about us
mission, history, and our incredible team


To create opportunities and programs that  promote education, health, and quality of life for the Latino community in Boulder County.


In January 2001,

people began meeting to discuss development of an immigrants rights center in Boulder.

The result of those discussions was the formation of AMISTAD, a non-profit organization.

Since then, AMISTAD has become a a place for immigrants to learn about and further their rights.

Our incredible team

(we feel lucky)

Elena Aranda

Director of Wellness, Health & Education

Elena Aranda has worked tirelessly to fulfill the Compañeras program’s mission of promoting the wellbeing of women; enhancing their quality of life while expanding access to educational and cultural programs, developing political consciousness and collectively mobilizing social justice actions. Compañeras works with primarily Spanish speaking women to promote and strengthen a cultural solidarity with an emphasis on companionship, respect, equality and mutual support. For the past 10 years the Compañeras program has held an annual summit that attract hundreds of women and youth. It is unique in our community as the only summit by women for women who speak Spanish. In addition to her work with Compañeras, Elena has been a Parent-Infant Specialist in the Community Infant Program at Boulder Mental Health Partners for 21 years. Elena is a powerful leader in the Boulder community who has gained a reputation for compassion while garnering widespread respect for her professionalism and energy. 

Jorge De Santiago

Executive Director

Jorge De Santiago, originally from Guadalajara, Mexico moved to Boulder in 1988. Since that time he has been engaged with and supported Latino families in Boulder County where he found an opportunity to volunteer as a soccer coach and Mexican folklore dance instructor.  He has worked on policy changes that benefit Latino Immigrant's at the National, State and Local level. He currently serves as a Board of Health Member at Boulder County Public Health. One of his passions is to coach soccer to kids, he holds a National Soccer D License. With 15 years experience has been a competitive Premier Soccer Coach in Colorado at Nova FC, Boulder Athletic FC, FC Boulder, Rush Colorado, St. Vrain FC, Rapids Soccer Club.

Mario Martinez-Varelas

Youth Activities Coordinator and Community Liaison

My name is Mario Alberto Martinez-Varelas, I was born in Juarez, Mexico and raised in Denver, Colorado. I will be graduating from CU Boulder this December and have been working with youth for the last two years through the Longmont Youth Center and the Pree Collegiate Developmental Program at CU. I am an avid soccer fan and enjoy playing music from time to time. I am very happy to be part of the AMISTAD community and look forward to working with you all!

Max LeMieux

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

I am a current student at University of Colorado, Boulder. I am avid supporter of health equity and equality for all. I have a back round in social media and marketing and will be graduating from college with a degree in political science. Upon graduation I plan to continue to work in the non-profit community as well in politics.

Leticia Abajo

Promotora de Salud, Wellness Program Development & Community Connector

Leticia Abajo earned a BA in Human Development and Family Relations from UCD and a Certificate in Early Childhood Education from Applied Studies Institute in Madrid, Spain. Leticia is a Family Educator employed by AMISTAD and a WIC Educator employed by Boulder County Public Health. She has been associated with AMISTAD for more than 15 years and is part of the organizational team for the Annual Women's Summit.

She loves to spend time with her family, Alex, Aitana and Amara and her hobbies have to do with being creative and connected to her loved ones and her community.

Mar Matlak

Administrative & Communications Coordinator

Mar was born in Puebla, Mexico, where she attended Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla and earned a BA in Translation Studies while also working as a journalist. Mar is a teacher, an artist and a leader who believes in the power of people and community. She is passionate about working with kids, art, music, adventures, food, and outdoors. Mar loves learning about different cultures and identities and strongly relates to her own Mexican roots. She has experience working in multiple countries and cultures. She is excited to be part of El Centro AMISTAD because she is eager to support the Latinx community and believes in social justice and equity for all.

Lilly Johnson Guerra

Promotora de Salud, Running Coach & Acyive Living Consultant

Liliam Marlene Johnson was born in September in San Gabriel, Ecuador. She has lived in Boulder for more than 17 years. In 1992,  Lily graduated with honorable mention as Athletic Trainer at the Instituto Nacional Superior de Deportes, in Quito. A high performance athlete herself, she is owner and coach of the group Running Lily Coaching, where she motivates and trains community members to stay healthy and active. She is excited to change lives and support athletes from any background. Lily also works as Cross Country Assistant Trainer at Boulder High School and as the head coach at El Centro AMISTAD.

Robin Luff

Board Member

Robin and her husband are the proud parents of two boys, one who is studying CU and the other at Boulder High. Professionally, she has had a long career in publishing, working with magazines that focused on sports or health. She has served on the board of Impact on Education, Summit Charter School, The Community Foundation, The School Food Project and El Centro Amistad and serve as a committee member for Conference on World Affairs. Robin has also worked in post-conflict countries with programming in Early Childhood Education with a Respecting Differences Curriculum. She's launched a project at Boulder High School with the "I Have a Dream" students to build a positive school culture for those from marginalized communities.

