Leadership Team

Co-Founder and CEO, Amy Quichiz

Hi everyone, my name is Amy Quichiz I am Colombian and Peruvian living in Jackson Heights, Queens NY. I have been vegetarian and then transitioned into veganism for about five years.

I believe that my role as a plant-based vegan Latina is to show our communities ways to have accessible healthier food options, talk about our rights within the food industry, just as well as animal liberation and environmental justice. As a woman of color coming from Jackson Heights, I have witnessed the environmental racism that happens within our communities due to the lack of resources that folks have and what this government will hide from us. 

Instagram: @imsecretlyacat

Contact: amy@veggiemijas.org

Co-Founder and Education Director, Mariah Bermeo

Hola, my name is Mariah Bermeo I am Ecuadorian born and raised in Brooklyn/Queens NY. Recent graduate from Syracuse University, majoring in Global History and Food studies. Food has always been an important role in my life. Whether it is cooking for my family and friends or teaching others on healthier practices, food has always played an important role on keeping the community close.

My role with Veggie Mijxs is simple: educate and agitate. I believe that everyone, including those living in poverty, have the right to access healthy fresh veggies. The food movement is a social movement, in which people are organizing to change our society, while maintaining our Latinx culture.

Instagram: @tokyomescudi

Contact: Mariah@Veggiemijas.org

Mariah Coordinates:

NY Chapter

Seattle Chapter

Chicago Chapter

Data Specialist/Analyst, Estefania Rodriguez

Hey y'all! Soy orgullosamente Salvadoreña, born in Queens NY but raised mostly (and currently residing) in Houston TX. I started my vegetarian/vegan journey in 2018 and consider myself plant-based for the time being. 

I really love to learn. When I was a freshman in college, I grew more aware of the world around me (from locally to globally) and developed a strong interest in social justice issues (e.g. intersectional feminism, environmental racism, immigration, etc.) I've never been the type to narrow down my interests so I created my own degree by focusing on multiple social sciences-- primarily sociology and psychology. I did this because I've started to realized just how much each disciplinary tends to overlap with one another. I knew that whatever I ended up doing after college, I wanted it to be for the benefit of my communities. Through Veggie Mijas, I am building our database and providing insight when discussing future strategies for our blossoming collective. No matter your role in a community, do it with an open heart and give back in the best way you can.

Instagram: @xx.este

Contact: estefania@veggiemijas.org

Kat Lopez, Recruitment Director and Dallas Organizer

Hi Folks! My name is Kat, my pronouns are she/they. I’m a first generation Xicana currently living in Austin, TX. I am a birth worker and an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. I’m very passionate about food and environmental justice. Accessibility and community knowledge are the two components that drive my activism and work. 

I was a vegetarian for 6 years prior to embarking on my plant based journey starting in January 2019. Learning how to navigate a lifestyle that is often viewed through a euro-centric lens can be quite difficult to navigate as a person of color. I believe that it’s time for us to begin defining what wellness looks like for us. Veggie Mijas showed me that vegans of color exist and that I have the power to create spaces for us!

My goal as the Austin Chapter organizer is to build a safe community, exchange resources, and facilitate opportunities to heal. 

IG: @princesa_kata

Estefania Orozco, Coordinator

Hola! My name is Estefania Orozco and my pronouns are she/her. I am originally from Colombia and have lived in Philadelphia since the age of 7. I’ve been vegetarian for about 7 years and decided to do so for health reasons but also because of the environmental impact and animal abuse crisis caused by the food industry, to name a few. Since discovering Veggie Mijas, I have been constantly learning and actively trying my best to take the next step in veganism. 

I believe in the power of community and how important it is, especially for a lifestyle that might seem intimidating or unattainable to some. With Veggie Mijas I hope to help my community by providing resources and by making information as accessible as possible so that everyone knows that they have the right to choose what’s best for them. My goal is to help empower our intersecting communities to make the best choices for their health, and to unlearn any beliefs that a plant-based and healthy lifestyle is only meant for wealthy white people. I really look forward to doing this necessary work!

