OUR PEOPLE

Board of Directors

AnJanette Brush

Chair

A former educator, non-profit arts administrator, and corporate communications director, AnJanette Brush is the co-founder and co-owner of El Salto Partners, an Arroyo Seco, NM-based consulting firm delivering communications and business development strategies. Her work helps organizations reach new and existing audiences more effectively, helping to inspire action and engagement. She loves the Taos community, the New Mexico landscape, and being outdoors as much as possible on the many trails that RMYC makes possible for all to enjoy.

Marc Space

Treasurer/Member

Marc retired as an educator in 2018 after 39 years in the profession, the last 16 years of which he served as a superintendent of schools, including 5 years here in Taos (2002-2007). Marc received his Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of New Mexico in 2000. Here in Taos, Marc created the Taos Cyber Magnet School and established the Taos Schools Foundation, which currently operates under the umbrella of the Taos Community Foundation. Marc is a Paul Harris Fellow, an honor from Rotary International. He has served as the president of the Taos Milagro Rotary Club (2005-2006) and currently serves as the Vice President and the Director of Education on the board of the Enchanted Circle chapter of Trout Unlimited. In the latter capacity Marc has brought Trout in the Classroom to many area schools, including Taos Middle School and Taos Day School.

Cameron Martinez

Vice-Chair/Secretary

Mr. Martinez holds a BS in Forest Management Science and a MF in Silviculture from Colorado State University, he has completed the highly regarded Senior Executive Service candidacy program with the Department of Interior and was a Senior Fellow at the JFK School of Government in Public Policy and Administration at Harvard University. He has worked 30 years for the Department of Interior in various executive positions and 10 years for the Pojoaque Pueblo also in executive positions. Mr Martinez has had the opportunity to work for then Representative Tom Udall as a staff assistant and continues to maintain open lines of communication with this office. In addition, Mr. Martinez has worked with a wide variety of community organizations on various levels of issues and projects. This experience and skill will allow him to assist the RMYC in fulfilling its goals and for Mr. Martinez to fit into its board members responsibilities of the “duty of care,” the “duty of loyalty,” and the “duty of obedience.”

Naomi Concha

Member

Naomi began her service with RMYC when she was still in high school in 1999. During the school year, she tutored elementary students in various academic studies. During the summer, she facilitated summer programming for youth and did volunteer work around the local community. Currently, Naomi works with Taos Pueblo as a Prevention Specialist and has coordinated the Youth Outreach Program for the last 5 years. Naomi serves on the Taos Pueblo Red Willow Farm Board and the Women Give Taos organization through the Taos Community Foundation. Other community initiatives she is involved with include the 100% Community Initiative as a member of the Advisory Council, the Mentorship Action Team, the Historical Trauma Team, and Leadership Team. Naomi also serves on the Taos Municipal Schools and Vista Grande High School Equity Councils. Naomi is committed to helping maintain the mission and goals of RMYC and creating new opportunities for young adults that will have a positive impact on themselves and the communities they represent. Naomi wants to see Corpsmembers develop into leaders and changemakers while excelling in community service and being productive members of society.

Dede Feldman

Member

The first woman elected as a New Mexico senator from Albuquerque’s near North Valley, and now the author of a book about her experiences, Dede Feldman has been a pioneer for women in government. She has a long history of promoting campaign finance reform, improved health insurance in New Mexico, and election reform. Dede built her foundation for change with a varied career as a journalist, high school and university teacher, and the owner of a small public relations business. As the state senator for District 13 from 1997-2012, Feldman had a big impact on the lives of women, children, and people struggling to make ends meet. Dede has lived in the North Valley of Albuquerque since 1976 in a solar adobe home she and her husband built as an experiment in passive solar design.

Administrative Staff

Ben Thomas

Executive Director

Ben Thomas is honored to serve as Rocky Mountain Youth Corps’ Executive Director. Ben holds a bachelors degree in Forestry from the University of Montana, Missoula, and has worked with RMYC since 2004. As a alumni of the Corps, Ben has a unique perspective of the work the Corps tackles and finds deep satisfaction in furthering the mission of the organization. When not at his desk, Ben can be found ripping down mountain bike trails or searching for deep snow up at Taos Ski Valley. Ben and his wife, Amber, are also cherishing the adventures of parenting, Grayson keeps them on their toes!

575-751-1420

ben@youthcorps.org

Andrea Pepin

Development Director

A transplant from New England, Andrea moved to New Mexico in 2014 with her partner Rebecca. They made a home in the Pueblo of Zuni for 8 years where Andrea worked as a Program and Operations Manager with the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project. With a Masters from the University of Rhode Island in Kinesiology, she has a passion for helping young people grow to their fullest potential through a wide variety of wellness experiences, particularly in the outdoors. In her free time, Andrea loves spending time with her wife, two children, and two dogs exploring the beautiful southwestern landscape searching for the best donuts Albuquerque has to offer.

