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Local Heroines | Promoting Hope and Healing

Early daybreak at Calhoun Flower Farms out in La Mesa, NM, was abuzz with singing birds and chatter between Creative Director Christina (Tina) Ballew and Photographer Sam Palm planning the morning photo set. Senior Video Specialist and the day’s Photo Assistant, Ralph Diaz, had already scouted the location and guided the team to the best spots on the spacious farm. 

Prados Beauty was already set up with palettes and colors galore in a workroom off to the side of the farm, waiting for their moment to pamper and prim the models for the day. The catch was that most of the models had never been on a professional photo set, let alone have their makeup done professionally. These models were selected just for the Local Heroines photoshoot, a campaign that highlights local women that promote hope and healing in the Las Cruces community. The project consisted of public nominations managed by Success Partnership, who, with other collaborators, had to pick only five women to include in the photo series. It was not an easy feat, as every single woman nominated has earned her place for her story to be shared and her efforts proudly celebrated.

As the day progressed, the models started to trickle in, nervous but excited about what was to partake. Once the clean and glowy makeup with pops of graphic eyeliner was complete, the onset Stylist, Myra Rommes, dressed the models with a mixture of their clothing and selected pieces to capture the models’ personalities, maintaining a balance of softness and strength.

“We were immediately inspired by the idea of hope and healing and came up with an aesthetic that was earthy and subtle yet powerful in the confidence we portrayed with each model. Calhoun Farms was the perfect spot as they hadn’t quite had their spring growth except for a couple of rows of daffodils. It lent to the narrative of hope, growth, and mother nature,” says Tina

The set Art Director Dana Apodaca added, “The flowing fabric in the background of the portraits represents a connecting thread between all of the women; A softness with power behind it, an ever-flowing force that rises and falls with the tide. Hope as a dream, a vision to restore; And healing- the action of mending and restoring.” 

NMCO Video Specialist, Aaron Waltershied, moved around from location to location, capturing interviews and cinematic scenes for bite-size content to help portray the reality of organizations working together and the model’s delight when seeing their transformations.

The Ngage NM and Success Partnership team, who sponsored the project and provided food to the creative team and models, stopped by the set to lend a helping hand.

Ralph Diaz, “It was great to see all the collaboration come together for this project. Meeting everyone from Ngage, Success Partnership, and Prados in the early morning was nice, and everyone was so eager to help in any way. It made things a lot easier having so many helping hands and allowing a voice for everyone’s creativity, and I think the end product reflects this.”

Photographer Sam focused on the subjects and mindfully posed the models amid farmland and floral props. “I’m humbled to have been able to work alongside so many talented people and honor a selection of notable women who’ve made great strides in their contributions to the City of Las Cruces. The rich landscapes of Calhoun Farms during the early morning hours provided a fantastic backdrop, and everyone involved was incredibly skilled and helpful throughout the shoot.”

Congratulations to all the inspiring women that help shape our community. Meet them. Know them. Be inspired by them.

our local heroines

NMCO Studio member, Chantelle

Chantelle Yazzie-Martin

Special Education Social Worker; Artist; Photographer

from chantelle:

“I feel like a lot of social workers do a lot of behind the scenes work, and we don’t really ever think of ourselves as having to be in the forefront for getting any credit, so that has been really nice to feel that a lot of the efforts that go on behind the scenes that we cant share, teachers can share stuff, social media and stuff like that sometimes, we can’t as a client to a provider, so a lot of it is knowing what I’m doing in the background ….Late nights and early mornings, and so it’s just really and honor to know that a lot of those efforts are recognized by community members especially, so whoever nominated me, so thank you so much.”

why they were nominated:

Chantelle uses education and mental health interventions in her job to help young students as well as with her audience of social media followers. She continues to advocate for many groups through in-person work, emails, and phone calls. She regularly guest speaks to share her experiences as an Indigenous woman and how her art is used to give voices to those who need to be heard. She is part of several boards of directors and works tirelessly everyday. She needs to be shown some love! What she doesn’t necessarily know or see is just how much she’s helped members of the LGBTQ community, Indigenous folks, her students and her family!”

