Building a Coalition: Uniting Funders, Legislators, & Non-Profits for Lasting Change

CSW Women’s Summit 2023 | ballroom 3:00-4:00 pm

In this facilitated conversation, social activists from the previous panel will interact with lawmakers and funders, exploring collaborative ways for these three stakeholder groups to unite in fostering a movement towards equity for New Mexico women.

Moderator:Erin Armstrong
Erin Armstrong, Reproductive Rights and Health Law Attorney

Erin Armstrong, JD, is an attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who has spent her career advocating for access to healthcare and reproductive justice. Ms. Armstrong has played a leading role in state-based and national policy change and represented clients attempting to access and provide reproductive health services. Ms. Armstrong has served on the boards of several organizations in the field, including the Guttmacher Institute, If/When/How, and the National Women’s Health Network.

She currently serves as Vice Chair of the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women. She received her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and her B.A. from the University of New Mexico. She is the recipient of numerous awards related to her work, including the NM Public Health Association’s Phil Lynch Legislative Award for her legislative advocacy, and the Justice Mary Walters Award from the University of New Mexico Women’s Law Caucus for her ethics, leadership, and mentorship in the legal field.

Erin Armstrong head shot photo


Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, New Mexico State Legislature

A native New Mexican with deep roots in the area, Antoinette grew up in the small New Mexico farming village of Los Chavez. She went to UNM and then UCLA School of Law. In 1986, she found her passion for teaching when she became a law professor at UNM School of Law. She soon became the first Latina to earn tenure at the School of Law. She later went on to become the Director and Associate Dean of UNM’s legal clinic, where law students practiced law in a pro-bono clinic, helping people in our community with their legal needs. Throughout her career as a law professor, she published books, articles, and poems; she organized and presented at many important legal education conferences; and, she earned several awards for excellence, service, and leadership.

Sen. Antonette Sedilo Lopez Headshot

Majority Whip Reena Szczepanski, New Mexico State Legislature

Reena Szczepanski is an American politician who is a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives for the 47th district who was elected in November 2022.

The daughter of immigrants from India, Szczepanski was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in human biology and community health from Brown University.

Szczepanski spent six years as director of the New Mexico chapter of the Drug Policy Alliance. From 2006 to 2016, she was the executive director of Emerge New Mexico, an organization that recruits women to run for office. Szczepanski was president of the New Mexico Public Health Association and chair of the Santa Fe County Health Policy and Planning Commission. From 2017 to 2022, Szczepanski served as chief of staff for Speaker Brian Egolf.

Rep. Reena Szchpanski Headshot

Gina Jackson, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Return to the Heart Foundation 

Gina Jackson, MSW, is Western Shoshone and Oglala Lakota. She is the Co-CEO of the Return to the Heart Foundation which she Co-Founded in 2020. Ms. Jackson’s philanthropic experience includes Native Americans in Philanthropy, Casey Foundation serving as an IPA at the Assistant Secretary’s Office of the Interior before joining the Obama White House Community Solutions Team during the last year of the Administration. Ms. Jackson is a Board Member of the Women’s Funding Network. She has more than 20 years experience encompassing state/tribal justice (Judicial Education), collaboration, policy, and philanthropy. She is a connector, igniter, innovator, and equity builder with a vision to bring healing for our nation and beyond.

Gina Jackson Headshot

Celia Yapita, Community Leadership Director, Albuquerque Community Foundation

In the first part of her career, her legal work in Florida, California and New Mexico included support of survivors of domestic violence, as well as advocacy for senior citizens and youth in special education. Celia pivoted to focus on social services when she joined Catholic Charities in Albuquerque in 2009, continuing there for the next 12+ years, directly serving immigrants and refugees for most of that time, and in her last couple of years, guiding all programming as the Chief Program Officer. In fall 2021, Celia became the first Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at United Way of North Central New Mexico.  She joined the Albuquerque Community Foundation as their Community Leadership Director in March of 2023, continuing her journey of supporting equity in philanthropy.  Throughout her career, Celia has centered clear communication in her collaborations:  Aruskipt’asipxañanakasakipuniraskispawa –  Sea lo que fuere, estamos obligados a comunicarnos – In all situations, we must communicate with each other.

Celia Yapita Headshot