575-751-1420

andrea@youthcorps.org

Darien Fernandez

Conservation Program Director

Darien was born and raised in Taos, New Mexico. He studied political science and English at the University of Texas-Pan American and the University of New Mexico. When not keeping up with current affairs or writing, he can be found outdoors hiking, rafting, cycling, climbing, fly fishing, or backcountry skiing. In addition, he enjoys herding dinosaurs (raising chickens) and will one day finish restoring his vintage camper trailer. More than anything, he is the proud father of two sons.

575-751-1420

darien@youthcorps.org

Rosanna Aragon

Finance Director

Rosanna Aragon, CPA, CGMA is the Finance Director of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. She has had her CPA designation since 2005 in New Mexico and has worked in accounting/taxation within a number of industries and companies throughout her career as well as owning a consulting firm for over 25 years. She is the co-founder and a current volunteer/Sherpa/logistics/operations director of the East Mountains Community Emergency Response Team. She enjoys working with people of all ages who love what they do and are passionate about what they do. She loves helping others fulfill their dreams of making a difference in the world. She believes that each of us make choices to be who we want to be to fulfill our life purpose. Her philosophy is for each of us to “be the change you wish to see in this world” by Gandhi. Her hobbies include: life coaching, swimming, playing and watching most sports, writing songs, reading, playing with all of her kids (four boys in all: two red heelers (Big Boy & Krooks) and two kitties (Scrapper & Thoreau)), and spending time with family and friends.

505-263-7585

rosanna@youthcorps.org

Cecilia Dimas

Office Manager

Cecilia is a Taos native who has worked with nonprofits for the last 20 years in Taos County. She loves working with organizations with different level youth and watching their transition from entering a program, to ending a program empowered. Cecilia loves her small community of Taos and has always loved being in close proximity to the mountains, being able to camp, fish and enjoy the outdoors. She will continue to stand up for clean water for future generations and women’s rights, among other things that are important to her.

575-751-1420

cecilia@youthcorps.org

Program Staff

Devin Vigil

Upper Rio Grande Conservation Program Coordinator
Devin was born in Taos New Mexico and graduated from Taos High School. He is highly family oriented and has a love for life. He enjoys gardening and eating authentic Mexican tacos whenever he can. He has been with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps for a long time in many different positions (Corpsmember, Assistant Crew Supervisor, Summer Coordinator, Summer Supervisor and Spike Supervisor). He has an adventurous and kind spirit which has taken him on many adventures in life, like wilderness fire fighting, snowboard instructing, ski patrol, and WWOOFing in HAWAII. Recently he has taken a new direction with music, playing and building Handpans out of his new shop and business which he calls Zia Handpans of Taos.

575-224-9735

devin@youthcorps.org

Taos Pueblo Conservation Program Coordinator

Michelle Roaque

Upper Rio Grande Preventionist Assistant
Michelle Roaque is a native Taosena. She holds a bachelors in Theater and Dance from Eastern New Mexico University. When not in the office, she enjoys teaching tap and ballet at Academy of Performing Arts. Her interests include dancing (of course), crafting, sewing and hanging out with her four dogs. Michelle is the Substance Abuse Preventionist working in the Taos office. She is excited to serve in the community.

575-751-1420

michelle@youthcorps.org

Candice Abasta

Upper Rio Grande Preventionist Assistant

Born in San Bernardino, California, Candice quickly moved to Taos where she was raised until Middle School. She then moved to Santa Fe where she attended Santa Fe High school. She partook in the Boys & Girls club, where she explored the world of Martial Arts.

Candice supports in all aspects of the Prevention Program with a particular focus on the Public Health Crew and supporting the community with Responsible Beverage Service training to alcohol retailers in Taos County.

When she is not at RMYC, she is enjoying time with her family. Working retail, restaurants and the medical field, she brings a large amount of experience to RMYC and feels that making a difference in the community is where her heart is.

575-751-1420

candice@youthcorps.org

Victoria Flores

Upper Rio Grande Training Manager

Victoria was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She graduated from an experiential high school program called Urban Pioneers that taught outdoor experiential learning to “at risk youth”. Through her involvement with programs like Urban Pioneers, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial (AmeriCorps), and Upward Bound, she has developed a passion for social change, and youth development. As a Training Manager at RMYC Victoria supports the personal and professional development of RMYC Corpsmembers, staff, and the community.

575-751-1420 

victoria@youthcorps.org

Zeki Schwartz

Upper Rio Grande Logistics & Field Coordinator
Zeki was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and has traveled extensively on many road trips through the southwestern United States. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science from University of California, Santa Cruz in 2016 where he also studied Indonesian Gamelan Music and Uzbek Folk Music. Zeki spent many years working as a cook in order to be close to the process of cooking and eating food.  Zeki has dedicated a lot of time to exploring the outdoors and learning about the natural world. He led a long season crew at Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in 2023 and found himself right at home working at the organization where he was invited to join the staff full time as the Logistics Coordinator. At RMYC, he is excited to help facilitate fun and safe experiences to as many crew members as possible by offering comprehensive training and good communication. When he isn’t fixing tools in the ops room, Zeki enjoys playing music, cooking, reading, hiking, visiting friends, and relaxing at home.

