La Semilla, a non-profit organization serving the Paso del Norte region of Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso Texas, work includes education, policy, production at a community farm, aggregation and distribution of locally grown food. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Liz studied Biochemistry at DePaul University and came to Southern New Mexico in 2012 to serve as a FoodCorps Service Member. Liz is also a cut flower and herb farmer and enjoys mountain biking in the beautiful Chihuahuan Desert.
Throughout his career, as a professional mountaineering guide, Luis has summited the top of the famed “Seven Summits” a cumulative 32 times, including being a six-time summiteer of Mt. Everest. At the start of his career, Benitez spent a decade managing the well-established leadership development school, Outward Bound Professional in Colorado. Luis has also served as the COO and Director of Operations for Adventure Consultants (AC), a highly respected New Zealand-based global expedition firm with a long and storied history of leading trips on Mt. Everest that was featured both in the book Into Thin Air and in the movie Everest. Benitez also helped create the nonprofit Trekking For Kids, which focuses on service based expeditions allowing participants to climb and trek while teaching them about local issues like housing and healthcare for disadvantaged youth around the world. Benitez was also a founding partner for Warriors to Summits, a nonprofit focusing on serving returning Veterans by connecting them with the outdoors. In the last 10 years, Benitez has grown to have a deeper investment in public service 1st by serving as a Town Councilman in Eagle, Colorado and then serving as the 1st State Director for the Outdoor Recreation Industry office for the State of Colorado under the Hickenlooper administration before leaving for his current position at VF Corporation.
At a young age Dustin developed an affinity for backpacking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, skiing, rock climbing, bow hunting and generally anything out ``where the wild things roam``. In 2003 a motorcycle accident causing paraplegia dramatically changed his relationship with his beloved great outdoors. Out of necessity, in 2005 he founded GO Unlimited as a 501c3 not for profit with a mission to help people whose mobility has been compromised enjoy outdoor sports and recreation. Today, the organization manages several adaptive boating, cycling, hunting, fishing and therapeutic recreation programs across New Mexico.
In the past three decades, Tony Boone has passionately led teams in planning, designing and constructing over 1,000 km of sustainable, shared-use trails for people of all ages and abilities. Tony is considered a true pioneer in the art and evolution of sculpting sustainable, machine and hand-built trails for mountain bikers, runners, hikers and equestrians. While he was President of Anasazi Trails, Inc. (2007-2012), his team completed a 475 km Trail Feasibility Study for the Rio Grande Trail from Belen, NM to Mexico Border. As President of Arrowhead Trails, Inc. (1994- 2010), he was responsible for developing Trail Master Plans for 20 Colorado State Parks. Tony’s work includes over 325 successful trail projects encompassing fifteen U.S. states and nine countries including: U.S., Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Costa Rica, Iceland, Aruba, and the Philippines.
As the X3 Workforce Learning Coordinator, Alayna’s role is to collaborate with X3 staff and partners to co-create and implement curriculum and preparatory experiences for X3 internships and virtual internships. She co-led X3’s first virtual internship in the summer of 2020, which sparked her interest in using virtual internships to provide students with a unique experience and access to develop the necessary professional skills during the pandemic. Alayna recently facilitated a state-wide pilot OREC summer internship program. She also has experience designing virtual internships and leading cohorts of young parents in the spring.
As the Director of Arrowhead’s accelerator programs, SBIR assistance program, and NM FAST, Dana provides support on strategic planning, operations, grants, written communication, and program development. She also serves as Arrowhead Center’s northern New Mexico liaison, where she represents the organization at events and functions, serves on advisory councils, presents on programmatic initiatives, and performs outreach.
Karl started with the National Park Service in Yellowstone National Park in 1992 as a park ranger and outdoor recreation planner. In 2008, he was selected to become a Bevinetto Congressional Fellow where he worked as a committee staff to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee under the leadership of U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (NM). He later became the Park Superintendent at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in southern Arizona protecting and interpreting the ancient structures of the Hohokam culture. In 2014, Mr. Cordova was selected as Park Superintendent of Pecos National Historical Park. He has also served as the acting Park Superintendent at Bent's Old Fort National Historical Site, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and Bandelier National Monument.
