NMAEYC Annual Conference

Join us for the largest Early Childhood Education Conference in New Mexico!

Welcome to the NMAEYC Conference page. On this page you can view our past and present professional development conferences.

NMAEYC Annual Conference

Cindy Nava

Cindy Nava

NMAEYC 2024 Keynote Speaker

Cindy Nava is the former White House Political Appointee Senior Policy Advisor, and Senate Candidate for New Mexico District 9.


Upon arriving in the U.S. as a child from Chihuahua, Mexico, Cindy was raised in the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico and is proud to call herself a “Mexican-New Mexican.” Growing up undocumented, Cindy managed to surpass many political barriers, became a first generation HS and College graduate and went on to take unprecedented positions within education, immigration policy, and politics at a state and national level. Cindy marked historical precedent after becoming the first undocumented person to intern for a national political party in Washington, DC, and the first DACA recipient to work as a Majority Pool Analyst for the New Mexico House of Representatives. Cindy later went on to be rated as one of the “40 under 40s: Latinos in US Politics“ by the Huffington Post. Cindy has been featured on national and international media outlets such as; FOX News, Univision, The Washington Post, The NY Times, The International news agency EFE, and others.

As a former policy analyst, a non-profit executive and a political operative Cindy is known as an influencer and as a positive interrupter. Cindy utilizes the power of her lived experiences, struggles, and strengths to empower communities of color, youth, and leaders across the country through her work in the areas of policy, education, politics, leadership development, and advocacy. She is a policy advocate and believes in strengthening voices through civic engagement, education and holistic methods rooted in innovative and transformational leadership practices that guide the creation of conscious policy initiatives that support marginalized communities across the country. As a former DACA recipient, Cindy has focused on opening access for immigrants interested in policy and politics to begin a pathway of leadership development and training that creates opportunities for them to serve within those sectors.

Cindy is a motivational speaker and leadership trainer who works to empower communities of color through direct civic engagement strategies. Her passion for strengthening women’s voices in policy and politics has led to numerous leadership opportunities collaborating with EMERGE America, Ready to Run, as a TEDx speaker and as a member of the UndocuTalks Podcast. She serves on the board of numerous organizations and is a graduate of the Aspen Institute and the National Latino Center for Leadership Development Academy. Formerly, Cindy served as Executive Director of Learning Alliance New Mexico, and as Chief Administrative Officer at The United States Hispanic Leadership Institute in Chicago, Illinois.

Cindy went on to serve as Outreach Director for Congressman Ben Ray Lujan’s U.S. Senate Campaign, as Santa Fe Lead Liaison for the Assistant Speaker of the House: Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, and completed a winning U.S. Senate campaign cycle as Political Director of the Ben Ray Luján U.S. Senate campaign. Cindy served as Executive Director of Transform Education NM from 2021- 2022 and most recently obtained an unprecedented White House Presidential Appointment making her the first former DACA recipient in the U.S. to become a political appointee.


Al llegar a los Estados Unidos de niña desde Chihuahua, México, Cindy se crió en la ciudad de Santa Fe, Nuevo México y se enorgullece de llamarse a sí misma una “Mexicana-Nuevo Mexicana”. Al crecer indocumentada, Cindy logró superar muchas barreras políticas, se convirtió en la primera en su familia en graduarse de la escuela secundaria y de la universidad y pasó a ocupar puestos sin precedentes dentro de la educación, la política de inmigración y la política a nivel estatal y nacional.Cindy marcó un precedente histórico después de convertirse en la primera persona indocumentada en ser interna para un partido político nacional en Washington, DC, y la primera receptora de DACA en trabajar como analista del grupo mayoritario para la Cámara de Representantes de Nuevo México. Más tarde, Cindy pasó a ser calificada como una de las “40 menores de 40 años: Latinos en la política de Estados Unidos” por el Huffington Post. Cindy, ha aparecido en medios de comunicación nacionales e internacionales como; FOX News, Univision, The Washington Post, The NY Times, la agencia de noticias internacional EFE, entre otros.

Como ex analista de políticas, ejecutiva de organizaciones sin fines de lucro y agente política, Cindy es conocida como una influenciadora y una interruptora positiva. Cindy utiliza el poder de sus experiencias vividas, luchas y fortalezas para empoderar a las comunidades marginadas, jóvenes y líderes de todo el país a través de su trabajo en las áreas de políticas, educación, política, desarrollo de liderazgo y defensa. Ella es una defensora de políticas y cree en fortalecer las voces a través del compromiso cívico, la educación y métodos holísticos arraigados en prácticas de liderazgo innovadoras.Como ex receptora de DACA, Cindy se ha centrado en abrir el acceso a los inmigrantes interesados ​​en la política para comenzar un camino de desarrollo y capacitación de liderazgo que cree oportunidades para que sirvan en esos sectores.

