Our Team 2019-10-01T15:44:43+00:00

Our Staff

Lori Martinez

Executive Director

Lori Martinez joined the Ngage New Mexico team in March 2017, initially as the Assistant Director, then becoming the Executive Director in November 2017. Before coming to Ngage she worked at NMSU for 9 years overseeing the Social Work Services program and Aggie Cupboard food pantry under Counseling and Campus Health. She previously worked in Early Intervention providing Family Therapy and Social Work services.
Lori received her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Social Work from NMSU. She serves as an Assistant Professor and Certified Field Instructor for the NMSU School of Social Work. She is a certified trainer in suicide 1st aid using the ASIST model of suicide intervention.
Having worked for years in Dona Ana County providing direct services, Lori became familiar with many of the challenges our county faces. She has experience working in early childhood, individuals with developmental disabilities, suicide prevention and intervention, mental health counseling, case management, program development, hunger/food insecurity, and inpatient psychiatric services. She was drawn to Ngage because of the collective impact approach utilized by the SUCCESS partnership and is thrilled to be serving Dona Ana County with Ngage NM.

Abeer Al-Ghawi

Assistant Director

Abeer Al-Ghawi is the newest addition to the Ngage New Mexico team as the Assistant Director. Before coming to Ngage she was a stay-at-home mom for three years. Her experience in early childhood education began at the age of 18 as a Teacher’s Assistant in a Pre-K setting. Meanwhile she was pursuing her degree in International Business. In 2006, she started working for the British Council, the United Kingdom’s largest international nonprofit organization, as a  librarian, and leaving as a Senior Examination Services Officer. She had a challenging and fruitful career focused on community engagement around bilateral relations, education, and literacy initiatives with partners spread across 120 countries.
Abeer left the British Council to focus on honing her skills in nonprofit and public sector management through New Mexico State University’s Public Administration program while interning for the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce. Upon graduation she spent the next two years working as a clerk for the state of New Mexico’s Correction Department.
Abeer decided to return to the arena of nonprofit work after struggling to find quality, affordable early childhood programming for her son. She was determined to help change that, and was drawn to Ngage NM because of their use of collective impact to improve the lives of children in Doña Ana County with affordable and accessible early childhood education.

Michael Radtke

Program Coordinator

Michael’s wide variety of interests and social and political philosophies have culminated into a strong reverence for his community. At Ngage NM, Michael primarily coordinates early childhood programs as a part of an education initiative called the SUCCESS Partnership. He also serves on policy council for the Las Cruces Public Schools Head Start Program and is an avid supporter of local art and music. Michael received his bachelors from New Mexico State University, where he studied analytic philosophy, the fundamentals of which have provided Michael with strong critical thinking skills and a proclivity for creative and logical approaches to program management and problem solving.

Candace Cichuniec

Candace Cichuniec

Administrative Assistant

Candace joined the Ngage NM team in May 2019 as the Administrative Assistant. She has a bachelor’s degree in human development and has experience as an early childhood educator. She is passionate about advocating for children’s developmental assets that are needed in order to become successful adults. Candace joined the Ngage team because she has a passion for education and believes in their mission and values.

Claudia Ocon

Program Coordinator

Claudia Ocon joined Ngage as a Program Coordinator in October, 2017. She graduated from New Mexico State University in 2004 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences and a Minor in Early Childhood Education. Claudia has worked in the non-profit sector her entire career, over 13 years. She began her career in Early Intervention as a Family Service Coordinator and Developmental Specialist. During her tenure as a Family Service Coordinator; Claudia worked in the rural areas of northern and Southern Dona Ana County, worked with the GRADS Teen Parenting Programs, facilitated collaborative outreach and screening efforts and served as a mentor and trainer for other Family Service Coordinator’s. As a Developmental Specialist, she completed comprehensive developmental evaluations to determine eligibility for Early Intervention Services and provided developmental supports to children and families. She also has experience as a Preschool Teacher, having taught one semester as a Pre-K teacher for the NM Accredited Pre-K Program. After 10 years in Early Childhood, she went on to work in Behavioral Health for 3 ½ years, where she worked in Treatment Foster Care as a Treatment Coordinator, Parent Training Coordinator and SAFE Home Study Writer. Claudia also loves being involved in community work and has volunteered her time in various community events, such as March of Dimes, C.A.R.E Dance for a Cause and the Toys For Kids Motorcycle Parade & Event; where she currently sits on the committee. Claudia was drawn to Ngage because of their collective impact approach; bringing people together to make a county wide difference in the lives of children in Dona Ana County.

