Our Team

Our greatest asset is our team. They’re experienced, talented, dedicated grant professionals committed to excellence and the highest ethics, who collaborate to create award-winning grant proposals. More than that, they’re our clients’ biggest champions, expertly guiding them to achieve their funding goals so they can, in turn, make the world a better place.


Tara Gohr,
President/CEO
It's a fact:
Tara is superstitious and never plans anything on Friday the 13th.
Tara co-founded The Grant Plant in 2003 and has seen it though dynamic growth ever since. She oversees the staff, strategic goal-setting, and annual finances of about $1,000,000. As an Albuquerque-based small business entrepreneur, she’s been recognized as a Top-Performing CEO, Woman of Influence, Forty Under 40, and an Haute Innovator. She is a graduate of Leadership Albuquerque and is a member of the Grant Professionals Association. She also co-founded The Grants Collective, (now Pivotal New Mexico) which she led as co-director from 2015-2019. Tara holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts, previously working as a stage manager coordinating efforts behind the scenes, problem-solving, keeping people on time and on budget, and maintaining the integrity of the director’s vision… a good primer for grant development.
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Erin Hielkema,
Vice President/COO
It’s a fact:
Erin’s goal is to see all 50 states. 37 and counting!
Erin is co-founder and co-leader of The Grant Plant. She oversees project management and works with clients in many sectors including social services, education, and economic development. Erin is a Top Performing COO, is a member of the Grant Professionals Association, and the National Grant Management Association. She co-founded and co-led The Grants Collective from 2015-2019. Erin also volunteers on local fundraising boards. She holds a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and a bachelor’s degree in Business.  

Aly Sanchez,
Director of Strategy and Organizational Development
It’s a fact:
Adding some fright and fun to every fall season, Aly busts out an array of knives and clay shaping tools to create intricate 3-D carved pumpkins.
Aly has more than two decades of grant writing experience including planning, request preparation, and reporting for complex private, state, and federal awards. In addition to direct proposal preparation, she specializes in proposal strategy development, project design, and staff and organizational development for The Grant Plant. Aly is the Lead Educator for The Grant Plant’s nonprofit sister organization, Pivotal New Mexico, where she develops learning materials, workshops, and trainings. Aly holds a BA in Psychology and an MBA focused on executive leadership.

Paula Azua-Stofleth,
Business Manager
It’s a fact:
Paula is only 5'3" but played basketball in college.
Paula has worked at The Grant Plant for more than a decade, handling bookkeeping, customer service, and human resources. Previously, she was a bid specialist and marketing associate for Sysco Food Service and bookkeeper for Norva Corp and Earth Tech Excavation. Paula has a B.S. in Business Management.

Cecily Peterson,
Director of Resource Development
It’s a fact:
Cecily taught English in Taiwan and studied Mandarin in Beijing.
Cecily has more than two decades of experience working with nonprofits in fundraising, grant management, and marketing/communications. She’s been part of The Grant Plant team since 2015, overseeing and supporting the high quality development, writing, and successful submission of grant proposals. Cecily also has experience in individual and corporate fundraising, and marketing management for nonprofit and for-profit companies. She holds an MBA in International Marketing Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a BA in Political Science from DePauw University.

Wendy McCoy,
Senior Resource Development Officer
It’s a fact:
As an ultra-marathoner, Wendy runs races that are 50 miles or longer.
Wendy joined The Grant Plant in 2008 and oversees the company’s portfolio of prospect research projects. She leads the effort to increase community awareness of grant opportunities, matches organizations with potential funders, and conducts strategic analysis on funders’ affinity and capacity for clients. Previously, she was a Research Associate in the Pennsylvania State University Agriculture Department and an Environmental Consultant working on mine-impacted streams.

Laurel Meister Schmuck,
Resource Development Officer II
It’s a fact:
Laurel excels at memorizing song lyrics and tongue twisters.
Laurel crafts competitive funding proposals, manages client portfolios, and helps grow local grant seeking capacity. Previously, she served as the Development Manager for Explora Children’s Museum, helping secure important grant funding and individual donations. Laurel is a graduate of Pivotal New Mexico's grant writing Talent Academy and served as a 2016 Fulbright Teaching Assistant in Weimar, Germany. With a BA in English from Trinity University, Laurel is passionate about language and the craft of writing.

María McMath,
Resource Development Officer II
It’s a fact:
María is a cultural anthropologist, social scientist, and documentary filmmaker.
María has more than two decades of experience connecting client goals and funder missions in order to create exciting partnership opportunities that improve the public good. María has a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Swarthmore College, an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Princeton University, and she studied at L’École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France.

Myshel Prasad,
Resource Development Officer II
It’s a fact:
When Myshel travels internationally, she always learns at least one song in the language of the country she’s visiting.
Myshel specializes in coalition and collaborative proposals, equity-based systems change, environmental justice, and other projects at the intersection of social activism and philanthropy. She has over a decade of experience in nonprofit development and capacity building. Myshel holds a BA from New York University, an MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University, and an MA in International Human Security and Development with an emphasis in Conflict Resolution from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Amorena Almand,
Resource Development Officer
It’s a fact:
Amorena enjoys singing with two different acapella groups.
Amorena began her career in nonprofit resource development working with human services and arts organizations in Albuquerque. With nine years of experience in marketing, editing, and writing, Amorena loves using her skills to uplift her home state of New Mexico, by researching and crafting winning grant proposals. She holds a BA in Sociology and an MA in Public Policy

Tonia Brown,
Resource Development Officer
It’s a fact:
Tonia is also a professional costume designer and wardrobe stylist for theatrical productions.
Tonia began her career in the field of philanthropy in 1999 and has worked for both grantseekers and grantmakers, as well as having served as a grant reviewer. Her unique combination of experience yields special insights, helping Tonia earn millions of dollars in grants throughout her career. She is a member of the Grant Professionals Association, Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the National Grant Management Association. Tonia was selected as a “40 Under 40” leader by the Greater Fort Wayne Business Journal and is an alumna of Leadership Fort Wayne.

Rada Moss,
Resource Development Officer
It’s a fact:
Rada is a fan of "I Love Lucy" and "The Andy Griffith Show." In fact, she treats "The Andy Griffith Show" as her personal lullaby and watches it every night!
Rada has experience working around the country on housing development, homeless and poverty issues, ex-offender re-entry, workforce development, substance abuse and mental health, and program planning and development. She is an alumna of Spelman College with a B.A. in English. Rada is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and is passionate about social justice, community development, and equity for all.

Molly Callaghan,
Operations Manager
It’s a fact:
Molly loves horses and rides regularly.
Molly brings her experience in event planning, database management and community engagement to support The Grant Plant team. Previously, she was a Field Representative for New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland and helped her transition to her role as U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Molly has a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from the University of New Mexico.