Our Team

Maria-Jose Soerens, M.A., LMHC, Director of COmmunity Initiatives


Maria-José (Coté) serves as the Director of Community Initiatives and is the founder of Puentes. Maria-Jose is a licensed mental health counselor with vast experience working with undocumented migrants and their families in a clinical setting. An immigrant herself, she came from Chile at age 25 and lives in South Park, Seattle, with her husband and their son. Maria-Jose conducts research on undocumented immigrants' narratives of suffering, writing academically on cultural psychology and migration studies. She speaks and writes often on immigration and mental health, and the role of communities in fostering social transformation. She is a fellow at the Washington Equal Justice Community Leadership Academy. 

Candelaria Maldonado, Program Coordinator

Candelaria will be serving as our program coordinator and will additionally be part of the Verdant Health Commission's Community Health Worker program focusing on training 'promotoras de salud' with a focus on mental health. She is an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and immigrants from all walks of life. Candelaria also enjoys time with her family, Mexican cuisine, and building community. 

Clinical Team


Mackenzi is a licensed mental health counselor associate with a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy with Latinxs . She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology with emphases in Women’s Studies and Global & Urban Ministries from Seattle Pacific University. Her passion lies in fostering dialogue for social justice and liberation from systems of oppression. She has extensive experience volunteering and working around the world. She lived in Tijuana serving as caretaker and English teacher at Siempre Para Los Niños -- a home for abandoned children. Her travels then brought her to South America where she served as an assistant teacher in Lima, Peru. Additionally, she assisted in planning and leading a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina for Pepperdine's Aliento program where graduate students had the opportunity to observe psychology in a new cultural context. Mackenzi is committed to taking every experience as a learning opportunity. 

MARIA JIMENEZ, MSW, clinical supervisor

Maria G. Jimenez, also known as Lupita, serves as a Mental Health Mobilizer for Puentes. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico and raised from the age of 1 in Yakima, WA. As a daughter of migrant parents, she has first-hand experience navigating the broken immigration system. Her passion for social justice and equity led her to obtain her Bachelors of Arts and Masters in Social Work with a focus on Policy Practice and Administration from the University of Washington. Her professional experiences include working and volunteering as a mental health therapists, case manager, and advocate for the well-being and prosperity of Latino immigrants and their families in the US. Lupita is also an accredited representative through the Board of Immigration Appeals to assist undocumented individuals with their immigration proceedings via her employment with St. Vincent de Paul. When she is not working or volunteering, she enjoys traveling and spending tech-free quality time with her husband, family, and friends. 

Lonnie Tristan Renteria, MA, LMHCA  Executive Director

Lonnie Tristan Renteria is both a therapist and educator.  His education and experience cover a broad range of subjects that inform his practice, from cultural theory, literature, narrative theory, positive and forensic psychology.

He is a full-time faculty member at the Art Institute of Seattle.  He is trained in Narrative Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.  Lonnie holds an MA in Forensic Psychology and Clinical Psychology and he is currently working towards a doctorate in Counseling Psychology.

In addition to his psychological practice Lonnie keeps busy writing novels and generating new projects, like co-founding the Seattle Latino Film Festival, producing short films, plays or advocacy. He has both traveled extensively and has lived abroad and has given him a great appreciation for other traditions and beliefs.
He speaks English, Spanish and French, and is a Star Wars fan.

Community Organizers


Gloria is our powerhouse organizer based out of Salem, OR. With her generous spirit she has managed to nurture relationships with new immigrant communities all over the Pacific Northwest. A previously detained woman herself, she led and organized through a bible study group while at the Northwest Detention Center with her fellow comrades. Her passion for the church and community has led her to be our local community organizer and we are incredibly honored to have her on board!

Gloria is continuously mobilizing resources for neighbors, making connections, speaking at events, and helping churches discern how to mobilize their own communities for immigration justice. 

Mental Health Mobilizers  

Keylee Fernandez


Keylee Fernandez serves as a graduate student Mental Health Mobilizer. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Latin American Studies from Seattle Pacific University and is currently a graduate student at Seattle University obtaining a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is also trilingual and is a member of the Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society. She is a Garifuna/Honduran American and highly represents and embraces her Garifuna culture and Honduran community. Keylee has always been interested in working in the psychological and counseling fields within different communities in Latin American countries. At Puentes, she provides her passionate and extensive knowledge to help neighbors affected by immigration policies.

Graduate Interns 

Melissa Lucero Galindo is a graduate student at the University of Washington obtaining a Master's Degree in Social Work concentrating on Children, Youth, and Families. Melissa is a first generation Mexican-American, but has been personally affected by the broken immigration system in her immediate family and community. Because of this, she has a burning passion for this work and strives to always serve her people because it's the least she can do for all their sacrifices. At Puentes, she is eager to continue her learning and understanding of the complex immigration system in hopes to one day provide resources and give back to those affected by immigration policies. 

Staff Volunteers


Board Members

Sandy Restrepo, Attorney, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo

Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, National Organizer, Faith-Rooted Organizing

Eileen Suico

Patricia Narvaez

Veronica Noriega

Michelle Demiscio

Megan Carney, PhD

Kathy Delph