About Us

MILPA Collective (MILPA) is first and foremost a movement space designed for, and led by, formerly incarcerated and system-impacted individuals. We are committed to supporting next-generation infrastructure and leadership within communities, organizations, and systems. We center cultural healing, racial equity and LOVE in our practices and advocacy. 

Our Mission

To cultivate Change Makers for the Next Seven Generations

by creating opportunities for cultural healing, intergenerational leadership,

and  empowerment through community-driven decision making for healthier communities.

Our Vision

The Next Seven Generations are culturally rooted with pathways to be successful, healthy and live oppression free.

Our History

The vision and idea behind MILPA are rooted in the history that our health, well-being, and liberation are intergenerational. Many of us are second-generation activists, coming from migrant workers whose parents or grandparents were involved in the farmworker movement or women-led cannery strikes. MILPA comes from a lineage of abuelos and abuelitas who provided for their families and fought, protected, and prayed for this generation to have a future. They prayed for us to engage the intentions set by our ancestors. MILPA was formed because we answered the call to begin re-asserting our indigeneity, cultural traditions, and interconnection to this continent we call Turtle Island. We hold that government-based identification does not determine our connection to this land or our right to self-identify as indigenous. For us, the work we do is an unfolding prayer, and we thank the Four Sacred elements, the Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Our history reminds us of questions that guide our values and future:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we value?
  • Where do we come from?
  • And, where are we going?

Frameworks & Approaches

MILPA uses healing-informed, relationship-centered approaches that incubate next-generation leadership while re-thinking accountability and striving for racial justice to end mass incarceration.

MILPA Frameworks and Approaches:

  • Are culturally relevant, asset-oriented, strength-based, and solution-focused.
  • Use storytelling and popular education modalities to spread and scale our learning, healing, workshops, and leadership capacity building to unpack and unlearn harmful narratives and behaviors.
  • Are interpersonal and challenge dominant white normative paradigms of collaboration, partnership, alliedship and success.
  • Centers our joy, health, values, and liberation while pursuing reparations and reconciliation.
  • Build kinship, providing cultural healing, and creating opportunities for social, emotional wellness.

Our Philosophy

MILPA is derived from the Uto-Aztecan Nahuatl word “milli” and is an agricultural process that describes the Las Tres Hermanas (3 sisters) planting system. Traditionally, the sisters were corn, beans, and squash, yet they are interchangeable with various other vegetables and fruits. The three crops grow interdependently to support each other. We at MILPA metaphorically use that process to create a working philosophy rooted in anti-colonial and anti-racist ideology. At MILPA, Las Tres Hermanas is metaphorically referenced as culture, consciousness, and movement building. Our philosophy also integrates:

  • A sacred bond (palabra) of working together in community to build people power, formulate an interconnected political analysis of hope, and to produce movement-building architecture.
  • A values-based framework grounded in indigenous thought, narrative, and symbolism.
  • An on-going analysis of how the intersection of race, power, economics, and whiteness negatively impact communities of color.
  • A deep gratitude and appreciation towards our ancestors and elders who came before us, and who bestowed upon us cultural healing practices that to this day root us in love.

Meet Our Team

Juan Gomez

Executive Director

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John Pineda

Deputy Director

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Eva Castro

Finance & Operations Manager

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Elias (Eli) Gonzales

Training & Site Manager

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Brayan Pelayo Corona

Site Manager

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Airam Coronado

Program Leadership Assistant

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Cristian Franco Jr

Training & Site Coordinator

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Edgar Ibarra Gutierrez

Leadership & Program Coordinator

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Alexis Magdaleno

Lead Prop 47 Specialist

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Jazzlyn Rodriguez

Program & Leadership Assistant

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George Villa

Programs & Research Associate

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Desiree Rosas

Prop 47 Outreach Assistant

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Cesar Lara

Director of Policy & Programs

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Bernard (Bernie) Gomez

Program & Leadership Assistant

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James Martinez

Policy & Programs Assistant

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Josh Somers

Programs & Research Associate

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Rosaura Figueroa Mendoza

Communications Coordinator

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Veronica (Ronnie) Miramontes

Operations Associate

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