Meet The Commissioners
Mark Apodaca, Chair
~Deaf or Hard of Hearing Professional
Mark Apodaca has been a member of the commission board since 2007. He has long been involved with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, having served on various local, state, and national nonprofit organization boards. Since moving to New Mexico in 2006, Mark has been working for the New Mexico School for the Deaf as its Director of Business and Finance.
~Superintendent of the New Mexico School for the Deaf
Ronald Stern, Ed.D., grew up in New York City attending a variety of schools, then earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Gallaudet University. He went on to earn a master's degree in deaf education from California State University, Northridge. Prior to his current position as superintendent of the New Mexico School for the Deaf, Ronald taught science and English to middle and high school students at the California School for the Deaf in Riverside, Berkeley and Fremont. He also served as the middle school principal and, after a one-year stint as Gallaudet's athletic director, as the director of instruction at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont. Over the years, Ron has served in numerous voluntary capacities in the Deaf community and community at large. He and his wife Hedy are the proud parents of three Deaf adults.
~President of the New Mexico Association of the Deaf
James R. DeBee is the founder of DeBee Communications, Inc., a company that produces documentaries, talk shows, commercials, various programs and educational videotapes. In addition, DeBee Communications provides captioning and educational technology services. He holds a bachelorâ€™s degree in radio, television and film from California State University, Northridge, and a degree in media communications from Rochester Institute of Technology. He also has masterâ€™s degree in educational technology management and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. An Emmy-award winning executive producer with over 30 years of video/film experience, James has worked in many different capacities: producing, directing, writing, editing, photography, media, educational technology and business consultation. In addition, he has served in the Deaf Community for many years in various roles. He is currently President of the New Mexico Association of the Deaf. He served as Advisory Member of the Advisory Council of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for Pennsylvania Governor. He was a Board Member, Vice President, and President of the Pennsylvania Society of the Advancement for the Deaf. He also served as Chair of Communication, Access & Technology for Pennsylvania Society of the Advancement for the Deaf. He was President of the Western PA School for the Deaf Alumni Association.
~Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Division Representative
Debbie Hambel graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a bachelors and masters degree in vocational rehabilitation. Prior to moving from Colorado to New Mexico she worked as a group home residential counselor serving Deaf Developmentally Disabled Adults, before moving to employment as a vocational rehabilitation counselor at the Co. Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Upon moving to New Mexico in 1993, Debbie was employed as a vocational counselor at a local provider agency in Albuquerque and worked for several years as a case manager for UNM Mental Health Center. In 2001, Debbie was hired as a vocational rehabilitation counselor at the NM Division of Vocational Rehabilitation where she currently serves as the Supported Employment - Deaf and Hard of Hearing Coordinator.
Austin R. Welborn
~Deaf or Hard of Hearing Representative from Northern New Mexico
Austin R. Welborn is a Mechanical Engineer for HT Micro and received his Bachelors and Masters from the University of Utah and moved to New Mexico around 2 1/2 years ago. Ever since moving to New Mexico, he has been very active in the Deaf community. He is currently running as the "President" of Albuquerque DNO/DHH (Deaf Night Out/ Deaf Happy Hour). This is mainly focused on the social gathering of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Hearing people. They tend to meet once every month at random restaurants and have a fantastic time socializing and meeting new faces and helping more people learn more about the Deaf culture and the wonderful world of ASL. In addition to this, he is the current President of Duke City Association of the Deaf, which is New Mexico Association of the Deaf Albuquerque Chapter. His goals are to help the Deaf community here in New Mexico grow more and form more alliances and convince the whole United States of America that New Mexico is indeed an amazing place for Deaf/Hard of Hearing and even Hearing people to come by and visit or move to! Even though Austin is in his mid twenty's, he still feel like a child at heart. He absolutely loves playing video games, watching movies and TV series. He also enjoys reading a lot, especially in the fantasy/sci-fi worlds. He loves spending time with his girlfriend experiencing the fantastic culture of New Mexico. He also loves welding and fabricating works of art. He is a proud parent of a 4 year old Deaf daughter.
~Deaf of Hard of Hearing Representative from Southern New Mexico
John Johnson is currently employed with Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico (CAASNM). His experience has been primarily in the Health Care Community and is currently the director for the Healthy Community Program, Covering Kids Program and the IT department at CAASNM. As a disabled veteran John has experienced a profound hearing loss beginning in 1972. â€œAt times it can be quite frustrating in the business world when you have a profound hearing lossâ€ John said, â€œI look forward to representing the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community of Southern New Mexico.â€
~Parent of a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child
Luis Quinonez is a proud parent of a deaf child who currently attends the New Mexico School for the Deaf. He served six years as a detention officer in his previous home town of Las Cruces, NM. He currently resides in Santa Fe,NM, where he can better meet his daughters communication and education needs, also where he can advocate more effectively on behalf of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.
To apply for a Commissioner vacancy, please visit: http://www.governor.state.nm.us/ApplyForBoards.aspx