Peter G. Simonson, Executive Director
Since 2000, Peter Simonson has served as Executive Director for ACLU-NM. As primary spokesperson for the organization, Peter develops policy positions and addresses such diverse topics as national security, “zero tolerance” in public schools, racial profiling, immigrants’ rights, separation of church and state, and the protection of free speech rights. Under Peter’s leadership ACLU-NM has grown from 2,500 to over 6,000 members. Our legal docket has grown from a dozen civil liberties cases a year to well over 30.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Peter directed a project to improve immigrants’ access to health care in Albuquerque. For five years he worked in sustainable development and ethnographic research in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Peter earned his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Michigan in 1994. He is a native of Albuquerque.
Kathryn Turnipseed, Deputy Director
Kathryn Turnipseed serves as the Deputy Director of ACLU-NM. Prior to joining the staff in May of 2008, Kathryn created Siladana LLC, a small private company specializing in advocacy, program development and strategic planning services for the non-profit sector. In New Mexico, she worked as the Executive Director for the Metropolitan Homelessness Project; Program Manager for the St. Martins Hospitality Center; and Project Assistant for the Phoenix Rising HIV/AIDS Re-entry Project. Kathryn is an active member and organizer in her community, and presently serves as the Board President for the Albuquerque Vipassana Sangha. She received her BA in Psychology from University of Evansville and her MBA from Rutgers University.
Morgan Day joined the ACLU of New Mexico in November of 2013, and serves as the Office Manager for the organization. After earning degrees in Political Science and French from the University of Tennessee, Morgan attended the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, graduating in 2013 with an M.A. in International Development, and a concentration in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security. She has previously worked in research and community education roles at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy in Knoxville, TN and the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines, IA, with specific focuses on civic education, food justice, and anti-poverty movements. In her free time, Morgan enjoys preparing elaborate meals, taking in live music, and staying current on world events.
Christine Vigil serves as the Development Associate for ACLU-NM, assisting in the affiliates fundraising efforts. Prior to joining the ACLU-NM Christine served as the Director of Development for the National Hispanic Cultural Center and as the Director of Grant Development for an international performing arts organization. She attended the University of New Mexico where she obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts and is working to complete a Master of Fine Arts. An avid supporter of the arts, Vigil is the Contributing Dance Editor for a locally based arts publication and lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Dance at UNM.
Steven Robert Allen, Director of Public Policy
In January 2012, Steven Robert Allen joined the ACLU of New Mexico as the Director of Public Policy. Allen acts as the ACLU of New Mexico’s primary representative at the Roundhouse, lobbying to protect and extend civil liberties through the law-making process. Allen also seeks to promote good government policy at the local level throughout the state. During his time at the ACLU-NM, he has helped pass state laws designed to require equal pay for women, create an independent public defenders commission, and protect the rights of pregnant and parenting students. He also played a lead role in a project to increase public support for marriage equality for same-sex couples as well as a ballot campaign to defeat an Albuquerque measure that would have restricted access to safe and legal abortions.
Allen has a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a JD from Chicago-Kent College of Law. He is a member of the State Bar of New Mexico and is the former editor of the Weekly Alibi, Albuquerque’s alternative newsweekly. Most recently, Allen served four years as the Executive Director of Common Cause New Mexico, a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to holding elected leaders accountable to the public interest. One of his biggest accomplishments during his tenure with Common Cause was helping to create Count Every Vote New Mexico, a nonpartisan voter protection program. He also helped pass several election and campaign finance reform laws.
When not fighting for the public interest at the Roundhouse, Steve can often be found wielding a banjo in the duo BaBa.
Havens Levitt, Coalition Coordinator
Havens Levitt is the coordinator of the All Families Matter Coalition. She recently retired after 29 years as a high school math teacher. A native New Mexican, she has been working on LGBT rights issues in New Mexico for over 30 years. She advocated for LGBT students and staff throughout her teaching career, helping to gain domestic partner benefits for APS employees and retirees and participating in the creation and success of the APS Safe Zone program. She has served on the boards of EQNM and several of its predecessors, as well as the board of WIMIN, which produced WIMINFEST for 25 years. Among Havens’ passions are Broadway musicals, traveling, jacks, and New Mexico. She lives joyfully in the present moment (as much as possible) with Rebecca, her partner of 17 years.