David Crider is a trailblazer for outdoor recreation tourism. His outdoor outfitting business, Southwest Expeditions, offers unique outdoor tours throughout southern New Mexico. From river trips to historical excursions, star parties to film tourism, Southwest Expeditions is constantly exploring innovative ways to tie together all of a region's assets to grow outdoor tourism and recreation.
In addition to being New Mexico’s state Climatologist Dr. Dubois is the Director of the New Mexico Climate Center, and Associate College Professor at New Mexico State University.
Dr. DuBois provides climate and climate change information and education to policy makers, the agricultural community, industry, educators, students, and the public. In addition, he also gives numerous talks and holds workshops every year on topics covering climate, drought, air quality, and climate change. Dr. DuBois teaches and trains students at New Mexico State University and maintains an active research program in air quality and climate. He earned a BA in Physics from Rutgers University, a MS in Physics from New Mexico State University, and a PhD in Atmospheric Science from the University of Nevada Reno.
In 2014 Nate was elected to the Farmington City Council and Mayor in 2018. Driven by a commitment to diversify the regional economy to help buttress the challenges of a changing energy market, Nate championed growing the outdoor economy. Recognizing the value of the area's tremendous outdoor assets, incredible high desert climate, unique cultural heritage, and access to big city amenities, Mayor Duckett and the Convention and Visitors Bureau developed the Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative (ORII for short) and a new tag line “Jolt Your Journey.” Farmington’s ORII has brought together regional stakeholders dedicated to work together to attract and promote local outdoor recreation businesses, assets, and seek funding in order to focus their collective resources to meet the call to be a place where outdoor lovers and active families thrive.
As the Executive Director of SUU’s Outdoor Pathways, Dr. Briget Eastep's mission is to connect the SUU community of students, faculty, and staff to public lands in order to create the next generation of outdoor stewards, professionals, and advocates. Dr. Eastep began her career in 1991 as a ranger at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in New Mexico. When Dr. Eastep started at SUU in 2006, she worked with public land professionals in the region to create the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative, which has since placed over 1,500 paid interns into federal and state land agencies. Dr. Eastep partners with the parks and local communities broadening opportunities for service projects, internships and other experiential learning opportunities. She also teaches field courses and stewardship courses in outdoor recreation in the parks and tourism program.
Laura Esteves de Irlanda was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and moved to Santa Fe, NM, in 2010. Most of her career has been in the hospitality industry, with over 15 years of experience. Here in NM, she worked at Buffalo Thunder Resort, El Dorado Hotel & Spa and Sunrise Springs Resort & Spa among others. Trying new ventures, she later joined as co-founder of EarthTraveler, a manufacturer of lightweight teardrop trailers based in Santa Fe, with Angel Irlanda. Inspired by Angel’s ideas and desire to create, she embarks now as well upon the entrepreneurial journey together with him.
Dawn Facka is a long-time resident of San Juan County. Dawn is currently the Regional Manager for WESST Farmington Women’s Business Center and is working to help women break out into the outdoor recreation arena by starting and growing their own businesses. Dawn previously worked in the area of workforce development and has several years of experience in community engagement and project development. Dawn holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Walden University and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from New Mexico Highlands University.
A life-long conservationist, Demis has over 25 years experience working on environmental campaigns and programs in the West. Demis grew up on a five generation family ranch in southern Idaho where she developed a lifelong love for nature, and a deep appreciation for the land and water that sustained the families in her rural farming community.
While earning a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from Boise State University, she worked for the Wolf Recovery Foundation—the first organization in Idaho dedicated to the restoration of wolves in the Rockies. She then moved to the Pacific Northwest where she spent 15 years working on conservation campaigns, adventure and field science programs for youth, and overseeing a national environmental film festival.
Danielle works to further the organization’s mission through operations development, program management, grants and agreement administration and educational outreach. Previously, Danielle served the organization as the Education and Training programs manager – administering all aspects of the Tread Trainer program - Tread Lightly!’s national volunteer training and outreach program. A graduate from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in political science, she is passionate about preserving access to America’s public lands which support outdoor enthusiasts and local communities and economies. Danielle enjoys shooting, horseback riding and all forms of motorized recreation.
