Participant Bios


Irma Pineda, “Saberes Ancestrales, Arte y Mujeres Indígenas | Ancestral Knowledge, Art and Indigenous Women”

Irma Pineda is binnizá of the Zapotec town of Juchitán de Zaragoza in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Her native language, diidxazá, is an Indigenous endangered language. Irma is a poet who has written prolifically in diidxazá and in Spanish. Her internationally aclaimed poetry has been translated into other languages including English. Irma was elected to serve as Mexico’s representative to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for a 3-year term beginning 1 January 2020. Through her many platforms, Irma advocates actively for the rights of Indigenous people, for the rights of women, and in support of linguistic diversity and the protection of endangered languages. 

Chairs/Faculty Coordinators

Monique Rodrigues Balbuena is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Jewish Studies at the University of Oregon. Her book, Homeless Tongues: Poetry and Languages of the Sephardic Diaspora, was a finalist of the 2016 Jewish National Book in the Sephardic Culture category. She is the author of “Ladino in Latin America” (2007), “Judeo-Spanish Texts in Latin American Genres” (2012) and “Ladino in US Literature and Song” (2016), among others. Prof. Balbuena is on the board of the Journal of Jewish Identities, and is the Modern Literature Editor of the Encyclopedia of Jews in Muslim Lands.

Audrey Lucero is an Associate Professor of language and literacy in the Department of Education Studies at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on bilingual oral language development and engagement in early literacy practices among young Spanish-English emergent bilingual children. She is also interested in dual language education programs as venues for biliteracy development and works closely with local dual language immersion elementary schools. Audrey is the director of the UO Latinx Studies program and the Critical & Sociocultural Studies in Education doctoral program.

Gabriela Pérez Báez is Associate Professor in the Linguistics Department at the University of Oregon. She directs the Language Revitalization Lab, an interdisciplinary hub for research and outreach for Indigenous languages that have been without speakers for a period of time, and for the diversity of Mesoamerican languages among farmworkers in Oregon, California and Washington in the United States. Gabriela is also the Co-Director of the National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages. In this role, she has worked with community researchers in the United States to support archive-based research for language revitalization.

Gabriela’s research focuses on linguistic diversity and strategies to sustain it. She has worked to document, analyze and revitalize Zapotec languages in her native Mexico and published on language vitality and revitalization, migration, and on the analysis of Zapotec languages covering verbal inflection and derivation, philology, semantic typology, and spatial language and cognition. She is the lead compiler of two dictionaries of Isthmus Zapotec within a participatory and interdisciplinary model. The La Ventosa Diidxazá Lexico-botanical Dictionary was published in 2019 with over 1000 specialized entries and multimedia assets. 

From 2020 to 2018, Gabriela served as Curator of Linguistics at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution and its Recovering Voices initiative which she directed between 2014 and 2016. She holds a doctorate in linguistics from the University at Buffalo and is the recipient of the 2019 Early Career Award from the Linguistics Society of America.

Panel One

Lynn Stephen (Philip H. Knight Chair & Professor of Anthropology), Jennifer Martinez (Oregon State University), and Valentín Sánchez, (Oregon Law Center), “COVID-19 Impact on Indigenous Farmworkers: Vulnerabilities and Sources of Resilience” 

Lynn Stephen’s scholarly work centers on immigration, asylum and gendered asylum in the U.S., gendered violence, transborder communities, Indigenous immigrants from Latin America, Mexico, and Central America, and Latino community histories in the Northwest.  Her current research includes a collaborative project with 11 community-based organizations in Oregon exploring the impact of COVID-19 on farmworker families and another project investigating Indigenous women’s access to justice for gendered violence in Guatemala and in U.S. immigration courts. She has served as a pro-bono expert witness in more than 100 asylum cases, primarily for Indigenous asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America. 

Recent publications: Indigenous Women and Violence: Feminist Activist Research in Heightened States of Injustice, edited by Lynn Stephen and Shannon Speed (University of Arizona Press, 2021) and Stories that Make History: Remembering Mexico through Elena Poniatowska’s Crónicas, (Duke University Press, fall 2021).

