Profiles of the People Who Lead Our Programming, Part 2

This post continues our series of staff profiles to recognize the commitment Border Partners employees in Palomas. Today we spotlight today some new and some longtime staff members.

José Luis Muñoz

José Luis Muñoz Gonzalez

José Luis Muñoz Gonzalez, Construction and Maintenance Coordinator, is a longtime member of our gardening team and essential in the projects in Palomas. Jose Luis has worked with Border Partners for five and a half years and lived in Palomas for six and a half. He has 16 siblings and grew up in the state of Colima.

Jose Luis credits his drive to help his community through work with Border Partners to his mother. She was a local community leader in his hometown. He remarks that although he did not receive the opportunity to attain much education academically, he has learned a lot both formally and informally in the agricultural sector.

Of his work with Border Partners, Jose Luis says: “I love my job completely. Everything I do, I do with pride and joy.” Currently, he’s working to maintain the greenhouses, construct the gardens, and experiment with sustainable building methods alongside his colleagues.

Aside from working with Border Partners, Jose Luis enjoys everything to do with horticulture. He also enjoys tending to animals and spending time with his wife and four children. At this time, he is building a second floor on his home and helping with construction projects around Palomas, including building a new office for General Manager Juan Rascon.
Border Partners appreciates Jose Luis and all that he accomplishes for us and for the Palomas community. 

Carla Chavez Torres

Carla stands behind her meals ready to serve Palomas seniors. .

One of our newer staff members, Carla Chavez Torres has worked as a health promoter with Border Partners for the past seven months. She drives half an hour each day from nearby Entronque to Palomas for the workday. In Palomas, she teaches classes on nutrition at the local schools and assists with the daily operations of the promotoras at the Border Partners office.

Carla enjoys everything about her job. She says that she particularly appreciates “the ability to help the people, to teach and to learn something new every day.”

In general, Carla sees her position as an opportunity to learn and strive towards self-improvement with the hope of guaranteeing a bright future for her two daughters, who are five and seven years of age.

Carla has also worked for four years as a certified nurse. At home, she enjoys spending time with her daughters and going for walks in nature.

Zoila Ortiz

Zoila Ortiz

Finally, we introduce Zoila Ortiz, Border Partners’ outstanding chef.

Zoila Ortiz is Border Partners’ most recent addition, joining the team in late January of this year. She works Monday through Friday to cook delicious meals that are distributed to seniors in the community daily as part of Border Partners’ healthy eating and nutrition initiative.

Originally from Durango, Zoila has lived in Palomas for the last 20 years. She describes herself as a passionate cook who enjoys the work and helping her community. Her food receives rave reviews from our staff each week (when there’s some left over to try.)

Outside of her position with Border Partners, Zoila lives with her husband and two children, who are five and ten. In her free time, she likes to watch soccer and baseball with her family and ride her bike.

To see Part One of this series, visit this post on our website: Profiles of the People Who Lead Our Programming.


Profiles of the People Who Lead Our Programming

The heart of any organization is the people that commit to serving its broader mission. Here at Border Partners, we are proud to count passionate and dedicated people among our staff. In recognition of all their hard work, we would like to highlight each of them and give an overview of what they do day-to-day to realize our diverse array of projects in Palomas. This month, we will feature profiles on four of our staff members, with the rest following next month. So, let’s get to know our crew!

Juan Rascon, Border Partners General Manager

Juan Rascon, General Manager / Gerente general

Serving with Border Partners since 2013 and celebrating his 10-year work anniversary this year, Juan Rascon has undertaken an array of roles throughout that period. He began working in construction of sustainable papercrete blocks. Then, he oversaw the opening of the Education Center, supervising daily operations and offering basic English classes.

As time went on, he took on more responsibility as a primary language translator. Eventually Juan coordinated the many projects in Palomas and worked in administration and operation of finances. Last year, after a period as Assistant General Manager, Juan assumed the role of General Manager of Border Partners.

When asked what he most enjoys about the work through his many years with Border Partners, Juan responded: “I think the success of our work is because we have so many different projects that meet a wide range of needs in the community. I am most passionate about seeing the gratitude of those who participate in our programs.”

