What is SafeTeen New Mexico?

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SafeTeen New Mexico is proud to be one of the six best community service programs in the United States as awarded in 2009 by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the Center for Association Leadership in Washington D.C.

SafeTeen New Mexico is a youth driven non-profit organization. We partner with both public and private entities to fund and create programs that educate teens, parents, educators and community leaders about critical issues facing youth. Our programs include both In-School Assemblies as well as broadcast based Social Marketing Campaigns. Programs have included: distracted driving, underage drinking, drug abuse, date violence, body image, addiction, suicide and many others.

SafeTeen’s vision is to create awareness in order to facilitate healthy decision making. Students, parents, community leaders and schools work with SafeTeen to create our programs. The SafeTeen organization exists to help youth make healthy decisions and prevent dangerous behavior.

SafeTeen Social Marketing Campaigns and In-School Issue Awareness Programs have reached well over five million people. That includes primetime broadcast of our Emmy © Award winning documentaries on the PBS, CBS, NBC and ABC local affiliates.

Program History

SafeTeen New Mexico was established in 2001 and is housed and managed by the Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico organization. Our mission is to address the high rate of intentional and unintentional injuries among New Mexico’s teens, especially resutling from motor vehicle crashes.  SafeTeen began by working to educate teenagers about the real consequences of reckless driving and to change their behavior behind the wheel. In 2005, SafeTeen, Inc. was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization and expanded its vision to address a wide variety of issues impacting teen safety.


The number one killer of teenagers is car crashes. As a result, SafeTeen’s initial focus was to develop a driver awareness program that resonated with teens. We found that customized, in-school assemblies worked well when the program was created and presented by the students themselves. To do this, SafeTeen works with student leaders chosen by their high school’s staff. Armed with facts about teenage accident rates, clips from our documentary about distracted driving and input about what has been done at other schools, they are enabled to create an innovative, high impact experience that allows their peers to fully understand the dangers that exist when driving or riding in a car.

Each school controls the content and delivery of their particular message. Some like the all-school assembly format, while other schools prefer a more intimate setting with smaller groups viewing multiple presentations.

SafeTeen has been working with schools and teens since 2001 to create these types of programs. To date, some 100 programs have been viewed by over 150,000 students, teachers and parents at high schools throughout the state. With a decade of experience to draw on, including statistics we gather from ‘pre’ and ‘post’ assembly surveys, we have learned a great deal about reaching teens. First of all, teens will listen to their peers. Secondly, those peers are much more effective in delivering the message if they are invested in the process of creating that message. Finally, ‘scare’ tactics don’t work with today’s teens. However, a personal testimonial from someone they know about the conscequences of a preventable auto accident will have a lasting impact.

SafeTeen uses our experience with Driver Awareness Programs to create in-school assemblies about other critiical issues facing youth.  The same principles can be used to educate students about the dangers of underage drinking, drug use, date violence, and mental health issues, among others. And since we have now created 18 documentaries on a variety of topics in conjunction with our social marketing campaigns, we have a large library of video clips that can be used in assemblies to frame an issue and help capture the attention of teens who are so comfortable with watching a film clip.


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As a broad based outreach, SafeTeen creates a social marketing campaign each year around a youth safety issue. With topics selected in conjunction with our Youth Advisory Board, the campaign usually consists of a television broadcast documentary and statewide town hall meeting, other electronic and print media partnerships, as well as innovative outreach efforts including text messaging and internet components.

The programs are designed for parents and teens to watch together or for use in school classrooms and with other youth organizations. An accompanying viewer guide helps open discussion about teen choices and healthy decision making.


Our Youth Advisory Board is comprised of Teens from different organizations, including the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council in Albuquerque, the New Mexico Association of Student Councils, and the New Mexico Youth Alliance. These teens from across New Mexico ensure a youth perspective is driving the SafeTeen agenda.

Thom Turbett

Chris Schueler
Executive Director

Executive Comittee

Thom Turbett
Board President
CEO, Independent Insurance Agents of NM
Diane Lopez
Board Vice President
President / Diane Lopez Consultants
Chris Schueler
Board Executive Director
President / CEO, Christopher Productions, LLC

Art Gardenswartz
Founder/Member Emeritas

Dana Pappas
Board Secretary
Officer/ New Mexico Activities Association

Board Members

Patty Padon, President
Mary Beth Weeks 
President NM Parent Teacher Association
Renata Witte
NM Parent Teacher Association
Cynthia Bahling
State Farm Insurance
Linda Thompson
La Cueva High School
Mary Hahn
NM Association Of Student Councils
Susan McKee
Albuquerque Public Schools
Tessa Medina-Lucero
NM Dept. of Health