Meet Your NMPHA Board of Directors
Anthony Fleg, MD, MPH, Health Care Rep, is a family medicine physician here at UNM in the Dept of Family and Community Medicine and the College of Population Health. He also serves as a Partnership Director of the Native Health Initiative (NHI) and has dedicated much of his career to improving health in Indigenous communities. He is a proud father of four children, an avid runner, and a blogger.
Brandy Van Pelt-Ramirez, MSW, Priority Area Rep: Social Determinants of Health, arrived in New Mexico in 2005 and the only person she knew was her husband. She worked hard to network and volunteer with various agencies in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Brandy was selected as one of the 40 Under 40 from the Albuquerque Business Weekly and a Woman on the Move by the YWCA of Central New Mexico. She was also one of the thirty non-profit professionals selected for the Robert Wood Johnson Ladder to Leadership Program. Brandy has managed and implemented programs at Lovelace Women's Hospital as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico. Her career path led her to La Familia Medical Center in Santa Fe where she started the Patient Support Services Department to lead the charge on tackling the Social Determinants of Health with patients and implement programs to improve their overall health.
Cynthia Jacobs, MLA(c), Treasurer, is currently completing her Master's in Landscape Architecture at UNM. She works as a Special Projects Coordinator with the NM Office of African American Affairs to implement a data hub for the website and creating the first African-American Public Health Institute. She works as a consultant for the NM Community Data Collaborative doing data mapping and visualization. Cynthia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. She has led workshops and presentations related to the built environment and health outcomes. Her thesis is focused on the relationship between nature and technology in science fiction films.
Diana Lopez, BPH, CPS, Regional Rep: Northwest, started her career after receiving her degree in Public Health from NMSU in 2009. Working in rural NM communities & schools Diana knew she always wanted to advocate and work community services. Making a move to be closer to her Taosena roots Diana moved with her family to Rio Rancho. In Rio Rancho Diana worked for Sandoval County DWI & Prevention as a Prevention Specialist. Four years later she was promoted to Juvenile Service Coordinator. After 9 years, it was time for a change, Diana began her journey with the NM Department of Health as a Health Promotion Specialist.
Gabrielle Manchego-Sanchez, BPH, Communications Chair, is a second generation New Mexico State Aggie, with a Bachelor’s in Public Health and a college athlete. After finishing her schooling at NMSU, she has worked at Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos as a Prevention Specialist. She has been able to work with some great Native Communities and provide information on topics like Opioid/Stimulant use and misuse, Suicide Prevention, and Covid-19. She has volunteered with NMPHA, helping with the Annual Conference and other virtual events held by NMPHA.
Halee Schomberg, MPH(c), NMSU Student Rep, is currently pursuing a master's degree in public health with a graduate minor in applied statistics at New Mexico State University. New to New Mexico, she is originally from Iowa and previously lived in North Carolina while working at the North Carolina Zoo. Most recently she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique as a science teacher. During her first year at NMSU, she was involved with research related to health needs in the homeless and LBGTQ+ communities.
Joann Palomino, Regional Rep: Southeast, works for the New Mexico Department of Health as a Health Educator with the Health Promotion Team for the Southeast Region in Roswell. She is a QPR Gatekeeper Facilitator, Mental Health First Aider, NDPP, Lifestyle Coach, Workshop Facilitator for Manage Your Chronic Disease Program, Diabetes Self Management Program along with Cancer and Thriving, as well as a Master Trainer for New Mexico Early Care Education and family support. Joann is very active in Health Councils in the Southeast Region. The counties she oversees are Chaves, Lincoln, Lea, and Eddy. She is also involved with the Alzheimer's Association. She has four wonderful children and six lovely grandchildren. The best title ever given to her is being called "Grandma." Joann has a wonderful husband who supports her in everything she does. They have been married for 35 years.
Kimberly J. Blea, EdD, Regional Rep: Northeast Region, serves as dean of students at New Mexico Highlands University. Dr. Blea oversees a variety of student service departments, facilities, and operations. She has additional experience in administering federal, state, and private grants that focus on prevention education and service to under resourced and marginalized populations. She serves on many community boards and is deeply committed to increasing the overall health of her community. She earned a BA in Political Science and a MA in Public Affairs from Highlands, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of New Mexico.
Leah Sanchez, MPH, Priority Area Rep: Universal Access to Health Care, has worked on health equity and HPV vaccine uptake at the UCLA School of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and have been a consultant to rural nonprofit hospitals in the Pacific Northwest. In 2020, she contributed to a successful organizing and advocacy campaign for a progressive income tax to fund and implement equity-oriented universal preschool in Multnomah County, Oregon. Leah has a Master’s in Public Health is passionate about advocacy and equity.
