Founder of Pegasus Legal Services for Children
1993 Global Fellow
Tara Ford is the co-director of Pegasus Legal Services for Children. She has been involved in children’s legal issues for twenty years. Ms. Ford is a frequent speaker at national and state conferences regarding the important role of education in children’s lives; she often teaches as an adjunct faculty at the UNM School of Law and she regularly works with state and community stakeholders to develop policies that support children in New Mexico. Ms. Ford was awarded the 2004 Children’s Champion in Legal Advocacy from Parents for Behaviorally Different Children. In 2005 the State Bar of New Mexico recognized Ms. Ford for her “Outstanding Contribution to People with Disabilities.” In 2010 Ms. Ford was honored to receive the Patty Jennings Citizen Advocacy Award from New Mexico Voices for Children. She has been recognized the National Association for Children as a Child Welfare Law Specialist since 2006. Pegasus Legal Services for Children was awarded the 2006 Justice Mary Walters Award from the UNM Women’s Law Caucus and the Henrietta Pettijohn award from the New Mexico Women’s Bar Foundation.
In 1993, New Mexico still had two institutions that housed persons with developmental disabilities. Through the New Mexico Protection and Advocacy System, Ms. Ford worked to ensure that individuals moving from institutions to homes had the services they needed. Community supports for individuals whose disabilities included challenging behaviors were often lacking. During the last two years of her project, Ms. Ford wanted to address this problem at the front end and focused on advocating for children with challenging behaviors, working to ensure that they had the support they needed to stay in the school setting. The project relied on individual representation to positively impact the lives of individuals with disabilities, as well as building community support for policy changes that would maximize services available for persons with disabilities, especially students with challenging behaviors.