Micah McCoy serves as the Communications Manager, managing ACLU-NM media and press relations. Before joining the ACLU in July 2009, Micah worked as a freelance writer in Austin, TX. After graduating from Austin College with degrees in Sociology and Spanish, Micah spent a year in Kenya working as the Communications Coordinator for the East Africa regional office of Church World Service, a relief, development and advocacy organization. Micah also served as a volunteer coordinator for No More Deaths, an immigrants’ rights and border advocacy organization based out of Tucson, AZ. Micah is an avid fly-fisherman and snowboarder. He is also the author of several award-winning plays and acts in live theatre locally in Albuquerque.
Alexandra Freedman Smith joined the ACLU as a staff attorney in March, 2011 and in May, 2014 became legal director for the affiliate. She graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law in the top 10% of her class in 2002. While in law school, Alexandra was a member of the award winning American Bar Association Moot Court Team, and she was the Vice President of the Innocence and Justice Project. After graduating from law school, Alexandra worked as an associate attorney at the law firm Freedman Boyd Daniels Hollander Goldberg & Ives P.A. for four years. She also worked as a solo practitioner while raising her two children. While in private practice, Alexandra worked with the ACLU as a cooperating attorney, and was a winner of the ACLU’s 2008 Cooperating Attorney of the Year Award. Alexandra served on the board of directors of the Southwest Women’s Law Center for seven years, and the New Mexico Women’s Justice Project for five years.
Maria Martinez Sanchez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She attended New Mexico State University where she received a Bachelor’s of Social Work and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Government. After college Maria worked as a licensed social worker with the developmentally disabled population. She later attended the University of New Mexico School of Law. Prior to joining the ACLU, Maria served as a staff attorney for the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty for six years. Maria currently serves as the board president for Encuentro, an organization that engages Latino immigrant families in educational opportunities that build skills for economic and social justice.
Andrew Polnett serves as a Certified Paralegal for the ACLU of New Mexico. He is an active member of the New Mexico State Bar Paralegal Division. He is currently a Director and sit on the Board of Directors. Also, Andrew is a Co-Chair for the Professionalism and Professional Development Committee and also severs as a committee member on the Scholarship and CLE Committees. Additionally, Andrew has accepted a second appointment to the New Mexico State Bar’s Diversity in the Legal Profession Committee.
Andrew is a student at the University of New Mexico where he continues to work towards his a dual Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and English. Upon graduation it is his desire to attend UNM Law School. Andrew is a native of Albuquerque and is passionate about a variety of issues facing our Nation and communities.
Noah Gelb joined the ACLU of New Mexico as an intern in the legal department in June, 2014. He graduated in 2008 with a degree in philosophy and art from the University of New Mexico. Since graduation he has worked as an artist in the Albuquerque area, participating in a number of exhibitions and art shows. He has also worked as a waiter, a cook and a retail clerk. After coming to the realization that he wanted to become an advocate for his community, Noah decided to pursue a career in law. He is currently in his second year at the UNM School of Law where he is focusing on the areas of constitutional litigation and civil rights.
Noah enjoys making art, reading and spending time with his family.
