Elizabeth Vincent, Executive Director, brings over 35 years of business and management experience to Breaking the Silence NM — the last 25 being in the nonprofit sector. Her prior posts include President and CEO of a chapter affiliate for a national nonprofit and multiple roles heading Development efforts across an array of missions.
In 2017, Liz founded Apogee Development Consulting after seeing the large network of small nonprofits needing guidance, infrastructure building and fundraising support but who grapple with the cost of that assistance.
Prior posts include Regional Director of Major Gifts for the East Coast with Feed the Children in Oklahoma City, where she managed an 11-state territory before being promoted to Sr. International Program Officer, managing 13 country directors. This post included international travel for program funding and strategic partnership procurement. To date, she has raised over $20 Million for various nonprofits.
A Connecticut native, Liz has lived all over the country — from North Carolina and California, to Texas, Oklahoma City and Albuquerque. She feels that one of her strengths is her ability to communicate with and connect to people from all walks of life.
She is thrilled to be back in beautiful Albuquerque and is excited to meet our donors, partners, volunteers, but most especially, the children and families whose lives we so greatly impact.
Michele Herling, Founding Executive Director, maintained a private practice as a licensed body therapist for 40 years and used her skills as a volunteer in Santa Fe and outside of the country working with women and children in Bosnia to help reduce Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Michele founded Compassionate Touch Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which is now known as Breaking the Silence New Mexico. She has been engaged with the development of BTSNM’s three anti-stigma programs — Talking Mental Health, Inside Out Arts, and Minds Interrupted. Michele grew up from an early age with a brother who had mental illness and is a fierce advocate for breaking the silence around mental health disorders.
Kelly Geib-Eckenroth, Director of Programming, directed programs at Children’s Grief Center of NM for 10 years, prior to coming onboard this year. She was also Children Grief Center’s Camp Director for their 3 day/2 night bereavement camp, Camp Corazon. She has over 19 years experience as an early childhood educator and administrator. In 2019, she shared her story of living with OCD, as part of Minds Interrupted. Kelly believes her life might have had a more positive trajectory had a program like this existed when she was an adolescent, and is honored to help young people know “they are not alone.”
Gabriela Pineda Dominguez (Gaby), Communications Coordinator, is studying economics, political science, and business management at the University of New Mexico. She is a member of the ASUNM Joint Council, the economics club, and published an article that won first place in the Student Best Essay contest. She is also a licensed EMT, volunteers as a youth basketball coach, loves to play sports, and is fluent in Spanish. Gaby began working with Breaking the Silence NM when she was 16 years old as part of her training for the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC). She continued to work with BTSNM after finishing her term with MYAC because she finds joy in contributing to BTSNM’s goal of pursuing a meaningful education for New Mexico’s youth surrounding mental illness. Gaby also serves as lead facilitator for BTSNM’s Talking Mental Health curriculum for middle and high school students.
Talking Mental Health Program
Iza Bruen-Morningstar, Regional Outreach Manager, Norther Tier Counties; A native of Northern New Mexico, Iza has worked as a teacher, field biologist, editor, and mental health educator.
Iza graduated with a degree in Ecology from Prescott College in 2013, where her thesis, A Natural History of North American Shorebirds, was showcased in the senior baccalaureate. Iza received an MFA from Iowa State University in 2019, where she served a term as nonfiction editor for Flyway Journal of Writing and Environment.
During her time at Iowa State, she taught rhetoric, composition, and fiction, which allowed her to explore the structure of language and its impact on human thinking, culture, and relationships. Iza has also taught biology, ecology, and nature writing, and she received an Award for Teaching Excellence from ISU in spring of 2019. Iza’s writing has been published in several literary magazines, and her essay, Intersecting the Snake, was nominated for a Pushcart by Animal: Beast of a Literary Magazine in spring of 2017.
Having had to work actively on her own mental health for much of her life, Iza feels passionately about opening up space for honest, compassionate conversations regarding mental health and addiction. Her personal research interests center around the impacts of intergenerational trauma, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and disconnection from nature and community on human mental health. In her experience, connection and being of service are the greatest antidotes to personal suffering, and she feels grateful to work in a position where she gets to connect with a diverse group of people over the crucial topic of mental health.
Sandra Staplehurst (Sandy), Facilitator for “Talking Mental Health” curriculum, has spent a majority of her adult life helping youth. She has spent many years coaching youth soccer and was responsible for putting together a soccer pilot program for physical and mentally impaired youth in the Albuquerque area. In 2015 she trained as a facilitator with the stigma-busting program “Talking Mental Health” after the death of her son by suicide in 2014. She is passionate about engaging youth and educating them to help improve their lives. Her strong commitment to BTSNM continues with her role as a Lead Facilitator for middle and high school classroom presentations and adult community forums as well as coaching adults to facilitate BTSNM.
Debbi James, Facilitator for “Talking Mental Health” curriculum, is a native New Mexican who grew with a strong work ethic in the ranching, farming community. In 2014 her brother died by suicide after many years of addiction. Debbi started attending Survivors of Suicide in 2015 and in 2016 became a facilitator. During this time, she worked with many people with similar losses and educated herself about mental illness. Still serving on the board for SOS, she wants to help end the stigma of mental illness and make sure everyone knows it’s ok to ask for help.
Gabrielle Vincent, Facilitator for “Talking Mental Health” Curriculum, is a creative, passionate writer and artist with a penchant for helping others and doing her part to help break the stigma against mental illness. She recently became involved with BTSNM after discovering her calling in the mental health field.
Gabrielle grew up with a mother who has devoted her career to working with various nonprofit organizations, which greatly instilled, in Gabrielle, compassion for others and helping those who need.
She attended an arts-based high school, where she learned to hone her passion for creative writing. It was then she realized her words are her superpower, and from that point knew that she wanted to use her interest and skill for something good.
Gabrielle has suffered from mental illnesses most of her life and hopes to turn her negative experiences into positive and informative experiences to assist those who are in a similar position.
She plans on pursuing a degree in social work and to one day counsel those in need. Her plan is to stay in the nonprofit field, so she can provide services for those who do not have accessibility to the resources needed to sustain a happy and healthy mind. She is grateful and fulfilled to be able to be able to help others, and to work with such a great organization as BTSNM.
Inside Out Arts Program Contributor
Michele Relkin, Artist and Primary Art Teacher for Inside Out Arts, was an art major at Santa Monica College and UCLA in the 1970s. Her vividly expressionistic painting comes from the many journeys and research of her dreams and visions. Her work is exhibited internationally and is in private collections of the White House and Presidential Libraries. Her son Greg had schizophrenia and substance use challenges and lived at a residential community in Santa Fe until his death in 2017. She was inspired to teach art classes at her son’s community and what she started in 2013 later grew into Inside Out Arts. Michele brings empathy and knowledge to her students and trains them to compassionately critique one another’s work with those same qualities.
Minds Interrupted Program Contributor
Rosemary Zibart, co-creator of “Minds Interrupted,” is a playwright and author. Her award-winning books include three novels for young people about child refugees during WWII: True Brit, Beatrice on Her Own, Forced Journey: The Saga of Werner Berlinger and two picture books: Kit Coyote: A Brave Pup (for children in foster care) and I Have a Grandma Who….