Borderlands of Southern Colorado

Project Team

The Borderlands of Southern Colorado Educator Workshop will be lead by a diverse and well qualified team of project directors, teaching mentors, faculty scholars, and local community leaders and artists.

Project Director

Eric J. Carpio is the Director of the Fort Garland Museum & Cultural Center, a community museum of  History Colorado. Carpio is currently a Senior Fellow for Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion for the American Alliance of Museums and has over twenty years of experience developing, leading, and assessing higher education programs and services.

Teaching Mentors

Michelle Pearson is an educator, historic preservationist and the 2011 Colorado Teacher of the Year. Michelle collaborates with local, state, and national partners to develop curriculum and resources for educators in history, historic preservation, STEM and other content areas and to provide training in the use of historic places in the classroom. Pearson has collaborated with the Smithsonian, and has served two terms as a White House Fellow in Education. She serves as a national trainer with the Library of Congress in the use of primary sources and literacy.

Kimba Rael is the K-12 Principal for Centennial School District in San Luis, Colorado. Prior to her current position, Kimba was a Professional Learning Manager at the Learning Design Collaborative where she served as a coach, trainer, and facilitator for schools and teachers around the country.

Cynthia Stout is a lead trainer for the regional Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program and is the education coordinator for the Colorado Encyclopedia.


Aaron Abeyta, M.F.A., is the director of Poetry and professor of English at Western Colorado University and the Mayor of Antonito, Colorado, his hometown. His book, colcha, received an American Book Award and the Colorado Book Award. Abeyta received the 2017 Governor’s Creative Leadership Award, a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship, and is the Poet Laureate of Colorado’s Western Slope.

Derek Everett, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history at Colorado State University and Metropolitan State University of Denver. Everett specializes in Colorado and Western history, with an emphasis on geography and politics. Everett is the author of The Colorado State Capitol: History Politics Preservation and Creating the American West: Boundaries and Borderlands.

Mary Mendoza, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University. Mendoza focuses on the intersections between environmental and borderlands history. Mendoza’s research has been funded by NEH, NSF, the Smithsonian, and the Ford Foundation. 

Fawn-Amber Montoya, Ph.D., is the associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and External Engagement and James Madison University. Prior to her current position, Montoya taught borderlands history, Colorado history, and gender and ethnicity at Colorado State University-Pueblo.  Montoya has served on the History of Colorado Board of Directors and is editor of Making an American Workforce: The Rockefellers and the Legacy of Ludlow.

Estevan Rael-Galvez, Ph.D., is the founder and principal of Creative Strategies 360, as well as a former Senior Vice President for the National Trust, Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and State Historian of New Mexico.

Karen Roybal, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Southwest Studies at Colorado College. Roybal specializes in southwest studies, Chicanx and Latinx literature and history, and cultural studies. Roybal is author of Archives of Dispossession: Recovering Testimonios of Mexican-American Herederas, 1848-1960

Nick Saenz, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of history at Adams State University. Saenz is a specialist in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Spain and the history of southern Colorado and the San Luis Valley. Saenz world civilizations, European and Latin American history, and Latino studies. Saenz is the President of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area.

Patricia Trujillo, Ph.D., is an associate professor of English and Chicano/a Studies and director of Equity and Diversity at Northern New Mexico College. Trujillo specializes in cultural identity, Chicana feminism, indigeneity, and place-based identity. She teaches literature, Chicano/a Studies, indigenous history, and northern New Mexico History.