Cindy es una oradora motivacional y entrenadora de liderazgo que trabaja para empoderar a jóvenes y a comunidades enteras a través de estrategias directas de participación cívica. Su pasión por fortalecer las voces de las mujeres en la política y la política le ha llevado a numerosas oportunidades de liderazgo colaborando con EMERGE America, Ready to Run, como oradora de TEDx y como miembro del Podcast UndocuTalks. Es miembro de la junta directiva de numerosas organizaciones y se graduó del Instituto Aspen y de la Academia del Centro Nacional Latino para el Desarrollo del Liderazgo. Anteriormente, Cindy se desempeñó como Directora Ejecutiva de Learning Alliance New Mexico y como Directora Administrativa del Instituto de Liderazgo Hispano de los Estados Unidos en Chicago, Illinois. Luego se desempeñó como Directora de Política en la campaña del Senado de los Estados Unidos del congresista Ben Ray Lujan, y al igual como Líder Regional en la oficina del Congresista  y ahora Senador Ben Ray Lujan, y ahora es Consultora en Política, Estrategia y Educación de Nava Strategies.

NMAEYC 2024 will be held at the UNM SUB and UNM College of Eucation and Human Sciences (COEHS) on April 5-6, 2024.

Below you will find important info regarding annual conference. If you have any questions please reach out to Michelle (michelle@nmaeyc.org)  or Alicia (alicia@nmaeyc.org).

Conference Hotels Accomodations and Rates


Home2 Suites: $169-$179 per night (book by March 1st)

Fairfield Inn & Suites: $109-$139 per night (book by March 21st) or (505) 247-1621 and mention “NMAEYC Conference” GROUP in April 2024. You can also use the Marriott Bonvoy mobile app and use the group code: NMENMEK or NMENMEQ

Courtyard by Marriot: $109-$139 per night (book by March 21st). You may also call Marriott Reservations at (800) 321-2211 or call me directly at (505) 843-6600 ext. 679 to book your rooms before March 21st.

*Springhill Suites by Marriot: $156 per night. You can also call 505- 242-1104 to book your room by mentioning: NMAEYC Conference (book by March 6th)

* Free parking and breakfast. No shuttle service, but bus departs from in front of hotel and stops in front of UNM bookstore. Info on ABQ bus routes can be found here.

**Please note that NMAEYC is not responsible for your hotel and travel. Entry tickets to conference does not include the hotel costs. 

This year’s networking event will be at Dave & Busters from 6pm-8pm.

Please join us for an evening of fun, food, networking, drinks, and games.

*Sponsored by



Don’t forget that NMAEYC 2024 will feature a raffle on April 6th.


Lakeshore has donated Climb & Play Log Hideaway as a raffle prize. Stay posted for more large tickets raffle items.

NMAEYC 2024 Annual Conference Agenda

Pre-Conference: Friday, April 5, 2024

9:00am: Badge Pick up

9:00am: Vendors/Exhibitors open up

10:00am – 12:00pm Pre-conference Workshop – Morning session 

12:00pm-1:00pm Lunch on your own

1:15pm- 3:15pm Pre-conference Workshop – Afternoon session

6:00-8:00pm Reception at Dave & Busters

For pre-conference session info click here

* This year’s annual conference will feature morning and afternoon sessions. Each session will be presented in a two hour morning session and a two hour afternoon session.

Conference: Saturday, April 6, 2024

7:00am: Badge Pick up 

7:00am: Breakfast buffet opens

7:15am-7:30am Grand Ballroom -Opening Remarks 

7:30am – 8:30am Keynote 

8:30am Vendors/ Exhibits open up 

9:00-10:00am concurrent sessions

10:15am – 11:15am: concurrent sessions 

11:15am-12:15pm LUNCH on own 

12:30pm-1:30pm: concurrent sessions 

1:45pm-2:45pm: concurrent sessions 

3:00pm – 4:00pm: concurrent sessions

RAFFLE 4:15pm – Ballroom C

Pre-Conference Sessions


Pre-conference will insist of a morning sessions and a different afternoon session. Each morning sessio will be repeated in the afternoon, giving you the opportunity to attend two separate sessions.

Pre-Conference sessions and descriptions:

Seeds and Soil: Planting for the future by Tara Henderson and Lauren Butch of !Explora!

Come join Explora to learn how to plant seeds of STEM with your students! You’ll get dirty with soil and dirt, design your own seed through the Engineering Design Process, and determine your ideal seed bomb. You’ll receive ready-to-go activity cards in Spanish and English, as well as resources and connections to local farms and agricultural STEM role models in Albuquerque and the state. 

This session will also provide opportunities for educators to connect STEAM concepts to literature and stories, make science connections in the everyday lives of their students and families, and strengthen students’ ability to see themselves as capable STEAM learners. 

