The role of the Task Force is to…
- Use their knowledge, experience and expertise to provide guidance to the church in identifying actions, projects and specific initiatives that will advance the mission of the ITNI
- Provide support and identify additional existing resources that can be used to advance the mission of the ITNI
- When and where applicable, help the church and the neighborhood implement projects and specific initiatives that have been identified and supported by the church
- Create a proposal for use of available funds for the Steering Committee to take to the Administrative Council for approval.
The role of the Task Force Steering Committee is to…
- Liaison between the church at large and the ITNI Task Force (TF), including bringing the TF proposal to the Administrative Council for approval.
- Communicate, educate and keep the church informed about the ITNI, including specific initiatives, progress, needs and opportunities to actively engage with ITNI efforts
- Guide and direct the larger TF regarding specific projects and initiatives to ensure that they align with and continually advance the mission of the ITNI
- Coordinate with the task force to apply the knowledge, expertise and experience of the TF members to implement projects and initiatives that advance the mission of the ITNI
The role of the members of UUMC at large in relation to the ITNI is to…
- Help identify and then embrace the mission and goals of the ITNI
- Be knowledgeable about the ITNI, and able to share with others what the ITNI strives to do, and why
- Contribute to the vision, direction and support of the ITNI as and where they are able, and feel called by God to do so.
Meet the Taskforce
Shelly is the Associate Provost for Program Development and Accreditation at New Mexico State University. Her background, education and professional experience includes music, education, higher education administration, learning assessment, accreditation and program development. Shelly and her husband Rusty have spent their adult lives in Las Cruces and have been members of University United Methodist Church (UUMC) for over 25 years; they have two adult children. Shelly has served in various roles and on various committees over her 25-year tenure at UUMC. Currently she serves on the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee, and now is delighted to be a member of the In the Neighborhood Initiative (ITNI) Taskforce and Steering Committee. She hopes that her professional experience and her collective service at UUMC will contribute to the efforts of the ITNI, and more importantly that the ITNI have a lasting impact on the lives and experiences of those “in the church” as well as those “in the neighborhood,” such that we soon do not recognize a distinction between the two.
Tammy Sprague has been connected with UUMC since 1993, when she first enrolled her son at Mother’s Day Out. Through MDO relationships, she began a job on the church administrative staff in Dec. 1998 and served until Nov. 2007. She and her husband Guy have 4 adult children and 3 grandchildren, two of which attend Bright Beginnings Learning Center. Tammy and Guy own a fundraising dealership which has them working with schools, children’s programs and non-profits. She brings experience from a church staff perspective, a business owner perspective, and a lay person perspective to committees on which she has served. She has a fledgling knowledge of gardening and grant writing, an abundant love for children and a heart for service – which hopefully will be of help to the ITNI Taskforce.
Cathy Thomas and her husband, Jack, moved to Las Cruces in 1980 and became members of University United Methodist Church in 1984. Cathy and Jack have two adult children and two grandchildren. Cathy retired from NMSU after serving almost 40 years as an administrative assistant in several departments and for the last 35 of those years was the administrative assistant to 10 different deans in the College of Arts and Sciences. Over the years, Cathy has taught Sunday School to children from ages 3 up through 15, has worked many Vacation Bible Schools,
served on several committees, served as Usher Coordinator for 5 years, and is currently a member of the Alter Guild, Prayer Shawl Stitchers, and God’s Pantry. She hopes that she will be able to use her experience in administration to assist in getting the In The Neighborhood Initiative off the ground and moving forward.
Diane Gottlieb join the UUMC family in 1982. I worked with Vacation Bible School, Youth Director, and for 5 years took a group of youth to work with Sierra Service Program doing roofs and ramps on the Indian reservation. I taught for the Las Cruces Public School for 30 years in elementary and mid school aged children. Retired 2010 to take care of my mother due to a fall. In 2013 started the preschool program at Bright Beginning Learning Center and then stepped into the Assistant Director position. I have two adult daughters that were raised in UUMC and married at the church. I have six grandchildren. I am still very active with BBLC doing chapel time and chairman of the school board. I love children and serving people.
