In 1999, Jessica Velasquez moved to New Mexico after completing her BA in English at Pennsylvania State University. She earned her teaching credentials and MA in Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies at the University of New Mexico, and taught in the Albuquerque Public Schools before becoming adjunct faculty at UNM. Jessica married her husband Aaron in 2006. Together, they own and operate Theta Plate Inc., an Albuquerque-based electroplating company that has been in the family since 1976. Jessica feels lucky to live in Sandia Park with her husband, three kids, two dogs, and a dozen chickens.
Jessica has always been active in community service, serves on the boards of Sandia Park Scenic Byway Firewise, dedicated to reducing wildfire risk and increasing community resilience, and of Kindness Club International, which aims to build positive school culture through student leadership. Jessica is a member of the Democratic Party of NM’s State Central Committee and is former Chair of Ward 22A in Bernalillo County. Jessica served on Governor Lujan Grisham’s interim Education Committee and also served on the Bernalillo County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee.
Jessica left public education to engage more fully in local politics, and over the last two election cycles, Jessica has led unprecedented campaigns in most historically conservative, “red” House districts. Jessica’s efforts helped increase voter turnout to record levels in a crucial area of the state where Democratic performance had lagged behind.
Now, as Chair of DPNM, Jessica brings her experience from the campaign trail to reinvigorate and re-energize our state party. With an eye to engaging rural communities, registering voters, driving voter turnout among young and first-time voters in historically underrepresented communities, and strengthening Party infrastructure, Jessica is dedicated to building an even more inclusive, effective and dynamic DPNM so that we can continue to win elections and fight for our core Democratic values and policies.
As a child, Manny’s family instilled in him a profound understanding of New Mexico’s rich culture and deep Democratic values. As a young LGBTQ+ person of color, his goal is to help lead DPNM’s outreach efforts to voters who feel they are not being listened to, get them involved in the process, and engaged with the Democratic Party and our candidates. Manny previously served as Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County. He has also volunteered for dozens of Democratic campaigns and candidates across New Mexico, including local races in his hometown of Las Vegas, NM, in Las Cruces, and in Bernalillo County. Manny volunteered extensively on former President Obama’s “Campaign for Change”, Democratic efforts in 2016, and for President Biden’s 2020 campaign. He has planned voter drives, town halls, forums, and created numerous opportunities for New Mexicans to get involved in the Democratic Party.
Manny was also elected in June 2021 as Vice Chair of the Western Region for the Associated State Democratic Committees—an organization within the Democratic National Committee. He speaks and writes in Spanish fluently and enjoys connecting with people from all walks of life. His passion has always been helping those who need it most and being a voice for the underserved. Manny’s main priority as Vice Chair is to re-elect Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to a second term. He believes that in order to re-elect Governor Lujan Grisham and Democrats up and down the ballot, our party must emphasize registration of first time, young, and minority voters in our voter outreach efforts.
As we move forward in our important work, Manny believes our focus must be to build an organizing team focused on outreach to people of color and our rural communities—the backbone of America. He pledges to be an open and inclusive voice who is reflective of our state and the western region of our country. Manny is committed to being an open and inclusive leader and making sure everyone’s voice is heard in the Democratic Party.
Manny lives in Albuquerque, was born in Santa Fe, and was raised in Northern New Mexico. He currently works as a health advocate and case manager for developmentally disabled people. He is also a mental health professional. Manny currently volunteers as the Vice Chair of the Community Supports Subcommittee of the Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Initiative. In his free time, Manny loves spending time outdoors, gardening, painting, singing, playing music, and hot air ballooning. Manny is a Launch Director (Zebra) at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and other hot air ballooning events. Manny received his undergraduate and graduate education from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
Representative Pamelya Herndon received her J.D. degree from the University of Texas Law School in 1978, after having graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Howard University in 1975. Herndon married fellow lawyer, Alfred Mathewson, in 1978, and the two moved to Denver, Colorado, where she worked for a major accounting firm. She was then hired by the Internal Revenue Service as a senior litigation attorney.
In 1983, Herndon and her husband moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Herndon continued to work for the IRS until she was appointed by Attorney General Patricia Madrid to serve in New Mexico’s Litigation Division in 1998. Here, she provided legal representation to state officials and agencies until 2006, before being appointed general counsel for the State Regulation and Licensing Department of New Mexico. In this position, Herndon supervised and managed the legal bureau of the Regulation and Licensing Department, as well as provided advice to the Office of the Superintendent. She remained here until 2009, when she became deputy cabinet secretary for New Mexico’s General Services Department, overseeing the administration of the government agency that housed the Risk Management, Building Services, Property Control, Transportation Services, and Administrative Services Divisions.
In February of 2011, Herndon became managing partner of Herndon Legal Services, and served until October of that year. She was then hired by the Southwest Women’s Law Center in 2012 to work as their executive director until October 2018, when she founded the KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change and became their president and CEO. Herndon also taught courses on the main campus and in the law school of the University of New Mexico. She also helped train paralegals and legal secretaries at Brookline College in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
On June 22nd, 2021, Representative Herndon was appointed to represent New Mexico House District 28, resuming the role left open by the recently-elected Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury
Born in Santa Fe and a graduate of Valley High School in Albuquerque, Rayellen has loved her NM home her entire life. She moved away to go to college and pursue her career and was able to move back in 2015.
Her life story is not one of privilege. Her dad was a veteran and a union sheet metal worker and was on job sites on the Navajo Reservation. She went to elementary school in Tuba City, Ganado and Many Farms, as well as in Albuquerque and Texas. When Rayellen was 13, her father suddenly passed away, upending the entire family structure.
Rayellen’s stay at home mom was devastated. Left to raise two daughters (ages 13 and 8) she had few skills and she wasn’t always able to make the best decisions for the family. On her own since age 16, Rayellen earned the respect of her teachers at Valley High School and she graduated in the National Honor Society.
She put her husband through college while working as one of the first female store managers for a national drugstore chain in the 1980’s. During this time, she took night classes at the local junior college and then graduated with a degree in accounting in 1990. She then went to work at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and has travelled to almost every continent.
Rayellen’s husband of 42 years passed away suddenly in 2020. She retired from her job at PwC. Rayellen has been active in local politics since 2016 as the President of Indivisible Albuquerque (formerly Indivisible Nob Hill) which demonstrates Rayellen’s commitment to progressive values. She is a graduate of Emerge (class of 2019). Now she’s ready to serve the Democratic Party of New Mexico and see it grow!
Finance and Operations Director
Miranda van Dijk
Deputy Communications Director
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