Ysidra Tellez, Executive Director and Program Manager, brings 5+ years of experience in program management and 8 years of experience working in the Mental Health Field as a Behavioral Management Specialist. Ysidra received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico. During that time, she spent two years in research with the Pediatric Neuropsychology lab at UNM. She is a member of the American Counselor Association and will obtain a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University in May 2023. Ysidra grew up on a small ranch in the village of San Jon, NM. She has been a resident of Albuquerque, NM for over 9 years and enjoys being a part of the community. Ysidra’s personal connection to the mission of BTSNM is from not only living with her own mental health challenges but also losing her 14 year old sister to suicide. Ysidra believes that proper education and openness around mental health is one of the many steps needed to break stigma and make greater change in people’s lives.
Susan Weiss, Standard Operating Procedures Officer and Facilitator, has been living in New Mexico since 1987. She has worked in the non-profit sector on and off for over 30 years. Most of that time has been serving individuals with disabilities, including those with mental health issues, and those with cognitive and intellectual disabilities.
Susan is presently pursuing a second Master’s Degree from New Mexico Highlands University in Social Work. She received her first Master’s Degree from Creighton University School of Law in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution in 2012. She has recently joined the American Group Therapy Association.
Originally from New York and New Jersey she fell in love with the big skies of New Mexico, and the incredibly friendly people of New Mexico. Her personal experience with mental health includes family members with mental illnesses and personally living with physical and mental health challenges. She is committed to fostering communication on mental health and chipping away at the stigma of mental illness in our society.
Anna Herrera, Outreach Coordinator and Facilitator, has a background in Education, but has spent most of her professional career in Sales and Marketing for the Healthcare Industry. In high school and college, she participated in volunteer programs, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. She hopes to help spread awareness of BTSNM’s mission to encourage the communication of mental health challenges and ending the stigma. The unexpected death of her daughter’s father led to navigating her own depression and mental health challenges. She hopes her journey can encourage others experiencing their own mental health challenges to keep going because there is hope and support, and they are not alone. She believes open dialogue and education are the stepping stones to supporting our community with the invaluable tools and resources needed to bring positive changes related to mental health.
Kristen Kifer, Lead Facilitator, UNM student working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Psychology has lived in Albuquerque, NM, all her life. Her previous job working in a healthcare setting as a hemodialysis technician, where she helped to treat many people who suffer from a variety of mental illnesses made her want to educate herself further in the direction of mental health. Having personally suffered from mental health issues since beginning college, due to the pressures of full-time work, school, and a multitude of familial issues/losses, she felt stuck in what to do with both her life and mental struggles. Greatly affected by the losses she suffered, she wondered where she could learn more to better her own health and maybe do some good for others as well. BTSNM has given her that opportunity to work with younger generations to promote knowledge surrounding mental health issues.
Shawnti Gonzalez, Facilitator, grew up in-between the Midwest and northern New Mexico region. She previously studied clinical counseling as a graduate student at New Mexico Highlands University, and obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northern New Mexico College in 2014. Shawnti knew she wanted to work in a field relating to mental health since her mother’s mental illness diagnosis as a subsequent of her divorce. Over the years, Shawnti watched her mother struggle with the stigma and challenges of bipolar disorder and set a course to become an aid for those struggling with their mental health. In joining Breaking the Silence NM in 2023, Shawnti hopes to share in their vision of ending the shame surrounding mental illness and suicide.
Georgena Michelizza (Georgea), Facilitator, is a New Mexico native who has lived and worked across the US and abroad. With 15-years of global entrepreneurialism and marketing experience Georgea is excited to bring her diverse skill set back home to serve the local community. Having lived in cultures and countries where mental health is prioritized as part primary care, Georgea is eager to help New Mexicans from all walks of life understand the vital importance of mental health. “At 14 I started losing friends to causes underpinned by mental health; drugs, alcohol, accidental death, suicide, jail, and murder. This trajectory continued throughout college at UNM – truthfully, I’m still losing people I love today to the same causes. I’m positive that so many of those lives could have been saved had any one of them believed there was a grown up they could trust, a grown up that would listen and not judge, a grown up that would care. I’m positive that so many of those lives could have been saved had any one of us kids known how to help, or believed that somebody else could understand what we were going through. I hope through my work at Breaking the Silence New Mexico, I can help save lives so fewer New Mexicans become a statistic.” – Georgea