Maryam Ahranjani, JD - University of New Mexico

Maryam Ahranjani is the Ronald and Susan Friedman Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law (UNMSOL). An award-winning scholar and educator, she is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School (LLM), American University Washington College of Law (JD), and Northwestern University (BSEd). At UNMSOL, Professor Ahranjani teaches criminal law and procedure, constitutional rights, and education law and directs the UNMSOL chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, a program that trains and supervises law students teaching public high school students about their constitutional rights and responsibilities.

Dr. Harold Bailey - Non-Profit Executive

Non-profit executive Harold Bailey was born on October 15, 1946, in McKinney, Texas to Dorothy L. and John Curtis Bailey, Sr., and was raised by his mother and Ray E. Landrum. In 1948, he moved with his family to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he attended Lowell Elementary School, John Marshall Elementary School, and Lincoln Junior High School, before graduating from “the old” Albuquerque High School in 1964. He received a track scholarship to attend the University of New Mexico, where he received his B.S. degree in health and physical education in 1969. Bailey went on to receive his M.A. degree in special education in 1971 and his Ph.D. degree in American studies in 1975, both from the University of New Mexico.

In 1972, Bailey served as director of the Institute for Social Research and Development’s Child Development Program at the University of New Mexico. The same year, he joined the University’s Afro-American Studies Program as the assistant director. From 1975 to 1980, Bailey served as director of the Afro-American Studies Program. In 1976, he was appointed chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee at the University of New Mexico. Bailey later served as a homebound teacher, a special education teacher, a community liaison, and a certified diversity trainer in Albuquerque Public Schools. From 2000 to 2004, he served as president of the Albuquerque branch of the NAACP. In 2003, Bailey was appointed executive director of the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs. He held the position until 2012, when he was once again elected president of the Albuquerque branch of the NAACP.

Bailey has served as a national executive board member of the National Council for Black Studies, state chairman of the New Mexico Black Studies Consortium, state education chairman of the New Mexico Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and state chairman of the New Mexico Dr. Martin Luther King Federal Holiday Commission. He was a member of the School Restructuring Council at Lavaland Elementary School and Hayes Middle School and is a certified diversity trainer.

Bailey has received many awards for his commitment to education and community service. In 2007, he received the Grant Chapel AME Community Service Award. In 2008, he received both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Legacy of Service Award and the AKA Albuquerque Legacy of Leaders Community Affairs Award. Bailey also received the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award in 2013.

Michael Baty - Professional Learning Coordinator for the Black Education Act

Michael Baty is currently serving as the professional learning coordinator for the Black Education Act. From Albuquerque, New Mexico, Michael has spent the majority of his life actively serving the Albuquerque community through educational opportunities, mentorship, and community service. He attended Eastern New Mexico University where he attained a bachelor’s in music science with a minor in communicative disorders. This allowed him to begin his early teaching career in which he primarily taught K –12 special education. During this time, he aligned his teaching with his master’s degree program and obtained his master’s degree in special education pedagogy and learning from Eastern New Mexico University.

Michael Baty is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. where he currently serves as the director of educational activities. In this role, he aids in the facilitation of the Alpha Mentorship Program. Through this program, high school students are provided with guidance and assistance along with tutoring, community service, and scholarship attainment opportunities.

Michael takes pride in being able to provide students in New Mexico with positive and high-level learning experiences while advocating for the correct methods of teaching to be actively applied.

Dr. Charles Becknell, Sr.

Coming soon!

Julie Brenning

Julie Brenning is the NMPED Community Schools Division Director and supports over 150 community schools in the state. She lives in ABQ with her three children and loves her work in the community.

Dr. Candice Castillo - Deputy Secretary of Identity, Equity, and Transformation

Dr. Candice Castillo currently serves as the deputy secretary of Identity, Equity, and Transformation for the New Mexico Public Education Department, where her work focuses on leading the necessary support education agencies across the state need to provide students to reach their maximum potential by removing barriers and creating opportunities to enhance their educational, social, personal, and post K-12 growth. She has statewide oversight of federal funding programs; safe and healthy schools; language and culture; the Black and Hispanic Education Acts; and student, school, and family support.

