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*

President
Sara Keller
Nusenda Credit Union

Vice President
Jeff Hoehn
CLNkids

Treasurer
Sandy Garcia

Secretary
Antoinette Pacheco

Members

Lalita Moskowitz, JD
American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico

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

Ewa Ryba
US Bank

Stefanie Vigil, MPH, LMSW
True Health New Mexico

Staff

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, Office 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 and is co-chair of the NM Children’s Court Improvement Commission.

Jeannette Stahn, Operations Manager

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 working with people from a variety of cultures, she has worked with several nonprofits around the world, including in Nepal, Rwanda, and Colombia. Originally from Albuquerque, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Religious Studies from the University of New Mexico.

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.

LaBaniel Easton, Youth Engagement Coordinator

LaBaniel works to provide support, guidance, and coaching to young people engaged in NMCAN programming. He is a lifelong Albuquerque resident who began supporting his community at the age of 7. As a youth, LaBaniel’s family responsibilities required him to pursue work instead of high school, but his mother inspired him when she obtained her college degree at 46 years old. This moment was the catalyst that pushed LaBaniel to seek and obtain his high school diploma and eventually a Certificate in Health Wellness and Public Safety and an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Administration. LaBaniel has previously worked in higher education, helping New Mexico’s residents achieve their educational and career goals. He also writes for a small circular called Street News to raise awareness about Albuquerque homelessness, and volunteers time with his local church. LaBaniel hopes to take his lived experiences in foster care, juvenile justice, and homelessness to positively impact young people, and he will accomplish this goal by providing compassionate assistance to all members of our diverse community.

LoriOteroLori Otero, Program 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 and currently serves on the board of New Mexico Asian Family Center.

megantetreaultMegan, Youth Engagement Coordinator

Megan offers support, guidance, and coaching to young people engaged in NMCAN’s programming. Having aged out of the foster care system at 18, she has been personally involved with NMCAN programming since 2011, and she received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from University of New Mexico in 2016. With eight years of experience working in the field of child welfare, Megan is proud to dedicate her career to assisting young people in reaching their fullest potential despite the adversity that they have faced and will continue to face moving forward in life.

Melissa Leonard, Communications and Grants Manager

Melissa manages internal and external communications and supports NMCAN’s fundraising efforts. 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.

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