Kate grew up right here in the Mesilla Valley and has attended University UMC with her family since she was an infant. She and her veteran husband, Jeremy, met while he was stationed at nearby Fort Bliss in El Paso, TX. They have 2 children, one girl and one boy. Kate has worked at University UMC for about the past 10 years after graduating from the University of New Mexico with a bachelors in English with a concentration in pre-law. She spent her first 2 years working at the church’s Bright Beginnings Learning Center as a preschool teacher/aide before moving down the hall to church office as Office Manager and now Church Administrator.
Dr. Héctor Luis Díaz was appointed Director of the New Mexico State University, School of Social Work effective June 1, 2020. Additionally, he now serves as Acting Department Head for NMSU’ Department of Public Health Sciences. Dr. Díaz has been a social worker or social work educator for 41 years. He worked as a social work practitioner for 15 years mostly in the areas of mental and substance abuse. He is originally from Puerto Rico but has lived and worked in the states of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, California, Texas, Massachusetts and New Mexico. He has traveled to the countries of Peru, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, Spain, Dominican Republic, and Guinee-Conakry and Kenya in Africa.
Dr. Díaz lives with his wife in Las Cruces and regularly attends a local Spanish-speaking church. He loves to travel and to immerse himself into different cultures. He has a special interest in promoting the social and economic conditions of communities in need of this type of progress. He strongly believes that the best religion is the one we communicate through acts of love
Tiffany Gonzales is the Director for Methodist Children’s Home Family Outreach in Las Cruces NM. Her professional experience includes several years of work with children, youth, and families providing support services through a trauma informed care lens. MCH Family Outreach is a dedicated community partner to UUMC and is proud to walk alongside the ministry in modeling and mentoring, empowering and strengthening, the lives of the community we serve. MCH is invested in working with ITNI in connecting community members to additional resources as well as providing evidenced based parenting curriculum to those interested. We are committed to helping our community and the members be healthy, self-sufficient, and successful at home, school, and within the neighborhood.
Osiris Beanes is a Case Manager for Methodist Children’s Home Family Outreach in Las Cruces, NM. Her professional experience includes several years of work with Rescare providing support services for college students, migrant farm workers, and adults seeking on the job training. Osiris also has experience working in the mental health field, to include homeless, recently incarcerated individuals, and youth. Working within her community has enabled her to familiarize herself with community resources, organizations, and agencies that are available to assist individuals and families in their time of need. Osiris is excited to be a part of ITNI Taskforce and is hopeful her experience will be a great asset to the initiative.
I am George Miller, pastor of El Calvario United Methodist Church and Immigrant Advocacy Center. Besides a Master of Divinity, I have an M.B.A. from Syracuse. Some of my most enjoyable experiences were in humanitarian assistance, nation building and as as serving a Chief, Financial Officer in a Federal agency. I served as Global Ministries Missionary in Germany. I love working with economic development, helping people that might have fallen through the cracks or don’t get noticed, get back to the center. I live in the neighborhood.
Kelly Mahres is the principal at University Hills Elementary School and has worked for the Las Cruces Public Schools for 25 years. Kelly is a proud graduate of New Mexico State University and began her career as a music teacher before moving into the elementary classroom. She is passionate about children and providing them the opportunities and resources to reach their fullest potential. Kelly has a long history with UUMC and attended with her grandparents for many years. She is honored to be a part of the ITNI taskforce and is grateful for the partnership with UUMC. Kelly is married and has two children, a middle school daughter and a high school son.
John Hufstedler is the Assistant Principal at University Hills Elementary School in Las Cruces, NM. He is in his 17th year of service to Las Cruces Public School students with experience as an instructional specialist, English and New Mexico history teacher, and with Special Olympics Unified Schools. John has a passion for New Mexico history and as such has hosted a New Mexico Pioneers Day over the last 12 years bringing local celebrities, businesses, and historical experts into public schools to share their knowledge and experience with students. John is enthusiastic about being a part of the ITNI Taskforce and looking forward to the outreach possibilities provided to the community.