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Photo: Sonia Bettez

Sonia Bettez

Associate Director


Sonia Bettez, PhD, was born and grew up in Bogota, Colombia, speaks Spanish and English and blends Latino and U.S. cultures. She obtained a PhD in sociology from the University of New Mexico (as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellow), a master's degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and graduated summa cum laude from Merrimack College in Massachusetts in psychology and English. As a postdoctoral scholar Dr. Bettez worked in the Department of Sociology at UNM conducting community engaged research for the Community Engagement Core of the NMCARES Health Disparity Center, School of Medicine, and became a senior fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Policy Center.

Working with and on behalf of Latinos in Massachusetts, North Carolina, and New Mexico, Sonia is experienced in addressing the issues faced by underrepresented populations and is committed to working with communities to bridge academic research, human services work and policy to improve health and social outcomes. Her passion for social justice and the awareness of structural barriers to equality and equity motivates her and fuels her enthusiasm. In her present position as Associate Director of the Evaluation Lab at the University of New Mexico, Sonia mentors students learning and practicing program evaluation. She is presently investigating how to extend the Eval Lab program to serve other areas of the state. The Evaluation Lab assists non-profit agencies in evaluating their programs and enhancing their effectiveness by integrating the concept of program evaluation into their operations.
Photo: Melissa Binder

Melissa Binder, Ph.D.

Director, Institute for Social Research

Melissa Binder, Ph.D., has been a professor in the Department of Economics at the University of New Mexico since 1995 and the Director of ISR since the summer of 2013. Her research and policy interests include labor market and educational equity, and among her publications are analyses of the motherhood wage gap, gender equity in faculty pay, and the socio-economic achievement gap in higher education. As director of ISR, Dr. Binder participates in data and policy analysis for the New Mexico community in the areas of pay equity, family well-being, early childhood programs and K-12 initiatives.

Ranjana Damle

Research Assistant Professor at the UNM Center for Education and Policy Research


Jeff Mitchell

Director, UNM Bureau of Business and Economic Research


Dr. Mitchell served as a mentor for the Las Cumbres Community Services fellows in the 2015-2016 Evaluation Lab cycle. Dr. Mitchell has been with the UNM Buereau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) since 2003 and became BBER’s Director in 2014. As director, he oversees BBER’s research activities and information services, and manages the Bureau’s day-to-day operations and long-range strategic plans. Since 2010, Jeff has contributed to BBER's New Mexico economic forecasting service (FOR-UNM). His responsibilities at FOR-UNM include oversight of data collection, model development, forecast preparation, written publication of results, and presentations of the forecast to professional and lay audiences.

Jeff is engaged in research on a wide range of issues, generally focusing on problems of community and regional economic development in New Mexico. His work typically involves an integration of economic and institutional analyses, with the purpose of developing a framework and strategies for community economic planning.