Blanca Jenkins

Mrs. Blanca Jenkins is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages and Literature at East Texas Baptist University. She is a naturalized citizen originally from Oaxaca, Mexico. Mrs. Jenkins values her faith and her culture. She grew up listening to her mother’s Triqui stories and witnessing her mother’s life as a bilingual and bicultural woman before she even dreamed of moving permanently to Texas and becoming bilingual and bicultural herself.

Mrs. Jenkins obtained a B.A. from East Texas Baptist University and a M.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She has taught for 23 years; her teaching experience includes public and private high schools, and university settings. Mrs. Jenkins research interest include Hispanic Studies, Latino Folklore, and U.S. Latino Literature and Culture. She has published some of her work at Border Lines; Journal of the Latino Research Center at the University of Nevada-Reno, The Beacon; the Literary Journal for East Texas Baptist University, and The Journal- Ohio State University.

Mrs. Jenkins has a passion for connecting with students and teaching Spanish language and culture. Her love for teaching and travel has led her to lead several study-abroad courses to Latin America. She has also traveled to multiple Spanish speaking countries as an interpreter for different organizations. Traveling and interacting with people of different backgrounds have allowed her to see that human beings have more in common that they realize and that their stories have the ability to encourage understanding to create a better world for all.

Elizabeth Barger

My name is Elizabeth Barger. I am currently a Dual Language Kindergarten Teacher in Tuloso-Midway ISD in Corpus Christi, Texas. I am also the Treasurer for the Coastal Bend Association for Bilingual Education, a newly-created organization for the Coastal Bend.

I live in Corpus Christi with my husband, son, and our very spoiled chihuahua terrier, Lluvia. I have been teaching for over 20 years and am a very dramatic storyteller to little people. 

My journey in life has a path with many winding roads with many adventures, from samba to capoeira to parkour to teacher to technology, just to name a few. I love technology and am currently a Nearpod PioNear, one of 300 in the world. I enjoy presenting at conferences, especially about bilingual education and technology.

When I am not teaching, I enjoy reading, going to the beach, learning new things, or going on new adventures.

 l always have a story to tell, from my teaching, to my dancing, or to my many adventures in life. My family has a rich heritage with cooking and ranching that has not been told, often with a lot of jokes, ‘dichos’ and double meanings. I want to document my family’s stories, so that they may continue to be passed on.  My wish is to document our stories and to write a book.

“It has been said that next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling.” -Khalil Gibran

Famo Musa

Famo Musa was born in Somalia and raised in Kenya. She came to the United States in March 2004 as a refugee. She has been living in San Diego for the past 20 years, but lives in Houston Texas with her kids and she is hoping to get to know more about the refugee community in Houston. She is a writer and a photographer. She has a bachelor’s in literature and creative writing from UCSD. Musa has been involved in her community since 2010, her goal is to be a role model for the youth in her community. She worked as a Youth Organizer with the Global Action Research Center, (the Global ARC). Musa is also the co-founder of City Heights Youth for Change (CHYFC), a youth-led organization, advocating for youth in City Heights, part of the Global ARC. She has been a community leader who has been active in her community for the past 10 years, she advocates for youth and helps parents who are not familiar with the educational system and are experiencing language barriers.

Musa does documentary and portrait photography with an emphasis of preserving memories within her community. She uses both her photography and her storytelling skills to give voice to her community. Musa has always enjoyed writing about her life and her family. From the time she first arrived in America and did not write or speak English, she wanted to tell her story, but the language barrier made it difficult for her. After four years of high school and having the basics down, she started keeping journals writing about everything around her. In combination with her photography and writing, they became a tool to preserve her communities’ stories.

Imgard Khosravi

My name is Imgard Khosravi, and I’m a communication strategist and a storytelling enthusiast who was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. I currently reside in San Antonio, Texas, and I’m passionate about using storytelling to connect people and build communities. Over the years, I have worked on various communication and documentary projects, covering diverse community issues ranging from human rights, and environmental justice to climate change. I studied Journalism and Media studies at the University of Nairobi, Kenya and attained an MA in Media Peace and Conflict Studies at the U.N University for Peace in Costa Rica.

I have worked in different countries and backgrounds, and documented indigenous communities as they strived to access safe drinking water. Additionally, I utilized photography and journalism to highlight the challenges children refugees faced and focused my efforts on working with unaccompanied refugees from Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea. Through my experiences, I have been able to transcend different backgrounds and cultures and tell meaningful stories within our communities.

