Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice Excellence Awards

Submit 2021 Nominations Here! 

Nominations are due by December 11th. 


More Information about the Excellence Awards

Since 2012, the Children’s Court Improvement Commission (CCIC) of the New Mexico Supreme Court has awarded Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice Excellence Awards to members of the Children’s Court community who have contributed significantly to their field and demonstrated outstanding dedication, leadership, knowledge, and integrity.

The awards are handed out at the annual New Mexico Children’s Law Institute Conference every January. The nomination form is circulated in the fall throughout the child welfare and juvenile justice communities of New Mexico. Anyone can submit a nomination . All nominees are sent a special invite to the CLI and winners are honored during the conference.

Some of the proposed categories are below

  • Protective Service Worker
  • Tribal Social Service Worker
  • Juvenile Justice Worker
  • Behavioral Health Staff
  • Contract Attorney [GAL, Youth Attorney, Respondent Attorney]
  • Children’s Court Attorney in Child Welfare (CCA)
  • Children’s Court Attorney in Delinquency
  • Public Defender in Delinquency Matters
  • State or Tribal Judge
  • CASA Volunteer
  • SCAC Volunteer (Formerly known as CRB Member)
  • Foster Parent
  • Parent/Family Member
  • Foster Youth Alumni
  • Juvenile Justice Alumni
  • Service Provider Agency/Organization
  • Other (suggest your own

Past Award Winners:

