The UNM Native American Budget and Policy Institute empowers Native American communities to improve their health, education and economic well-being.

UNM NABPI Hires New Executive Director

woman sitting in traditional pueblo dress

UNM Native American Budget & Policy Institute names Carmela Roybal, Ph.D., UNM alumna, as its newest executive director.
New director brings Tribal perspective and extensive research experience to role.

Carmela Roybal, Ph.D., MBGPH, MA, has been hired as the new Executive Director of the UNM Native American Budget and Policy Institute. In her new role, Dr. Roybal will direct and oversee research, budget and policy analysis, policy advocacy, and will continue to promote the Institute as a resource for New Mexico’s 23 Pueblos, Tribes and Nations.
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What we do

The UNM NABPI will conduct research, budget and policy analysis, social justice advocacy, litigation and community lawyering to encourage Native American communities to create self-determined and systematic change.

UNM NABPI seeks to forge a collaborative pathway to racial equity in New Mexico and across the nation. By working in cooperation with Native American scholars at UNM, graduates of the Pueblo Indian Doctoral Program, and tribal elders, the Institute will coordinate research activity across the state to improve public policy decisions at all levels of government through a Native American lens. The Institute will work in cooperation with the Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School and utilize the resources available at UNM as well as the expertise of the UNM Center for Social Policy and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. It will also engage and mentor young Native American researchers and students in a variety of projects.

“As indigenous peoples, we have survived systemic oppressive governmental policies that sought to terminate our languages, our culture, and our way of life. Today it’s important that laws and policies are informed with a tribal perspective in a new collaborative way,” said Alvin Warren, former Kellogg Foundation Program Officer for New Mexico programs. “We have learned from past assimilation policies, and we can now move forward to effect change for future generations.”

The Institute will soon develop the initial leadership structure and strategic plan with direction from its Governance Council, which includes representatives from the Pueblos and Tribes of New Mexico ,with extensive experience in leadership, law, medicine, behavioral health, education and cultural literacy.

“We are in a new era of developing laws and policies based on our tribal core values, which have withstood the test of time. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, and it is their values that will enable us to heal and move forward,” said Regis Pecos, Leadership Institute Co-Director at the Santa Fe Indian School and Native American Budget and Policy Institute Co-Founder (Cochiti). “The Institute will provide a venue for collaboration, healing, and unity. Together, we can move forward in the spirit of respect and understanding, so we can truly make a difference here in New Mexico.”

Our Activities

One of the new organization’s first activities was a series of meetings, “Keeping the Child at the Heart of the Circle,” that focused on incorporating culture, tradition and healing into judicial systems. One meeting discussed offering a resiliency court and a peace circle model as options to improve current legal processes. Another panel of experts will share their knowledge on tribal, state and federal relations. 


The Institute is a project of the University of New Mexico Center for Social Policy, and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. It is funded, in part, by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation which has supported the work of the Institute through a grant to the Regents of UNM of $1.5 million for a period of five years. The Institute is an outgrowth of the work and ideas of the Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School.

Gabriel R. Sanchez, Ph.D., UNM Center for Social Policy, serves as the Principal Investigator of the grant.

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