In the past, I collaborated with Current Movements, an organization whose mission is to connect activists, organizations, and movements around the world using film, art, and technology. I had the opportunity to partner with an amazing group of friends and produced “Insurgent Imaginations,” a podcast that explores creative arts through a revolutionary lens. I currently work as a Director of Public Relations for Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez in San Antonio.

Whether through filming, photography, or podcasting, storytelling plays a vital role in bringing people together and preserving culture.

La’arni Ayum

La’arni Ayuma descends from a family of traditional Filipina/o healers. She integrates the ancient healing arts with other somatic/energy healing techniques to promote well-being in her communities. As a queer holistic practitioner, she facilitates spaces that encourage transformational shifts, conscious of culture and traditional practices and is rooted in spiritual integrity, empowering community members in their self-care, healing and transformation. 

She came to this work from her lineage and from a belief and knowing that we have the ability to heal ourselves by creating the change we need to see. To manifest this, we must turn to our spirit, our ancestral knowing and memory to understand the parts of us that have been wounded and suppressed.

Ayuma’s work amplifies cultural traditions such as how sitting with elders to listen to their stories and learning from observing them doing traditional rituals honors the land and ancestors. The role and remembering of language connects one to land and/or their communities. It also focuses on tending to communities and communal well being that tends to allow for the individual to tune in on how to care for and express themselves.

She collaborates with other practitioners to hold sacred space for sharing stories and knowledge of our ancestors. Storytelling is the medicine of remembering and allows our communities to connect deeper with ancestral wisdom. 

La’arni Ayuma is also a proud mother and student to a 25 year old musician, a 12 year old artist and a 7 year old warrior healer. 

Laura Villarreal

Laura Villareal is a poet and book critic. Her debut poetry collection, Girl’s Guide to Leaving, (University of Wisconsin Press 2022) was awarded Texas Institute of Letter’s John A. Robert Johnson Award for a First Book of Poetry and the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award for Poetry. ​She earned an MFA at Rutgers University—Newark and has been the recipient of fellowships and scholarships from the Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts, National Book Critics Circle’s Emerging Critics Program, VONA, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Dobie Paisano Fellowship Program at University of Texas-Austin. 

She is currently an associate with Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, where she co-edits and writes for Letras Latinas Blog 2, in addition to working on other related projects.

Maria Luisa Ornelas June

Born and raised in Laredo, Texas, María-Luisa attended the University of Texas at Austin and University of California College of the Law, San Francisco. After a short practice, she followed her spouse to postings in the Netherlands, Singapore, and India. In Singapore, she taught legal research and writing to first year law students at the National University of Singapore. María-Luisa now resides in Houston, Texas. 

María-Luisa is an independent scholar focused on the folklore of Tejano culture, a self-described Tejanista. She is currently working on a book. Her previous works have appeared or are forthcoming in Chamisa: A Journal of Visual, Literary and Performance Arts of the Southwest, The Nasiona, and in an anthology, ¡Somos Tejanas! She has presented before the Society of Crypto-Judaic Studies. Her hobbies include both dancing and singing flamenco. 

Racquel Gilford

Racquel Gilford is an artist and engineer with a passion for agriculture, education, technology and storytelling and currently resides in San Antonio, Texas. Racquel has worked on several projects throughout the city to advocate and promote a healthy food system, urban farming and herbalism. She is also a clinical herbalist and founder of Mawe Apothecary, offering tea, herbs, botanical products and workshops to the community.  She is also a board member of Sustainable G’s Inc a 501c3 focused on rebuilding connections to land through conservation, stewardship and cultural food stories.

As an artist and visual scholar, Racquel pushes to archive and share the rich untold history of underrepresented groups and their future possibilities. Her latest work is focused on women in agriculture across the African diaspora through metal, fiber, spoken word and other mixed-media. She hopes to inspire groups and communities to learn about these women and share their own unique stories. Her works have been featured and used in workshops at the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), the San Antonio’s Official Tricentennial Celebration events, the Institute of Texan Cultures, The nationally published Quilt Folk Magazine & recently an award winning educational film “The Quilt” by Musical Bridges Around the World.

When not working or land based activities Racquel enjoys reading, poetry facilitating healing circles with somatic movement and sound therapy sessions in the community.

