Meet the Board
The New Mexico Doula Association is an inclusive, birth-justice focused organization that works to make doula care more accessible throughout the state of New Mexico through advocacy and education. We believe that all New Mexican families have the right to affordable, non-judgmental, and culturally competent support for pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and other reproductive experiences and outcomes.
As of November 2020, the NMDA meets monthly as a steering committee (in addition to bimonthly board meetings). The steering committee meets by Zoom. We welcome the energy, input, and expertise of diverse members, including doulas, providers, community health workers, policy-makers, consumers, and parents. If you’d like to join, please email firstname.lastname@example.org (note the two As!) and request to join the steering committee email list.
Melissa Marie Lopez has earned a reputation as an innovative, driven, solutions-focused Executive Director with a stellar background in healthcare and holistic wellness, and a proven record of building and managing complex operational efforts. Melissa builds and leads high-performing teams, manages complex budgets, and implements effective programs to improve people’s lives. She is well-versed in financial control, strategic alliance, operational management, and collaborative leadership.
Since 2020, Melissa has spearheaded the growth of the New Mexico Doula Association (NMDA) as the first Executive Director, a vital community-based organization for doulas across New Mexico. She has championed and advocated for birth and reproductive justice movements, resulting in policies and systemic changes that protect reproductive health and minimize maternal morbidity, specifically for black and indigenous communities. Melissa worked tirelessly to devise and execute strategic plans to raise awareness of NMDA’s mission and advocacy initiatives, which increased stakeholder and donors’ engagement and secured $200K+ in grant funding. She leveraged exceptional communication and interpersonal strengths to foster productive partnerships with healthcare providers, community organizations, and government officials.
Melissa is also the Founder/GM of Las Cruces Doula, LLC, a wellness practice that provides the full spectrum of doula services, incorporating traditional and evidence-based approaches to support clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also serves as Project Partner at UNM Health Sciences, where she collaborated with Dr. Pilar San Juan on an NIH health study entitled “Bringing Equity in Healthcare through the Extended Attendance of Risk-reduction Doulas for Perinatal Substance Use Disorder (BEing HEARD).” Together, they are pursuing $3.8M in funding to contract risk-reduction doulas and community health workers to work with the Milagro Program and UNM for the project and provide ongoing consultation and project support.
Melissa holds a Master of Business Administration from New Mexico State University, and a Bachelor of Business Administration/Concentration in Project Management from Colorado Technical University. As a committed member of the local community, Melissa serves on the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force (Las Cruces Chapter) and is Executive Director of the New Mexico Doula Association. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys gardening, meditation, and time with her family.
Esperanza Dodge is one of the founders of the New Mexico Doulas Association. She serves as the Operations Director at Bold Futures (formerly Young Women United). Esperanza believes birth and parenting justice should include those most impacted, including women, people and families living through addiction, young parents and families of color. As an advisor to the NMDA, she enjoys bringing a reproductive justice lens to doula advocacy and working to make doula work more sustainable and doula care more accessible to New Mexico families.
My name is Julie Maxwell and I am a Labor and Delivery doula here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I first became a Volunteer Birth Companion at the University of New Mexico Hospital in 2017. I then went on to take the CAPPA Labor and Delivery doula course with Abby Bordner. In 2019, I was a part of the Project SUM program with CASAA and the University of New Mexico. I have a deep passion for making doula services accessible to everyone no matter their race, ethnicity, sexual preference, culture, socio-economic status, religion, or gender. I look forward to helping educate and advocate for New Mexico families, as well as support other doulas in my state and community. I have recently been honored with becoming the Secretary of the New Mexico Doula Association. I am dedicated to making positive changes in reproductive justice and birthwork in New Mexico. I enjoy learning to fly hot air balloons and the feeling of peace the sky gives to me. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my sons.
Natasha Bowman is from Fort Defiance, AZ and currently resides in Rio Rancho, NM. Her clans are Red Running Into Water and Meadow People. Her interest in birth work started when she became a volunteer birth companion for the University of New Mexico Hospital. From there, she went on to take a CAPPA Labor Doula training with Abby Bordner in 2019. Natasha is also a postpartum doula. She has also taken the indigenous doula and birth assistant training with Changing Woman Initiative. Natasha also is an Advisory committee member with the Navajo Nation Breastfeeding Coalition. A mother of four children and 2 grandchildren, she is committed to helping women and mothers feel empowered through their pregnancies, labor/postpartum period and through their breastfeeding journeys. She would also like to see doula care more accessible to every woman. Her hobbies include hot air ballooning, traveling, riding motorcycles and hiking.
Jessica Lujan is a doula, reproductive justice advocate, a community-based herbalist and queer farmer from northern New Mexico. She received a BS in Integrative Health Studies from Northern New Mexico College. In 2010, Jessica worked with Tewa Women United as a full spectrum doula, childbirth educator, certified lactation educator, and began to serve as the manager of the Indigenous Women’s Health & Reproductive Justice Program at Tewa Women United from 2015 through 2022. Jessica sits on the Board of Directors for the New Mexico Doula Association as Birth Equity Co-Chair and provides support for community & philanthropic organizations, as well as to care providers through her heart project, Colibri Corazon. Jessica currently resides along the Rio in El Guique, NM with her son, fiancé and many fur babies.
Kate Pults is a midwife, artist, community activist, Wyandotte native, a mother, and a former doula. She was born and raised in Moses Lake, Washington and has lived in Roswell New Mexico since 2019. She is currently the only out of hospital midwife that accepts Medicaid in Southeastern New Mexico. Kate has been involved with the NMDA since 2019. She actively works to educate families, increase accessibility of midwifery and doula support, as well as improve healthcare disparities amongst the communities most heavily impacted.