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, MPADeputy Director
As Deputy Director, Amber assists James with coordination of the organization’s research, analysis and policy work. She also oversees the KIDS COUNT program, and does policy research on early childhood, tax and budget, food security, and family economic security issues. She came to NM Voices in 2012 as a Fellow from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ State Priorities Partnership program, after which she joined the staff as a Research and Policy Analyst. Prior to joining NM Voices, Amber served as a Budget Analyst for the city of Las Cruces. She received her Masters of Public Administration from New Mexico State University.
Armelle Casau, PhDResearch & Policy Analyst
Armelle works on a variety of education policy issues, ranging from increasing access to quality early childhood education to college affordability and expanding career pathways. She also works with the New Mexico Out-of-School Time Network on their STEM education policy and systems-building efforts. Prior to joining NM Voices in 2013, she was a Policy Intern at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at UNM. She also worked for a decade at Explora Science Center as one of the directors and as a science educator/writer. She has a PhD in Molecular Biology from Princeton University.
Farah Council, MADevelopment 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.
Bill Jordan, MASenior Policy Advisor & 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.
Sharon KayneCommunications 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.
Barbara MikeOperations 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.
Brian UrbanOperations 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.
Jacob Vigil, MSWResearch & 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.
Board of Directors
Donald Simonson, PhDBoard Chair
Don earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and is Professor Emeritus in finance at the University of New Mexico. He has authored books on bank management and held endowed chairs in banking and finance at the University of Oklahoma and UNM. He has served as a financial sector advisor-in-residence at several central banks in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.
Patricia Rodriguez, PhDVice Chair
Patricia serves as Early Childhood Manager for the Region VI Office of Head Start Training and Technical Assistance Network. She has more than 25 years of experience in early care and education as a public school teacher, mentor teacher, university faculty member, researcher, and consultant. Patricia completed her doctorate at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Robert P. McNeill, JDBoard Treasurer
Bob has maintained a private law practice in Albuquerque for the past 30 years, having earned his law degree from UNM in 1967. He previously held a number of senior positions in government and the private sector in New Mexico and Washington, D.C., including Law Clerk to the Chief U.S. Federal Judge in New Mexico, Chief of Staff to the late U.S. Senator Joseph M. Montoya, Executive Director of the American Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Secretary of the NM Health and Environment Department, and Chief of Staff to the Governor.
Kenneth J. Martinez, PsyDBoard Secretary
Ken is a Clinical Psychologist and Principal Researcher at American Institutes for Research, leading an initiative that addresses health inequities of vulnerable populations. He was lead author of the “Blueprint for Using Data to Reduce Disparities/ Disproportionalities in Human Services and Behavioral Health Care,” a framework and multi-step process to reduce disparities and disproportionalities in communities and states. He is also a resource specialist and lead disparities reduction resource with the National Resource Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention, as well as a Clinical Assistant Professor of psychiatry at the UNM Health Sciences Center.
Javier Aceves, MDBoard Member
Javier is a General Pediatrician at Young Children’s Health Center and Professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center. He earned his medical degree at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico and did his residency at the University of Texas in Houston.
Nathan Cote, EdDBoard Member
Nate spent his career as a civilian Human Resources Manager with the U.S. Air Force and had assignments to both Europe and Asia. After his civil service retirement, he became an Academic Director and Assistant Professor for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s World-Wide Campus. Nate was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2006 and served three terms. One of the many pieces of legislation he passed was in support of military families and children. He is currently active and an officer with his local Disabled American Veterans (DAV) chapter. He has multiple master’s degrees and earned his doctorate from Argosy University, Phoenix campus.
Kimberly Curry, JDBoard Member
Kimberly is a family immigration and criminal defense attorney. She was born and raised in Hobbs, moved to Texas to begin a career as a flight attendant, and eventually relocated to California. Because of her desire to positively impact her native state, she returned home to practice law in 2008. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. She received her law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. Before opening her own practice she was an Assistant District Attorney for the state of New Mexico and served as a member of the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force.
Antonio GranilloBoard Member
Antonio is a community advocate at the Partnership for Community Action (PCA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to building strong, healthy communities throughout New Mexico. Antonio communicates with PCA’s community during the legislative session, teaches alternative substance abuse prevention courses to high school students, leads interns during the Youth Employment Summer Institute, and orients new parents upon graduation of Abriendo Puertas curriculum. Antonio is also an actor, instructor, and academic tutor at Working Classroom, a nonprofit theater and visual arts organization. He studies public policy, community planning, and education as an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico.
Danielle R. Lansing, EdDBoard Member
Danielle is a faculty member in the early childhood education (ECE) program at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI). She also serves as project director and principal investigator for SIPI’s Restorative Teachings Initiative, where she has developed innovative practices and partnerships on behalf of SIPI’s ECE program. Danielle also recently contributed a chapter to the compilation “Teacher Education across Minority Serving Institutions: Programs, Policies, and Social Justice.” Danielle earned her Doctorate in Education from Arizona State University where she studied educational administration and supervision. She also has a Master’s in Education Administration from UNM and a Masters in Early Childhood Risk and Prevention from Harvard.
Cindy NavaBoard Member
Cindy is a graduate student at the University of New Mexico working towards a Masters in Educational Leadership and Policy. She is a graduate research assistant for the Center for Education Policy Research and the Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy, both at UNM, as well as an ENLACE NM Graduate Outreach fellow. An undocumented immigrant―or “dreamer”―Cindy has overcome many barriers to take key positions at the state and national levels, including serving as the first undocumented student body president at the Santa Fe Community College, the first dreamer to serve as an intern for the National Democratic Committee, and the first dreamer to be awarded the Rising Star Award by the NM Democratic Party. She blogs for the Huffington Post.
Gloria Rendon, PhDBoard Member
Gloria has worked for 42 years in education, most recently as Executive Director of the New Mexico Coalition of Educational Leaders. She worked for many years as a teacher and in a variety of school and district leadership roles in the Santa Fe Public Schools district.