Madeleine Case

Board Member

Madeleine is the Director of Parent and Family Partnership with the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) where she leads the implementation of the District’s family and community partnership initiative at BVSD’s 56 schools. Prior to working at BVSD, Madeleine was the Northern California Director for the nonprofit Building Skills Partnership, which brings together SEIU and responsible businesses to improve the quality of life of low-wage property service workers and their families.  She formerly served on the NOVA Workforce Investment Board and the Board of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the New Leaders Council.  She is an ardent supporter of immigrant rights, racial justice, campaign finance reform, affordable housing and other social justice issues.

Susan Motika

Board Member

Susan Motika is a Colorado native who has focused her career on community-driven policy work on social justice issues.  She is currently the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Boulder County Public Health where she has focused on health equity, community engagement and public health law strategies to address the social determinants of health.  Early in her career, Susan worked as a journalist reporting on the gentrification of Boston's inner city neighborhoods; she was also a community organizer in Boston's public housing projects.  After attending Northeastern University School of Law, Susan worked as a housing and employment lawyer at Greater Boston Legal Services and then as an Assistant Attorney General. Susan returned to Colorado with her family to work for then-District Attorney Bill Ritter as the director of the community Justice unit where she helped develop juvenile restorative justice programs and a community court.  Susan served as a director of the Making Connections initiative --  a 10 year investment by the Annie E. Casey Foundation designed to improve civic engagement, economic security, and early childhood education in four Denver neighborhoods.  For the last seven years, Susan has been committed to public health -- as the law and policy manager and healthy eating and active living manager for the state health department and in her current role with Boulder County Public Health.  Susan is married to Richard Cauchi and they have one son, Thomas, who is currently in the Peace Corps. 

Dr. Edilberto Cano Rodriguez

Board President

Dr. Edilberto Cano Rodriguez currently serves as the English Language Development and Biliteracy Director for Adams County School District 14 . He obtained his Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Colorado, Boulder and currently serves as an adjunct professor for the School of Education´s Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity department. Dr. Cano was born in Veracruz, Mexico and has been working education for over 20 years.  His family is bicultural and bilingual.

Andrew Lippi

Board Member

Andrew has been fascinated by a personalized educational experience from a young age. He attended Stanstead College in Quebec, Canada, where he had the tools to engage in experiential learning, critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork. At Stanstead College he also found mentorship through Headmaster Mike Wolfe who opened his eyes to the beauty of education. Mike has played an essential role in the foundation of Andrew’s passion for education. If the foundation was built at Stanstead College the rest of his vision was constructed at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. Andrew found a home at Lynn University and was able to receive the support that enabled him to realize his full potential for a future in higher education. He accredits the successes he had at Lynn University to the support and guidance provided by President Dr. Kevin Ross. Andrew was able to connect to Watson University through an opportunity given by Dr. Ross.

Cristina Segura

Promtora de Salud

Cristina was born in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico.  She has been part of the Boulder community for 15 years and 14 of those as a member of the Compañeras family. A year ago, she joined the Promotoras team because she wanted to improve her own family’s lifestyle. Now, with more experience, she is excited to share her knowledge about a healthier lifestyle with the broader Latinx community. Applying her passions for fitness and healthy diets, she aims to support people to avoid common challenges like obesity and diabetes. Cristina enjoys reading and shopping and is also an entrepreneur who runs her own house cleaning business. ​

Leticia Garcia

Promtora de Salud

Leticia was born in Mexico City, Mexico. She has been part of El Centro AMISTAD since 2005. Every year since, she has been an active member of the Compañeras Program and has participated in every Women’s Summit. She earned a BA in Nursing from UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) and has always maintained a passion for collaborating and connecting with her community. Now as a Promotora, she has the opportunity to directly support the Latinx community in Boulder county. She is passionate about dancing zumba and making homemade healthy desserts.

Amelia Torres

Promtora de Salud

Amelia was born in Durango, Mexico. She moved to Boulder 18 years ago. She is part of the pioneer Promotora group that started running a year ago. She likes working at el Centro AMISTAD because she believes in equity and wants the Latinx community to have access to healthy activities and education around sugar.  The Promotoras program combines her passions for learning and teaching. She is excited to collaborate with others towards a better life for her family and her community. In her free time, she loves knitting, reading, and watching documentaries.

Lorena Zavala

Promtora de Salud

Lorena was born in Rancho Grande, Mexico and has been living in Boulder for 15 years. A year ago, she started learning about the risks from the sugar contained in many beverages. Her curiosity and desire to provide her family a better lifestyle lead her to join the Promotoras team. She is a big advocate of healthy food and shares her knowledge with her extended family and other members of the community.  Lorena is excited to learn more about how to support families to have a balanced and healthy lifestyle. She believes that although this is not easy, it is possible.  She loves spending quality time and playing with her daughters.

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