2013: New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission Announces Appointments Of Three New Members (2)

ALBUQUERQUE -- The New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (JPEC) has announced the appointment of three new members: Michael Aragon of Las Vegas, Laura Hart Howell of Silver City and Kelly Kuenstler of Deming.

JPEC was established by the Supreme Court of New Mexico in 1997 as a volunteer nonpartisan commission to improve the performance of New Mexico’s judges and provide useful, credible information to voters on judges standing for retention in elections.

Aragon attended New Mexico Highlands University, graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration and Management degree. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico School of Law. While attending law school, he received the Dean's Award for Outstanding Contribution to the UNM School of Law and served as President of the UNM School of Law Student Bar Association.

Aragon has worked as a law clerk for the New Mexico Attorney General, a Law Extern for the United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, an Associate Attorney for Lastrapes & Spangler, P.A. in Rio Rancho and a Special Assistant Attorney General for the New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division. He is currently in private practice as sole owner of the Aragon Law Office in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Howell has more than 25 years’ experience in marketing, advertising and public relations. She spent much of her career running her own firm based in Silver City, overseeing a number of national clients.

Howell joined the Gila Regional Medical Center (GRMC) marketing team in 2005. Her responsibilities include working with the GRMC Collaborative Council, editing the Good Health Newsletter, managing the hospital website, and serving as digital marketing specialist.

Howell is a past recipient of the Grant County Business Woman of the Year Award, past president of Rotary Club of Silver City, and past co-director of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program at St. Vincent de Paul. She currently serves as secretary to the Grant County Prospectors. In addition, she has served as an adjunct professor for Western New Mexico University in graphic design and marketing.

Howell holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in advertising design from University of Oklahoma and a Master of Communications degree from Pratt Institute, New York City.

Kuenstler is the County Manager for Luna County. She has been involved in New Mexico government for more than 20 years and has served on numerous boards and commissions.   Previously, she served as Executive Director for the New Mexico Administrative Office of the District Attorneys.

Kuenstler holds a Master of Communications degree from New Mexico State University, where she graduated with honors.

The New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission is comprised of individuals — seven lawyers and eight non-lawyers — who are appointed by the Supreme Court to staggered terms. Members are selected from nominations made by the Governor, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Speaker of the House, Senate President Pro Tempore, House Minority Leader, Senate Minority Leader and President of the State Bar.

For more information about the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, interested individuals may call Louise Baca-Sena, Project Manager, at (505) 827-4960, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the Commission’s website at www.nmjpec.org.

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