Welcome our new Communications & Narrative Change Manager

Bayou City Waterkeeper
July 21, 2023

Join us in welcoming our new staff member, Marleen Villanueva, BCWK’s Communications and Narrative Change Manager.

What is the last waterbody that you visited?

The last waterbody I visited was in Ajehuac Yana (Coahuiltecan name for the waters in San Marcos, Texas). My toddler and I had a blast playing and floating on the cool, crisp river in 108-degree weather.

Tell us about your background.

I am an Indigenous mother from Pame-Chichimeca lands in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I am the first generation in my lineage to not be born in the mountains back home. My brother and I were born in Florida, and we moved to Texas at a young age and were raised here. When I graduated high school, I moved to Austin, got my undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin, and became an elementary school teacher. After teaching for a few years, I decided to go back to UT-Austin to get my master’s degree in Cultural Studies in Education. After that, I moved to Toronto to begin a Ph.D. in Social Justice Education at the University of Toronto where I am now a PhD candidate. Throughout these years, I have had the opportunity to organize within the community and be a part of various frontline movements as a water protector and land defender. In 2020, my son was born, and due to the pandemic, I was able to come back home and continue my degree in Houston.

What part of your job do you think you will nerd out about? 

I’m going to nerd out about how to communicate the autonomy of water, share the love for the water, and bring to light the untold stories of the waters and peoples of Houston.

How do you think your work as the Communications and Narrative Change Manager will impact our community?

I think that my work as the Communications and Narrative Change Manager will impact our community by finding a way to tell the ongoing story of who Bayou City Waterkeeper is and does. This will allow people from the outside to understand that Bayou City Waterkeeper is, as our amazing Executive Director Ayanna reminds us, an intersectional, interdisciplinary, and collaborative space that centers community voices and views water as a catalyst for change.

Why is Houston special? 

Houston is so special because the people here are resilient. There’s a type of spark that permeates the atmosphere here. There’s awesome food, art, and people from all over the world. Also, I LOVE Selena, and this is where Selena did her last televised concert in ‘95.