The administrative staff of Nonviolence Works is a dedicated, skilled, and hard-working group of Taoseños. They’re the ones who actually run the agency and, like our clinicians, they are committed to making a difference.
Simon Torrez, Chief Executive Officer
Simon Torrez joined Nonviolence Works as the business manager, and he took over the CEO role in September 2013. He is a homegrown Taoseño with rock-solid discipline from his military service. . . smarts from his years as a business manager. . . and the heart of a dedicated family man. He is delighted to be helping build nonviolence skills in Taos.
Deborah Chavez, Mentorship and Truancy Coordinator for AVEIS and RCSLA
Deborah Chavez works as the mentorship and truancy coordinator in Alta Vista Elementary & Intermediate School (AVEIS) and Rio Costilla Southwest Learning Academy (RCSLA). Under Deborah’s leadership, the numbers in the Mentorship Program have expanded with 44 mentors — of whom 12 are juniors and 20 are seniors in high school. Deborah has an associate degree in general studies nd a certificate in human services from the University of New Mexico–Taos. She is completing a bachelor’s degree in special education. Deborah is a native of Questa and has lived in Cerro for the past 15 years. She is married, with two children, Tomas, 17, and Josiah, 11. Most of her family is still in Questa, and spending time with them is a great love. She enjoys being outside in nature, and she and her family camp and fish in the area. She also has a passion for learning, especially in the subject of mathematics.
Ryan Daly, Activity Leader, Familia y Mundo
Ryan Daly is a lifelong participant in the martial arts, beginning with tae kwon do classes as a four-year-old in Clovis, New Mexico. With his father in the military, the family moved often, and wherever they lived Ryan would take whatever martial arts classes were available—tai chi, judo, karate, jujitsu, tae kwon do, wrestling, yoga and meditation, and more. From these experiences, he creates activities for the students in NVW’s Familia y Mundo program. His objective is to teach his students to respect their bodies, to use their bodies in positive ways, and to learn to work in teams. Daly also teaches the youth how to deal with physical threats, including “no holds” defense techniques. Some of his work is based on the anti-bullying curriculum that Daly and fellow NVW staff member Zach Garcia have used in the Gang Resistance is Powerful (GRIP) program presented in the Taos schools. Ryan and his brother David Symington are the owners of Defend U Academy in Taos, which offers classes to all ages.
Zach Garcia, Leader, Gang Resistance is Powerful (GRIP)
Zach Garcia grew up in Taos. Following high school, he had a stint at modeling, then moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he studied photography at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He also worked as a photographer in casinos. Following six years working in a gold mine, Garcia returned to Taos to pursue his interest in law enforcement. He had an 18-year career as a law enforcement officer, working in a variety of environments. While he loved solving crimes, over the years he became highly stressed at work and at home and found himself becoming more negative about people in general. In March 2015, he determined to change and begin to search for a different profession. In the fall of 2015 he joined Nonviolence Works to lead the Gang Resistance is Powerful (GRIP) program and proceeded to enhance the curriculum and reach of the program. He added a strong section on anti-bullying and recruited more classrooms to participate in the program. He thoroughly enjoys working to prevent violence among youth and wishes he had made this change earlier. Zach is heavily into parenting, with three children, Zach, aged 21, Alexis aged 20, and four-month-old Kyren who was born in November 2016. Zach and his family like to ride his motorcycle, and he is the owner of Sweet Leaf Premium Cigars in Taos.
Rosalie (Rose) O’Rourke, Program Director, Familia y Mundo
Rose O’Rourke grew up in Oregon. After her graduation from high school, the family moved to Taos. She completed a degree in psychology and anthropology at UNM. She worked with developmentally disabled students for a period of time before being employed by Nonviolence Works in 2014. Rose is very close to her brother, Daniel, who is developmentally disabled. Her experiences with him make her an especially empathetic and skilled educator. Rose loves to travel and has done so extensively through the United States and abroad. She loves nature and is especially committed to healthy life practices, such as good nutrition and physical activity.
James Mondragon, GRIP Assistant and Familia y Mundo Support Staff
James Mondragon joined NVW in 2017 as the coordinator for GRIP (Gang Resistance is Powerful) and support staff in Familia y Mundo—our therapeutic after-school program. These roles seem expressly designed for him, since much of his life experience mirrors that of the at-risk boys of Taos. He is the oldest of five boys in a family that experienced parental drug addiction, violence and abuse. His parents become clean when he was a teenager, but his mother left, and his father moved the boys to Taos. James sank into the world of drugs and gangs and, in his words, “any street adventure” he could find. It was in Taos where he met his future wife Amy at a basketball game, whom he credits, along with his father, for turning his life around. Over the next years, he held a series of jobs – in construction, as a cook, a dishwasher, and volunteer fire fighter. He also owned several businesses, including a moving company and a cigar business. Of those experiences, his most rewarding was as a fire fighter because, he says, “I was able to give back to the community.” That sense of giving back brought him to NVW where he sees his own experience reflected in the behaviors of the Taos youth. James and Amy have three boys and two girls, and he wants to give them very different life model than he had growing up. At NVW, he is doing just that.