Javier Martínez – Executive Director
Javier Martínez has been a tireless advocate for New Mexico’s communities almost 20 years. Javier’s career started in 2000 as a community organizer in Albuquerque’s historic Barelas, Wells Park, and Sawmill neighborhoods. In 2001 he was hired by PCA, where he developed a reputation for being highly effective as a consensus builder, a tough negotiator, and an advocate for working families .Over time, Javier’s work extended to Albuquerque’s North and South Valley, working with neighborhoods to improve public safety, public schools, and to secure public infrastructure projects.
Javier’s story is predicated upon the American Dream. His parents, Javier and Ana, came to New Mexico in search of a better future for their two children, Javier and Viridiana. Javier is a product of Albuquerque’s public schools and graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law, becoming the first in his family to attend and graduate from college. Javier lives in the near North Valley with his wife Diana, their daughter, Marisela, and son, Camilo. Aside from his role at PCA, Javier also serves his community on various non-profit boards and as a member of the NM State Legislature.
Nichelle Gilbert – Director of Operations
Nichelle Gilbert serves as Director of Operations for the Partnership for Community Action (PCA). Through advocacy and leadership development, PCA focuses on building a movement around critical community issues such as education, economic equity, wellness, and immigrant rights. In her role, Nichelle oversees day-to-day operations for the organization, implementing a broad strategic plan aligned with the mission and vision while strengthening infrastructure to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Prior to her position at PCA, Nichelle served at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center for over a decade, working to increase and support a diverse health workforce for New Mexico. Nichelle holds a MBA with a concentration in strategic planning and policy from the University of New Mexico.
Mayra Acevedo – Community Advocacy Manager
Mayra Acevedo was born and raised in the state of California. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico. While an undergraduate student, Ms. Acevedo coordinated PCA’s youth coalition, called “Stepping Out of the Box.” Through her internship experience she was able to understand the functions and operations of the organization. Currently, Ms. Acevedo is the Community Advocacy Manager at PCA. She has been with the organization since 2012. She is very proud of the work PCA continues to cultivate with the community.
Antonio Granillo – Community Advocacy Manager
Antonio Granillo works as a Community Advocacy Manager to improve evaluation methods of the Abriendo Puertas program and develops regular communication for families and community members through email and social media. Antonio leads the Youth Employment Summer Institute (YES!) during the summer where student interns work on projects that engage their personal interests and develop lasting relationships with the PCA. Through his neighborhood association, Vecinos del Bosque, Antonio became involved with PCA and its neighborhood advocacy program, which soon led to his first job as a summer intern in high school. He studies Political Science at the University of New Mexico, and he regularly performs on the stage with Working Classroom, an arts organization that explores social justice through original plays and visual art.
Lizzet Vargas – Administrative Assistant
Lizzet Vargas was born in Mexico City and has lived in the United States since 2000. She graduated from the Polytechnic Institute of Mexico as a Technician in Tourism Business Administration. Here in the United States, she got her GED and is now studying at Central New Mexico College working on her degree in Business Administration. She works as Administrative Assistant for the Partnership for Community Action. She started as a participant with PCA in the Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors classes in 2011. She later served as a facilitator of the same classes. Lizzet Vargas is married to Julio C. Gaytan and they have two children, Yonnhy and Diego. She takes pride in working for an organization so dedicated to family well-being and community growth and continues to learn how to advocate for the children who are the future of our nation.
Adrián A. Pedroza – Social Enterprise Project Lead
Adrián A. Pedroza, is the Social Enterprise Project Lead for the Partnership for Community Action. Previously, Adrián worked with the University of New Mexico High School Equivalency and College Assistance Migrant Programs, which provide educational opportunities to migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families. In addition, Adrián worked for former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman in New Mexico. Under Governor Bill Richardson, Adrián was appointed to the inaugural Hispanic Education Advisory Council. He is currently a Commissioner on President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics serving on the Early Learning Sub-Committee. Adrián serves on the National Advisory Board for the early childhood school readiness and parent engagement curriculum Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, and is on the Advisory Board of the NM Center for School Leadership. In 2012, Adrian received the Excellence in Education Award from the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. Recently, he was selected to be a part of the WK Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Fellowship Program- where he will work with diverse leaders to strengthen networks and communities to become vigorous advocates for vulnerable children and their families. He holds a B.A. in political science and an M.B.A. from the University of New Mexico. Adrián is most proud of his family- his wife Valerie, seven year old daughter Mariana and four year old son Marco.
Board of Directors
Jaen Ugalde – President
Jaen Emmanuel Ugalde Becerra is a native Mexicano and is currently serving as a Community Capacity Builder with the Community Engagement Center (CEC) at PCA. Jean works in partnership with community to support students, and develop leadership for capacity building, community organizing and civic engagement. In 2012, Mr. Ugalde received his Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from the University of New Mexico and is currently working on a masters in language literacy and sociocultural studies with a concentration in bilingual education. For the past ten years he has been involved in cultivating leadership and is inspired to devoting his life to working with undocumented students and families.