Jennifer Martinez-Medina (she/ella) is a Ph.D. candidate at Portland State University. She studies how globalization impacts expressions of community care and participation across borders. As a daughter to farmworkers and sister of a U.S. deported veteran, her family’s legacy in California and Mexico is the foundation of how she understands the construction of political rights across borders. She integrates research and storytelling to inform today’s governance demands.

Valentín Sánchez is from San Juan Cahuayaxi, Oaxaca, Mexico, and speaks Mixteco as his native language. He emigrated from Mexico to the United States at the age of 12 years old. Mr. Sanchez is a Community Educator with the Oregon Law Center’s Farmworker Program, assisting in intake, outreach, and in every phase of litigation in collaboration with attorneys. His deep understanding of farmworker issues, e.g., language access, the impact of COVID-19, pesticides, employer-provided labor housing, wages, and other employment-related issues, makes him a valuable and effective farmworker advocate. He serves on the State of Oregon’s Environmental Justice Task Force, whose goal is to provide guidance and recommendations to the state’s natural resources agencies and the Governor’s Office on Environmental Justice issues. Furthermore, he has developed many worker’s rights educational materials in various languages, such as Mixteco, Triqui, Zapoteco, Mam, and other indigenous languages, and conducts various outreach activities. During the past 12 months, he has spoken with numerous farmworkers regarding their experiences living and working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Haley Shea (Miami University), “The Impact of Myaamia Nipwaayoni on Living Well for Myaamiaki” Haley Shea (kiišikohkwa), a myaamia tribal member, is originally from Huntington, IN. As a child, she was a participant in the Eewansaapita summer camps and eventually transitioned into the role of counselor and later researcher. Those experiences motivated Haley to attend Miami University for her undergraduate career, studying Psychology and Spanish (class of 2013) as a participant in the Myaamia Heritage Award Program.

After graduating with her undergraduate degrees, she went on to pursue a PhD in Counseling Psychology at Iowa State University. During her doctoral career, she researched cross-cultural mental health stigma, identity formation in American Indian youth, the impact of stereotypical media portrayals of American Indians on bias, and the impact of myaamia storytelling on living well. She also provided counseling services to college students and in a community mental health setting, taught a wide range of courses (Introduction to Psychology Lab, Introduction to American Indian studies, Abnormal Psychology, Study Skills, Basic Counseling Skills, and Introduction to Psychology), provided mentorship for McNair students, and did outreach with Iowa State’s University population.

She is currently Research Associate at the Myaamia Center and a Visiting Assistant Professor in Educational Psychology at Miami University. In her role at the Myaamia Center, she is currently the co-chair of the Neepwaayoni Acquisition and Assessment Team (NAAT), examining the many factors that have contributed to positive outcomes (e.g. community engagement, attendance at tribal events, sense of belongingness, etc.) within the myaamia community.

Michael Reyes (Oregon Department of Education), “Uplifting community identity: Oregon Department of Education’s Mesoamerican Language of Origin Pilot Project” Michael Reyes currently works for the Oregon Department of Education as the Latino/a/x Student Success Coordinator. There, he manages the Latino/a/x Student Success Plan working with schools and community partners to close the opportunity gap. Michael’s previous professional experiences include higher education, philanthropy, and supporting community-led policy advocacy work.

Panel Two

Bryan Kirschen (Binghamton University), “Ladino in the United States” Bryan Kirschen is Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics at Binghamton University. He is a sociolinguist focusing on variation throughout the Spanish-speaking world, primarily in regard to Judeo-Spanish. At Binghamton University, he co-directs the Ladino Collaboratory. Some of his recent research can be found in the Heritage Language Journal, Spanish in Context, and Language and Communication. Bryan serves as the director of the Shadarim, an international delegation of representatives for Israel’s National Authority of Ladino. Apart from university teaching, Bryan has taught Ladino to hundreds of people around the world.

