Monday, January 9, 2023 from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM MST
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Policy matters
! We can change our life satisfaction and overall health and well being. 

Advocacy is part of your professional reponsibility and demonstrates competence, Social Work values, and ethics.


We know at risk populations are oppressed and marginalized through economic, ethinic, ablility, sex and gender or age disrcrimination. Policy can prevent, mitigate, and/or protect populations from what creates disparaties and funding is necessary for communities with disproportionate resources. 




Karen is the lobbyist for NASW – NM. In addition, Karen also serves on the steering committee of the Grant County Community Health Council (GCCHC) and co-leads the Economic Development and Stop Poverty Coalition of the GCCHC. She is also a member of Silver City Rotary and is on the board for the Grant County Community Partnership for Children.

Social Work is Karen’s second career. She was in the Environmental Field for 16 years, including working for Government, Industry and Consulting. Karen’s BS is in Political Science from American University, Washington, DC. Karen Whitlock got her MSW at WNMU and is an adjunct professor at Western.


Dr.Ortega is from Santa Fe, N.M. and loves working with young adults & being in nature. Red or green? My response, “X Mas.”

She  currently teaches graduate courses; Understanding Difference, Social Policy: History, Structure and Analysis, and Advanced Policy for New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU), School of Social Work.  

She earned her Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico (2005). Dissertation: A case study of women activists working toward environmental and social justice in New Mexico. One interview resulted in a book chapter, A Dolores Huerta Reader (2008, University of New Mexico Press).  

Dr. Ortega worked on behalf of social justice organizations in non-profit and education settings for more than two decades. She served as a policy analyst in the Higher Education Department and directed a college access program for low-income, first generation, youth in Bernalillo and Socorro Counties. An outcome from working with community based organizations is the need for organizational development. As a result, she started her own business and used fundraising skills to assist groups carry out the necessary work in their respective communities.


Cliff is a native of Baltimore, Maryland.  He has a B.A. with Honors in    History from George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and a J.D. from the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law in Concord, New Hampshire. Cliff lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife, a teacher. His younger daughter is a student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and his older daughter is a Coordinator for International Relations with the Prefecture of Toyama, Japan.

He is a former New Mexico state government attorney with twenty-three years of service at the New Mexico Department of Health, specializing in public health, behavioral health, drug policy reform, emergency preparedness, public procurement and the legislative process. He retired from the executive branch of New Mexico state government in 2005 as the General Counsel of the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration.

In April, 2013, Cliff was named the Public Lawyer of the Year by the Public Law Section of the New Mexico State Bar.

In his active retirement, Cliff taught graduate courses at the University of New Mexico in Public Health Law and Policy, Legal Issues of Homeland Security and Disaster Management and Effective Representation of Public Clients. He served as the Practice Director for the Western Region of the Network for Public Health Law from 2010-2017, as Santa Fe District Office Staff for U.S. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan in 2017, as a Legislative Analyst for the New Mexico State Senate from 2006 – 2018, as Director of Policy and Legislative Liaison for New Mexico Lt. Governor Howie C. Morales from 2019-2020, as a drafter of Fiscal Impact Reports for the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee on legislation introduced during the 2022 New Mexico Legislative Session, and as a legal consultant to various New Mexico State Agencies  concerning ethics and public procurement issues.