IG: @down.for.earth

Estefania coordinates the following chapters:

Seattle Chapter

Chicago Chapter

New York City Chapter

Houston Chapter

KR Vargas, Finance Director

KR serves as the Executive Director of La Raza For Liberation and is the Finance Director for Veggie Mijas. Their family migrated in the 1980s from the Andes region of South America to the San Francisco Bay Area, where they were born and raised. KR has a degree in Speech Communication from Ithaca College in New York, as well as a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies in partnership with Cornell University. They work from home in Philadelphia, overseeing and managing the organization’s legal structure, bookkeeping, and fundraising efforts, as well as collaborations and co-organizing the Decolonize Un-Conference.

Ivanna Frances, Coordinator

Hola Amigxs!  My name is Ivanna Frances (she/her) and I am a Buddhist, first generation Perú-vegan curly headed lil cutie pie. I grew up in SoCal and love being outdoors in nature and feeling the sun caress my skin. I have been vegan for about 5 years now and continue to strive daily on my journey of self-improvement, empowerment and love. I firmly believe that the revolution begins from within and that we all possess this infinite potential to create positive change for ourselves and others. I am passionate about intersectional social and environmental justice for all beings, the land, and for our Earth. I am so fortunate for the opportunity to be a Chapter Organizer for Orange County and to help create an inclusive, accessible, and safe space for veggies & veg-curious people of color to come together and share our experiences.

IG: @banana_eff

Ivanna Coordinates: 

Los Angeles Chapter

Oakland Chapter

Washington DC Chapter

Destiny, Coordinator

Destiny is a CubaRican’ from The Bronx, NY and is currently living the plant-based life in Vegas. She is passionate about food accessibility and has dedicated her social media platforms to educating folx on how to eat plant-based without going broke. She lived in Texas for 4 years where she started organizing for the Dallas Veggie Mijas Chapter. Now, she helps coordinate 5 Veggie Mijas chapters across the states. You can find her on Instagram going off on social justice rants and making easy, delicious meals at @eatyodestiny.

Instagram: @eatyodestiny

Destiny Coordinates:

Austin Chapter

Orlando Chapter

Pennsylvania Chapter

Education Team

Giselle Villatoro, Education Coordinator

Hi everyone, I’m Giselle Villatoro, an artist and educator born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Like many first-generation Latinx families, my Guatemalan parents saw education as a means to social mobility. I readily followed their wishes and went off to college in Illinois. There, as one of the few Latinx persons on campus, I realized my journey in education went beyond my own individual success. I looked into teaching and joined the Teach for America corps after graduating in 2014. I taught bilingual education in Fort-Worth, TX and saw first-hand the more complex issues affecting communities of color and low-income families in the U.S. During my six years teaching over 90% of the student populations I’ve worked with have qualified for the free and reduced breakfast & lunch program. In the US, 1 in 7 children struggle with hunger. It’s been researched that children who go hungry develop hunger-related toxic stress that can cause emotional instability and significantly decreases their capacity to learn. 

Regardless of the geographic location of the school district, it’s been my experience that the composition of public school food served to kids is the same: high sugar, high carb, little to no vegetarian options, with absolutely no vegan options available. It’s no wonder POC families at school would associate words such as “healthy”, “vegetarian”, “plant-based”, etc. with white and/or affluent communities. My goal as Education Coordinator is to build resources for children and families to learn about nutrition, take ownership of their bodies, and, most importantly, identify with Latinx cultural recipes through a decolonized lens.

Creative Team

Rachel Baker, Graphic. Designer

Hey yall! My name is Rachel and I'm a mixed latina from North Carolina. I studied Architecture, along with Social and Political History at Carnegie Mellon University and am now working as an architectural designer in Boulder, Colorado. I went plant-based around 2016 and was initially overwhelmed by the lack of diversity and intersectionality in mainstream veganism. When I found out about Veggie Mijas, it was so refreshing to see vegans of color centering their advocacy on environmental and food justice, decolonization, and more.
I’m super excited to be the graphic designer for the amazing Veggie Mijas team and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Veggie Mijas!

