Cultural Survival is Excited to Announce the Addition of Three Talented Women to our Staff
Bia’ni Madsa’ Juárez
(Mixe/Ayuuk ja’ay and Zapotec/Binnizá) is program associate for the Community Media and Indigenous Rights Radio programs. Born in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, she grew up in two towns and cultures, Juchitán (Zapotec) and San José El Paraíso (Mixe). Since childhood, Madsa’ has been a part of the Indigenous resistance movement in Mexico and many local social organizations.
“I am a biologist who loves to work with people. I received an undergraduate in biology from Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Xochimilco. I have been working doing transdisciplinary research in my own Mixe community. For my master’s thesis in tropical ecology at the University of Vera Cruz, I conducted research about the relationship between tree diversity in coffee plantations and community organizations. My family produces organic coffee and is working to build a coffee project to improve their product and keep their shade coffee plantation thriving.”
Currently living in Oaxaca, Madsa’ says she is “happy to work with Cultural Survival so I can continue to be involved more directly in land and Indigenous rights protection in Oaxaca and Mexico.”
Maru Chávez Fonseca
is the Indigenous Rights Radio program manager. Chávez grew up in the region of Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz, Mexico. At age 15 she migrated to Mexico City to complete her studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. During the era of Perestroika, a political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s, Fonseca received a scholarship to pursue her studies in journalism at Moscow State University in Russia. She has devoted the last 20 years to designing radio communication strategies with a feminist and human rights approach. In particular, she has been dedicated to strengthening community and Indigenous media and the participation of women in media in exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Besides working as a radio journalist and human rights defender, Chávez enjoys the company of her daughter, dogs, and cats.
(Maya Mam) is Indigenous Youth Community Media Fellowship coordinator. Currently living in Ixtahuacan, Guatemala, Garcia was born in a refugee camp in Campeche, Mexico as her family fled Guatemala in the 1980s due to the military genocide operation that targeted Indigenous communities. At the age of 3, her family received refugee status in Canada, and she grew up on traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples: sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (TsleilWaututh), and xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. Her experience as a marginalized Indigenous youth inspired her in advocating for Indigenous sovereignty and self-autonomy.
Garcia is an interdisciplinary artist who holds sacred spaces through movement, play, and creativity. She practices her spiritual gift when working with resilient children, youth, and women displaced in society. Over her five years of experience as a facilitator, youth counselor, and community builder, she has helped individuals develop a sense of self-worth and integrity. She is enlivened by opportunities to explore authentic exchange, leadership, world-bridging, social justice, and youth empowerment.
Garcia has worked with a variety of intergenerational, intercultural, and youth-focused organizations within Canada and hopes to continue on this path in collaborating, teaching, learning, and performing on an international level. Her dream is to return to Guatemala and bridge relations with Indigenous youth through collective media. She says she feels her role as the project coordinator for the Indigenous Youth Community Media Fellowship is the stepping stone to making her dreams come true and becoming part of the global community with Cultural Survival.