* This session is being held in a COEHS classroom. It is a 2 minute walk from the SUB and you will be guided there by a volunteer.

Sensory Processing and Supporting Feelings of Safety and Security for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma –  by Oksana Tretiak MOT, OTR/L and Teresa Ziomek MOT, OTR/L of Sandia Sunrise Therapy

Exposure to trauma has neurological, developmental, and social implications. This can lead to changes in sensory processing and increased states of stress, which affects sense of safety and participation in daily activities and learning. This presentation will further discuss changes that occur in a child’s brain following trauma, sensory processing differences, signs of stress, and ways to support a child that has experienced trauma. 

Supporting Language & Social Communication Development for Young Children with Autism (ASD) by Marci Laurel and Sylvia Sarmiento of UNM CDD

Our presentation focuses on language development and the foundations for developing meaningful social communication for young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We highlight the communication challenges that often present for children with ASD in order to guide planning for effective interventions. In addition, we provide specific intervention strategies for early childhood providers and families for promoting social communication development at home and in the community.

Tiny Triumphs: Fostering Positive Behavior in the Early Years by Jackie Shipley – 

A child’s early teachers and caregivers play a vital role in supporting social-emotional development. This session will offer evidence-based strategies and practical tips to create a nurturing environment that encourages positive behaviors in the littlest members of your classroom or program Participants will explore the significance of early interactions, discover effective communication techniques, and gain insights into age-appropriate positive reinforcement. Join us on this enlightening journey as we unlock the secrets to cultivating tiny triumphs and building a solid foundation for lifelong positive behavior in our youngest learners.

* This session is being held in a COEHS classroom. It is a 2 minute walk from the SUB and you will be guided there by a volunteer.

How the Well-Being of Leadership Impacts School Culture & Teacher Retention by Dr. Kelli Sammis of Breathe for Change

The last 3 years have revealed the high levels of stress with which our teachers and students are struggling, and while academic gains have been and will continue to be a focus of our schools, leaders must prioritize the well-being of staff as a foundational tool for school improvement. In order to do that, our leaders’ personal well-being must be given the same level of attention, and this session will do just that– place attention on the well-being of our school leaders which will then in turn bring a well-being focus to the learning environment where they serve.

Session to be led by Dr. Kelli Sammis, retired school administrator with more than sixteen years experience in both campus and district leadership, who is now the Director of School and District Solutions at Breathe For Change.

Zumbini Instructor Training y Caitlin Basler of Zumbini

Created by Zumba and BabyFirst,  Zumbini  is a fun, unique, and effective ECE program designed to promote cognitive, social, emotional, and motor skill development for children ages 0 – 5 through music and movement. Appropriate with and without caregivers present for each child, the Zumbini program is made up of singing, dancing, and instrument play for non-stop learning, bonding, and fun.

New Mexico AEYC has partnered with Zumbini to bring this live instructor training event so that you can bring this program to your community or early learning program.

Seedlings & Natural Strengths: Tending the Beginnings of Executive Functioning by Dr. Layne Kalbfleisch

This session dives into the specific ages and growth patterns for the executive skills that support behavior, emotions, and problem solving.  We’ll connect what young children experience on the inside to what you see on the outside, affirming and creating routines to fit your practice. 

2024 Conference Pricing   

Super Early Bird Registration – Oct 20 – Nov 12

Early Bird Registration – Nov 13 – Jan 5 Jan 12


Early Bird Registratin has been extended through January 12, 2024. Get in on the special early bird pricing before it ends.

Exhibitor pricing:  $40 per table per day         SOLD OUT!

Please return all completed forms to michelle@nmaeyc.org so you may receive a quote for your PO request.

NMAEYC Conference 2024 Sponsorship Levels

  • Copper ($300-$499): You will receive a 6’ table for exhibiting at the NMAEYC Annual Conference, get one free conference registration; be mentioned in the Annual Conference Program, and a social media sponsorship “thank you”.

