Leadership Team

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

Simone, Recruitment Director 

Simone Hassan-Bey (she/her) is a first-generation Jamaican American who grew up all over the East Coast of the U.S. and has even spent time further East having lived in South Korea during her gap year. Simone is driven by first-hand exposure to societal inequities leading her work towards building authentic social change. In 2021, Simone launched the Yoonhee Yoshi Kim Memorial Scholarship to celebrate undergrad students who demonstrate resilience and service to BIPOC communities. She is a co-founder of Rooted Uprising, a social and environmental justice collective aiming to engage, elevate, and empower community, and serves as the Recruitment Director for Veggie Mijas. 

IG: @simonebey_

Email: recruitment@veggiemijas.org

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

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


Francesca Altamirano-Ortega, Coordinator

Francesca Altamirano-Ortega is an advocate, storyteller, and innovator. Francesca  is a first generation Nicaraguan American who was born and raised in South Florida. Her passion for climate justice work stems from her upbringing. Growing up in a low-income community with a single parent immigrant household, she has personally experienced and witnessed the inequalities and disparities amplified by the climate crisis. As a Media Studies grad student at the Newhouse School of Public Communications, Francesca is the founder of Emerging Media for Existing Issues, a research space that leverages the power of storytelling and affordances of extended reality and artificial intelligence technologies to help represent and communicate environmental and social inequalities amongst key stakeholders. She is designing and testing a 3D immersive app that allows users to visualize future environmental scenarios while providing a platform to share stories and histories of how an area has been impacted.

Email: vfortega@syr.edu

LinkedIn

Lisa Marquez, Program Coordinator

Lisa Marquez-Garcia (she/her) has been a plant-based vegan since 2017 and works in food systems research. Lisa has previously lived in Austin, TX, Honolulu, Hawaii, Bay Area, CA, Mexico City, and Washington DC for education and work. She is from and currently resides in Corpus Christi, TX. Lisa is excited to be a program coordinator for chapters in some of the cities she has lived in.

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.

Ana Juliana Borja Armas, Education Coordinator

Ana Juliana Borja Armas was born on the coast of Ecuador and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She received her Masters in Teaching from Bard College and is currently a doctoral student at Syracuse University concentrating in the cultural foundations of Education. Borja is also a  Global/American History Teacher teacher in Bronx, New York at an all girls middle school. Her research focuses on queer bipoc students who are radically redefining education and justice, as well as strategies for teaching radical, collaborative, student centered historical thinking, reading and writing. Her work in education led her to become a Land justice advocate. She now uses land justice, holistic healing strategies and transgressive educational philosophies to advocate for our community’s youth. 

Creative Team

Lorena Kanzki, Creative Director

Hello! My name is Lorena, my pronouns are she/her/hers, and I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. I come from generations of migration, being the daughter of Haitian immigrants with roots mainly in Haiti, Lebanon, Syria, and Puerto Rico. I met our incredible founder Amy while studying at Syracuse University, where I double majored in Television, Radio, and Film + Women’s and Gender Studies. I joined the Veggie Mijas collective in 2019 while beginning my journey toward a more plant-based lifestyle and while also beginning my journey as a first-generation student pursuing a master’s degree in Media at NYU. My research focus is at the intersection of education, social justice, and digital media, and I’m thrilled to be able to bring my learnings to this collective. I now direct the Creative Team in brainstorming and producing engaging content to amplify our mission and message. I am constantly inspired by this collective and the work that we do, and I’m excited for all that’s yet to come!

Email: lorenakanzki@gmail.com 

Alejandra Tolley, Editorial Content Manager and LA Organizer

Hi everyone! My name is Alejandra Tolley and I’m a second generation daughter of Mexican parents. I grew up in a small sleepy city outside of Los Angeles called Diamond Bar and I’ve been involved in animal advocacy since 2011! After being vegetarian for 5 years, I went vegan in 2017 along with my mom and sister. Since then, I’ve found a passion in organizing and veganizing our traditional dishes with my family. My focus as a writer is to challenge the way we view veganism and amplify the extraordinary work that this collective is doing. I center my work on mutual aid, collective community care, food justice and making veganism accessible to BIPOC communities by running a fully plant based community fridge in South Central. I am so thrilled and grateful to be apart of such an exceptional group and can’t wait to see the growth we can achieve together.

Instagram: @laveganaenojona 

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

Aronya Waller, Writer

Hi! My name is Aronya Waller, and I’m from Philadelphia, PA. I identify as a Black woman raised in a diverse mix of cultures, including French Creole and Jamaican. I love traveling, and my goal is to travel to at least one new country every year. I’m a book nerd, and I love learning about black and brown history
not taught in school. 

I originally became plant-based due to health reasons. As I learned more through research and Veggie Mijas, I transitioned to living a vegan lifestyle focused on holistic wellness. I’m passionate about food justice in Philadelphia, as well as for all BIPOC communities. 

I may have a disability that prevents me from going to marches and protests, but the pen is my sword. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be a writer for Veggie Mijas. I enjoy writing about injustices and advocacy. I also want to paint over the mainstream veganism canvas. Each time I share the stories of our communities and cultures, I hope to add a new stroke to show the diversity of veganism.

