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Salinas, CA


Calpulli/ The Collective


Juan Gomez, Program Manager and Senior Advisor

Juan Gomez is Co-founder of MILPA. He is functioning as part of this intergenerational "collective” that is braiding the wisdom of spiritual elders into a modern day health equity framework grounded in cultural healing. As part of the National Compadres Network, he serves as a Senior Policy and Strategy Advisor focused on developing culturally grounded movement building strategies and resource development. Prior to this he served as a Fellow for The California Endowment working on the Boys and Men of Color portfolio and has since played a leadership role in numerous statewide and national efforts. He's been recognized for his innovative and culturally sensitive health equity practices. Mr. Gomez was born in Watsonville, CA where he was raised by his grandparents Amelia and Ampelio. 


John Pineda, Health Equity and Leadership Specialist

John Pineda is a proud father of 6 children.  One of the original co-founders of MILPA, he was born in Salinas and raised in Greenfield.  Mr. Pineda served as the Supplemental Instructor for the Academy for College Excellence (ACE) at Hartnell College. In 2013 he was chosen for the prestigious Health Career Connection internship program. Through his role at MILPA, he has built up the curriculum and training metrics that MILPA will be sharing with the field through training, technical assistance and capacity building. John is also a part of the NOXTIN Juvenile Justice Health Equity Fellowship that is looking at reform beyond the current system led models. His passion is working with former offenders and system impacted youth using La Cultura Cura.


Rene Casas, Program Coordinator and Strategy Analyst

Rene Casas is a Program Coordinator and Strategy Analyst with MILPA who earned his Criminal Justice BA degree from California State University Chico. Mr. Casas has worked tirelessly to address issues that hinder the upward mobility of boys and men of color. His background is grounded in multi-generational organizing following in his fathers’ footsteps. While at the United Farm Workers Foundation he was a community outreach coordinator. Mr. Casas has learned restorative practices and techniques from a variety of sources but credits his personal growth and development to the teachings of La Cultura Cura. Recently In 2015 Rene was awarded the prestigious National Juvenile Justice Network Fellowship where he will spearhead a community level up approach to youth justice policy and systems change. As part of his role at MILPA he coordinates logistics for the National Alianza on Latino Youth Justice (NALYJ).


George Villa, MILPA Youth Justice Fellow

George Villa is a personal fitness trainer and former firefighter turned social justice advocate. He is currently pursuing a dual career as fitness instructor and juvenile justice advocate. In 2014 George became part of NOXTIN Juvenile Justice Health Equity Fellowship cohort. He will be focusing on getting coaching up on the platform strategies and details of current system led reform.


Israel Villa, MILPA Youth Justice Intern

Israel Villa is a visual artist, intellectual and social justice advocate. He is transitioning back into the community after having spent most of childhood and adulthood within systems of detention and incarceration. Israel is a natural “change-maker” and has been using his background, and heritage as a means to leverage his enthusiasm towards youth justice policy and systems change. Israel hopes to continue his education with a focus on the intersection of race, place, violence, gender, and masculinity.