Local Heroines image


from jane:

 “I’m really honored, and also just being nominated among so many other strong community leaders and women and indigenous women, means so much to me in this community to be a part of this.”

why they were nominated:

Jane has been a force in promoting hope and providing healing for the last 20 years or so in this community. She has a masters degree in counseling and educational psychology and practiced as a therapist for 17 years with postpartum moms, the early childhood community, college students, and families. It’s healing and hope that prompted Jane to start Dwell Yoga Studio, a Collective with a vision to offer services in a way that feels equitable and sustainable for students and teachers. Working as a therapist and a yoga instructor, she would see individuals come to the same mind-body realizations in just a few yoga sessions as it would sometimes take years of therapy to accomplish. Jane merged her substantial experience in mental health and counseling with movement and meditation as co-director of Dwell Yoga Studio. She creates an environment of kindness and healing where everyone can feel welcome and supported, and even offers free yoga classes. Dwell gives back and supports this community in other ways too, offering sliding scale payments so the classes are accessible to more practitioners and even supporting local nonprofits’ missions such as the Friends of the Organ Mountain Desert Peaks. Jane has volunteered her time for various convenings and gatherings to bring peace and grounding at partner events.”

want to see behind the scenes with the collaborators?

NMCo Studio member, Martha

Dr. Martha Morales, PhD, RN, LCCE, FACCE

from martha:

“Well this nomination really surprised me, I feel honored to have received the award for work that I love doing. It’s no effort for me to work with expecting families, especially the ones having their first babies, and I feel like it plants the seed early in life to help parents work together in raising their firstborn.”

why they were nominated:

Dr. Morales made a difference in our community as a professor at the School of Nursing. Dr. Morales has been a strong advocate and supporter of maternal child health. For many years she volunteered her time by providing Lamaze classes to expectant parents from Memorial Medical Center, Mountain View Regional Medical Center as well as from hospitals in El Paso. She continues to serve our community in a variety of ways. She currently serves as co-chair of the Las Cruces New Mexico Breastfeeding Chapter, Parish Council member at Holy Family ANCC, and provides referrals to the birth worker community.” 

Local Heroines image


from daisy:

“Wow, it’s such an honor, I wake up every day and go to work, and I and just really dedicated to the mission and to be recognized for that work, is…I feel very honored and I also just feel very blessed to do this work so then to be recognized for it is nice.”

why they were nominated:

Daisy’s work in the Colonias of Doña Ana County brings to the forefront the often forgotten and overlooked populations of the county. She has been an advocate for community programs and organizations that put people at their center and shift power to those most impacted by unjust systems. Her grassroots approach to systemic change challenges society’s ideas about immigrant populations and the contributions that Colonias play in community leadership. Her work uplifts and equips people with the tools necessary to lead and voice their concerns. Her work significantly creates hope for the next generation of our community.” 

NMCO Studio member, Heidi


from angelica + heidi:

“It was just rewarding to know that others are watching you and looking at the work you do. When we do the work that we do we aren’t really thinking about who is watching, those are things you don’t really think about. So to be emailed/notified that you were nominated for the women’s month for local heroes that was just very rewarding to know that others are watching or following and others are contributing and just being involved in the community and events and everything that we do.”

from heidi:

“I think that this experience was really good and knowing that other people help others makes me happy to know.”

why they were nominated:

Heidi’s Helping Hands is an Initiative that was started by a Mother and Daughter here in Las Cruces. Throughout the year HHH organizes community events, such as a community yard sale. The initiative collects donation items throughout the year from the community and organizes a yard sale where our community can get clothing at no cost. HHH also has a Facebook group where community members can post donation items and people in need can get those donation items. The only rule to receiving a donation item from the page is that you must first donate something. On April 9th HHH will be holding their annual Easter Event!”

