Meet the Faculty

Héctor Luis Díaz, Ph.D., Director & Professor

Dr. Héctor Luis Díaz was appointed Director of the New Mexico State University, School of Social Work on June 1, 2020.  Prior to coming to NMSU, he served as Director and Professor of the Western Michigan University, School of Social Work, and as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare.  Other academic leadership positions held by Dr. Díaz include Social Work Department Chair at The University of Texas – Pan American, now The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley.  He also coordinated a binational Ph.D. program offered jointly by The University of Texas at Arlington and the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico.  Earlier during his academic career, Dr. Díaz was a member of the graduate faculties of Andrews University in Michigan and Loma Linda University in California. 

He was a social work practitioner, supervisor and administrator for 15 years before entering academia in 1992.

He has published and presented widely in the areas of socio-economic development, social welfare policy, cultural issues, and international social work education.

His publications include two books: Strengthening Democracy through Community Capacity Building: A Study of Four Latin American Countries, and Alcohol Abuse and Acculturation among Puerto Ricans in the United States: A Sociological Study


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dr. Díaz’s leadership roles within the social work profession include:

  • Treasurer of the National Association of Social Work Deans and Directors
  • Accreditation Site Visitor for the Council on Social Work Education
  • Member of the Council on Social Work Education’s Strategic Planning Committee
  • Treasurer  and President Elect of the Association of Latina & Latino Social Work Educators
  • Board Member of the International Consortium for Social Development
  • Secretary and subsequently President of the Texas Association of Social Work Deans and Directors
  • Chair of Western Michigan University’s Organization of Chairs and Directors, and
  • Chair of the University of Texas Pan-American, Council of Department Chairs

Olga Cabada, College Associate Professor, MSW Field Education Coordinator (Las Cruces) (CV)
M.S. in Social Work from University of Texas at Austin
Academic interests include mental health and social justice.

Ivan de la Rosa, Associate Professor, BSW Program Coordinator (CV)
Ph.D. in Social Work and Sociology from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
MSW from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor with concentration in Community Organizing

Iván A. de la Rosa, Ph.D., LMSW is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at New Mexico State University and has a joint research faculty appointment with the Southern New Mexico Family Medicine Residency program at Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces.  Dr. de la Rosa received his Ph.D. in Social Work and Sociology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1998.  His practice background is in crisis intervention counseling among immigrants in New York City and is an experienced program evaluator in the areas of maternal and child health. He currently serves as the program evaluator for the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso, TX, as well as PRN social worker at Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces.   Dr. de la Rosa’s research focus is violence and trauma and is particularly interested in the identification of risk and protective factors, especially those from US/Mexico borderland communities.  He is also involved in several initiates focused on interprofessional behavioral health.  He is the Co-PI on a HRSA funded integrated behavioral health training project, and NIH funded social determinant of health study.  He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals with particular emphasis on family resilience, substance abuse, violence, and trauma.”

Megan Finno-Velasquez, Assistant Professor (CV)
Ph.D. in Social Work from University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
MSW from NM Highlands University, Las Vegas, NM

Dr. Finno-Velasquez received her PhD in Social Work from University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA.

Currently, Dr. Finno-Velasquez is an assistant professor at New Mexico State University and is the Director of The Center on Immigration and Child Welfare, a national peer membership organization that fosters cross-sector collaboration by linking and supporting professionals across the child welfare, immigration and legal fields. The center has focused on building capacity of the U.S. child welfare system to respond to the unique needs of immigrant families and children through research, resource development and dissemination, training and technical assistance, and national leadership by sponsoring cross-sector conferences, workgroups and advocacy initiatives. Dr. Finno-Velasquez’s current work focuses on improving the broader child welfare system’s response to the unique needs of children of immigrants and immigrant families at risk of child protective services involvement in the current immigration landscape.

Her research interests include child welfare and immigration policy, maltreatment prevention in culturally diverse communities, and cultural competence in child welfare services. She received her MSW from Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM and her Bachelors of Sciences in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Finno-Velasquez, M., Villamil, C. Perrigo, J., White, M., & Hurlburt, M. (2019). An exploration of the socio-cultural context in immigrant-concentrated neighborhoods with unusual rates of child maltreatment Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work. DOI: 10.1080/15313204.2019.1629368

Finno-Velasquez, M., Cahill, B., Ullrich, R., & Matthews, H. (2018). Heightened immigration enforcement and the well-being of youth children in immigrant families: Early childhood program responses. Zero to Three Journal, 39 (1), 27-32.