  • Bronze ($500-$999): You will receive a 6’ table for exhibiting at the NMAEYC Annual Conference, get two free conference registration; be mentioned in the Annual Conference Program and two social media sponsorship “thank you”.
  • Silver ($1,000-$1,999): You will receive a 6’ table for exhibiting at the NMAEYC Annual Conference, get four free conference registrations, and receive space for a quarter page (3.75”W x 5”H) ad in our Annual Conference Program, and two social media sponsorship “thank you”.
  • Gold ($2,000-$4,999): You will receive a 6’ table for exhibiting at the NMAEYC Annual Conference, six free conference registrations, featured in Annual Conference digital signage, and receive space for a half page (7.5”W x 5”H) ad in our Annual Conference Program, and three social media sponsorship “thank you”.
  • Platinum ($5,000-$9,999): You will receive a 6’ table for exhibiting at the NMAEYC Annual Conference, eight free conference registrations, featured prominently on NMAEYC Social Media platforms, in Annual Conference digital signage, and receive space for a full page (7.5”W x 10”H) ad in our Annual Conference Program. 
  • Diamond ($10,000-$24,999): You will receive a 6’ table for exhibiting at the NMAEYC Annual Conference, fifteen free conference registrations to distribute to your employees or members, featured prominently on our Social Media platforms, receive top billing in our Annual Conference digital signage, and receive space for a full page (7.5”W x 10”H) ad in our Annual Conference Program.
  • Ruby ($25,000-$39,999): You will receive a 6’ table for exhibiting at the NMAEYC Annual Conference, twenty free conference registrations to distribute to your employees or members, featured prominently on our Social Media platforms, receive top billing in our Annual Conference digital signage, and receive space for a full page (7.5”W x 10”H) ad in our Annual Conference Program. 
  • Presenting ($40,000 or more, one sponsor only): You will receive a 6’ table for exhibiting at the NMAEYC Annual Conference, thirty free conference registrations to distribute to your employees or members, be listed as the presenter in all Conference logos, digital/print media, and on the NMAEYC website (i.e., “The 2024 NMAEYC Annual Conference presented by YOUR ORGANIZATION OR BUSINESS), your name and logo will appear alongside the NMAEYC logo on all conference bags, featured prominently on our Social Media platforms, receive top billing in our Annual Conference digital signage, and receive space for two full page (7.5”W x 10”H) ads in our Annual Conference Program.

Contact michelle@nmaeyc.org or alicia@nmaeyc.org to sponsor.

Advertise in the New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children’s 2024 Annual Conference’s Physical and Digital Programs

Contact michelle@nmaeyc.org to advertise.

NMAEYC Annual & Regional Conferences – Past Conferences

Todos Unidos: Professional Learning Institute

Our first southern New Mexico regional conference was a huge success. We welcomed over 200 people at NMSU’s Health and Social Services building for a day of learning and excitement. We would like to extend our gratitude to those who made the day possible: NMSU’s School of Social Work & Dr. Stacy Gherardi; NMSU’s HEST & Dean Yoshi Iwasaki; Lt. Governor Howie Morales; Las Cruces Mayor Kenneth Miyagishima; Dr. Loui Reyes, and Ballet Folklórico Corazón de Las Cruces.

NMAEYC 2023 Annual Conference: The Power of Play in Our Everyday

NMAEYC 2023 was a smashing success!  We had over 1050 attendees – our largest conference in recent history; over 55 exhibitors and sponsors, and more than  75 concurrent sessions. We’re amazed with how much our annual conference grows each year, and can’t wait to do it again in 2024!

Don’t forget to check out our upcoming Southern NM Professional Learning Institute, which will be happening October 20-21, 2023 in Las Cruces. We look forward to seeing you soon and at next year’s conference.


Thank you to this year’s keynote speaker, Sean Buchanan. We’ve received nothing but positive feedback about his keynote address.

Below you will find presentations from NMAEYC’s 2023 Annual Conference.

NMAEYC 2022 was a fantastic success!  We hosted over 800 attendees, nearly 50 exhibitors and sponsors, and over 70 engaging sessions at UNM’s Student Union Building in the heart of the campus.

Come back and see us next year as we continue to grow this wonderful event.

2022 Keynote Speaker:

Dr. John W. Hodge

Dr. John W. Hodge is president and co-founder of Urban Learning and Leadership Center (ULLC), an organization focused on student achievement and reduction of the achievement gap. He has served as a reading teacher, English teacher, AVID teacher, Assistant Principal and Associate Director of AVID Center Eastern Division. He served as Director of An Achievable Dream Academy, an inner city school that piloted many of the interventions used by Urban Learning and Leadership Center. An Achievable Dream Academy is a high performing, high poverty school that has received numerous national awards.

Watch his moving keynote speech here!


NMAEYC 2022 Conference Presenation Videos

Refresh your memory with videos of presentations from our 2022 conference.


2021 Virtual Conference Keynote Speech

PBS Dinosaur Train host and California Academy of Sciences director Scott Sampson gives a wonderful talk about how to get our kids out into nature.

The video begins with opening remarks by Albuquerque First Lady Elizabeth Keller and then followed by some remarks by Executive Director Alicia Borrego and Board President Kathy DeSoto-Strickland.

2020 Conference Keynote Speech

Author and illustrator Suzanne Kaufman talks about her story and the importance of inclusivity.


Conference Highlights from Previous Years

Watch one of these videos to see what in-person NMAEYC conferences have been like!

NMAEYC is now a virtual organization!

Mailing address:
1933 San Mateo Blvd NE #258
Albuquerque, NM 87110

PHONE: 505 264 5464

Many thanks to our sponsors and grant funders!

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