Governor Susana Martinez recently appointed several Commissioners to the NMCCV. The Commissioners represent different communities throughout New Mexico.
Thank you Governor Martinez!
Chair, Grants Management & Program Development Committee
Ms. Jorja Armijo-Brasher currently serves as the Director for the City of Albuquerque’s Department of Senior Affairs. In this capacity, Ms. Brasher oversees an annual budget in excess of $13 million, 200 employees, and: six senior centers, two multi-generational centers, two senior sports and fitness centers, and 19 nutrition satellite/meal sites.
Prior to her appointment to the Department of Senior Affairs in 2009, Ms. Brasher spent 20 years as the Division Manager of Child and Family Development Services for the City of Albuquerque’s Department of Family and Community Services. As Division Manager, she oversaw four distinct programs with a combined annual budget of over $5 million dollars. The programs included the City’s child development centers and pre-Kindergarten programs that serve approximately 800 children each year; the Early Head Start program that serves 228 infants and toddlers and their families; the Teen Parent Residence program that provides housing and Early Head Start services to pregnant teens and teen parents; and the state-funded GRADS program for high school parents attending Albuquerque Public Schools. Ms. Brasher has more than 35 years of experience in the field of early childhood education. She began her career as a classroom teacher and has been employed in various settings with increasing responsibilities. She is active in national, state, and local activities related to early childhood education. Ms. Brasher has a master’s degree in elementary education-early childhood education and a certificate in educational administration and curriculum.
An Associate Attorney since 2009 at The Law Office of S. Bert Atkins Attorney at Law. Working in areas of criminal defense; divorces and custody, child support, domestic violence hearings, guardian ad litem: CYFD Abuse and Neglect Hearings, termination of parental rights trials, contracts and wills. Working as a Currier and Paralegal Assistant for Rothstein, Donatelli, Dahlstrom, Hughes, Schoenburg, & Bienvenu, LLP, specializing in Criminal Defense and Civil Rights. Ms. Atkins also spent time as a Behavior Specialist with Adolescents at Desert Hills Center for Youth.
Las Cruces, NM
Dustin A. Chavez, a native New Mexican, is currently a full time student. He graduated from Manzano High School in Albuquerque and upon graduation went on to pursue higher education. He is a senior at New Mexico State University where he is double majoring in accounting and finance with a minor in banking. He is poised to graduate in May of 2016. He has been committed to serving the state where his employment started at Young American Football League, where he progressed to a Field Commissioner. His background of employment varies from being an intern at Sandia National Laboratories to his current role of President of the Associated Students of New Mexico State University, the student government for undergraduate and graduate students. He is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity at New Mexico State University. Dustin has been heavily involved in advocacy with elected officials for student issues on a local, state, and federal level for a few years. This is where he says his passion truly is, giving a voice to those who may not always have one.
Dustin decided to pursue a commissioner appointment to the New Mexico Commission to Community Volunteerism (NMCCV) to help aid in meeting the needs of New Mexico’s Communities. He has a passion for New Mexico and would encourage more of the youth to stay and aide in furthering our great state. He has future aspirations upon graduation to attain a law degree and help to serve the great state of New Mexico.
Second Vice-Chair, Executive Committee
Bernadine Dallago was born and raised in Gallup, New Mexico. In 1995 she moved to Las Cruces with husband Michael and their three children Monica, Dona and Mark and have called it home ever since. Michael and Bernadine are now proud grandparents of their four-year-old grandson Noah.
When moving to Las Cruces Bernadine continued to volunteer for the Girl Scouts through the Rio Grande Girl Scout Council and then later went to work with the agency as the Membership & Marketing Manager. This was the launch of her non-profit career. Her non-profit work has included; Campaign Director, Interim President/CEO of United Way of SNM, The Salvation Army and SANE Coordinator of La Piñon Sexual Assault Recovery Service of SNM.
While working at La Piñon Bernadine collaboratively worked along with Executive Director, Donna Richmond to begin the development of the Child Crisis Center of SNM. The Child Crisis Center provides shelter care to children whose families are in crisis in order to protect children from child abuse and neglect.
Bernadine is the Immediate Past President of the Las Cruces Rotary Club and Southwest District Kiwanis Lt. Governor and member of Embroidery Guild of America.
Santa Fe, NM
Michael J. Garcia serves as the New Mexico State Program Director for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). In this role Michael oversees the New Mexico program portfolio that consists of 60 AmeriCorps VISTA and Senior Corps programs. In his role as the State Program Director, Michael serves as the New Mexico liaison for CNCS. He is dedicated to ensuring that CNCS programming in New Mexico is being carried out with the utmost quality and that national service members enjoy carrying out their service.
Michael received a bachelor’s of arts in political science, as well as his master’s degree in public administration.
Aside from serving as the CNCS New Mexico State Program Director, Michael has a history of national service. He served one term as a VISTA member and an additional term as a VISTA Leader. After completion of his VISTA service, Michael went on to become the Project Director of the VISTA project he was a member of. He served as a VISTA Project Director for four years.
Alice Garza is the president and co-owner of Leading Edge Voice & Data Communication, Inc., along with her husband Rudy since 1995. For her company Alice manages the office, billing, accounting and customer service. Leading Edge is a service company that handles installation, repair, maintenance and consultation on telephone systems, computer, and phone system infrastructure. Her business is run on Christian ethics and morals.
Alice sits on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Women Business Owners, is an Ambassador for the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, a member of Corporate Volunteer Council of Central New Mexico and is a member of MANA de Albuquerque. Alice is also very active in community volunteerism.
