Board Members

Meet the Board

The Society of Hispanic Historical and Ancestral Research was founded in 1987. Its 1st President was Raul Guerra who served for a few years. After Raul Guerra stepped down, Mimi Lozano took over as President. In January of 2013, Mimi Lozano, submitted her resignation as SHHAR’s president. It is through her leadership and dedication that SHHAR has reached national and international status.
Letty Rodella, the new president, has been with SHHAR since 2013 and will continue building SHHAR just as Mimi did.  

Letty Rodella, President


Letty’s love for genealogy started 21 years ago when she retired after 42 years as an educator.  She has traced her ancestry to the early 1500s among those pioneers who settled in West Texas and New Mexico; has lectured at various genealogical and historical meetings and conferences throughout California and Arizona.

Viola Sadler, Vice-President

Sonia Palacio, Treasurer

Maria Tello, Secretary

John P. Schmal

John P. Schmal is an historian, genealogist, and lecturer. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from high school, John attended Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles and St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, where he studied Geography, History and Earth Sciences and received two BA degrees.

John specializes in the genealogical research and Indigenous history of several Mexican states, especially Chihuahua, Nayarit Zacatecas, Jalisco and Guanajuato. He is also the author of several books, including Mexican-American Genealogical Research: Following the Paper Trail to Mexico (Heritage Books, 2002) and The Journey to Latino Political Representation (Heritage Books, 2007).

Refugio Sanchez

Refugio Sanchez was born in East Chicago, in the year 1939 and shortly after his birth his family moved to the state of Jalisco, Mexico where they lived there for two years and then moved to the state of Michoacan, Mexico and lived there from 1941 to 1943.  Then they moved to the state of Zacatecas and lived there until after the end of World War II and thereafter moved back to Michoacan and lived there until 1951.  In 1952 the family legally immigrated back to the state of California.

Refugio attended Orange County schools including Tustin High School in the Tustin Unified School District where he completed his sophomore year. He later attended Santa Ana High School where he was awarded his High School Diploma.

In 1962 Refugio joined the California Army National Guard and served for four years.  Following his National Guard experienced Refugio took a job with the Orange Unified School in the Maintenance Department and moved up the ranks to the position of electrician.

Refugio retired from Orange Unified School District in the year 2000.  He has remained active by doing his own yard and house up keep.  He and his wife Mary are active members of the Holy Family Cathedral. 

Don Garcia


In addition to SHHAR, Don is also a lifetime member of the Orange County California Genealogical Society, OCCGS.  He is a family history consultant at the Orange County Family Search Library for the last 7 years.  He worked many positions and programs at Boeing Co. during his 42 years of employment before retirement in 2006.  

Irene Foster

Sindy Valdez

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