Mission: “To change the narrative by educating the community about the endless positive contributions the Mexican-American people, (Chicano, Chicanx, Latino, Hispanic, Latinx, or 1st generation immigrant), and their rich culture have given to America, which is often unrecognized. This is to be achieved by promoting unity, education, pride, and progress.”
The core goal of the Mexican-American Cultural Education Foundation (MACEF) is to spotlight the endless contributions the Mexican-American people (Chicano, Latino, Hispanic, Latinx, or 1st generation immigrant) and their rich culture have given to America. First, by organizing live events, live streamed, recorded and create a video-library, where the spotlight will be placed on the “Mexican-American History Makers” Individuals who achieved the highest degrees of success in their respective fields, and influence the future of not only Mexican-Americans, but of our entire nation. This will inspire generations to come. Second by hosting “Mexican-American Roles Models of Success,” who offer powerful advice and mentorship. Finally, by offering a free library of live and online interviews, seminars and courses specially designed to educate, inspire pride, and motivate success, for Mexican immigrants, Mexican-Americans, Chicano and any person wishing to embrace unity, diversity and progress. Finally, we also offer scholarships and grants to encourage advancement for Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans.
The Mexican-American Cultural Education Foundation is A Non-Profit Foundation, with the mission of educating the community about the rich cultural contributions of the Mexican-American community to this country, which are often unrecognized. To spotlight the many wildly successful Mexican immigrants, Mexican-Americans, and Chicanos and recruit their help as role models and mentors and to promote education, unity, pride, and progress.
Jose-Luis Ruiz – President
Born in Mexico City, JL Ruiz attended university at UNAM, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in North America. Relocating to the U.S. as a young man, he experienced the unique challenges and opportunities of a Mexican immigrant. He observed similar encounters by other immigrants as well, and he witnessed the life and perspective of countless U.S.-born Mexican-Americans. He is a nationally recognized professor, researcher, cosmetic dentist, Amazon bestseller and award-winning Mexican-American novelist. A lover of history, psychology and culture, his socially charged, best-selling novels offer a fresh understanding of how historical events shape the present and the future.
Luis Vargas – Treasure
Luis Vargas is a Mexican-born immigrant with a degree in dentistry since 1984 when he graduated as a general dentist. He has been practicing mainly in the Inland Empire since 1994, the last 25 out of 35 years of practice. He works mainly with the Hispanic and underserved community and enjoys many of the aspects of dentistry, including orthodontics and implant and cosmetic dentistry, but above all, he truly likes the human relations and personal aspect of it! He has been a resident of Southern California for over 30 years and is married with four wonderful kids who are proudly fluent in Spanish. He is anti-climate change, pro-green, pro-peace, pro-immigration and pro-human globalization, and he loves basketball and jogging.
Luis F. Fernadez – Historian
Luis F. Fernandez has over ten years of experience in researching, producing studies, and understanding local, state and national history. His undergraduate research centered on understanding the history of land grants in California, culminating with his unpublished work, “Revisiting the Past, Uncovering the Present: An Introduction to Orange County Ranchos.” Most recently, he is an adjunct faculty at the Department of History at Santa Ana College. In that role, he lectures on Mexican, American and Californian history. Previously, he was an assistant curator and consultant for museum exhibitions, “A Class Action: The Grassroots Struggle for School Desegregation in California,” a national winner of the 2013 Award of Merit by the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), and “Intolerance Versus Freedom.” Prior to that, he was an assistant archivist for the Santa Ana History Room, where he successfully led the acquisition of over 2,000 photographs and led the digitization process that is known as the Agnes Soto Collection.
Michaela Ruiz graduated from UCLA in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. In 2020, she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from Western Governors University. She has a passion for the field of human-computer interaction and hopes to contribute significantly in her field and society as a whole. Growing up, she always had immense pride in her Mexican ancestry because she grew up learning about the many amazing contributions Mexican and Mexican-American people have had on the world. She hopes to be a positive influence in her community and to help change the narrative about Mexicans in this country.
