(970) 249-4115 [email protected]

The History, Mission, and Team Behind the Hispanic Affairs Project

History of the Hispanic Affairs Project

The Hispanic Affairs Project (HAP) was founded in 2006 by Hispanic immigrant leaders from the communities of Grand Junction, Delta, Olathe, Montrose, and Hotchkiss. These first-generation leaders participated in faith formation programs within the Catholic Church and realized the need to reach a rapidly changing population. Addressing the needs of the new Hispanic immigrant community in the Western Slope led to action, organization, and the formation of HAP.

Reducing the barriers faced by immigrant families, such as lack of integration, social inequalities, and limited opportunities for economic development, remains the focus of our work.

At the local, state, and federal level, we advocate for pro-immigrant policy changes that protect and increase access to resources for immigrants. Our efforts have led to a number of significant victories.


Among other successes, we worked with partners to build a statewide coalition to support SB21-087 Agricultural Workers’ Rights legislation. This was passed in 2021, providing state labor and employment protections for migrant and seasonal farm and ranch workers. This success builds on our federal wins against the US Department of Labor and the US Department of Homeland Security, as a result of which the range worker (sheepherder) worker salaries were increased from $750 to $1,206.

We also helped make changes to the H2A Range Worker visa program to provide more permanent visas and improved employment opportunities for workers in this program.

As part of COVID-19 Emergency Response efforts, we created the Western Colorado Immigrant Relief Fund focused on providing emergency rent, utility, and food/ household assistance to families excluded from government COVID-19 emergency relief programs.

Additionally, HAP partnered with the Left Behind Workers Fund to assist a greater number of impacted undocumented workers in the region in need of cash and rent assistance.

We launched the first-ever nonpartisan Get Out The Vote campaign to encourage the participation of Latino voters in the 2020 general election focused on voter registration and education.

Through our immigration legal assistance program, we have provided reliable low-cost services to over 1,000 individuals, which leads to greater social and economic stability for entire families.

Annually, we connect over 1,500 families with resources through direct assistance, outreach and education, and online communications.

Finally, we have actively contributed to the State COVID-19 Health Equity Response Team to strengthen community knowledge and awareness about issues of discrimination, bias, and inequality impacting our communities.

Father Kiernan
July 7, 1924 – May 24, 2010.

"You can't keep politics out of the church. We're called by God to create a just society."

The son of Irish immigrants, Fr. John Kiernan dedicated his life to advocating for immigrant rights and US foreign policy change after his experiences as a Catholic priest in Latin America.


In the 1980s, Fr. John worked as an associate of the Maryknoll Missionaries in Bolivia and Guatemala, where he learned Spanish. When the former monk returned to Western Colorado, he became actively involved with the immigrant and migrant farmworker communities. It was his ministry to this population that inspired the formation of HAP. He encouraged church leaders and parishioners to not just minister to the immigrant community, but also to fight for social justice and immigrant rights. Thanks to his commitment to the community, HAP was founded and Fr. John continues to inspire our work.

Fr. John rarely missed a chance to discuss political and social issues or take action. From military spending to protecting the environment, John marched against the war in Iraq and fought for immigrant rights. He was often criticized for talking about political issues in church sermons, but his response was always the same: “You can’t keep politics out of church. We’re called by God to create a just society.”

Mission and Vision

The Hispanic Affairs Project (HAP) is a grassroots organization dedicated to supporting the social and economic development of immigrant communities in Western Colorado.

Our mission is to promote immigrant integration through advocacy, leadership development, and the provision of key services.

By assisting our community, raising awareness about important issues, and engaging our community leaders, we are able to amplify the immigrant voice to make positive, lasting change.

Our goals are:

Social Justice. Social Change

Fostering a Culture of Equity and Inclusion

Raise Awareness

Recognize and Celebrate Diversity in our Communities

Develop Leaders

We envision communities where cultural diversity is embraced, and where immigrants actively contribute to creating a more just and equitable society.

Belonging begins with us and we aspire to build bridges and mutual understanding in our community, encouraging our members to build connections and foster a feeling of trust through knowledge. We want to cultivate belonging, thus encouraging positive experiences and creating community leaders.

We serve individuals and families in a six-county region including Mesa, Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Ouray, and San Miguel counties.

Staff and Board of Directors

Ricardo Perez

Ricardo Perez

Executive Director

Ricardo helped found the Hispanic Affairs Project in 2006. He has over thirty 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 actively participated in the social movement to advocate against oppressive systems and in favor of equality for the Salvadoran community. Before coming to live in the US, he worked for eight years as a technical coordinator for an NGO on local/regional reconstruction projects. 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 Latin-American Theology with other studies in social planning, social research methodology, popular education, and local sustainable development.

In 2011, Ricardo received the Immigrant Liberty Award from the Colorado Chapter of the America Immigration Lawyer Association for his commitment to the immigrant rights movement. Ricardo was honored by the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado as the recipient of the 2020 Soul of Leadership Award for his courageous leadership and deep commitment to the advancement of Latinos. Currently, he collaborates with other regional, state, and national boards and committees working for social justice.

