Our Staff

Ellen Leitzer, Executive Director

Ellen Leitzer co-founded and, for 22 years, served as managing director of the Senior Citizens Law Office, Inc. In 2005 Ellen moved to Washington, D.C. where she directed a Medicare project for Families USA, a national consumer health advocacy organization. Subsequently Ellen worked in Nepal, Cambodia and Burundi before returning to New Mexico where she opened a private practice that focused on elder law. On June 1, 2013 Ellen returned to SCLO as Executive Director. As a long-time advocate for New Mexico’s aging population, Ellen authored many state laws that benefit seniors.

Elena Spielman, Attorney

Elena received her B.A and J.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin (Madison WI). After moving to New Mexico in 1976 she worked for the Legal Aid Society of Albuquerque and then Northern New Mexico Legal Services (now New Mexico Legal Services). Subsequently Elena practiced family law in the private sector for many years. Elena joined SCLO’s staff as a part-time attorney in 2014.

Phillip Medrano, Estate Planning Attorney

Phillip Medrano is a graduate of The American University Washington College of Law (1978) and began practicing law in 1978.  He was a prosecutor until 1985. He then had his own law practice for eleven years; a substantial part of his practice involved estate planning matters. His next position was as an assistant federal public defender until 2014. He started working for SCLO in May, 2014, and is one of two estate planning lawyers at SCLO.

Michael C. Parks, Attorney

Michael Parks is a staff attorney who has worked with seniors and persons with disabilities for many years, primarily specializing in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  His past work has included being a staff attorney with the National Health Law Program in Los Angeles, where he co-founded a Medicare Advocacy Project, and Disability Rights New Mexico.  Michael has extensive experience with educational presentations for community groups and professionals, and has received advocacy awards from the New Mexico State Conference on Aging, and the National Aging and Law Conference.

David Lee, Estate Planning Attorney

David Lee is a graduate of Notre Dame and Chicago Kent-I.I.T. School of Law. He has been a member of the NM State Bar since 1972. He began practice with Legal Aid and was the South Broadway Managing Attorney, before moving to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, where he became a felony prosecutor and supervisor. After that, before coming to SCLO, David was in private practice in downtown Albuquerque for more than 35 years concentrating on injury cases, wills and probates and civil law.

Michael McGuire, Staff Attorney

Michael McGuire received a B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) in 2007 and graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2012. Prior to joining SCLO in 2016, he worked with legal services programs in Louisiana and Ohio representing low-income taxpayers and military veterans. Michael legal practice has focused on a variety of legal issues including: identity theft; evictions; veterans’ benefits; family law; tax disputes; and estate planning.

Cristóbal Muñoz, Staff Attorney

Cristóbal Muñoz received his J.D. from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and M.A. from the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. Before 2017, Cristobal litigated cases in federal labor law after some previous work and intern experience in foreclosure defense. At SCLO, Cristobal focuses primarily on issues involving Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and state benefits, such as SNAP and LIHEAP, with some tangential work resolving landlord/tenant problems and debt collection.

Paul Spear, Foreclosure Project Attorney

Paul grew up on a farm south of Fargo, North Dakota, studied Agricultural Economics at North Dakota State University and worked several years as a farm loan officer with USDA and private banks in northwestern Minnesota. Graduating from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 2005, Paul moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has represented creditors and insurance companies with insurance subrogation, foreclosure, asset and debt recovery, and tort defense. Paul represents SCLO clients with active foreclosure cases before the courts.

Kathy Heyman, Administrative Director

Kathy Heyman joined SCLO in 1990 after working for private attorneys in the area of consumer law for five years.   In her current role as SCLO’s Administrative Director, Kathy relies on her education in business administration and work experience in human relations and in the paralegal field to supervise support staff and assist attorneys in their advocacy work on behalf of seniors.

David J. Monson, Fiscal Officer

David has been the Fiscal Officer for the Senior Citizens’ Law Office since 1996.  David has 29 years experience serving as the Finance Director/Fiscal Officer for several non profit organizations including Open Hands, Inc., Santa Fe, NM; Desert State Life Management Services, Albuquerque, NM; and Health Action New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.  In addition to serving as the treasurer of Health Action New Mexico, David also served as the Treasurer of NewChild Productions, a performing arts academy in the African American community for kids aged 6 through 84.  He serves as treasurer of ACTNM, a GLBTG affiliate of the New Mexico Community Foundation, building a fund to provide grants for projects concerning the health and welfare of families in the Gay & Lesbian Community.  In addition to health care advocacy, David is on the New Mexico Governor’s AIDS Commission.

Jan Thomson, Paralegal

Jan is a recent graduate of the Post Degree Paralegal Program at Central New Mexico Community College. Jan received her  Bachelors degree from UNM in 1975 and worked for many years in a medical laboratory field. Jan joined SCLO’s Foreclosure Defense Team this year and looks forward to helping Senior Citizens keep their homes.

 Brwyn Downing, Paralegal

Brwyn Downing joined SCLO as a paralegal in 2014. She has her BA in English, MFA in Writing and Poetics, and her ABA Approved Paralegal Certificate. Before SCLO, Brwyn worked for attorneys specializing in the fields of family law, criminal defense and civil litigation. Brwyn is honored to be a part of the strong team that makes up SCLO’s legal services. Brwyn first started working with Seniors during her graduate work, when she would teach poetry classes at retirement communities.

 

Lupe Watson, Administrative Secretary

Lupe Watson joined the staff of SCLO in 2004.  Ms. Watson’s many skills include:  Bilingual in Spanish, strong organizational skills that are instrumental to SCLO’s many outreach programs, and a strong proficiency with SCLO’s case management computer program.  Ms. Watson was born and raised in New Mexico and brings a local flair to SCLO.

Carolina Favela, Receptionist

Carolina was raised in Bernalillo, New Mexico, and still resides there.  She is a UNM student studying Spanish and History.  She enjoys volunteering in numerous events and helping her community with charity.  Some of her best memories were going to the senior citizen center that is located next to the parish church in Bernalillo and reading the newspaper to seniors.  When she is not working or studying, Carolina enjoys reading, writing, cooking and taking hikes. She has an interest in quotes and sayings of all types. She shares her favorite quote on aging:  “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”

 

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