Important Players Honored at the Center’s 20th Anniversary Celebration

As part of our joyful 20th Anniversary Celebration on April 14, 2016, we recognized some of the individuals who have played indispensable roles in the establishment and success of the Center.

The Center’s First Executive Director

thumb resized Bob EricsonBob Ericson, the first Executive Director the Center. Bob was a lifetime legal service attorney and is remembered as a meticulous, skilled, and compassionate attorney. His legal skills and leadership influenced the Center on Law and Poverty’s culture of excellent work, integrity, and service to low-income New Mexicans—values we still hold strong today. He touched the lives of so many people in New Mexico.

The Extraordinary Members of the Founding Board of Directors

thumb resized Ruth KovnatRuth Kovnat, Emerita Professor of Law at University of New Mexico School of Law. Ruth served as President of our Board of Directors. If you practice law in New Mexico, there’s a good chance you either learned from Ruth or learned from someone who learned from her. Ruth has been an ongoing supporter of the Center and equal access to justice for the poor.

THUMB resized Tim Sheehan 2010Timothy Sheehan, retired attorney from the firm of Sheehan and Sheehan, PA. Tim served as Secretary and Treasurer of our Board. He has worked extensively at state and national levels to promote and fund legal services for the poor.



thumb resized Bill StrouseBill Strouse, former Executive Director of Legal Aid in Southern New Mexico, the Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico, and the statewide, consolidated New Mexico Legal Aid. He helped build each of those organizations substantially. Bill served as Vice President of the Center’s Board.

THUMB resized Virginia SearsVirginia Sears (1915-2001), legal services consultant with the New Mexico State Bar Association and Northern New Mexico Legal Services. Virginia was a wonderful lifelong senior advocate and activist.



thumb resized John RobbJohn Robb (1924-2014), partner at the firm of Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb, PA. John, who was the first President of our Board of Directors, demonstrated a powerful commitment to civil legal aid for the poor. In addition to serving on the Center’s board for over a decade, he also participated on the boards of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants. Click below to hear John’s thoughts about the NM Center on Law and Poverty.

A Few Key Staff Members

Nancy Koenigsberg, current Senior Attorney at Disability Rights New Mexico. Nancy led the Center as Legal Director and Acting Executive Director for five years. She made sure the Center maintained its commitment to excellent work and service following Bob Ericson’s passing.

Sireesha Manne, Staff Attorney. Sireesha has been a leader in the Center’s healthcare advocacy and critical to the Center’s success in policy work in the legislature and executive branch.

Gail Evans, Legal Director. Gail is widely regarded as one of the best poverty law attorneys in the country. Both the excellence of the Center’s advocacy and its enviable string of successes in the courts are testament to that. She has been a persistent, unflagging voice for low-income New Mexicans.

Stacey Leaman, Development Director. Stacey’s fundraising efforts have allowed the Center to add staff, diversify our campaigns, and make a broader impact.

Kim Posich, the Center’s Executive Director. Since becoming Executive Director in October 2002, Kim has expanded the Center’s size, resources, and advocacy agenda. Under his leadership, the Center went from a team of 3 to today being a staff of 15—including a remarkable 11 attorneys! This has corresponded with an expansion of the Center’s work. Kim has dedicated his entire life to working on behalf of those with fewer resources, less privilege, and greater need. He has tirelessly championed the poor, making an enormous and measurable difference for thousands of families in this state.

All Pueblo Council of Governors Honors NM Center on Law and Poverty

Kim Posich APCG Recognition3In a moving ceremony at its meeting this past Tuesday, September 29th, the All Pueblo Council of Governors thanked the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty for generating changes in policy and laws for economic and social justice and for having “given voice to the poorest in our society”.

Over the past decade, the Center on Law and Poverty has collaborated with Native Americans in a unique relationship on issues important to New Mexico’s tribes. These include: increasing access to health care for Native American’s at the University of New Mexico Hospital; protecting Native American’s rights to fee-for-service Medicaid; to spread best administrative practices for tribal healthcare systems; improving our state government’s consultation with tribes concerning matters that affect them; ensuring that safety net programs work well for low-income Native Americans; and many others.

The work of the Center with Native American leaders and advocates has yielded significant outcomes. The joint efforts at UNM Hospital alone, for example, with local community groups, resulted in several important outcomes. The Hospital developed comprehensive language services to better serve patients who are not proficient in English. It abandoned its practice of charging uninsured patients more than insured patients and of requiring that uninsured patients pay 50% of expected charges in advance of receiving care. It also curtailed aggressive collections policies that harmed low-income patients.

On behalf of the Council, Governor Val Panteah Sr. of Zuni Pueblo read an homage to the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty’s director, Kim Posich, for his dedication and leadership, and to his staff, for their advocacy and litigation in partnership with Native Americans and in Native American interests. He also called for exploring a formal relationship with the Center and Mr. Posich agreed to join the Governors in considering a more explicit partnership.

Kim Posich APCG Recognition1 Mr. Posich stated that strengthening the relationship between the Center on Law and Poverty and the Pueblos could lead to the formation of a Native American public interest law center, an idea that has been generating excitement in advocacy circles. Most visions of the new law center would have it be similar to the Center on Law and Poverty with the purpose of creating systemic change for low income Native American New Mexicans, perhaps even starting within the Center. However, it would be staffed largely by Native Americans and focus exclusively on issues that cut across Native American interests.

Press Release: NMCLP Honored by APCG-2015-10-01