Marano Fellows Class of 2014
Name: Adrienne R. Smith

Executive Director


New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition

Location: Placitas, NM
Industry Sector: Healthcare

Organizational Background & Mission: NMDCC is a statewide organization created in 2009 to promote the voice of family and professional caregivers. Our mission is increase the quality of care provided to persons who are elderly and those with disabilities by improving the education and skills of direct caregivers. We do this by advocating for a well-trained, diverse direct care workforce, promoting education, training, better wages and benefits, professional and leadership development for and with caregivers.

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions has determined the size of the wage-earning direct care workforce the paid labor force of direct caregivers will grow from 50,000 to more than 61,000 in 2016. According to the New Mexico Department of Aging and Long-Term Services, the number of informal or unpaid family caregivers--many of whom may seek to enter or re-enter the workforce--number 210,000, almost four times the number of paid caregivers!

Caregivers in this sector are primarily women, often heads of households, with a high-school education, generally earning at or slightly above minimum wage ($9-$12 per hour in NM). For many, direct care is a second job. Employee benefits-paid health insurance, travel pay, holidays or sick leave-seldom for caregivers. Even if employers offer these, caregivers cannot afford the employee share of the premium.

New Mexico Direct Caregiver Coalitionís sole target occupation is the New Mexico Caregiver: wage-earners and volunteer, unpaid family caregivers, many of whom are now armed with skills to enter or re-enter the workforce. NMDCC has been uniquely successful in reaching this group of workers, volunteers and their supporters and is a recognized advocate for this workforce. We have an active database of 7,500 caregivers, recipients and their supporters who benefit from our education and training and advocacy for workplace supports.

Interest in Sector Work: My exposure and experience with family members, most of whom are medical professionals, created an ease with the language of the field and a respect for those who devote their lives to caring for others. In my early professional life, I chose the completely different path of workforce development and youth employment, falling into that field and through the initiative of Governor Ray Mabus whose Commission on Workforce Excellence I staffed in 1988 (workforce development was a key policy area for the National Governors' Commission at that time and Gov Mabus saw state workforce policy as the way to transform Mississippi.

A lifetime of work in the public sector continues to motivate me because I, too, believe public policy can be transformational. I seek to bring the health care and workforce sectors together in ways that can serve as a model for the rest of the country.

Through the Aspen Institute Sector Skills Academy, I seek to:

  1. Connect with like-minded colleagues and key leaders who I expect will be staff and faculty to learn all I can learn about emerging trends and practices that intersect health care and workforce development.
  2. Continue to grow, change, learn and be relevant in my field of workforce development.
  3. Further challenge myself in organizational leadership and development practices by adapting or changing present practice to be a more effective leader for and with others.