Prior to her current position, she was the executive officer of Student Support Services in the Houston Independent School District, the eighth largest district in the country, where she was responsible for districtwide oversight and strategic leadership of student support services, including Wraparound Services, Afterschool, Counseling and Socio-Emotional Learning, Student Assistance, Health and Medical Services, and Athletics and UIL programming. In addition, she led the district’s COVID-19 response, which received accolades from the U.S. Secretary of Education. During her last year with Houston ISD, she launched their telehealth services initiative in 77 schools to address students’ physical and mental health needs. Before joining Houston ISD, Dr. Castillo spent nearly two decades in the corporate world, where she worked in various industries and roles, including corporate communications for a leading global financial institution. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, a master’s degree in global management, and a doctorate in education in ethical leadership degree.

Shafiq Chaudhary - Director of Math and Science, New Mexico Public Education Department

Shafiq Chaudhary is the director of Math and Science on the Teaching, Learning and Innovations team at the New Mexico Public Education Department. He manages multiple initiatives that support the implementation of mathematics and science standards K–12, computer science K–8, and outdoor learning K–12.

Before joining the department, Shafiq taught middle school mathematics and science at Gallup-McKinley County Schools for eight years. He started his educational career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, where he taught middle and high school mathematics and science.

Shafiq has lent his unique perspective and technical expertise to review the Call to Action for Science Education and Equity in PreK–12 STEM Education reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. He has also worked nationally, organizing the national Building Capacity for State Science Education conference to help state science leaders leverage free, high-quality instructional materials and related resources to advance science education.

Shafiq believes that STEM education is foundational for students to access, leading to the pursuit of college and/or career opportunities.

Johnna Rocker-Clinton - Black Education Act Advisory Council Chair

Johnna Rocker-Clinton was selected as the Chair of the Black Education Act Advisory Council for New Mexico in October 2022. She is also currently an Assistant Principal at Alamogordo High School in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Ms. Rocker-Clinton has been in education for 15 years and has worked as a teacher assistant, para-professional, tutor, classroom teacher, and librarian. She considers herself a lifelong learner and views education, formal or informal, as means to liberation. She has earned a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland University College, an M.A. in Teaching Language Arts from the University of Central Missouri, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Administration at New Mexico State University. Ms. Rocker-Clinton is an Alabama native and mother of two adult children who are both graduates of Alamogordo High School. She is passionate about supporting and implementing equitable and culturally responsive educational practices for the benefit of all students.

Asha Villafañe Hernandez

Asha Villafañe Hernandez has been working with the Community Schools strategy since 2007 and as a community organizer since 2003. Through this transformative, asset-based journey in the US and Mexico, she has learned that our communities will be whole and healed when everyone has a seat at the table.

Bianca Jones - Black Education Act Family and Community Engagement Coordinator

Bianca Jones is an educator, community organizer, and facilitator whose career spans over ten years in multiple grade levels at private, public, and charter schools, including work as a classroom teacher, instructional leader, and as a program manager for nonprofit organizations. She currently serves as the Family and Community Engagement Coordinator for the Black Education Act of New Mexico.

Her praxis centers developing culturally relevant practices that empower Black students to understand themselves and their history, develop critical thinking and perspective-taking skills, demonstrate intellectual curiosity, and identify themselves as agents of transformation, both of themselves and their communities. Her praxis is rooted in being an educator who facilitates learning alongside students-cultivated in intergenerational spaces where youth and adults learn together, grow together, and work towards justice. She is a dedicated scholar who holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from American University. During her time in Chicago, she engaged in transformative real-world learning with diverse liberatory practitioners and movement leaders. Additionally, she is published in the Journal of Equity & Excellence in Education.

Dannelle Kirven - UNM African American Student Services Student Success Specialist

Dannelle M. Kirven works as a Student Success Specialist Sr. at UNM African American Student Services. Born and raised in Clovis, New Mexico, she has developed an affinity for connecting Black students to necessary resources/tools to be successful in higher education. Dannelle is pursuing an MBA at UNM’s Anderson School of Management and is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

Dr. Stephanie Mack - BEA Advisory Council Vice Chair

Stephanie C. Mack Ed.D., an educator, administrator, advocate, and personal support system for your elementary and special education needs. For well over 25 years, she has served students and families from the public-school classrooms, prison settings, and administrative offices. Dr. Mack has also served in the non-profit early childhood sector and corporate educational delivery programs in Texas and New Mexico.