Instagram: @rrachelbakerr (personal) and @studiodiosah (art)

Johanna Toruno, Merchandise Consultant

Johanna Toruno is a. Salvadoran artist and the creator of The Unapologetic Street Series. Johanna is mostly plant-based and is passionate about food justice and folks of color liberation. 

Instagram: @Johannareign

New York City Chapter

Josie Tejada, Organizer

Hola! My name is Josie Tejada. I was born and raised in Harlem and I currently reside in the Bronx. I’m also a proud Dominicana. I became vegetarian in 2016 and shortly transitioned into veganism. I learned about Veggie Mijas through Instagram and soon started attending all the NYC chapter events. I eventually became an organizer and contribute to Veggie Mijas through a food segment highlighting PoC owned restaurants, Dine out with Josie.

I adopted a plant based lifestyle after learning about the health benefits of veganism. As I’ve continued to further educate myself, I have become passionate about supporting the ethical and environmental aspects of veganism. I’m particularly interested in exploring the intersections between environmental racism, racial segregation, and animal abuse in the agricultural industry. My goal as a Veggie Mija is to help other women of color learn about food activism and how veganism can be accessible in our communities.

Instagram: @hijademi.madre

Anna Magnuson, Organizer

Hi! My name is Anna Magnuson and I am from a small town in Massachusetts. I identify as a black woman. I was lucky enough to live with the founder Amy in a London study abroad program in 2015. There was no way I was not going to get involved with this amazing collective, and I am so excited to get started as one of the newer organizers!

I entered Syracuse University as a Dietetics major, but found the coursework to be lacking social, political and economic analysis of what people consume. I then switched to Food Studies, which addressed all of those issues.  I cut out meat from my diet in March of 2016. It was an easy decision after learning about the effect of the meat industry on resource distribution, environmental damage, labor issues, and many more. I have been pescatarian on and off for years, but my goal is to be vegan. My main interest in food is redistribution. I would love to create policies in the US that make food (specifically healthy foods) physically and economically accessible to people of color and low income populations. 

Instagram: @ayeeemags

Dina Farina, Organizer

Hola mi gente! My name is Dinatalia Farina—Dina for short! My pronouns are she/her. I was born in Brooklyn and raised in South Williamsburg in a small neighborhood called Los Sures. A neighborhood that was predominantly working-class, Puerto Rican’s and Dominican’s, prior to gentrification. I am Puerto Rican and Italian, though culturally I identify with my Boricua background. I have been vegetarian for nearly three years, eating mostly vegan. My transition began in college as an Environmental Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies student, and I haven’t looked back since!

Veggie Mijas was an amazing introduction to veganism with an intersectional lens, which I as a white latinx wanted to educate myself more on and find community with other latinx vegans. Ultimately, my goal with Veggie Mijas is to be an ally and use my privileges to create space for the Black and Brown voices who have been silenced and ignored historically and presently. I hope to provide support to my fellow vegan folks by any means necessary. Gracias por la oportunidadVeggie Mijas!

IG: @chiquitadina_

Ashlee Dume, Organizer

Hey! My name is Ashlee Dume and I’m from Harlem, NY. My pronouns are she/her and I identify as an African American woman. I’m a true Sagittarius and I love to travel and learn about different cultures. Cooking is my favorite hobby and I love making delicious vegan food.
I graduated from Syracuse University in 2016. It was then that I decided to fully go vegan and teach myself how to cook my own meals. I started my brand “Foxy Vegan” to showcase my vegan journey on social media. I’m passionate about making plant based eating accessible and attainable in Black and Brown communities. As people of color, we suffer from more health disparities then our white counterparts and my goal as an organizer of VeggieMijas is to help change that. 