Finno-Velasquez, Palmer, L., Prindle, J., Tam, C., & Putnam-Hornstein, E. (2017). A Birth Cohort Study of Asian and Pacific Islander Children Reported for Abuse or Neglect by Maternal Nativity and Ethnic Origin. Child Abuse and Neglect, 72, 54-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.07.009.

Finno-Velasquez, M., & Ogbonnaya, I.N., (2017). National Estimates of Intimate Partner Violence and Service Receipt among Latinas with Child Welfare Contact.  Journal of Family Violence, 1-14. DOI:10.1007/s10896-017-9912-9.

Finno-Velasquez, M., Berger Cardoso, J., Dettlaff, A., & Hurlburt, M. (2015). Effects of parent nativity and immigration status on mental health service use among Latino children investigated by child welfare. Psychiatric Services, 67(2), 192-198.

Finno-Velasquez, M., Fettes, D., Aarons, G. A., & Hurlburt, M. S. (2014). Cultural adaptation of an evidence-based home visitation programme: Latino clients’ experiences of service delivery during implementation. Journal of Children’s Services, 9(4), 280-294.

Myra Garcia, College Assistant Professor (CV)
MSW from New York University,  New York, NY

Myra Garcia is an LCSW and College Assistant Professor at New Mexico State University. Professor Garcia received her BSW from the University of Texas at Austin and MSW from New York University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Social Work at the University of Utah. Professor Garcia teaches in both the BSW and MSW program and in 2019 was awarded the David Roush Award for Teaching Excellence. She specializes in trauma therapy across the lifespan with certifications in Trauma Focused-CBT, Child Parent Psychotherapy, and trained in EMDR, Trust-Based Relational Intervention, Critical Incident and Stress Management, Parent Child Interaction Therapy and Trauma Informed Care through National Council for Behavioral Health. Professor Garcia’s research interest include advancing the utilization of culturally relevant, anti-oppressive and decolonization concepts in social work practice and in the academic setting as well as understanding racial ethnic socialization and identity in Black, Indigenous, Communities of Color (BIPOC).

Erika Gergerich, Assistant Professor (CV)
Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Arkansas
MSW from the University of Arkansas

Dr. Erika Gergerich, LCSW received her PhD in Public Policy from the University of Arkansas. Her social work practice experience includes six years of medical social work with an emphasis in geriatrics. The bulk of her practice included working with older adults experiencing social challenges, mental health issues, and new diagnoses. Research interests are in the areas of geriatrics, aging policy, and interprofessional education and collaboration. In her current position as Assistant Professor at New Mexico State University she teaches both undergraduate and graduate students. Teaching interests include Ethics & Aging, Professionalism in the Field of Social Work and Work with Communities and Organizations.

Stacy Gherardi, Assistant Professor, MSW Program Coordinator (CV)
Ph.D. in Policy Studies in Urban Education, University of Illinois at Chicago.
MSW from University of Illinois at Chicago

Dr. Stacy Gherardi, LCSW, is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at New Mexico State University. She earned her BSW from Valparaiso University in 2005, MSW from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2008, and PhD in Education Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2016. Before coming to NMSU, Dr. Gherardi worked as a school social worker and teacher in the Chicago area. Her research focuses on the intersections of education and social policy and school responses to the “non-academic” needs of students. This has included work that explores school social worker roles, community schools, interprofessional collaboration in schools, and, more recently, the development, implementation, and evaluation of socially-just, culturally humble trauma-informed schools. Dr. Gherardi is also passionate about social work education and has researched opportunities to integrate trauma-informed practices and new approaches to writing in social work education. Dr. Gherardi has taught across the curriculum in the MSW program including introductory policy courses, first year practice courses, advanced practice with families, advanced practice with groups, and school social work practice.

Dr. Gherardi works regularly with schools across the state, consulting around the design and implementation of community schools, trauma-informed approaches, and school social work services. She has recently partnered with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Community Schools Partnership, the Las Cruces Community Schools Partnership, and Carlsbad Municipal Schools. Dr. Gherardi is currently a board member on the American Council of School Social Work and the CSWE Council on Disability and Persons with Disabilities. Some of her more recent publications include:

Knox, K. & Gherardi, S.A., Stoner, A.L. (in-press) Rules, roles, and practices: Exploring school social worker preparation for practice. Accepted for publication in the International Journal of School Social Work in August 2020.