Alan Astro (Trinity University), “Yiddish Literature in Latin America” Alan Astro, a native of Brooklyn, has taught at Trinity University in San Antonio for 36 years. His Yiddish South of the Border (University of New Mexico Press, 2003), the first anthology that translated into English works by Latin American Yiddish writers, will soon be republished in paperback. Astro edited with Malena Chinski Splendor, Decline, and Rediscovery of Yiddish in Latin America (Brill, 2018), and his volume on Yiddish writers in France and Latin America, Autour du yiddish de Paris à Buenos Aires, is forthcoming from Classiques Garnier (Paris).

Evelyn Dean-Olmsted (Independent Scholar), “Jewish Spanish in Ciudad de Mexico and Buenos Aires” Evelyn María Dean-Olmsted is a linguistic and cultural anthropologist who writes on language and social life among Jewish Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.  Her work has been published in English and Spanish in the journals Language and Communication, Anthropological Quarterly, Jewish Social Studies, and other venues.  With  Susana Skura, she co-authored chapters on the Spanish of Jewish Latin Americans in two compendiums on Jewish language varieties (Brill 2016; De Gruyter Mouton 2018).  With Sarah Benor, she co-created the online collaborative database Léxico Judío Latinoamericano (Latin American Jewish Lexicon), currently maintained by Mexican linguistic Anayeli Hernández Cruz.  Dean-Olmsted’s forthcoming book, To be Mexican, Jewish, and Arab: The Pragmatics of Diaspora is an ethnography of language in the everyday lives of young Sirio-Lebanese Jews in Mexico City as they grapple with changing religious and political economic landscapes.  From 2013-2019, Dean-Olmsted  served as Assistant, then Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.  She is the current Manager of Health Outcomes Research at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Miami, FL.

Monique R. Balbuena (University of Oregon), “Ladino song and poetry in Latin America Today”  Monique Rodrigues Balbuena is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Jewish Studies at the University of Oregon. Her book, Homeless Tongues: Poetry and Languages of the Sephardic Diaspora, was a finalist of the 2016 Jewish National Book in the Sephardic Culture category. She is the author of “Ladino in Latin America” (2007), “Judeo-Spanish Texts in Latin American Genres” (2012) and “Ladino in US Literature and Song” (2016), among others. Prof. Balbuena is on the board of the Journal of Jewish Identities, and is the Modern Literature Editor of the Encyclopedia of Jews in Muslim Lands.

Panel Three

Lara Boyero (Romance Languages), “Soy mujer, latina e inmigrante: An Intersectional Study of Linguistic Capital among Latina Women Immigrants in Oregon” Lara Boyero is a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish sociolinguistics at the Department of Romance Languages. Her interests include Spanish in the USA, heritage speakers, critical pedagogies, gender studies, and immigration studies. Her thesis is titled: “Plurilingües, pluriculturales y empoderades: feminist and critical pedagogy in Spanish as a Heritage Language.” She works creating a critical pegagogy approach based on feminist and raciolinguistics theories, also she studies students’ gender-linguistics attitudes at a West Coast University without Spanish Heritage Program. Her intersectional study of linguistic capital among Latina women immigrants in Oregon won three research Grant from the Oregon Humanities Center, the Women and Gender Studies Department, and the Romance Languages Department.

Regan Anderson (Critical & Sociocultural Studies in Education), “Yakmumamí Myalasmamíyay: Growing Yakama babies and language together” Regan Anderson is a third year PhD student in the Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education program at the University of Oregon (UO). She has worked with Yakama community members and the Northwest Indian Language Institute since 2009 to document, preserve, and teach the Yakama Ichishkíin language. She is an apprentice to Yakama Elder Tux̱ámshish, Dr. Virginia Beavert, and has taught Ichishkíin language classes under Tux̱ámshish’s guidance at the UO since 2013. Regan is an active member of the Ichishkíin Language Alliance where she collaborates with teachers and activists to share materials and support curriculum development. Her research aims to support family and home language in the Yakama community and she participates in projects and teaching at the Yakama Nation upon invitation.

