Laura Hanish Scholarship

Laura Hanish was a beloved member of the New Mexico defense community who was tragically killed along with her daughter Shanta in 2019. For many years, Laura was one of only a handful of social workers on staff at the Law Offices of the Public Defender. Despite the challenges, she constantly found new ways to help clients. She is remembered not only for how many lives she touched, but also the way she helped families feel heard and understood. Laura was always curious to learn everything she could about the clients she served. Laura was patient and always took her time to get to know you. She was empathetic and never judgmental. You could feel how much she cared about you and that’s what made her so special. Laura was a light of hope for those of us who were blessed to know her, and she will remain in our hearts forever.

Laura emphasized the humanity in everyone, and she believed that all human beings are worthwhile. Although she preferred to stay out of the limelight, she was the person everyone turned to for help. Laura believed in holistic defense and that social workers belonged as equal members of the defense team. Eventually Laura transitioned to Capital Crimes at LOPD and those that worked with her often have similar stories to share. Such as Laura leaving Albuquerque at 4am to drive to Hobbs to meet with the grandmother of a client for emotional support before driving back to Albuquerque late at night. Despite her busy work schedule, Laura was also active at her church and would often prepare dinner for people living at Dismas House. Laura took care of people in the community and she was well loved because of her presence. She was six months away from retirement with plans to travel the world and do all the things that brought her joy. Laura always found the time and attention to be of help, in a way that made a difference.

Laura was a loving mom to Shanta, a social justice warrior, a dog mom, and an avid runner. She was a lifelong learner and would even pay out of her own pocket to attend conferences for new information she thought would benefit her clients. Laura was a champion for her profession and was always willing to help defense professionals beyond the Public Defender community to find resources and alternatives to incarceration for their clients

The Laura Hanish Scholarship is sponsored by Laura’s family in her honor and is used to provide financial assistance for continuing professional education. The Scholarship is open to defense professionals, including social workers, mitigation specialists, paralegals and others in the defense community. 

Contribute to the Laura Hanish Scholarship Fund today!

Thank you to the 2020 contributors!

Eda Gordon – Angelica Hall – Dane Hannum – Daniel Lindsey – Alan Maestas – Jean McCray – Nia Rucker – Phyllis Subin