Gherardi, S.A., Flinn, R.E., Jaure, V.B. (2020).  Trauma-sensitive schools and social justice: A critical analysis. Urban Review.

Gherardi, S.A. (2019).  Success stories: A case study in administrator and teacher collective sensemaking around 1:1 technology. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 1-15.

Gherardi, S.A., Gurrola, M.A., Tafoya, J, & Garling-Spychala, B. (2019). Setting the table: Trauma-informed groupwork in challenging times. Groupwork, 28(1).

Gherardi, S.A. & Whittlesey, W.K. (2019). Exploring school social worker involvement in community school Implementation. Children and Schools,

Gherardi, S. A., & Whittlesey-Jerome, W. K. (2018). Role Integration through the Practice of Social Work with Schools. Children & Schools, 40(1), 35-44.

Gherardi, S.A. (2017).  Policy windows in school social work: History, practice implications, and new directions.  School Social Work Journal, 42(1), 37-54.

Anayeli Lopez, Assistant Professor (CV)
Ph.D. in Social Welfare from Boston College, Boston, MA & ITESO, Guadalajara, Mexico
MSW from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH

Anayeli Lopez, PhD, MSW, is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at New Mexico State University, in Las Cruces, NM. Dr. Lopez received dual Ph.D. degrees in Social Welfare from Boston College and ITESO-Jesuit University of Guadalajara in 2019. During her doctoral studies she was the recipient of the Fellowship in International Social Welfare at Boston College-ITESO. Dr. Lopez practiced social work in Indiana, where she developed educational interventions, conducted outreach, and developed partnerships between local schools, community leaders, and Latino immigrant families to increase access to higher education among immigrant youth.

Dr. Lopez also holds several years of experience conducting research on Latino immigrant families and children using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Her research focuses on the impact of immigration enforcement on the well-being of immigrant families and children and addressing the service need of this population. She has conducted research to better understand the familial, social, and educational realities of Latino immigrant families in North Central Indiana, including those who are undocumented. She has also examined the outcomes of unaccompanied children from Central America in long-term foster care. Some of the outcomes of her work include several refereed conference presentations and publications in peer-reviewed academic articles. Her teaching interests include teaching courses related to cultural diversity, policy, and research

Lopez, A.*, & Shen, C. (2020). Predictors of self-esteem among adolescents in Mexican immigrant families: An examination of well-being through an ecological perspective. Journal of Child and Adolescent Social Work

Lopez, A.*, Viramontez Anguiano, R. P, Galindo, R., Chibucos, T., & Atencio, A. (2018). Mennonite Country: The role of school parent liaisons and school administrators connecting with immigrant Latino families in North Central Indiana. School Community Journal, 28(2), 139-158.

Crea, T. M., Lopez, A.*, Hasson, R., Evans, K., Palleschi, C., & Underwood, D. (2018). Unaccompanied migrant children in long term foster care: Identifying needs and best practices from a child welfare perspective. Children & Youth Services Review, 92, 1-152. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.12.017.

Crea, T. A., Lopez, A., Taylor, T., & Underwood, D. (2017). Unaccompanied migrant children in the United States:  Predictors of placement stability in long-term foster care.  Children and Youth Services Review, 73, 93-99.

Jeffrey McCabe,  Assistant Professor (CV)
Ph.D. in Social Work from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
MSW from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Jeff earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Social Work degree from Temple University, and a PhD from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He came to New Mexico State University with social work practice experience in child welfare and school social work. His research interest focuses on the intersection of the child welfare system and schools. This research was informed by practice in school social work where there were not protections in place for the best interest of students when a child welfare investigator conducted parts of the investigation at school. Research and policy classes in the BSW and MSW programs are primary teaching responsibilities. Jeff is a Faculty Fellow with Residence Life at NMSU to help in the transition of first-year students residing in university housing.

Anna Nelson, College Assistant Professor, Online & BSW Albuquerque Coordinator (CV)
MSW from New Mexico Highlands University.

