Michelle Valverde

Day 1, Breakout Session 2: Education Equity in New Mexico - Panel Discussion

Abstract: The LAB and the Southern NM Equity Forum partner to raise awareness, build capacity, and engage in actions, for greater education equity in NM. Youth and community voices are at the center of this transformation. Join us as we share highlights from this partnership, along with our plans for a more equitable future. Q&A session included.

Michelle Valverde is a founding member of the LAB Learning Action Buffet. She was born in Deming, New Mexico (NM) and graduated from Deming High School. She left the state to acquire a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in Social Welfare Management and Planning from the University of California at Berkeley. She returned to NM in 1992 and after working several years in maternal child health and youth services, she decided to get a Ph.D. in Educational Management and Development at New Mexico State University (NMSU). As a W.K. Kellogg Fellow in the NMSU Hispanic Border Leadership Institute, Michelle graduated in 2000. 

For the past three decades Michelle has been involved in a variety of efforts in NM to improve health and educational outcomes at local, state, and regional levels. She has worked in the public and private non-profit sectors and has also been self-employed as an independent participatory evaluator.

As a result of these experiences, she is well versed in

  • research and evaluation methodology
  • positive youth development theory
  • educational policy analysis
  • organizational development


In addition to these professional interests, Michelle enjoys gardening, hiking, ballroom dancing, hand drumming, and spending time with family. Her two grown children also graduated from NMSU; one went on to become a fire fighter/EMT and the other is a wildlife researcher. 

Lamaia Vaughn

Day 1, Breakout Session 2: Education Equity in New Mexico - Panel Discussion

Abstract: The LAB and the Southern NM Equity Forum partner to raise awareness, build capacity, and engage in actions, for greater education equity in NM. Youth and community voices are at the center of this transformation. Join us as we share highlights from this partnership, along with our plans for a more equitable future. Q&A session included.

Lamaia Vaughn grew up along the New Mexico/ Mexico border and was exposed to a global perspective from an early age. Her father was of Choctaw, Creek, Cherokee and Scottish descent, and spent his youth in rural Texas. Her mother was of Welsh and Scottish descent; and moved to New Mexico from London, England, after World War II, in 1947. Lamaia Vaughn grew up understanding what it is to be a first-generation Immigrant American and a displaced Native American.

As a result of this unique childhood, Lamaia embraces cultural diversity, and celebrates it in her work. As an artist, she claims writing as her primary craft. She is a poet, screenwriter and filmmaker. She is also a professor of film and digital media arts at Doña Ana Community College of New Mexico State University. 

Her passion is supporting emerging artists, in finding their voice, learning to contribute to their community, and attaining creative and economic freedom.

As an educator, Lamaia Vaughn teaches the next generation of media makers how to communicate socially relevant information so it positively engages the listener and viewer.

As a writer/director/ producer, she has worked in the entertainment and communication industries for over 30 years producing award-winning documentaries and public service announcements concerning health, education, and the environment.

Andrew Montoya

Day 1, Breakout Session 2: Education Equity in New Mexico - Panel Discussion

Abstract: The LAB and the Southern NM Equity Forum partner to raise awareness, build capacity, and engage in actions, for greater education equity in NM. Youth and community voices are at the center of this transformation. Join us as we share highlights from this partnership, along with our plans for a more equitable future. Q&A session included.

Andrew Montoya, Organizational Specialist NEA-Human and Civil Rights, Borderlands born and raised,  Andrew has over a decade of experience in the public-school classroom and is currently serving as an organizer with the National Education Association’s Center for Social Justice. Andrew has seen first-hand the bridge education creates to overcome barriers in personal and professional capacities.

As the oldest of three growing up in a single-parent household, to becoming a first-generation college graduate, obtaining degrees from both Dona Ana Community College and New Mexico State University, and a recipient of DACC's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016, these experiences informed Mr. Montoya's collaborative approach to bring community together to learn, grown, and thrive every step of the way.

His vision for creating a brighter tomorrow for his two young children is rooted in raising awareness for education justice, building capacity to create a strong force for good, and taking action, doing the work to move from the transactional to the transformational. This vision is what fuels him on the journey for justice in education every day, to make true to promise of a great public school for every student. 

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