REGIONAL CENTER FOR BORDER RIGHTS
Vicki Gaubeca, Director
Vicki Gaubeca joined the ACLU of New Mexico in January 2009 to become the director of the ACLU-NM Regional Center for Border Rights, based in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she has helped develop and implement its mission of addressing civil and human rights violations that stem from border-specific immigration policy. The Regional Center for Border Rights also acts as the southern office for the ACLU of New Mexico and helps identify and address civil rights issues in Southern New Mexico, including working on the advocacy and protection of rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community. She has more than 20 years of experience in policy advocacy, community organizing, public affairs, communications, and public health in a variety of settings, but immigrant rights–as well as any civil rights–is an issue close to her heart. Born and raised in Mexico City, Vicki Gaubeca joined ACLU-NM most recently from Tucson, Arizona, where she was a passionate advocate and supporter for both immigrant rights and the LGBT community. She was a member of Las Adelitas, a group that aims to improve the quality of life for Latinas and their families through political empowerment, and part of the steering committee for Adelante, Nuestro Futuro, an annual conference that brought 250 Latina mothers together with their middle school daughters for a Saturday full of activities, including health pláticas on diabetes and substance abuse prevention. She also participated in numerous university and community LGBT groups and committees, including Wingspan, Equality Arizona and the University of Arizona OUTreach group, where she helped obtain domestic partner health benefits for state employees. In addition, she took leadership roles in campaigns that aimed to defeat anti-LGBT legislation in Arizona. Ms. Gaubeca, who speaks Spanish and English fluently, has a B.A. degree in English/Communications and a master’s degree in public health.
Brian Erickson initially joined the Regional Center for Border Rights (RCBR) in August of 2010 as a Border Servant Corps volunteer. Upon completion of his year of service, Brian transitioned into the role of Field Organizer, focusing his efforts in the RCBR to connect with communities and individuals in Southern New Mexico and throughout the U.S.-Mexico border region to provide education and document the challenges to civil and human rights of the border context. Upon graduating from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington with B.A. degrees in Spanish and Global Studies. Brian made the trek across country to join the Latin America Working Group in Washington, D.C., where he helped coordinate efforts among organizations located both in and out of ‘the beltway’ and reached out to grassroots advocates across the nation to push for just U.S. policies towards Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico border region. To keep things light, Brian also enjoys music and tries to play guitar, is often found watching and playing sports, and retreats to the outdoors for hiking and camping.
Cynthia Pompa joined the ACLU-NM Regional Center for Border Rights on July 2014 as the Field Organizer. She is a native to the border region who grew up in Cd. Juarez, Chih. and El Paso, TX. After graduating from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX with degrees in Economics and International Relations, Cynthia served as a Public Ally (AmeriCorps) at a local non-profit in San Antonio working as Community Advocate, connecting Hispanic immigrants with local and federal assistance. Afterwards, she spent a year in northern Peru as an Augustinian Volunteer working as Health Outreach Coordinator for the Diocese of Chulucanas, coordinating medical missions from The U.S. and workshops in the Andes, and as a Computer Science teacher for students seeking a technical degree. After being away from the border region for more than six years, Cynthia came back and became a Program Coordinator for Border Servant Corps, managing long-term volunteers in El Paso, TX. During her four years of college, Cynthia was a passionate volunteer for Amnesty International USA leading local and on-campus campaigns against the death penalty in Texas. During that time, she enriched her studies by studying abroad at Semester at Sea, circumnavigating the southern hemisphere by visiting 10 different countries, focusing on development and income disparities.
Cynthia enjoys dancing, running near trees, and Indian singing.
Emily Hauck serves as the Project Coordinator for the Regional Center for Border Rights, working on outreach and giving Know Your Rights presentations. She joined the RCBR in August 2014 through the Border Servant Corps volunteer program. Emily graduated magna cum laude from Gettysburg College with a degree in Spanish Linguistics and International Affairs. She studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Salamanca, Spain. Emily began to learn more about Hispanic immigration to the U.S. during a community development internship in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in the summer of 2013. She worked as the facilitator for an adult ESL class in the community and participated in meetings to educate the local migrant population on immigration reform. In January 2014 Emily traveled to the Paso del Norte region for the first time to learn about immigration on the border and instantly knew she wanted to serve in the area. This is her first post-graduate position and she is very excited to learn and grow with the ACLU. Emily enjoys reading and running, and hopes to hone her gardening and cooking abilities while living in the Southwest.