Kristine Suozzi, PhD – Vice President
Kristine Suozzi, Ph.D. is a former New Mexico of Health Department/ Public Health Division Director, the current coordinator for the New Mexico Health Equity Working Group, and a member of the Bernalillo County Place Matters Team. Dr. Suozzi has dedicated her professional career to promoting community health equity and reducing disparities. She worked as an evaluator for the Partnership for Community Action before joining the Board in 2013.
Bernadette Miera – Treasurer
Bernadette is a 13th generation New Mexican (yes, you read right—her family dates back to the 1600s in NM). Bernadette Miera’s main goal in her job as Bernalillo County Neighborhood Program Coordinator is to create better communication between residents and county government. Miera earned her master’s degree in Community & Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico in July 2002. She graduated from UNM two years earlier with a bachelor’s degree in University Studies. She has operated a planning/facilitation consulting company as well as a legal research/courier business. Bernadette is actively involved in the community as a board member of Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum, Mother of Mercy Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic, Martineztown House of Neighborly Services, the Partnership for Community Action and Amigos y Amigas, all non-profit organizations serving Bernalillo County residents.
Susy Sarmiento – Board Member
Susy Sarmiento, a PCA board member since October January 2016, was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM, and comes from a family of low-income Mexican immigrant parents. Currently, Susy holds the position of the Site Director at the Family Independence Initiative (FII), a national non-profit organization working with low-income families to lead their own change. Prior to FII, Susy worked in the higher education sector for 16 years at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) helping underrepresented populations advance in school and connect to resources. She has been a guest speaker at various community functions motivating audiences with her personal story. Susy holds a BBA from UNM and is the first in her family to earn a college degree.
Meriah Heredia-Griego, PhD – Board Member
Dr. Meriah Heredia-Griego is currently the Evaluation, Learning and Impact Consultant for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in New Mexico. During the 2019 Legislative Session, Dr. Heredia-Griego served as the Acting Deputy Director for the New Mexico Legislative Education Study Committee. She has been a bill analyst for the New Mexico Council of University Presidents, the University of New Mexico and the New Mexico State Senate.
Dr. Heredia-Griego holds a PhD in Higher Education Administration from Colorado State University, a Masters of Community and Regional Planning and a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and Chicana/o Studies from UNM. During her time at UNM, Dr. Heredia-Griego served as Director and Research Assistant Professor at the UNM Cradle to Career Policy Institute (CCPI), previously the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR), where she partnered with key education agencies and stakeholders to conduct applied research in the areas of education policy and program evaluation. Her work has been critical to making data and research available and useful for decision makers. In addition to her role as CCPI director, she also maintained a research portfolio, which included higher education policy, equity-focused research, qualitative research methods, community based participatory research, action research, Hispanic Serving Institution leadership, and workforce training programs. She has nearly twenty years of experience working with students, families, leaders, and policymakers to address some of the biggest challenges facing children and families in New Mexico.
Dr. Heredia-Griego has served on the Advisory Council for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) and as a part-time instructor in Teacher Education, Educational Leadership and Policy in the UNM College of Education where she taught courses on Education Policy and Organizational Change in Education to emerging K-12 and higher education leaders.
Carlos Lucero – Board Member
As a long time, resident of New Mexico, Carlos Lucero understands what makes our State unique and the opportunities ahead of us to make it better for our current and future generations. After leaving New Mexico for a position right out of college in Upstate New York, Carlos returned to the State he appreciates to help make a difference. Currently, Carlos sits on boards pertaining to energy and economic development including the Albuquerque Energy Council, NM Clean Cities Coalition, and WeConnectNM. Currently, Carlos serves as Government Affairs Manager at Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) as a liaison to professional business and civic groups, community organizations, and state, federal, local elected and appointed officials to troubleshoot and educate various issues affecting utility industry and energy developments.
Carlos has over fifteen years of electric utility industry and energy experience and has successively worked in the areas of system engineering, transmission planning, business customer support, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and infrastructure, smart cities initiatives, and public policy. Carlos holds both a Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering from New Mexico State University and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of New Mexico.
Sandy Martinez y Pino – Board Member Emeritus
Sandy Martinez Pino is one of the founding Board Members of the Partnership for Community Action, and has actively participated in campaigning through the Partnership for the underserved in education and civil rights for the past 20 plus years. Sandy worked at the Albuquerque Police Department for 25 years, retiring and coming back half time with the APD crime prevention unit, where she helps to form neighborhood watch programs, teach armed robbery trainings, and assist the community in personal safety and identity theft. Sandy has been an amateur and professional boxing judge for 27 years. She served as president of USA Boxing for twelve years, which has over 60,000 members nationwide. Most recently she has judged the last two world title fights for Holly Holm and worked recently on ESPN in two title fights. Sandy is also a softball coach and has two daughters, Alexis who teaches 4th grade at Kit Carson Elementary School and Angela who is a compensation analyst at PNM, and four grandchildren, Dominique, Ciara, Yarelis and Alexis Jr.