2021 DPNM Rural Summit

2021 DPNM Rural Summit

In December 2021, Democrats from around New Mexico came together to discuss issues affecting rural New Mexicans.

Rural Summit Recordings

Recap Video

Thank you for participating in our 1st annual DPNM Rural Summit co-hosted by the DPNM Rural Caucus! Attendees heard from 25 speakers, including elected officials, community advocates and industry workers who addressed a variety of topics affecting rural New Mexico. 

Guest Speakers & Panelists

Michelle Lujan Grisham is the thirty-second governor of the state of New Mexico, the first Democratic Latina to be elected governor in U.S. history. As governor, Lujan Grisham has implemented a series of evidence-based policies aimed at transforming New Mexico’s public education system, expanding the state’s economy to include more high-quality employment opportunities and preserving New Mexico’s air, land and water. In 2019, she oversaw one of the most productive legislative sessions in state history, signing a broad package of bipartisan bills into law, notably a historic investment in public education and a landmark transition to clean energy.

DPNM Chairwoman Jessica Velasquez 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. 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.

Email: [email protected]

Kathleen Burke is the Project Coordinator for Fair Districts for New Mexico. Burke has served as a consultant to the League of Women Voters on redistricting since 2019. She manages the organization’s partner relations and communications as well as contributes to the organization’s strategy and methods. Kathleen has served two terms on the DPNM State Central Committee, is currently a precinct chair, and in 2016 was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Email: [email protected]

Adam Daugherty has been the Data Director for DPNM since 2019. In 2018, he worked as a Senior Field Manager for the Beto O’Rourke campaign for US Senate, managing all field operations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. After graduating from Iowa State University in 2015 with a degree in Marketing, he transitioned into project management and data analytics roles for several small start-ups and nonprofits. As Data Director, Adam has prioritized building a fundamental data infrastructure, emphasizing flexibility and analytical efficiency.

Ahtza Dawn Chavez is a member of the Diné Nation born for Kewa Pueblo. As the Executive Director of NAVA Education Project (501c3) and NM Native Vote (501c4), she oversees partner organizations tasked with educating and creating an indigenous voting bloc in New Mexico working with key organizations and governance within the state. She began her undergraduate degree at Stanford University and transferred to the UNM in her senior year where she received her B.A. in Sociology. She went on to receive her MBA (UNM) and her Masters of Studies in Law (MSL) from the UNM School of Law with a concentration in federal Indian law.

Email: [email protected]

Eric Fielenbach is the Co-Founder and NM Director of the Rural Dems of America Coalition and is in the process of helping to form a PAC for the organization and develop policy and voter outreach. Fielenbach has worked in rural New Mexico politics as the Founder of NMMI Democrats and for numerous campaigns in Southeastern New Mexico. Fielenbach is also currently studying Aerospace Engineering at New Mexico Tech and is former Constituent Services for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Email: [email protected]

A Las Cruces native, Gabe Gallegos is proud to serve as the acting President of the Young Democrats of New Mexico as of November 2021. He has previously served as the Vice President and Treasurer of the caucus, and is passionate about engaging young voters and electing young candidates to office. Professionally, Gabe is a media strategist for a leading AdTech company and resides in Albuquerque.

Email: [email protected]

Zackary Quintero is from Las Cruces New Mexico and first started organizing with families in the Colonias of Southern New Mexico. He has served in different leadership roles in the executive board of the State Young Democrats, Mexican American Law Student Association, and New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association. Recently Zack finished serving as the Federal Ombudsman for New Mexico, he was appointed by Governor Lujan Grisham. 

Email: [email protected] 

As a Doña Ana County Commissioner, Shannon Reynolds has over 30 years of experience working with public and private organizations both nationally and internationally. He is a New Mexico Edge Certified Public Official, Certified County Commissioner and a Certified Advocate for Public Ethics. Shannon is Chair of Spaceport America Regional Spaceport District. He also serves on the Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority, New Mexico Association of Counties Board, Treasurer/Secretary of the NM Commissioner Affiliate Board, and the Mesilla Valley Juvenile Justice Board.

Email: [email protected]

Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez serves New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. She is the Freshman Representative to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Special Hour Order Convener for the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She serves on the House Committees on Natural Resources, Education and Labor, and the Committee on House Administration, and Chairs the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States. She is a 17th generation Northern New Mexican. The daughter of bilingual education pioneers, she proudly started her education in Head Start, then going on to graduate from Yale and Stanford Law School. As an attorney and advocate, she has won significant legal battles to advance voting rights, promote tribal sovereignty, and protect our environment and our acequia waters. She helped secure nearly a billion dollars for, and then helped build, schools, rural health clinics, broadband, businesses, affordable housing and critical infrastructure for New Mexico’s diverse but economically struggling communities. Teresa and her three children live in Santa Fe.