Ph.D. Candidate Anna Nelson received her MSW in 2003 from New Mexico Highlands University and have taught social work for over a decade, with a focus on macro social work practice. She approaches teaching from emancipatory, culturally sustaining perspectives through creating Learning Collectives in each of her classes. She also recognizes the funds of knowledge, cultural wealth and resilience each of her students possess and honor these in her curricula and teaching practices. Her action research is grounded in Critical Race and Intersectionality Theories, using photovoice, artivism, testimonios, and platicas as data collection strategies. She authored Critical Trauma Theory ( in 2019 to build the body of knowledge on cultural, cumulative and collective trauma and its impact on Black, Indigenous and Students’ of Color sense of mattering and persistence with the aim of transforming curricular, pedagogical and leadership practices within higher education. 

Her clinical expertise is in adolescent behavioral health and community practice. For her work in successfully reducing the rate of teen dating violence in New Mexico, she was the recipient of the 2011 Patty Jennings and Polly Arango Citizen Advocacy Award. In honor of her work to promote  social justice and equity in education, she received the New Mexico Education Equity Alliance (NMEEA) 2013 Annual Fueling Increasingly Relevant Education (F.I.R.E) Award and the YWCA-NM Women on the Move to Eliminate Racism Award in 2015.  

Perez, E., & Nelson, A.N. (2020). Social Work, White Supremacy, and Racial Justice: Reckoning with Our History, Interrogating our Present, Re-Imagining our Future [Paper Session]. Social Work, White Supremacy, and Racial Justice: Reckoning with our History, Interrogating the Present, and Reimagining Our Future. Compendium pending publication.

Nelson, A.N. (2020). Riotous Research: A Critical Trauma Theory to uplift the language of those unheard- Black, Indigenous and Social Work Students of Color [Paper Session]. Social Work, White Supremacy, and Racial Justice: Reckoning with our History, Interrogating the Present, and Reimagining Our Future. Compendium pending publication.

Nelson, A. N., Kew, K. L. & Castro, E. (2020, Apr 17 – 21). Applied Critical Trauma Theory to Enhance Resilience and Success for College Students with Oppression-Based Trauma. AERA Annual Meeting San Francisco, CA.  (Conference Canceled)

Mallonee, J., & Nelson, A. (2020). Pandemic affecting adolescent development: We must help them handle new traumas. Youth Today.

Forster-Cox, S., Nelson, A., Lang, C., & Gandhi, S. (2020). Contributions of Public Health Social Work students to their professions and communities. Health Promotion Practice, 21(1), 12-15. doi: 10.1177/1524839919886284

Forster-Cox, S., Nelson, A., Davis, L., & Manzanares, P. (2018). Promotion of the dual MSW/MPH degree as a sound way to serve and empower vulnerable and underserved communities.  Poster at the New Mexico Public Health Association annual meeting, Albuquerque, NM, April 4-5, 2018.

Madhi, I., Jevertson, J., Schrader, R. Nelson, A., & Ramos, M. (2014). Survey of New Mexico School Professionals Regarding Preparedness to Support Sexual Minority Students. Journal of School Health, 84(1), 18-24. doi: 10.1111/josh.12116.

Ramos M, Green D, Booker J, & Nelson, A. (2011). Immigration Status, Acculturation, and Dating Violence Risk for Hispanic Adolescent Girls in New Mexico. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 15, 1076-1080. doi: 10.1007/s10995-010-0653-0

Maria Ortiz Bustos College Associate Professor, BSW Field Education Coordinator (CV)
MSW from New Mexico State University.
MA in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico State University.

Maria Ortiz Bustos has been the BSW Field Coordinator at the School of Social Work at NMSU since 2008. She was the Recipient of the Donald C. Roush Award for Teaching Excellence in 2016. Academic interests include effective social work field curriculum development and implementation and the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services for Spanish-speaking families. Maria Ortiz Bustos has taught a Spanish Field Seminar for bilingual students since 2010 and is an advocate for bilingual social work licensing to ensure that non-English speaking clients receive appropriate bilingual social work ser

Jason Mallonee, Assistant Professor, Site-Based MSW Program Coordinator (CV)
DSW (a.b.d) in Clinical Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
MSW from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Jason Mallonee, DSW, LCSW is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at New Mexico State University.  Before joining NMSU in 2019, Dr. Mallonee spent 7 years in direct social work practice both as a clinician and organization administrator working with individuals with more serious mental health conditions, survivors of sexual abuse and assault, children and adults in crisis, adolescents and adults with substance use disorders, LGBTQ individuals, and Veterans. 

