Contact Information:
(505) 827-2855 MAIN // 1-800-219-6157 (toll free)
Environmental Emergencies:
505-827-9329 (24 hrs)
New Mexico
Environment Department

Office of General Counsel & Environmental Policy

 

Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 1992

OGC Staff

 

Melissa Mascarenas

IPRA & Legislative Analyst / Paralegal

Prior to joining the Environment Department, Melissa Mascarenas worked as an Appeal Court Legal Assistant to Justice Petra J. Maes at the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Education

  • Bachelor of Business Administration, College of Santa Fe, NM Major Public Administration; Minor Political Science.

 

 

Karen Thomas

Paralegal

Ms. Thomas has served the Office of General Counsel in the New Mexico Environment Department since June 1998.

 

 

Crystal Lucero

Paralegal

Prior to joining the Environment Department, Crystal Lucero worked as a Legal Assistant-Secretary/Paralegal for private practice attorneys in Santa Fe, NM.

Education

  • Bachelor of Arts in Education, minor in American Sign Language Interpreting, College of Santa Fe.

Attorneys

 

 

Jennifer L. Hower

General Counsel

Ms. Hower has been an attorney with the New Mexico Environment Department since August 2007. Prior to joining the Department as an attorney, Ms. Hower was a law clerk with NMED’s Office of General Counsel from the summer of 2005 through the summer of 2007. Additionally, Ms. Hower worked for three years as an Economic and Policy Analyst for a New Mexico-based energy consulting firm.

Professional Activities

Ms. Hower is a member of the New Mexico State Bar and is currently Chair-Elect of the Public Law Section Board of Directors.

Education

  • Juris Doctor, 2007, University of New Mexico School of Law (Natural Resources Certificate)
  • Master of Public Administration, 2001, Northern Arizona University
  • Bachelor of Science, Kinesiology, 1998, Kansas State University

Bar Admissions

  • New Mexico
  • United States District Court for the District of New Mexico

 

 

Christopher N. Atencio

Assistant General Counsel

Mr. Atencio has been an attorney with the New Mexico Environment Department since the summer of 2012. He was admitted to practice in New Mexico in 2011. Prior to joining the Department, Mr. Atencio provided contract legal services in Albuquerque, NM.

Professional Activities

Mr. Atencio is a member of the New Mexico State Bar.

Education

  • Juris Doctor, 2011, University of New Mexico School of Law (Natural Resources Certificate)
  • Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, Political Science, 2007, University of New Mexico; minor in Earth and Planetary Sciences

Bar Admissions

  • State of New Mexico
  • United States District Court for the District of New Mexico

 

 

Kathryn S. Becker

Assistant General Counsel

Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Becker worked as legal counsel to the State Parks Division of the NM Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. Ms. Becker previously worked as a lawyer for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice.

Professional Activities

Ms. Becker is a member of the American Bar Association, New Mexico State Bar and Navajo Nation Bar Association.

Education

  • Juris Doctor, 2000, University of North Dakota School of Law
  • Bachelor of Arts and Sciences, 1995, University of North Dakota, Majored in Humanities; Minored in Indian Studies, Spanish and Photography

Bar Admissions

  • State of New Mexico
  • United States District Court for the District of New Mexico
  • Navajo Nation

 

 

Annie Maxfield

Assistant General Counsel

Ms. Maxfield has been an Assistant General Counsel with the New Mexico Environment Department since July 2015.  Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Maxfield served as an active duty Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG). 

Professional Activities

Ms. Maxfield is a member of the New Mexico State Bar and continues to serve as a reserve Air Force JAG.

Education

  • Juris Doctor, 2006, University of New Mexico School of Law
  • Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology, 2000, University of Chicago

Bar Admissions

  • State of New Mexico
  • United States District Court for the District of New Mexico
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

 

 

Mia A. Napolitano

Assistant General Counsel

Ms. Napolitano has been an attorney with the New Mexico Environment Department since June of 2015.  Prior to joining the Department, she worked in the private sector in the areas of personal injury, construction law, estate administration, and family law.

