Our Institute Brings Together a Multi-disciplinary Team For twenty years since the ACEs Study was published, the nation has allowed family trauma to grow unchecked. That ends now with a community-empowered and data-driven strategy. And a team and a sense of urgency.
As a team, we collectively have more than a century of experience as change agents improving systems of health, safety and education.
Teresa Leger Fernandez is a social impact lawyer, and has served as General Counsel to several Native American tribes and their business enterprises, as well as non-profits. Her work ranges from financing to protecting sacred sites to voting rights litigation; it includes the strategic development of the legal, legislative, business, economic and physical infrastructure for tribal sovereigns and communities. After President Clinton appointed her as a White House Fellow, she worked on public/private financing of affordable housing and other community development initiatives as a White House liaison at HUD. President Obama also appointed her to the President’s Advisory Council for Historic Preservation, where he elevated her to vice chair in recognition of her leadership skills. She started her academic career in the first Head Start class in New Mexico, went on to graduate from Yale and received her JD, with distinction, from Stanford Law School. She has helped build rural health clinics in New Mexico, as well as affordable housing, schools and community-based infrastructure.
Dr. Esther Devall has a PhD in Child and Family Development from the University of Georgia. She is a professor in the Family and Child Science program at New Mexico State University, where she has taught 13 graduate and undergraduate courses in human development, family dynamics, and family therapy. She was instrumental in starting an undergraduate interdisciplinary minor in child advocacy studies and a graduate interdisciplinary minor in alcohol and drug counseling. Her research focuses on adverse childhood events, parenting and relationship education, and family resilience. She has been awarded almost $13 million in federal and state grants, and has received university-wide teaching and research awards.
Dr. Pamela Etre-Pérez started her career in education after completing a Master’s Degree in English as a Second Language at the School for International Training. She lived and taught ESL for five years in Puebla, Mexico, where she founded a language institute. She moved to New Mexico in 1985 and worked for nineteen years as faculty administrator of the Adult Education Center at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus. While at UNM, she earned her PhD in Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies and founded the Valencia County Literacy Council. Dr. Etre-Pérez worked at the State of New Mexico Higher Education Department for six years as Director of Adult Basic Education. She managed over twenty federal and state funded programs around the state, and she successfully implemented a student database system with merit-based formula funding. Dr. Etre-Pérez retired from Central New Mexico Community College after serving for three years as Dean of the School of Adult and General Education. She initiated an accelerated math program as well as an integrated basic skills and employment training program. She currently works as an educational consultant in Santa Fe.
Dubra Karnes-Padilla has a Master of Science degree in Physical Education from the University of New Mexico. She retired from teaching physical education and health education courses plus managing the Fitness and Wellness Education Center for the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus after twelve years of service. During this time, she initiated campus fitness and wellness programing, special wellness events and health fairs which had not previously existed for students on the campus. Dubra brought grants to her campus to promote resilient communities and youth injury prevention. Prior to becoming a full-time faculty member, she taught at UNM-Valencia as an adjunct faculty member and volunteered much of her time throughout Valencia County to improve the wellness of children and families by collaborating on developing recreational facilities for Valencia County, such as the Belen Eagle Park and Belen Recreation Center. For over thirty years, she has remained committed to using a holistic approach to help individuals of all ages be healthy and thrive. Dubra is currently under contract for the Pueblo of Santa Ana, Tamaya Wellness Center where she teaches an Aging Well class she designed for the elders and provides consulting services as needed. She also serves on the UNM Retiree Association Board, 2016–present, and works to ensure retiree healthcare and pension benefits remain intact for current and future retirees.
Dr. Heather Labansat graduated from Texas Christian University with a PhD in Experimental Psychology with an emphasis in Cognition. Interested in applied research, her research developed new strategies for helping people be more effective at goal attainment and learning. Her work with Child Welfare focuses on using scientific methodology to develop evidence-based practices to solve workplace and community problems. Heather currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses for Tarleton State University in Dallas-Fort Worth. She has served as the research expert for the Data Leaders for Child Welfare program in New Mexico.
Richard Dunks is the founder of Datapolitan, an urban informatics consultancy that focuses on the data and information needs of the public sector, including government agencies and nonprofits. A graduate of the urban data science program at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, Richard works on applying new and innovative techniques to the processing, analysis, and visualization of public data to make meaningful and positive actions with measurable impact. For the past three years, he’s been teaching classes in open data, data analysis, information visualization, data mining, and geospatial analysis for employees of the City of New York, as well as an adjunct professor at Columbia University and Pratt Institute. He facilitated the Data Leaders for Child Welfare course for NYC Administration for Children’s Services.
Dr. Shannon Morrison earned her doctorate in Sociology at the University of New Mexico and is a research sociologist with 28 years of program planning, evaluation, and research experience in the areas of human services, child welfare, homelessness, violence against women, behavioral health, organizational development, and criminal justice. Dr. Morrison has extensive experience in conducting strength-based program evaluation, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, writing grant proposals and research reports, and working with culturally diverse populations. Since 1994, she has worked with several community and state-level programs in New Mexico, utilizing a participatory approach and providing meaningful, client-driven program planning and evaluation. She currently works with several community agencies across New Mexico conducting data collection, fidelity assessments, and interviews to determine current practices and assist in implementing best practices and conducting ongoing program evaluation. Because of her participatory approach to program evaluation, she can engage stakeholders and clients in a way that allows for rich sharing and discussion which, in turn, provides meaningful evaluation results. She believes her participatory approach to evaluation gives programs a better chance at achieving their goals and documenting their value.
Robin Swift is a skilled manager and team leader, with experience at academic, tribal, and state government agencies, non-governmental agencies, and health facilities. She currently works with Project ECHO™, an innovative telementoring project that leverages technology to improve access to health care, and is innovating case-based learning in quality improvement. Robin is Senior Program Manager on the Military Health System Telementoring Project.
Robin has an MPH from Emory University and a Bachelors in American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has managed programmatic responsibilities from start-up to redirections, at the New Mexico Department of Health, as Injury Prevention Manager, at Duke and Emory Universities, and at the Georgia Public Health Department. She is the author of over $18 million in successful grants, a developer of evaluation and quality assurance processes, and the manager of budgets totaling $24 million. Robin is recognized as a skilled facilitator and trainer, and is able to engage difficult or sensitive subjects with providers, clients, and the public. Her passion is for projects that expand knowledge and look for innovative solutions.