Board of Directors

Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray, Executive Director
Indigenous Affiliation: Mohawk, Kahnawake

Lorraine has a diverse background, beginning with a Masters in Project Management. She has been working in the area of traditional agricultural revival for the last 20 years. She was honored to be a member of the Native Delegation to Terra Madre 2006, 2010, 2014, 2016, and 2018 in Torino, Italy.  Working with Winona LaDuke and others, she helped to develop the Slow Food Turtle Island Association. Gray co-founded Kanenhi:io Ionkwaienthonhakie (We Are Planting Good Seeds), which built a substantial community greenhouse, established a community farmers’ market on the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation, and supports community gardens, and individual family farms. Gray is now living in New Mexico, and manages programs on the farm and in various parts of the world.  She is an activist in women’s rights and environmental issues and spent time at Standing Rock fighting the advances of the pipeline construction.

Emigdio Ballon, President
Indigenous Affiliation: Quechua

Ballon, of Quechua decent, was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He earned his Bachelors degree in agriculture at Major Bolivian University of Saint Simon in Cochabamba, Bolivia and his Masters degree in plant genetics in Colombia. He studied for his Doctorate at Colorado State University. As a plant geneticist he has specialized in research on quinoa and amaranth grains and has published many articles about them in both South and North America. Emigdio has served as an organic certification inspector in the United States and has made many presentations at major conferences on agriculture. He has studied principles of bio-dynamic farming at the Josephine Porter Institute of Applied Bio-Dynamics and continues to study and make presentations at various seminars. In his little free time, Emigdio pursues research into germination techniques for a wide variety of crops, including traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs and herbs indigenous to Northern New Mexico. His other interests include seed saving and sharing, bio-dynamic and organic farming and sustainable agricultural practices. He is also involved with Native American organizations which stress the importance of seed saving and promote the revival and continuation of traditional crops, both nutritional and medicinal. He employs traditional Quechua techniques and rituals which he learned at his grandfather’s side as a boy in Bolivia. 

Oscar Olivera, Vice President
Indigenous Affiliation:  Quechua/Aymara

In 1999, the Bolivian government responded to structural adjustment policies of  the World Bank by privatizing the water system of its third largest city, Cochabamba. The government granted a 40-year concession to run the debt-ridden system to a consortium led by Italian-owned International Water Limited and U.S.-based Bechtel Enterprise Holdings. The consortium also included minority investment from Bolivia. The newly privatized water company immediately raised prices. With the minimum wage at less than $65 a month, many of the poor had water bills of $20 or more. Water collection also required the purchase of permits, which threatened the access to water for the poorest citizens. Oscar Olivera, executive secretary of the Cochabamba Federation of Factory Workers and spokesperson for the Coalition in Defense of Water and Life, known as La Coordinadora, led demands for the water system to stay under local public control. Thousands of citizens protested for weeks. The Bolivian army killed one, injured hundreds and arrested several Coalition leaders. Olivera, who had been forced into hiding, emerged to negotiate with the government. In April 2000, La Coordinadora won its demands when the government turned over control of the city’s water system, including its $35 million debt, to the organization and cancelled the privatization contract. La Coordinadora achieved the first major victory against the global trend of privatizing water resources. Olivera continues to head La Coordinadora’s work to develop a water system that relies neither on corrupt government management nor on transnational corporations. Oscar is now the Treasurer for Funcaion Abril, an organization dedicated to preserving water rights for the people of Cochabamba.  With support of the local government and the people they have build El Escuela Andina de Flores Rancho, a school for water.  They are also supporting and building traditional schools for indigenous students in the area of Cochabamba. 

Lauren Ohnehtakowa Mapp, Treasurer
Indigenous Affiliation:  Mohawk, Kahnawake

Lauren is a journalist and blogger has worked in the area of healthy food and traditional Agriculture for more than 16 years.  She previously worked at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, where she demonstrated indigenous food traditions to visitors of the museum.  She has also done traditional food demonstrations at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center in Ledyard, CT.  Lauren has thrice accompanied Four Bridges staff to Terra Madre in Torino, Italy, and spoke to a delegation of elder farmers about youth involvement in agriculture.  She is a graduate from from San Diego State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in Native American studies, and she earned associate degrees in culinary arts, journalism and political science from San Diego Mesa College.

Malín Ramirez, Secretary
Indigenous Affiliation: Aztec, Mexico

Malín is the author of several novels. She is an accomplished educator, dancer, and actress who has cowritten and performed in several stage plays. She has several years of experience and training in permaculture, and grant writing, working closely with the Traditional Native American Farmers’ Association. She is dedicating her life to researching and educating the world on the importance of sustainable living, and the perils of GMO’s. Ms. Ramirez currently lives in the Bay Area.

Daniel Tewarion:ni Mapp, Youth Board Member
Indigenous Affiliation:  Mohawk, Kahnawake

Daniel is a young Mohawk man from Kahnawake Mohawk Territory.  He was brought up with the basic principles of traditional growing methods, including the Three Sisters method of companion planting, and is the farm manager of Four Bridges’ educational farm in Santa Cruz, New Mexico, where he specializes in cultivating our Sacred Gardens Project, sustainable building, and renewable energy.