Lissa Knudsen, MPH, Representative to the Governing Council of APHA, is a Health Communication PhD candidate at the University of New Mexico (UNM) where her studies focus on breastfeeding policy and communication. While working on her PhD, she serves as an adjunct instructor at Central New Mexico Community college. In 2007, Lissa won the APHA Inaugural Trong Nguyen Memorial Award for Student Leadership in recognition of her policy work to get the NM ‘Breastpump Use in the Workplace’ bill signed into law. Lissa has led numerous successful public health policy campaigns including lactation care provider licensure (2017), alternative sentencing for pregnant and lactating inmates (2019), and correctional facility lactation policies (2019). At the local level, she was instrumental in getting paid parental leave passed for City of Albuquerque employees. Lissa lives in downtown Albuquerque with her 16-year-old daughter, 9 chickens, 2 dogs, and a cat.
Mary Grace Saenz, Resource Development Chair, works for New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions as a Career Consultant in Las Cruces, NM where she assists New Mexican's find employment. She is also a Certified Department of Health Community Health Specialist. A native of New Mexico who moved back to her hometown of Anthony after having worked in preventative healthcare management in California. Mary Grace is also a workshop facilitator for the Diabetes Self-Management Program and the Chronic Disease Program and is passionate about community health advocacy and literacy! She is currently studying Multidisciplinary Studies, with concentrations in Business, Public Health and Psychology at the University of Texas El Paso. She enjoys reading, traveling and photography and advocating for the under-represented and underserved.
Michael Bowers, MPA, Priority Area Rep: Environmental Health and Justice, was the statewide recruiter for the 1990 US Census; ran a male involvement program for the African American Community Coalition (ABQ South Broadway Area) in the early 1990s; and served on the ABQ Citizen's Advisory Board for SNL/KAFB Cleanup and Catholic Charities of Central NM Bd. of Directors in the late 1990's, as well as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development Grant Program. He has 20 years of experience in NM state government, serving at the State Land Office, NM Legislature, and Department of Health where he worked as a policy analyst. In June he was hired by the Environment Department to serve as their Collaboration Coordinator, which includes duties as the Liaison for Constituent and Legislative services. Michael is also a member of the NMEPHN Advisory Board.
Nai Walter, BPH, MPH(c), Co-President Elect, is the Substance Use Prevention Coordinator with Dona Ana County Health and Human Services Department. Her work concentration is to reduce prescription drug/opioid overdose-related deaths, prevent risky polysubstance use in our community among individuals 25-64 years old. She works and trains first responders, law enforcement, and key community members on preventing opioid overdose deaths and implementing secondary prevention strategies such as the purchase and distribution of naloxone. She provides these trainings in both English and Spanish and is a certified Harm Reduction Specialist by the State of New Mexico. Nai holds a Bachelor of Public Health, graduated with Honors from New Mexico State University (NMSU). Presently, she is a Graduate Student in Public Health with a concentration in Health Management, Administration, and Policy at NMSU. She is working toward a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®), and Certified Prevention Specialist certifications.
Roxanne Humphries, MPH, Co-Secretary, was raised in rural New Mexico and moved to Albuquerque in 2005. She earned her Master of Public Health (MPH) in 2021 through the University of New Mexico. She is passionate about finding ways to expand affordable and accessible health care in rural New Mexico as well as expanding health outreach to U.S. military veterans. Outside of public health, some of her interests include animal rescue, analyzing data, and getting outside to enjoy the New Mexican sunshine.
Shelley Mann-Lev, MPH, President, has served public health in New Mexico since arriving in Santa Fe in 1993, first as the NMDOH Child Injury Prevention Specialist and then for twenty years as the Prevention Coordinator of the Santa Fe Public Schools. She co-founded the Santa Fe Prevention Alliance in 2008 and was the Director for 10 years. She is passionate about participating in multi-sector collaborations to promote evidence-based and promising policies, practices and programs. She joined the NMPHA Board in 2019 as Policy Co-Chair and is deeply committed to supporting NMPHA to have a significant impact on equity, justice and well-being.
Stephany Strahle, BSPH, Policy Co-Chair, began her work with NMPHA through the organization's inaugural policy internship in Spring 2021 as part of her studies at the University of New Mexico. It was through this internship she was introduced to the intricacies of health policy and the NM Legislative Session. She graduated from UNM's College of Population Health with a B.S. in Population Health and double minor in Chemistry and Political Science. Her primary interests in public health are in health policy, women's issues, and reproductive and sexual health.