Her passion and call to service are to ensure equitable learning, providing tools and resources, and to empower students and families. She is able to assist with support to elementary campuses and district programs, as well as assess processes and make recommendations for system wide improvement. Having served in rural, urban, and suburban low-income school systems, Dr. Mack brings a fresh perspective to district, campus, and individual family educational challenges.

Currently she works with Tribal Communities and rural education programs and is the owner and operator of A+ Class ACT Consulting in Corrales, NM.

Monique Marsico - Lead SCI Specialist with Statewide Central Intake of CYFD

I have been with CYFD since 2016, and I currently hold the role as the Lead SCI Specialist at Statewide Central Intake to train new intake workers, senior workers, and supervisors as well as conduct community presentations. I chose to work with the Children, Youth & Families Department because I’ve always wanted to make sure children are safe, happy, and healthy. As difficult as social work may be, I love coming to work every day knowing I am part of a system that wants to help my community.

Dr. Monique Matute-Chavarria - New Mexico State University

Monique Matute-Chavarria is an assistant professor of Special Education at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Before obtaining her Ph.D. in Special Education, she worked with Nevada Early Intervention Services working with children from birth to three with disabilities. Dr. Matute-Chavarria identifies as a Black mother scholar and Afro-Latina; therefore, her research focuses on Black students and families. Her research centers on the intersections of race, family, and disability. She also researches the use of hip-hop pedagogy practices (i.e., DJing) as a tool for writing with Black students with and without disabilities. Dr. Matute-Chavarria was awarded the must-read award in 2022 for her article “Giving Voice to Aspirations: Engaging African American Parents With Children With Disabilities” in the Journal of Intervention in School and Clinic.

Rachel McClelland

Coming soon!

Catalina Neff

Coming soon!

Senator Harold Pope

Coming soon!

Dr. Charles Reado - Deputy Director for the State Office of African American Affairs

Charles Reado grew up in the small southern town of Alexandria, Louisiana. He is the twelfth sibling of thirteen brothers and sisters. He is married to Lynda of 21 years, and they have four adult children combined and five grandchildren. He moved to New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment,” in 1987. He attended college at TVI, now CNM, then transferred to New Mexico Highlands University where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. He later went back to graduate school at the University of Phoenix and received an MBA (master’s in business administration). Most of his adult life has been dedicated to a career of public service while leveraging his knowledge, skills, and abilities to improve the lives of children, families, and communities. As a marine, he took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. As a law enforcement officer, he took an oath to protect and serve the community. As a firefighter, he took a pledge to demonstrate concern for the safety and welfare of all others in need. As a social worker for CYFD, he pledged to improve the quality of life for all the children in New Mexico. Likewise, as the new deputy director for the State Office of African American Affairs, he pledges to be transparent, truthful, and committed to be your advocate and voice for change.

Cleveland Robinson - Robinson House

Cleveland Robinson is an artist, entrepreneur, and therapist who has been working with families and diverse populations throughout the country to assist in strengthening bonds and improving communication. Cleveland has worked to become a lead advocate for mental wellness within African American and minority communities by bringing awareness to the importance of empathy and multicultural competencies for both clinical and non-clinical professionals to improve the quality of working and living environments. To date, Cleveland has been able to present at several state agencies including the State of New Mexico, the Martin Luther King Commission, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the University of Florida, Brewton Parker College, and many other venues around the country.

Dr. Arsenio Romero - Secretary of New Mexico Public Education Department

Dr. Arsenio Romero, a native New Mexican and son of an educator, has spent the last quarter-century serving New Mexico communities as a school and district leader. Prior to his appointment as Public Education Department Secretary, Dr. Romero served as superintendent of Los Lunas Schools and superintendent and CEO of Deming Public Schools. Dr. Romero also oversaw district curriculum as assistant superintendent for instruction and transformation for the Roswell Independent School District. Since 2013, he has been a lead performance coach/executive coach for PED. He started his career in education as an elementary school teacher and principal for Las Cruces Public Schools. In addition, the secretary has taught at New Mexico State University since 2014 and joined the NMSU Board of Regents in 2020. Dr. Romero’s greatest source of pride is his family. He and his wife Amber, an educator, are the proud parents of four children.

