Paul Gibson, Board President. Paul began his activism in 1968, volunteering for the Bobby Kennedy campaign. He was at the Ambassador Hotel when the Senator was assassinated. He was active in the anti-war movement at UC Santa Barbara in the early 1970s. Then, operating his own consulting business and being a single father of two boys led to a significant reduction in activism beyond reading The Nation and participating in periodic marches supporting environmental, social justice, and anti-war demonstrations, and signing petitions.
Paul and his wife Roxanne formed Santa Fe for Bernie in 2015 and coordinated that local campaign, developing a large contingent of volunteers. After the 2016 convention Roxanne and Paul followed Bernie’s advice and went local, forming Retake the Roundhouse and working with advocacy groups throughout the state to organize canvassing, phone banking, voter registration, and Get-Out-The-Vote efforts. In October 2016, Paul and Roxanne formed Retake Our Democracy, a tax-exempt 501-c-4 education, community organizing, and advocacy organization. Paul is a current member of the State Central Committee of the Democratic Party of New Mexico.
Roxanne Barber, Board Treasurer. Roxanne’s activist life began in 1967 when she was the first kid at her junior high school who protested the Vietnam war by refusing to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance every morning. Later, as a single mother, she experienced years of financial struggle and disenfranchisement, working two jobs to survive, and reinforcing her understanding of social, economic, and gender justice.
Roxanne holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in English (creative writing) from SF State University. She worked as a newspaper reporter and editor in the early 1990s, and then served for 16 years as Communications Director for the National Writing Project.
After moving to Santa Fe in 2012, she became a volunteer for the Master Gardeners and taught composting to community members. With her husband Paul Gibson, she then co-directed the Santa Fe for Bernie campaign in 2015-2016 and Retake the Roundhouse in 2016, before co-founding Retake Our Democracy in October 2016. Roxanne is a current member of the State Central Committee of the Democratic Party of New Mexico.
Saraswati Khalsa, Board Secretary. Saraswati holds an MSW degree and lives in Espanola, NM with her partner and three children. She worked for 15 years in education administration and recently pivoted her career to align with her passion for climate activism, becoming Operations Manager for New Energy Economy in Santa Fe. Saraswati has been a core volunteer for Retake Our Democracy for more than three years, and she contributes her skills as Board Secretary, web designer and manager, legislative activist, and technical support in service to the mission of Retake our Democracy.
Miguel Acosta is Co-Director of Earth Care, a multi-generational community leadership organization in Santa Fe, where his current focus is propelling Santa Fe Mutual Aid––a collective of organizations that have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Miguel brings more than 45 years of experience in advocating for educational opportunities and sustainable community development for underserved populations. He has been the Director of El Colegio Sin Fronteras, a Principal Associate at the Center for Relational Learning, a Community Health Promoter with NM DOH, a program developer at UNM, and has served on the Board of Education of Albuquerque Public Schools. Miguel’s family originated from Jalisco, Mexico and migrated to Chicago in 1919. He studied urban planning and community development at the University of Illinois in Chicago and at the University of New Mexico.
Damian Artalejo. After sustaining a work-related back injury in Arizona, Damian Artalejo had to relocate to Farmington, New Mexico. While combating with his employer and their worker’s compensation insurance company in a “Right-to-Work” and “No Fault” state, he learned firsthand what it is to have large corporations working against its employees in-order to protect its profits.
Since Damian’s move to New Mexico, he has made great strides to show it is now his home. He began going back to school at his local community college to pursue a degree in political science and began getting involved in the Democratic Party and political activism.
Damian currently serves as the Congressional District (CD) Vice Chair for CD-3 with the Democratic Party of New Mexico. Damian’s primary focuses have been reforming the Democratic Party of New Mexico, elected official accountability, and inclusivity within politics.
Javier Benavidez is a proud Native New Mexican son of a public-school teacher from Albuquerque’s South Valley and a civil rights attorney from the Acequia Madre community in Santa Fe. In early 2019, Javier began organizing with Albuquerque Interfaith, an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, and a coalition of social justice-oriented institutions in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Prior to that, Javier managed several inclusive democracy campaigns and served for three years as Executive Director of the Southwest Organizing Project. Javier has worked with various elected officials, including as then-Congressman (now U.S. Senator) Martin Heinrich’s Speechwriter and Communications Liaison. Javier has two master’s degrees from the University of New Mexico (urban planning and public administration) and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Santa Clara University, a Jesuit university in California. He has four children: Mario (13), EJ (7), Felix (5), and Eva (3).
Cristy Holden is a Colorado native living in New Mexico since 2013. In January 2017, she co-founded Taos United, a 500-member nonpartisan progressive political action and citizen education organization effective in legislation, local issues, and voter turnout in Northern New Mexico.
Cristy has more than 40 years as a political activist. Her first campaigns were for the Equal Rights Amendment and Senator McGovern’s campaign for the Presidency. Later, as a nonprofit executive, she became an advocate for education, environment, kids and women’s rights. As President of the bipartisan Minnesota Women’s Political Caucus, and as a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota during the Christian Conservative takeover of the Republican Party, she had a front row seat for the radical changes in our two-party system during the 1980s and mid ‘90s.
Cristy holds an M.B.A. degree from University of Portland (OR) and has completed doctoral studies in Business/Sociology . She has raised more than $24 million to support education, environment, and women’s rights. She has worked with Somali women, Hmong peoples and Native American women at Rosebud and Wounded Knee Reservations to assist with their access to the political process and social justice solutions. Cristy lived for 12 years in the state of Nayarit, Mexico and developed a MicroFinance Program for poor indigenous families in the Sierra Madre Mountains.
Holden is an elected member of the State Central Committee of the New Mexico Democratic Party and a volunteer for the Taos County Democratic Party. She is a life-long progressive with socialist leanings. Retired now, her favorite hobby is income re-distribution via receiving donations for great causes.