IG: @_foxyvegan

Los Angeles Chapter

Melina, Organizer 

Hola a todxs! My name is Melina Cruz Bautista and I have been raised in the community of Pico Union here in Los Angeles.  I am one of many Oaxaqueñas in L.A and I continue practicing the lifestlye and traditions my family has taught me to love.Healthier habits came into my life about three years ago when they decided to go Vegetarian. Years later after swearing I’d never leave the “right” lifestyle I have caught on to these eating habits and have decided to take on the role of learning and modifying new recipes, helping out our communities of color share resources and spaces, and slowly but surely breaking the stigma that a healthy lifestyle only belongs to white people.

My role in Veggie Mijas is fully centered in giving PoC the physical space and support we need here in L.A. Going from vegetarian to vegan has been a fun process because thanks to Veggie Mijas I now know their are more womxn of color taking up space and having our voices heard.

Instagram: @mellyyt_

Email: melina.cruz001@gmail.com

Alejandra Tolley, Organizer

Hi everyone! My name is Alejandra Tolley and I'm a second generation daughter of Mexican parents. I grew up in a small city in East LA and I've been involved in animal activism since 2011! I had been vegetarian for five years and it wasn't until the summer of 2017 that I transitioned into veganism. Something that was very evident to me as a vegan of color was how human and animal oppression directly intersect. I make sure that worker's rights, environmental racism, and food justice is just as part of the conversation as factory farming. Mainstream vegan activism not only looks over marginalized and poor communities but they often profit off our food and culture to spread their ideas and it's something that I don't want to be apart of. I am so grateful I get to be apart of this collective that makes food justice and workers rights at the forefront and I can't wait to see the growth of this exceptional group. 

Instagram: @laveganaenojona 

Philadelphia Chapter

Rebeca Cintrón-Loáisiga, Organizer

Hola! My name is Rebeca Cintrón-Loáisiga, a Boricua born and raised in the city of Camden, New Jersey. I’m a culture and history educator, with a passion for our Latinx communities and the many ways we uplift ourselves through decolonization. I have been plant-based for 8 years, a journey that has led me to re-evaluate my wellbeing as a Latina. My health (physical, mental, and spiritual) has become an ever-evolving process, where I have embraced the challenge of understanding the institutionalized inequalities we face. As an organizer for Veggie Mijas, I hope to build a community where POC can come together, connect, and unify for a common cause…feeding our souls. 

IG: @r.cin.loa

Washington DC Chapter

Mikita, Organizer

Mikita (she/her) is 22 years old, from Western PA. She is bi-racial and identifies as a Black woman. Mikita came to DC for school and is currently working at a food security non-profit. She has been plant based for 4 years! Mikita enjoys listening to Indie and Neo-soul music and expanding her knowledge of plant-based nutrition.

IG: @mikitapita

Estrellita, Organizer

Estrellita (Starr/E) is a stem femme hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico. E identifies as a contradiction and a xicanx. Starr currently works as the Artist Programs Coordinator at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. When e isn't at the theatre, starr can be found caring for plant babies, cooking vegan delights, creating found art or facilitating humans toward co evolution.  

IG: @Twinkle_Twinkle_Estrellita

Oakland Chapter

Christian Galindo, Organizer

Hola fam! I’m a first generation Mexican & Guatemalan, vegan queer femme (she/her/hers). I was born and raised in Los Angeles (213, what’s goodie?!), but currently reside in Oakland. Growing up, I was privileged enough to be a part of non-profit dance organization, which gave children in the community access to world-class dance training at affordable cost. Throughout my dance career, my relationship with food was tumultuous; my mother loved to cook decadent traditional foods, but dance brought on the pressure of keeping a certain body type. In all this, I was always intrigued by the artistry and love that can go behind developing a delicious, handmade meal. After training with master artists and teaching youth in the community, I decided to pursue my curiosity for food by working my way through the restaurant industry. There, I witnessed a huge lack in environmental consciousness, which lead me to question my own food and environmental decisions. I’ve been vegan for three years, and now enjoy taking the culinary skills I learned as a chef to veganise recipes for my partner and I, daily.