2020 Award Recipients

Excellence award winners 2020-Power Point

Alisha Hawthorne, Behavioral Health

Rita Blazaitis, CASA Volunteer

Tyler Benting, Contract Attorney

Peggy Adegoke, CRB Member

Gayle Lane, CYFD Foster Parent

Janna Lopez, CYFD Junenile Justice

Jasmyn Marquez, CYFD Protective Services

Beth Gilla, General

Yasmin Haque, Other

Monica Ly, Parent

Alma Roberson, Public Defender in Delinquency

Jennifer DeLaney, State Judge

Alyssa Davis, YOUTH: Foster Youth Alumnus

Rosa Barraza, Service Provider

Daniel Dougherty, Children’s Court Attorney


2019 Award Recipients

Elizabeth Hamilton, Behavioral Health Staff

Barbara Tegtmeier, CASA Volunteer

John Duran, Contract Attorney

Maria Ortiz, CRB Member

Emet and Melonie Chavez, CYFD Foster Parent

Don Shapiro, CYFD Juvenile Justice

Patti Vowell, CYFD Juvenile Justice

Megan Gonzales, CYFD Protective Services

Susannah Burke, OTHER

Ezra Spitzer, OTHER

Shantell Gallegos, Parent

Anna Gabrielidis, Public Defender in Delinquency

Sarah Backus, State Judge

Rena Chavarria, Tribal Foster Parent

Cheryl Fairbanks, Tribal Judge

Jacqueline Yalch, Tribal Social Services

Micaela Baca, Foster Youth Alumnus

Aaron Boswell, Foster Youth Alumnus

Christianna Wilson, Foster Youth Alumnus

DAngelo Montoya, Juvenile Justice Alumnus

2018 Award Recipients 

Mary Ann Shaening, Lifetime Achievement

Debra Balthasar, CASA Volunteer

Deborah Gray, Children’s Court Attorney in Child Welfare

Robert Retherford, Children’s Court Attorney in Child Welfare

Liz McGrath, Contract Attorney

Yvonne Lucero, CYFD Protective Services Staff

Arthur Malone, CYFD Protective Services Staff

Amy Ward, Foster Parent

Cristen Conley, Advocate

Grace Spulak, Advocate

David Richter, Public Defender

Barbara Vigil, State or Tribal Judge

Veronica Alvillar, Tribal or CYFD Juvenile Justice Staff

Julie Raborn, Tribal or CYFD Juvenile Justice Staff

Andrew Salazar, Foster Youth Alumnus

Sarah Schrock, Foster Youth Alumnus

Jesus Schink, Juvenile Justice Alumnus

Allan Trosclair, Substitute Care Review Board Member


2017 Award Recipients

Dr. Charles Searcy, CASA Volunteer

Michelle Pickett, Children’s Court Attorney in Child Welfare

Jennifer Olson, Contract Attorney

Darren Cordova, Contract Attorney

Judge Matthew J Sandoval, Judge

Jack Carpenter, CRB Member

Melissa Mendoza, CYFD Protective Service Staff

Martha Fernandez, CYFD Juvenile Justice Staff

Rochelle Alvarado, Foster Youth Alumnus

Pam Michaels, Foster Parent

Karan Northfield, Foster Parent

Jennifer Parkins, CYFD Juvenile Justice Staff

Ann Edenfield Sweet, Service Organization

Anne Ryan, Service Organization

Stephen Taylor, Public Defender in Delinquency

2016 Award Recipients

Bianca Padilla, CYFD Juvenile Justice Staff

Cathy Bryant, CASA Volunteer

Deborah Yost, CYFD Protective Services Staff

Karen Townsend, Judge

Lindsey Lucero, 2nd Judicial Drug Court

Mary Carr, CRB Member

Sheyenne Myrtle, Foster Youth Alumnus

Michael Sousa, Public Defender in Delinquency

Leslie Jones, Contract Attorney

Donalyn Sarracina, Tribal Social Services Staff

Carol and Nathan Gingerich, Foster Parents

2015 Award Recipients

Mark Dickson, Public Defender (Delinquency)

Freddie Romero, Judge

Marissa Vigil, Foster Youth Alumni

Cristian Valverde, Juvenile Justice Alumni

Valerie Arculeta, Parent

Mickey Curtis, Provider

Rebecca Liggett, Children’s Court Attorney

Catherine Romero, Protective Services Worker

Marcia Haney and Teri Roper, CASA Volunteer

Venita Gallegos, Juvenile Justice Worker

Robert Retherford, Contract Attorney

Jaylynn and Terry Vandruff, Foster Parents

Martha Reiersen, CRB Member

2014 Award Recipients

Connie Smith, CYFD Protective Services Worker

Therese Yanan, Court Appointed Child Welfare Attorney

Lynne Jessen, CYFD Children’s Court Attorney

Christopher Betsch, CYFD Juvenile Justice Worker

Nathan Driver, CYFD Juvenile Justice Worker

Judge John F Davis, Children’s Court Judge

Carolyn Martin, CASA Volunteer

Mary Ann Copas, CRB Member

Joel and Kim Weber, Foster Parents

Skylar Ford, Foster Youth Alumni

Greg Crutcher, Foster Youth Mentor

James Sumrow, Leader and Mentor for Parents in Child Welfare

2013 Award Recipients

Branden Murray, CYFD Protective Services Worker

Johnna Studebaker, Court Appointed Child Welfare Attorney

Jon Hendra, CYFD Children’s Court Attorney

Richard Lindahl, CYFD Juvenile Justice Worker

Jason Rael, CYFD Children’s Court Attorney in Delinquency Matters

Louis P McDonald, Children’s Court Judge

Amy O’Neill, CASA Volunteer

Anne Nokes, CRB Member

Annette Chavez and Teodoso Lucero, Foster Parents

Krystal Goolsby, Foster Youth Alumni

Founders Award given in 2013 on the 20th anniversary to the founders of the Children’s Law Institute

Honorable Michael Martinez

Honorable Alvin Jones

Paul Biderman, JD

Angela Adams, JD

2012 Award Recipients

Carrie-Leigh Cloutier, CASA Volunteer

Jennifer Munson, Contract Attorney

Bonnie Geer, CRB Member

David Brainerd, CYFD Children’s Court Attorney

Jill May, CYFD Worker

John J Romero, Children’s Court Judge