Robert Ruiz – Secretary
Rob Ruiz is a recent graduate from the Management and Human Resources Master’s program at University of Tennessee Knoxville. In 2018 he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management from San Francisco State University.
Mr. Esparza established Maya Cinemas, a growing chain of modern movie theater megaplexes committed to providing the highest quality movie-going experience in new and redeveloping market areas with a strong Latino presence. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mr. Esparza received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. From the onset of his career, he dedicated himself to empowering and transforming the images of Latinos in Hollywood.
Alex Nogales is president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) which he co-founded in 1986 in response to the gross under and misrepresentation of American Latinos in media. The NHMC, a civil rights, media advocacy organization, works to ensure Latinos are fairly and consistently represented in media, challenging media executives to embrace diversity and inclusion by making industry-wide hiring practices all encompassing.
In 2018, Alex led a national boycott against Paramount Pictures for having the worst record of employing Latinos as writers, producers, actors and directors. Consequently in 2019, Paramount announced an initiative that would promote diversity across storylines, vendors, and crews in film, television, and animated projects. The initiative marks an historic victory in paving the way for achieving equality for Latino creatives in Hollywood.
In 2000, Alex and the Multi-ethnic Media Coalition, a national group representing communities of color, brokered the first-ever memorandums of understanding with ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. The agreements have led to a slow but steady increase of Latinos creatives being hired at the networks.
Alex and the NHMC have also become champions in fighting hate speech on the airwaves and on the internet, holding national boycotts against advertisers of radio and television shows who have had a long record of spreading hate and division in media. After repeatedly calling for a government analysis of the connection between hate speech and hate crimes against Latinos, NHMC commissioned its own landmark studies on the harmful effects of inaccurate coverage of Latinos in media.
Previously, Alex was a multiple Emmy award-winning television producer and writer at KCBS-TV Los Angeles.
Raised in Los Angeles, Roxana attended UCLA College of Letters and Science. During her time as an undergraduate, she spent her time involved with multiple organizations, from dance to teaching students in low-income communities and mentoring students to go to college. After graduating in 2017, she continued to dedicate her time to her community and continually helps those around her.
A longtime veteran of the entertainment industry, Actor MIKE GOMEZ is perhaps best known for his memorable performance in Jeff Bridges’ cult classic, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, as the AUTO CIRCUS COP. His comedic scene, ‘LEADS?’, in the film remains as one of the favorites of ‘Dude’ audiences everywhere. MIKE is also known as the actor who effectively started the Ferengi race in the phenomenal Sci-Fi series, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION as ‘Daimon Tarr’, and later continued as ‘Daimon Lurin’.
As an actor, MIKE’s credits reflect a body of work which spans a forty-year history of television, theater and film. An alumni of the Dallas Theatre Center, MIKE started his television career as CAMPAMOCHA, the bumbling fix-it man on PBS’S long running children’s bilingual musical series, CARRASCOLENDAS. In 1978, MIKE was cast as JOEY CASTRO in the Mark Taper production of ZOOT SUIT, a three-year project that led him to co-star in the Broadway production of the play at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York and in the Universal Studios film.
Over the years, MIKE has become a familiar face on TV, as a series regular ‘HUNTER’, guest starring on ‘The Fosters’, ‘Criminal Minds’, ‘Bones’, ‘The Shield’, among many others. On film, MIKE’s work includes co-starring and supporting roles in many movies including Clint Eastwood’s HEARKBREAK RIDGE, Robert Redford’s MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR, Gregory Nava’s EL NORTE, Luis Valdez’s ZOOT SUIT, Cheech Marin’s BORN IN EAST L.A., to name a few. His voice over talents are featured in the Oscar-winning Disney Animation, ‘COCO’. In theatre, MIKE has also worked extensively on stage as an actor and as a director in major theaters throughout the country, such as New York’s Wintergarden, L. A.‘s The Montalban, San Diego’s the Old Globe, etc.
