Ricardo Perez, Executive Director Ricardo is the Executive Director of the Hispanic Affairs Project, HAP and a founder member of this organization in 2006. He has over twenty five years of experience working as a community organizer and leadership development trainer for community projects and social justice institutions in El Salvador, Guatemala and the United States. Ricardo was born in El Salvador where he participated in the social movement. Before coming to the USA, he worked for 8 years as a Technical Coordinator in local/regional projects working on national reconstruction. He gained a great deal of experience in municipal government, public administration and program implementation for social, economic, infrastructural and environmental projects. His educational background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and a Master’s Degree in the Latin-American Theology with other studies in social planning, social research methodology, popular education and local sustainable development. In 2011, he received the Immigrant Liberty Award from Colorado Chapter of the America Immigration Lawyer Association, AILA for his commitment to the immigrant rights movement. Currently, he collaborates with other regional, state and national boards and committees working for social justice.
Nicole Bernal, Program Director/Accredited Immigration Legal Representative Nicole has been with HAP for over 5 years, collaborating with local leaders to work on issues impacting immigrant families. Nicole’s background in liberation theology helped shape her passion for social justice, and influenced her interest in affecting change for the immigrant community in the U.S. Nicole’s work primarily focuses on representing individuals and families with immigration applications as a BIA Accredited Immigration Legal Representative. HAP has provided her with the opportunity to pursue legal training in recent years, and she is honored to be able to work with immigrant families in this new capacity. Nicole also represents HAP within other agencies, and collaborates to promote immigrant integration through the Welcoming Colorado campaign, the local HAP Comite Hispano, the Law Enforcement Latino Alliance and several community boards and committees in Grand Junction. The problems encountered within immigrant communities around the country (and in Nicole’s own family) have inspired her to work in solidarity with migrants and immigrants toward comprehensive reform and leadership development. Before returning home to the Western Slope and joining HAP, Nicole earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Program of Liberal Studies (Great Books) and a Master of Arts degree in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, where her interest in immigration issues first began to blossom. Her immersion experience includes site visits to Juarez/El Paso, study abroad in Toledo, Spain, and several Habitat for Humanity service trips to Nogales, Mexico through Grand Valley Peace & Justice. HAP has provided great leadership development opportunities for Nicole, constantly challenging her to grow, gain new skills, and work together with leaders and elected officials to find solutions for the common good. Nicole and her husband, a native of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and their three adventurous young boys, enjoy living close to their large extended family in the beautiful Grand Valley. ¡Sí se puede! BIA Nicole’s resume
Marketa Zubkova, Accredited Immigration Legal Representative Marketa comes from the Czech Republic and she has been enjoying her life in the mountains of Crested Butte for more than a decade. Her primary role with HAP is to provide immigration legal assistance to low income families as a BIA Accredited Immigration Legal Representative. She has been a HAP leader since the beginning of the organization working with the immigrant population in Gunnison. She is currently the President of local immigrant committee Inmigrantes Unidos de Gunnison which she helped found in 2006. In her work she has focused on diversity of the immigrant population and immigrant integration. She has done an extensive research about the Cora Indians, an indigenous group from Nayarit living in Western Colorado, and their integration as a minority culture. Marketa is also a member of HAP team that visits H2A visa sheepherders in the isolated areas in the mountains and provides them not only with food and other necessary resources but with other valuable things such as friendship and human contact. Marketa holds a Magister of Czech & English Philology degree from the Palacky University, a Bachelor of Arts in to Spanish from Western State Colorado University and a Master of Arts in Cultural Studies with Emphasis on Latin America from Prescott College. In 2012 she received HAP’s John Kiernan award for solidarity and commitment to the immigrant community. In 2013 she received the 8th Immigrant Liberty Award from Colorado Chapter of the America Immigration Lawyer Association for her extensive volunteer work with the immigrant community and the outreach with H2A range workers. BIA Marketa’s resume