Instagram: @herownbeat

Suzy González, Writer

Hey y’all! My name is Suzy González and I’m a Xicanx artist based in San Antonio, TX. I publish Xicana Vegan zine, co-publish Yes, Ma’am zine, and co-organize the San Anto Zine Fest. I went vegan in 2013 for feminist and animal rights reasons, and now I’m invested in the ties between the treatment of humans, non-human animals, and the earth. I’m into the idea of decolonizing our diets, or reclaiming the plant-based nourishment of our ancestors for the health of our communities. I have an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from Texas State University, and the experience of being brown within the institution has also influenced my journey to reindigenize my lifestyle. Writing provides another creative outlet in addition to my visual artwork, and I look forward to contributing more to the food justice movement. I’m so grateful to be a part of Veggie Mijas and I’m inspired by all the work that has already been done!


Instagram: @soozgonzalez & @xicanavegan

Ivanna Frances, Writing Team Editor

Ivanna (she/they) is a first-generation Peruvian born and raised in Orange County, CA. They have been vegan for about eight years and currently study Nutrition Science at California State University, Long Beach. She has a knack for wanting to try all the things from research internships with NASA and the National Institute of Health to plant-based culinary endeavors and even candle-making. Ivanna is a life-long animal lover and is passionate about the intersections of food justice and environmental justice. 

IG: quinoabae

Data Team

Alejandra Juarez Rojas, Data Team Manager

Hi! My name is Alejandra (she/her). I am a first-generation Mexican American, and I come from
parents with roots in El DF and Oaxaca, Mexico. I love the culture I was raised in and continue
to educate myself about it through food.

I lived most of my life in Compton, experienced food insecurity, and continue to see it as an adult. My career has given me the mobility to relocate to new cities. A common factor I have
noticed is the food insecurity surrounding low-income cities, specifically people of color. I value
Veggie Mijas mission to take action on our current structural problems surrounding food/nutrition. Like many others members of this collective, I am passionate about empowering
communities of color and advocating/providing resources and safe spaces for our communities
to grow.

I graduated with a degree in Human Development with an emphasis on research from CSULB. I
have had the opportunity to get my research funded by the NIH and later work with the CDC to
help bring the voices of agricultural workers to the public ear. I have a passion for creating data
collection tools - because data produces actions.

I am excited to be part of Veggie Mijas leadership team. I hope to give back to my community by
connecting with others while discovering where help is most needed to begin taking action.

Instagram: alej_zzz
Email: datamanager@veggiemijas.org

Jasmin Jimenez, Data Specialist

Hi folks, my name is Jasmin Jimenez, my pronouns are she/her/they/them. I am Mexican, born and raised in occupied Arapahoe land (Denver, Colorado). I currently reside in occupied Lenape land (NYC), and have been for the past 7 years.  
I was vegan for 4 years, vegetarian for 1.5 years and now am working on finding a version of a plant-based diet that works best for my health.
I am someone who is passionate about food systems and food justice. I am also an experienced urban farmer. During the height of the pandemic, I was working as an essential worker at a grocery store, helping to provide NYC with affordable produce. This experience further radicalized me on the issues of labor rights and food security. I now manage a garden in the Bronx and work with youth.

I am excited to be part of Veggie Mijas, where I see my own values reflected in the collective's mission.

New York City Chapter

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

Isabella Vargas, Organizer

Hola! My name is Isabella Vargas, I use she/they pronouns, and I’m a first generation Colombiana/Venezolana. I grew up mostly in Miami but have been making a home here in NYC for quite a while. I’m passionate about food justice, environmental justice, decolonizing all the things, and connecting with my community and helping empower it in any way I can. I’ve been a vegetarian for seven years and care deeply about plant-based diets and health for BIPOC communities. Food justice and my community helped save me from my own experiences with food insecurity and struggling to deal with a life-changing disability. Outside of this work, I’m also an artist and filmmaker who is involved in fighting for immigrant and labor justice. 

As a Veggie Mijas organizer, I hope to give back to my community and connect with others so we can all empower and heal each other through food justice.

IG: @isa_varg

Chelsea Encababian, Organizer

Chelsea (she/her) is Armenian-Filipina, and grew up in the concrete jungles of the Bronx. She discovered the magic/restorative properties of nature while attending college in upstate New York in the Finger Lakes. This is where she learned about the benefits and joys of gardening and the importance of preserving our green spaces though urban soil restoration. After graduating with a degree in Environmental Studies & Asian Studies from Hobart & William Smith Colleges, she moved to South Korea for 3 years to pursue teaching ESL and traveling around the world. While on her travels, she discovered veganism and has never looked back. She has been plant based for 4 years and counting! Chelsea’s veganism stems from her passion for environmental stewardship. 

Chelsea Encababian is the Project Manager for the NYC Compost Project Hosted by Queens Botanical Garden. In this role, she coordinates with community partners and oversees the planning, logistics, and implementation of food scrap drop-off sites in Queens, NY. In this role, she also develops, promotes, runs, and documents the program’s compost outreach and education. 

