Artistic Instructors

Rebecca Valadez

Vocal Performance, and
Songwriting Instructor

Rebecca Valadez is a two-time Grammy Award Winning singer, and actress. She is a  former member of the Tejano group, Mazz. She performed on the group's 2002 Latin Grammy award-winning album, Siempre Humilde. Her solo album, Rebecca Valadez, under AMI Records Latin was nominated as "Best Tejano Album" for the 2006 Grammy Awards. Valadez was a backup singer on Janet Jackson's 1998-1999 Velvet Rope concert tour and played the lead role in matinee performances of the 2000 musical "Selena Forever."

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Elizabeth "Liz" Davila

Vocal Performance Instructor

At the early age of 15, Liz Davila joined a real band for the first time. The experienced and well-established "Red 4" band in San Luis Potosi, Mexico gave her the opportunity to discover her true passion: music. She became one of the band's two female lead singers and performed in venus all around Mexico.

In 2011, Liz Davila was hired by one of the most important entertainment companies in Asia, El-Live Productions. Liz spent 10 months touring Singapore and China with two of El-Live's most successful bands, "Shades" and "Transit". After touring Asia, she returned to San Antonio and started her own project along with other local talented musicians, Decibel Band. 


Danny Vasquez

Vocal Technique Instructor

Danny has had a love for the performing arts since childhood. He is a singer, songwriter, motivational speaker, actor, and model. Danny is currently a working actor who is represented by Condra Artista for San Antonio and Austin regions.  Danny is also being represented as a certified instructor with Taylor and Robinson Music Company located in Dallas Texas and
Danny has been with The Network for Young Artist since 2002.


Gilbert Velasquez

Guitar Instructor

Gilbert Velasquez has been a part of "Tejano Music" since the mid-1970s. He began performingas a guitarist in the early-1970s and joined The Royal Jesters in 1974 recording the album The Band. From 1976 to 1979 Gilbert toured Europe, the Far East and beyond with a band called SugarJammer, bringing tejano music to military troops overseas. After returning to San Antonio again in 1979 Gilbert joined the David Marez band People, finishing the 1970s with this popular group at that time. In 1980 he was asked to join Latin Breed and thus began his quarter century affiliation with this legendary band. In the 1980s Gilbert worked closely with the newborn TTMA to begin what we know today as the Tejano Music Awards. Gilbert's input ranged from writing rhythm charts for a multitude of artists who performed at this show during those years, to working as a house engineer and a mixing engineer on live recording dates.  

Gilbert has been awarded a total of eight Grammy / Latin Grammy Awards for his work on various projects as a producer/engineer. He has also won a total of nine Tejano Awards, three Tejano Academy awards and one TEMA award. In November 2006 Velasquez was inducted into the Tejano Root's Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to Tejano Music. In 2007 he was presented the Tex Mex Gibson Special Achievement in Music Producing award.


Armando Martinez

Guitar Instructor

Armando Martinez is the Guitar instructor for NYA, teaching both beginning and advanced guitar.  In addition to teaching he is a singer/songwriter. He graduated from UTB with a bachelor in Music Education with classical guitar as his instrument of study under the tutelage of Dr. M Quantz. Armando has studied music therapy (MT) with Dr. Dvorkin and plans to be certified MT in the near future. Armando has performed with an array of artists including Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan and toured Guadalajara, Jalisco with Mariachi Escorpion under the direction of MR. Antonio Briseno. He had the privilege of performing at the Kennedy Center, with the award winning group, Sol Latino. Armando contributed music to independent movie Directors Gustavo Aguliar (Pachangapunclines) and Joseph Hladek (Chosen Fallen).  Armando has been with Network for Young Artists for 7 years.


Gabriel "Gabe" Herrera

Percussion (Drums) Instructor

Gabe Herrera is a professional musician. Gabe has been an instructor at the Cancion Institute of Music, Mars Music Learning Center and The Alamo School of Music. He has performed at Jazz festivals, concerts and clubs throughout his career. Gabe has recorded television, radio jingles and been in many radio interviews.  He has collaborated with local, regional and National musicians and artists. Currently Gabe gives lectures on the history of percussion in secondary and high schools. Gabe has been with Network for Young Artists for 5 years.


