Ms. Guajardo is the founding board member of Conejos County Clean Water, Inc. (CCCW). She was selected as the Executive Director in August of 2011. Organized in 2010, CCCW is based in one of the oldest Hispano communities in the United States, Conejos County. Under Ms. Guajardo’s leadership CCCW incorporated to promote awareness around health and environmental health issues in Conejos County as a mechanism to protect public health and responsibly manage natural resources.
Historically, Conejos County was a new Spain territory, then Mexican, and finally was ceded to the United States after the Mexican American war ended in 1848. The culture has the unique distinction of being the vestige of decades of war, resulting in cumulative environmental justice issues that Conejos County residents face; such as the challenge of radioactive, hazardous, and toxic waste transportation, illegal dumping, and corporate social irresponsibility all catalysts for the formation of CCCW.
As a result of the Mexican American war, Conejos County or Conejos under the Spanish and Mexican Land Grants, this largely agrarian and ranching community is a relatively stable population. Many of the residents are eighth-generation. The oldest parish in Colorado, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Our Lady of Guadalupe, lies at the southern end of Conejos County. Conejos County is part of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. About sixty percent (60%) of Conejos County’s population is minority, and pride in the Hispano heritage is evident in everything from the names of the rivers, mountains, and towns, to the local Spanish/English radio station. The median household income is less than half the national average at $24,744, and 38 percent of the children live in poverty (US Census 2000).
Ms. Guajardo is an eighth generation resident of Conejos County and holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines. During the Fall on 2010, Ms. Guajardo served on the task force assembled by former Congressmen John Salazar to help resolve a radioactive, hazardous and toxic waste dispute involving the Federal Agency the Department of Energy, as well as various corporate entities. Ms. Guajardo’s consistent advocacy for fair public process during task force discussions ultimately resulted in a legal settlement to ensure that Conejos County would have a fair public National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process prior to radioactive, hazardous and toxic waste transfer through Conejos County. Presently, Ms. Guajardo is promoting awareness on the following campaigns in Conejos County: Low Altitude Tactical Navigations, where the Federal Agency Cannon AFB is seeking air space for simulated military conditions in mountainous regions, Solar Energy Zones, where the Federal Agencies the Department of Energy and the Bureau of Land Management are trying to identify federal lands for solar energy development in an effort to streamline the development process, Greater than Class C Waste, where the Federal Agency the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is trying to identify federal sites for the storage of commercial wastes, and Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement where the Federal Agency Department of Energy is attempting to demolish an old and build a new facility to build plutonium pits, nuclear weapons triggers.
Prior to working for CCCW, Ms. Guajardo managed a plethora of projects to protect environment in the states of Colorado, Texas, and California. She successfully managed projects from conceptualization, through engineering, during execution, ending in start-up and transition to clients. Projects include; redesign of Probat Roasters burners at a Maxwell House coffee plant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, redesign of Cooling Towers to increase efficiency and reduce electrical consumption at a Maxwell House coffee plant, design of caustic wash recycle system to reduce degenerative chemicals in a natural cheese plant’s waste stream to the municipality, and a total plant waste balance to reduce electro-conductivity in a natural cheese plant’s waste stream to the municipality.
Ms. Guajardo’s project management experience coupled with her unique voice rooted for generations in an environmental justice community made her a prime choice for collaborative efforts for the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) selection; since, she understands the importance of building relationships and advocating for environmental justice communities through those relationships. Ms. Guajardo understood service on NEJAC was a collaborative effort as a means to advocate for environmental justice communities and their unique needs.