Latest information on operational modifications for fall 2021 Roadrunner Roadmap

Our Team

Principal Investigators


Dr. Alejandra Elenes

Principal Investigator








Dr. Kirsten Gardner

Co-Principal Investigator

Kirsten E. Gardner, Associate Professor of History, teaches in the Department of History, Program of Women’s Studies, and American Studies Program.  In 2015, she was honored with the UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.  She is also a member of the UTSA Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars and a winner of the President’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Core Curriculum.






Dr. Jackie Cuevas

Founding Principal Investigator

Dr. Jackie Cuevas was the initial Principal Investigator for DRJ in 2021. Since leaving UTSA for UT Austin in 2021, Cuevas continues to contribute to the project as a collaborator.






Rhonda Gonzales

Founding Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Gonzales was an initial Co-Principal Investigator for DRJ and continues as a collaborator now that she is Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Denver. Previously at UTSA, Dr. Gonzales served as Chair of the History Department and Professor of History. At UTSA, she also served as Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UTSA. Prior to serving as Interim Dean, the Interim Vice President for Student Success and Associate Vice Provost for Strategic

Initiatives. Dr. Gonzales has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator on several multi-million dollar grants and was instrumental in developing UTSA's highly successful first-gen program.

Administrative Staff


Justine Cantu

Multimedia Designer

I'm Justine Cantu and my pronouns are she/her. I'm a multimedia designer for the Democratizing Racial Justice Project through the Women's Studies Institute at UTSA. I also work with the College of Education and Human Development as a multimedia designer.

I hope to work with the community, using research to understand human-centered interaction and design, create thoughtful experiences, and produce a clear understanding of our project and what our team is accomplishing by bringing change to higher education.

I received my B.S. in Radio-Television-Film at UT Austin and a Master's degree in UX Design at Maryland Institute College of Art.


Yasmín Codina

Community Liason

My name is Yasmín Parra Codina. I was born and raised in San Antonio and I am excited and honored to be the Community Liaison for the Democratizing Racial Justice Project at UTSA.

I received my double major undergraduate degrees in Mexican American Studies and Anthropology and a Master’s in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies at The University of Texas at San Antonio. I have over 15 years of experience working with multicultural families, collaborating with local government, and community organizations to advocate for social change through education.

I am a proud daughter and granddaughter of migrant farmworkers and generations of educators, with roots from Michigan and the Texas Rio Grande Valley. It is my family’s humble beginnings and dedication to investing their lives’ work through education that moves me to continue to serve my community.

I advocate for amplifying young leaders of color, and centering community input in spaces that foster mentorship, equality, and dismantling unfair social conditions. I look forward to being part of a collaborative project dedicated to a just future that all generations deserve.


Viviana Guillen

Events Administration

Viviana is a first gen graduate from UTSA. Viviana is a poet, painter and seamstress. Currently her work investigates African and Indigenous spiritual appropriations within non black latinx communities.


Post-Doc Fellows


Carolina Arango-Vargas

Carolina Arango-Vargas holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology and a Certificate in Advanced Studies in Women's and Gender Studies from Syracuse University (2018). She has conducted ethnographic research with professional feminist NGOs and grassroots women's organizations of the Colombian women's movement. In particular, she focuses on the organizational and personal trajectories of popular-sector rural and urban women –popular women- who use feminism as a political tool to resist multiple forms of violence and discrimination. More broadly, Carolina's research interests include the development of women's political agency and political consciousness, the significance of feminismo popular in Latin America, and the impact of political violence on women's subjectivity, memory, and healing, particularly in her native Colombia. Carolina uses ethnographic methodologies and draws upon transnational and decolonial feminist theories, working at the intersection of political and feminist anthropology.

Arango-Vargas C. Perched on a Parched Hill: Popular Women, Popular Feminism, and the Struggle for Water in Medellín. Latin American Perspectives. May 2021. doi:10.1177/0094582X211013007


José G. Villagrán

I was born and raised on the migrant farmworker circuits between Northern California, South Texas, and Wisconsin and claim the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas as home. I completed an undergraduate degree in 2007 at Michigan State University in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science with minors in anthropology and Chicano/Latino Studies. I then attained an M.A. in Mexican American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012 and a Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology from the same university in 2019. I studied migrant and seasonal farmworkers of the “Midwest stream” between South Texas and the U.S. Midwest for my doctoral dissertation and continue to study migratory Latinx labor in the U.S. Overall, I am interested in migration, labor, race, gender, social movements, anthropological theory, borderlands studies, and U.S.-Mexico relations. Given my background and research interests, I am thrilled to be in San Antonio working on the Democratizing Racial Justice project.


Current Racial Justice Interns


Previous Racial Justice Interns

  • Matt Hinojosa

  • Jeannie Reyes

  • Vanessa Saldana

  • Pam Wylie

  • Vanessa Alvarado

  • Elisa Kern

  • Ariana Ost