Dr. Mallonee recently graduated with his DSW from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice where he researched factors that contribute to engagement in mental health treatment for individuals with more serious mental health conditions.  He is a recipient of the Dr. Ram Cnaan Award in recognition of his scholarship while studying at Penn.  His research interests include recovery-oriented practice, treatment engagement, the therapeutic relationship, increasing access to treatment for under-served populations, and improving the quality of services for individuals with more serious mental health conditions.  Recent publications include:

Gergerich, E., Mallonee, J., Gherardi, S., Kale-Cheever, M., & Duga, F. (in press). Strengths and struggles for families involved in hospice care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Care.

Mallonee, J. (2020). The impact of the therapeutic alliance, therapist empathy and perceived coercion on engagement in outpatient therapy for individuals with serious mental health conditions [Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania]. Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) Dissertations 141.

 Mallonee, J., & Nelson, A. (2020). Pandemic affecting adolescent development; We must help them handle new traumas. Youth Today.

Marissa Zamora, Academic Advisor
BAIS from New Mexico State University

Marissa Zamora is the Academic Advisor for the School of Social Work. Prior to this position, she worked in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at New Mexico State University. She has been at NMSU for 9 years. During those years she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Individualized Studies in May 2018.

Monica Montoya, College Assistant Professor (CV)

Monica Montoya is an LCSW, College Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator of the Title IV-E Curriculum and Traineeship Grant in the School of Social Work at New Mexico State University.  She has over 20 years of clinical social work practice providing bilingual services to children, youth and family systems along the border area of Southern New Mexico/West Texas.  Ms. Montoya has served as an adjunct college faculty and as a Senior Program Manager in the School of Social Work for over 15 years, and most recently as a full-time college faculty since 2018.  She remains an active member in both departmental and college level committees within the university setting.  Ms. Montoya is a Ph.D. Candidate in Educational Leadership and Administration.  Her research interests span culturally sustaining and informed social work practices with marginalized populations, and most recently, Latina faculty navigating critical spaces in academia.

Mika Tari, Associate Professor

Mika Tari is a proud alumna of NMSU, with a Masters of Social Work and is current LMSW. She also has a Bachelors of Science in Legal Studies.

Her early career focused on working with marginalized and underserved populations, including older adults and people with disabilities. The work encompassed a variety of services such as adult day care and habilitation, residential services, supported employment and peer support services. With her MSW her interest turned to policy that both supported and prevented these and other populations from thriving.

For the past ten years she has worked as a public servant in the state’s Human Services Department. Initially standing up the first online enrollment process for Medicaid categories for Women and Children, installing freestanding kiosks in rural and frontier areas. Ending her state career with the Behavioral Health Services Division, asa Deputy Director of Clinical and Community Services. Though not published, she has contributed to policy writing and analysis, state strategic planning, grant writing and reporting, Medicaid rule development and contract writing.


Stephen Anderson, Professor Emeritus
Ph.D. in Social Work from University of Texas at Austin
MSW from University of Minnesota with concentration in Group Work
Academic interests include social policy, mental health, corrections, child welfare, and social work leadership and administration.

Alice Chornesky, Professor Emerita
Ph.D. in Social Work from Smith College
MSW from Smith College

Tina Hancock, Professor, Emerita (CV)
DSW from University Alabama with concentration in Clinical Social Work.
MSW from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with concentration in Organization and Program Development.

Felipe Peralta, Professor Emeritus
Ph.D. in International Comparative Social Welfare Policy from the University of Texas at Arlington and Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon in Mexico.
MSW from University of Michigan

Patricia Sandau-Beckler, Professor Emerita
Ph.D. in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University
MSW from University on Minnesota

Alvin Sallee, Professor Emeritus
MSW from Arizona State University

Gerald Vest, Professor Emeritus (Deceased)

Wanda Whittlesey-Jerome, Associate Professor (CV)
Ph.D. from University of Texas at Arlington.
MS in Social Work from University of Texas at Arlington with concentration in Administration and Community Practice Practice.
Academic interests include the human-animal bond, especially horses, school social workers, the profession of social work, and the education and socialization of social work students. She is particularly interested in developing social entrepreneurs for work in New Mexico’s rural, tribal and U.S.-Mexican border regions and creating a holistic, healing community for our military and their families.

Current School of Social Work Promotion & Tenure policy