Our team is made up of a group of talented social workers, gardeners, business specialists and more. Together we work to develop and carry out Huerto’s programs and services for Latino families in need throughout the Eugene-Springfield area.

Executive Director: Marissa Garcia graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law with a focus on human rights work and holds a B.A. in Peace Studies from Chapman University. She has extensive nonprofit experience including legal work, nonprofit management, fundraising, community organizing, nonprofit incorporation and event planning. The daughter of a Costa Rican immigrant mother and Mexican- American father she began her professional career working on environmental justice issues within the Latino community in Southeast Los Angeles. Prior to joining Huerto de la Familia, Marissa worked as an attorney in the Columbia Gorge practicing immigration law and landlord-tenant law protecting tenant rights. Marissa enjoys reading books and exploring the Northwest outdoors with her trusty canine, Gracie. Contact Marissa at [email protected]

Garden Program Manager: Joanna Lovera graduated in 2000 from the University of Oregon with a Bachelors of Allied and Applied Arts. Joanna has worked as a Bilingual Teacher’s Assistant at New Roads, a bilingual assessor at the Oregon Social Learning Center and an English Instructor at the IOWA Institute in Merida, Venezuela. She has volunteered in as an art and environmental education instructor. Joanna has been an organic gardner for many years and has a profound knowledge of organic agriculture. In her spare time, Joanna enjoys spending time with her husband Otto, and their two children Ayla and Mateo. Contact Joanna at [email protected]

Cambios Program Manager: Alexandra Tomaselli is from Caracas, Venezuela and grew up with one foot in Venezuela and the other in New York and New Jersey. In 2009, she received a diploma in Culinary Arts from the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA and in 2014, she received a Permaculture Design Certificate from Andrew Faust in Brooklyn, NY. Alexandra has worked in a variety of restaurants, catering facilities and food retail. She has completed a 500 hour internship at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens and farmed on a homestead for a season. Alex enjoys the arts, food, nature and being around fuzzy quadrupeds. Contact Alexandra at [email protected]

Cambios Farm Program Coordinator: Emily Sessoms graduated from Rollins College with a BA in Latin American/ Caribbean Studies and Spanish. She has conducted research, interned, volunteered and practiced permaculture and natural building in places ranging from Florida, Oregon, Brazil, Nicaragua and Hawaii. She has spent the last two years at Aprovecho, a sustainable education center in Cottage grove, Oregon, where she has worked to enhance her skills in the realms of sustainable housing and gardening. She hopes to use her knowledge as a way to empower others to use ecological alternatives for fulfilling thier own human rights. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, long bike rides, reading and practiciting herbalism. Contact Emily at [email protected]

Garden Program Assistant: Melanie Hyers graduated from the University of Oregon with a Masters in Spanish and French. She also completed the coursework for a certificate in Food Studies. Her primary focus lies in food justice and nutrition. Melanie has worked as a bilingual assessor at the Oregon Social Learning Center and presently at the Center for Equity Promotion at the University of Oregon. Her volunteer efforts include several non-profits in Eugene such as Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, Grassroots Garden and the Courthouse Garden. In her free time, she likes to travel, work on organic farms, practice her languages and work in her own organic garden. Contact Melanie at [email protected]

Garden Groundskeeper: Otto Lovera was born in Caracas, Venezuela. His interest in biology and agriculture started at a very young age and has continued his entire life. He has worked on many types of farms, including shade-grown coffee production plantations and poly-cultural cacao orchards on the Caribbean coast. He has worked as a farmer, advisor to commercial growers on transitioning to organic agriculture, and translator for Organically Grown Company helping with their implementation of the Salmon Safe certifications. Aside from work, he enjoys hiking with his family in the beautiful national forests that surround Eugene and managing his 47-acre conservation project in the Spencer’s Butte area. Contact Otto at [email protected]


Huerto de la Familia’s Board of Directors is made up of community leaders with years of experience working with Latino and immigrant communities. The Board dedicates time and energy to governance, fundraising, program innovation and more.

President: Roberto Peralta originally from Mexico, has over 15 years of experience working as a business consultant in Mexico, Peru, China, and the United States. As a business consultant, he focuses on strategic planning, business analysis, IT and commercialization. Roberto and his wife Catalina also serve as community leaders in Huerto de la Familia’s Organic Garden Program.

Treasurer: Catalina Angeles is originally from Mexico and she participates in Huerto de la Familia’s Organic Garden Program with her family in Springfield. She has worked as a professional business consultant for many years in many countries. She has extensive experience working in project management, team building and leadership skills in the context of business development. She speaks French in addition to both Spanish and English. She has a passion for cooking healthy, traditional Mexican cuisine.

Secretary: Justin Sandoval is a masters student in the Planning, Public Policy and Management Masters Program at the University of Oregon. He also works as the Office Manager at the University of Oregon’s Outdoor Program. Previously he worked as the Program Director for the Rural Education Institute of Mexico in San Miguel de Allende.  Prior to that position he worked as the Multicultural Outreach Liaison and Bilingual Administrative Assistant at Food for Lane County.

Antonio Huerta is the manager of the Opportunities Program at the University of Oregon. He designs and implements bilingual programming for Latino, Native American and black families and works with school districts, counselors and multicultural liaisons to build relationships with Latino, Native American families and tribal leaders statewide to encourage students to pursue higher education. Previously Antonio worked as the Director for Latino Programs and Exhibit Services for Taking Control of Your Diabetes, a non-profit in California. Antonio enjoys family time, gardening, biking, riding horses and practicing his rope tricks talent.

Barbara Aldave is a lawyer and educator who practiced law for several years before joining the University of Oregon School of Law as a professor in 1970. She went on to each law at schools across the country. From 1989 to 1998, she served as the dean of St. Mary’s University Law School in San Antonio, Texas. She returned to the University of Oregon School of Law until her retirement in 2015. Barbara founded The Portia Project, an organization that works to provide legal services and advocacy for female prisoners in Oregon.

Shannon East worked as a  Program Coordinator for the International Center for Dialogue and Education in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 2008-2011 and also worked as a Business English Educator in Brazil from 2006-2008 and a volunteer English teacher in Peru. Shannon also has experience as a video director and an actress. She has recently worked with staff to do video interviews of our Organic Garden Program member families.