Stephanie Garcia Richard is the first woman and educator to be elected to the position of New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands to oversee the State Land Office responsible for raising revenue off state trust lands to pay for New Mexico’s schools and hospitals.
Born in Tucumcari and raised in Silver City, Stephanie learned at a young age the importance of serving others. During her tenure as a New Mexico State Representative and Chair of the House Education Committee, Stephanie championed laws to increase access to a quality education, transparency, and investments in renewable energy, job training, and economic development. As Land Commissioner, Stephanie will ensure we maximize the revenue earned from our land, while diversifying our investments, promoting outdoor recreation, and encouraging renewable and commercial development on state trust lands.
Launched in 2021 in Albuquerque NM, Susan Gautsch is an avid eBike rider and advocate (ebikes and all bikes). Her goal and Free-to-Roam’s core purpose is to enable more enjoyable, sustainable & healthy recreation, mobility and active transportation through ebiking tours, rentals, fleet rentals, lease plans and curated rides for family/friends and business events.
Shannon Glendenning is New Mexico Department of Transportation’s Bicycle/Pedestrian/Equestrian Coordinator and Active Transportation Programs Team Supervisor. She advocates and supports active transportation throughout the state by serving as a resource for the Department, Tribal and Local Public Agencies, and the public, and through the administration of three federal funding programs that support recreation and active transportation in New Mexico. Prior to her work at NMDOT, she has worked to connect people to landscapes and natural resources through work in watershed and environmental education in New Mexico and as a park ranger in Yosemite National Park. Shannon earned a BS in Environmental Management and Protection from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a Master of Planning and Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Wyoming. She has always revered nature, thanks in part to a childhood spend outside skiing, hiking and exploring rugged western landscapes.
In 2012, Carrie became the CEO/President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, an organization which focuses on creating support for local businesses and creating more awareness about sustainable communities. The Las Cruces Green Chamber has been a strong advocate for protecting open spaces, tourism, and local businesses. Carrie is currently President of the Board of Directors for the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope, and chair of their Fundraising/Development and Board Development committees. She is a former Governing Council member of the J. Paul Taylor Academy Charter School. She served 8 years as President of the Las Cruces chapter of PFLAG, a support and advocacy group for the LGBTQI community.
Ken is a native of Bloomfield. His family settled near Salmon Ruins in 1897. He has extensive involvement in economic development planning and activities in San Juan County. Ken served as President of San Juan Economic Development Service and was a founding member of 4 Corners Economic Development. Ken served as a trustee on the San Juan College Board for eleven years and was a founding member of Four Corners Innovation, the research and commercialization entity of San Juan College. Ken is Managing Member of Blanco Basin Land and Cattle Co., LLC, a diversified real estate, agricultural, financial and investment entity. Ken is owner of Golden Hare Enterprises, a management consulting firm and Foliophiles, a company specializing in acquisition of vintage prints and leaves of rare manuscripts.
As Senior Director for Keep America Beautiful, Randy leads a dedicated team of professionals to provide technical assistance and resources to the nonprofit’s 700-plus local affiliate network to build and foster sustainable communities. Prior to joining Keep America Beautiful, Randy served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia and, prior to that, he directed the Office of Environmental Management for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs including overseeing the Keep Georgia Beautiful program. Through his work Randy has helped develop innovative community anti littering programs in diverse outdoor environments.
Elected in 2012, Martin Heinrich is a United States Senator for New Mexico. Heinrich serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources, Armed Services, Intelligence, and Joint Economic Committees. He is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy and the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. With a background in engineering, Heinrich brings a unique perspective to the Senate, where he is focused on creating the jobs of the future and protecting the vital missions at New Mexico’s national labs and military installations. He is a strong advocate for working families, a staunch ally of Indian Country, and a champion for New Mexico’s public lands and growing clean energy economy.
