PFLAG El Paso is an all-volunteer organization, including officers and board members.
We are a deeply committed, diverse group of LGBTQ persons and straight parents and allies. For more information on the board or its functions, please feel free to contact us or attend a board meeting. The PFLAG El Paso Board meets monthly or as needed. If you would like to attend a board meeting, please contact us for more information.
PFLAG OF EL PASO BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Lorena Soto is a first generation American born into our border town community. She served 9 years in the United States Air Force, which afforded her the opportunity to experience life outside of El Paso, TX. After a few years of travel, she found her way back to El Paso with a newfound respect for her desert home. She has invested her knowledge and leadership training into over 10 years of non-profit work to better her community. Lorena identifies as a queer person of color, human rights activists, public speaker and training facilitator. Most recently Lorena used her skills and experience to create and present a workshop at our PFLAG national convention teaching PFLAG chapters throughout the nation to better serve their unique communities. She actively participates in the conversations that bring inclusivity into El Paso for our LGBTQI community.
Marco Ortigoza is a native of the El Paso and Ciudad Juarez community. He received his Master of Public Administration and Master of Criminal Justice from New Mexico State University. He has been a member of the National Organization for Victim Assistance, the Academy of the Criminal Justice Sciences as well as the National Criminal Justice Honors Society since 2012, receiving the National Member of the Year in 2015. He has contributed to the formation of conferences in child endangerment, human trafficking, and domestic violence. He is an assistant professor of criminal justice. His areas of interest include issues in victimology, social deviance, the death penalty, and social justice. Currently, Marco serves in the board of directors as Vice-President of PLAG El Paso where he supports and advocates for the LGBTQIA community.
Tara Riojas was born abroad but raised from a young age in El Paso, Texas. She is a wife and proud mother of three children. She studied briefly at UTEP in pursuit of a photojournalism degree but then switched to El Paso Community College to study court reporting. Tara has been licensed as a court reporter nationally as well as in both Texas and New Mexico for over 25 years and continues to work full time as a freelance court reporter. Tara currently serves on the board of PFLAG El Paso as treasurer. She has also been involved in the Storyteller’s program with Equality Texas and volunteers locally with the Borderland Rainbow Center’s Refugee Feeding Program. An avid runner, Tara is a Race El Paso Ambassador beginning in 2019 and continuing for this year. She enjoys travel, fitness, gardening and anything that gets her outside. She strives to balance a busy life with her desire to better her community through service and advocacy.
Melissa Aguilera is an Assistant Professor of Speech Communication at El Paso Community College. Melissa received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2007 and a Master of Arts in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University in 2010. Melissa is working on her Doctor of Education at University of Texas at El Paso. Melissa has been on the PFLAG El Paso board for the last year as an ally and public relations committee chair. At El Paso Community College Melissa advocates for her students and is a trainer for SafeZone trained faculty.
Margarita Martinez Almeida
Margarita Martinez Almeida was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and has lived in El Paso for the past 17 years. Mother of three children, she studied Law at Tecnológico de Monterrey Campus Monterrey. She worked as the director of International Student Connections for 3 years, where she helped students study abroad and learn different languages. As well a certified educator of infant massage, by the International Association of Infant Massage. She worked as an enrichment teacher in Ascension Lutheran Preschool for 5 years. Currently is a Realtor in the El Paso area for the past 4 years and a member of the Greater Association of Realtors. Margarita has been a PFLAG El Paso board member for the past 2 years as an ally, where she wishes to continue supporting families and better her community.
Sydney Riojas was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. At the age of 16, she graduated as class valedictorian. She works part time as a nanny and caregiver. Sydney currently serves on the board of PFLAG El Paso as the program committee chair, as well as volunteers with the Borderland Rainbow Center. She is passionate about art and travel, and experiencing other cultures.
Jeremiah Almanza is a lifelong El Paso resident and a graduate of Canutillo High School. His love of singing drew him to attend UTEP majoring in vocal performance with concentration in worship music and musical theatre. Jeremiah was always drawn to spirituality and was an active member in the Catholic church. His true calling led to him leaving UTEP to concentrate on spiritual training instead. He studied many different spiritualties and faiths such as the Catholicism, Non-denominational Christian, COGIC United Fellowship Metropolitan Community Churches, Wiccan and esoteric studies to have a full appreciation for spirituality and live an ecumenical lifestyle Now a minister focusing on working with the marginalized and those who may see themselves as unwanted, Jeremiah finds himself more at ease out in the streets than a brick and mortar church. He also serves home insecure people on the weekends with his charity group UNIDOS that he is a member of. Identifying as homosexual and gender fluid, this is his second year serving on the board directors and first year as social media chair person.
Carlos Robles was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. He is a single, gay man and a United States Army Veteran. Carlos studied at the University of Phoenix, earning a bachelor’s degree in medical management and worked at Texas Tech Medical Center for 20 years, retiring in 2014. He currently serves on the board of PFLAG El Paso. Carlos also regularly volunteers with NAMI of El Paso as an IOOV (In Your Own Voice) speaker as well as a facilitator for support groups for the Borderland Rainbow Center. He enjoys outdoor activities and endeavors to continue his outreach and advocacy for the El Paso community.