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,
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.

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.

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.

Molly Callaghan,
Operations & Project 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.

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.

Jenny Jackson,
Resource Development Officer II
It's a fact:
Jenny loves New Mexico because of the weather, cultural diversity, and natural beauty.
Jenny has primarily been a grant writer for over ten years, but has been a writer in some form or another since high school—including as a journalist, technical writer, and poet. She did a stint as a textbook editor a long time ago, and that was the job that made her realize that she needs to be doing work that directly supports New Mexico so that it is a better place for everyone to live. She also works with Pivotal New Mexico, and enjoys her role supporting an organization that helps nonprofits to get the funding they need. Jenny holds a BA in English and History of Arts from Johns Hopkins University, an MA in Latin American Studies, and an MBA from University of New Mexico.  

Marya Roddis,
Resource Development Officer II
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.

Tonia Brown,
Resource Development Officer II
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.

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

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.