March was Women’s History Month. Strong women have defined Adelante’s history and we are happy to celebrate their influence. Five of our seven executive leaders are women. We have a woman CEO, a woman board chair, and several directors and managers who are women. Influential women can be found all over our nonprofit. Furthermore, their histories illustrate how disability services and Adelante’s mission has evolved over the years. Women’s history is intertwined with the disability community and our work at Adelante.

Women’s History from Institutions to Leadership: Reina Chavez

Reina poses outside with longtime Adelante employee Al Friedman.
We hunted down some older photos for Women’s History Month. Reina has a long history in disability services and has done nearly every job at Adelante. Here she is, in the early days, with the late Al Friedman.

Reina Chavez’s career mirrors disability care in New Mexico. She began her career as a teenager, working at an institution for people with disabilities. At that time, most people with disabilities lived in state-run institutions. Today, she is Vice President of Community Operations. Of course, people with disabilities now enjoy services of all kinds in their communities.

Reina has risen through the ranks for over 35 years. She started as a developmental disabilities technician at the Los Lunas Training School. Later, she became a manager then a director. Now, as a VP, Reina oversees Adelante’s residential homes, day programs, service coordinators, Bargain Square, independent living, employment services, senior assisted living, and more. Like other effective leaders, her extensive experience puts her in a league of her own. Reina has done nearly every job so she understands how to train staff members to be successful in their jobs. Furthermore, she can help navigate any challenges they may face. Reina is not afraid to pitch in when our clients need direct care.

Throughout the state’s history, people with disabilities in New Mexico were often kept in institutions. Thankfully, several decades ago, the institutions were closed. Today, people with disabilities are now integrated in the community. Individuals are involved in educational and cultural activities. People with disabilities are working in the community. They are living independently and taking part in more of the world. Reina’s career at Adelante has expanded along those same lines.

Day Programs and Beyond: Robin Carter

Robin smiles with several other people after accepting her award.
Robin Carter was the Adelante Employee of the Year in 2004. Her work began in day programs and now includes our residential services for people with disabilities and seniors.

Robin began working at Adelante’s DASH program in 1992. It was one of our original day programs. Robin continued to work in day programs for many years. She has supported some of the most vulnerable people with disabilities in New Mexico with compassion and grace. In fact, in 2009, she was recognized for her work, winning the Goodwill Services Edgar Award for Human Services Employee of the Year.

Robin was our Pathways program manager for over two decades. Robin is known for her knowledge in caring for people with profound disabilities. Many of her clients have severe disabilities who need extra medical care. In 2021, she was promoted to her current position as the director of our day programs, senior assisted living, and community living homes. She is still a very hands-on director. Robin regularly takes our seniors to appointments, and even stops by our client homes to lend a hand.

Her work life also illustrates a big part of Adelante’s history. Our organization is one that is known for accepting and caring for people with very serious disabilities. Adelante actually opened the first day program in Albuquerque for people with profound disabilities. Robin was a part of that from almost the beginning and has led the way for many years.

In recent years, Adelante began to offer senior assisted living in the community. This was work beyond our initial scope of caring for people with disabilities, however it is a growing part of Adelante’s mission. Robin is, again, one of the people influencing that caregiving and this new aspect of our mission. Her history, as a woman leader, is part of Adelante’s history, too.

Women’s History in Adelante Enterprises: Robin Johnson

Robin Johnson is the Senior Director of Adelante Enterprises. It’s a position she has grown into over the years, and, because of her hard work and dedication, the Enterprises division has grown, too. A great example, is when Adelante Document Destruction Services (DDS) was getting started. Robin was new to Adelante and tasked with launching the business. To start, there was just Robin, one truck, and one person with a disability. Together, they drove around town picking up paper and brought it back to the warehouse to be shredded. Today, DDS has thousands of ongoing customers and provides work for 15 people with disabilities. Robin leads the effort on Adelante Mailing Services, Document Imaging, and Document Storage. Each of those businesses provide jobs for people with disabilities.

History shot of Adelante Document Destruction businesses' first birthday. Robin Johnson in center
Robin Johnson (center with cake) celebrates the first year in business for Adelante Document Destruction Services way back in 2004. She has been a huge part of Adelante Enterprises over the history of her career.

Robin’s work has expanded just as Adelante has expanded across New Mexico. As we increased senior services, she has been part of that, as well. Robin helped Adelante take on the Senior Meals and Transportation service in Doña Ana County, near Las Cruces. She still directs that work, helping over a thousand seniors in Doña Ana County to get food through the senior centers or home delivered meals. Robin is a big part of our history and is helping us to build a strong future.

Do you want to become part of Adelante’s History?

These women are just a few of the many amazing people who make Adelante a force for good in New Mexico. We have many strong women leaders who continue to innovate and shape our organization.

Want a career where you can improve lives and move our community forward? Become part of Adelante’s future! Visit our job listings to browse openings and apply today!