Her hobbies include swimming, water aerobics, baking, beading jewelry and quilting. She has been married for 36 years and has five grandchildren: four boys and one little princess.
Commission Chair, Executive Committee
Elaine Graff is an experienced video producer, writer, director, and editor. She holds a BAA from Central Michigan University and a MA from Webster University. Working for Owens Illinois and Exxon Company, USA, has given her experience in the corporate communications world. Her non-profit experience has been with The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod serving as AV manager and Staff producer. Currently she works as a free-lance video producer for non-profit church organizations.
Elaine is the Chairman of the Board for Concordia Publishing House, the non-profit publishing house for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. CPH was the 2011 award recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige for excellence in business practices. Her other responsibilities include serving on the LCMS President’s special task force for reorganization of districts within the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
She is active as a volunteer in her church helping run a free Moms Day out program for 2-3 year olds.
She is married to Rev. Warren Graff and has one son, Nathan.
Nancy Wagner (Hughes) was born in Waterloo, Iowa, and grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Arts degree in Psychology from Florida State University. She met and married Herb Hughes at Florida State University where Herb was earning his PhD in Psychology.
After completing their degrees, Nancy and Herb moved to Greeley, Colorado, where Herb taught at the University of Northern Colorado. Daughter Katherine and son Bryn were born in Greeley. In 1966, the couple moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Herb worked for Governor Cargo and in 1968 they moved to Albuquerque where they have lived ever since.
Nancy has 25 years of experience in education, including as a School Psychologist and later a Special Education teacher with Albuquerque Public Schools. She is active in PEO, Chi Omega alumni Chapter and the Presbyterian Church. She volunteers through her church with the homeless shelter and other social service projects. She has experience with special events planning, fundraising, and budgeting as well as political and community organizing.
Her hobbies include reading, tennis, aerobics, and travel. She has three grandchildren, one in Albuquerque and two in Brisbane, Australia. She is an avid UNM Lobo Fan and enjoys sports and hiking. Nancy appreciates being able to serve on this Commission as she believes in the value of community volunteerism and feels that the work of the Commission is an important contribution to our society.
Chair, State Service Plan Taskforce
Charles Humiston currently serves as the training director for an electrical apprenticeship. He has been an electrician by trade since 1984. Originally from South Dakota, Charles moved to Albuquerque in 1989. In his spare time he volunteers with his church and in his local community.
J. Renee Lowden, a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico has served as manager of the Career Technology Training department of Albuquerque Job Corps Center since 1999.
During her tenure, she has found her personal vocation in the oversight of the education, career development and job placement of at-promise youth both locally and nationally. Amongst many accomplishments while serving in the capacity of the Career Tech Manager she assisted in the development and implementation of the only Advanced Welding Program throughout the National Job Corps Program.
She is involved in the greater community both professionally and civically as she currently serves as a Board member to the Work Force Investment Board of New Mexico in addition to having served as a Board member to the New Mexico Public Education Department- Apprenticeship Training and Advisory Committee. These opportunities have given her further insight into the New Mexico workforce training needs and entry level requirements for job preparedness and success of the Job Corps student.
As an educator she continues to support and encourage student community involvement with non-profit organizations as part of their training and growth as young adults.
Vice-Chair, Executive Committee
Matthew Montoya currently works for New Mexico Bank and Trust and is the Retail Assistant Manager for the bank. As the Retail Assistant Manager, Matthew is in charge of sales coaching for the bank. Matthew graduated from the University of New Mexico in May of 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Criminology. Matthew also volunteers as the head coach of a club lacrosse team here in Albuquerque.
Jennifer has over 23 years of community relations and communications experience and joined Wells Fargo in 2008. She is responsible for reputation management, volunteerism and community involvement and supporting local and regional non-profits though the company’s generous corporate giving program of over $2.3 million (NM, El Paso and Greater TX).
Jennifer manages Wells Fargo employee volunteer and board service to non-profits in New Mexico and El Paso working with nearly 1,600 employees in addition to representing the company on various boards in the community and oversees the annual United Way Community Support Campaign. Additionally Jennifer supports the Greater Texas region with community affairs council and reporting.
Jennifer currently serves on the boards of Junior Achievement of New Mexico, New Mexico First, New Mexico Broadcasters Assoc., The Catholic Foundation and Annunciation Catholic School. She was appointed by the Governor of New Mexico to serve as a Commissioner for the State of New Mexico Office of Volunteer Engagement and Board of Trustees for the New Mexico Natural History and Science Museum. She serves on the Living Cities Integration Initiative council working to support entrepreneurs in New México and is a member of PEO Chapter X. She was awarded the Samaritan Counseling Center’s New Mexico Ethics in Business Young Leader Award along with the Hautepreneurs Leader Honor both in 2015.
She has a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from the University of New Mexico and an associate’s degree from Champlain College in Vermont.
She is a mom of Averie (11) and Joshua (9) and has been married to her husband Michael for 21 years.
Angel Fire, NM
Sam Sokolove was appointed Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism in September of 2016. Previously, Sam served as Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico from 2005-2015, and then consulted with a collaborative of agencies addressing community health issues in Albuquerque’s South Valley.
With more than twenty years’ experience in administration, fundraising and community organizing, Sam began his career as a Detroit Housing Commission Community Service Fellow before taking positions with the Citizens Committee for New York City and the American Jewish Committee in New York and San Diego. Sam’s articles and op-eds have been featured in many regional and national publications, and he holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Temple University and the University of Michigan. He is married and has two children.
Designee of Christopher Ruszkowski, Cabinet Secretary NMPED - (biography & photo forthcoming)