Board of Directors
Barak Wolff, MPH
Barak is a mostly retired, long-time public health leader in NM working in Rural Primary Care, EMS and Trauma Systems, and as the Director of the Public Health Division in the NM Department of Health. Barak has served as an analyst for the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee for the last seventeen years when they are in session. For the last nine years, Barak has been deeply involved with end-of-life issues and is on the founding Board of Directors for the newly created non-profit, End of Life Options New Mexico. He is grateful for this opportunity to help improve our care systems and support New Mexicans in their end-of-life decisions, now including medical aid in dying. To contact Barak, email email@example.com.
Jill VonOsten, MBA
Jill has enjoyed working and volunteering for New Mexico non-profit organizations for most of her career, which is what led her to start up an organizational development consulting firm in 2012. She has served as a board member, Executive Director and Associate Director, amassing a nonprofit skill set that includes strategic planning, human resource management, communications, instruction and curriculum development, program management, grantwriting and fund development. In the last decade, life experiences and a desire to improve access and equity in healthcare, brought her to end-of-life work and most recently, a contract with Compassion & Choices to lead the 2021 New Mexico legislative campaign. She has instructed courses in nonprofit management, project management and grantwriting at the University of New Mexico. Jill has a B.A. degree in Sociology from Western Colorado University and an M.B.A. from the University of New Mexico. In her service as a founding EOLONM Board member, she hopes to establish a solid organizational foundation to begin and sustain operations for the long run. To contact Jill, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MaryKay is retired from a thirty-year career in banking but maintains a very busy volunteer life. Active with several hospice organizations as an end-of-life doula and founder of Friends of Rockhound State Park, as well as a trained Master Gardener with NMSU, life is not dull in her world. A quest for learning led her to the New Mexico End of Life Options Coalition and she began a book club to discuss Barbara Coombs Lee’s book Finish Strong: Putting YOUR Priorities First at Life’s End. The book club led to the growth of the Las Cruces Action Team. With the authorization of the New Mexico aid in dying law, she hopes to share her caring and compassionate traits with all New Mexicans. To contact MaryKay, email email@example.com
Debbie Armstrong, JD
Debbie Armstrong served four terms as the State Representative for House District 17 (Bernalillo County) from 2015 – 2022. Among the bills she sponsored in the NM Legislature were the 2017 End-of-Life Options Acts (HB 171), the 2019 (HB 90) and the 2021 (HB 47) Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act. She successfully shepherded the 2021 legislation through the House and on to final approval in the Senate. Debbie serves as President of Delta Management Group, Inc. a small business specializing in association and non-profit management. In that capacity, she serves as Executive Director of the New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool, a legislatively created safety net program providing subsidized health insurance for people with high-risk medical conditions. Debbie has a B.S. in Physical Therapy from the University of Michigan and received her J.D. from the University of New Mexico Law School. On a personal note, Debbie has an adult daughter with childhood-onset metastatic thyroid cancer, an experience that has linked her to families across the state struggling with serious, life-threatening medical concerns. She hopes to bring not only her personal and professional experience with death and dying but also her long history of relationships with the medical community, state government and the legislature to her service with EOLONM.
Erika Gergerich, PhD, LCSW
Erika’s social work practice experience includes six years of medical social work with an emphasis in geriatrics, working with older adults experiencing social challenges, mental health issues, and new diagnoses. Research interests are in the areas of geriatrics, aging policy, and interprofessional education and collaboration. Erika received a Master’s degree in Social Work and a PhD in Public Policy from the University of Arkansas. In her current position as Assistant Professor at New Mexico State University she teaches both undergraduate and graduate students. Teaching interests include Ethics & Aging, Professionalism in the Field of Social Work and Work with Communities and Organizations. During the legislative campaign to pass medical aid in dying, Erika was an advocate extraordinaire – testifying on behalf of the legislation, sharing her personal story in news articles nationally and locally, before committees, on videos. Erika hopes to bring her social work knowledge and experiences as a breast cancer patient and thriver, to help others suffering from terminal illnesses achieve their end-of-life wishes.
Poem Swentzell, LMSW, LMT
Poem is a licensed Massage Therapist and Social Worker. As a hospice Social Worker, Poem provides caring emotional support and information on resources to hospice patients, families, care providers and advocates for patients’ rights. She has both personal and professional experiences that inform her work with death and dying. A Tewa woman, Poem lives and works in the pueblos and communities of northern New Mexico and her experience gives her a rich understanding of working with indigenous people around end-of-life issues. She has served on a number of nonprofit boards in the past and appreciates the important role nonprofits play in addressing community needs. Poem has a BA from the University of New Mexico and a Master of Social Work, with a concentration in Hospice Care and Native American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. In her service to EOLONM, she hopes to bring her hands-on hospice and end-of-life experience, her knowledge of indigenous populations, and her experience in educational outreach and training to our operations to make sure everyone has access to the end-of-life choices they want.