Our Team


Brenda Quiñonez-Cortés, LCSW, MSW

Born in México and raised in Los Angéles, Brenda places value in family and comunidad.  She is a mother, wife, and activist. Committed to generating change in the field of mental and behavioral health, Brenda joined efforts with EPdE founder Lynn Haynes, in creating a pathway of equity and  leadership for culturally and linguistically diverse students and professionals. Brenda received Bachelor Degrees in Sociology, Spanish, and Chicano Studies from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She later graduated with a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Brenda’s professional experience in the last 20 years extends to field counseling, medical social work, program management and various realms of non-profit work and clinical mental health settings, independent contract work in school-based therapy, private practice  and more recently, training and consulting in cultural/linguistic proficiency, anti-oppression, and racial healing.



Vice President

Rachel Bowen, LCSW

While born in New Mexico, Rachel’s upbringing in southeast Asia propelled her dedication to cross-cultural and global issues leading her to work and volunteer on youth leadership, community development, and public health issues in Latin America and the US. Rachel earned BA degrees from the University of Oregon in International Studies, Spanish, and Sociology, and went on to receive a Masters of Social Work from the University of Denver. She has since worked with immigrant families as a therapist for survivors of domestic violence, as a social worker in the public schools, and in school and community-based mental health. Rachel values teaming with others who share her deep commitment to social justice.




Rosa Gallegos-Samora, LCSW

A native New Mexican born and raised in northern New Mexico, Rosa grew up in Genizaro village, Villanueva, and is a descendant of mestizo heritage. Rosa holds a Masters degree in Social Work from New Mexico Highlands University. She is a mental health therapist working with homeless populations, the transgender community, substance use recovery, and the formerly incarcerated. Rosa is dedicated to advocating for suicide prevention and has served as a board member on the New Mexico chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention since 2014. Rosa is passionate about social justice and racial equity and doing her part within her community to work towards dismantling systems of oppression.





Jane Gagne

A graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law, Jane is currently Assistant Disciplinary Counsel for the Disciplinary Board of the New Mexico Supreme Court. As assistant disciplinary counsel, she investigates and prosecutes complaints against attorneys. Before accepting that position, Jane was in private practice in the areas of plaintiffs’ civil rights and employment law. During that time, she served as Guardian ad Litem representing children in state custody who experienced abuse and neglect. She is an active member of the volunteer Legal Panel for ACLU-New Mexico. A seasoned outdoorswoman, Jane, as often as not, can be found hiking in the Grand Canyon.



Board Member

Azul Cortés

Azul (Huasteca/Tepehuan) is the Director of Heritage Languages at Dual Language Education of NM (DLeNM). With Master’s degrees in Bilingual, Secondary and Special Education, Azul is passionate about language, community and cultural identity. He is currently a Doctoral Student at UNM’s Language Literacy and Sociocultural Studies with his research focusing on the maintenance and revitalization of the heritage language through cultural Identity. Azul has worked as a Clinical Research Educator at the University of New Mexico’s College of Education Elementary Education in the area of Teacher Preparation and in numerous indigenous communities with linguistically and diverse youth through the Bureau of Indian Education and in México. He continues to work with grassroots organizations, La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque and Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles who dedicate services to adjudicated youths and young adults. Current work highlights language maintenance and revitalization efforts through an indigenous lens that centers culture and language as the voice of the community and the land in which they reside.



Board Member

Kate Gibbons, LISW, LCSW, PhD

Kate is a consultant known for achieving organizational and system transformation through her ability to build relationships with a broad range of audiences and her national level work with Quality Service Review. Kate works with numerous provider and state agencies on change initiatives. She currently provides training, leadership coaching, team development, change management, strategic planning, and logistical support on a variety of human service oriented projects.





Lynn Haynes, LCSW

The creation of El Puente de Encuentros was motivated by my years of experience working in the behavioral/mental health field with New Mexico’s underserved populations. That span included working for New Mexico’s Children Youth and Families Department, working for a non-profit mental health organization specializing in trauma, and, in private practice, as an independent contractor and consultant to public entities. The experience that prompted the founding of El Puente came while offering outpatient therapy in Albuquerque’s public school system.

While the schools primarily served students of color, administration, teachers and clinical support were predominantly Caucasian. Clearly, bridging this divide, both culturally and linguistically, was key to achieving effective clinical interventions. With the help and support of many people, it was Jorge García, Senior Program Manager at the University of New Mexico’s El Centro de La Raza, who inspired me to take action. The many professionals who joined in planning and implementing programs have been a blessing. El Puente owes its existence to the selfless work of so many who share the desire to be agents of change.




Kee J.E. Straits, PhD



Born Quechua (Indigenous) in Perú and raised in the United States, Kee is a Clinical/Community Psychologist. She received her BA in psychology from Williams College, her MA in special education from the University of New Mexico, and her PhD in psychology from Utah State University. Dr. Straits is the sole proprietor of Tinkuy Life Community Transformations, LLC. Through her business, she offers consultation to schools, organizations and communities, trainings, evaluation, and direct clinical services. In her career, she strives to achieve health equity in Native American and Latino communities, improve the effectiveness of mental health systems that serve youth, and increase the number of competent Native and Latino health professionals.


Jorge García Atilano, M.A., EMBA

robertBorn and raised in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Jorge grew up in Chicago, moving to New Mexico in 1997. He holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Chicano Studies and Latin American Studies. In addition, he holds a Master’s degree in Education (Language, Literacy and Socio-Cultural Studies) and an MBA from the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management. Jorge is Senior Program Director at UNM’s El Centro de la Raza. His research and entrepreneurial activities are focused on creating initiatives and projects that support the social, cultural, political and economic development of local and indigenous communities.