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

Ewa Ryba
Bank of Albuquerque


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 and Junior Achievement volunteer. 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.

Caitlyn Moppert, Youth Engagement Coordinator

Caitlyn meets young people wherever they’re at on their journey and supports them through the programming offered by NMCAN. Her involvement and interest in youth leadership began during her time with El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos. There, she worked specifically with the DREAMers to include immigrant youth in the decision making and advocacy work related to undocumented youth and their families. She continued her work with youth organizing as an AmeriCorps member where she was a part of a team working to start a charter school for immigrant and refugee students in the International District of Albuquerque. In 2018, Caitlyn received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Political Science from the University of New Mexico.

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

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.

Kayla Strickler, Community Engagement Coordinator

Kayla builds and manages relationships with NMCAN’s community partners, working collaboratively to improve the supports offered to young people in New Mexico. Passionate about systems change, she is excited to support NMCAN’s mission. Prior to her time with NMCAN, she is grateful to have worked with several nonprofits both locally and around the world, including in Nepal, Rwanda, and Colombia. Originally from Albuquerque, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Religious Studies with a minor in Music from the University of New Mexico. She is an alumna of the 2020 New Mexico Women of Color Nonprofit Leadership Initiative, and an active volunteer Crisis Counselor with Crisis Text Line.

Kira Luna, Director of Engagement

Kira oversees program development and implementation. She was raised in northern California and began her work in the nonprofit sector after earning her master’s degree at the University of New Mexico. She has previously worked for the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico, International Folk Art Alliance, and was a Launchpad Fellow with the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. She actively volunteers in the community and currently serves on the advisory board for Together for Brothers and as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters Mountain Region.

LoriOteroLori 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.

LorilynnViolantaLorilynn Violanta, Director of Advancement

Lorilynn provides leadership for fundraising, relationship management, 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.

Melissa Leonard, Data and Development Manager

Melissa manages various aspects of the organizational advancement strategy with particular focus on grant writing, reporting, data management, and evaluation. She has been involved with NMCAN as a volunteer Mentor since 2017. Melissa received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a minor in History from the University of California, Davis, and received her master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico, focusing on History and Human Rights. Her background includes experience in fundraising, community engagement, grassroots organizing, and consulting, and she strives to prioritize authentic engagement, equity, and inclusion in all of her work. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Equality New Mexico, New Mexico’s statewide LGBT advocacy and civil rights organization.

Rolando Fernandez, Youth Engagement Coordinator

Rolando meets young people wherever they are in their journey and supports them through the programming offered by NMCAN. Born in Texas, he moved to New Mexico when he was a teen and considers New Mexico to be his second home. Rolando has been involved with programs like Running 505 that focus on youth wellness and empowerment. He received his Bachelor of Arts at the University of New Mexico in Criminology and Religion, as well as Military Science.

Sierra Ludington, Community Engagement Coordinator

Sierra conducts outreach, recruitment, and ongoing support for mentors, financial coaches, and volunteers throughout their journey with NMCAN. 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, 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 she currently serves on the advisory board for Pegasus Legal Services for Children.

Suyent Rodriguez, Youth Engagement Coordinator

Suyent serves young people by supporting and guiding them to meet their goals. She was born in La Habana, Cuba and calls Albuquerque her second home. Her interest in working with young people was fortified during a teaching fellowship in Birmingham, AL. Suyent was a research fellow at Syracuse University, where she earned a Master of Arts degree in Pan-African Studies. In 2017, she earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Africana Studies at the University of New Mexico.

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