Demis Foster, Executive Director
A veteran conservationist, Demis has more than two decades of experience as a grassroots organizer, environmental advocate and consultant. Demis grew up on a four-generation family ranch in southern Idaho. She spent her childhood exploring the high desert by horseback where she developed a lifelong love for wildlife and nature. In the shrub steppe desert that unfolds next to the Boise National Forest, she nurtured a deep appreciation for the land and water that sustained all the families in her rural farming community.
An avid outdoor adventurer, Demis moved to New Mexico in 2010 to explore some of the last wild and remote public lands remaining in the West. She was drawn not only to the unique natural landscape, but also to the culturally rich communities of people that have been rooted to these lands for generations. A passionate advocate for protecting her high desert home, Demis has worked hard to ensure protection for places such as Chaco Canyon and our newly designated Rio Grande del Norte National Monument near Taos.
While earning a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from Boise State University, she worked for the Wolf Recovery Foundation—the first organization in Idaho dedicated to the restoration of wolves in the Rockies. After graduating with honors, she moved to the Pacific Northwest where she spent the next 18 years working on environmental issues while exploring the backcountry of the Olympic and Cascade mountains. In 2004, Demis was awarded the National Leadership Award for outstanding leadership in protecting public lands for her work as the Director of the Ancient Forest Roadshow—a year-long outreach tour with two teams traveling across the nation with a 1,000-lb. crosscut section from an old-growth Douglas Fir tree.
Roberto Aponte, Deputy Director of Operations
He is a visionary manager and leader with more than 25 years in event production and organizational leadership, in both corporate and nonprofit settings. In addition to his expertise in business administration, Roberto has strong skills as a trainer, facilitator and coach. He has a Master of Arts in Business from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and an undergraduate degree in Communications from Emerson College in Boston. His unique master’s degree was focused on bringing environmental sustainability and social responsibility to the practice of business.
Roberto’s career success began when he recognized the importance of being able to integrate the fullness of who a person is into the work that one does. When he applied this principle to his own work life, he experienced less work-related stress, became a more effective and productive worker and lived a more fulfilling life. He then extended this approach toward life-work balance to the teams and projects he managed with increasingly positive results. Roberto’s vision is that all human beings develop a healthy relationship to their work, leading to a sense of community in their workplaces and thus making it easier to do work that supports balance with our natural environment and greater collaboration amongst all social groups.
Molly Sanders, Deputy Director of Program
Previously, Molly was the Global Warming Program Associate for Environment New Mexico, where she worked to mobilize public and grasstops support for clean and renewable energy in New Mexico. During her time there, she also worked with local groups on urban sprawl issues, and directed a canvassing operation during the 2008 Presidential Election.
Prior to coming to New Mexico in 2008, Molly received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Geography with a concentration in Environmental Systems, and Sustainability. During her undergraduate studies, she also collaborated with several professors, organizations, and the City of Minneapolis conducting research on the public’s attitudes and perceptions of environmental action to help shape the city’s growing sustainability program. In her spare time, Molly enjoys camping, hiking and skiing.
Allison Fabara, Development Director
Allison came on board as CVNM’s Development Director in June 2010. Prior to joining CVNM, she worked in non-profit fundraising for eight years in Washington D.C. Most recently, she served as a senior member of the development department at NARAL Pro-Choice America, planning major donor fundraising events across the country.
After traveling to the Land of Enchantment several times for work and vacation, Allison fell in love with its natural beauty and unique culture. She is passionate about protecting the place she now calls home. Allison earned her Bachelor of Arts at Villanova University in liberal arts with a concentration in social sciences. She grew up in the Philadelphia area and enjoys running, yoga, and traveling.
Aviva Crichton, Development Associate
Aviva joined the staff in April 2015. Long before going behind the scenes, she began signing petitions and making calls to her representatives and supporting grassroots efforts related to environmental, social and economic justice. She is particularly passionate about protecting our natural resources, and connecting with beautiful, wild places.
She came to Santa Fe in 2010 to earn her Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts at St. John’s College. Having grown up in the high desert and mountains of southwest Idaho, Aviva quickly felt at home in New Mexico. She has worked with several local nonprofits in development and event coordination, and is thrilled with the opportunity to bring these skills to the issues she cares about most.
In her free time, Aviva enjoys travel, hiking, camping and community building. She has been actively involved with Atalaya Search and Rescue since 2010. The team specializes in technical rescue skills, including avalanche and high angle scenarios. Aviva enjoys monitoring the rescue scene from the cliff’s edge, and currently serves as vice president.
Liliana Castillo, Communications Director
Liliana’s career has centered on giving a voice to the voiceless, creating accountability and a world centered on truth. She has done so through journalism and working for non-profit organizations that help others. Liliana earned her Bachelor of Arts at the University of North Texas in photojournalism with a minor in social sciences.
Born in Montana, Liliana was raised with respect and love for nature, specifically the mountains. She is on a continuous quest to capture and preserve the natural beauty of the world in photographs and words. She is elated to be able to help protect the environment through her work at CVNM.
Adrian Angulo, Communications Associate
Adrian’s first communication job was translating for his parents as a kid. A first generation Mexican-American citizen, Adrian grew up with a strong sense of civic duty and encouraged his community to engage in the political process.
Adrian earned his Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s College in Santa Fe. He got his start at the New Mexico Legislature where he saw firsthand the work of elected officials in his roles at the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Senate Finance Committee. Adrian also worked at the New Mexico Legislative Reports as a session reporter and analyst. Interested in deepening his involvement in community leadership, Adrian began working in campaigns where he was tasked with fundraising, event management, public relations, volunteer mobilization, and engaging diverse, local and tribal communities and leaders to support progressive candidates and ballot measures.
