Our Staff

Adrienne Smith

Adrienne R. Smith

President and CEO

Adrienne R. Smith is Founder, President and CEO of the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition, a statewide organization that advocates for and advances the professional development and workforce issues of New Mexico’s direct caregivers.

Ms. Smith has owned and operated a consulting firm since 2001, Education and Workforce Consultants, LLC, for which she worked for international, national and state clients in the areas of youth development, youth employment, workforce development, resource development and advocacy. Her work includes development of national strategies to serve in-school and out-of-school youth in Honduras, Brazil and Indonesia through U.S. Agency for International Development.

Prior to 2001, Ms. Smith served as founding director of a national academy for training youth workers for executive positions, assisting a Board and the National Youth Employment Coalition (NYEC) in development, recruitment, selection and curriculum design of that academy. She developed a first academy for training Youth Opportunity (YO!) directors, grantees of $4-$12 million community-wide programs funded by the US Department of Labor. Adrienne’s work also includes four years as Vice President of the national Jobs for America’s Graduates, building program capacity within in affiliated states and initiating programs in eight new states over a four-year period.

Adrienne served as a lead planner for data gathered to equalize school finance funding in Texas in the landmark state Supreme Court education finance lawsuit. She served Governor Ray Mabus of Mississippi from 1989-91 as advisory on literacy, education and the state’s first Commission on Workforce Excellence.

She has served on the Board of the Latin American Youth Center; the New Mexico Forum on Youth in Community; the National Youth Employment Coalition; and as Committee Chair for the American Association of University Women.

Adrienne has a Bachelor’s in Biology and a Masters in Public Policy and International Administration. She seeks opportunities for work and play with like-minded organizations and people.



Dana Howarth

Dana Howarth has been a member of the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition (NMDCC) team since early 2015. She is a native New Mexican who received her bachelors degree in Family Studies from the University of New Mexico in 2013. Dana is young-at-heart. She enjoys traveling, spending time with her family and watching movies.

As the program assistant for NMDCC, Dana is a busy bee, always working on multiple coalition projects, including facilitating workshops for Heart is Home Cooperative Care and being the resident social media guru. She has always enjoyed being involved with organizations that were created to help others and continues to be thankful to have the opportunity to make a difference in the state of New Mexico through her position with NMDCC.



Laurence Nguyen 

Laurence Nguyen is New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition's resident data entry expert. He uses his strong organizational skills and attention to detail to help NMDCC keep track of training related data. He holds an associate's degree in Integrated Studies and a certificate in Computer Information Systems from Central New Mexico Community College.



 Michael Pitula

Michael Pitula works on bilingual marketing and outreach for the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition. Michael has a decade of experience as a nonprofit organizer and educator. He has worked in Chicago and Albuquerque on environmental justice campaigns to build health equity through public transit and clean energy. Michael has applied his passion for wellness by teaching bilingual healthcare career bridge and GED classes, helping his students to advance their work and career goals with support from partners like the National Council of La Raza and the Illinois Community College Board.

In 2014, Michael moved from Chicago to New Mexico with his life companion to experience a slower-paced, sunny, friendly way of life.
Michael currently works to promote Heart is Home Cooperative Care as a new model for direct care in New Mexico. He is excited about the potential that cooperatives have for improving work for caregivers and the quality of service for care recipients.

Michael has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a B.A. in Spanish from Iowa State University. He is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Italian and Portuguese. Michael is excited to share his experience while he continues to learn from the rich land-based cultures of the Land of Enchantment.


Brittany Picture

    Brittany Karnezis

Brittany Karnezis is the new Program Manager for the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition. She comes from the nonprofit world and is passionate about the positive impact local organizations make on their communities. Following this passion, Brittany has worked to build communities in her home state of Texas, Colorado, Morocco and, most recently, New Mexico. She has had the opportunity to work in a number of unique environments, including women’s empowerment and youth programs in the United States Peace Corps, education programs for adults with disabilities and English language and job skills education for recently-arrived refugees and immigrants.

Brittany has an M.A. from the University of New Mexico and a B.A. from Texas Tech University. Seeking a diverse environment in the Southwest, she moved to New Mexico in 2014 and has thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful sunsets, proximity to outdoor adventure and green chile. She is enthusiastic about the positive impact NMDCC has had and will continue to have on the New Mexico caregiving community and is excited about her role in helping further the advancement of NMDCC’s programs.