Session II Featured Speakers

Kiran Katira is an East-African, Asian-Indian woman, born in Kenya and raised in England. She received her Ph.D. in racial ideology through the department of Educational Thought and Socio-Cultural Studies at the University of New Mexico. For the past nineteen years she has worked and served with local community organizers and leaders through the University of New Mexico’s Community Engagement Center. At CEC she facilitates the growth and development of diverse students who apprentice with strong community leaders. Kiran is a trainer with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and she also teaches university courses, which focus on anti-racist education, peace and justice, and critical multicultural education.

Tony Watkins is a Truancy Prevention Coordinator in Albuquerque Public Schools, and a part of Families United for Education, a grassroots collective of families and community members who advocate for racial equity in our school systems. Tony is a Master of Applied Anthropology, and previously worked as a home-based family therapist. He has been organizing with FUE for nine years, and has worked for APS in various capacities for 14 years. Tony also serves on the Leadership Council of Within Our Lifetime, a national, decentralized self-organized network dedicated to ending racism in our lifetimes.



Tonya Covington is a Trainer, Mediator, Community Health Worker and Health Educator. Tonya has been engaged in training, consulting and coaching on issues of diversity, equity and cross cultural communication for three decades and is an experienced “cultural humility” trainer. She has skills in coalition building, program implementation, capacity building, facilitation, mediation and conflict resolution, development and consensus building. Tonya has conducted workshops and lectured on the subject of Cultural Humility across the country and abroad. Tonya was also instrumental in establishing the first Anti-Racism Day at the New Mexico Legislature.

Natalie Saing received her Bachelor of Arts from Lewis & Clark College (Portland, Oregon) in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Islamic studies. Originally from Portland, Natalie relocated to New Mexico in July 2017 to join the New Mexico Asian Family Center (NMAFC) as the Ending Gender-Based Violence Coordinator and to begin graduate studies in Educational Thought and Sociocultural Studies at the University of New Mexico. Prior to joining the NMAFC, she worked in racial equity professional development for Portland Public Schools.

Chearie Alipat is a Philippine born first generation immigrant, who came to the United States to reunite with her mom and pursue higher education at the University of New Mexico. Chearie first began working as an intern for Family Court and Mediation Services with the First Judicial District Court. She has also served as a clerk for the Department of Health, a court clerk for Second Judicial District, an Officer Support Specialist (OSS) with the US Probation and Parole 10th Circuit District of New Mexico, as an analyst for the IRO-Police Oversight Commission, and now works as a Juvenile Probation Officer. Chearie is an active participant in the Committee for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RRED). Chearie has an Associate’s Degree as a Paralegal, graduated as Cum laude with her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with Pre-Law Concentration from University of New Mexico, and received her Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Phoenix with commendations from her professors in 2011.

Kay Bounkeua is the Executive Director of the New Mexico Asian Family Center, the only agency in the state culturally tailoring services for Asian populations.  This includes the provision of direct services for victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crime as well as providing multigenerational family programming, health education and outreach, and cross-racial coalition building. Ms. Bounkeua has field experience working with communities within New Mexico, Mississippi, and Michigan on diverse issues such as drug reform, disaster relief research, and maternal and child health.  She received her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.  After graduating, Ms. Bounkeua settled back in her home town of Albuquerque, NM where her parents, fleeing war and political violence in Laos, emigrated to in the early 1970s.  Realizing the critical need for services for local immigrant and refugee populations, she helped to spearhead prevention initiatives for the Asian community.  She is the recipient of the Soros Social Justice Award, a graduate of the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute, and was chosen as the New Mexico representative to the White House to meet with past President Barack Obama on social issues within the state.  Ms. Bounkeua’s passions include increasing access to community resources through systemic change, creating models of shared leadership, and nurturing emerging young leaders to help shift power for communities of color.


Chauncey Strong uses his personal experience in the child welfare system and 23 years of professional experience working with children and families to bring a unique perspective when training child welfare professionals, foster and adoptive parents and youth in foster care. Through his training and motivational speaking he hopes to inspire, motivate and challenge his audience to definitive action to improve the outcomes of children and families involved in the child welfare system. He is currently a consultant for the Center for States Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative





Philip Decter, MSW, is the Interim Director of Child Welfare with NCCD. He is a social worker and family therapist who has worked with children and families in inpatient, outpatient, home-based, foster care, and emergency room settings for 20 years. He has written and taught extensively on children and families experiencing some kind of crisis and their intersection with institutional and informal helping communities during these times. Through NCCD’s Children’s Research Center, Phil works with child welfare organizations nationally as a trainer and consultant on the implementation of strength and safety-organized practice skills and their integration with the Structured Decision Making® system.