Leticia Quezada

  • Co-Founder of Los Mejicas

    Leticia Quezada

    Leticia Quezada was the first Latina to serve on the Los Ángeles City Board of Education, as well as its first Latina President. She was elected in 1987 and re-elected in 1991 with an overwhelming majority of the votes in the district, an area with almost 700,000 residents. Quezada also made history when she became the first Latina to serve on the Los Ángeles Community College Board of Trustees in 1985.

    Quezada also has ten years of experience in the private sector having served as Manager of Hispanic Marketing and Community Relations for Nestle USA.  She also served as President & CEO of the Mexican Cultural Institute in LA.She has received numerous awards in recognition of her accomplishments and contributions. Among these are the Lifetime Achievement award by the Hispanic Family of the year Foundation, the Dean's Service award by the UCLA Graduate School of Education and the Distinguished Alumni award by California State University Sacramento. She earned a master's degree in Education from California State University Sacramento, and graduated with honors from the University of California Santa Cruz with a bachelor's degree in Psychology. She holds a Lifetime teaching credential and a Bilingual/Bicultural Specialist credential. 

  • Olga Najera-Ramirez

  • Founding Faculty Advisor


    Olga Nájera-Ramírez is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She earned a BA in History and Latin American Studies from UC Santa Cruz in 1977. From 1978 to 1981 she studied dance at the Universidad de Guadalajara and danced with Grupo Folklórico de la Universidad de Guadalajara. She earned an MA in Latin American Studies in 1983 and a PhD in Anthropology in 1988 from the University of Texas, Austin. She published numerous articles, and a book titled La Fiesta de los Tastoanes: Critical Perspectives in a Mexican Festival Performance and co-edited Chicana Traditions: Continuity and Change, Chicana Feminisms:A Critical Reader and Dancing Across Borders: Danzas y Bailes Mexicanos. She also produced two documentaries La Charreada: Rodeo a la Mexicana and Danza Folklórica Escénica: El Sello Artístico de Rafael Zamarripa. She served as faculty advisor for Grupo Folklórico Los Mejicas from 1996 to 2017.

  • Ramón Silva Ruelas

  • Former Student Director


    Ramón Silva Ruelas was born in Jalisco, Mexico, at the age of 4, he migrated to Sonora.  Ramón completed his secondary education in Sonora.  In the late 70’s the Silva Ruelas family migrated once more, this time crossing the México-US border to settle in Salinas, California. Ramón continued his education at Alisal High.  After graduating from Alisal, Ramón attended Hartnell College and  transferred to U.C. Santa Cruz. While in Santa Cruz, he became the student- director of Los Mejicas.  While in Mejicas, he was given the opportunity to attend his first A.N.G.F. conference.  Mr. Silva graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1986 with a B.A. in Latin American Studies and a Teaching Credential. After teaching at an elementary school in Salinas for 3 years he went back to school to U.C. Irvine, where he obtained an M.F.A. in Dance. In 1992 Ramón returned to Salinas to establish his dance non-profit company: Tonatiuh- ‘Danzantes del Quinto Sol” and a  full time folklorico program at Alisal High. In the last few years Mr. Silva and his students have extended to the other  high schools in Salinas and  to 14 elementary schools. Ramón has been a board member of A.N.G.F. and Danzantes Unidos and is currently a member of the Asociación Nacional de Maestros de Danza Popular Mexicana and the Instituto de Investigación de la Danza.

  • Russell C. Rodríguez

  • Current Faculty Advisor


    Since 1974, Russell C. Rodríguez, has studied traditional folk music of Mexico with maestros such as Artemio Posadas and Juan Francisco Díaz. He has worked, presented and instructed in a variety of venues, festivals and conferences throughout the Américas. He received his doctorate in Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at UCSC. As a musician, he currently works with ensembles such as Mariachi Tapatio, Los Hijos de José, Cuarteto León and the newly formed Rascuache Liberation Front. For the past 9 years Rodríguez has worked as the musical director for San José’s premier Chicanx/Latinx theater group Teatro Vision creating musical scores for two of their original plays, “Macario” and “La Departera.” In 2010 his work as musical director and associate producer came to fruition in the documentary Danza Folklórica Escénica: El Sello Artistico de Rafael Zamarripa.

