2019 New Mexico ACTion Conference


CONVERGENCE: Weaving partnerships and education to transform community norms through tobacco policy

Join us on Monday, May 6 and Tuesday, May 7 at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid for the 2019 New Mexico ACTion Conference. This year’s conference features keynote and general sessions, networking, specialty tribal, multi-unit housing, and university education tracks, plus an awards luncheon recognizing our state’s tobacco control leaders.

STIPENDS AVAILABLE! Full stipends are available for mileage and hotel. You may apply for stipends on the registration form.

For more information about the conference or sponsorships, or if you need assistance registering, please contact Suzanne Lawson at suzanne@chronicdiseasenm.org

2018 NM ACTion Conference Logo REGISTRATION

Click here to register for the 2019 NM ACTion Conference.


The goals of the 2019 NM ACTion Conference are:

  • To engage non-traditional community partners in tobacco control policy efforts state-wide.
  • To understand how public health models can be utilized in tobacco control policy efforts in New Mexico.

Further, each of our specialty tracks have their respective goals:

Multi-Unit Housing:

  • To educate property managers, owners, and industry stakeholders on the tobacco prevention regulations and policies around the nation that impact MUH.
  • To educate property managers, owners, and industry stakeholders on tobacco prevention in the state of New Mexico within the MUH industry.
  • To honor and recognize industry champions of MUH Smoke-Free policies within the state of New Mexico.


  • To honor, respect, and value the importance of sacred and ceremonial practices of tobacco among Native Americans.
  • To acknowledge history and its implications to address “policy”.
  • To motivate participants to take action supporting commercial tobacco-free communities.


  • Increase New Mexico College Campus communities’ efficacy to implement tobacco-free policies.
  • Educate and inform college communities what a tobacco-free campus is.
  • Promote and inform New Mexico college communities of best practices on implementation of tobacco-free campuses. 

For more information about these goals, please contact Suzanne Lawson at suzanne@chronicdiseasenm.org.


2019 NM ACTion Conference Agenda

Monday, May 6

9 – 9:30 a.m.
Check-in and at-the-door registration
Light breakfast, coffee, and teas will be served

9:30 – 11 a.m.
General Session – Morning Keynote: Regis Pecos

11 – 11:15 a.m.
Networking Break

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Track Sessions

Multi-Unit Housing: HUD Rule for Multi-Unit Housing/What’s Happening in Multi-Unit Housing in New Mexico, presented by Thomas Carr, American Lung Association, and Rebecca Padilla, American Lung Association

Tribal: Traditional Tobacco, presented by Celestino Gachupin

University: Identifying Best Practices, presented by Liz Williams, Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation 

12:15 – 12:30 p.m.
Networking Break

12:30 – 2 p.m.
Awards Luncheon
Join us for the American Lung Association’s Thomas Carr’s Keynote Address, Utilizing National Partners to Mobilize Community Partners, followed by an awards ceremony recognizing the Las Vegas Housing Authority, the Bernalillo County Housing Authority, Acoma Behavioral Health Services, the Mortgage Finance Authority, Dr. Elba Saavedra Ferrer, and JL Gray Company for their actions in tobacco control in 2018.

2 – 2:15 p.m.
Networking Break

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Track Sessions

Multi-Unit Housing: Housing Implementation of the HUD Rule, presented by Mandy Griego, HUD

Tribal: Policy Rez Cafe, presented by Janna Vallo, and Michele Suina

University: Offering Cessation, presented by Kyle Smith

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.
Networking Break
Light snacks and beverages will be served.