Brandi Stone - University of New Mexico

Brandi Stone works as the Director at UNM African American Student Services and Special Advisor to the President on African American Affairs. Her passion is to assist Black students in their college navigation towards graduation, specifically through intersectional identity work. Brandi is from New Mexico and received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of New Mexico. She is currently working on her Ph.D. at New Mexico State in Educational Leadership. Additionally, Brandi serves as a national board member for the Association of Black Culture Centers. She is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two boys at Lobo athletic games and out in the outdoors exploring New Mexico.

Joseph Ulibarri - Black Education Advisory Council Member

Driven by a passion for educational equity and innovation, Joseph Ulibarri leverages his expertise in culturally sustaining pedagogies to empower educators and students. As Curriculum Coordinator at the Black Education Act Bureau, he leads the development of Open Educational Resources to teach Black history, a Black teacher pipeline initiative, and a support system for AP African American Studies teachers. Previously, he served as the chair of the curriculum and professional development subcommittee on the Black Education Act Advisory Council. Joseph is a Ph.D. candidate specializing in quantitative research focusing on culturally sustaining pedagogies, innovative curricula, and charter school education. He has nine years of experience teaching all grade levels K–12.

Simone Vann - New Mexico Public Education Department

Simone Vann earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary mathematics education in 2013 from the University of New Mexico. She immediately started working at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, NM as an Algebra 2 teacher. At Cleveland, Simone designed an Algebra 2 modeling class for students who struggled with math, was a part of the NM Teacher Evaluation Taskforce tasked with revamping the teacher evaluation system, and participated in a group who designed a more equitable grading system for the Rio Rancho Public School District. In May 2020, Simone earned a master’s degree in Secondary education with an MSET focus and a minor in Educational Leadership at the University of New Mexico. Simone joined NMPED in January 2022 as the Black Education Curriculum Coordinator where she was instrumental in setting up the curriculum requirements of the Black Education Act. She was promoted to Identity, Equity, and Transformation Division Director in May 2022 where she continues her desire to make education equitable and accessible to all students. Simone’s motto is that all kids are capable of being successful in education if educators ensure their teaching material is relevant and accessible to all students.

Kimberly York - Liaison, NMPED Black Education Act

Kimberly currently oversees the Black Education Bureau for the New Mexico Public Education Department. She is a doctoral candidate at Grand Canyon University, completing a Ph.D. in Psychology with an emphasis in Organizational Psychology. Her dissertation focuses on perceived organizational support and occupational burnout. She is an Independent Licensed Clinical Social Worker (mental health therapist) with over 25 years of blended experience in organizational leadership, youth development, training facilitation, and racial and social justice. She excels in education and community-based development, strategic planning, and systemic transformation. Her clinical competencies include resiliency-based mental health assessments, treatment planning, and conducting individual and group therapy with children, youth, and families.

As a servant leader, Kimberly has a proven record of commitment to service. She was appointed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to the New Mexico Racial Justice Council and elected as the Diversity Coordinator of Las Cruces Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She previously held additional community leadership roles as the 2nd Vice President of Dona Ana County NAACP (Education Chair) and a member of the Executive Committee of the State of New Mexico Office of African American Affairs. She has provided consulting services to many organizations including Las Cruces Public Schools, United Way of Southwest New Mexico, Ngage New Mexico, La Casa, and more.

Kimberly holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Capital University. She earned a Masters of Social Administration and a Masters of Nonprofit Organizations (specialization in Nonprofit Management) from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). Additionally, Kimberly is an alum of the Treu – Mart Resiliency and Youth Development Fellowship at CWRU’s Mandel Center for Non-Profit Organizations. Her international experience includes organizational and youth development in Bangladesh and the Netherlands. Kimberly holds Independent Clinical Social Work license (with Supervision designation), Non-Profit Management Certification, Advanced Mediation Certification, and No Bullies, No Victims trainer. She is a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Practitioner, National trainer of Nurturing Parenting, and Circle of Security. She is most proud to be a National Resiliency Trainer and has completed National Character Education Training by the Josephson Institute on Ethics. She is a member of the Phi Alpha National Social Work Honor Society and the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society for Adult Learners.

In May 2023 Kimberly was inducted into the Alpha Chi National Honor Society which recognizes top scholars for their academic achievements.