Laura Casmore

Laura Casmore

Laura M. Casmore was born in Port Arthur, Texas. She is a quilt artist who has been quilting for over 20 years. She holds a B.A in Telecommunication from Texas Tech University and a M.L.S. in Library Science from Texas Woman’s University. She is a practicing Christian and a 39-year member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Quilting for over 20 years she has worked her way into being listed as one of the premier quilters in the USA. As a quilt artist she has exhibited in various quilt shows local and across the country. She has held solo exhibits of her works in Port Arthur, Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana. She has exhibited in Charleston, SC, Lawrence KS, and Tuskegee, AL. Utilizing primarily African fabric designs, along with her love for Black and White fabrics, her works display her love of faith, culture and love.

Family heritage plays a major role in the artistry of her works. The talent she brings comes from generations of women who expressed themselves with needle and thread. Laura provides custom quilt service and is always working on multiple quilts for commission, exhibit, or sale. Laura’s techniques have evolved from studying the quilt works of artist she admires and experimenting with looks to present a custom work. In her spare time, she can be found frequenting resale shops, reading, card playing or sharing her knowledge of quilting with anyone who will listen. She resides in Houston, Texas and is the proud mother of one daughter, Lauren and three grandchildren, Londynn, Stephen and Laureal.

Yvette Blair-Lavallais

Yvette Blair-Lavallais

Yvette R. Blair is a food justice strategist, ethnographer, public theologian and ordained elder in The Methodist Church. Her work centers Black, Latinx and Indigenous cultures in the foodways systems, particularly how “hand patted foods” made with cornmeal (hot water cornbread, fry bread, salmon croquettes) is a form of communal storytelling and “passing down” family history through shared meals.

An international speaker on food justice issues, she has been a featured panelist for Bread For The World’s Global Advocacy Summit, Conversation with the White House.

Yvette has presented her work on the systemic injustices of food insecurity at international conferences including the Political Theology Network conference at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Rural Women’s Studies Kitchen Table Talk to Global Forum at the University of Guelph in Canada.

She is a writer, author and a Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project. Yvette earned her Master of Theological Studies and graduated magna cum laude from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and will receive her Doctor of Ministry in Food Justice & Faith from Memphis Theological Seminary in May 2022.

Elvia Rendon

Elvia Rendon

Gianna Elvia Rendon is a Chicana/ Tejana cultural worker who grew up in the Westside of San Antonio. She is the founder of Echale Books which sought to provide affordable books and promote bilingual literacy in her community for four years.

She self-published a zine, “Recetas de mi Abuelo Raul,” which were excerpts of her grandfather’s recipes that he left the family after his passing. Artistically, she is interested in preserving and advocating for the preservation of Latin@/x and Indigenous recipes as a way of story telling and cultural preservation.

Monica Teresa Ortiz

Mónica teresa ortiz is a poet born and raised in Texas. Currently, ortiz is a journalist in residence with the Freedomways Reporting Project and an artist in residence with UT Austin’s Planet Texas 2050 initiative. ortiz has work forthcoming in Hayden Ferry’s Review and Scalawag, and resides in the Texas Panhandle. Follow them on Twitter @elgallosalvaje or on substack at

g’beda Tonya Lyles

g’beda Tonya Lyles

g’beda Tonya Lyles is a healing artist of ancestral practices and a multi-instrumentalist of traditional folk, African instruments and blues guitar. g’beda is the curator and creator of Soul Note Concerts Series, Freedom in Sound, and Holistic Soul Healing Arts, offering performances, workshops and sessions in the art of mindfulness, performance, writing, meditative sound and movement.

g’beda is a transformational health practitioner who holds a doctorate in Chinese Medicine and acupuncture and uses principles of Eastern medicine, sound therapy, indigenous herbalism, food therapy, qigong, trauma-informed yoga  and meditative movement as a synergistic system.

With over 20 years of performance art, workshop facilitation and public presentation,  g’beda guides her audiences through community-based collectively transformative events.

Antoinette Lakey

Antoinette Lakey

Antoinette A. Lakey is a community leader, researcher, and dramatist in San Antonio, Texas, who currently serves as Artistic Director for Teatro Anansi. Toni is a founding board member of Teatro Anansi, an organization with a mission to connect, celebrate, and commemorate African American theatre, performing arts as well as History within the greater San Antonio community. She is an award winning local Playwright having won awards for Divas of Eastwood and Men of Eastwood respectively in 2016 & 2017. She is involved with Dreamweek, SAAACAM (San Antonio Community Archive & Museum) and Juneteenth and as a local Spoken Word Artist, storyteller & Poet, she is presently spending a majority of her time lately telling stories through the San Antonio community.

