Micaela Lara Cadena

I currently serve as the Research Director at Young Women United, a New Mexico based non-profit, leading statewide policy initiatives and culture shift strategies. In this position, I facilitate opportunities to learn from the expertise and lived experiences of women and families in New Mexico, and center those most impacted by an issue for consideration in decision-making spaces.

Previously,  I worked at the New Mexico Corrections Department as the Bureau Chief of Recidivism Reduction. With the intention of better identifying and serving the risks and needs of women and people in NMCD custody, I built feasible strategies for making the New Mexico prison system gender-responsive, trauma-informed and evidenced-based. During my tenure at the Corrections Department, I was responsible for articulating arguments to move the population of female inmates from a privately operated prison facility, where they had been poorly housed for more than two decades, to a pair of state-operated prisons. After working collaboratively with other state agencies to pass a new state law in 2015, Medicaid for Incarcerated Individuals, I carried responsibility for implementing the legislation that mandated the Corrections Department to determine Medicaid eligibility of inmates prior to their release from prison.

Micaela is a graduate of Las Cruces High School and attended Trinity College in Hartford, CT. After completing her undergraduate degree, she returned to New Mexico to start her career working on behalf of New Mexico families. Micaela has experience leading policy, evaluation, and organizational development efforts as a change-maker in non-profit advocacy and within state government.  Micaela earned a Master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico.

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