Twálatin Sutterlict (Critical & Sociocultural Studies in Education), “Miimáwit Tiináwit: Our ways, our language, our children, our land” Twálatin is a language activist dedicated to language revitalization, preservation, and promotion. He is a member of the Yakama Nation so his focus is on his Ichishkin language. Collaboration is important to him to ensure that the work with Ichishkin is solid and shared with as many other Ichishkin language activists as possible. He has worked with and/or created many Ichishkin programs, involving different fluency levels, different ages, and in a variety of settings. Due to his dedication to Ichishkin, he opens his Heritage University Ichishkin classes to the community for free; this community class has been very successful with local community members as well as other interested students around the state who would not otherwise have had access to Ichishkin classes. Some of the projects he has been involved with include: Zillah After-school Language and Culture Club, Wapato Elementary After-school class, Ichishkin Immersion Family Classes, Yakama Nation Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility Ichishkin classes, Pápawilaalakwt Ichishkin Language Competition, Ichishkin Language Alliance, and Yakama Ichishkin Language Bootcamp.

Kevin Donley (Critical & Sociocultural Studies in Education), “Translanguaging pedagogy as creative resistance to English hegemony in the classroom” Kevin Donley is a PhD student and teacher educator at the University of Oregon in the Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education program. Kevin previously taught high school history and middle school social studies in Quito, Ecuador in a Spanish-English bilingual program. His current work includes critically oriented research focused on translanguaging and bilingual teacher preparation, as well as teaching undergraduate education courses related to multilingual education as an avenue for social justice and issues of equity regarding Latinx emergent bilingual students. In addition to his graduate work, Kevin is a Spanish-English interpreter for the local school district, in which his responsibilities include advocacy for equitable treatment of Latinx emergent bilingual students and their families.

Jill Potratz (Linguistics),”Listener’s Perception of Spanish- and Mam-Accented English in Children” Jill is a fourth-year doctoral student in the UO Linguistics Department. She is a speech/language pathologist and worked in San Francisco Bay Area public schools for many years. Her research interests include speech intelligibility, childhood bilingualism, and language sample assessment measures. Upon graduation, Jill plans on working in academia in a Communication Disorders and Sciences department.


Miguel Villegas Ventura AKA Una Isu, is a trilingual Ñuu Savi (Mixtec) rap artist, Indigenous migrant rights activist, organizer, Tu’un Savi (Mixtec) language instructor, and dancer who has been featured in programs such as Univision (Aquí y ahora), National Geographic, La Jornada, Radio Bilingue, Excélsior TV and Imagen TV to name a few. His work has been documented in universities such as El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (El Colef), The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Stanford. He has been mentioned in published books such as Voces de jóvenes indígenas oaxaqueños en el Valle Central: Forjando nuestro sentido de pertenencia en California, Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes Our Ideas About Race and Revealing Rebellion in Abiayala: The Insurgent Poetics of Contemporary Indigenous Literature. Anthropology courses offered by Professor Lynn Stephen in the University of Oregon use Una Isu’s songs as a window on understanding issues regarding immigration history and the U.S.-Mexico relations, Mexican and Central America immigration, farmworker movements and cultures.

Josh Arón Norek is the frontman and co-founder of the Latino-Jewish urban music collective Hip Hop Hoodíos (a play on the Spanish word judíos). The group has received widespread critical acclaim from outlets such as the NY Times, Washington Post, Billboard and NPR for their albums ‘Carne Masada’ and ‘Raza Hoodía.’  Hip Hop Hoodíos has collaborated with several Grammy-winning artists, including members of Ozomatli, The Klezmatics and Jaguares. Most recently, the group returned after a decade-long absence to release two new singles in 2020: “Turn Back The Clock” (a collaboration with Latino-Arab MC Santi Mostaffa) and “Mexican Miller (The Stephen Miller Song).”

In his double life, Norek is the president of Regalías Digitales LLC, a firm that helps hundreds of Latin artists, record labels, songwriters and music publishers to collect their music royalties worldwide and to license their songs for film & television. He also co-hosts the nationally syndicated public radio show ‘The Latin Alternative’ and serves on the board of voter rights organization Voto Latino.  Norek is a graduate of Cornell University and Southwestern Law School.