Laura Silva

Laura Silva

21st Century Parent Engagement Coordinator

Laura Silva joined Ngage New Mexico as a social work intern in August of 2018 and transitioned into the role of 21st Century Parent Engagement Program Coordinator after graduating with her dual Master’s in Social Work and Public Health with a minor in Integrated Behavioral Health from New Mexico State University in May 2019. Before graduate school, Laura served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana engaging community and youth through HIV/AIDS prevention and as an AmeriCorps VISTA in the role of Program Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson’s school-based mentoring program. Prior, Laura received her Bachelor’s in Global Health with a minor in Social Welfare from Arizona State University.

Laura is passionate about the intersection between social justice, education, health, and well-being. She is an advocate for strong interdisciplinary collaboration to address the complex challenges facing our communities and was drawn to Ngage because of their cross-disciplinary approach through collective impact. Laura is excited to move into this new role engaging parents and families and hopes to use her skills and experiences to expand education outcomes beyond the classroom.

Valerie Amendola

Valerie Amendola

Special Projects Coordinator

Valerie Amendola recently joined Ngage as the Special Projects Coordinator. Valerie was born and raised in Las Cruces, NM and graduated from New Mexico State University (NMSU) with a Master’s degree in Anthropology, with an emphasis in Museum Studies. She began her career as an intern at the University Museum at NMSU, working her way to the Program Specialist.  At the museum she had many roles in coordinating, planning public programs for children and families, managing collections, researching and planning exhibitions. She later became the Gallery Assistant at the University Art Gallery at NMSU, where she supervised day-to-day gallery operations, coordinated special events and exhibit installations. Valerie is passionate about racial equity, social justice, and working to help her community.

Key Partners

Cesia Otero

Doña Ana County Early Childhood Education Coordinator

Cesia Otero is the Doña Ana County Education Coordinator for the prenatal to career readiness education initiative called the SUCCESS partnership. Her role focuses on addressing educational policies and outcomes for children and families. Through the dedication of the Doña Ana County Early Childhood Education (ECE) Coalition she facilitates the county-wide education plan. Mrs. Otero received her bachelor’s degree from New Mexico State University in family and consumer sciences with an emphasis on family and child science. Her passion for early childhood continues to drive her career. She has over 10 years of experience working with infants and toddlers in various programs. As a former Early Head Start Home Visitor she possesses extensive knowledge in working with low income children and families.

Lynda Garcia

Communications Coordinator

Lynda Garcia is the Communications Coordinator for United Way of Southwest New Mexico and the prenatal to career SUCCESS Partnership, education initiative in Doña Ana County. In 2009, after she obtained her bachelor’s degree in education from New Mexico State University, she began her teaching career in Las Cruces, New Mexico at an elementary school as the head librarian. She attended Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut and earned her master’s degree in corporate communications and public relations. She moved to Dallas, Texas in 2015 and worked in advertising for Nissan for the “College 100” sports marketing campaign. In 2016, she returned to Las Cruces to be near family and reconnect with her community.

Erica Surova

Program Manager

Erica Surova is the Program Manager and Data Analyst for the Center of Community Analysis at New Mexico State University. Through surveys, assessments, and data analysis she works to centralize, analyze, and disseminate date to the community to improve evidence-based decision making and increase collective impact. Surova created the Education Context Report for Doña Ana County, conducted a gap analysis on early childhood education for the SUCCESS Partnership, and helped develop and analyze several surveys for partners at the Las Cruces Public Schools. She has worked in education for over 17 years and has two Master’s degrees in Sociology and Geography from New Mexico State University.

Our Board

Mike Milam


Michael is Third Generation Army. He was born in Kansas. Michael has a MA in Management and Supervision from Central Michigan University. He studied Higher Education/Administration at NMSU. He graduated from the Italian War College and Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Michael completed two combat tours in Vietnam, three tours Pentagon, Washington, DC, two tours in Italy, and three tours in Germany. He retired as Colonel. His work experience includes Policy Analyst to the Mayor of Las Cruces, Staff Member for Senator Jeff Bingaman, and Political Consultant and Community Organizer. Some of his community involvement includes, former Chairman of Southwest United Way, Dona Ana County Maternal Child Health Council, and Dona Ana Action for Youth. Michael was former member of the Youth Challenge Group, New Mexico Advocates for Children and Families, Las Cruces Revitalization Project, Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board (Las Cruces), Mayor’s Veterans Affairs Board, Dona Ana Workforce Action Council, Mesilla Valley Youth Foundation (Court Youth Center). Currently, he is the President Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity Alumni Association, Member of the Empowerment Congress, and Volunteer Coordinator Anthony Teen Advisory Council.