Consuelo Morgan

Consuelo Morgan

Paralegal - Immigration Legal Services

Consuelo Morgan was born and raised in Mexico City. She immigrated to the U.S. at age 13, without parents or siblings. Her hunger for an education and justice led her to attain her degree in Paralegal Studies. She has worked with the migrant and seasonal farmworker community for four years to connect families with resources and encourage their participation in the school system and community. 


She was able to change her immigration status while living in California and is now a U.S. citizen. Consuelo is now paying it forward by preparing to serve Western Colorado communities through the Hispanic Affairs Project’s immigration legal assistance program.

As a paralegal, Consuelo coordinates HAP’s immigration legal services program and provides community outreach to educate the community about USCIS immigration processes. Additionally, Consuelo supports advocacy activities, especially those related to victim protection and access to the judicial system.

Valeria Flores

Valeria Flores

Mesa County Community Outreach Coordinator

Born in Orizaba Veracruz, Mexico, Valeria Flores immigrated to Santa Ana, California at age 14 with her mother and sisters. As an undocumented immigrant, she lived in fear and faced many challenges, such as not having resources or education about the opportunities or rights of immigrants. As a DACA recipient, Valeria has benefited from the protection and work permit provided through this program but has had other obstacles to overcome.


For these and many other reasons, Valeria is proud to be part of an organization active in educating and promoting the rights of the immigrant community. 

Valeria joined the HAP team in September 2023 as the Mesa County Community Outreach Coordinator. In her role, she builds relationships with community members and helps individuals navigate resources and US systems. Her passion is to unite her community to exercise their rights to be heard and recognized as part of the United States society, with equal rights and responsibilities.

Karen Sherman Perez

Karen Sherman Perez

Community Relations and Development Director

A Montrose native, Karen has been connected with the immigrant and migrant farmworker communities for 20 years. After graduating from Fort Lewis College with a degree in environmental biology, Karen left for El Salvador as part of the U.S. Peace Corps where she worked on environmental education and agroforestry projects in rural communities.


After Peace Corps, she continued working in San Salvador as an English language instructor until returning to Western Colorado in 2003. Since then, Karen has advocated for immigrant families. Her work included coordinating Project Common Ground, a Mesa County community and immigrant integration effort from 2006-2009, as part of the statewide Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families Initiative. Through the effort, Karen became involved with the national Welcoming America initiative working to launch a welcoming initiative in Mesa County and serving on the Welcoming America Board of Directors.

Following this effort, Karen worked with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) for nearly a decade filling a few different roles. As a regional organizer, she worked to engage local communities in policy and advocacy campaigns to advance local, state, and federal policies that protect immigrant families.

She later transitioned into the role of CIRC’s first development director, helping to build the necessary fundraising infrastructure and capacity to ensure the sustainability of the coalition and the movement.

Karen joined the HAP team in 2018 to build community engagement capacity among local stakeholders with the goal of building a more welcoming and inclusive community. Additionally, Karen oversees HAP’s fundraising and communications programs.

When she is not working on other local organizing issues, Karen can be found digging in her garden, spending time with friends and family, or out hiking across the beautiful Western Colorado landscapes.

Karla Montoya

Karla Montoya

Project Coordinato - Sexual Assault-Domestic Violence Prevention

Originally from the State of Coahuila, Mexico, Karla Montoya recently moved to Western Colorado. She has a degree in Business Administration from the Autonomous University of Coahuila and 20 years of experience in the area of ​​Administration and Human Resources. She spent the last 17 years of her career working for a Transnational company and defines this as a period of great learning and challenges. Karla has always been surrounded by powerful women, both in her family and career, and they provided the inspiration and drive to develop and exercise her leadership to help others.


Karla has had the privilege of being a mother, a wife, and a professional – and while she has had great satisfaction and achievements in these roles, her role as a woman has allowed her to discover the call to help other women making life transitions through healing, education, and empowerment. Karla joined the HAP team in January 2023 as the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Prevention Project Coordinator. In her role, she will be reaching out to rural communities throughout the region to provide education and resources to the Spanish-speaking community. Karla is excited to integrate into her new role and to continue to grow together with other women leaders.

Board of Directors

Vacancy – President

Joel Flores, Vice-President
Construction Worker
Grand Junction, CO

Carla Hernandez, Treasurer
Montrose High School Teacher
Olathe, CO

Richard Hyland
Retired Educator
Grand Junction, CO

Marcos Irigoyen, Secretary
Insurance Agent
Denver, CO

Jose Pacheco, Director Emeritus
St. Mary Catholic Church
Montrose, CO

James Perez, Ph.D.
Colorado Mesa University Professor
Grand Junction, CO

Patricia Voorhis
Retired Educator
Montrose, CO


Pin It on Pinterest