Twenty years of experience in nonprofit community-based work, and over a decade in Latino arts programming and administration in Texas, makes Cristina Ballí the perfect fit for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. Most recently she has made a significant impact state wide as Executive Director of Texas Folklife, the Austin-based organization designated by the National Endowment for the Arts to preserve and present the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State.
Before her work as an arts administrator Ballí earned her B.A. in Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio Texas. Over the course of her career she has most notably served as Producer/Operations Manager at RGV Educational Broadcasting in Harlingen Texas, Director of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center in San Benito Texas, Tourism/Fund Development Coordinator in San Benito, Texas where she oversaw the opening of the Historical, Conjunto Hall of Fame and Freddy Fender Museums, and most recently Executive Director of Texas Folklife.
Cristina has proven to be highly successful in increasing visibility for all of the organizations she has worked with, primarily through the production of compelling artistic programs. As Director of Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center in San Benito, a small but powerful Chicano arts organization, she gained an international platform as an ambassador of border culture and conjunto music particularly.
Jeannette Chavez holds a BA in Communications from the University of the Incarnate Word, an Associate’s of applied science from San Antonio College in Radio/TV/Film Technology and has more than twenty years teaching dance for the Guadalupe Dance Academy, in San Antonio at area schools and at Palo Alto College as well as local community centers. Jeannette began as an original member of the Guadalupe Dance Company in 1991; shortly thereafter Jeannette began teaching classes with the Guadalupe Dance Academy and became a part-time assistant to then Company Director, Belinda Menchaca in 1997. In 2001 Jeannette was brought on full time eventually becoming Co-Director and then taking on the role of Guadalupe Dance Company Artistic Director in 2007.
Consuelo “Connie” Espinoza started dancing folk and flamenco at the age of 3. At the age of 11 she began her journey with the Guadalupe Dance Academy. Throughout here time here she has given many opportunities to work with amazing artist from Mexico and Spain. After much dedication and hard work she is a flamenco instructor for the Guadalupe Dance Academy and full time company member for the Guadalupe Dance Company. In August of 2017 she became the education assistant. She is very honored to be working with children who are passionate about the arts and learning about the culture.
Communications and Special Projects Director
Yadhira Lozano has over 20 years experience in the arts and non-profit world in both San Antonio and Los Angeles. Raised on the southside of San Antonio she was part of the Harlandale ISD mariachi, studied voice and violin through the Guadalupe’s education program, and volunteered at the Tejano Conjunto Festival in high school. She moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History. Her dedication to social activism, art, and culture led her to specialize in event planning, marketing and public relations at various organizations including USC’s El Centro Chicano, the Mexican Cultural Institute of Los Angeles, Epson Latin America, and the Autry National Center.
Yadhira returned to San Antonio in 2013 to help launch the Briscoe Western Art Museum as Head of Communications. She served as Managing Director at Conjunto Heritage Taller, assisted with special projects at the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NLI ‘12/ALI ‘13), and currently serves on the City of San Antonio’s Arts Commission representing District 3. Yadhira joined the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in January 2017 as the 36th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival Coordinator and has since signed on to serve as the organization’s Communications and Special Projects Director. She has one daughter that has also performed on the Guadalupe Theater stage.
Education director Belinda Menchaca has worked at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center since 1992 in various capacities including Dance Program director, Programs Manager and PR/Marketing Director. She created the Guadalupe Dance Academy as a training ground for all ages and continues to teach Flamenco dance for children and adults. She now serves as Education Director overseeing all Academy classes, educational outreach programs, school tours and visits as well as workshops and summer camps. Over the years Menchaca has developed successful outreach programs, which provide educational lecture demonstrations for elementary, middle and high school students. A native of San Antonio, Belinda graduated from Trinity University in 1984 where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Journalism.
Theater and Production Manager
With over fifteen years of experience performing, developing and producing events Mark Riojas proudly brings his creative talents to the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. Born and raised on the Westside of San Antonio, Mark’s love for the Guadalupe Theater and the community runs deep. Having spent a decade acting and producing shows at the Guadalupe, during which time he spent 15 years touring the country as a comedic entertainer, actor, writer, producer and performer on stage, television and film. He developed a passion for entertaining that began in his youth with break dancing and even professional wrestling. At the height of his career he suffered a neurological illness that impaired his ability to walk, talk, or move. Having overcome his illness, Mark returns to the Guadalupe to continue his work producing events and serving the community he loves.
Traditional Music Director at the Guadalupe Academy
Rivera hails from three generations of Mariachi Los Parientes and formed part of Mariachi Mexicanisimo and Mariachi Azteca de Juan Rocha. He founded Mariachi Azteca de America on March 18, 2006. Dedication to traditional elements of mariachi music and the creation of original compositions, the group’s repertoire consists of the traditional styles of Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Javier Solis, Vicente Fernandez to a unique sound from original pieces by Gino Rivera. They placed 1st at the Houston Stock Show and Rodeo professional mariachi competition in 2015 and 2016. They have opened for La Arrolladora Banda El Limón, La Maquinaria Nortena, Los Huracanes Del Norte, and Los Recoditos for a record breaking 76,000 people. Azteca de América has shared the stage with Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan, Mariachi Sol de Mexico and has accompanied Placido Domingo, Aida Cuevas, Paquita La Del Barrio, Steven Sandoval and many others. They teach and perform at the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza and produced the first annual “Fiesta Del Mariachi” spectacular during San Antonio’s Fiesta season. Azteca de America recorded their first album, “Dame un Minuto” in 2015 and are set to release their second album this fall.
Carmen is a native of San Antonio and grew up on the South Side of town. She brings to our team 20 years of experience in Administration with Sony. She began working with the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in 2004 and has held roles such as: Administrative Assistant, Membership and Development Coordinator, and Operations Assistant. Today, Carmen is our Rental and Volunteer Manager and oversees all rental venues and coordinates the volunteers needed for our center and outside events. She enjoys her role because she is able to engage with community members and share the center’s mission of promoting the Arts.
Manuel Solis is an independent journalist and film programmer based in Aztlán. He is a longtime contributor to the San Antonio Current, and his writing has appeared nationally in Remezcla, Wax Poetics, and XXL. His festival programming credits include CineFestival en San Antonio, Cine Mujer, Out at the Movies, and Campecine in California’s Coachella Valley. Along his life journey, he has built wells in the Congo, screened films for kids in the Catskill Mountains, and enjoys watching his son Mizael shoot hoops in the Spurs Youth Basketball League.
Tejano Conjunto Festival Advisor
Juan Tejeda is the Lead Faculty for the Palo Alto College Center for Mexican American Studies in San Antonio, Texas, and a full-time tenured Instructor of Mexican American Studies and Music. An accomplished musician, he is a songwriter and the button accordionist for the Conjunto Aztlan. A published author and editor, he, along with his wife, Anisa Onofre, are the owners and publishers of Aztlan Libre Press, an independent company based in San Antonio that is dedicated to the publishing, promotion and free expression of Indigenous/Xicana/o literature and art.