Throughout 2015, we interviewed each of our Advisory Board members and posted them on our blog to help our community get to know them. We discussed their upbringings, their experiences in the outdoors, their jobs, and more. Today we’re sharing snippets of their inspiring stories. And if you missed the original interview, simply click through to read it in its entirety. They’re an amazing group of people who’ve been serving their communities and bettering our world for decades!
Rep. Mark Cardenas
As co-founder of HECHO – Hispanics Enjoying Camping and Hunting Outdoors – Representative Mark Cardenas works to protect the Latino traditions that rely on national parks and other public lands. “Preserving parks and other open spaces is a priority for residents in my district, and for me too,” he says. “Many of us shared a similar upbringing. Unable to go on exotic sounding vacations like Disneyworld, most of us took to the hills.” In addition to his work as a state representative, Cardenas also serves a commissioner on the City of Phoenix’s Estrella Village Planning Committee, reviewing new zoning areas and land use proposals, and as an accountant for the Department of Defense, where he manages a multi-million dollar budget.Rep. Cardenas is a native Arizonan born and raised in Phoenix and an Iraq War Army Veteran who currently serves as Sergeant in the Army Reserves. Read more.
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck
A Utah native, Rebecca Chavez-Houck holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication and a Master of Public Administration (MPA), both from the University of Utah. She has represented Salt Lake City’s District 24 in the Utah House of Representatives since 2008 and focuses on public policy related to health and human services as well as voter engagement and access. Rebecca served as a public affairs staffer for a number of local Utah nonprofits from 1985 to 2007 and cultivated a parallel “career” as a volunteer for nonprofits. In regards to her involvement with HECHO, she says, “My dad really ingrained in us kids the importance of stewardship, and this was something I knew was a commitment. You reap from the land and you have to be good stewards for the land. At a young age I was aware of that importance. So I just am very excited that this legacy that I was taught from my father is manifesting in an organizational manner.” Read more.
Nevada Senator Mo Denis has been serving as a state representative for ten years and was a past Chairperson of the Nevada Hispanic Legislative Caucus. Born to immigrant parents from Cuba, Mo was raised in Las Vegas from an early age and was taught to care for and respect his community and environment. He has done just that for nearly 20 years having served in the PTA, library board, as an assemblyman, as a state senator, and most recently, as a HECHO Advisory Board member. “I see a lot of Latinos in our community enjoying the outdoors,” he says. “But I also see everything they leave behind, like garbage. If we want this to be a good thing for our families in our future, I want to make sure we’re responsible for the outdoors. I joined HECHO to help get more Latinos into the outdoors, but also to promote being responsible for the environment.” Read more.
Al Martinez has worked for Clark County for more than 17 years and has a strong background as an experienced facilitator and skills trainer. He’s currently a supervisor for one of the county's recreation centers and an active outdoorsman involved in mountain and road biking, rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, hunting, and fishing. “When I go out hiking or camping, I see a lot of Latinos,” says Martinez. “They’re active users of public lands, but not active stakeholders in the process of protecting and managing them. It became really important for me to be a voice for it.” Mr. Martinez is an active leader in the Latino community who is committed to improving the lives of all Nevadans. He serves as Chair of the Latino Leadership Council and the Latino Democratic Caucus. He was also appointed by the governor to the Nevada Public Employee Retirement Board. Read more.
Kent Salazar is a lifelong resident of New Mexico and an avid hunter and outdoorsman who has been supporting conservation efforts on local, state, and national levels for the past 20 years. “Having a background in public administration, I know you can’t just sit back and complain,” says Salazar. “If you don’t like what’s happening, you need to stand up and get involved. We have the power of voting, speaking out, attending public meetings and getting involved. That’s what I’ve always done and what I encourage others to do.” Kent has served on the New Mexico State Game and Fish Commission and currently serves as the western vice chair of the National Wildlife Federation Board. He also serves on the Valles Caldera Trust Board, appointed by President Barack Obama, in addition to the HECHO Board. Read more.
Lenore Loroña Stuart
Lenore Loroña Stuart has served as a member of the Yuma County Board of Supervisors in Arizona for 15 years; and serves as the Chairwoman of the National Association of Counties Immigration Task Force. She was formerly the President of the County Supervisors Association of Arizona. Among her many contributions to preserving public outdoor recreation areas, Lenore was a member of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Board, that helped transform an unusable wetlands area into a beautifully restored and easily accessible riverfront. “The use of public lands by Hispanics and how they’re being used has always been of interest to me. Yuma’s population is at least 62% Hispanic. We have a lot of low-income families and they love the recreation area. My office is close to that area so I like to go up and park my car and sit overlooking the beach and see how people use it. They would not otherwise have access to this kind of recreation.” Read more.