Dr. Gary Kenneth King, (NM Attorney General, 2006-2014) was raised and still lives on the King family farm and ranch near Stanley, NM. He has a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and a Law Degree. He has had a law practice based in Moriarty, NM since 1984.  Areas of expertise include water and real property litigation, estate planning for rural families, Constitutional law and public policy. He represented largely rural HD-50 in the NM Legislature from 1986-1998 and served as an Assistant Secretary of the USDOE under the Clinton Administration. He chairs the NM Children’s Foundation.

Email: [email protected]

Dr. Yolanda Jones King is a Regent at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.  She is in her second year as President of the Higher Education Regents Coalition (HERC). She initiated HERC’s advocacy for a strategic statewide approach to broadband for education (K-12 & Higher Ed). She was at the Department of Defense for 32 years in advanced technology development.  Dr. King retired and still serves as a technical advisor. She is the President of the International Women’s Forum-NM and on the Board of the Network for Women in Science & Engineering.

Dylan Connelly, PE, is the Director of Commercial and Community Solar Development at Affordable Solar. He is a licensed professional engineer with over five years of solar and energy storage development experience. In addition, he has over a decade of experience in energy efficiency and Net Zero building design. He uses his diverse background to provide clients with a comprehensive perspective about how to meet their energy saving goals. Affordable Solar employs over 160 full time employees in New Mexico and is the largest solar installer in the state.

Email: [email protected]

PRC Commissioner Joe Maestas is a native New Mexican, land grant heir, and acequia water rights owner. The great-grandson of a constitutional delegate, Jose Amado Lucero, and proud product of our public school system, the Commissioner’s strong work ethic was forged at an early age growing up on a small farm and helping to run a small, family-owned business in Santa Cruz, New Mexico. He also served our country as a federal civil servant for over 30 years, working as a regulator at all levels of the federal government. Commissioner Maestas also served as a local elected official for 14 years, including as a Santa Fe City Councilor and an Espanola Councilor and Mayor.

Melissa Toledo-Ontiveros MA, MCJ, MPA is Director of Thriving Families at Community Action Agency Southern New Mexico. Where she developed a hybrid mentorship/navigating program. Working through a systemic approach to break down barriers and support families in meeting their goals. Melissa’s contract work includes working with the State of NM’S TUPAC Department and JEDI leadership work with Constellation inc. Melissa’s leadership and experiences range from various direct service roles: Department of Health, Health Promotion program manager, overseeing eight counties in New Mexico’s SW Region; case manager at YDI’S gang intervention and prevention program, school counselor at Van Buren Middle School, mental & behavioral therapist, multi-systemic and problem sexual therapist at Families Youth inc.; developmental specialist, early childhood education, and registered behavioral technician at Aprendamos Intervention Team.

Email: [email protected]

William Sarokin is an Academy and Emmy award nominated motion picture sound mixer.  Raised in New York he came to New Mexico in 2002 to work on Campbell Scott’s film, ‘Off the Map’ in Taos and never left.  He continues to work in production, most recently on Amazon’s ‘Outer Range’ shot in Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Angel Fire NM,  to be aired in the spring of 2022.  He is a proud union member of IATSE Locals 480 and 52.  Credits include American Gangster, Inside Man, Salt, Sex and the City, In Plain Sight, Daybreak, North Country, and The Dictator.  He currently lives in Sandia Park.

Email: [email protected]

Dick Wilkinson, CWO4 (ret), served on active duty for 20 years as a Signals Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Army. He had diverse assignments all over the world, including a combat tour in Afghanistan. Dick finished his career testing cutting-edge technology for the DOD at Kirtland Air Force Base and served New Mexico as the Chief Technology Officer for the Supreme Court. He is now the Director of the New Mexico Veterans Cannabis Alliance. Dick continues to advocate for veterans because he wants to ensure our community takes care of those who have taken care of us.

Email: [email protected]

Gabriella Coughlin joined the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District in 2021 as the District’s first staff Agronomist/Agroecologist after an eleven-year career with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Oregon and New Mexico. As a professional soil scientist, conservation planner, snow surveyor, and civil rights program manager, Ms. Coughlin brings years of experience building partnerships among rural and urban communities across the West to solve complex agricultural and environmental challenges. Born and raised ranching and rodeoing in Nevada, Ms. Coughlin received her Bachelor of Science degree in Crop and Soil Science with a Soil Resource Management focus from Oregon State University.

