top of page

Meet the Team


Project Director

Levi Romero, AssociateProfessor 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 from Arizona to New Mexico in her current academic position at Arizona State University. 


Vanessa is an Associate Professor of English and Associate Dean of Diversity Equity, and Inclusion at Arizona State University. 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.




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.




Research Scholar

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 Scholar

Dr. Patricia M. Perea is a Chicana writer born and raised in the Llano Estacado of northwest Texas and eastern New Mexico. She has published scholarly work in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicana/o Studies, Journal of Education Studies; creative non-fiction work in La Tolteca Zine; poetry in As/Us and other online forms. With Roxanne Swentzell (Santa Clara Pueblo), she co-authored The Pueblo Food Experience: Whole Food of Our Ancestors (2016). Some of the media Patricia has worked with include ABC News, KOAT News, Native America Calling, NBC News, PBS Colores and El Pulso Podcast.


Currently she is the educator in the History and Literary Arts Program at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico and an instructor in the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico. She is currently working on a collection of poetry and a set of scholarly essays.



profile (1).jpg


Graduate Research Scholar

Originally from La Villita and Las Cruces, New Mexico, Jesús has called the Valley of the Sun his home since beginning his undergraduate career at Arizona State University in 2007. He graduated in 2011 with a BA in Anthropology and an MA in Anthropology of Religion in 2016; his Masters thesis, "African Healing in Mexican Curanderismo," focuses on the West African ritual and ethnomedical contributions to curanderismo, the traditional healing art of Mexico and the Southwestern United States. Since moving to the Tempe/Phoenix area, Jesús has worked as a medico-legal death investigator for the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner; an adjunct professor of Anthropology and Storytelling for the Maricopa County Community College District; and ASU student services staff (currently serving as an Academic Success Advisor for the School of Molecular Sciences). He is currently pursuing his PhD in Transborder Studies at ASU, studying the culture of forensic death investigation and its place in transborder necropolitics. Jesús carries New Mexico with him everywhere he goes: he is a santero folk artist thanks to the mentorship of his abuela, Clare Villa, and her mentor, Charlie Carrillo. He sings the corridos and penitente songs taught to him by his abuelo, José Villa, who was an hermano mayor in the Abiquiú morada. He is a curandero thanks to his grandparents’ mentorship, the teachings of his cousin Vidente Brazas, the tutelage of Cheo Torres and the master curanderes of CEDEHC, and above all, a thirteen-year apprenticeship with Phoenix curandera Patricia Federico. Jesús is deeply grateful to contribute to the important work of the Following the Manito Trail project collecting the stories and tracing the histories of fellow members of the Manito Diaspora





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.



bottom of page