Stephanie Maez

Maez has an extensive background in public policy, strategic communications and civic engagement. Stephanie gained experience working in Governor Bill Richardson’s Department of Political and Legislative Affairs where she analyzed legislation, media and film related proposals, capital outlay requests, and constituents’ public policy concerns. As a communications professional for New Mexico’s primary electric utility, Stephanie worked on internal and external communications. Stephanie also served as the Director of Government Relations for the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce where she worked to develop and advocate for approved policy positions. In addition, she was responsible for developing and nurturing relationships at the local, state, and federal level to further dialogue surrounding public policy issues.

Recently, Stephanie was the Outreach Director for New Mexico Voices for Children, where she managed the local revenue coalition, formerly Better Choices New Mexico. Stephanie is now the Chief Executive Officer at the Center for Civic Policy where she drives the Center’s strategic vision, manages operations and maintains relationships with local and national allies.

Stephanie resides in Albuquerque with her two wonderful children and sweet husky. She is also working toward a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the University of New Mexico.

Melanie Aranda

Melanie Aranda brings data and financial management experience to the Center for Civic Policy and specializes in GIS mapping and merging data files with organizational databases. Her involvement in social justice issues began in 1995 as a volunteer for the Petroglyph National Monument Protection Coalition, a non-profit organization involved in the struggle for indigenous rights.

Melanie has served as Field Director for a number of successful political and issue campaigns in New Mexico. Ms. Aranda is also a small business owner, who for the last 4 years has maintained accurate financial records for a number of non-profits, small businesses and independent consultants.

A Chicana and Albuquerque native, Melanie Aranda currently lives in the South Valley with her husband James and daughter Gloria.

John Daniel


In his role as Senior Advisor, John Daniel contributes to the overall success of CCP by providing support on state-based strategy and civic engagement programs. He coordinates creative design and production of paid media, oversees the editorial functions of CCP’s online presence, and supports the issue advocacy and civic engagement efforts with policy and demographic research.

Coming to CCP in 2007, John brought his 25 years of experience as a consultant in the private sector, organizer in the nonprofit sector, and media relations and performance measurement specialist in both state and local government. He has worked with the N.M. Commissioner of Public Lands, the N.M. Secretary of State, the Mayor of Albuquerque, the Bernalillo County Commission, the President Pro Tem of the N.M. Senate, and the Speaker of the N.M. House of Representatives. He has staffed the N.M. Clean Alternative Vehicle Fuels Task Force, Albuquerque Indicators Progress Commission, the Albuquerque Government al Effectiveness and Results Task Force, and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Unification Commission.

Javier Benavidez

A proud native New Mexican, Javier has spent more than a decade engaged in New Mexico’s progressive movement. As the Center for Civic Policy’s Communications Director, he leads the organization’s communications strategy, planning, implementation, and partner support.

Prior to joining CCP, Javier served as Speechwriter and Communications Liaison to U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) and as Outreach Director for Conservation Voters New Mexico. Aside from his full-time work, Javier has regularly hosted several radio shows dedicated to public affairs and has held leadership positions on the boards of various community organizations, including the SouthWest Organizing Project, the Sawmill Community Land Trust, the Southeast Team for Entrepreneurial Success, 1000 Friends of New Mexico, and the Barelas Neighborhood Association.

Javier and his wife Ann Marie live with their two young children in Barelas, a beautiful historic community coined as “the Heart of Aztlan” by novelist Rudolfo Anaya. Javier completed a bachelor’s degree in political science at Santa Clara University and dual master’s degrees in Public Administration and Community Regional Planning at the University of New Mexico.

Oriana Sandoval

Oriana pic

Oriana Sandoval, a native of New Mexico, received her Bachelor of Arts in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College; a Masters in Public Policy from the University of California — Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy; and a Juris Doctor from UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).  She is currently a member of the New Mexico Bar Association.