Through Veggie Mijas, I hope to help build community awareness and facilitate space for QTPOC in the area looking to learn about animal liberation and food justice, as well as help support folks on their plant-based journey by exploring ways to make veganism accessible for all. I’m so hyped to share my love and knowledge of plant-based food (both healthy and indulgent) with this collective.

Instagram: @chrissygalindoo

Chicago Chapter

Luisa Ibarra, Organizer

Hello, my name is Luisa Ibarra and I’m from Chicago, IL. I was born and raised in the neighborhood of Little Village, a predominately working class Mexican immigrant community. I identify as Mexican American and my pronouns are she/hers.

My vegan/plant based journey began about a year ago when I was inspired by one of my best friends. At the time I was facing serious health problems and was struggling to find a balance with my diet and did not have a positive relationship with food. When my friend told me about his vegan journey I did a lot of online research about the benefits of a plant based diet and decided that for one year I was going to be vegan. I started by being vegetarian for about a month and once January 2018 hit I changed my diet completely. It was a struggle the first few months but I have decided to stick with this lifestyle for as long as I can. I have been able to heal myself from various illnesses and feel better mentally and spiritually.

With Veggie Mijas I hope to inspire and work with the youth of my community to teach them about plant based lifestyles, social and environmental justice. I also want to teach my community that they have autonomy over their own bodies and they have the resources and support to do so. I am very grateful for of all the work that Veggie Mijas does and I’m excited to put in more work!

Instagram: @_demira_

Daniela Medrano, Organizer

I grew up visiting el rancho in Durango, México during my summer vacations. My father was living there and owned a carnicería so I never questioned where my food came from. However, one summer, I saw a cow get slaughtered and was significantly impacted by the suffering I witnessed. I was only twelve years old at the time, but that day I decided I was going to be vegetarian. I was vegetarian for 9 years and, in college, became vegan while studying philosophy and ethics under my late professor and animal rights advocate. I’ve been vegan for almost 9 years and my ethics and beliefs have since grown to include environmental & food justice, migrant worker rights, and ethical consumerism. I’m passionate about helping folks learn to cook plant based meals on a budget. I’m known to travel with fruit in my bag at all times and my love language is feeding people.

My culture and our cuisine is a large part of my identity so finding a collective like Veggie Mijxs has helped me connect with people who I see myself reflected in. It’s been a blessing to have a space to discuss the cultural nuances and issues that specifically affect vegans of color and working class folks. I hope that as an organizer I can make veganism feel more accessible to our communities by challenging mainstream white veganism through a body-positive and asset-based lens.

Instagram: @danimalx13

Seattle Chapter

Alexis Mercedes, Organizer

Hola amigxs! My name is Alexis Mercedes and my pronouns are she/her. Born and raised by my grandparents in the SF Bay Area, I'm a Salvadoran and Ashkenzai Jewish mixed gal (just call me a Jewtina)! I started eating fully vegetarian in 2016, and became vegan in 2017. I initially made the switch because I wanted to do my part in helping the environment; however, what has helped me continue this journey is learning about the unjust complexities to our food systems. If you're like me, then food is EVERYTHING. But I couldn't stand by knowing that something that was my EVERYTHING perpetuated and fed into such violent systems of oppression. Transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle has truly changed my philosophy on life to one that is centered on compassion and justice. My job on this planet is to be an anti-capitalist organizer, but the job I actually get paid for is being a human services and public health policy analyst. With Veggie Mijas, my goal is to educate our chapter and our community about food systems, as well as create spaces for connection and healing.
Instagram: Feistycipota

Vanessa Moyonero, Organizer

Hi, I’m Vanessa! I’m a product of the American Dream, born to Peruvian immigrants in Maryland. I lived in the DC area until I moved to Seattle last year, where I became vegan. My aspiration to gain creativity in the kitchen really helped ease the transition to be plant-based, which led me to develop recipes for Peruvian dishes without any animal products. I feel closer to my culture and family through cooking. My passion for veganism derives from learning about how our individual food choices intersect with greater issues such as environmental racism, public health, colonialism, accessibility to fresh food, and workers’ rights. My personal mission in life is to empower communities of color and advocate to diversify spaces. I’m excited to meet other vegans of color and build out the Seattle chapter!