Judy Bosland


Judith (Judy) Bosland recently retired from New Mexico State University after 27 years in institutional research.  While at NMSU, she honed her skills in data analysis, data management, quality survey techniques, assessment and evaluation. In her role as Assistant Vice President for Institutional Analysis, Judy learned to appreciate productive committees, positive leadership, and the importance of attainable goals to drive action.  Judy has a broad knowledge of post-secondary education, with a focus on student success initiatives.  As a native New Mexican, and long-time resident of Las Cruces, Judy understands the challenges present in the southern New Mexico community, and has a strong belief that data has an important role in confronting those challenges.

Monica Torres


Monica F. Torres, Ph.D. is Interim President at New Mexico State University, Doña Ana Community College and a former dean at Central New Mexico Community College. Her research and teaching interests include the role of language and other forms of representation in the shaping of cultural identities in the United States. A Las Cruces native, she has long been interested in broad-based community development and has served on the boards of rape crisis centers in southern and central New Mexico and on the board of the Mesilla Valley Film Society.

Rich Ferrary


Richard Ferrary grew up in New England and graduated from the University of Texas with a BA in Economics, and then obtained a Law degree. He decided that public service was his path after a brief engagement with private practice. He worked as a Special Assistant Attorney General for New Mexico Department of Transportation for 25 years.  For the Department of Transportation, he was either the lead or only attorney handling employment law matters for over 20 years. These matters included disciplinary actions, labor relations, and civil rights claims. Most important was the development of policies and procedures for the Department in these areas. He either drafted or gave final legal approval to virtually every existing personnel policy and procedure. He was responsible for both program development and implementation of a department-wide sexual harassment training program for supervisors and employees in the 1980s after a lawsuit. No civil rights lawsuits were filed against the DOT in his last years of employment. After retirement, he moved to Las Cruces, NM with his wife, Joanne Ferrary.

In 1997, he began doing a substantial amount of volunteer work for two organizations: Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the New Mexico Make-A-Wish Foundation. For Mothers Against Drunk Driving, he was trained as a victim advocate and maintains a passion for prevention of underage drinking. For Make-a-Wish, he was trained as a “wish granter” along with his wife. In Albuquerque and in southwestern New Mexico, they are given the task of interviewing families with children between the ages of 2-18 with life threatening illnesses to determine what would be a special wish for the child. The most relevant and distressing aspect of this work was seeing how a child’s illness could quickly financially destroy a family and how inadequate our healthcare system can be.

Jo Ann Garay


Jo Ann Garay has been the director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), at the Doña Ana Community College, since January 2014, and has close to 20 years of experience assisting entrepreneurs in Southern New Mexico.  In an effort to reach beyond state and country boundaries, Jo Ann developed and presented (in English and Spanish) business and financial management “Train the Trainer” seminars, through a partnership with organizations across the United States.

Jo Ann’s passion as a change catalyst has facilitated her community involvement regarding development in the areas of individual and community growth.  Her education includes degrees in computer technology and human resources management.

In 2007, Jo Ann was named one of New Mexico’s 40 Under Forty Top Young Professionals by the NM Business Weekly. For Jo Ann the honor has been a constant reminder of how important it is to positively influence our young professionals and entrepreneurs with the intension to realize their full potential.

Jan Hertzsch Jan Hertzsch


Jan began his career in finance and accounting working for large manufacturing firms such as
Owens-Illinois. He became interested in systems work eventually managing the information
security department at Owens Corning Fiberglas. From there, he moved to consulting where he
worked for such firms as KPMG, Bearingpoint, and Deloitte implementing financial systems in
Europe, Canada, and across the United States. He specialized in SAP and Oracle software
systems. After completing a two year assignment with the Ministry of Revenue in British
Columbia, he accepted an assignment with NASA in Washington DC where he met and married
his wife. They relocated to Las Cruces after they each retired.

In retirement, Jan has been advising on financial matters and implementing Quickbooks
Accounting Software for nonprofits based from Hawaii to Botswana, Africa. To date, he has
completed over forty such projects. He is a former president and treasurer of the United Way of
Southern New Mexico. Prior to his move to New Mexico, he served as a board member of the
Lucas County Battered Women’s Shelter and the United Way of Putnam County. He was a
volunteer Quickbooks instructor for the Workforce Development Program at Northern Virginia
Family Services.