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Puente a la Salud Comunitaria (Bridge to Community Health) contributes to food sovereignty and to improving the health and economic well-being of rural communities in Mexico.


We envision a world where families and communities live with dignity and exercise their food sovereignty by growing, consuming, exchanging, and marketing locally-produced healthy food using sustainable agroecological methods.


Dignity, Equity, Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Solidarity, Transparency, Innovation


GABRIEL GARCIA, President Gabriel Garcia, MD is the William and Dorothy Kaye University Fellow in Undergraduate Education and Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, at Stanford University. During his more than four decades at the University, he held positions as director of the University’s Haas Center for Public Service and Associate Dean of Admissions at the School of Medicine. He grew up in Puerto Rico in an immigrant family from Cuba, studied medicine at New York University, and did his residency in internal medicine and a specialty in gastroenterology and hepatology at Stanford. He served as a physician in the liver transplant program and as a clinical researcher on liver disease. He taught 5 undergraduate courses at Stanford: two classes on community health fundamentals in the communities near the university, a class on health and wellness in agricultural communities in the central valley of California, a class on health and wellness in the communities of the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota, and since 2007 a class on health and well-being in Mexican immigrants based in Oaxaca, Mexico. Lastly, he served as a faculty advisor to the LGBT Medical Education Research Group.

April Watson

APRIL WATSON As the Senior Director of Learning and Care Redesign, April Watson provides the strategic leadership, management and overall direction for the Care Redesign portfolio of work at Pacific Business Group on Health. She is passionate about values-driven work that supports transformational change to improve health, and has a blend of experience in hospital and clinic operations, public health, academia, grant-making, community health programming and global health.

Prior to joining PBGH, April led a medical innovations grant-making program for Stanford University’s School of Medicine. She spent seven years working for Sequoia Hospital, part of Dignity Health, and led identification, design and implementation of process redesign efforts across the hospital for improved quality and financial sustainability. She also worked for Palo Alto Medical Foundation facilitating complex improvement projects involving clinic operations and physician leaders.

Earlier in her career, April spent six years working in international development for Freedom from Hunger, including a year and a half based in Oaxaca, Mexico. April earned her Master’s degree in Public Health from U.C. Berkeley and is a Registered Dietitian.

Aerin Dunford

AERIN DUNFORD, Vice-President Aerin is a writer, upcycling artist, urban gardener, and yoga instructor. She is an independent consultant using Art of Hosting and other participative approaches as a basis for her work with organizations. She is also a graphic facilitator and recorder for gatherings of all sizes. She loves to draw, dance and create. Since moving to Mexico in 2009 she has been working with organizations, networks, and individuals to facilitate dialogue and create the conditions for authentic collaboration and participatory leadership.

Jennifer Rodgers-Brown

JENNIFER ROGERS-BROWN Jennifer Rogers-Brown is an Associate Professor of Sociology at LIU Post. She received her PhD in Sociology at UC Santa Barbara. While conducting her dissertation work on corn, technology, and gender in Oaxaca, Jennifer volunteered at Puente. The experience introduced her to Puente’s work in rural communities and furthered her understanding of indigenous Oaxacan communities. Her research today focuses on the relationships between food, technology, gender, and resistance in Latin America

Katherine Lorenz, Co-Founder

KATHERINE LORENZ, Co-Founder Katherine Lorenz is Chair of the Board of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation (, a grantmaking foundation focusing on environmental sustainability in Texas, and Senior Advisor at the National Center for Family Philanthropy ( She is the Leader of the Next Gen of the Giving Pledge, and Forbes named Ms. Lorenz “Ones to Watch,” an up-and-coming face in philanthropy in 2012. Previously, she served as Deputy Director for the Institute for Philanthropy (, whose mission is to increase effective philanthropy in the UK and internationally. Prior to that, Ms. Lorenz lived in Oaxaca, Mexico for nearly six years where she co-founded Puente a la Salud Comunitaria (, a non-profit organization working to advance food sovereignty in rural Oaxaca through the integration of amaranth into the diet. She continues to be involved with Puente’s work as an active board member. Before founding Puente, she spent two summers living in rural villages in Latin America with the volunteer program Amigos de las Américas and later served on their Program Committee and as a trustee of the Foundation for Amigos de las Americas. Additionally, she currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the Environmental Defense Fund, The Philanthropy Workshop (Vice-Chair), and the Endowment for Regional Sustainability Science, and formerly was a Fellow and later Board Chair at the National Center for Family Philanthropy, a Board Member of Exponent Philanthropy, Resource Generation, the Amaranth Institute, and a member of the National Academies’ Roundtable of Science and Technology for Sustainability. Ms. Lorenz is a member of the Global Philanthropists Circle of the Synergos Institute and serves on the Leadership Council of the Greater Houston Community Foundation and the national advisory committee of USC’s Irene Hirano Inouye Philanthropic Leadership Fund. Ms. Lorenz holds a B.A. in Economics and Spanish from Davidson College.

Kate Seely, Co-Founder

KATE SEELY, Co-Founder Kate Seely is the Senior Director of Leadership, Culture and Community at Northern California Grantmakers. In this role, she directs NCG’s professional and leadership development work, and guides our focus on organizational culture as a leverage point for impact. Before working in philanthropy, Kate co-founded the nonprofit Puente a la Salud Comunitaria in Oaxaca, Mexico, a community development organization focused on public health, economic development, and sustainable agriculture. She is currently a proud board member there, and serves on the board of her amazing summer camp, the Bar 717 Ranch, and the nonprofit NewStories. She spent a transformative year completing a Master’s in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability, where she deepened her own understanding of the type of leadership and organizational culture that is needed to achieve both environmental and social sustainability. In her life beyond work, she loves farms, farmers, cooking, eating, canning, community, nature, hiking and backpacking, and her four year old niece, who consistently reminds her to be present in the current moment.