Aside from his responsibilities as General Manager, Juan lives in Palomas with his wife Carina and two children Jose Luis and Juan. His family has a soft spot for animals and have rescued several dogs and cats over the years. He describes himself as “an aficionado of everything to do with mechanics and cars.” He likes to spend his free time riding his motorcycle and spending quality time with family.

Victoria Ibarra, Coordinator of the Promotoras

Viky Ibarra, Coordinator of the Promotoras

Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Victoria “Viky” Ibarra arrived in Palomas 12 years ago and has been with Border Partners for 11 of those years. She works as the coordinator of the health promoters, or ‘las promotoras,’ who work daily in Palomas to improve the health of people in the community. As coordinator, she tracks expenses, makes the schedule, files monthly reports, and visits local schools to promote public health awareness and healthy eating.

Viky stressed the importance of the healthy and friendly work environment at Border Partners when asked about job satisfaction. She jests: “Aqui nos queremos; no nos gritamos!” (“Here we love one another; we don’t shout at each other!”) She finds meaning in the work through contact with her community and in the opportunity to help and serve them. Besides working for Border Partners, she also acts as secretary for the volunteer fire department in Palomas, where her husband is a firefighter.

Viky lives full time in Palomas with her husband,  her older daughter and her almost-2-year-old baby, Emmanuel. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and visiting her many nieces and nephews.

Arcelia Amaya: Promotora and Head of Cleaning

Arcelia Amaya Rivas, Health Promoter
/ Promotora de Salud

Arcelia Amaya is a recent addition to Border Partners, joining the team in January 2023 as a health promoter. She works as cleaning coordinator for the promotoras to maintain cleanliness in the workplace. In addition, she is a certified Zumba instructor and offers classes to women in the community each morning from Monday to Friday at Border Partners’ headquarters.

Of the short time she’s worked here, Arcelia says: “I enjoy how we work as a team. I get along well with my colleagues. And, all the knowledge I’ve gained is very useful.”

She lists workplace harmony, the connection with older people in the community, and the services Border Partners provides as the aspects of her job she enjoys most.

Arcelia lives in Palomas with her 10-year old daughter Ingrid and operates a water purifying business alongside her job with Border Partners. She is a successful local entrepreneur and aspires to have a prosperous business that can help many people. In her free time, she enjoys giving services at her local church, spending time with her daughter, and staying active.

Joel Carreon Minjares, Director of Gardening, a.k.a. “Profe”

Not only has Joel “Profe” (short for “Professor”) Carreon Minjares been working with Border Partners for over two years as the director of the community gardening project. He’s also the director of the local university preparatory school in Palomas, where he has worked for 28 years. Native to Palomas, generations of his family hail from there, and he has served his community in many capacities over the years.

Joel Carreón, Botanist-Garden Specialist and Coordinator, Coordinador y Especialista en Jardineria

With Border Partners, Joel is passionate about all projects related to sustainability. Right now, he’s working on a collaboration with local students to promote and experiment with sustainable building materials. Further, he’s working to acquire water filtration devices that can help stem the issue of contaminated water common in the region near Palomas. He sees finding new ways to adapt to climate change as a dynamic process. He’s experimenting currently with a process to plant trees in Palomas that will require less water. This is because the issue of overconsumption of water in the agricultural sector is a grave environmental danger. His overarching aim in all this, he says, is to “prepare the next generation of students for the future of environmental and climate change.”

Aside from working with Border Partners, Joel teaches physics and ecology in addition to his responsibilities as director at the high school in Palomas. He is passionate about preparing students for university. In his free time Joel runs a group that provides extra help to students interested in attending university.

Joel was educated himself as an animal agriculture technician. He has three grown children and lives in Palomas with his wife. Above all, he emphasizes, he is most passionate about “developing projects to improve and protect the environment.”


Each staff member of Border Partners forms an integral part of our operations on the ground in Palomas and in ensuring the long-term success of our projects. We are so grateful for the work that they do and the passion they bring to their community!