Instagram: @ vanessa__vvm

Gloria Gonzalez-Zapata, Organizer

My name is Gloria Gonzalez-Zapata, I am Mexican and Panamanian. I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. 

Growing up I wanted to be vegetarian after witnessing a pig get slaughtered at the age of 10, but I never knew what to eat, being so young I had no other choice but to follow my family's diet. Fast forward to college, I became more independent, I was slowly transitioning to a plant based diet but came across the same issue as I did before, I knew that my diet of rice and beans, PB&J, and tangerines was not sustainable nor healthy.  I followed Veggie Mijas to learn about plant based meals and appreciated their focus on the community work. 

I am a true believer that what you eat affects your health, with the ever growing gentrification and food deserts in vulnerable communities in Seattle, I believe now more than ever it's important to share resources and recipes that will strengthen our communities. 

Instagram: @g3tz_divine

Austin Chapter

Maya Luna, Organizer

Hi everyone, my name is Maya Luna (pronouns she/her/ella). I am a queer salvi tejana from Austin, Texas. My background is in organizing for immigrant rights and education equity in Texas and against gentrification and the criminalization of our communities by the poli-migra. I love connecting with others through food and a dream of mine is to honor the earth, my ancestors, and my community through growing food as a farmer. 

I have been a vegetarian for 8 years. I first decided to stop eating meat my sophomore year of high school after watching a documentary about factory farming’s impacts on workers, consumers, animals, and the environment. However, being vegan always seemed inaccessible and I was rarely exposed to vegans I could identify with. It wasn’t until spending a semester in LA that my perspective began to shift. I learned from organizations like South Central Vegans, and Todo Verde that veganism and plant-based eating CAN be by the hood for the hood and center a racial and food justice lens. 

As an organizer with Veggie Mijas, I hope to create and nourish a community where BIPOC can connect to decolonize our eating and work for justice (food, environmental, reproductive…) in our communities.  

IG: @lasalvadorable

Orlando Chapter

Mónica Divane, Organizer

I am Mayan & Latinx and have been vegan for 19 years. It’s been a struggle to find a community where I fit in, being a queer Pagan vegan Latina. Finding out about Veggie Mijas has been like someone letting in the light. I’m honored to be able to lead a chapter in Central Florida and create a safe space for those of us who are trying to decolonize our food and way of living. I’m excited to create a community where we can connect with each other through food & culture. 

Instagram: @the_mer_witch

Denver Chapter

Em Alves, Organizer

Em Alves (they/them/theirs) has been vegan for over 11 years, grounding that veganism in human rights, food justice and sovereignty. Originally born and raised in Miami, Em is of Mixed Boricua and white Guyanese descent. After earning their BA in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Masters of Social Work in St. Louis, Em moved to Colorado in 2017. Their focus as a social worker is violence and Injury prevention among women and femmes of color, currently working on a non-traditional campus to address violence prevention and unpacking oppression. As one of the coordinators for the Denver chapter of VeggieMijas, Em hopes to build connections that prioritize the experiences of QTIPOC vegans. Em spends the majority of their time thinking about DIY cat furniture hacks, skincare, bulk cooking vegan staples, and watching terrible television. 

Instagram: @veganboricua

Yesika Ordaz, Organizer

Yesika Ordaz (she/her/hers) has been vegan for 2.5 years. She is originally from California and has lived in Colorado for two years. She is an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research interests include the histories of migrant detention centers, social movements, the carceral state, and intersectional veganism. She is currently trying to keep her plants thriving and wants to adopt a black cat. 

Instagram: @chicanx_veganx

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