Meet Our Youth Leaders
Our Youth Leaders guide NMCAN’s policy work. Members work to engage peers and the community in systems and policy change.
Rochelle spent two and a half years in the foster care system and has served more than seven years of her life advocating for positive change in New Mexico’s child welfare system. Rochelle is a former member of Leaders Uniting Voices Youth Advocates of New Mexico (LUVYA) where she advocated on behalf of youth in foster care. Rochelle works closely with the New Mexico’s Children, Youth, & Families Department to improve policies and procedures for youth in the child welfare system. In 2015, she diligently committed her time and expertise to formulate New Mexico’s Prudent Parenting Standard and policies to support normalizing the foster care experience. Rochelle also participated in the 2016 National Youth Leadership Institute led by the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative and Annie E. Casey Foundation. She is an effective public speaker who has participated in several youth panels and conferences addressing child welfare issues. Rochelle is passionate about achieving permanency for foster care youth and is concerned that the number of available foster homes is insufficient compared to the number of children coming into care. Rochelle is equally passionate about the lack of sibling visitations within local communities and its impact on the welfare of children.
Andrew spent five years in foster care and has served as a youth advocate since 2016. He is currently the president of Leaders Uniting Voices, Youth Advocates of New Mexico (LUVYA) and his been involved with NMCAN since 2015. Andrew is passionate about advocating for improving the foster care system, particularly around sibling rights and the implementation of a grievance process for young people in care. He is a youth engagement trainer, training adult professionals how to positively engage with young people, and a participant in Making Connections: International District, part of Young Men of Color. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, yoga, meditation, reading, watching WWE, and going to concerts. His ultimate goal is to “change society for the better and to improve the foster care system”.
Krystal spent one year in foster care and has served as a youth advocate since aging out of care. She has been a Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative Young Fellows since 2013. Krystal enjoys being an advocate because she wants younger youth to know that they can stand up for themselves and make a difference. During the 2014 legislative session, she served as an expert witness providing critical testimony in favor of the tuition waiver for foster youth. Krystal has shared her experience and expertise on multiple episodes of PBS’s Public Square and New Mexico In Focus. In her spare time, she savors “tedious” things like crocheting and coloring. She also enjoys volunteering with her church and participating in community theatre. Krystal is currently a senior at UNM and someday hopes to do something “social-worky” after first taking some time to gain experiences outside of the child welfare system.
Marco spent over two years in foster care and has served as a youth advocate for more than seven years. He loves being an advocate because he believes that in order to create change in the world everyone’s voice should be heard. He also enjoys it because it allows him to meet new people and to witness people coming together as one. In 2015, Marco served as a youth consultant to the collaborative workgroup that successfully created the New Mexico Prudent Parenting Standard and policies that support young people having normalized experiences while in foster care, and in 2017, he participated in the Youth Leadership Institute at Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. Marco’s ultimate goal is to bring people together to create change, peace, and more love in this world.
Jesús Schink has spent time with NMCAN to develop his advocacy skills and has a combined experience of eight years in the foster care, treatment foster care, and juvenile justice system. He is currently a double major in Psychology and Philosophy at the University of New Mexico. He is a research assistant for the President of the Research Society on Marijuana, studying alcohol and cannabis with a focus on protective behavioral strategies. Thoroughly involved in campus life, he is an educational peer mentor for the men of color and volunteers with ASUNM & Student Special Events. He is studying for the GRE as well as attending various conferences for advocacy and networking for doctorial programs for clinical or addiction psychology. Within his advocacy work, he strives to promote higher education, life skills, and psycho-education in hopes of decreasing youth experiencing crisis and increasing self-empowerment. In moments of his life, he experienced homelessness and turmoil. He feels there is an opportunity to help other youth who have been through or are currently experiencing child protective services or the juvenile justice system. Jesús has a unique perspective and is eager to not only better himself but to help others.