Driving New Mexico Forward

Melissa Toledo-Ontiveros MA, MCJ, MPA is a Special Operations Coordinator for Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico, the largest nonprofit agency in New Mexico. Melissa is developing the Thriving Families program; the program is a trauma-informed whole family approach that leverages resources to meet families’ needs, strengths, and goals. Melissa received a dual BA in Political Science and Sociology from UNM and a Master’s Degree in Family Therapy from U of P. she is a certified Developmental Specialist III, Early Interventionist, and Registered Behavioral Technician. Melissa’s leadership and experience comes from various direct service roles: case manager, school counselor, mental & behavioral therapist, multi-systemic and problem sexual therapist, developmental specialist, and Registered Behavioral Technician. After receiving a dual Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Criminal Justice from NMSU, she worked as a director of adult services for a DD Waiver program. She has also worked as a Health Promotion Program Manager for NM’s SW Region, providing support and assistance to Health Councils in eight counties. As a recent graduated from EMERGE New Mexico, Melissa worked on campaigns for the 2018 midterm elections as a field organizer, treasurer, and a community activist. Melissa is the NMPHA Co-President Elect. Her goal is to facilitate collaboration and partnership with NM’s State and Local Representatives, DOH, various state departments, NMSU, UNM, for-profit, and non-profit agencies; advocate for policy change and/or creation and ultimately help families and communities thrive in New Mexico.


Melissa supports strong partnerships to build a healthier New Mexico.

Income, education, access to healthcare, safety, work conditions and the environment are key to improving the health and well-being of all New Mexicans. Melissa will help to ensure that the state legislature addresses these critical issues. And she will do it collaboratively, supporting strong partnerships to build a healthier New Mexico.


Melissa is a woman who will take time to listen to her community, understand their concerns, and fight for what they need.

As State Senator for District 31, Melissa will use her education, experience, and commitment to advocate for her community and New Mexico’s families at the Roundhouse and every day.

Healthcare Reform

Melissa has experienced the need for affordable health insurance, access to healthcare, and access to specialists firsthand. She knows what it feels like to worry if she will be able to afford surgery or worry if there is a specialist that will understand her needs and not have to travel across the state or to another state for services. 

Melissa understands that everyone–regardless of age, gender or where they come from–should have the right to equal access to healthcare without fear of poverty, bankruptcy, chronic illness, or death.

Melissa will continue to work on equal and affordable access to healthcare for all New Mexicans. She will advocate for access to care in rural New Mexico, and she will look for solutions to recruit and retain highly trained health care clinicians in New Mexico.

Economic Development

Melissa understands that public education is the key to social mobility and economic security.  She believes that investing in our public schools will help ensure our children meet their full potential, regardless of their income, zip code or skin color.

Melissa will continue to work with and support early childhood, public schools, college, technical schools, workforce, and business development to move New Mexico towards a thriving economy.

Melissa will work hard to find ways to keep our educated and skilled workforce in New Mexico by raising wages, creating jobs, and bringing big and small businesses to both rural and urban areas in our state.

Environmental Issues

Melissa is a strong advocate for the fight against climate change and believes that we can work together to give our children a better future. 

As an advocate, Melissa works with environmental and conservation groups, local and state departments, and state and federal lawmakers to address and come up with solutions to climate change and protection of New Mexico’s environment.  

Melissa is a fan of the outdoors and supports the growth of our National Monuments, including the Organ Mountains Desert-Peak and White Sands. She believes that everyone should have the right to enjoy the outdoors and supports programs that protect our beautiful land.

Melissa will continue to advocate and support New Mexico’s transition to renewable energy. 

She also understands that the oil and gas industry in New Mexico is a big part of the economy, She is committed to working collaboratively with diverse stakeholders on economic development and a just transition to a healthier future for our state.


Melissa has extensive work with gangs, violence and poverty; she knows that violence is systemic and must be looked at from the root of the problem.

“Our Nation has been the victim of mass shootings and violence; we must tackle the issues head-on or nothing will change”.

It is important that our state be trauma informed; Melissa will fight to bring evidenced programs to NM that will reduce adverse childhood trauma, bullying, and mental health issues. 

As a Community Organizer and the President of NM’s Public Health Association, Melissa knows that many of New Mexico’s rural areas are in desperate need for reform she will use her knowledge to address inequity and barriers systematically. 

Melissa will invest in safety for all New Mexicans she will advocate for programs that reduce barriers and increase resilient New Mexico’s families.

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