Our board represents a cross-section of the communities we serve and has a passion for being the voice for vulnerable youth in both Sandoval and Valencia Counties. Our members work diligently to ensure long-term sustainability and financial stability of the organization.
STEVEN SANCHEZ, PRESIDENT
Dr. Steven Sanchez, a retired educator, joined the CASA Partners 4NMKIDS board of directors on July 31, 2020. Currently, Dr. Sánchez serves as a policy analyst for the NM Senate Education Committee, is an active contributor to a NM Public Education Department task force on early literacy and has served on numerous non-profit boards. Steven graduated from the University of New Mexico with a B.S. in elementary education, Pittsburg State University with a M.S. in Community College Teaching, and New Mexico State University with a Ph.D. in Education Administration.
HAZEL MARTINEZ, VICE-PRESIDENT
Hazel Martinez has served as a CASA Volunteer in Valencia County since 2015. This involvement has given her the opportunity to experience, first hand, the issues and concerns that CASA volunteers are confronted with in their efforts to be the voice of the children they represent. Hazel's desire is to do whatever she can to help educate Valencia County in better understanding the CASA program and to become a part of the effort to effect change.
Hazel is employed by a private defense contractor as their Corporate Security Officer and Human Resources Manager. She is a member of the board of directors for NCMS, a non-profit organization that is comprised of over 7, 000 members nationwide in the field of National Security, Hazel believes there is a definite correlation between the importance of safeguarding our children and safeguarding our nation.
KAREN BROWN, SECRETARY
Karen served on both local and national-level boards of NCMS, a Society of Industrial Security Professionals, for approximately 14 years. NCMS is a non-profit organization. At the local level, Karen is once again the Chapter Chair, having previously served in the position for four years. She has also served as Secretary and Treasurer for a combined seven years. At the national level, Karen has been a Subcommittee Chair for the last six years. Success in these positions is a demonstration of her leadership and organizational abilities, as well as the fundraising events she has been a part of over the years. A majority of Karen's professional career has been in the security field. The skill set required to protect our nation's war-fighters can easily be applied to protecting the children in the child welfare system who desperately need an organization such as CASA Partners 4NMKids. Karen is passionate about protecting and assisting those who are vulnerable, particularly children who are unable to be their own advocates.
RON MOOREHEAD, TREASURER
Ron Moorehead is a graduate of the UNM Anderson School of Management. He is currently President and CEO of First Financial Credit Union in Albuquerque. With a grown child and experience serving the community on other philanthropic boards and volunteer organizations, Ron expresses his desire to work to improve outcomes for children in foster care in Sandoval and Valencia Counties.
SARAH SMAGACZ, BOARD MEMBER
Sarah is a northern New Mexico native and law student at the University of New Mexico. She's provided direct care for over a dozen foster children in a shelter setting. Sarah says developing relationships with foster youth has been the most impactful experience of her life thus far. Sarah’s work with foster youth and mentally ill adults has helped her understand the challenges faced by both youth and families involved with the child welfare system. During her time on the board, she hopes to provide meaningful support to CASA volunteers and the staff that make the program viable. In her free time, she can be found trail running, playing with her dog, or spending time with one of the many on-campus groups in which she is involved. Sarah enjoys serving the CASA program because it combines her passions of law and foster care advocacy.
KENNETH STOWE, BOARD MEMBER
Kenneth Stowe serves the New Mexico Public Education Department as the Director for Title 1, Part D programs and as the State Coordinator for New Mexico's Multi-Layered System of Supports (MLSS). Previously, Kenneth served as a middle school teacher and athletic coach. During his summer breaks he took on fellowships in advocacy, community organizing, and public policy. Kenneth holds a Master's in Secondary Education from Johns Hopkins University and is dual certified in Special Education and Middle School. As a systems is passionate about the power of individual teachers to improve life outcomes for youth.
HOLLY J. VELAZQUEZ-DUFFY, BOARD MEMBER
Holly Duffy moved to New Mexico in 2014 and has worked with several non-profits including Lifelink, Pete's Place, St. Elizabeth's, YouthWorks and Santa Fe Dreamers Project. Holly is also the founder of the Elephant Project, an organization focused on taking a systemic, holistic approach to the removal of private prisons in New Mexico.
In addition to her activism and volunteer experience, Holly has a diverse teaching background working in multicultural and multilingual settings around the world. She has worked with the New Mexico Public Education Department leading a task force and statewide initiative on early literacy and is currently a policy analyst for the NM Senate Education Committee. Holly has a bachelor's degree in Anthropology and Bilingual Bi-Cultural Education as well as two master's degrees in the liberal arts from St. John's College in Santa Fe, NM.