Chelsea is also in the midst of pursuing a Master of Science degree in Sustainability in the Urban Environment at CCNY. Besides composting, Chelsea enjoys painting, ceramics, tennis, fermenting foods, herbalism, crystals, picnics with friends, board game nights, and binge watching tv shows on Netflix. She currently lives in Astoria, NY.

IG: @chel_see_new_things

Los Angeles Chapter

Melina, Organizer 

Hello everyone, my name is Melina Cruz Bautista and I have been raised in the community of Pico-Union here in L.A. 

Today I believe it’s our responsibility as a new generation to continue contributing and providing resources for our communities as we grow. 

I am one of the many Oaxaqueñas in L.A who continues practicing the lifestyle and traditions our families have taught us to love and show up for. 

After swearing, I’d never stop consuming meat I have now considered myself plant-based these last three years. 

I joined Veggie Mijas in LA in the summer of 2018 when I decided to take on the role of learning and modifying recipes many of us grew up with while sharing resources with those in the city. 

My role with Veggie Mijas is fully aimed to center our communities, provide physical safe space for all and encourage one another to be as vocal and unapologetic as possible. 

We continue sharing our love through fresh meals and access for all while building lifelong friendships. I encourage you to join and build with us all. 

Quote: "Cúrate mijita, con los besos que te da el viento y los abrazos de la lluvia. Hazte fuerte con los pies descalzos en la tierra y con todo lo que de ella nace."  -Maria Sabina Magdalena Garcia, Curandera y Poeta Indigena de Oaxaca, Mex. 

-Melina 

Instagram: @mellyyt_

Email: vidaconmel@gmail.com 

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

Bay Area 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

Ucha Abbah, Organizer

Hey y'all, my name is Ucha, my pronouns are she/her/hers, and I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. I decided about 12 years ago to become a vegetarian because I was concerned about animal welfare. Over time I learned more about the relationship between food, capitalism, white supremacy, environmental justice, climate justice, immigration, spirituality, and morality which deepened my understanding of being plant-based. When I was an undergraduate getting bachelor's degrees in Environmental Studies and Human Rights, with a minor in Ethics, I spent time volunteering at community gardens and organizing my greek council to volunteer at community gardens in Dallas. I have always gravitated towards growing food and all of the conversations surrounding it, so I am thrilled to be part of Veggie Mijas. After graduating from undergrad in 2017, I completed a master's degree from UVA in urban and environmental planning in 2019. The degree helped me to begin understanding the structural issues that lead to so many inequities. I am excited to learn how to support the communities here in Austin as they build power, exchange resources, and heal.

Houston Chapter

Kayla Brown, Organizer

My name is Kayla Brown, I have been living in Houston for 6 years. My husband and I started our plant-based journey approximately four years ago. Our family now includes a toddler who is also vegan. I have a degree in nursing and work with both adults and children in different capacities. My passion for plant-based living is rooted in disease prevention but has grown to be so much more over the years. I have grown to be an advocate for a greener planet and against animal cruelty. I love hanging out with my family, traveling, anything outdoors, and running. I am excited to be part of this organization and to offer an inclusive space for all plant based people of color in the greater Houston community.

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

DC Chapter

Brenda Guadalupe Arriaza (she/her), Organizer

I am currently in the process of becoming fully plant-based and that’s why I decided to become a chapter organizer in DC. I want to surround myself with beautiful like-minded souls that have a safe space for everyone. I am an environmentalist and recently started a project to educate about living a sustainable life. It has a lot of work but I am so excited about it. I plan to go back to school to get my masters or PhD. I live in an Alexandria, VA but I’m really close to DC and love exploring the city. I love to hike, workout, and dance! I used to play competitive soccer but I got injured :( if you ever need any motivation call ya girl, I’m here for positivity and bringing smiles to people’s faces! Happy to be here and grow with these amazing people. 

Alexis Acosta, Organizer

Hola Todxs, I’m Alexis! (She/Her/Ella)

I grew up in Chicago to Puerto Rican and Brazilian parents, but have placed some roots in Washington, D.C. My personal experiences have shaped my current path of focusing on issues related to health equity and mental wellbeing in BIPOC communities, and I feel deeply that food and environmental justice are two necessary components in improving our overall health. 

I have been vegan for more than 8 years, and enjoy recreating my favorite childhood foods (like pastellitos and arroz con habichuelas!) with plant-based ingredients. Outside of cooking, you can find me at thrift stores, browsing markets for more candles for my apartment (#selfcare), or going on a long hike that must finish at a bakery.

As a Veggie Mijas organizer, I hope to bring awareness to both the longstanding traditions of Latinx and other BIPOC communities that have incorporated plant-based foods and the newer generations that are recreating our cultural foods in a plant-based way. With this focus, I will work with other Veggie Mijas organizers to uplift BIPOC voices in the plant-based lifestyle in a positive and empowering light. 

IG: @veganfoodiealexis 

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