Antoinette loves to tell stories dressed as a character from each story she reads. It allows the children and adults to have a visual and engage with her as the storyteller. Preserving the strong presence of the African American influence in San Antonio is integral to maintaining the roots of our city for our past, present and future. So she leads SAAACAM boat tours and shares our stories about our lives and influence in the city. “It’s important that as a multicultural city that our children have an understanding & a proper outlet for living in a positive manner, arts education and storytelling is the key.”

Kelsey Lee

Kelsey Lee

Kelsey Lee earned her PhD in Social Anthropology from Durham University in 2021, subsequent to receiving her MSc in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh in 2013. Her doctoral thesis explored Indigenous Sámi storytelling through digital media as part of a broader decolonial endeavor in the Arctic European North (more specifically, in Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia). Kelsey also has a keen and long-standing interest in ethnomusicology and global folk arts and has taken the opportunity to delve into these topics further as part of the Texas Folklife Community Folklife Fellowship Program.

Her project explores Ukrainian folk music in diaspora in North Texas, with a particular focus on the Vaselka Singers of Dallas. She hopes to eventually pursue a postdoctoral project exploring truth and reconciliation through folklife and folk music in relationship to settler Ukrainian and Indigenous associations in North America. Her ancestry is Swedish, Ukrainian, Russian, Lithuanian, and Ashkenazi. She plays the harp and also enjoys tapestry weaving.

Ayme Peña

Ayme Peña

Ayme Peña was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico in the late 80s. Her parents permanently relocated to the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) when she was four years old and she was blessed to call it home.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in International Business from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, followed by a Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies.  Ayme is a proud mother of two boys. Her goal is to continue with graduate studies and pursue a PhD. She is passionate about education and is eager to immerse herself once again with the RGV community, not only does she envision turning conversations into documents but also documenting via podcast production and community workshops.

Geroninma Garza

Geroninma Garza

Upon retiring, Bilingual/ESL Teacher, Gerónima Garza set out to write for children. Fractured recollections of attending a Pastorela set her on a course of research. “My brother and I  fought all day,” she recalled. Exasperated, mother issued a warning: Si no se apaciguan, se les va aparecer EL DIABLO.”  In other words, “If you don’t stop fighting ; the DEVIL is going to appear.”  That night, the family attended a Pastorela, a play depicting the shepherd’s journey in search of the newborn Jesus. “While waiting for the play to begin, a most hideous demon jumped in front of us,” recalled Garza.”We were so scared we hugged each other, shaking in fright”. Undeterred mom simply asked, “What did I tell you?”

Garza’s fellowship goal is to further research the Pastorela tradition in Cotulla, Texas. Folklorist John Lomax with his son Allen recorded the Pastorela in 1934 and archived the music at the Library of Congress. Retirement has kept Garza busier than ever; her first picture book, Glove for a Lady, Illustrated by Noe G. Garza was launched in November of 2022 in commemoration of the fifty-fifth anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s visit to Welhausen School on November 7, 1966.

Garza served as Project Coordinator of the LBJ – The Teacher Statue Unveiling which featured Luci Johnson as keynote speaker, LBJ student families, US Navy Honor Guard, Artist Armando Hinojosa, and music by State Champions, Mariachi Cotulleño and the Texas State University Band. Garza is the recipient of the “New Voices” Nonfiction Workshop Scholarship hosted by the Smithsonian Institute, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Garza is a graduate of Cotulla High School, holds a B.S. in Education, & M.E. in Multicultural Studies from Pan Am University at Edinburg.

Julie Gossell

Julie Gossell

Julie grew up in Minneapolis, MN and is a graduate of Luther College, in Decorah Iowa. Julie moved to Texas in 1986, and held elementary teaching positions in San Antonio and Boerne. While teaching in Boerne, Julie developed the text and curriculum for teaching the town’s history. Upon retirement, Julie became the Director of the Kuhlmann King Museum in Boerne, developing programs of historical interest as well as educational outreach in the community. Julie is a member of the Kendall County Historical Commission. An avid dancer, Julie seeks out dance opportunities in the Hill Country and beyond.