Roger was the first out LGBTQ member of the New Mexico State House!
Representative Roger E. Montoya is an artist and humanitarian– who was honored as a 2019 CNN Hero for his lifelong commitment to community on behalf of the youth of New Mexico. Montoya sees the world as a painter would, a blank canvas with great opportunity to influence it with color, vibrancy and purpose.
30 years ago, Montoya returned to New Mexico to die after three of his partners succumbed to HIV/AIDS. While back in NM, he turned his attention to pressing social and community needs. He founded Espanola HELPS (HIV Education Longevity Prevention and Support); La Tierra Montessori School of the Arts and Sciences, now one of the Top 25 schools in New Mexico; Espanola Pathways Homeless Shelter, the first homeless shelter in northern NM, and Moving Arts Espanola, a 2019 CNN Hero award winner.
In 2020, Montoya was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives, representing district 40 in rural northern NM– becoming the first openly gay and HIV+ positive member of the body.
He has since become the leading rural champion in New Mexico, introducing landmark legislation that helps to solve the disparity between rural and urban communities.