MIKE’s civic involvement includes support of various nonprofit and charitable organizations including the L.A. Special Olympics, AIDS WALK LA, March of Dimes, American Red Cross, and NOSOTROS, among others. He is a three time Governor’s Appointee to the Performers Peer Group Committee of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (EMMYS). He has also served on numerous commissions for the City of El Monte, including the Planning Commission, the Measure GG Tax Oversight Committee, the Cultural Commission, among a number of others. MIKE currently serves as a County Commissioner, Chair of the Los Angeles County Consumer Affairs Advisory Commission, having been appointed by Supervisor Hilda Solis.
Kimberly Chavez joined LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes as Director, Development and Membership in April 2018, bringing 14 years of non-profit experience in Southern California. Prior to joining LA Plaza, Kim worked as Associate Director, Foundation Relations at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Before joining the CHLA Foundation, she served as an adjunct professor at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena in the School of Human Development and spent eight years as a producer with KCET, the PBS flagship station for the Westcoast. Kim holds a Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and Spanish from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Jerry G. Velasco has been in the entertainment industry for over 40 years as an accomplished actor, producer, union organizer, personal manager, arts advocate and head of his own multimedia entertainment company, Velasco & Associates. A native of Jalisco, Mexico, Jerry was raised in Los Angeles from an early age. He began his involvement in the arts when he received a two-year scholarship to the renowned Actors Studio, studying under Lee Strasberg and Shelley Winters, among others. After completing his studies, he began to work extensively in the entertainment industry.
Jerry G. Velasco has also been involved for over four decades in the nonprofit sector, and he has been credited with being one of the most outspoken advocates in the country for the improvement of the Latino image and employment in the media, in front of and behind the camera. As President, Jerry led NOSOTROS into one of the most influential Latino Arts organizations in the country.
He has dedicated the majority of his life to the nonprofit world, serving communities across the United States and abroad. His unwavering dedication as an advocate for the arts, the labor unions and Latinos in the entertainment industry has brought many opportunities to the U.S. Latino community.
After serving the community in many aspects for over 40 years, Jerry’s most recent venture has been into the political arena. In 2015, Jerry was elected to the El Monte City Council and currently serves on the City Council and previously as the City of El Monte Mayor Pro Tem (Vice Mayor). He also serves as a Los Angeles county commissioner on the Los Angeles County Commission on Local Government Services, having been appointed by Los Angeles county supervisor Hilda Solis.
As you can see, Jerry is an individual who is very busy in different fields, whether it be in his personal business in the entertainment industry or in the political world he has now entered. One thing that he has committed to and has never forgotten is to help the nonprofit world so that they can be able to help others in our community. He will never forget the nonprofit organizations because that is where he started and that is where he comes from — community first! Si Se Puede, Yes We Can!
From a very early age, Karina grew up knowing she wanted to one day be like Selena (Quintanilla) — a strong, positive, unapologetic Latina boldly living out her dream, captivating the American market while representing her own culture with pride. Selena was an important figure to many but especially to a first-generation Mexican-American little girl who often felt out of place. Karina grew up in an era where you just did not see people that looked like her in Hollywood. It is for this reason that she pursued her own dreams in entertainment and strives to also one day be the face for another little girl to be empowered by and identify with.
Recently, Karina’s entertainment career has gone from “on-camera talent” to a “behind-the-scene” business queen! Just this year, she opened her own multimedia production company, graduated with her Bachelor of Science in entertainment business from The Los Angeles Film School and is continuously positioning herself to make an impact in her community with all that she does.
