President of the Board of Directors
"Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope." Maya Angelou
Jennifer has a BA in Psychology from UW Madison, which included many pre-medicine classes. She also took one quarter of classes at Rosalind Franklin University in pursuit of a Master’s in Physician Assistant studies. After her studies, Jennifer worked importing paper medical charts into the EPIC software, and then as an Account Manager with a large publishing firm. While her education is useful, her most important skill sets came from caring for her medically complex son, James who passed away in December 2018 at four years old. Not only did Jennifer advocate strongly within the New Mexico medical system, but she also managed his care in multiple health systems including several specialists in Denver, Colorado. When James passed away in an adult hospice facility in Denver, Jennifer’s saw first-hand how beautiful and supportive this type of facility can be for patients and families when passing away at home is not an option. She hopes to engage old and new resources in the community to better support children and families with similar needs.
Dr. James Bartz
Research Specialist for Board of Directors
James has a PhD in photonics from Oklahoma State University and a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Wisconsin. He conducted his doctoral research at Landauer, Chrystal Growth Division. His doctoral research focused on development and application of a new type of radiation detector, Fluorescent Nuclear Track Detectors, for proton, heavy ion, neutron dosimetry in medical and research applications. James authored or co-othored over 15 publications in peer-reviewed journals and enjoys studying new research topics. Since 2013, James has worked for a national laboratory where he serves as project lead for a challenging multi-year project with a large team.
As a father of a medically complex child, who passed away at four years old, James has learned about the challenges medically complex children, their families and communities experience. Through study and participation as a board member of Hero’s Path Palliative Care, James strives to make a positive impact on research, training, quality of care, and quality of life for children with life limiting illnesses.
Dr. Korie Leigh
Board of Directors, Director of Family Services
“There is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” - Amanda Gorman
Korie Leigh, PhD, CCLS, CT holds a doctorate in psychology, masters in public health and thanatology, and bachelors in child development and child life. Korie is a practicing certified thanatologist and certified child life specialist and has spent over 17 years working in pediatric palliative and hospice care providing psychosocial and grief support to children and their families. Currently, Korie is an Associate Professor and Program Director for the Thanatology department at Marian University. She also works individually with children and families in her private practice.
At Hero's Path, Korie facilitates our family support groups and provides individualized psychosocial care to families. Korie's first book is set to be published in early January of 2023. The forthcoming book is called: What Does Grief Feel like? and is written to help young children navigate and understand the experience of grief.
Treasurer for Hero's Path Palliative Care
"You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you that you'll win, no matter what the outcome" -Patch Adams
Madison has a BA in Psychology with a minor in child and family studies from the University of New Mexico. Although her background in psychology and education is helpful, Madison started a job as a home health aide for a medically fragile 2-year-old in 2016. This experience is where her passion for medically complicated children came from. She worked with and for this family for 2.5 years, seeing first hand the struggles that accompany complicated cases for kids like this. She observed the shortcomings in multiple systems where the family had to advocate for better services, better care, and more empathetic doctors. This opened her eyes to the many needs of similar families. When her 4 year old patient passed away in December of 2018, Madison drove with the family to an adult hospice care facility in Denver, again seeing first hand that there is a bigger need for pediatric hospice care than people think. The reality of the hardship in obtaining quality care instilled a deeper dedication to help more families and caregivers with medically fragile children in need in the community.
Dr. Janis Gonzales
“Parenthood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding that they are exactly the person they are supposed to be and that, if you’re lucky, they just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be.” (Joan Ryan)
Janis Gonzales is a mother, author, pediatrician, and public health physician with expertise in health policy and administration. Her interests include children with special healthcare needs, hospice and palliative care, prevention of adverse childhood events, and advocating for health equity. Janis currently works as the Maternal Child Health Director in the New Mexico Department of Health. She received her MD from the University of Illinois, her MPH from the University of New Mexico, is Board Certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and was previously Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Care. She is a longtime Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), received the 2017 Early Childhood Champion “Unsung Hero” Award from the AAP, and was appointed in 2019 to the UT Austin Prenatal to Three Policy Center Advisory Council. She is the current President of the NM Pediatric Society (NM Chapter of the AAP) and the Vice President of the NM Perinatal Collaborative. She is the mother of three children, including one who had Down Syndrome and passed away from leukemia, and the author of “Lessons from a Gentle Life: Reflections on Love, Loss, and Healing.” She lives in Santa Fe, NM with her children Placido and Liesl.