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Track Sessions

Multi-Unit Housing: Community Cessation Opportunities, presented by Rebecca Padilla, American Lung Association

Tribal: Indigenous Data Sovereignty, presented by Michele Suina

University: Signage and Marketing, presented by Kyle Smith

Tuesday, May 7

8:30 – 9 a.m.
Check-in and at-the-door registration
Light breakfast, coffee, and teas will be served

9:00 – 10:15 a.m.
General Session – Morning Keynote: To Be Announced

10:15 – 10:30 a.m.
Networking Break

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Track Sessions

Multi-Unit Housing: Dealing with Infractions, presented by Attorney Armand Huertaz

Tribal: Action Panel, facilitated by Janna Vallo, and featuring Joseph Blazer, and Margaret Merrill

University: Ambassadorship, presented by Kyle Smith

11:30 – 11:45 a.m.
Networking Break

11:45 – 1 p.m.
Track Sessions
Box Lunches will be served in the track rooms.

Multi-Unit Housing: How to Support Residents with Cessation, presented by Rebecca Padilla, American Lung Association, and the Las Vegas Pubic Housing Authority

Tribal: Media Literacy, presented by Ernie Tsosie, Know the Truth Campaign

University: Policy Maintenance, presented by Kyle Smith

1 – 1:15 p.m.
Networking Break
Beverages will be served.

1:15 – 2:45 p.m.
General Session: ACTion Planning and World Cafe


The New Mexico Allied Council on Tobacco is pleased to announce our presenters for the 2019 NM ACTion Conference:

Joseph Blazer
Mescalero Tribal Tobacco Cessation Prevention Program

Joseph Blazer is the Mescalero Tribal Tobacco Cessation Prevention Program (MTTCPP) Coordinator. He originally began work with the MTTCPP in 2017 as a contractor supporting social media and marketing, but was asked to come on full time as Program Coordinator shortly afterward and has been busy making positive change ever since. Joseph’s work and the work of the MTTCPP places a heavy emphasis on youth education. “We really focus on helping our youth and keeping them away from the harmful effects of commercial tobacco,” Joseph said. “Our big emphasis is teaching them about our traditional tobacco and keeping a cultural base and letting the kids know the difference. Our main focal point is youth education because that’s where it all starts.”

Thomas A. Carr
National Director, Policy
American Lung Association

Thomas Carr has been the National Director, Policy at the American Lung Association since October 2010. In this role, he directs state and local tobacco control policy efforts for the Lung Association, including on smokefree housing, and is the primary author/editor of the Lung Association’s annual State of Tobacco Control report. He also oversees the American Lung Association’s State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues project, an online database/website of state tobacco control laws. Mr. Carr is one of the country’s most knowledgeable experts on state tobacco control laws and policies. He has a B.A. in political science from Gettysburg College.

Celestino Gachupin

Mandy Griego

Armand Huertaz

Armand D. Huertaz, Esq. is an associate at Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith, LLP. He is a member of the General Liability Practice and Transportation Practice. Armand graduated in 2015 from the University of New Mexico School of Law where he received the Dean’s Award for Significant Contribution to the Law School Community and the CALI Award in Remedies in the Fall of 2014. He was also a two-time member of the ABA Moot Court Team. He has handled numerous different matters spanning from insurance defense, administrative law, employment law, criminal defense, landlord tenant, and family law. He has practiced in New Mexico’s Magistrate Courts to the Supreme Court of New Mexico and every Court in between.

Natasha Padilla
Office Manager, Finance Specialist and Fair Housing and Reasonable Accommodations Specialist
City of Las Vegas Housing Authority

Natasha is the Office Manager, Finance Specialist and Fair Housing and Reasonable Accommodations Specialist for the City of Las Vegas Housing Authority.   She has been with the Housing Authority for 5 years, during this time has been instrumental with policy creation and implementation.  She has insured tenant relations through her work with the LVHA RAB, she performs Cessation classes for the tenants of the LVHA on a monthly basis.  Natasha has her Bachelors of Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from New Mexico Highlands University, she is a certified Public Housing Occupancy Specialist, she is a certified Chief Procurement Officer, she is a certified Fair Housing and Reasonable Accommodation Specialist and lastly she has her certification in Public Housing Property Management Essentials.