Armed with a passionate spirit and magnetic personality and fueled by a fire to empower, it was only a matter of time before Karina stepped into a motivational speaking role. She enjoys speaking at colleges, high schools and women’s conferences and has described herself as an “overcomer of life” striving to help empower others to reach their healthiest potential. Karina has a real passion for connecting with all individuals and investing in their personal (emotional, mental and physical) growth. She is a firm believer that history holds the keys to our “freedom” and power; therefore, she is a huge advocate of education. If there was only one thing she could leave you with, it is that you have the power to change the world by reminding us that “local” actions lead to global impact. Go forth and get active!
Bel Hernandez Castillo has over twenty-five years in the entertainment industry, first as an actress then transitioning into entertainment media, as founder the first entertainment trade publication focused on Latinos in Hollywood, Latin Heat Entertainment Through her company, Latin Heat Media, LLC, a multi-media media platform focused on Latino content, the company’s mission is to create content by Latinos, about Latinos, for universal audiences.
Ms. Hernandez Castillo’s work in Hollywood is well documented. Credited with the expanding the coverage of Latinos in Hollywood, Hernandez Castillo collaborated with the publisher of the Hollywood Reporter to promote the “crossover” coverage of Latinos in the established trade. For six years she produced the Latin Heat Entertainment Conference working with the highest level of industry participation from Hollywood’s studios and networks. Her work led to her being named “The Godmother of Latino Hollywood” by Moviemaker magazine and she was invited to serve on the prestigious Peabody Awards Board serving as the first ever Latina/o Chair of the Board.
The Executive Producer of three TV talk to give Latinas a place at the talk show table. Ms, Hernandez Castillo is also an award-winning co-author of 8 Ways to Say I Love My Life.
Multiple-Emmy and AP Award-winning Journalist Naibe Reynoso, has been working in front of and behind the camera for more than 20 years.
She has worked and contributed to various regional, national and international networks including KTLA, France 24, Univision Network, Reelz Channel, CNN en Español, the Biography Channel, Fox News Latino, Larry King’s ORA TV, and has even filled in as a co-host on ABC’s “The View”.
Her bilingual background includes investigative reporting, hosting, entertainment reporting, radio, and TV production. She also co-hosts the talk show “The TRENDTalk,” a one-hour talk show she co-created, co-Executive Produces.
She also co-founded the events company Latinafest LLC which has produced over a dozen successful events in the Los Angeles Area.
In 2018 she created Con Todo Press, a publishing company that creates books to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities. Her first children’s book, “Be Bold, Be Brave: 11 Latinas who made U.S. History,” highlights 11 women who excelled in medicine, science, sports, the arts, journalism and politics.
Mrs. Reynoso has been a board member of the prestigious Peabody Awards since 2015 that same year she received the BIBO Award for “Outstanding work in Media.”
Julio Vallejo is the founder and executive director of PIGMENTOCRACIA, an organization with the mission of transforming narratives around brown skin and American indigenous people at a structural, institutional and individual level, utilizing mass media and pop culture as platforms for change and racial justice. He has a deep understanding and experience on issues related to Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) with a focus on the Latinx experience. He has worked with corporations like Netflix, Oracle and TBWA, among others, to help them understand and integrate racial equity in their practices and contents.
Julio has over 20 years of experience as media and entertainment executive in the United States and Mexico, having specialized in corporate strategy and market intelligence with a focus on the Latinx market in the US. He is a founding team member of Maya Cinemas, a company with the mission to develop, build, own and operate modern, first-run, megaplex movie theaters in underserved, family-oriented, Latinx-dominant communities. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and serves on the board of directors of several non-profit organizations. Since 2005, Julio has been working to bring attention to and challenge racism in Mexico and among Latinx people in the US.
Katia earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of California Riverside and is fluent in Spanish. An entrepreneur at heart, Katia worked in credit lending at Wells Fargo before gravitating to real estate, getting her feet wet assisting one of the city’s top agents. When she’s not representing buyers and sellers in real estate, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, trying new restaurants, and going to museums, concerts and gallery openings across Los Angeles.