Dan was one of the first Hmong refugees to settle in Merced in 1977. He has lived in Merced for more than 40 years. Since living here, he helped to start several CBO and programs, including Merced Lao Family, Hmong Strawberry Farmers, and H.N.D., to help Hmong refugees to settle in the central valley. He has been active member in the Hmong community for over 40 years and is currently works part time, on a call basis to interpret for court and/or businesses. Dan has served on the National Alliance for Mental Illness board, has been board director of Healthy House of Merced, assistant director for Catholic Charities on Refugee Resettlement and is part of the Community Partnership Alliance Committee with UC Merced.
Liliana is an energetic person with a lot of passion in health care where she works as a dietitian in her full-time job. She lived in South Merced and grew up in this community where she has a long connection with the local churches, communities and agencies. She has served as a volunteer for MOP for several years and is now currently serving as our new Vice-President.
I was born and raised in the Central Valley of CA. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Fresno State University before moving north to the Bay Area to begin my career in Public Health. I have worked at Alameda, San Joaquin and Merced County Health Departments in various capacities including laboratory diagnosis, surveillance, and outbreak investigation of communicable diseases. While earning my Doctorate in Public Health at UC Berkeley, my career expanded to include the community research and assessment of HIV/AIDS, coordination of community health projects and community research consulting. In Merced I began working for a local non-profit that helped change the way I thought about disease and health. There I learned about cultural humility, how social factors impact health, and how our public policies and systems create and perpetuate inequality not only in terms of health, but also income, education, and incarceration (to name a few) in our society. As a result, I became passionate about helping to create an organization like MOP in Merced and about doing MOP’s work. While my current focus is on raising my adolescent son and supporting my family unit, I am also an adjunct instructor at Merced College in biology. And the volunteer work I perform with MOP; working to ensure that everyone regardless, of culture, race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc. has equitable access to opportunities that will improve their quality of life, is an integral component of my humanity.
My name is Lucas Lopez and I serve as a senior Pastor at Merced Assembly of God. I have been a member of my community for over 39 years, and I am honored serving in the Merced Organizing Project. It is a rewarding experience participating and working together with a diverse community, sharing the same values for the improvement of society.
Aracelia “Chelita” Saenz was born in Nuevo Leon, Mexico and came to the United States in 1978. She was a dedicated mother and spent much of her time raising her three sons and working with the elderly. Chelita is passionate about education and public safety. In other words, she wants her children to have good education and her neighborhood to feel safe. She has been an active leader with MOP since 2010 and is very much involved with local issues as well as state issues with PICO CA. She joined the board of directors in 2012.