Margaret Merrill
Founder & Executive Director
Oso Vista Ranch Project

Margaret Merrill is Founder and Executive Director of Oso Vista Ranch Project, a 501c3 Corporation that works to fill the gaps in the systems of care in Native American communities. Margaret has a BS in Education and a MS in Multi-Cultural Education, as well as 40 years of experience working nationwide with Native communities. Through her work she continues to offer her talent for creatively solving problems through collaborative solutions that are based on community choices and cultural belief systems.



Rebecca Padilla
Manager, Health Promotions
American Lung Association

Regis Pecos

Regis Pecos is from Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy at Princeton University, where he recently finished a term as Trustee for the University. He is completing his doctorate degree at the University of California at Berkeley. He served as both Lt. Governor and Governor and is a lifetime member of the Tribal Council at Cochiti Pueblo. Regis served for 16 years as Executive Director of the New Mexico Office of Indian Affairs under four administrations. He is now Chief of Staff to the New Mexico Speaker of the House and co-founded the Leadership Institute.

Kyle Smith
Program Coordinator
University of New Mexico, COSAP

Kyle Smith has been an employee at the University of New Mexico (UNM) for the past seven years where he has worked in addressing social determinants of health in Native American populations through Community Based Participatory research. In March of 2017, Kyle became the Program Coordinator at the UNM Campus Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (COSAP) where he manages the implementation, enforcement, and compliance of UNM’s Tobacco-Free policy (Policy 2250). Since UNM Policy 2250’s implementation in August of 2017, Kyle is successfully changing norms by reducing tobacco-use on campus from 22.5% in 2017 to 13.7% in 2018. This was accomplished by utilizing effective community engagement strategies, developing the UNM Student Health Ambassadorship, and improving students’, staff, and faculties’ efficacy to make change in their community. In addition, he has expanded his work throughout the State of New Mexico where he manages Tobacco-Free Campuses New Mexico (TFCNM), a network of colleges & universities committed to tobacco-free policies. He provides technical assistance and resources to college/university administration who are contemplating or looking to enforce, strengthen, or develop tobacco-free policies. In his spare time, Kyle is heavily involved in outdoor adventures and enjoys being a kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter.

Michele Suina
Program Director, Good Health & Wellness in Indian Country Program
Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center

Michele Suina, PhD is from Cochiti Pueblo and is the Program Director for the Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country Program at the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center.  Prior to working at AASTEC, Michele managed the Native American Cancer Education Program at the UNM Cancer Center and UNM Center for Native American Health and worked for the UNM Prevention Research Center as an evaluator and health educator. Her upbringing in Cochiti prepared her for a career in public health where she learned that health is more than going to the local Indian Health Service clinic and that Pueblo health is connected to a Pueblo way of life that supports spiritual, emotional, mental, social, and physical well-being. With nearly 20 years of experience as a health educator she chose this career path to contribute to the vitality of Indigenous peoples and to influence western approaches to public health for Native Americans so they can realize their own self-defined health aspirations.  In 2015, Michele graduated from Arizona State University School of Social Transformation with the first Pueblo PhD Justice Studies cohort. Michele is a mother to a daughter named Sydney.

Ernest David Tsosie

Ernie is an award winning comedian and actor and has been a professional performer since 1996 and a professional parent since 1990. His brand of clean family humor is hilarious as he addresses one important topic after another. Ernie has reached over 10,000 Native American youth and adults with his commercial tobacco prevention and media literacy message. He describes his comedy as GOOD MEDICINE!

Janna Vallo
Commercial Tobacco Control and Prevention Coordinator, Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center

Janna Vallo is from the Pueblo of Acoma. She is the Commercial Tobacco Control and Prevention Coordinator under the CDC Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country Program at AASTEC. Janna received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with minors in Counseling and Educational Psychology from New Mexico State University. She is currently enrolled at the University of New Mexico Public Administration Graduate Program. Janna is a Certified Prevention Specialist. Previous to working at AASTEC, Janna coordinated the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Abuse Prevention Program in three NM Pueblos, where she worked with the community coalitions implementing the Strategic Prevention Framework to change norms around youth substance use. Janna has worked in the field of Commercial Tobacco Prevention, is a commissioned officer through the FDA for Tobacco Advertising, and Chairs the Southwest Tribal Tobacco Coalition in providing network and training opportunities for Tribal communities seeking to build their capacity around Commercial Tobacco Prevention.

