About Us

About New Mexico First

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New Mexico First builds consensus on critical issues facing our state and communities and leads positive policy change through deliberative town halls, forums, and nonpartisan work on education, the economy, healthcare, natural resources and good governance.

Our mission statement and core values provide the ethical framework for all our work.

Our state’s two U.S. Senators – Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich – serve as New Mexico First’s honorary co-chairs. The organization was co-founded in 1986 by U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (retired) and the late U.S. Senator Pete Domenici.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall

U.S. Senator Tom Udall

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici(1932-2017)

U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman

U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman(retired)

 

Our Mission

To be a catalyst for positive change by engaging citizens in policy and enabling action.

Our Core Values

  • Meaningfully engaging New Mexicans in public policy
  • Striving for and respecting consensus
  • Pursuing and respecting diverse points of views
  • Ensuring inclusion and transparency
  • Rising above partisan politics
  • Changing policy to improve people's lives
  • Creating an informed citizenry that is powerfully motivated
  • Reaching out statewide including rural and tribal communities
  • Partnering with others
  • Promoting civility
  • Democracy at its best
 
Valerie Romero-Leggott, Chair
UNM Health Sciences Center
Albuquerque

Del Archuleta
Molzen Corbin
Albuquerque

Terri Nikole Baca
AT&T
Albuquerque

Michael Barndollar
Barndollar Associates
Albuquerque

Greg Bloom
Office of U.S. Senator Tom Udall
Albuquerque

Rob Black
NM Association of Commerce and Industry
Albuquerque

Tracey Bryan
The Bridge of Southern NM
Las Cruces

Laura Conniff
Mathers Realty, Inc.
Las Cruces

Richard Coltharp
Las Cruces Bulletin
Las Cruces

John D'Antonio
U. S. Army Corp of Engineers
Albuquerque

Diane Denish
Building Bridges
Albuquerque

Andrea Fletcher
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces

John Garcia
Home Builders Association
Albuquerque

Tom Garrity
The Garrity Group
Albuquerque

Rico Gonzales
El Paso Electric
Las Cruces

Clint Harden
Clinton D. Harden & Associates
Clovis

Stan Harris
Modrall Sperling
Albuquerque

  Matt Hunton
Hunton Insurance Agency
Portales

Franz Joachim
New Mexico PBS
Corrales

Kathy Keith
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos

Hayley Klein
Artesia Chamber of Commerce
Artesia

Carol Leach
Concho Resources Inc.
Santa Fe

Davin Lopez
Mesilla Valley Economic Development
Las Cruces

Ron Lovato
Tsay Corporation
Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo

Leo Lovett
U.S. Bank
Clovis

Richard Luarkie
Emerging Equities Solutions Group
Pueblo of Laguna

Marcus Mims
Clifton Larson Allen, LLP
Albuquerque

Cynthia Nava
Retired NM Senator
Albuquerque

Martha Romero
SFCC Board (Retired)
Santa Fe

Ron Solimon
Solimon Business Development & Strategy LLC.
Pueblo of Laguna

Chris Stagg
Taos Ski Valley, Inc.
Taos

Mike Sullivan
Office of U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
Albuquerque

Don Tarry
PNM Resources
Rio Rancho

Tom Taylor
Retired NM Representative
Farmington

Stephen Wells
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Socorro

Robert G. Armstrong
Roswell

Jon Barela
Albuquerque

Connie Beimer
Albuquerque

Kathleen Bond
Olathe, CO

Barbara Brazil
Albuquerque

Mary Jean Christensen
Gallup

Carol Cochran
Albuquerque

The Honorable Diane Denish
Albuquerque

Dale Dekker
Albuquerque

John Dowling
Gallup

Richard Fairbanks
Albuquerque

Dr. Everett Frost
Portales

Bill Garcia
Santa Fe

William “Bing” Grady
Albuquerque

Jami Grindatto
Rio Rancho

 

Bill Knauf
Albuquerque

Carol Robertson Lopez
Santa Fe

Maureen Luna
Albuquerque

Tom Mills
Santa Fe

Lillian Montoya
Santa Fe

Arlene Roth
Fort Myers, FL

Jennifer A. Salisbury
Corrales

Lynn Slade
Albuquerque

David Steinborn
Las Cruces

Thomas Tinnin
Albuquerque

Tony Trujillo
Silver City

J. Ronald Vigil
Santa Fe

John Wagner
Albuquerque

Judy Zanotti
Albuquerque

 

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

Senator Pete Domenici (retired)

Senator Jeff Bingaman (retired)

Senator Tom Udall

Senator Martin Heinrich

Congresswoman Deb Haaland
Congressional District 1

Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small
Congressional District 2

