Our Team

Board Members

Phillip Garrison | Founder

Philip Garrison founded APOYO in 1995. Minerva López-Caples and Stella Moreno were early sources of patience and good advice. Garrison, born in Springfield, MO, is the grandson of an Idaho homesteader and an Irish immigrant. Before retirement, he taught literature and writing courses at CWU, as well as at universities in Mexico and Central America. He is the author of five essay collections about life along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Guadalupe Huitrón-Lilly | President

Guadalupe Huitrón-Lilly was born and raised in the Yakima and Kittitas Valleys and went on to study public health and social work after toiling with her parents in the orchards and fields of our community. Following her undergraduate degree in Community Health from Central Washington University, she went to North Carolina, where she worked with immigrants and farmworkers before completing her graduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Guadalupe went on to serve as country manager for Pan American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO) in Belize before returning to the Valley and working with the community as a mental health therapist. Currently, she serves as Faculty Counselor at Yakima Valley College. Guadalupe joined the APOYO Board of Directors in 2021 and currently serves as President. She lives in Yakima with her partner and their two dogs, Banjo and Kash.

Hope Amason | CWU Faculty Liaison & Secretary-Treasurer

Hope Amason is an Associate Professor of Anthropology & Museum Studies at Central Washington University (CWU). She is also the director of CWU’s Museum of Culture & Environment (CWUMCE).  She attended Hendrix College (BA in Art and Sociology/Anthropology; 2002) and, after a brief stint working in museums, earned her Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas (Anthropology; 2009). As a cultural anthropologist, Hope studies the need for affordable housing and equitable access to food, healthcare, and political participation. Though her ethnographic research is rooted in Appalachia, her interests have inspired her to join forces with like-minded community members to advocate for fair and equitable housing and food access.  As a museum professional, Hope has experience in object-based learning, curriculum-driven educational programs, and museum exhibit design.  Hope has worked with CWU students to co-curate exhibits on a wide range of topics, from the cultural significance of living rooms to the relationship between people and fire in central Washington to the impacts of household allergens (specifically dustmites). As Museum Director, she has worked to expand the CWUMCE’s audience and to develop collaborative projects that highlight the diversity of the CWU and Ellensburg community.  In her spare time, Hope enjoys running, drawing, reading novels, hiking, camping, and snowboarding.  She also loves cuddling with her 14-year old weimaraner, Blue, and hanging out with her rock-climbing hubby, Dave.  

Fatima Andraca | CWU Student Liaison

Fatima Andraca was born in Anaheim, California, and raised in Ellensburg. She is a first-generation Mexican-American student working to obtain her bachelor’s degree in public health at Central Washington University. Fatima currently works at Kittitas County Health Network as an outreach assistant. She has obtained skills and knowledge about substance use disorders, planning COVID-19 vaccination events, volunteering, and serving the Latino community. Fatima looks forward to implementing equity through action in our community. She enjoys going to the gym, reading books, and traveling during her free time.

Tomasa Ordaz Esquivel | Community Outreach Coordinator

Tomasa Ordaz Esquivel, was born in Durango, Mexico. She is the third of eight children. Tomasa decided to marry and start a family and took care of her children for several years alone while her husband was working in the U.S. She moved to Ellensburg on February 2, 1996. She has worked a number of jobs in different occupations to take care of her family. She has come to know many different kinds of people while working jobs in restaurants, hotels, maintenance, farms, and others. What she likes most about this country is that women have security. Tomasa has lived her life dedicated to opposing injustice. She’s worked with APOYO since the beginning, and is currently serving as a Community Representative.

Alex Mandujano | Community Outreach Coordinator

Alex Mandujano came to the U.S at age fifteen. He spent fifteen years working in agriculture, including reforestation work after damage caused by the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. In 1990, he began college. After attending YVCC, he transferred to CWU to complete his bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry. After graduation, he worked as a science technician (also at CWU). In addition to his regular workload, he offered science tours to potential students, with a special emphasis on encouraging minority students. After 11 years, he left to work as an administrative interpreter for the Grant County Superior Court in Ephrata for a year and went on to work for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries as a safety inspector. He now has his own consulting business. He has been a proud member of APOYO for the past fifteen years. In addition to this work, his other service work in the community includes serving as an English/Spanish facilitator. Alex has three sons, two who grew up in Ellensburg.  

Teodora Moreno Guzmán | Community Outreach Coordinator

Teodora Moreno Guzmán is a community health worker at Kittitas County Health Network. She has been meeting needs and responding to disparities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She works closely with families in our community offering the COVID-19 vaccine to the Latino population. This service is creating a way to break down barriers so that everyone has equal access to resources and services in the community. She seeks inclusion and equity for all immigrants. She tries to gain knowledge by attending networking meetings with local organizations to be able to educate the community about disease prevention. Teodora graduated from the Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero’s Faculty of Medicine in 1992. She worked as a doctor in the mountain area of ​​the state of Guerrero, Mexico in marginalized and impoverished areas. She has lived in Ellensburg since 2007. Teodora always likes to motivate peers around her and brighten people’s days. In her free time, she enjoys reading books, poetry, writing, listening to music, spending time at home, and cooking with her family.

