NMELC Staff

Dr. Virginia Necochea
Executive Director

Dr. Virginia Necochea is a long-time educator, researcher, writer, and community advocate.  She is the former executive director and a founding board member of the Center for Social Sustainable Systems (CESOSS), a community-led nonprofit focused on protecting and preserving land and water resources in the Valle de Atrisco (South Valley, NM) and larger Middle Rio Grande region.

Dr. Necochea’s connection and commitment to land and water emanates from her abuelitos - individuals who were deeply connected to Mother Earth and the importance of remaining connected to the land. The foundation and drive for Dr. Necochea’s work is rooted in ceremony, her Mexican Indigenous roots, and motherhood. She strives to engage in work that places community and environmental justice at the forefront.

Charles de Saillan
Staff Attorney
cdesaillan at nmelc.org

Eric Jantz
Staff Attorney
ejantz at nmelc.org

Gail EvansGail Evans
Staff Attorney
gevans at nmelc.org

Janiece Jonsin
Office Manager
jjonsin at nmelc.org

Maslyn Locke, 
Staff Attorney
mlocke at nmelc.org

Douglas Meiklejohn
Founding Director
dmeiklejohn at nmelc.org

Kendra Palmer
Paralegal
kpalmer at nmelc.org

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors governs the Law Center, establishes policy, hires the Executive Director, and determines which cases the Law Center will handle. The members of the Board, their date of association, their occupations, and affiliations are:

Ramon Padilla, President, 2016, Las Cruces – Ramon is a college instructor at New Mexico State University. He has worked for many years with the Doña Ana County Colonias Development Council as their youth and community organizer. He brings to the board his experience working with communities, political organizing and community education.

Johana Bencomo, Vice President, 2018, Las Cruces – Johana is the Director of Organizing for NM CAFé. Before that she worked with Doña Ana PLACE MATTERS as their community engagement specialist and with TRiO student support services as their academic success coordinator. She brings to the board her knowledge of communities of color and low income in Southern NM and environmental justice issues in New Mexico.

Stuart Bluestone, Secretary, 2007, Santa Fe – Stuart held senior positions in New Mexico State Government for over 20 years, including being the Chief Deputy Attorney General for over eight years. He brings to the board his legal experience, knowledge of government, love of the environment, as well as significant experience on non-profit boards.

Harry Browne, M.A., Treasurer, 2010, Silver City – Harry is the business manager for the Aldo Leopold High School. He is the former Executive Director of the Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP) where he worked closely with the Law Center on the Chino Mine case. He brings administrative and public policy expertise to the board.

Michael Casaus, 2010, Albuquerque – Michael is The Wilderness Society’s New Mexico State Director. Prior to this he was the Sierra Club’s senior field organizing manager. He brings to the board his knowledge of environmental justice issues in the Southwest and his experience as a community organizer and scientific researcher.

Susanne Hoffman-Dooley, J.D., 2004, Santa Fe – Susanne currently contracts with the Office of the State Engineer. Previously, she retired from a full‐time position with the Office of the State Engineer, where she headed the Active Water Resource Management regulations project for that office.  She brings with her expertise in water law and water issues.

Donna House, 2006, Alcalde – Donna is a Botanist/Ethnobotanist consultant to Indigenous organizations and communities.   She was a key designer of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and was a member of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Team for Endangered Plant Species.  She brings to the board her wide experience working on indigenous justice issues.

Renee Ingold, 2001, Cerrillos – Renee retired from operating her own horse boarding and training facility. She was active in our Ortiz Mountain gold mining reclamation fight, and has been a strong financial supporter of the Law Center for over a decade.