Mission + History


The mission of the Southwest Women’s Law Center is to create the opportunity for women to realize their full economic and personal potential by:

  • eliminating gender bias, discrimination and harassment;
  • lifting women and their families out of poverty; and
  • ensuring that all women have full control over their reproductive lives through access to comprehensive reproductive health services and information.

Guiding Principles

The Center seeks unique and creative ideas and collaborations to accomplish our mission, and our advocacy is guided by the following principles:

  • there is a significant relationship between gender bias and discrimination, poverty, and reproductive justice;
  • legal advocacy is necessary to create the systemic changes needed to improve the lives of a large number of women and girls;
  • women of color, including immigrant women, face additional obstacles and discrimination that must be considered in all aspects of our work;
  • our agenda should arise in part from ideas and information received from community-based service providers and advocates who work on behalf of low-income women and girls in New Mexico; and
  • collaborations at the national and local level are essential for identifying and implementing the most effective strategies for fulfilling the Center’s mission.

Long-Term Goals

Girls in New Mexico have the educational opportunities and support needed to remain in school and obtain a high school diploma.

The working poor and survivors of domestic and sexual violence have sufficient time off to address family and medical issues, and, in the case of survivors, to deal with the aftermath of the violence.

All women of childbearing age in New Mexico have access to comprehensive family planning and reproductive health services.

All young people in New Mexico receive age-appropriate, medically accurate comprehensive sexuality education.

New Mexico courts preserve and expand the legal rights and protections afforded to women and girls in New Mexico under federal and state law.

Community-based agencies that work with women and girls are able to increase opportunities for their clients to receive necessary services and attain economic self-sufficiency through legal advocacy.

Founder and First ED, Jane B. Wishner
Jane Wishner was the founder and Executive Director of the Southwest Women’s Law Center in Albuquerque during its first seven years. Before starting the Southwest Women’s Law Center, Ms. Wishner worked for nearly fifteen years with the law firm of Peifer, Hanson & Mullins, P.A. a litigation firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was one of the three founding members of the firm along with Charles Peifer and the Honorable James O. Browning. Her practice included a wide variety of civil litigation, including complex commercial litigation, civil rights litigation, class actions, employment disputes, and a variety of contract and other business disputes. Before then, Ms. Wishner was an Assistant Attorney General of the State of New Mexico, serving as a white-collar prosecutor in the Special Prosecutions Division of the Attorney General’s Office. She also practiced with a private law firm in San Francisco before moving to New Mexico.

Ms. Wishner received her B.A. from Harvard University and received Radcliffe’s Gerta Richards Crosby Prize for the highest-ranking woman in the Harvard Government Department. After college, Ms. Wishner worked as a research associate on the national staff of Common Cause in Washington, D.C. She obtained her law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley and clerked for the Honorable Abner J. Mikva, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Ms. Wishner has been active in numerous local and national community organizations. Ms. Wishner is the immediate past national chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, the public policy arm of the reform Jewish Movement, which represents over 900 synagogues and 1.5 million Jews in North America. Ms. Wishner held many leadership positions within the Commission on Social Action, serving as Vice Chair of the Commission and as Chair of the Women and Minorities Task Force and the Domestic Policy Task Force. Ms. Wishner is also a member of the National Board of Trustees of the Union for Reform Judaism.