A Dynamic Network of Leaders

Select a cohort and meet the Class Two fellows.

Culture Preserver

Avery Aguilar

Pueblo of Santo Domingo, New Mexico

From a young age, Avery has aspired to lead positive change for youth. His work at Johns Hopkins University Center for American Indian Health promotes youth to make positive life choices not only now but for their futures ahead. He is dedicated to working with youth to preserve their shared Native language, Keres. His passion for preserving his culture and mentoring the next generation fuels his even greater passion to create a more equitable future for all.

Community Organizer

Johana Bencomo

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Johana is a longtime community organizer and economic justice advocate. She aspires to a community where no one is standing in the margins, but rather transforming pain into power. In November 2019, she was elected to serve on the Las Cruces City Council District 4, where she aims to bring back economic vitality and enhance public safety. Johana is also CAFé’s director of organizing, and works to create a culture of support that empowers New Mexicans to advocate for a better quality of life. She is a graduate of Emerge NM, serves as a board member for the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, and is a field instructor for New Mexico State University’s School of Social Work. Johana is a first-generation college graduate of New Mexico State University, where she earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

Cultural Strategist

Ebony Isis Booth

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Ebony curates community engagement experiences designed with people of color in mind. She founded multi-media performance showcase, Burque Noir, and creative consulting firm, Honeysuckle Creatives. As director of diversity, equity and inclusivity at Bosque School, Ebony applies more than 15 years of experience to champion equitable policies within independent schools. Her innovative multi-media showcases and exhibitions shine a light on Black artists throughout New Mexico, and her creative programming brings community together to reflect, celebrate and heal. Ebony is pursuing her graduate degree in business entrepreneurship at University of New Mexico. She studied undergraduate at the University of Denver.

Power Shifter

Kay Bounkeua

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Kay is passionate about organizational capacity building, increasing equity and access to community resources, creating models of shared leadership and nurturing emerging young leaders to help shift power for communities of color. As executive director, Kay advances New Mexico Asian Family Center’s mission to create a Pan-Asian community that can advocate and support itself. She currently serves on the board of Young Women United and is an alumna of Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute. Kay is a graduate of University of Michigan.

Diversity Conservationist

Michael B. Casaus

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Michael is an environmental advocate, conservationist, ethnobotanist and community leader. As The Wilderness Society’s New Mexico state director, he brings diverse stakeholders together to protect the land and water that sustains our families and communities. He is committed to public service and has dedicated his career to advancing diversity in conservation and environmental movements. He is currently the president of the board of directors of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, a public interest law firm that provides free and low-cost legal services on environmental matters throughout the state. Michael is a graduate of New Mexico State University.

Movement Builder

Eli Cuna

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Eli is a community organizer and movement builder. As United We Dream’s national field director, she leads the strategic and grassroots organizing efforts for more than eight United We Dream state branches and affiliates. Her leadership has grown the organization from 48 to 112 local affiliates and mobilized thousands to take action on behalf of immigrants everywhere. Eli’s work is rooted in racial justice, intersectionality and indigenous epistemology. She is a graduate of the University of New Mexico.

Indigenous Educator

Anpao Duta Flying Earth

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Duta is a dedicated education and Native communities advocate. He grew up on Standing Rock Reservation in South and North Dakota. He is Lakota, Dakota, Ojibwe and Akimel O’odham. Duta has been working with the Native American Community Academy, a charter school, since its inception in 2006. He now serves as executive director, leading their mission to engage students, educators, families and community in creating a school that prepares students to grow from adolescence to adulthood. Duta is a third-generation college graduate of Cornell University and the University of New Mexico.

Opportunity Advancer

Eva Aimeé González Estrada

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Aimeé is dedicated to advancing opportunities for Latinx communities to thrive. She is an attorney at law, working in the private and public sectors for the past 10 years. As a board member for Encuentro, she assists Latinx families in building skills for economic and social justice. In her service on the New Mexico Bar Association, she supported her fellow Latinx attorneys’ professional growth and advancement. She is a graduate of New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico School of Law.

Community Protector

Paula Gutierrez

Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico

Paula has dedicated her career to helping communities be strong in disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. She currently serves as tribal relations specialist for FEMA Region 6, leading an effort to build tribal emergency management capacity and capabilities with all tribes in New Mexico and western Texas. Paula also is a volunteer firefighter. Previously, she was Santa Clara Pueblo’s emergency management director, where she oversaw all recovery and mitigation efforts. As a Native woman in a white male-dominated field, she is challenging stereotypes and reshaping emergency management to integrate values of diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition, Paula has 15 years of education experience, and served as founding board president for Kha’p’o Community School. She is a graduate of Grand Canyon University.