"Let your heart guide you." -- Yogi Tea Tag
A native New Mexican, Will Martinez graduated from the University of New Mexico, Anderson School of Business with his MBA in 2017. Will currently works in Marketing and Business Development for the American City Business Journals at Albuquerque Business First. After 6 years of dating, Will married fellow HPPC Board Member Madison McCoy in August 2019. Having witnessed the wonderment that James Bartz brought to Madison and the world, Will is excited to be a part of the healing process that HPPC is set to provide. As a liaison to the business community and non-profit sector alike, Will is set to seek out valuable relationships and assets for the organization.
Donna Cura is passionate about building bridges that can connect resources to needs in the community. She has many years of experience working with non-profits through grant writing and volunteering. She looks forward to using her skills as a Board Member of Hero’s Path Palliative Care.
She has traveled extensively and worked with non-profits to reduce poverty and improve the lives of children in many parts of the world. Donna has a strong desire to serve those in need, whether that is a child lacking adequate medical care near her home in New Mexico or serving children living in poverty in South Asia.
She has seen firsthand the need for the services Hero’s Path Pallative Care could provide through a recent long-term change in her own mother’s health. The lack of adequate care for her mother drove them to seek medical care in Dallas, TX.
Donna graduated from Wayland Baptist University with a BA in Mass Communications and Art. She also attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and finished over 60 hours towards a Master of Arts degree in Missiology. She has worked as a grant writer for Grant the Good for 5 years and has been on teams that have secured several thousand dollars in grants including a recent award of $500,000 for a child advocacy agency in Texas.
“For a true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.” – Zeus
Amanda Jaramillo is a proud Albuquerque native and has a passion for working in healthcare, specifically with children. She was a dental assistant at various pediatric offices for over 10 years and recently made the switch to respiratory therapy. She has a particular interest in providing respiratory care for children and infants. It is important to her that patients feel loved and cared for by medical providers, especially when they are undergoing challenging times. She has been blessed to be a part of healthcare teams for many medically complex children and brings her compassion and experience to every case.
Dr. Lourdes Vizcarra
"Nothing happens until something moves" -Albert Einstein
Lourdes Vizcarra, M.D. (Lourdes Vizcarra Wurzel) is the mother of four amazing children: Gabriela, Sebastian, Julius and Katerina; her greatest loves. On September 2018, her son, Sebastian, “Beautiful Boy”, who was medically fragile, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, two months before his 13th birthday. He was, and still is, one of her greatest mentors. She always says that the most important letters after her name are “Mamí”, not “M.D.”.
Sebastian’s sweet disposition, patience, resilience, ability to work hard during all of his therapy sessions and his way of taking in all that life sent his way in stride, was admirable. He never complained, even when it was obvious that he was in pain. Everyone who met him, feel instantly in love. His parting broke hearts across the globe. He was love incarnate.
As Sebastian’s mamí, Lourdes became his voice/arms/legs, nurse, therapist, teacher, care coordinator, advocate and anything else that was called for. Life with Sebastian taught her that the current systems in place were lacking in services that were so needed in assuring his quality of life. Having experienced the lack of services, she was driven to bring about changes, not only for her family and son, but for all families in New Mexico. She is of the strong belief that our current system, which is still lacking in so many areas, could learn so much from Sebastian and other children like him.
There is no possible way to convey who Sebastian was, still is, nor what he means to his family. His life/presence brought an incredible community into his family’s life, from early intervention, the NM School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to Special Education and home health services. Each day she endeavors to keep his legacy alive in all she does in our community.
She is a family medicine physician and currently works with UNM Medical Group Locum Tenens Program.
"Let your heart guide you." -- Yogi Tea Tag
Jen has been working with individuals with special needs for the past 20 years as a special education teacher and behavior analyst doing ABA Therapy. She strives to reach underserved individuals. She is passionate about teaching verbal behavior and joint attention and holds tight to the belief that behavior is communication. It is her goal to keep all of her therapy sessions fun and engaging! In her free time, Jen enjoys gardening and going on outdoor adventures with her husband and two boys.