Rev. Laurie Benavides - President
The Reverend Laurie Benavides is a Deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. Reverend Benavides lives out her central ministry as a deacon by activating the community to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely, and by interpreting to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. Prior to ordination in 2006, she retired from a 31-year career in public education that included teaching in five different school districts in Texas. In addition to many years of teaching elementary students, she managed a Pregnancy and Parenting program at Weslaco High School, was a balanced literacy facilitator and Reading Recovery Teacher in Georgetown ISD, and a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader in charge of training Reading Recovery Teachers in Midland and Ector County ISDs. She is married to Dr. Roy C. Benavides and they have three grown daughters and two grandchildren.
Rita Combs - Vice President
Rita Combs retired in 2008 after a 32-year career as a Contract Specialist with the Federal Government at Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Illinois. During her career in contracting, she also served as an Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor for a period of seven years. Rita has been a volunteer at Ruidoso's White Mountain Elementary school and believes that all children deserve to live in a comfortable and caring environment. Together, she, and husband Rory Combs, moved to Ruidoso in 2009 and are the owners of Thunder Horse Gallery in Ruidoso. They have two grown children and three grandchildren.
Pam Tomlin - Recording Secretary
Pam Tomlin ran non-profit arts and recreation agencies in Columbia, SC; Des Moines, IA and New York City. She doubled membership at a museum by starting new programs and created a United Way fundraising drive for the arts in Columbia; fulfilled community goals for a Chamber of Commerce and implemented systems to better serve the constituency of a 44 member arts and recreation agency in Des Moines. Working for a mayor of New York City she helped rebuild a flagging film industry before going into business for herself selling residential real estate for 15 years. At the age of 50 she returned to college to finish undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology and mental health counseling before being accepted to a Freudian institute where she studied to become a psychotherapist. She and her husband Dave, who retired in 2011 from a 37-year career with The Associated Press, have 3 adult children. Today they spend time between family homes in Ruidoso, NM and Puerto Vallarta, MX while raising a beloved grandchild. Pam is motivated by the opportunity to make a difference for high school students with the determination to graduate and inspired by the level of citizen leadership in this community.
Dr. Clayton Alred
Dr. Clayton Alred is the immediate past president of Eastern New Mexico University - Ruidoso Branch Community College, a position he held for eight years. Prior to joining the Ruidoso campus, Dr. Alred worked for 30 years in multiple administrative positions at Odessa College, Odessa, Texas. His January 2018 retirement came a the end of a forty-year career as an educator. From the start of his professional life as a junior high school science teacher through his service as a community-college president, he has stood as a staunch advocate for students and worked to eliminate barriers to their success. In addition to his bachelors and masters degrees, he holds a doctorate degree from the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Clayton and his wife, Catherine, recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary, and are the parents of two children, Steven and Mollie, both of whom are married.
After having a career in banking, working with the adult community in Ruidoso at Ruidoso State Bank, I wanted to become a teacher-working with high school students. I returned to school, earning a degree in English/Communications-Theatre from Eastern New Mexico University; later earning my Master’s in English. Teaching gave me insight into the on-going changes and challenges faced by students each day; my experiences spanned from New Mexico, Colorado, California, Florida and back to New Mexico. My greatest impact on students came with the countless hours spent teaching theatre in each of these surroundings. When I retired two years ago, I continued my theatre interests as a member of the New Mexico Thespian Board, which allows me the opportunity to serve theatre students giving them a venue in the arts. I believe that the arts are a vital part of allowing students the opportunity to express who they really are and be successful in meeting life’s many challenges. Returning to Ruidoso after retiring, I recognized that the mountain village had somehow changed and that the challenges encountered during my teaching career were now in Ruidoso. Remembering when my own children, Bart and Chantel, were active in the Ruidoso Schools, I was drawn to learn more about the students who are facing life-altering challenges; thus my introduction to the High Mountain Youth Project in 2016. I am proud to be a part of this group of individuals who are caring, compassionate, and committed to giving students the opportunity to become successful in life. As a recently elected Board member, I am committed to creating “a loving and caring community where all youth are protected, empowered, loved, respected and treated with dignity.”