Social Justice Advocate

Pamelya Herndon

Albuquerque, New Mexico

A dedicated advocate, Pamelya founded the KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change to seek justice for low-income families in the South and Southwest. Previously, she served as executive director for Southwest Women’s Law Center. Pamelya is a member of the board of directors of African American Performing Arts Center, active in the Albuquerque Branch of the NAACP, and has served on the board of directors of the Girl Scout Trails of New Mexico. A graduate of Howard University and University of Texas, Pamelya is also working to establish an Indigenous Women’s Resource Center in Gallup, New Mexico, to support the voices, strength and safety of Indigenous women in our communities.

Equity Philanthropist

Richard Julian “RJ” Martinez III

Espanola, New Mexico

Richard has a gift for bringing people together, whether it be a family gathering or community outreach. He serves as Tribal Councilman for Santa Clara Pueblo, as well as works as the early childhood coordinator for the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation. He previously worked in human resources as tribal development liaison to increase Native peoples’ employment, and spent 13 years in the Department of Student Affairs for Fort Lewis College and the Institute of American Indian Arts. He believes to help create a world of equity and resources for all, we first have to educate our community, and that starts with conversation. Richard is a graduate of Fort Lewis College.

Racial Justice Advocate

Robert Nelson

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Robert has spent the last decade working in the nonprofit sector and is The Grants Collective’s program manager. He also co-founded Young Asian Americans of Albuquerque to provide a safe space for young Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to share their stories and build community. Committed to building equity, diversity and inclusion, Robert is a board member of Asian American Association of New Mexico, is active with Young Nonprofit Professional Network (YNPN) New Mexico and serves on YNPN’s national board. Robert is a graduate of the University of New Mexico.

Social Justice Advocate

Sandra Ortsman

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sandra is a community planner who is actively engaged in her community. Through her consulting company, she supports foundations and nonprofits to build their capacity and advance social justice locally and at the national level. One of her primary roles is serving as the contracted co-project manager for Nusenda Foundation’s Co-op Capital Initiative, helping low-income families and entrepreneurs increase access to affordable capital. Sandra also spent over a decade working in culturally- and linguistically-specific domestic violence agencies, and is passionate about creating a world without violence. She currently serves as president of the board of directors for Encuentro, which builds the skills and civic engagement of the Latino immigrant community, and is a graduate of the University of New Mexico.

Food Entrepreneur

Tina Garcia Shams

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tina is executive director of Street Food Institute, an entrepreneurial and workforce training program for individuals interested in starting their own food business. She believes in the amazing capacity food has to connect people of all cultures, professions and generations. With 27 years experience in the private, public and nonprofit sectors, she serves on the board of the Grants Collective and Amy Biehl High School Foundation. Tina is a graduate of Santa Fe Community College and University of New Mexico.

Native Wellness Advocate

Leroy “Buster” Silva

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Leroy “Buster” is a community mover and shaker from the Laguna Pueblo Nation of New Mexico. He is passionate about addressing the barriers that hinder Native youth and communities from living active, healthy and happy lives. A former educator, he continues to advocate and promote healthy active lifestyles as the community coordinator at the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation — a national Native-led nonprofit with the mission to ensure Native children achieve their full potential by advancing cultures of Native American community health. Buster is a graduate of Haskell Indian Nations University.

Ethical Government Leader

Maggie Toulouse

Sante Fe, New Mexico

Maggie is a public official devoted to making our democracy as effective and responsive as it can be. As New Mexico Secretary of State, she is focused on greater transparency and ethics in government, fair and efficient elections, and increased voter access – particularly for those in historically disenfranchised communities. A graduate of University of New Mexico, Maggie is an adjunct instructor of political science at the university.

Indigenous Rights Champion

Duane “Chili” Yazzie

Shiprock, New Mexico

Chili has served the Shiprock and Navajo Nation for more than 40 years. Currently, he is the president of the Navajo Nation Shiprock Chapter. He is a relentless advocate for labor issues, education, natural resources protection and working against racism. As a champion of Indigenous peoples’ civil and human rights since 1969, one of his proudest achievements was serving as the first chairman of the Navajo Human Rights Commission. Chili’s greatest passions are preserving the Navajo way of life and the health of the earth for the generations to come.

WKKF Community Leadership Network