Staff + Board
Pamelya has served as Executive Director since 2011. She is deeply committed to the goals and mission of the Southwest Women’s Law Center of 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.
Ms. Herndon has helped an array of women of all races and ethnic backgrounds achieve their full economic and personal potential. She is a long time member of the National Council of Negro Women and sits as a member of the Board of Directors of U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union and as member of the Gold Award Committee of the Girls Scouts, New Mexico Trails.
Ms. Herndon has an impressive professional career that includes serving as a former Deputy Cabinet Secretary, General Counsel and as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of New Mexico. She was once a former senior litigation attorney with the Internal Revenue Service as well as a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the State of Texas. She is licensed to practice law in Colorado, New Mexico, and before the United States Tax Court and United States Supreme Court. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Howard University in Washington, DC and her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Texas School of Law.
A recipient of numerous awards and recognitions for her service to the community, Ms. Herndon was named as the 2012 “Public Lawyer of the Year,” the 2013 “Outstanding Lawyer” by the Albuquerque Bar Association and, in 2015 was named as a “Woman of Influence” by New Mexico Business First and as an “Outstanding Business and Professional Woman” by Iota Phi Lambda Sorority. In 2016 she received the Mary McLeod Bethune Outstanding Woman of the Year Award, and in 2017 she received the Priceless Award for her outstanding service on behalf of women from the Steelbridge Resource Center.
On some Sunday mornings, Ms. Herndon can be heard as the Southwest Gospel Diva hosting the Train to Glory radio program on KUNM and on some Sunday afternoons hosting All Things Considered and This American Life. She is an outstanding, versatile leader.
Elinor Rushforth, Senior Staff Attorney
Ellie received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and Spanish from the University of New Mexico and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Arizona College of Law. She is licensed to practice law in Virginia and California. As the Senior Staff Attorney at the Southwest Women’s Law Center, Ellie’s work focuses on helping the Law Center continue to develop innovative collaborations through policy and advocacy work that has the power to transform communities. Ellie is particularly passionate about advocating for equal access to healthcare and protecting women’s access to reproductive justice, progressive pregnancy accommodations and policies that protect the economic security and well-being of families.
Prior to joining the Southwest Women’s Law Center, Ellie worked as an attorney with OneJustice, a nonprofit organization that that developed policies in response to the needs of vulnerable, targeted communities. While in law school, Ellie served as a law clerk with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Tucson, AZ. In her spare time, Ellie enjoys yoga and backpacking in national and state parks.
Elena Rubinfeld, Staff Attorney
Elena was born and raised in New Jersey and received her B.A. in International Studies from American University. After graduation, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small rural community in El Salvador for two years. During her service, Elena worked on projects focused in health and environmental promotion, small business development and increasing youth participation in local leadership. After returning from El Salvador, Elena worked as an Investigator at Children’s Law Center, a nonprofit serving the legal needs of Washington, D.C.’s most vulnerable children. She assisted attorneys who represented low-income parents whose children faced barriers to accessing health, education and affordable housing.
Elena attended law school at the University of New Mexico where she served as an extern for the Honorable Justice Daniels of the New Mexico Supreme Court, and Pegasus Legal Services for Children. Elena speaks fluent Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, and hiking and exploring New Mexico. As a staff attorney with the Southwest Women’s Law Center, Elena will use her passion for protecting rights to healthcare and equal access to opportunities to improve the lives of women and girls in New Mexico.
Board of Directors
Mary is the first sustainability manager at the university overseeing the Office of Sustainability. Her other areas of expertise include recycling, campus community gardens and greenhouse gas inventory. Mary is a graduate of the University of New Mexico with a degree in Economics and European Studies.
Lauren Baldwin, Board Board Vice President – Family Court Hearing Officer – 2nd Judicial District Court
Lauren is a graduate of Colorado College where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree with Distinction. She received her Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and her law degree from the University of New Mexico. Lauren has served as an Assistant Public Defender representing indigent defendants facing misdemeanor criminal charges through trial proceedings and on appeal. Lauren currently serves as a judicial hearing officer responsible for child support, custody and property division cases.
Jenifer Getz, Board Treasurer
Jenifer is a Senior Auditor at Atkinson & Co, an Albuquerque based Audit and Accounting firm. She specializes in audits of not-for-profit organizations in New Mexico. She is a Graduate of Parsons School of Design, Emery Aviation College and CNM. She currently serves on the Board of the Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation a social justice funder, based in New York.
Ashley Carter, Board Sercretary
Ashley is an attorney working in Federal government in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She previously worked as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois representing state employees in federal civil rights lawsuits. Ashley graduated from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has previously served in board and leadership positions with the American Constitution Society, the Secular Student Alliance, and volunteered with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.