For over 30 years Pauline Staski has worked with at-risk youth as a teacher, administrator, teacher professional development specialist, college instructor, mentor, and volunteer. She is currently Vice- Chair of the Lincoln County Juvenile Justice Board, Organizer of the South Central Mountain Children and Youth Summit, and owner of P. Staski Consulting. Her multiple roles have given her a deep understanding of the impacts of trauma on children and youth. Through her experiences and research Pauline has developed a rich collection of strategies for making the school lives of these children and youth more successful.
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Judge Angie K. Schneider
Judge Angie K. Schneider was appointed to the Twelfth Judicial District Court Bench in July 2013. Schneider received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science with a Minor in History from the University of New Mexico and graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2001.
Prior to being appointed to serve as District Judge, Schneider represented clients in matters of juvenile delinquency, domestic relations, domestic violence, abuse and neglect, criminal defense and local government. Schneider served on the Lincoln County Juvenile Justice Board and the Lincoln County Juvenile Drug Court Advisory Board from 2004 until September 2013. Schneider also served as the JDC Defense attorney for nine years. In 2004, Schneider was a founding board member of Help End Abuse for Life (HEAL). Schneider served seven years on the HEAL Board of Directors.
In 2011, Governor Susana Martinez appointed Schneider to serve on the Juvenile Justice Advisory Commission (JJAC) and she was elected to serve as Vice Chair of JJAC in July 2014. In March 2014, Schneider organized the Otero County Juvenile Justice Board and opened the Otero County Juvenile Drug Court program. In January, 2015, the New Mexico Supreme Court appointed Schneider to serve as Vice Chair of the New Mexico Drug Court Advisory Commission and she was recently selected for the National Stepping Up blue ribbon team on mental health and the justice system. Since 2014 Schneider has served as a lobbyist for the judiciary to support legislation which betters the judiciary in the State of New Mexico. In June 2016, Schneider was appointed by the New Mexico Supreme Court to serve on the Children’s Court Improvement Commission. Schneider joined the High Mountain Youth Project Board of Directors in June, 2016.
Schneider is also the proud mother of daughter Julia Claire who studies political science, history and dance at the University of New Mexico and plans to attend law school.
In 1984 Luisa Rodriguez graduated from Ysleta High School in El Paso, Texas. Following, her graduation she got married a year later had her son Victor and began working for a local grocery company for fourteen years. In 2001 Luisa enrolled at Park University in Fort Bliss, TX to attain her Bachelor’s degree , she graduated in 2005 with her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in Administration.
In 2005 she got a job in Ruidoso NM with the Center Of Protective Environment (COPE, INC) a domestic violence agency as a victim advocate. She was promoted to a domestic violence specialist where she did individual and group life skills sessions.
In 2012, Luisa enrolled at the Highlands University in New Mexico; in 2015 she obtained her Master’s degree in Clinical Social work.
The State of New Mexico issued Luisa Rodriguez the School Social Worker License on July 1, 2015.
The State of New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department Board of Social Work Examiners issued her the NM state license on June 9th, 2016.
Currently Luisa is employed with the Ruidoso Municipal School district as the school social worker at Ruidoso High School. Among other responsibilities her duties are to work with the general student population and their families when there is a need such as financial hardship, need for food, transportation, school supplies, clothing, and emotional support. In the three years that she has been with the high school, she has secured a grant from the Road Runner Food Bank that supplies a food pantry. She created and now manages school the Natural Helpers program.
She secured a washer and dryer from the Ministerial Alliance for students.
Deanna Oberheu is currently a science teacher at Ruidoso High School, her high school alma mater. After graduation, Deanna attended Texas Tech University where she received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Wildlife Sciences. Deanna worked for Texas Parks and Wildlife for almost 10 years until she and her family moved to Colorado, where she began sharing her love of science with students, teaching middle and high school sciences. Nearly two years ago, Deanna's husband, Todd, became the administrator of Lincoln County Medical Center and they relocated to her hometown with their two boys, Grant and Ty.