New Mexico Legal Aid

Advancing fairness & justice for all
Free legal aid in New Mexico



Celebrating National Bosses Day: Spotlight on New Mexico Legal Aid Managers

Bosses Day Graphic

In observance of National Bosses Day, we’re shining a light on the outstanding managers who helm different departments and offices at New Mexico Legal Aid. These individuals bring dedication, expertise, and compassion to their roles, ensuring our mission remains at the forefront of all we do.

Practice Group Managing Attorneys:

  • Victim Services: Sarah Coffey
  • Housing Law: Riley Masse
  • Economic Safety: Joel Jasperse
  • Native American Program: Interim Director Lisa Chavez and Litigation/Casework Manager Simon Tuck
  • Land and Water: David Benavidez
  • Safe to Be You!: Michelle Garcia
  • Family Law Practice Group: Evangelina Mercado
  • Intake: Carol Garner
  • Volunteer Attorney Program: Becky O’Gawa

Office Managing Attorneys:

  • Gallup Office: Joel Jasperse
  • Las Cruces and Silver City Offices: Evangelina Mercado
  • Albuquerque Office: Thomas Prettyman
  • Roswell, Hobbs, and Clovis Offices: Lisa Kuykendall
  • Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Santa Fe Offices: Ashley Hogan

Administration – Albuquerque Office:

  • Executive Director: Sonya Bellafant
  • Deputy Director: Michelle Garcia
  • Litigation Director: Edna Sprague

In the spirit of the occasion, let’s hear directly from some of our managers:

  • Evangelina Mercado: “What I like best about working at New Mexico Legal Aid is that I practice in the family law realm.  I am passionate about children having a safe environment in which to grow up.  I represent clients in Petition for Order of Protection Hearings, whereby, many times, I am able to obtain supervised visitation or no visitation to keep the children safe. I also enjoy working with my staff, who have many of my same values.”
  • Lisa Kuykendall: “When I’m not working, I enjoy watching sports and traveling to see my youngest at college.”
  • Carol Garner: “Outside the office, my time’s filled with Backgammon and Wingspan, audiobooks, crocheting for my grandchildren, playing with the Labradoodles, and quality moments with my grandkids.”
  • Edna Sprague: “I like the collaborative nature of our work here that respects and considers all of our different experiences from support staff to the Executive Director. I like that we get to take a chance on cases that might not otherwise be litigated because of a client’s inability to afford an attorney.”
  • Sarah Coffey: “My favorite thing about NMLA is the people. We have such a supportive environment. We celebrate wins together and mourn losses.”
  • Sonya Bellafant: “In my spare time, I like to quilt, crochet, bake, or hang out with my pups.”
  • Ashley Hogan: “When I’m not working, I like to go on hikes with my dog, check out all the French bakeries, and shop at used book and antique shops.”
  • Joel Jasperse: “The most rewarding part of my job at NMLA is advising Navajo elders. Off the clock, I’m passionate about abstract art painting.”
  • Becky O’Gawa: “Reading, walking my dog, and practicing karate fill my leisure time.”
  • Riley Masse: “My favorite part about working at NMLA is being able to work with such amazing colleagues and being able to help people who really need the help.”

As we mark National Bosses Day, we want to extend our gratitude to all our managers for their unwavering commitment to the mission of New Mexico Legal Aid

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