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2024 henrietta pettijohn honorees 

Maria montoya Chavez, Henrietta Pettijohn Honoree 

Maria Montoya Chavez is the first female and the first Hispanic President and CEO of Sutin, Thayer & Browne. She has been a lawyer since 2000 and practices exclusively in family law: divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of complex assets such as professional practices and other businesses in the divorce context. She is a collaborative law-trained attorney and enjoys serving as a mediator and settlement facilitator.

Maria joined Sutin,Thayer & Browne in 2000 and has led the firm in numerous different arenas, including four years on our Board of Directors, as well as serving as Vice President for two years. She was also on the Board of the New Mexico Collaborative Practice Group, Board of Keshet Dance Company and was the Vice President for Del Norte Rotary Club of Albuquerque. Maria is recognized and endorsed by both her clients and her peers. She was voted Top 3 Divorce Attorneys in 2023 by the Albuquerque Journal Readers’ Choice Awards and America’s Best Lawyers named her Albuquerque Lawyer of the Year for her work in Family Law Mediation in 2024. Maria is also a recipient of Albuquerque Business First’s “40 Under 40” and “Women of Influence” awards. Maria understands going through a divorce is one of the most difficult times of a person’s life on many levels. She approaches each case by providing the client with an understanding of the legal issues, provides knowledge about available options and attempts to first resolve the matter amicably. Maria has the experience to be an effective Court Advocate. 

She is dedicated to helping clients be the best they can be both during and after the divorce. Maria’s commitment to family law is further shown by her involvement with the “Divorce Options Workshop” in which she educates the public on divorce and custody, and her volunteer work with the Second Judicial District’s “Family Law Clinic” where unrepresented people inquire into domestic relations matters. She has been a presenter at several family law and collaborative law seminars where she educates attorneys with a focus on amicable resolution for the families of divorce. Maria leads Sutin attorneys, whose practice areas include Business Law, Tax, Estate Planning, Cannabis Law, Banking, Real Estate and Employment Law.

KACey hovden, Rising Star Award HONOREE

Kacey Hovden is an Environmental Justice Staff Attorney at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. Her work focuses on centering, supporting, and serving frontline and fenceline Indigenous communities, communities of color, and low-income communities in their efforts and advocacy for their inherent rights to clean, safe and accessible resources and environments, as well as supporting their fights to protect and secure their civil rights - including ensuring their meaningful access to and participation in public processes. Her main priority is to work alongside Environmental Justice communities in shifting the legal system and larger society to center these communities’ voices and priorities first and foremost in a meaningful way, as well as to address and deconstruct the existing and systemic barriers thereto. 


Kacey earned her J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law, where she also published four separate legal articles on various environmental matters. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a minor in Legal Studies from Briar Cliff University, in Sioux City, Iowa, where she also played basketball and cross country for BCU. In her free time in Las Cruces, Kacey volunteers as both a youth basketball and soccer coach; shares ample time with her two cats Binx and Stitch; and can also be found still playing basketball, alongside gardening, painting, exploring the outdoors, and whatever other hobbies have caught her interest on any given week. 

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