Jose Carlos Leon Vargas, Director

Jose Carlos was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from El Colegio de Mexico and a Master`s degree in International Cooperation and Development from the University of Pavia, Italy, as well as diplomas in Strategic Planning from the Institute of Cultural Affairs (London, UK), Human Rights (Viadrina University Frankfurt, Germany) and undergraduate studies at the Institute of Political Studies, Sc-Po, Paris.
Jose Carlos has 18 years of experience working with different non-governmental organizations in Asia, Africa Latin America and Europe implementing and designing projects in the field of poverty-reduction; conflict transformation; human rights and sustainable development.

In 2009, he returned to Oaxaca where he has been director and co-founder of SiKanda, a non-profit organization that works with highly marginalized communities, particular with slum dwellers and informal waste pickers in Oaxaca.

Previous to the alliance, Jose Carlos served for six years on the Puente Board of Directors.

SELENE, Administrative Assistant

Selene has participated with Puente since 2019, first as a social service intern where she carried out the logistics for the summer nutrition programs, monitoring activities in the communities of the Etla Valley and Mixteca region. She supported the Development and Communication team in the design, logistics, and written memory of Amaranth Day that same year.

In March 2021, she joined as a volunteer to support the administrative area and since May she joined as the team’s administrative assistant. She graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and, although her journey through the classrooms was oriented towards the provision of community mental health and the prison environment, life led her to meet the work of society civil, which has her fascinated and convicted of its importance in contributing to the well-being of society. She likes to learn for her growth and for her professional development. She firmly believes that solidarity can generate an abundance of fruits, often unexpected.

ARACELI,  Coordinator of FUERTE Project

Graduated in Public Accounting and Master’s in Cultural Management. She has more than 20 years of experience in Civil Society organizations, on issues of Community Development, Health, Human Rights and Collective Rights. She currently coordinates the FUERTE Project “Strength, Unity, Empowerment and Resilience for Women in Extreme Poverty”, which is implemented in the Mixteca and Central Valleys regions of Oaxaca.

JAVIER, EcoAmaranto & Agroecology

Javier Espinoza Díaz is from the community of San Juan de Dios Reyes Etla Oaxaca, where his parents have been farmers all their lives. Javier graduated from high school and then started working. His first job was in a construction company, where he welded heavy machinery, later went to carpentry, masonry, blacksmithing, balconies, plumbing, electricity, painting and has also been a taxi driver. But along with these jobs, he has always always worked the fields with his father. Currently works as an auxiliary technician in Puente, where he is dedicated to the production of agroecological amaranth and the monitoring of the biofactories where organic fertilizers are produced mainly in the Central Valleys region. Producing organic products was what inspired him to work with Puente. He is also dedicated to the production of vegetables with his wife, cultivating products such as radish, lettuce, broad beans, cilantro and planting cornfields, alfalfa, beans and squash. He is in charge of a plot of agroecological amaranth jointly with Puente. He likes his work within the association, and knows how to do various trades; For example, he designed machinery for easy turning of bokashi (organic compost) and an amaranth planter in root balls, which were very helpful for the modernization of the field and the producers associated with Puente.

JOSÉ LUIS, Agroecology

José Luis Ortiz Zaráte was born in the Tierra Blanca community belonging to the municipality of San Cristóbal Amoltepec, Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca. He was part of the Tierra Blanca community group and participated in the agroecological fertilizer module group, Ñuu Kuijii. He began to collaborate with Puente a la Salud Comunitaria in October 2016 as a community promoter, developing leadership within the communities where the organization has a presence in the Mixtec region promoting the cultivation, consumption, and commercialization of amaranth and participating in different events. In 2018, he began to collaborate as a promoter in the area of ​​social economy, accompanying transformation groups and strengthening the value chain. In 2020, he became part of the Eco-Amaranth program to work hand in hand with producers, strengthening agroecology work, for which his participation in the organic agriculture workshop, taught by Jairo Restrepo, was  very influential.

ARACELY, Social Economy & Social Solidarity

Aracely is originally from the municipality of San Cristóbal Amoltepec, belonging to the community of Tierra Blanca, Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca. She is the mother of 4 wonderful children for whom she learned and took on various work to support her family and her community. She has served in community positions such as managing the community kitchen, working in the adult education program as an out-of-school initial education instructor, and serving as a rural assistant and treasurer of her community’s municipal agency, always showing willingness to learn and support community work.

Ten years ago, she first began working with Puente a la Salud Comunitaria and supported the implementation of nutrition workshops in her municipality, and later joined the team as a community promoter in the Mixteca region. She has been actively involved in different actions that the organization promotes, such as the agroecological production of amaranth and vegetables, healthy nutrition, as well as in social economy activities, always thinking about the common good. Aracely wants her participation as part of the Puente work team to translate into actions that improve community work and the self-organization of groups and communities.

VERO, Accounting Coordinator

Verónica recently joined the organization and is a Public Accountant who graduated from the Benito Juárez Autonomous University of Oaxaca. She brings 25 years of work experience in accounting firms and the administrative areas of the federal and state government, as well as private companies. Verónica is from Oaxaca and her favorite hobby is going to the movies. She likes amaranth snack bars and she looks forward to contributing to this new work adventure at Puente a la Salud Comunitaria.

© Puente a la Salud Comunitaria, a 501(c)(3) organization [EIN 30-0258491] at 1311-A E. 6th St, Austin, TX 78702. USA.
© Puente a la Salud Comunitaria, AC, una organización donante autorizada con domicilio fiscal en
Privada de Magnolias No. 109, Colonia Reforma, CP 68050, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca. México