Funders Respond: Exploring the Power Dynamic & Funding Strategies at Work in New Mexico

CSW Women’s Summit 2023 |  bear Conference Room 3-4 pm

This panel delves into the dynamics of power and funding strategies at play in New Mexico, offering alternative and creative approces to funding happening in our state. Social activists will queston how these dynamics shape initiatives and influence outcomes in the realm of founding and support.


Moderator:Tsiporah Nephesh
Tsiporah Nephesh, Executive Director, NM Thrives Non-Profit Support

Tsiporah Nephesh founded New Mexico Thrives to uplift the vital role of nonprofits in New Mexico’s communities. She has worked with community members in Saskatchewan to identify and develop resources for survivors of childhood sexual abuse; and in Albuquerque managed trainings and resources to build the capacity of nonprofits.

New Mexico Thrives advocates for legislative policies that will enhance the work of nonprofits and benefit communities. New Mexico Thrives is a resource for nonprofits, providing information, assistance, and trainings to nonprofits. New Mexico Thrives is an Ally Member of the National Council of Nonprofits.


Elsa Lopez, Program Manager,

Elsa Lopez is originally from a small farming community in Chihuahua, Mexico and has lived in New Mexico for 25 years. She has a BA in Finance and Marketing from UNM. Elsa has spent over 20 years spearheading racial and economic justice campaigns in New Mexico and nationally to build power and advocate for immigrants and low wage workers. Her commitment to racial and economic justice is rooted in her own experience as an immigrant student. She continues to be inspired by the tenacity, resiliency, and courage of her community who dare to reimagine and create a more just and equitable future for our familias. Elsa loves food, hiking, gardening, and photography.

Elsa Lopez Headshot

JoAnn Melchor, President & CEO, NM Foundation
JoAnn Melchor is from Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico. JoAnn is the President and CEO of New Mexico Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to steward community resources, build partnerships, and create opportunities that transform lives throughout the state. JoAnn has extensive experience working with youth, parents and communities throughout New Mexico, the U.S., and Latin America. JoAnn has worked with several non-profit organizations including Futures for Children, American Indian Graduate Center, Southwest Youth Services, and the Keres Children’s Learning Center (KCLC). JoAnn also worked as the Director of the 21st Century Community Learning Center program at Santo Domingo School, coordinating the Afterschool program and Summer Academy for students from Santo Domingo and Cochiti Pueblos. JoAnn is a lifelong volunteer and advocate for programs and initiatives that promote the well-being of children and positive development of communities. Career Highlights include establishing partnerships with local and national funders, and the Corporation for National and Community Service AmeriCorps VISTA Program. JoAnn has also served on several committees, task forces and boards that impact the well-being of children. JoAnn currently serves on several local boards.

JoAnn Melchor Headshot

Rachael Maestas, Consultant for CGRE

Rachael specializes in social media strategy and management, having overseen and contributed to social media strategy for ACLU of New Mexico, New Mexico House Democrats, NMPRSA, elected officials, and a variety of local non-profits, individuals, and small businesses.

Rachael Maestas Headshot

Adrien Lawyer, Co-Founder, Transgender Resource Center
Adrien co-founded TGRCNM in 2008 with Zane Stephens to be a clearinghouse of direct services, education, and advocacy for the transgender community. Adrien has delivered Transgender Cultural Fluency trainings in thousands of settings, including public and private schools, police and public safety departments, every correctional institution in New Mexico, healthcare and social service facilities, federal, state, and local government agencies, and private businesses, foundations, and nonprofit organizations. He has also led successful advocacy efforts for model transgender student policies, gender-neutral restrooms, trans inclusion in social service facilities, statewide bullying prevention, and birth certificate gender marker change.

On a national level, Adrien presents and consults on many issues impacting the trans community, including TGRCNM as a successful model for local service provision. In his spare time, he enjoys being a father and playing guitar with A Band Named Sue.

Adrien Lawyer Headshot

Sachi Watase, Executive Director, NM Asian Family Center
Sachi Watase is from Albuquerque, NM and has a background in community organizing, teaching, and serving survivors of sexual assault. Watase is a Fulbright Scholar and alum of the NM Women of Color Leadership Initiative. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the NM Asian Family Center, a community-based organization offering culturally and linguistically tailored programs and services to APINH families in NM. As members of the groups they serve, Watase and her team understand, on a deeply personal level, the need for equitable access to critical social services, multigenerational programming, and platforms to uplift and empower community voices.

Sachi Watase Headshot