NMCAN’s team is a group of dedicated professionals, accountable to each other, our Youth Leaders, and the young people we serve.

Board of Directors*

Sara Keller
Nusenda Credit Union

Vice President
Stefanie Vigil, MPH, LMSW
True Health New Mexico

Sandy Garcia
Community Volunteer / formerly of Bank of the West

Lalita Moskowitz, JD
American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico


Antoinette Pacheco
Community Volunteer/ formerly of City of Albuquerque

Karen D.W. Patterson, PhD
University of New Mexico


Andrew Salazar, Youth Organizing Coordinator

Andrew coordinates our youth organizing to support systems change. He grew up in foster care and aged out, having spent seven years in foster care. On top of doing work as a foster youth advocate for six years, he has worked in community organizing and in politics. Andrew interned for Congresswoman Debra Haaland in Washington, D.C., conducted community organizing for various local political campaigns, and developed a program blueprint for a drop in center with a collaborative of young men of color. He is also a Jim Casey Young Fellow for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Andrew is excited to serve young people at an organization that helped him when he himself was aging out of the foster care system.

Arika E. Sánchez, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Arika develops and implements the organization’s policy and advocacy agenda. She has previously worked for United Way of Central New Mexico, The Legal Aid Society in New York City, and Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii. Arika was a graduate fellow at the Justice Action Center and volunteer attorney for a homeless legal clinic in Albuquerque. She is a current member of the State Bar of New Mexico, Junior Achievement volunteer, and Co-Chair of the New Mexico Children’s Court Improvement Commission. Arika holds a Juris Doctor from New York Law School, Master of Public Administration from the University of New Mexico, and Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Cinthia M. Ramirez, Enrichment Coordinator

Cinthia Ramirez

Cinthia is responsible for supporting the implementation of leadership enrichment programming. She is Mexican-American and originates from a large family that migrated from Juarez, Mx. and Durango, Mx. She has lived her life in Albuquerque, having attended Albuquerque High School and the University of New Mexico. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Health Education with a concentration in Community Health Education from UNM. She has experience in child growth and development, collaborative practices and leadership from her time working as an intern and Graduate Assistant at the UNM Family Development Center. As a Health Educator, she envisions better health outcomes and wellness for all people through access to equitable education, support and connection.

Dante Bautista, Operations Assistant

Dante works on organizational operations by providing administrative support and assistance to all staff. She is originally from New Mexico with roots in Laguna Pueblo and Albuquerque. Dante received her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts at the University of New Mexico with concentrations in History and Psychology.

Ezra Spitzer, Executive Director (on temporary wellness leave)

Ezra joined NMCAN in 2007 and has had the privilege of being Executive Director since 2012. In this position, he leads the organization to fulfill its mission and oversees the implementation of its strategic goals, objectives, and policies. Previously, he served in the U.S. Peace Corps in the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan where he worked closely with a women’s crisis center and a youth empowerment center to build organizational capacity and cohesive strategies. Ezra also worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, helping resettle political refugees, and has mentored youth from the juvenile justice system as they transition to adulthood. Ezra holds a Master of Public Administration, is the former co-chair of the NM Children’s Court Improvement Commission, and serves on the NM State Workforce Board.

Jeannette Stahn, Director of Operations

Jeannette supports the NMCAN team to do their best work. She oversees human resources, vendor relationships, and office and fiscal management, and ensures that our values of authentic youth engagement and race, equity, diversity, and inclusion are woven throughout the organization. Jeannette is an urban Diné and has lived in New Mexico her entire life. Her former work at the University of New Mexico involved supporting programming for young people interested in pursuing a health career and navigating higher education. She holds a Master of Arts in Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies and Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of New Mexico.

Judit Huerta, Volunteer Coordinator

Judit is responsible for developing and maintaining a robust volunteer network of mentors and financial coaches. She is committed to supporting NMCAN’s belief that healthy relationships are an essential foundation for young people to thrive. Her experience working with young people includes mentoring and tutoring first-generation college students at the University of New Mexico, where Judit obtained her Bachelor’s of Arts in Criminology and Psychology. Her goal in life is to help create a more fair and just world by contributing to the restructuring of systems negatively impacting minorities, women, and young people.

Lori Otero, Operations Assistant


Lori provides planning and logistical support to NMCAN programming and collects and analyzes organizational data. Lori is a native New Mexican who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico. In high school and college, she devoted many hours to volunteer work. Her journey has led her from the Rio Grande Zoo to NMCAN where she is very excited to be. She looks forward to being a part of the NMCAN family for years to come. She is an avid crafter, and loves Escape Rooms.

Lorilynn Violanta, Acting Executive Director


Lorilynn provides leadership for fundraising, communications, public relations, and strategic partnerships. Lorilynn is dedicated to advancing socially just and influential change in our community, and prior to joining NMCAN, she managed a $2 million portfolio at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She also guided fundraising activities for The Posse Foundation and Free Arts of Arizona. Lorilynn has a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College in New York City.

Marco Martinez, Youth Organizing Coordinator

Marco Martinez

Marco coordinates our youth organizing to support systems change. He first got involved in advocacy work in 2012 after aging out of foster care. He has participated in various advocacy youth groups such as ADELANTE, LUVYANM, and NMCAN Youth Leaders, which guided him on a path to advocate for systemic change within the child welfare system. In 2017 he became an Annie E Casey Fellow and since then he has worked on the successful passage of multiple senate bills such as the Support for Transferring Students Bill in 2017, the Foster Youth Employment Tax Credit Bill in 2018, and the Extension of Care Bill in 2020 which allows youth to stay in care until the age of 21.

Sierra Ludington, Communications Manager

Sierra is responsible for managing a robust outreach and communications strategy that supports NMCAN’s mission and elevates youth and family voice. She is passionate about the development of community relationships to empower youth. Her background includes experience in mentoring first-generation Latinx college students, community organizing, criminal justice reform and teaching at a public high school in Aguascalientes, Ags. México. Sierra received her bachelor’s degree in Intercultural Communication and Spanish from the University of New Mexico and was a 2017-2018 Fulbright Scholar.

Yvonne Gallegos-Schobel, Director of Leadership Enrichment

Yvonne provides direction for the Leadership Enrichment team at NMCAN. She began her journey of community activism and systems change while working for Albuquerque Public Schools. She helped unhoused families navigate the educational system while working at the Title I Homeless Program. She continued her work in the school system by helping to develop processes and resources for students with disabilities to gain skills and maintain meaningful employment. She later went on to coordinate and manage strategic partnerships, such as food insecurity and basic needs. During her time at APS she was honored by the Board of Education for her work supporting students in the foster care system, as well as being named as Equity Champion.


*The Board of Directors meets the second Friday of every other month; please call us at 505-217-0220 for more information.