In his spare time Adrian enjoys woodworking, spending time with family and hiking with his dog Lima.
Tyanne Benallie, Campaigns Director
Tyanne was born on the Diné Nation and is of the Near the Water Clan, and born for the Bear Clan People. Tyanne’s upbringing and background brings a unique perspective to her role as Campaign Director at CVNM Education Fund. Tyanne’s family homeland is near the Bistí Badlands (De-Na-Za Wilderness) in the San Juan County region. Growing up in a predominantly Latino Westside neighborhood of Albuquerque, Tyanne understands, and identifies with the needs of multicultural populations. Tyanne believes in the importance of culture and environmental protection for all people.
For the past 14 years, Tyanne has primarily worked with underserved populations in the areas of environment, social, economic, education and health. Tyanne carries knowledge in program management, grants management, project implementation, campaigning, community outreach and capacity building projects. Tyanne has worked in non-profits and the public sector, including at the Administration for Native Americans and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. She has direct experience working on the Navajo Nation, in New Mexican pueblo villages and in rural Alaskan Native villages. In addition to her work experience, she holds a Master of Arts in International Development & Social Change from Clark University in Worcester, MA and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Spanish from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO.
In her spare time, Tyanne loves to travel. She has had the opportunity to live, volunteer and travel to 27 countries world-wide. When she is not traveling, she enjoys running, hiking, skiing, yoga, music, mindfulness, writing and reading. She loves dogs.
Talia Boyd, CVNM Education Fund Western New Mexico Program Director
Born and raised on the Diné Nation, Talia grew up with a respect for the natural world through traditional Diné teachings. The dewatering of aquifers through the extraction of non-renewable energies and the alarming legacy of abandoned uranium mines throughout her homeland drove Talia to take action to protect her communities in New Mexico and Arizona.
For over the past 10 years, Talia has spent most of her time grassroots organizing and volunteering in rural and Indigenous communities on environmental and social justice issues. Some of her work has included protecting sacred sites, Indigenous voting rights and grassroots fundraising with the Native American Voters Alliance and community radio with KNIZ 90.1 FM in Gallup, New Mexico.
Talia is attending the University of New Mexico with a focus in communications and sociology and she continues to be a member of the Western Mining Action Network, Wellstone Action, the Black Mesa Water Coalition and co-founder/organizer of the South West Indigenous Listening Forum. Talia enjoys photography and live music in her free time.
Estefany Gonzalez-Mendoza, Juntos Program Coordinator
Estefany joined the CVNM Education Fund staff in January 2018. She was born in Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, Mexico and was raised in a small rural town surrounded by apple orchards, alfalfa and cornfields. Since a young age, she was taught to take care of the environment and nourish it as it nourished us. Estefany migrated to Albuquerque, NM alongside her family and has lived in the South Valley for more than 14 years.
For the past eight years, Estefany has spent her time volunteering and grassroots organizing around New Mexico with low-income communities on immigration, environmental and other social justice issues. Estefany has focused her work on making sure that the community is at the center and forefront of the work. It is important for her to continue advocating for families to be able to share their own narratives, develop their leadership skills, organize and live in a healthy environment.
She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Spanish from the University of New Mexico. In her spare time, Estefany enjoys traveling, listening to music, hiking, cooking and spending time with family.
Antonio Maestas, Juntos Community Organizer
Antonio joined the CVNM Education Fund staff in September 2018. Antonio grew up in the community of Mountain View located in the South Valley of Albuquerque. His passion for community organizing sprouted from an environmental justice internship with the SouthWest Organizing Project in 2015 where he realized the circumstances of his childhood could be traced back to environmental disparities plaguing low-income communities of color. Following this internship, Antonio organized with the Tibetan Environmental Justice Movement in Dharamsala, India in the fall of 2015. Returning back to the United States in the spring of 2016, Antonio was a lead education organizer to combat institutional racism and inequality at his college in Indiana.
When he returned to New Mexico, Antonio continued his environmental justice work with communities across Albuquerque, and with pueblo and land grant communities across the state. As a part of this work, he published a chapter titled “New Mexican Land Grants: A History of Conflict in the Chilili Land Grant” in a historical journal accounting the history of his land grant where he currently resides, La Merced del Pueblo de Chilili. One of Antonio’s great mentors told him, “Social movements are spiritual and the principles of environmental justice is our doctrine” for which he incorporates in his community organizing endeavors.
Antonio graduated from Earlham College in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology with a concentration in Socio-Cultural relations. In his spare time, Antonio enjoys travelling, playing music, reading books and trying new foods.
Cris Caltagirone, Northern New Mexico Organizer
Cris joined the CVNM Education Fund team in October 2018. She has a five acre organic farm and mixed fruit orchard in Velarde that she’s currently rehabilitating. As a new farmer, she’s actively learning to be a mindful steward of the land and water, as well as an active parciante, an individual irrigator who owns water rights. Trying to live in harmony with the vibrant ecosystem of the Rio Grande has included learning some hard but insightful lessons about respecting and sharing resources with the many forms of wildlife that call the area their home. For example, black bears regularly migrate down from the mountains in the fall to fatten up on the abundant apple harvest of the valley. Preparing to have them come thru without causing too much disruption to the farm has been important. Most recently, after clearing a section of riverfront, Cris learned the necessity of protecting her pear trees from hungry beavers that gnawed through four mature trees in one night.
Cris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology and Hispanic Studies from the University of the State of New York and a master’s in Sustainable Development from the School for International Training. She’s fluent in Spanish and especially adores dichos, refranes and chistes (sayings, proverbs and jokes, an important part of Spanish and Latin American culture). Prior to joining CVNM, she spent 25 years working in community development and capacity building primarily in African and Asian countries. Cris enjoys cooking and learning to make international dishes through cultural exchanges.