Center for Participatory Change
Igniting Collective Power. Transforming Systems of Oppression.
Healing in Community.


Giannina Callejas - Co-Director

giannina at

Giannina Callejas is a millennial cisgender woman, first-generation college graduate, and first-generation immigrant who believes that the answer to all questions is LOVE. Giannina was born in Bogota, Colombia, and was raised in Queens, NYC. She enjoys experiencing life’s mysteries by traveling and understanding universal cultures. Her vision is to pilot a national movement that will lead us not into oppression but toward equality for all of mankind. Her dream is to live a life of bliss that is not contested by despair or defied by misery. Her prophecy is to discover herself by providing service to the goodness of the world.

Samhita Kudva - Co-Director

samhita at

I am a first-generation South Asian, gender-nonconforming cis woman who has been living and working in North Carolina since 2004 (by way of Madison, WI; Erie, PA; and Columbia, MO). I came to Raleigh in 2004 to start my career as a journalist. After designing newspapers for a few years, I moved into the nonprofit realm, where I’ve stayed for more than a decade, at both the global and community levels. I started getting to know WNC when my parents moved to Asheville in 2002. After spending 8 years in the Triangle, I moved to Asheville in 2012 to be closer to them. In the last 6 years, my love for NC has grown as I’ve explored these beautiful mountains with my family, friends, and fluffy dog. I love traveling to see my relatives, making Konkani food with my dad, and sharing meals with my community.

Shuvonda Harper - Racial Equity Circle Co-Coordinator

shuvonda at

Shuvonda Harper is a native of Asheville, NC. Growing up in the historically African American Southside neighborhood, Shuvonda developed a deep love for her community. Living away from Asheville for a number of years led her to realize that working in the community is her calling. She is now a well-respected activist, serving as a board member of the Residents’ Council of Asheville Housing Authority. Shuvonda is the mother of two beautiful children Bentley (13) and Trinity (11). As a vocal advocate for the greater good, Shuvonda consistently attends and speaks up at meetings about issues impacting her community. Shuvonda is the Office Assistant at the Arthur R. Edington Center and many credit her with playing a key role in facilitating the vibrant activity that fills the Edington Center each day, and the flourishing of the Southside Community Garden. At CPC, Shuvonda co-coordinates the Racial Equity Circle.

JaNesha Slaughter - Racial Equity Circle Co-Coordinator

janesha at

JaNesha Slaughter is daughter, sister, mentor, mentee, and friend to many. She left so-called Huntersville, NC to come to so-called Asheville in 2013 to attend UNCA. In the years since she has come to this little town, she has learned the creeks and crannies through which power flows. It moves in the poetry of our words, the force of our actions, the pulse of our blood, the branches of our family trees, the sacredness of our rituals, and so much more. She is a student of popular education, intersectional Black anti-colonialist feminism, and Sailor Moon. JaNesha is Black and Proud, and is so happy to work alongside Ms. Shuvonda as a member of the Racial Equity Circle for CPC.

Erica Johnson - Popular Education Circle Co-Coordinator

erica at

Erica is a non-binary queer from the tundra of Wisconsin. They have been enjoying Southern organizing (and warmth) since they moved to Asheville in 2014. Erica's introduction to movement work came through environmental justice initiatives in the Great Lakes region as well as organizing for queer justice and prison abolition during their time in college. During the same period, they were knee deep in community-based youth programming. When they were first introduced to popular education through a program called "Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity," Erica knew they had a framework for integrating these two passions. For nearly ten years now, they have been building skills and an identity as a popular educator focused on youth-centered spaces. At CPC, they co-coordinate the Popular Education Circle.

Juan Diaz Juarez - Popular Education Circle Co-Coordinator

juan at

I have lived in this country for two and a half years. I'm an economist and a musician who has always been involved in social projects. In Asheville, I have worked with different type of students. As an In Home Educator I work with pregnant women, infants and toddlers. As a volunteer of the M.A.N.O.S. program I work with teenagers. Finally, as a teacher for the Spanish version of the HISET test I work with adult people. I'd like to help people from my community to promote not just tolerance but acceptance. At CPC, I co-coordinate de Popular Education Circle.

Ada Volkmer - Language Justice Circle Coordinator

ada at

Ada Volkmer is a native of Mexico who is proud to call the US South her home. Her multicultural, bridge-crossing, code-switching experiences growing up on the US-Mexico border inspire and inform her language justice work. Ada has more than 10 years’ experience interpreting and coordinating interpretation in community-based settings, including interpreting at the Highlander Research and Education Center, the World Social Forum on Migration, and Lánzate. Ada loves fried chicken, cumbia and summer. At CPC, Ada trains interpreters as part of her work coordinating the Language Justice Circle.

Magaly Urdiales - Sustainability Coordinator

magaly at

Magaly was born in Peru, South America and has lived in North Carolina since 2006. She began her career as a teacher in 1995 and worked in that profession with much passion for 11 years. Magaly started organizing communities in 1998, while continuing her teaching career. She organized campesino communities in the northern part of Peru to promote economic development through agriculture and literacy with a project called Reflect-Action. Additionally, Magaly works with the WNC Workers’ Center. Along with Magaly’s participation in the Workers’ Center, she coordinates CPC’s Sustainability Circle.


Elizabet Hinojosa
Libertie Valence
Josue Ortiz
Daniel Suber
Amy Cantrell
Patty Urrutia
Sheneika Smith