Quinn Fjal

Upper Rio Grande Training Coordinator

Quinn Fjal was born in Germany, but was raised in the southern great plains bioregion in Wichita Falls, TX. He graduated valedictorian of his HS class in 2017, and then earned a BA with honors from UT – Austin in Sustainability, Urban Studies, and Geography with a minor in Spanish in 2021. Quinn has a thread of serving and mentoring youth ever since high school, serving in camp counselor and tutor roles throughout adolescence. He is driven and excited to play a mentorship role within RMYC, helping to serve the Taos community he now calls home. In his free time, Quinn likes to dance, sing, read, write,watch movies, cook, drum, hike, ski, climb, and bond with loved ones, especially his son.

575-751-1420

fjal@youthcorps.org

Quinn Mendelson

Middle Rio Grande Conservation Program Manager

Originally from New England, Quinn moved to New Mexico in 2021. He studied Earth Science & Psychology at Wesleyan University while guiding backpacking trips in the summers. After graduating, Quinn worked on a therapeutic ranch in Colorado before heading back east to work as the Assistant Director of Trip Planning & Logistics at Overland Summers, the company he led trips for as a college student. Whether in the field or managing from an office, Quinn’s work has been centered around young people spending time outdoors in a group environment and the positive growth that comes from those experiences. When not working, he can be found having fun outside and eating as much New Mexican food as possible.

575-751-1420

quinn@youthcorps.org

Mickayla Hodgman

Middle Rio Grande Conservation Program Coordinator

Originally from Farmington, I fled to Albuquerque as an angsty and adventure-hungry teenager.

In the 7 years I’ve lived in Burque, I’ve fallen in love with it’s flora, fauna, landscape, sunsets, people, culture, and food (shout-out to green chile). Although my background is in conservation biology and sustainability, I believe in the intrinsic and invisible value of time spent in nature. Activities that give me joy include drinking coffee, rafting, climbing, hiking, skiing, and dreaming about my future permaculture farm.

Learning the names of native plants and birds, swinging a pick mattock to create a backslope, and pushing my own perceived personal limits helped me feel at home in my body and in my community. These are all opportunities that conservation work gave me and I’m thrilled that my job is to help youth and young adults gain a similar sense of empowerment.

575-751-1420

mickayla@youthcorps.org

Nixo Lanning

Middle Rio Grande Conservation Program American Sign Language (ASL) Coordinator

I am Deaf person and native from California, born and raised in the Bay area. I graduated from California School for the Deaf, Fremont. I have been in New Mexico for fourteen years now. I am one of New Mexico’s Deaf interpreters working to create more quality access and break communication barriers for the deaf community. I interpret in many fields from politics, health care, education and law. I have 3 educational backgrounds, a BA recreational degree, Masters degree in sports administration from the University of New Mexico & I attended an outdoor leadership program in Green field, Massachusetts that included a gamete of outdoor certifications like backpacking, kayaking, etc. I am a well experienced world traveler, I love adventure and new and exciting opportunities. I love anything that produces that feeling of adrenaline. I have a love for many different arenas in sports and work, one experience that I really value is bringing home a medal from both summer and winter deaf olympics. I completed the half iron man two times in my life and am always seeking a new thrill and challenge from what is to come in life.

575-751-1420

nixo@youthcorps.org

Sheldon Tenorio

Middle Rio Grande Logistics & Field Coordinator

Sheldon aka “Shellz” has over 10 years of experience in the conservation corps. He is dedicated to finding ways for Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and Western conservation to coexist, advocating for improved environmental practices. When not sorting logistics or out in the field with crews, you’ll catch him grooving to oldies tunes, vibing with Underground Hip-Hop/Culture, occasionally playing chess, and kicking back on the golf course.

575-751-1420

sheldon@youthcorps.org

Nicki Powers

Middle Rio Grande Training Coordinator

Nicki was born in southwest Colorado and grew up in the four corners area where they learned an appreciation of nature and developed a service oriented philosophy as a volunteer firefighter for several years. At 19 years of age they enlisted in the military and served four years. Upon discharge, they returned to Colorado and the fire service, where their first child was born. A few years later they moved to Albuquerque where they worked for Bernalillo County Fire & Rescue, and their second child was born. In the fire service, they were promoted several times, and served a tour in as an instructor in the Fire Academy before becoming the first Wildland Fire Coordinator.

After leaving the fire service, they spent some time working in a long term shelter for high risk, queer children before joining RMYC in 2022.

In their free time, they enjoy hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and other “adventure” sports, as well as quiet nights at home with their family and a good book.

575-751-1420

nicki@youthcorps.org

“Thank you for giving me the skills to give me a brighter future. I didn’t know where I was going before, I could have gone anywhere, mostly downhill. Thank you for making my future a little brighter and giving me something to look forward to.”

— Jhovany

RMYC Crew Member