Email: [email protected]

Chris Morgan is President of the New Mexico Horse Council. Chris and his wife Tracy are residents of Edgewood, New Mexico. Chris was raised in West Texas on his grandparent’s cattle ranch where he learned to ride horses and work cattle from an early age.  He has a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication from West Texas A&M University and is actively pursuing his Master’s at this time. Chris has served on the NM State Fair Rodeo Committee and the Bernalillo County Fair Board.  He is director of the East Mountain Rodeo Association and is hosting Estancia Valley Ranch Rodeo, a sanctioned Working Ranch Cowboy Association event expected to bring in teams from five states with 1100 spectators. Chris has a passion for helping educate and assist in sharing equine experiences with New Mexicans and visitors alike.

Email: [email protected]

Stephanie Garcia Richard is the first woman and educator to be elected to the position of New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands to oversee the State Land Office responsible for raising revenue off state trust lands to pay for New Mexico’s schools and hospitals.  Born in Tucumcari and raised in Silver City, Stephanie learned at a young age the importance of serving others. Her father, a WWII veteran, was a teacher; her mother was active in their church and community. Stephanie grew up in a family that operated ranches on the eastern plains and northern mountains of New Mexico, giving Stephanie a strong connection to our land. After graduating from Silver High School, Stephanie went on to receive her undergraduate degree from Barnard College at Columbia University in New York.

Email: [email protected]

Gabe Vasquez serves as the District 3 City Councilor in Las Cruces. Gabe is a first-generation American who grew up in Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, and has worked as a newspaper editor, as the director of the Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as a field representative for Sen. Martin Heinrich, and for several conservation organizations, including the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. Gabe has worked across rural communities in southern New Mexico helping secure federal funding for infrastructure and economic development projects, has worked on international trade and immigration policy, and has helped lead several conservation campaigns across the state, including the designation of Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument, White Sands National Park, and recently, the Gila River diversion. He has also worked on renewable energy, outdoor recreation, and anti-poverty policies at the local, state, and federal levels. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping.

Email: [email protected]

Peter Nieto was elected Mayor of Mountainair in March of 2018 and recently won re-election allowing him to serve through December of 2025. A recent article in New Mexico Magazine recently noted that “Mountainair just might be the new comeback kid” under his leadership. Peter also serves as Chair of the DPNM Rural Caucus understanding the importance of rural inclusion in the Democratic Party’s political platform. Peter works full-time as Business Manager for Mountainair Public Schools and assists his mother in caring for 7 of 15 children she has adopted through CYFD. 

Email: [email protected]

Rochelle Williams lives in southern New Mexico. She holds an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is working on a novel about the French early modernist painter, Pierre Bonnard. Before retiring in 2020, she was managing partner of a regional construction data publishing company based in Albuquerque. Blue CD2 New Mexico is her first venture into the world of grassroots political organizing.

Email: [email protected]

Planning Committee

Marti Burt, Santa Fe County Democratic Organizer – CD3 (Santa Fe)

Eric Fielenbach, NM Director and Co-Founder Rural Dems of America Coalition – CD1 (Bernalillo) 

Frances Gonzales, CD 2 At-Large, DPNM Rural Caucus – CD2 (Bayard) 

Kianna Holian, DPNM Organizing Director – CD1 (Albuquerque) 

Flora Lucero, Chair, Democratic Party of Bernalillo County – CD1 (Albuquerque)

Eli Pavlik, Chair, San Juan County Democratic Party – CD3 (Farmington)

Alexandria Piland, Chair, Democratic Party of Sandoval County – CD3 (Rio Rancho)

Bill Raynovich, Membership Chair, DPNM Rural Caucus – CD1 (Edgewood)

Claudia Risner, Chair, Veterans & Military Family Caucus – CD1 (Tijeras)

Mona Trempe, DPNM CD2 Vice Chair – CD2 (Las Cruces)

Tate Turnbough, Chair, Democratic Party of Roosevelt County – CD3 (Portales)

Evelyn Vinogradov, Vice Chair, DPNM Rural Caucus – CD1 (Edgewood)

Stefi Weisburd – Resolutions and Platform Chair, DPNM Rural Caucus – CD1 (Tijeras)

Rochelle Williams, Chair, BlueCD2 NM – CD2 (Tularosa)


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