  • Reyna Grande

  • Mejica Alumni


    Reyna Grande is the author of the bestselling memoir, The Distance Between Us, about her coming of age as an undocumented child immigrant. The much-anticipated sequel, A Dream Called Home is about her experiences as a first-gen university student and her pursuit of her writing dream. Her other works include the novels, Across a Hundred Mountains, Dancing with Butterflies, The Distance Between Us young readers edition, and A Ballad of Love and Glory. She co-edited an anthology by and about undocumented Americans called Somewhere We Are Human: Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival, and New Beginnings. Reyna has received an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award, a Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature, and a Latino Spirit Award. Her books have been adopted as the common read selection by schools, colleges, and cities across the country. Reyna attended UCSC from 1996-1999 and received her B.A. degree in Literature (creative writing) and Film & Video.

  • Malena Vega

  • Current Lecturer


    Malena Vega began studying folklórico at an early age amongst some of the most prominent pioneers in Mexican Folkloric Dance while her mother attended UC Santa Cruz. She later graduated from UC Santa Cruz where she was a member and co-director of Los Mejicas, a student-run folklórico group. She has participated in multiple folklórico conferences in the US and Mexico and appeared in the last two Linda Ronstadt's “Canciones de mi Padre” tours. She was a performing member of Los Lupeños for twelve years and served as an instructor for the Los Lupeños Academy and the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose, CA and directed Los Lupeños Grupo Juvenil for three years. In 2012 she was the intermediate folklórico dance instructor for San Jose Mariachi Festival and in 2013 was the recipient of the Cashion Cultural Legacy Artist Exchange program. Most recently, she has re-established her roots in Santa Cruz where she has been a guest instructor for the Santa Cruz Ethnic Dance Festival Family Days at the Santa Cruz Libraries. Currently, Malena has shared her lifelong passion of folklórico education with her children, Santa Cruz nonprofit Senderos, and as a lecturer in the music department at UC Santa Cruz.

  • Fabiola Perez-Cataño

  • Former Student Director


    Hola! I am currently a Graduate Student in the Masters of Arts in Education and Credential program here at UC Santa Cruz, after having graduated with a Major in Psychology and a Minor in Education in 2019. I began dancing Folklórico at the age of 5 in Watsonville and continued dancing with Los Mejicas while holding the positions of Director and Wardrobe Director during my 4 years of Undergrad. For the last couple of years, I have been teaching 8th Grade STEM in Gilroy, and I am now one of the instructors for a new Folklórico group in Watsonville, Grupo Folklórico Los Cocuyos. I am also a Full-Time Mama to a beautiful one-year-old boy, Noah James, who will soon be in his own botines dancing alongside me. 💖

  • Daisy Brambila

  • Current Student Co-Director


    My name is Daisy Brambila and I am a senior double majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology & Anthropology at UCSC. I am originally from Los Angeles, CA and am a proud daughter of Mexican and Salvadoran parents. I began to dance folklorico my sophomore year of high school and it didn’t take long for me to fall completely in love with it. When I came to college, I used folklorico to find my community and grow within my dancing abilities but also as a person and now I am a Co-Director for Los Mejicas with Tania for the second year in a row. I have loved my time in Mejicas and I am very thankful that our predecessors were able to create and sustain such a beautiful organization and community for us to join.

  • Tania H. Gonzalez Garcia

  • Current Student Co-Director


    Hi! My name is Tania H. Gonzalez Garcia and I am a current 4th year student at UCSC Majoring in Biology. I grew up in Bakersfield, CA. but my family is from Guanajuato, Mexico. I have been dancing for most of my life but I didn't start folklorico until my sophomore year of high school which is when I feel in love with the art. As a kid I didn't enjoy folklorico at all but now I truly appreciate everything that it has taught me and am genuinely grateful for the opportunities and sense of community that it has given me. Upon entering UCSC I had no intention of being so involved with the organization but now I am stepping into my second year as Co-Director with Daisy and I can't imagine it any other way.

  • Erica Acevedo-Ontiveros

  • Panel Moderator


    Erica Acevedo-Ontiveros has a PhD in Theatre Performance of the Americas from Arizona State University. She examines Azteca, Flamenco, and Mexican Folklórico dance and how these dance forms relate to expressions of Mexican and Chicanx identity. She has performed as both a dancer, actor, and is a professional stage manager in Phoenix, Albuquerque, and California. She currently teaches film and theatre at Benedictine University and Chandler-Gilbert Community College. She was in Los Mejicas from 1995-2001.