Craig Johnson is the Outdoor Recreation Program manager at the New Mexico State Land Office where he works to expand outdoor recreation opportunities on State Trust Land. After working in the private sector and academia, Craig has worked in New Mexico State Government for the past 15 years. At the Legislative Finance Committee, Craig worked as both a budget analyst and a program evaluator and has served in several positions at the State Land Office including Senior Economist and Assistant Commissioner for Commercial Resources. Craig earned an MBA from the University of New Mexico. Craig enjoys biking and canoeing and is an avid hiker.
Prior to joining Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s cabinet, Alicia J. Keyes was the Director of the Albuquerque Film, Television and Media Office under Mayor Tim Keller. During her time with Keller’s administration, Keyes was instrumental in initiating and closing the recent deal with Netflix in which the company purchased ABQ Studios and committed to spend $1 Billion in production. Before her time with the City of Albuquerque, Keyes was the Executive Director of Worldwide Acquisitions and Co-production for the Walt Disney Company. Keyes began in the entertainment business working for Joel Fields and Len Hill developing television movies. Keyes grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She graduated from the Albuquerque Academy in 1993 and then received her bachelor’s degree at Claremont McKenna College in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández represents New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. In Washington, she holds a leadership role with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as Freshman Representative. Congresswoman Leger Fernández serves as chair of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States for the 117th Congress. She has also been appointed to the House Committee on Education and Labor, the House Committee on Natural Resources, and the Committee on House Administration.
She is a 17th generation Northern New Mexican. Before coming to Congress, Leger Fernández worked as an attorney and advocate, and won important legal battles to advance voting rights, promote tribal sovereignty, and protect our environment and acequia waters. She has helped secure nearly a billion dollars for, and then helped build, schools, rural health clinics, broadband, businesses, affordable housing and critical infrastructure for New Mexico.
Brian Lewis serves on the Board of Invest Southwest, a non-profit focused on connecting regional entrepreneurs and investors through seminars and networking events. Mr. Lewis is currently a Board Member for the United Way of Santa Fe County where Brian serves as both the Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee. Brian is a member of Santa Fe’s Capital Improvements Advisory Committee to which he was appointed by Councilor Romero-Wirth. Mr. Lewis joined Sun Mountain after graduating from Whitman College with a Bachelor of Arts in both Physics and Economics, and a minor in Mathematics with Cum Laude distinction.
Peter Livingstone has been an advocate for outdoor recreation on public lands since retiring from a career as a mining engineer and mine manager. In 2014 he co-founded the Southern New Mexico Trail Alliance, a non-profit advocating for trails and outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands in southern New Mexico. Since 2013 he has served on Doña Ana County Search and Rescue, a non-profit SAR team within the NM Department of Public Safety. In 2018 Peter became the first person to thru-hike the nascent New Mexico Rio Grande Trail on a scouting mission, and in 2020 he was appointed to the Rio Grande Trail Commission. He is a veteran mountain trail and ultra-runner.
The first Latina Democratic governor in the U.S., Michelle Lujan Grisham brings to the office a lifetime of fighting against inequitable treatment and fighting for the rights of the vulnerable, all underlaid with a deep, abiding compassion for those in need of a little more. She campaigned on a message of pragmatic idealism, calling for enhanced investments in public education, aggressive support for a diversified state economy and creative solutions to the entrenched problems within state government. On April 2, 2019 Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law legislation establishing a New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division of the Economic Development Department.
Carmen joined the SBDC in March 2000 where she assists people who want to start a new business, keep an existing business profitable, or want to purchase a business.
Carmen’s background is in banking and financial analysis. She is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) through the National Development Council. The Small Business Administration New Mexico District office awarded her as Women in Business Champion of the year in 2018. Ms. Martinez loves working with business owners in all industries to help them improve their businesses and the economy of San Juan County.
Rafe Martinez is a 30 year educator (administrator, teacher, coach) and co-founder and Executive Director of Albuquerque Sign Language Academy.