Oriana has worked on economic development, environmental justice, conservation, and civil rights issues for more than a decade.  She was a principal organizer of New Mexico’s first-ever Latino conservation organization (the Latino Sustainability Institute), which educates Latinos on key conservation issues and advocates for strong conservation policies.   She worked for several years at the Center of Southwest Culture as a program manager directing economic development projects or underserved communities, civil rights programs and social justice issues in the US, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. Oriana worked with the UC Berkeley Labor Center to provide leadership development trainings to Latino immigrant grassroots organizers in California’s Central Valley.  She clerked at the Center on Race Poverty and the Environment where she conducted research for litigation on climate change issues and cases involving the violation of air quality standards in California’s Central Valley.  Oriana also clerked at the Oakland, CA, Centro Legal de la Raza where she provided legal services to low-income community members in the areas of housing, employment and immigration.  She worked with the San Francisco Day Labor Program on identifying employment opportunities for day laborers, most of whom are undocumented immigrants with little protection in the workplace.  Most recently, Oriana served as the founding Executive Director of New Mexico Vote Matters (NMVM), a non-profit organization committed to the empowerment and participation of historically disenfranchised communities in New Mexico.  NMVM assisted over 21,000 New Mexicans in registering to vote in 2012 and conducted a comprehensive Get Out The Vote campaign to over 60,000 unlikely voters in these communities to encourage participation in the political process.

Michelle Ferguson

michelleMichelle is a native of Colorado and recently moved to New Mexico.  She graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2010 with dual degrees in Accounting and Finance.

Since moving to Albuquerque she has been involved with New Mexico Vote Matters. Michelle joined CCP in May 2013 and has quickly become integrated with the daily financial and administrative duties of the organization. She is excited about being involved in her new community.

During her free time, she is an avid snowboarder.  She also enjoys camping, hiking, and the occasional game of golf.

Sarah Kennedy

Sarah Kennedy loves social media. Spending much of her days with her eyes glued to a computer, she has first hand knowledge of how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest (and on and on) play a role in the lives of New Mexicans. Since August 2011, Sarah has been creating and posting the weekly ClearlySK videos, which discuss current issues that affect the lives of the people in our state. For more information about Sarah’s work with the organization, visit her facebook page: http://www/facebook.com/clearlysk

The Bad History Defense: Las Cruces Tea Party and the Confederate Flag (VIDEO)

By now you’ve probably heard about the embarrassing controversy swirling around the “prize-winning” Las Cruces Tea Party parade float that prominently featured the Confederate flag.

Predictably, this symbol of division, racism and white supremacy evoked considerable backlash. One can only express wonderment at the knuckleheads on the awards committee who presumably didn’t see this coming.

In making an official apology, Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima expressed outrage. He also promised that the 4th of July Planning Committee would thoroughly review the rules and procedures for next year’s parade.

El Paso Electric, the corporate sponsor of the parade, also disowned the float fiasco, and said that it would withdraw support of the event in the future unless rules are changed.

The theme of this year’s parade was the Statehood Centennial — “100 Years of New Mexico History.”

In a statement responding to the criticism, the Las Cruces Tea Party offered a historical justification, claiming that the Confederate flag was included because it is one of several flags that have flown over New Mexico during its history as a state and territory (italics added). A Tea Party spokesperson further elaborated with this non sequitur: “Because it’s history, and you can’t change history. I know they’re trying to, but you can’t.”

While it’s true that Confederate colors would have accompanied the rebel army from Texas when it attempted to wrest the Rio Grande valley of the New Mexico Territory from the Union in 1862, this incursion was a short-lived one of less than three months.

Indeed, that Confederate blip on New Mexico’s historical radar simply underscores what was glaringly obvious by their absence from the float — the flags of Spain and Mexico. General Sibley’s 1862 raid rather pales in historical comparison to the two nations that dominated New Mexico’s pre-statehood narrative for 200+ and 25 years respectively.

And curiously, with the exception of a New Mexico state flag, none of the other banners pictured on the float — notably the Revolutionary War era “Pine Tree” and “Gadsen” flags or this piece of current day Tea Party merchandising — have anything to do with pre- or post-statehood New Mexico history.

So yeah, the historical justification is as pathetic as it is laughable.

But for all of this simple-minded nonsense, that’s not the real kicker. Here’s where it gets darker. The Tea Party spokesperson, Jo Wall, added this:

“I don’t see why anyone should have an objection to it. The Confederate flag was never meant to be racial.”

After picking your jaw up off the floor, read Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic who puts that old lie to rest one more time in his post, Honoring the Fourth With the Confederate Flag.

And not to be outdone, here’s Sarah Kennedy’s take. Yes, she’s angry and definitely has an objection:

UPDATE: Almost forgot. Walt Rubel, managing editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News weighed in with this.

CORRECTION: The original post stated that none of the banners pictured on the float had anything to do with pre- or post-statehood New Mexico history. However, according to one news account a New Mexico state flag from the 1915-20 period was on the float. The post has been corrected to reflect this.