Elsa Champion

Dance Instructor

Elsa Champion is the daughter of Teresa Champion and "El Curro." She embraced and fell in love with the art of dance, and views it as a family tradition.
Elsa began teaching dance at the Teresa Champion Dance Academy at the age of 16, and has since taught at the YWC, YMCA, the Catholic Archdiocese, the Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio, and in the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation After-School Dance Program. She currently teaches in the San Antonio Dance Umbrella's Seniors Dance! program in Council District 5.
In 2009, Elsa opened the doors to her own dance studio, the "Elsa Champion Dance Academy," where she taught ballet, tap, flamenco, hip-hop, jazz, and cheerleading.
Elsa is active in the community and serves on the Board of Directors for Avenida Guadalupe Association.
She joined the Network for Young Artists in the summer of 2018.



Antonia "Toni" Mata

Dance Instructor

Antonia Mata was born and raised in San Antonio TX and is called Toni for short. She is a very family oriented person and enjoys spending every spare moment with her family and her only niece. She first started has a performer (NYA) Network for Young Artist back when she was fourteen years old. She performed with a lot of the NYA family and was a backup dancer for Javier Galvan, who was the lead singer for Grupo Fama. Antonio Mata has performed at Market Square and on the Good Morning SA show. She started taking classes when she was five years old, which included jazz, hip/ hop, ballet and folklorico. Her specialty is hip/ hop and folklorico. Ms. Mata joined NYA as an instructor in 2011. Her goal is to train her students to become all around dancers with confidence, passion, and the skills to be the best at what they do. Outside of this profession she is a Patient Coordinator at a Dental office, and still attends school at San Antonio College to accomplish her dream of being a RN. Antonia Mata has been with NYA over 10 years as a student, and now, as an instructor.


Damon Martinez

Keyboard (Piano) Instructor

Damon Martinez is a multi instrumentalist, composer, and audio engineer with a bachelors degree in music performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.  After graduating, Damon moved to LA where he performed with a number of pop, rock and electronic acts, and was most recently seen touring with singer Dawn Richard, performing with her at a number of renowned venues including Webster Hall in NYC, and Stubbs in Austin for the 2017 SPIN Magazine SXSW showcase concert.   His experience performing pop music in clubs, art galleries, private parties, and various d.i.y. venues does not come without an extensive history in orchestral and chamber music settings. In addition to Eastman’s rigorous orchestral and chamber music program, he has spent summers performing with the Chautauqua Music Festival Orchestra, Brevard Music Center Orchestra, and the Tanglewood Young Artists Orchestra.  With the Eastman Broadband Ensemble, he performed at the Americas Society and Symphony Space in New York City, as well as at the Chihuahua International Music Festival in Chihuahua City Mexico.  

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Juan Ortiz

Mariachi Instructor

Mr. Juan B. Ortiz has the distinction of being: the 1st mariachi class instructor, in the nation, for a University (University of Texas A & I Kingsville, TX-1977-1979), Co-founder of the 1st International

Mariachi Festival in San Antonio, Texas 1979. 1st lead mariachi instructor for the San Antonio Independent School District (1980-1993), 1st mariachi Artist-in-Residence for the National Endowment
for the Arts (Washington D.C 1985), Co-founder of Texas Association of Mariachi Educators (TAME) 2010, and Co-founder of Mariachi Campanas de America 1978-present. In 2014, Mr. Ortiz was awarded by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammys) in both the American and Latin Categories.

Mr. Juan B. Ortiz has been a faculty of the Fine Arts and Speech Communications Department at Palo Alto College since 1994. Palo Alto College was founded in 1984 and has been dubbed as the “Jewel of Southside of San Antonio”. The Palo Alto College mariachi program began in 1994 and continues being one of the nation’s leaders in the Art of Mariachi Education. This mariachi program continues to flourish because it has always been a component of the Fine Arts, Speech, and Communication Department, thus
allowing students from any scholastics and art majors to enroll in the program. Mr. Juan B. Ortiz has always emphasized that “Mariachi education serves as a tool to maximize the students’ potential!”
Many a student dawning the ”Traje de Charro” the Charro Suit, have continued their academic endeavors and now serve as teachers, doctors, medical assistance, attorneys, military, business owners,
entertainers, and proud parents of this community and other locations both here and abroad.

Board of Directors

The Board Of Directors, as the governing body of NYA, focuses on the organization’s mission, strategy, and goals. 

Lionel Estrada, Board President
Ronald B. Prince, Vice President

Hank Reyes - Treasurer

Sal Lujan - Secretary 

Sonya Cortinas

Ricardo Ramirez

Jo Cox
Robert Trevino

Beth Graham