Lea Anne Zukowski, JD, LPCC, and beloved mother, sister, and friend, passed away on Sunday, August 5, 2018, at the age of 43 years.
Lea was born on May 16, 1975, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A lifelong native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lea attended Sandia High School and the University of New Mexico, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology and a Master of Arts in Counseling, and the UNM School of Law. Lea zealously advocated for the people she served, from her 14-year career at Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center where she worked as Milieu Director for over six years, managing the direct care of children coping with mental illness, to her work in the legal field. Lea spoke out clearly and unapologetically to protect the rights and safety of the children at Sequoyah, and when her career ended at Sequoyah, Lea sought a career in law to continue fighting for the rights of children and people with disabilities. Lea was an exceptional law student, working as a research assistant and student team leader on important mental and developmental disability issues, as a student attorney in the housing clinic for which she was awarded Clinical Honors, and as editor on the New Mexico Law Review.
After graduation, Lea worked as a staff attorney at Disability Rights New Mexico, where she advocated effectively and successfully on behalf of people with disabilities in virtually every area of law DRNM handles, including representing clients in many individual cases such as Medicaid and guardianship proceedings, monitoring the living conditions of people with developmental disabilities in the largest disability rights class action lawsuit in the State of New Mexico, and developing systemic litigation to provide mental health services for children with disabilities—to name only a few of her accomplishments. Lea worked doggedly to acquire life-saving services for her clients and to give people with disabilities a voice in their day-to-day lives and in the greater community. Most notably, Lea single-handedly researched, wrote, and published a law review article, entitled “To Shield and Protect: The Competence to Stand Trial Doctrine in New Mexico,” that is now widely used as a definitive source on that issue.
While Lea’s legacy will continue through her work, Lea’s memory will be cherished by the people whose lives she touched. Lea was the living embodiment of courage, compassion, intelligence, wisdom, honor, justice, and persistence. She was first and foremost a devoted mother to her daughter, Kaitlin Jane, and will be lovingly remembered by her daughter, Katie; brother, Michael; and sister-in-law, Lynese Zukowski; sister, Mary Zukowski and brother-in-law, Edward Dlugokecki; and sister, Susan Adrian. Visitation will be held on Friday, August 17, 2018, 5:00 p.m-7:00 p.m. at FRENCH- Lomas. Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, August 18, 2018, 9:00 a.m. at FRENCH- Lomas. A Memorial Reception will be held after the Funeral Service, 2:00 p.m. at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, located at 2401 12th Street NW Albuquerque, NM .