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Board of Directors


Esther Devall


Esther recently retired as a professor of Family and Child Science from New Mexico State University. She loved sharing her passion about human development and family relationships with students, engaging in research to better understand family dynamics, and directing grant-funded projects to evaluate family strengthening programs. She has been a member of Soroptimist for almost 30 years because she believes in the mission to empower women and girls through education. She was a first-generation college student from a family of limited financial resources, so she knows the life-changing power of an education. In addition to her involvement with Soroptimist, she is active in her church and a community advocate for the prevention of adverse childhood events. She enjoys playing with her two dogs, working crossword and Sudoku puzzles, reading good fiction, attending theater performances, and traveling around the world.

Lynda Hayes

President Elect

Lynda is a native Californian who in her early career tried banking and secretarial jobs, then decided to join The Legendary Ambush Country Band for 10 years. After that she went back to school to earn her BSBA while working, and went on to positions in Marketing, Real Estate, and Customer Support for a Medical Device Manufacturer. She’s passionate about the importance of education and is delighted to join such a wonderful group of women making a difference in others’ lives. She will soon retire and looks forward to traveling, reading, and trying new experiences like pickleball!

Diana Davidson


As a retired educator, Diana  knows the importance of education. After 27 years in the classroom, she joined SI-Las Cruces in 2016 to help young women finish their educations. “These women have overcome many obstacles to obtain an education and SILC provides them with the extra help they need to achieve their educational goals,” Diana says. “It has been a very rewarding experience to belong to an organization with like-minded women.” Diana also is a board member of the Amador Hotel Foundation and volunteers for the Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary. She enjoys hiking, quilting and traveling. 

Margo Bencomo


Margo was born and raised in New Mexico and has lived in Las Cruces since 2003. After many years working in the non-profit sector and for various government agencies, she decided to become self-employed. She has owned and operated Busy Bees since 2005, a company that provides help with household chores –large and small -- that clients cannot do themselves or simply do not have time to do. She recently started an AirBNB business, and in Summer 2022 published a book on Beatles fandom. She has two grown children and three grandchildren and feels blessed that they all presently live in Las Cruces. 

Christine Hyde

Public Awareness Director

Christine relocated to Las Cruces in 2020 and chose to become involved with Soroptimist of Las Cruces in order to help economically empower the women and girls in southern New Mexico through education. Christine's background and skills in both the hospitality and the information technology sectors are put to good use to foster communication about and public awareness of Soroptimist activities. Christine spends much of her spare time visiting extensive family in the southwest, west and northwest; reading; walking and hiking; and decorating her new home.

Lori Leach


Lori recently retired from her career as a licensed professional counselor in college/university settings. She worked primarily with students from underrepresented populations, treating anxiety and depression as well as providing support and guidance with negotiating the college environment. Her passion of supporting education for girls and women continues, and when she was introduced to Soroptimist International Las Cruces it was a perfect fit. Lori is grateful to have more time to engage in her interests of reading, painting, participating in the Mesilla Valley Film Society, and learning line dancing for the first time. She also loves traveling the world with her husband and is hopeful they will be able to resume their adventures soon.

Jan Brydon


In her career as a writer and editor, Jan applied her skills to many different types of communication - from writing video scripts, magazine articles and speeches to designing publications layouts and editing scientific journal articles. After retirement, she served both as president and public awareness director of SI-Las Cruces, using her skills to help increase awareness of the Soroptimist mission and educational programs that empower women and girls. This year, while maintaining the club's archives, Jan is also serving as the Public Awareness Chair of the Soroptmist Golden West Region. Jan earned a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Journalism from Michigan State University in 1972. When she isn't promoting Soroptimist, Jan enjoys cooking, knitting, gardening, bicycling, and hiking and camping with her husband, Terry Canup. 


Verlan Schwehn

LYDA Chairperson

Verlan retired from public school education in 2002. With a Bachelor's degree in Education - K through 8 and Masters in Education with an emphasis on Reading, K-12 (both from NMSU), she enjoyed teaching students, ranging from third graders to adults. She has lived in Las Cruces since 2003. Some of her favorite past-times are reading, especially historical fiction, exercising in a tap class, traveling, learning Spanish, painting, visiting museums, spending time with family and friends, attending live music theatre, and watching good movies with her husband, Jeff Schwehn. A member of Soroptimist International of Las Cruces since 2016, Verlan enjoys the friendships she's made and the opportunities to work with like-minded women who are interested in improving the lives of women in her community and across the world.


Joan Dormody

Membership Chairperson

Joan had a rewarding career as a college instructor and advisor at Dona Ana Community College for 25 years. She loved using her two degrees in nutrition to help students and their families understand the importance of a healthy diet. Being a retired educator, she believes in the Soroptimist mission and vision of helping women and girls reach their full potential and achieve economic empowerment through education. Joan is active in her church, her neighborhood HOA and enjoys cooking, hiking, biking, and traveling with her husband, Tom.


Chris Sheppard

DIBI Chairperson

Chris graduated from Purdue University in 1989 and since then has made a variety of career moves. She has worked in Sales and Project Management in numerous industries, including vertical transportation, tourism and film. She is currently working as an independent contractor for film productions coming to Las Cruces. She and her family enjoy traveling and when they are at home, crafting and hanging out with the family dogs. Chris’ passion for helping young women stems from her own experiences and those of her daughter. She sees education as the best way to help women to make a difference in the lives of their families for many generations.