ABOUT THE Advisory board
Aztecas Youth Soccer Academy Advisory Board has more than 30 collective years of experience with at-risk youth, as well as enduring relationships with collaborative community agencies, such as PVPSA. Several Aztecas youth are being served by PVPSA in local schools, and through counseling sessions, and their families are referred by Probation to PVPSA for parenting classes and counseling. Additionally, several Aztecas youth participate in BASTA. PVPSA also refers their at-risk youth to the Aztecas.
Meet the advisory board
Juvenile Probation Officer, Santa Cruz County Probation Dept.
Program Founder and Program Director
Deputy Probation Officer Gina Castaneda founded the Aztecas Soccer Program in 2008 for Latino juvenile probationers who affiliate with both Norteño and Sureño gangs.
As an adolescent raised in a gang family in Watsonville, Gina experienced intervals of homelessness and domestic violence while witnessing most of her siblings become involved in the criminal justice system. Gina avoided gang entrenchment by playing soccer in high school. She learned self-esteem and a more positive life path that ultimately motivated her to reach out and help her community’s most at-risk youth. Ms. Castañeda is the heart of the program. Her story and the origins of the Aztecas are featured in the ESPN documentary, “The Save.”
Gina is the program director for the Aztecas Youth Soccer Academy as well as the head coach.
Gina’s Awards and Recognition
2007: County of Santa Cruz Probation Officer of the Year
2009: Jefferson Award for Santa Cruz County
2010 Aptos High School Hall of Fame for Outstanding Accomplishments
2011: California Assembly’s 28th District first Peace Award
2012 American Red Cross Lifetime Achievement Hero Award
2014: Tony Hill Award for Community Activism in Santa Cruz County
2015: Grand Marshall, Watsonville’s 4th of July Celebration
2015: Community Healer, California Health Report (link)
Broker Associate and Entrepreneur
Advisory Board Chair
Jordan was born and raised in the Pajaro Valley with very deep roots in the community. His great grandfather started Baldwin’s Cabinet Shop on San Juan Road in Pajaro. He strongly believes that a better community benefits everyone, so he volunteers as much as he can. Jordan is currently the President of Together In Pajaro, Vice President and Secretary of Pajaro Valley Shelter Services, Chairperson of the Pajaro Valley Sports Foundation, and is the chairperson of the Azteca’s Youth Soccer Academy Advisory Board.
Jordan attended Gavilan College and then Menlo College where he received his Bachelors of Science in Finance. Jordan holds a Real Estate Broker’s License for the State of California and is also a Notary Public.
He became involved with the Aztecas Youth Soccer Academy after his friend Gina got him involved with he annual AYSA Fundraiser, Golden Goals. Once he attended this event he saw first hand how much the community comes together to help the youth in this community and has stayed involved since.
When he is not working or volunteering, Jordan enjoys being with his family, reading, the arts, and cooking.
Jeri Ross M.P.H.
Licensed Health Educator; Certified Life Coach
Jeri’s dedication to the Aztecas organization goes back years to the day she heard Gina speak for a group of her high school peers. She reached out to become her mentor knowing how Gina’s work as a role model and adcovate was going to help youth stay out of gangs, play soccer, and have healthier lives. Jeri’s passion to get involved with a prevention program like the Aztecas is also based on being the daughter of an incarcerated father. She is an author, speaker, and facilitates healing workshops for families of the incarcerated.
Adult Probation Officer, Santa Cruz County Probation Dept.
Julia Feldman is a founding member of the Aztecas Youth Soccer Academy. She has been a Santa Cruz County Probation Officer since 2001 and a Supervisor since 2011 and served the majority of her career in the Watsonville community. Julia graduated from University of California Santa Cruz with a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies, with a minor in US/Mexico Relations. In addition to her membership on the Aztecas Advisory Board, she is also the Vice Chair of the Encompass Board of Trustees and the Chair of the Encompass Operations Committee. She is committed to expanding options and improving outcomes for south county youth.
Assistant Division Director, Juvenile Probation Department, Santa Cruz County
Lori joined the Santa Cruz Probation Department in 1998 as a Group Supervisor. She promoted to a supervisor in 2005 and to her current assignment as the Assistant Division Director for juvenile field services in 2017. She is currently responsible for overseeing staff and day to day operational issues related to juvenile supervision.
Lori earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz in 1997. She has been a part of the Aztecas Board since 2017. She passionately believes in their mission and is a strong advocate for youth and their families.
Soccer Trainer/Business Owner
I was born in Israel and have resided in Santa Cruz for 40 years.Am a soccer coach/trainer in Santa Cruz county. I am a co-founder of the Breakaway College Access Project, a program that assists lower income Hispanic high school students get into college. Coached UCSC mens team, women's club team, various high school boys and girls team,I train players going on to play soccer in college and professionally. Am currently helping with Aztecas soccer academy. Have always felt that there is tremendous talent in south county and that the population is under represented.
I am a Watsonville native who enjoys interacting with people. I joined the Aztecas board because I believe that this program can help change the lives of children and families.
Chief, Santa Cruz County Probation Dept
Police Officer, City of Watsonville Police Department
President, Freedom Lions Club Board
Treasurer, Freedom Lions Club Board
Counselor, Encompass-Families Together
Assistant Director, Juvenile Division of Santa Cruz County Probation Dept
More Coaches and Mentors
Patricio Castañeda, Indoor Assistant Coach