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Being the Change: DEI UNITED New & Emerging Leaders of Color

DEI UNITED New and Emerging Leaders of Color

In a world where systemic inequities persist, initiatives like the Equity in Leadership program serve as beacons of hope and solidarity. Designed to support nonprofit leaders historically impacted by injustice, this initiative addresses the root causes of marginalization. Providing opportunities for growth, learning, and connection, it empowers leaders to enact positive change within their organizations and communities.

United Way of North Central New Mexico and Albuquerque Community Foundation’s collaboration, DEI United is proud to announce the inaugural cohort of New and Emerging Leaders of Color!

Sonya Bellafant, Executive Director of New Mexico Legal Aid:

“NMLA is to be the voice, defender, and advocate for poor people who are seeking justice in all forums, particularly in the communities in which they live. NMLA is committed to helping poor people in their struggle to access food, shelter, security, and to preserve their unique cultural heritages.”

T. Micahel Trimm, Executive Director of the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico:  

“The Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico’s mission is to support transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people in New Mexico through advocacy, education and direct services. The mission is incredibly important to me as a Black, queer man of transgender experience who is working towards liberation, thriving and joy for our TGNC communities in addition to breaking down barriers to access to life sustaining and lifesaving resources.” 

Louisa Garcia, Director of Girl Experience at Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails: 

“Our organization’s mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. As Director of Girl Experience my job is to offer opportunities to our scouts that focus on the Girl Scout Leadership Experience which focuses on girl-lead, learn by doing and cooperative learning. By developing programs that focus on these three things I have found that I have had to dig deep and develop leadership skills that allow me and my team to create these unique opportunities that build the world’s future leaders.” 

Camille Vasquez, Initiative Manager for the South Valley Economic Development Center: 

“The mission of the RGCDC is to be the trusted and accessible community hub for social and economic entrepreneurship which facilitates self-sufficiency while honoring the people’s voice and culture and is focused on building stronger, healthier communities in the South Valley and across the state.” 

Adriana Marinez, Guzman Special Programs Manager at WESST: 

“WESST’s mission is to be a home to New Mexicans starting or growing a small business. We provide a support system of consulting, training, incubation, and lending to help women, people of color and low-wealth individuals successfully strengthen and grow their businesses through sustainable sales, financial knowledge, and job creation.”

Ricardo Devine, Executive Director of The Rock at Noonday:

“The Rock at Noonday plays a vital role as a daytime shelter, offering essential support to the less fortunate and individuals experiencing homelessness within our community. Its mission, centered on providing a safe haven for those in need, deeply resonates with my unwavering dedication to aiding others. This shared commitment has significantly impacted my professional journey, including my work in various parts of the world and within America.”

Markela B. Clinton, Community Engagement and Finacial Specialist at Juneteenth Renaissance Institute:

“The mission of the Juneteenth Renaissance Insitute is to heal and offer support to the African-American diaspora in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In my role with the organization, I coordinate events, community partnerships, board meetings, and financial management. Critical elements of maintaining those relationships and building events include; effective written and verbal communication, public speaking, and presentation skills. I have been given the opportunity to really refine and concentrate on these skills through my position.”

Leroy Silva, Executive Director of the Laguna Community Foundation:

“The mission of the Laguna Community Foundation is ‘to generate resources and charitable support for initiatives that strengthen the Pueblo of Laguna.’ Working for my community has always been a goal, and now that I have the opportunity to make positive moves, in various ways, to uplift and support, I intend on utilizing all of my tools and networks to help my community thrive.”

Karla Causey, President & CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce of New Mexico:

“We provide training and resources for the development and empowerment for sustainable growth for economic opportunities for Black and other underserved and under-resourced businesses and entrepreneurs within the State of New Mexico. I envision an organization with adequate resources (people and dollars) operating out of our own facility that impacts businesses throughout the world.”

Natasha Garcia, Executive Director and Founder of the New Mexico Reentry Center:

“Our mission is to disrupt the cycle of re-incarceration by offering training and comprehensive support to individuals in New Mexico who are in the process of recovery from substance use disorders and mental health challenges. Having navigated numerous years of involvement with the justice system, I am now in a position to provide invaluable support to our justice-involved community, assisting them in achieving a higher quality of life. This journey allows me to be the source of the support I once yearned for during my most challenging moments.”

Catalina Nunez, Clinical Director at the Valencia Shelter Services:

“VSS helps individuals affected by domestic and sexual violence and child abuse in their efforts to move their lives forward. We provide shelter, housing, counseling, and advocacy to support them in building lives free from the effects of violence. We seek social change to end domestic and sexual violence and child abuse through community awareness, engagement, and education. I hope to be a trusted leader and that the team knows it is okay to make mistakes as long as we all learn from it together.”

As we celebrate the inaugural cohort of New and Emerging Leaders of Color, we recognize the profound impact they will have on our communities. Their dedication to justice, equity, and inclusion serves as a catalyst for social change. Through their leadership, underserved populations will find support and empowerment, paving the way for a more equitable future. Congratulations to these remarkable leaders as they embark on their journey of transformation and impact.


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