Professional Activities

Ms. Napolitano is a member of the New Mexico State Bar.

Education

  • Juris Doctor, 2012, University of New Mexico School of Law (Natural Resources Certificate, Natural Resources Journal Manuscript Editor)
  • Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, 2007, Scripps College, Claremont, CA

Bar Admissions

  • New Mexico
  • Illinois
  • United States District Court for the District of New Mexico

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew P. Knight

Assistant General Counsel

Mr. Knight has served as Assistant General Counsel with the Department since 2009. He was admitted to practice in New Mexico in 2002. Prior to joining the Department, Mr. Knight specialized in business litigation at the firm of Sutin, Thayer, & Browne, P.A. and represented state agencies in tort litigation while with the firm of Jerry Walz & Associates. After graduating from the UNM School of Law, he served as staff attorney for the New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee, and clerked for Judge Michael Vigil at the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

During his time at UNM School of Law, Mr. Knight served as the vice-president of the Student Bar Association, was the Treasurer of the school’s chapter of the Environmental Law Society, and was active in the Innocence and Justice Project. Mr. Knight was part of a team of students that assisted Professor Jim Ellis in briefing and arguing the Adkins v. Virginia case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for persons with mental retardation. Upon graduation, Mr. Knight received the  Dean’s Award, as well as the Harold L. Walden Memorial Award.

Prior to his legal education, Mr. Knight worked on a number of archeological surveys and site excavations in Central and Southern New Mexico.

Professional Activities

Mr. Knight is a member of the American Bar Association and New Mexico State Bar.

Education

  • Juris Doctor, 2002, University of New Mexico School of Law (Vice-president of the Student Bar Association)
  • Bachelor of Science, Anthropology, 1991, University of New Mexico

Bar Admissions

  • New Mexico
  • United States District Court for the District of New Mexico

 

 

John B. Verheul

Assistant General Counsel

Mr. Verheul has been an attorney with the New Mexico Environment Department since 2014. Prior to joining the Department, he worked for Law & Resource Planning Associates, P.C. in Albuquerque, practicing Water and Natural Resources Law. His past work experience includes five years as a manager for a Fortune 50 Information Technology company, and owning and operating his own small business.
Professional Activities Mr. Verheul is a member of the New Mexico State Bar, as well as the Natural Resources, Energy & Environmental Law section, on which he served as a Student Board Member from 2010 - 2011.

Education

  • Juris Doctor, 2011, University of New Mexico School of Law (Natural Resources Certificate, Natural Resources Journal Manuscript Editor, Albert E. Utton Natural Resources Law Award)
  • Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, Mathematics, 1993, State University of New York, Albany.

Bar Admissions

  • State of New Mexico
  • United States District Court for the District of New Mexico

 

 

Gregory F. Lauer

Assistant General Counsel

Mr. Lauer has been an attorney with the New Mexico Environment Department since February of 2014. He was admitted to practice in New Mexico in 2003. Since 2008 and before joining the NMED, Mr. Lauer served as Assistant General Counsel and also as Interim General Counsel at the New Mexico Health Department.

Previously, Mr. Lauer worked in the private sector in the areas of real estate use and development, contracts, commercial litigation, bankruptcy, immigration, and consumer advocacy.

Mr. Lauer serves as a volunteer with educational and community organizations that help clean up, rebuild, and restore riparian habitat in New Mexico.

Professional Activities

Mr. Lauer serves as a volunteer mentor in the New Mexico Bar’s Mentorship Program. Mr. Lauer served also as a cofounder and board chairman for a New Mexico public charter school, in Albuquerque.

Education

  • Juris Doctor, 2003, University of New Mexico School of Law
  • Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, 1992, Bachelor of Arts, Spanish, 1992, University of New Mexico

Bar Admissions

  • State of New Mexico

 

 

rocks

 

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