Congressman Ben Ray Lujan
Congressional District 3

 

Jeff Elwell, Ph.D.
President, Eastern New Mexico University

Sam Minner, Jr, Ph.D.
President, New Mexico Highlands University

Garrey Edward Carruthers, Ph.D.
President, New Mexico State University

Stephen Wells, Ph.D.
President, New Mexico Tech

Garnett S. Stokes, Ph.D.
President, University of New Mexico

Joseph Shepard, Ph.D.
President, Western New Mexico University

Richard Bailey, Jr, Ph.D
President, Northern New Mexico College

 

 

Meet Our Staff

Lilly Irvin-Vitela

Lilly Irvin-VitelaPresident and Executive Director

Lilly Irvin-Vitela was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Part of her family has been in New Mexico since prior to statehood and others came in the 1940s. She has over 25 years of experience working for private and public community-based and state level organizations dedicated to improving the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. She formerly served as the president of her private consulting practice, and executive director of the Wisconsin Head Start Association, Supporting Families Together Association, and New Mexico Center for Dispute Resolution. Lilly attended the University of New Mexico as a Presidential Scholar and graduated with honors with a B.A. in philosophy and political science. Lilly also earned a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico. Lilly now lives in Peralta, NM with her family and is the mother of two adult children. She enjoys spending time outdoors with friends and family, playing with her pygmy goats, chickens, dog, and cats.

Contact Lilly

Sharon Berman

Sharon BermanProject Coordinator

Sharon Berman joined New Mexico First as staff in 2013. She has a background in education, anthropology and music. After moving to Corrales with her family in 2004, she managed a museum-on-wheels program for the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, designed education curriculum, and co-founded a charter school in Albuquerque. Sharon holds a M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Montreal and a M.A. in Visual Anthropology from the University of Southern California.

Contact Sharon

 
Melanie Sanchez Eastwood

Melanie Sanchez EastwoodCommunications and Technology Director

Melanie Sanchez Eastwood has over 20 years of experience in government and the nonprofit sector. She has worked for United States Senator Pete V. Domenici, a gubernatorial campaign and various nonprofit organizations, including the New Mexico Alliance for Legal Reform, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and the National Federation of Republican Women. Melanie has a B.A. in political science from Coastal Carolina University and a M.A. in Government from Johns Hopkins University.  Melanie is a native New Mexican who was raised in Rio Rancho. She is married and has one son.

Contact Melanie

Tamara Lucero

Tamara LuceroFinance Manager

Tamara Lucero earned her Bachelor of Business Administration - Accounting from the Anderson School of Management at The University of New Mexico in 2004. She has a varied background in accounting, including financial, tax and nonprofit. In her role as Accountant, she is responsible for maintaining the accounting system, overseeing the budget preparation, maintaining internal controls, and aiding with the preparation of audit and tax return.

Contact Tamara

 
Jonas Moya

Jonas MoyaStrategic Civic Engagement & Policy Manager

Jonas Moya is a native New Mexican from Tucumcari, New Mexico. He was raised on a small farm and cow-calf cattle operation by his grandmother. He is an alumnus of New Mexico State University where he studied Agricultural Economics and Business, as well as Water Science & Management, and Public Utility Regulation and Economics. Jonas’s experience includes work in the cattle industry, university agricultural research, and small business startup. Jonas is passionate about agriculture, and most of all, excited about seeing New Mexico grow and succeed. Jonas  has a certificate in Public Utility Regulation and Economics, and will finish his Masters in Water Science & Management with a focus in Policy & Economics in December.

Contact Jonas

Gabrielle Ontiveros

Gabrielle OntiverosResearch & Deliberation Project Assistant

Gabrielle Ontiveros offers a comprehensive background of six years in higher education program development and two years of housing development. As a graduate of U.C. Berkeley she studied ecology and geography focusing on petroleum industrial design and worked on stricter code enforcement for oil refineries. She holds a B.S. in Social Ecology and a Minor in Physical Geography from U.C. Berkeley. She is a seasoned environmental justice activist. Gabrielle is a recent transplant from the Bay Area but loves New Mexico's landscape and food.  She has a passion for rock climbing and loves to cook spicy food.

Contact Gabrielle

 
Wendy Wintermute

Wendy WintermuteShare NM Policy Director


Wendy sees her current role with SHARE as the culmination of a career helping communities come together to support healthy families, vital communities and supportive institutions. Wendy has an MA degree in Family and Community Relations from Columbia University Teachers College, an MSW and Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Work from the University of Michigan. She has decades of experience in community outreach and development. She spends the majority of her time 'in the field,' engaging with and learning from SHARE's current and potential community partners.

Contact Wendy

 
 

 

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