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 $1.6M. 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 professionals and small business owners.
WOIceo40underfortyScreen Shot 2014-06-04 at 9.59.03 PM


Erin Hielkema,
Vice President/COO
It’s a fact:
Erin’s goal is to see all 50 states. 40 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 also leads the company's capacity-building services, in which she develops learning materials, workshops, and trainings. Aly holds a BA in Psychology and an MBA focused on executive leadership.

Rachel Gauvin,
Director of Grant Services
It’s a fact:
Rachel loves camping and hiking!
Rachel has more than 15 years in internal operations management, project management as well as client relations. Her background is in health research and communications. She has a B.A. from Michigan State University in psychology with a minor in Bioethics and a Master's in Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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.

Tonia Brown,
Senior 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.

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,
Senior Resource Development Officer
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.

Cecily Peterson,
Senior Resource Development Officer
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.

Molly Callaghan,
Communications & Project Development Officer
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.

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

Emily Bartz,
Resource Development Officer
It's a fact:
Emily is an avid LEGO builder.
Dr. Emily N. Bartz began her career in nonprofit resource development as an AmeriCorps VISTA at STEAM New Mexico and Sci Art Santa Fe in 2019. She has a PhD in English Rhetoric from Texas A&M University and is a former Executive Board member of the Alliance for the Study of Adoption & Culture.

Samantha Canuel,
Resource Development Associate
It's a fact:
Samantha enjoys traveling and has visited over 30 states and lived in 5 different states.
Samantha brings her experience as a special education teacher and digital project manager to the Grant Plant. Samantha loves giving back to the community and supporting diverse groups of people throughout the United States. She has a unique interest in Data Storytelling as she just attended University of Florida’s Data Analytics Bootcamp in Summer 2023. She is also an active member of the Grant Professional Association. She holds a BA in English, Masters in Teaching, and Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

Marya Roddis,
Grant Management Contractor
It's a fact:
Marya is trained in wildlife rehabilitation and volunteers with the New Mexico Wildlife Center.
Marya Roddis has worked for more than three decades as a technical and grant writer providing business, communications, management, design and education support services to public and private, for-profit and non-profit organizations and agencies. She is the former VP of Technical Writing for Shared Assessments and has served in administrative, operational, and teaching capacities in a wide variety of settings including University of Alaska Institute of Northern Forestry and the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance. Her varied background allows her to facilitate robust grants requests and to follow through effectively for grants administration.

Marisa Sleeter,
Resource Development Officer
It's a fact:
Marisa loves playing all types of tabletop games and features her extensive collection as décor in her dining room.
Marisa brings 15 years of experience in program management and development for local and international non-profit organizations. Previously, Marisa worked at Animal Protection New Mexico building systemic solutions for the humane treatment of animals in New Mexico, and at the Center for Nonviolent Communication, supporting certified trainers sharing NVC skills. Marisa has a B.A. in International Communications from Texas Christian University.

Saige Stewart,
Resource Development Officer
It's a fact:
Saige a certified mediator with training in trauma-informed care and QPR, an emergency response protocol to help someone in crisis.
Saige brings her experience working in the legal field to The Grant Plant team. She has extensive knowledge of both state and federal rules of civil procedure as well as experience in project management and contract negotiation. Previously, she acted as Legislative Committee Aide to the New Mexico House of Representatives and served on the board of a local grant funding organization. She has always enjoyed writing, and published her first fictional work while in high school. Saige has a B.A. in English from Occidental College.

Tricia Willard,
Resource Development Officer
It's a fact:
Tricia loves to travel and lived in San Carlos, Sonora Mexico for more than two years.
Tricia has been a grant writer for more than twelve years and has written curricula and developed early education programs for families for over two decades. In addition, she has experience in the field of early education, fundraising, and event planning. Tricia holds an Associate Degree in Early Education and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. She earned her certification in Fundraising Management (CFRM) from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in 2022. Tricia is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Kylee Winner,
Resource Development Associate
It's a fact:
Ky loves to read! Their favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy.
Ky brings their experience as an administrative assistant and project clerk to The Grant Plant’s Resource Development team. Ky is passionate about utilizing their research, writing, and administrative skills to help serve the communities of New Mexico. Ky graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Psychology.