Encuentro started 9 years ago, in the fall of 2010. I first started  as a teacher in childcare, then in 2011 I worked in the area of ​​administrative assistant, and by 2012 I was in the area of ​​Educational Programs , where I support the director of educational programs and database. I really like my work area and I am very happy to work with this organization because my passion is to help people and inform them about the resources that exist and how to take advantage of them. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to be part of this team and I think that in unity we can carry out projects for the good of our community as long as we are willing to do so with our hearts.

Mayte Lopez

Mayte Lopez

Home Health Care Program Coordinator

Mayte is a first generation Mexican-American that started with the Encuentro team as a volunteer while in high school, and has since moved into the Home Health Aide Program Coordinator position. After finishing her BS in Biology, she would like to pursue graduate studies in adult education and curriculum development. Mayte has become a community leader through involvement with organizations like the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and hopes to continue to build civic engagement through the HHA program and other educational opportunities.

Andrea Plaza

Andrea Plaza

Executive Director

Andrea is Encuentro’s founding director. She is a 25 year resident of New Mexico with roots in Colombia by way of North Carolina. Andrea moved to New Mexico to pursue graduate work in Latin American Studies and Community and Regional Planning. Her professional background includes working with immigrant women in the field of microenterprise development and educational and asset building programs for immigrant families. Most importantly Andrea has a life-long commitment to advancing the rights of immigrants as a tool for building social and economic justice.

Veronica Salazar

Veronica Salazar

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS ASSISTANT AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES INSTRUCTOR

I’m known as Vero, and am an immigrant born in Mexico City. I am a Computer Instructor and the Educational Assistant at Encuentro and I believe in collective community transformation breaking the barriers of technology.

Childcare

Susana Aranda

Susana Aranda

Childcare Services Coordinator

I was born in Juarez, Chihuahua and have been living in Albuquerque for the past 14 years. I have my CDC certificate and associates classes. I have at the daycare at Encuentro since it began. Here I’ve had the opportunity to get to know my know my community, the resources it has to offer, and it has given me the chance to better myself at working with kids. I like working with kids, teaching them and learning from them.

Fermina Lopez

Fermina Lopez

Childcare Teacher

I have worked at Encuentro since it started. Currently, I work in its Childcare Services. I finished its Childcare Education and I’m taking classes for my Bachelor’s Degree.            I was inclined towards an educational branch since I was in 5th grade when I was placed to help the teacher with 1st grade children. I told myself I wanted to become a teacher when adult. Taking these classes has helped me understand children’s attitudes better. I am grateful to Encuentro and children’s parents for giving me the opportunity to accomplish my dreams.

 

Enriqueta Lucero

Enriqueta Lucero

Childcare Teacher

I am happy and satisfied to work in Encuentro in its Childcare services. I have my certification in childcare and I am working in obtaining my Associate degree. Just as we adults teach many things to children, we need to learn much from them.  I was born in Juarez, Mexico, and have lived in Albuquerque for twenty years. I want to contribute as much as I can to my community with my childcare skills. I love children and my favorite movie is “The Little Mermaid”.

 

Alma Torres

Alma Torres

My name is Alma Torres. I have lived more than half of my life in Albuquerque, NM. I started as a student at Encuentro taking English, Computer and GED classes. I also completed my CDC (Certificate for Child Care). I like to learn new things  about child development. I feel very proud of being part of Encuentro; first as a student, then as a volunteer and now as child care teacher. It is a great opportunity for me to contribute to my community and especially to learn from all these wonderful people who support and serve our community with passion.

Josefina Gallardo

Josefina Gallardo

Hello, my name is Josefina Gallardo. I’m 47 years old. I’m from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua and migrated to Albuquerque in 2003. I started doing volunteer work on many organizations first of all, to inform myself and then to inform my people  about all the issues that affect us as a community. I’m currently an active member of El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos as well as part of the community journalism project, Tu Voz Digital of Encuentro. I feel very proud of being part of this amazing organization as child care teacher.

Board
Claudia Medina

Claudia Medina

Treasurer

Claudia is the Director of the University of New Mexico, Community Health Worker Initiatives (CHWI). In that capacity, she has developed, piloted and evaluated projects and tools aimed at integrating Community Health Workers (CHW’s) into the workforce. Before working for UNM, Claudia was the co-founder and executive director for 14 years of Enlace Comunitario (EC), an Albuquerque non-profit serving Latino immigrant victims of domestic violence and engaging in community development efforts. Ms. Medina has a Law Degree, an M.A. in Family Studies and an M.A. in Latin American Studies with a concentration in Community Planning.

Sandra Ortsman

Sandra Ortsman

Board President

Sandra Ortsman has over a decade of experience working in nonprofit organizations. Until January of 2015, Ortsman was the Associate Director and Director of Planning, Development and Evaluation for Enlace Comunitario, a social justice domestic violence agency working to end domestic violence and promote healthy families in the Latino immigrant community in New Mexico. Her work has focused on developing, securing funding for and evaluating programs. Ms. Ortsman has created and implemented development plans for a variety of nonprofits. She is a Community Planner who is actively engaged in her community. Ms. Ortsman serves on the board of Encuentro, an immigrant rights community organization. She recently began her own consulting company to help social justice and social service nonprofits in New Mexico and nationally. Ms. Ortsman is also mom to an amazing toddler boy and baby girl.

Iusti Remer-Thamert

Iusti Remer-Thamert

Board Secretary

Iusti Remer-Thamert is an Albuquerque native with a special love for Latin America. He is the Executive Director of the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice, connecting migrants in crisis to community services and support, as well as joining faith communities, educational opportunities, and sacred texts. As a former Fulbright-García Robles Student Fellow to Mexico, Justin spearheaded the logistics to bring a Mexican theater company to the United States. The company presented in Albuquerque at UNM and Encuentro, which sparked his initial interest in Encuentro. Justin seeks to merge art, culture and community vitality. Encuentro does all these things through its educational work, making Justin ever so happy to serve on the Board.

Abel Valenzuela

Abel Valenzuela

Board Member

My name is Abel Valenzuela and I am from Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua. I came to Albuuquerque, NM. 13 years ago to give my children a better future. By that time, I started to participate in the community by taking community workshops such as “Paternidad con Cariño” with the PBJ Family Services Organization, “Entre amigos” and “Padres en Acción” with Enlace Comunitario. I also got involved as a volunteer in a Day Care and I helped with some domestic violence workshops. I was also an Encuentro student for 3 years. I really like working for my community and be able to change lives.

Selene Vences-Ortiz

Selene Vences-Ortiz

Board Member

Selene Vences-Ortiz is a Senior Academic Advisor at the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico. As an advisor and undocu taskforce co-chair she is passionate about the inclusion of undocumented students in graduation preparation programs, scholarships, and internships. She is involved with Encuentro because she believes that adult education and career development are powerful tools to building stronger families in New Mexico.

Instructors
Pat Bonilla

Pat Bonilla

ESL Instructor
Queta Lindenberg

Queta Lindenberg

ESL Instructor
Larry Moore

Larry Moore

ESL Instructor
Veronica Salazar

Veronica Salazar

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS ASSISTANT AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES INSTRUCTOR
Barbara Lopez

Barbara Lopez

Financial Education Instructor