Caroline Little, Retired Corporate Executive
Caroline is a graduate of Wesleyan University. After graduating from college, she worked at Random House and Alfred A Knopf in New York, doing first publicity work and then editorial work. She later attended NYU Law School and worked for the law firms of Arnold & Porter in Washington, DC after graduating. After leaving Arnold & Porter, she became Deputy Counsel for US News & World Report. Caroline later became General Counsel of the digital division for the Washington Post, where she remained for the next eleven years, advancing to the role of Chief Operating Office and CEO of the digital division. In the years that followed, Caroline served as CEO of the Guardian in North America. Before retiring, Caroline served as CEO, of the Newspaper Association of America. In addition to serving on the Board of the Southwest Women’s Law Center, Caroline volunteers as a pro bono attorney for a homeless shelter. She also volunteers with a group of women helping to fund middle schools in Santa Fe.
Janice D. Paster, JD – Recruitment Committee Chairman
Janice is a retired attorney and non-profit activist. She practiced law for twenty-two years before serving for eleven years as one of three trustees of a small family trust managing real estate. In the fall of 2015 she joined the boards of ADL New Mexico Region and the Jewish Community Foundation of New Mexico. Recently she accepted an invitation to join the ADL Civil Rights Committee. Ms. Paster has served as Chair of the Board of the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation and the Jewish Federation of New Mexico. She also served as Vice Chair of the Board of New Mexico Voices for Children.
From 1988 until 1996 Ms. Paster was a member of the New Mexico State Senate. She is the only woman to serve as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and she also chaired the Interim Health Care Task Force, leading the passage of legislation to update New Mexico’s health law. She is a long-time advocate for reproductive freedom, quality child care, and equality for women and girls in other areas.
Janice earned a BA from Northwestern University and an MA from Tufts University. Ms. Paster earned a JD from the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Valerie received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in Cambridge, MA in 1982. She went on to attend the University of New Mexico, School of Medicine, receiving her Medical Degree in 1992. She has been a primary care provider for many years on the forefront of treating populations burdened by socio-economic, racial and ethnic disparities. Presently, Dr. Romero-Leggott serves as Vice Chancellor for Diversity at the UNM Health Sciences Center, Associate Dean for Diversity for the UNM School of Medicine, and Professor in the UNM Department of Family and Community Medicine. She also serves as the Executive Director of the UNM Combined BA/MD Degree Program, a unique program to promote the recruitment of a diverse group of New Mexico high school seniors interested in practicing medicine in areas of greatest need across New Mexico. Her office promotes inclusivity and diversity throughout the Health Sciences Center and communities and creates opportunities to address the health disparities that affect all New Mexicans. One of her major duties is to provide multiple fora for discussing issues concerning underrepresented and underserved populations.
Dorine Sanchez, Senior Portfolio Manager/Chief Operations Officer – REDW Stanley Financial Advisors
Dorine served as the Investment Manager/Operations Manager for REDW Stanley Financial Advisors for twelve years before moving into her current position with the company. She is a graduate of Adams State College where she received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration.
Theresa Spencer, Director of Development, New Mexico PBS
Theresa is a 20-year veteran of the public broadcasting service having served at two stations in the PBS system. With strengths in fundraising and organizational development, she now serves as Director of Development for the largest public broadcaster in New Mexico. Theresa is a long-time advocate of reproductive rights and a former Board Chair for NARAL Pro-Choice where she successfully collaborated with fellow volunteers and staff to keep abortion safe and legal in the state. She has also served as Board Chair for Restore South Dakota, a restorative justice organization for youth offenders.
Theresa holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from Drake University and a Masters of Arts Degree in Public Relations from the University of South Dakota. She has also earned certificates in non-profit management and mediation from the University of New Mexico. Theresa enjoys spending time with her feline companions Antonia and Neville.
Laura Vele Buchs, JD – EEO Compliance Specialist, Office of Equal Opportunity, University of New Mexico
Laura currently works in the University of New Mexico’s civil rights office where she conducts trainings to prevent discrimination and harassment. She also investigates claims of Title VII, Title IX, and ADA violations on campus. After law school, Laura was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow and spent three years working for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs as a trainer and attorney regarding disability benefits.
Laura strives to find ways to advance opportunities for women and girls in whatever she does and wherever she lives. As a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, she developed a school and community library to support development of literacy skills that would allow more girls to continue their education past primary school. Working with Build On, Laura led high school students from New York and Connecticut on service trips to build schools in communities committed to educating girls in the same numbers as boys in Mali and Nicaragua. She worked with students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in developing programming on personal identity and the impact privilege and oppression has on individuals, communities, institutions, and government. She served as the President of UW Law School’s Law Students for Reproductive Justice Chapter (now called If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice) and was appointed the LSRJ Midwest Regional Coordinator, both for which she was awarded the Cari Sietstra Award for Excellence in Organizing. Laura interned with the National Partnership for Women and Families, where she was a contributor to the “California Pregnant and Parenting Youth Guide,” and the development of multiple primers on contraception and sexually transmitted infections. Laura also worked with, and volunteered for, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Laura was awarded a Special Contribution Award for her role in designing new training for reviewers and medical examiners assigned to Military Sexual Assault claims
Laura completed her undergraduate education at Cornell College in politics and international relations, her graduate studies in international training and education at American University, and her law degree, with a focus on women and health, at the University of Wisconsin Law School.