James joined NM Voices in 2013 as the Director of Research and Policy, becoming Executive Director in 2016. He also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico’s School of Public Administration. In both positions he draws from his considerable experience in using the budget as a strategic tool while working in state and city government. James served as the Chief of Staff under Governor Bill Richardson from 2006 to 2008, and as Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration from 2003 to 2006. He was also City Manager for the city of Rio Rancho and serves on the boards of directors for several nonprofit organizations.
Amber Wallin, MPA Deputy Director
Amber oversees the organization’s research and policy work. She also manages the KIDS COUNT program and does policy research on education, tax and budget, hunger, and economic issues. She joined NM Voices in 2012 as a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Fellow, after which she was a Research and Policy Analyst and later KIDS COUNT Director. Amber has worked in the public sector at the municipal, state, and federal levels, working in the government department at New Mexico State University and the budget department at the city of Las Cruces. She received her MPA from NMSU. Born and raised in New Mexico, Amber lives in Albuquerque with her husband and two young children.
Bill Jordan, MA Government Relations Officer
Bill has been with NM Voices since 1998 and leads our legislative advocacy efforts in Santa Fe and Washington, D.C., working primarily with lawmakers on issues such as raising the minimum wage, creating a state-level earned income tax credit, expanding access to health care, passing the child helmet safety law, and the like. Bill is relied upon by many legislators for data and information relating to the legislation they are voting on or writing. He was appointed to Governor Richardson’s Equal Pay Task Force and his Budget Balancing Task Force. Previously, Bill was Executive Director of the HIV Coordinating Council of New Mexico.
Jacob Vigil, MSW Research & Policy Analyst
Jacob works on NM Voices’ anti-poverty initiatives, including tax, safety net, and education policies through research and statewide outreach and advocacy. Prior to joining NM Voices, Jacob worked in advocacy and coalition building in Illinois and California on early childhood and children’s health issues. He also worked as a government relations representative advocating for quality subsidized child care in several western states. Before entering public policy, Jacob was a social worker and educator. Jacob holds a BA in Latin American History from Pomona College in Claremont, CA, and a Master’s in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago.
Paige Knight, MPP Research & Policy Analyst
Paige joined NM Voices in 2018 and focuses on tax and fiscal policy issues. She received her BA in Economics from Luther College in Iowa and is a recent graduate of UNM’s Master in Public Policy program. Originally from Minnesota, Paige moved to Albuquerque in early 2017. Prior to moving to the Southwest, she worked at a variety of nonprofits in Iowa City and Chicago, including a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer. In New Mexico, she worked with Accion and interned with the Legislative Finance Committee. Her experience with nonprofit and governmental organizations further developed her interest in public policy issues, particularly those surrounding sustainable economic development.
Cirila Estela Vasquez Guzman, Ph.D. Research & Policy Analyst/SPP Fellow
Estela – or Stela, as she’s informally known – earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at UNM, where she specialized in medical sociology and race and ethnicity. As a Satcher Health Leadership Institute Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy fellow at UNM, she received extensive training in health policy and leadership. Stela’s research agenda is concerned with inequities in medicine, health, and health delivery among populations of color, particularly immigrant communities. Stela joined the Voices team in July 2018 as a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities State Policy Fellow. As a researcher and policy analyst she focuses on how fiscal and social policies across a range of sectors can contribute to advancing social and economic justice and equity for New Mexico families.
Derek Lin, MPH Research & Policy Analyst
Derek joined NM Voices in 2019 and focuses on issues related to health policy and the social determinants of health. Born in Taos and raised in Albuquerque, Derek moved to California to attend U.C. Santa Cruz where he earned a BS in Molecular Biology. After college he worked as a high school math teacher before moving back to New Mexico in 2015 to work as a research scientist at the VA Hospital. Along with working and volunteering in a variety of health care settings, Derek recently earned a Master’s in Public Health at UNM where he has an affiliation with the UNM TREE Center. These experiences have informed his interest in upstream policy to address the social determinants of health and advance health equity.
Javier Rojo, MPA Research & Policy Analyst
Javier joined NM Voices in 2019. He focuses on immigration, the U.S. Census, and tax and budget issues. He was born and raised in Albuquerque, and completed his undergraduate education at UNM where he studied economics, philosophy, and statistics. After college, Javier worked for the New Mexico Tax and Revenue Department, where he helped publish the state’s first ever tax expenditure report. He was selected as the New Mexico Fellow for the Institute for Policy Studies, a D.C.-based think tank. While in D.C., he conducted research on CEO compensation, immigration, and international trade. Javier served as a grant writer for the Center of Southwest Culture, which works to revitalize New Mexico’s rural economy by introducing innovative business models. He completed a Master’s in Public Affairs at Princeton University.
Stephanie Brinker, Ph.D. Volunteer
Stephanie joined NM Voices as a volunteer in 2014. She is a 40-year resident of Albuquerque where she first arrived to work as a member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories in materials engineering (she holds a PhD from Cambridge University). She became a stay-at-home mother to raise her two daughters. As they became teens, she got her teaching license at UNM and began the first of 13 years teaching math at Eldorado High School. After retiring and needing an outlet for her belief that society’s wellness depends on the well-being of its children, she applied at NM Voices to fill whatever role was useful to their mission. She enjoys using her newly-learned computer skills to update the KIDS COUNT Data Center.
Sharon Kayne Communications Director
Sharon joined NM Voices as Communications Director in 2006. In crafting and framing NM Voices’ messages and issues – whether in op-eds, press releases, newsletters or reports – she relies extensively on her writing/editing background. She worked previously as Managing Editor and featured Columnist for the Albuquerque-based alternative paper Crosswinds Weekly and was a television news producer at KOAT TV, the ABC affiliate in New Mexico. She has contributed as a freelancer to many of Albuquerque’s newspapers and periodicals. She has a BA from Arizona State University.
Marie-Pier Frigon Communications Associate
Marie-Pier has been with New Mexico Voices for children for a little over a year. With a background in art and design, she helps shepherd policy change through storytelling. She manages social media, design, and other multi-media visual communications for the organization, while also taking on a role advocating for LGBTQ+ equity. Her ability to process complex information and convert it into simple messages, usually visually, helps make the work of NMVC accessible for our public audience. She has a BFA from the Academy of Art University.
Development and Operations Team
Farah Council, MA Development Director
Farah joined NM Voices in early 2017, bringing with her an extensive background in nonprofit management, program design and evaluation, and fund cultivation, among other skills. She most recently held an adjunct faculty position at the SIT Graduate Institute as well as served as a strategic advisor to several internationally focused nonprofit organizations. Prior to that she was the program manager at The Institute for Inclusive Security, leading an innovative program in a conflict-affected setting to advance women’s inclusion in peace processes in Sudan and South Sudan. She holds an MA in Conflict Transformation from the School for International Training and a BA in Political Science from UNM.
Brian Urban Operations Manager
Brian wears a number of hats at NM Voices—from managing the office to overseeing the donor database, helping coordinate and run our events, with a little graphic design thrown in. Brian first came to NM Voices as part of our Youth Link program, which trained middle- and high-school youths in the act of advocacy using tobacco prevention as a tangible issue. His bachelor’s degree is from the University of New Mexico.
Barbara Mike Operations Support Clerk
Barbara joined NM Voices in 2017 after living in Kansas for many years. While in Kansas she was an administrative clerk for Westar Energy, assistant to the treasurer of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, and was a physical science technician and a natural resources administrative assistant for the Environmental Science program at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, which is also where Barbara earned her bachelor’s degree.