Elizabeth Allison | Public Relations Coordinator

Elizabeth Allison was born and raised in Cordova, a small town in rural Alaska. She spent most of her free time involved in sports and volunteering at non-profits. She went on to study public relations and sociology at Central Washington University. In the spring of 2021, she began her internship with APOYO and then served as APOYO’s CWU Student Liaison. She graduated from CWU in spring of 2022. Working with APOYO has given her many opportunities for growth. She has gained experience in technical writing, website and document design, and event planning and now works as Public Relations Coordinator. She is passionate about food security and enjoys spreading awareness of products and programs APOYO has to offer. 

Leo Acevedo | Donations Manager

Leonel Acevedo is APOYO’s Donations Manager. Born in Mexico City, the youngest of eight children, he came to the US when he was 19. He worked in the fields for five years, then became a truck driver and provides pruning and tree cutting services. He has worked with APOYO since 1995. He loves working for APOYO because it enables him to serve the Latinx community, and he’s excited about the growth and transformation of the organization. He enjoys reading, working outdoors, and spending time with his family.

Rex Wirth | Facilities & Food Distribution Manager

Rex Wirth is APOYO’s facilities manager. He grew up in Ogden, Utah, the eldest of nine siblings. He retired in 2019 after working for 36 years as a professor of political science at CWU and, before that, at Lambuth College. Service as an LDS missionary in Belgium and France, and then as a Marine in the Vietnam war, were also formative experiences. 

Mercy Gipson | Food Services Coordinator

Mercy Gipson was born on the Northernmost island of the Phillipines, Luzon. She is the seventh of 11 children. Her father was a farmer and was fortunate to have lots of children to help with the farm. Mercy attended school through the middle of her second year of high school. Her formal education was interrupted by the imposition of martial law by the Marcos regime. This made it impossible to finish her studies. Instead, she helped her aunts and uncles work their farms. As a teenager, she worked in markets, buying and selling produce from the farms and worked in a restaurant in San Jose as a restaurant cook. At the age of seventeen she married and had three daughters before separating from her abusive husband. She was able to find work as a coiffeur and a seamstress in a garment factory before going to Manila. In Manila she managed and cooked for a large boarding house lodging 62 post-graduate students in the area around the University of Santo Tomas. A good friend helped her get a job working as a nanny in Saudi Arabia.She had the privilege of traveling with the Saudi family in Europe each autumn. She came to the United States and married. Her second husband had an electrical engineering degree from the University of Washington, had a construction business, and worked as a real estate broker. They had two daughters together. One is a University of Washington graduate and the other joined the Navy and has served for nine years. After eight years together, Mercy got bored and landed a job at the UW as a cafeteria manager. With her tuition waiver, she got her GED. She then became a certified nursing assistant. Her husband died from cancer. She began a third chapter of her life with her third husband. They met at UW, where they worked. They retired to Ellensburg, and began volunteering at APOYO. In addition to serving as APOYO’s Food Services Coordinator, Mercy loves gardening, cooking, sewing, and spending time with family.She’s grateful to have everyone at APOYO as part of her family.

Staff Members

Sandra V. Carrillo | Program Assistant

Sandra V. Carrillo was born in Colima, Mexico. Working as Program Assistant, Sandra plays an important role in supporting her community.She is the eldest of three siblings. She graduated from the Instituto Superior del Estado de Colima with a bachelor’s degree in Preschool Education. She carried out internships in different preschools and worked teaching classes at home to children between three and five years of age. Later, she worked as a preschool teacher in a private school. She moved to Ellensburg in 2017 and began studying to expand her English vocabulary.

Jesús Erasto-García | Administrative Assistant

Jesús Erasto-García is APOYO’s Administrative Assistant. He is the middle child of three siblings. His parents were raised in Mexico and he was born and raised in Puyallup, Washington. A first-generation college student, he completed his degree Spanish at Central Washington University in spring of 2022. He plans to go on to graduate school, and then teach Spanish at the middle/high school level. During his free time, he enjoys going for runs, playing Mario Kart, cooking, and watching anime.

Stefanie Wickstrom | Executive Director

Stefanie Wickstrom has worked with APOYO since 2001 and has served as APOYO’s Executive Director since 2020. She lived in Tucson growing up, and then studied and taught at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College. Living in the borderlands and a South Tucson neighborhood and studying Mexican and Indigenous revolutionaries and activists shaped her awareness of justice. In Tucson and Eugene, Oregon, in the 1990s, she worked with nonprofits dedicated to protecting human and civil rights of Central American refugees and im/migrants from elsewhere in Latin America. She has had opportunities to live and study in Mexico, Chile, Panama, and Spain. She has a PhD in political science from the University of Oregon. Cooking, gardening, and watching her children grow up keep her sane.