Meet the Staff


Project Director

Levi Romero, Assistant Professor in Chicana and Chicano Studies, and director of the New Mexico Cultural Studies Certificate Program in CCS, is from the Embudo Valley of northern New Mexico.


Romero’s documentary work focuses on cultural landscapes studies and sustainable building methodologies of northern New Mexico, including centuries-old traditions of acequia systems, molinos, salas and other agrarian and cultural contexts related to the upper Rio Grande watershed. He is also assisting on several community projects, including La Sala Filantropica as an Oral History Documentation and Archive Center in Embudo. He is the author of several award winning books, Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland, A Poetry of Remembrance, and In the Gathering of Silence. His film documentary, Going Home Homeless, received the People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Taos Short Films Festival. He was awarded the post of New Mexico Centennial Poet in 2012.


Project Director

Vanessa Fonseca is from Grants, New Mexico. The Chávez family on her mom’s side settled in Atarque, NM, working as sheepherders until the 1950’s when the family moved to Grants/Gallup area in search of work. Vanessa has followed the Manito Trail many times as she traveled back and forth from Arizona to New Mexico to complete a Ph.D. at Arizona State and, later, from Laramie, Wyoming to New Mexico during her first academic appointment at the University of Wyoming. She continues to travel a familiar segment of the Manito Trail in Arizona as she reconnects often with her family and culture.


Fonseca is an assistant professor of English at Arizona State University Polytechnic. She teaches courses on Chicana/o, Latina/o, and Indigenous literature and cultural production. Her research interest includes transnational Chicana/o literature and contemporary manifestations of colonial legacies in Chicana/o and Indigenous literature. She is the Co-Director of the Following the Manito Trail Project.




Project Producer

Adam Herrera is the producer of the Following the Manito Trail documentary project. He is also a former award-winning journalist and is the Head of Post Production for iFIT, a health fitness company in Utah. Herrera became involved with the Manito Trail project while living in Wyoming and working for the University of Wyoming. He has a passion for cultural anthropology and a strong interest projects that support cultural research and education.


Herrera grew up in Grand Ledge, Mich., and has lived and worked in the Rocky Mountain West for the past 9 years. He holds two degrees in Professional Photography and Journalism and Digital Media.



Project Manager

Trisha Martinez is a recent Ph.D graduate from the University of New Mexico-American Studies Department. Currently, she is a UNM Division for Equity and Inclusion Post-Doctoral Fellow for ENLACE New Mexico, Chicana and Chicano Studies, and the Center for Regional Studies. Her research areas of interest include: Transnational Performance, Critical Southwest Regionalism/Borderlands, Migration, Diaspora and Social Mobility, Equity and Inclusion, Chicano Popular Culture in Wyoming, Cross-Cultural Understandings of Place and Identity, Women’s Voices and Activism in Rural Spaces, Land and Water Rights, and Oral History.


Martinez was born in Wyoming and in pursuing her academic endeavors she’s traveled down the Manito Trail to return to the land of her family and ancestors. Her family’s roots are embedded in both Valdez and Sapello New Mexico. For her family, traveling the Manito Trail has been a way to sustain financial stability, as well as to maintain their cultural and familial connections.



Research Assistant

Robert Perea joined the Following the Manito Trail documentary project as a Masters Candidate in English at the University of Wyoming. He hails from Cheyenne, Wyoming and holds degrees in Religious Studies and English from the University of Wyoming.


Perea's family roots are in the Questa and Costilla communities of New Mexico.