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THE STAFF WHO MAKE EVERYTHING POSSIBLE
“Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.”
- Mary Kay Ash
REV. DR. BRETT MITCHELL
Rev Dr. Brett Mitchell is an ordained Presbyterian Church (USA) pastor, Benedictine oblate, art docent, a teacher, writer, speaker, pilgrimage, LGBTQIA2S+ activist, dragon boat paddler, parent, grandparent, pet lover, and is married to Christian Halstead. Along with being the pastor of La Mesa Presbyterian Church, he is also founder of the religious non-profit School of the Pilgrim (www.schoolofthepilgrim.org), leading church groups on pilgrimages here and abroad. He has authored ten books, the latest three books on pilgrimage. Pastor Brett has started a PCUSA 1001 New Worship Community (Community of Pilgrims); pastor Portsmouth Trinity Lutheran Church; was the LGBTQIA2S+ Advocacy Coordinator in the OR-ID United Methodist Church Conference; has been pastor or interim pastor with eleven churches, and taught at North Carolina Central University and Duke University in Durham, NC for over fourteen years combined. He is currently writing a daily devotion, A Daily Devotion for Ordinary Pilgrims on an Extraordinary Pilgrimage; Dragon Boat Church; and his memoir, Everyday Superman: A Gay Critique on the Decline of American Christianity.
Eliya joined our staff in the fall of 2022. She was born and raised in the heights of Albuquerque and attended Sandia High school. Being extremely goal oriented has landed her in multiple career opportunities raging from the medical field to fast paced insurance sales. She is excited to be apart of the La Mesa family and start her new journey with us!
In her free time she enjoys traveling around the US and spending time at the dog park with her rambunctious pup named Mia. She also enjoys cutting the rug at country concerts and attending church on Sundays with her mother.
Mike Boring has served as Music Director since June 2022. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where he grew up and lived until moving with his husband to Albuquerque in 2016. He is also the pianist for the Bosque School performing arts department and for the New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus. He has accompanied over 50 musical theatre productions and has played piano for numerous weddings, funerals, receptions, and special events. He previously served as Music Director at Eudora (KS) United Methodist Church and Eudora United Church of Christ. In Kansas/Missouri he sang with the Lawrence Civic Choir, the Kansas City Fine Arts Chorale, and the Heartland Men’s Chorus.
Food Pantry Lead
Roxie has been involved in supporting people suffering food insecurity for many years. She and Van led the Project Share efforts for La Mesa for many years and Roxie has been one of the key food buyers for the past year. Roxie’s responsibilities as a licensed clinical laboratory scientist have provided her much experience in the areas of communication, training and evaluating policies and procedures will bring much needed skills to the Food Pantry Lead position.
Yatziri joined our staff on Christmas Eve 2017. She initially started as the Childcare Worker and has done so well, her responsibilities have been expanded to include working with Kids’ Club. Yatziri became involved in Arts Academy when her sisters were participating and shortly after became a volunteer. She has assisted in teaching drama classes and beading classes. She has also taught an Arts Academy class on Ballet Folklorico. Yatziri’s major is nursing, with a specialty in pediatrics. She says that working with the church nursery and elementary age children is a good opportunity for her to work with children who will someday be her patients.
Yatziri is a recipient of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. Her family came to the United States from Morelos, Mexico, when she was almost two years old, and she has grown up in this country. DACA has allowed her to attend school, work, and plan for future opportunities. She states, “DACA means hope for me because I’m able to pursue a career and work in jobs I know I’m good at and love doing. It means that I can have hope to make a difference for my family and community.”
Arts Academy Director
Erica Apodaca was born in Albuquerque and graduated from Rio Grande High School. She loves poetry, philosophy, and is a basketball fan. The San Antonio Spurs have been my favorite team since childhood. She is very close with my family and friends. Her very first apartment was in the La Mesa neighborhood and that is where her attachment to this community started.
Erica's work at APS began about 20 years ago as an educational assistant to students with social and emotional needs. For the past 5 years, she has had the honor of being the Community School Coordinator at La Mesa Elementary school.
Meghan has served as La Mesa's bookkeeper since 2006. For nearly twenty years, she has provided administrative and accounting support to a variety of entities. In addition, she is a Certified Financial Social Work Educator, taking her love of numbers into her financial well-being small business.
She and her husband, Justin, are parents to their two young children, spending time working, playing, traveling, hiking, and dancing through life.
Ken was born in Salina, Kansas and is a third generation Presbyterian. He served in the Air Force, stationed in Japan, for four years as a radar technician, before attending Kansas State University and receiving a Engineering Associates degree in electronics. He worked at Sandia Labs in the weapons development area until 1985. He joined the congregation in 1997 and has been on the staff since 2008.
His work at La Mesa with the community has deepened his concern for the plight of immigrant, Native American, low-income, and special needs persons. He is very interested in seeing progressive government policies and non-governmental social organizations help create practical, if not radical, solutions for people seeking a better life.
The Rev. Howard Paul has been Pastor Emeritus since 2001. He served as pastor at La Mesa from 1979 to 1994. He attended seminary at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia and was ordained in 1954. He served churches in South Carolina; Washington, D.C.; Richmond, Virginia;Bogota, Colombia; and was an administrator and teacher at Menaul School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
He served as moderator of the Presbytery of Santa Fe, he served on the board of Montreat Presbyterian Conference Center, provided leadership for the New Mexico Conference of Churches, and was a founding member of the Cuba Connection, a partnership with the Presbyterian Church in Cuba. During his tenure at La Mesa he helped guide the church through a major expansion of the building to better serve the church and community. His interest include church unity, global and urban mission, social justice, and camps and conferences.
His beloved wife and partner in ministry, Frederica, died in 2014. He has three children and four grandchildren.
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