Liz Williams
Project Manager, American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation

Liz Williams is a Project Manager with the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, where she provides technical assistance support to public health professionals, advocates, and the public on issues related to secondhand smoke and smokefree policy change efforts. She conducts legislative analysis and tracking of pending state legislation, manages the Protect Local Control website, and has a focus on providing technical assistance, trainings, and developing resources on smokefree issues such as multi-unit housing, college campuses, and outdoor public places. Experience includes coordinating and presenting sessions on secondhand smoke, multi-unit housing, preemption, and smokefree policy change at trainings and conferences around the country. Ms. Williams has worked for ANR Foundation since 2002 and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Health Policy and Management from Providence College.


The New Mexico Allied Council on Tobacco and our partners are pleased to recognize the efforts of these leaders in tobacco control:

Las Vegas Housing Authority 

Bernalillo County Housing Authority

Acoma Behavioral Health Services & Pueblo of Acoma Taxation and Administration Office

The Pueblo of Acoma Taxation and Administration office is in its fifth year as a grantee of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program. And Tonya Louis, Clinical Director of Acoma Behavioral Health Services (ABHS) is in her second year of the Community Health Leadership Program offered through Keres’ Smoke Free Signals program. Together, the two departments have worked diligently in the community to provide commercial tobacco outreach and education. When they brought in the ABHS’s Youth Coalition, their hard work really gained momentum.

In February 2019 they reached a tipping point when Governor Vallo signed the Commercial Tobacco Smoke Free Environment Proclamation which calls for the control and elimination of all commercial tobacco and electronic cigarette use in tribal building(s), community center, work place, enclosed public places, tribal vehicles, schools, daycares, recreational area(s), tribal housing, and outdoor tribal program events.

As Tribes are sovereign nations, Acoma was not previously protected by the 2007 Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act.


Mortgage Finance Authority

Dr. Elba Saavedra Ferrer
University of New Mexico Community Health Education Program

Dr. Elba L. Saavedra Ferrer is a Lecturer III, in the Health, Exercise and Sports Science, and an alumni of the University of New Mexico (1995, 2004) with conferred, a Masters and PhD degrees in Community Health Education. Dr. Saavedra Ferrer is the Field Experience Faculty Coordinator for the Undergraduate Field Experience Program in Community Health Education. Dr. Saavedra Ferrer has over 18 years of  experience in research efforts focusing on social determinants of health related to cancer care among New Mexico’s ethnically/racially diverse and under-served women. Dr. Saavedra Ferrer is the director and co-founder of the Comadre a Comadre Program, a multi-level, community-based peer-led culturally linguistically competent intervention designed to improve the breast health and breast cancer outcomes among Hispanic/Latina women in New Mexico. Dr. Saavedra Ferrer also has initiated PCORI funded initiatives such as as Voz/Voices Partnership, as is current Chair and co-founder of the New Mexico Cancer Patient Navigation Network (NMCPNN), a member of the Comadre Community Advisory Council. Dr. Saavedra Ferrer is a native of Puerto Rico, and is fluent in both English and Spanish. Dr. Saavedra Ferrer research interests include cancer survivorship, community engaged work, community-based interventions in cancer care and patient navigation across the cancer care continuum.

JL Gray Company


The 2019 NM ACTion Conference will be at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid.

Click here to book your room online for a special conference rate of $94 per room per night. Please note that a limited number of rooms are available at this rate, and rooms must be booked no later than April 25, 2019. Stipends are available to reimburse attendees for hotel and mileage costs, and can be applied for during event registration.


Click here to access presenter files for the 2019 NM ACTion Conference.