I would like to nominate AJ and Heidi who are founders of Heidi’s Helping Hands. For the last 3-4 years they have been providing hope and kindness to our community. They do yearly community events which help those in need. One of the events they do is the yearly donation event where the community does their free shopping. They have also provided the community with a Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas events.  They due their annual adopt a Family which provides families with a Thanksgiving meal. They also take in donations to be able to give it toward families that need the help. They also do hygiene kits and pass out the kits to the homeless. They contribute much of their time to our community. Their page is also open for members to donate items directly  to others that can use them. This mom and daughter team is amazing and to be able to see their events is so rewarding to see the community come together. They have made an impact on many families and individuals around our community and surrounding areas.” 

coming soon: meet success partnership and what this project meant to them

from our partners + collaborators

meet the team

Creative Director: 
Christina Ballew

Sam Palm

Asst. Photographer:
Ralph Diaz

Art Director:
Dana Apodaca

BTS & Video Editor:
Aaron Walterscheid

Myra Aida

Prados Beauty Team: Cece Meadows, John Canas & Hannah Manuelito

Calhoun Flower Farms

Success Partnership and Ngage:
Sommer Mitchell
Cesia Gillard
Lori Martinez
Michelle Simon
Candace Cichuniec

NMCO Studio member, Kahlo


Door Greeter & Cookie Eater

Kahlo is our gentle, friendly, office pup! He loves his belly rubbed, sniffing absolutely everything, and hasn’t found a treat he wouldn’t eat! Be sure to say hi, he loves the attention!

NMCO Studio member, Kelsey

Kelsey Gentile

Web Specialist

Once those websites are complete, Kelsey is our web maintenance manager. From regular updates, security checks, and content updates, Kelsey keeps our websites running smoothly, secure, and in tip-top shape.

NMCO Studio member, Annakat

Anna Kat Hollis

Lead Web Developer & Designer

We really like people named, “Anna”, especially named Anna Kat! Anna Kat is NMCO’s talented web developer and designer. She is smart, efficient, and crazy good at her craft! She has a background in design and focuses on functionality and UI/UX. You’re gonna love working with her!

Zac Wittstruck


If you’re needing quality animation, Zac is your guy! Motion graphics, custom character rigging, and 2D animation are some of Zac’s specialties. Zac always wears a smile and is truly one of the nicest people you’ll meet. When Zac isn’t whipping out great animations, he plays bass guitar for a local jazz band! What a cool cat!

NMCO Studio member, Arron

Aaron Walterscheid

Video Specialist & Cinematographer

Aaron is NMCO’s “Silent Assassin”. While not the most outgoing of our talented crew, Aaron KILLS at videography, editing, color grading, drone operation, lighting, and doing what it takes to get the job done. His experience and skills speak loudly for themselves.

NMCO Studio member, Sam

Sam Palm

Video Specialist & Photographer

With an eye for great picture-perfect moments, Sam is one of NMCO’s extremely talented video specialists! Sam is our main photographer, but also is a Director of Photography, editor, color specialist, and overall Jack-of-all-trades. When he’s not behind the camera, find Sam cruisin’ the Southwest on his Harley and living life to the fullest! Did we mention he has great hair?

NMCO Studio member, Ralph

Ralph Diaz

Senior Video Specialist

Don’t confuse Ralph with Academy Award-winning actor Johnny Depp. Although there’s a close resemblance, Ralph is much more talented behind the camera. He’s done it all from VFX to animation, to producing, directing, and editing some of our most memorable productions. It also should come as no surprise that he’s mastered the technical and practical aspects of videography, giving him the nickname, “The Doctor.”

NMCO Studio member, Dana

Dana Apodaca

Senior Graphic Designer & Art Director

Dana is up to date on all expert software and can design circles around most designers. With creative solutions, a sensibility to trends, and the best artistic output, Dana can do it all from identity systems to layouts, to even giving art direction in our video productions.

NMCO Studio member

Dawn Franco

Studio Manager

With a background in journalism, file archival and organization, Dawn is our client onboarding extraordinaire. From contract preparation, to project management, account direction, and reporting, Dawn stirs the pot for most productions, making sure it’s served hot and on time.

NMCO Studio Co founder, Lucky

Lucky Gonzalez

Co-Founder & Media Buyer

With all of that creative, where are you going to put it?! Lucky has 18 years in business with the expertise and know-how, so he is naturally our go-to for media placement. From digital banner ads to broadcast TV, Lucky can take any budget and translate it to impressions and conversions. He prides himself on coming up with solutions for your problems.

NMCO Studio member, Tina

Christina Ballew

Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer

When Tina co-founded NMCO she strived to push boundaries in creative services in the southwest. Building a creative studio from scratch was no easy feat but NMCO is now known for its professionalism and people-based, outside of the box ideas.   As Tina likes to say, she has done almost every job except for video editing itself. Her next goal is to take on the world.