For much of her 30 year professional career, Teresa has worked throughout our entire National Trails System. From 1987-2007 she worked for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, from 2007 to 2012 she worked for the Continental Divide Trail Alliance and since 2012 she has been the Executive Director (and co-founder) of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. She serves on the board of the Partnership for the National Trails System and currently serves as the Chair of the Federal Advisory Committee to aid the USFS in the development of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. When not working on behalf of one of our National Trails, Teresa may be found exploring trails with her dog by bike, horse, and foot.
Matt is most comfortable when he’s outside. A wildlife biologist by training he now spends his time raising two daughters and helping other folks find joy in the outdoors. His current project, the Monumental Loop, is a 250-mile multi-use route through Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, the largest National Monument in New Mexico.
FishSki Provisions makes and sells easy-prepare (just add water and no straining) Southwestern inspired meals. A favorite in the backcountry or at home, FishSki Provisions Hatch Chile meals can be found in 400+ stores nationwide. Started in Boulder, Colorado FishSki Provisions is moving the business to Northern New Mexico; opening their own small manufacturing facility this fall in Velarde with help from the Regional Development Corporation and Rio Arriba County. In addition to making and selling delicious meals FishSki Provisions gives back: donating 3%+ of sales to local volunteer conservation or access efforts. Eat for an Adventure!
Howie Morales was elected Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico in November, 2018, along with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. Prior to becoming the state’s 30th Lieutenant Governor, he served in the New Mexico Senate for 11 years on the influential State Legislative Finance Committee. As a Senator and now as Lt. Governor, Howie has been an outspoken fighter for conservation and New Mexico’s environment. He fought successfully year after year to stop the disastrous Gila River federal diversion plans and has mobilized citizens at the grass-roots level and spoken out forcefully to stop the U.S. Air Force from establishing a new, intrusive F-16 training mission over the Gila Wilderness and the Aldo Leopold wilderness.
Outside Interactive Inc., the world’s leading creator of active lifestyle content and experiences, is home for more than 30 leading brands in the active lifestyle industry, including Outside, Backpacker, SKI, Yoga Journal, Climbing, Trail Runner, Cairn, Gaia GPS, Warren Miller. Outside reaches more than 70 million active lifestyle enthusiasts a month. Based in Santa Fe, Sam oversees all aspects of the marketing efforts behind all of Outside's platforms and mediums, including print, digital, social, podcast, and events. He also oversees the creation of all custom content for the brand and has produced award-winning branded content videos and multimedia custom programs.
Johanna is a Certified Economic Developer through the International Economic Development Council and is a past fellow with the Council of Development Finance Authorities. She holds an MBA in Organizational Development and a BS in Industrial Technology and Design. She has owned several small businesses and currently operates an ecommerce business in her spare time. Johanna in an avid outdoor enthusiast, having worked as a river guide and is an avid long-distance runner.
President Nez began his public service after being elected as Shonto Chapter Vice President. He was later elected to serve three terms as a Navajo Nation Council Delegate, representing the chapters of Shonto, Oljato, Tsah Bi Kin, and Navajo Mountain. He was also elected as a Navajo County Board of Supervisor for District 1 and served two terms. In 2015, Nez was elected Navajo Nation Vice President. He is currently a doctoral student in political science and completed research on local empowerment and mobilizing local communities of the Navajo Nation to reinstate their inherent local way of governance. His research focuses on the reduction of dependence on the central tribal government, upholding and enhancing the local inherent sovereignty of the chapter areas.
For more than two decades, Brian O'Donnell has been a leading land and wildlife conservationist. As Director of the Campaign for Nature (www.campaignfornature.org), an effort to increase global targets and financing for protected areas under the Convention on Biological Diversity, he has helped build international support for a global target of protecting at least 30% of the earth’s land and seas by 2030. He helped organize a High Ambition Coalition of more than sixty countries to support the campaign’s goals. From 2007 through early 2017, Brian worked as the Executive Director of the Conservation Lands Foundation where he led a campaign that protected millions of acres of land as National Monuments. Brian has a degree in economics from Rollins College. Brian was a member of the inaugural class of Presidential Leadership Scholars (www.presidentialleadershipscholars.org).
As Director of the Utton Center, Adrian manages a research and public service program that works to develop legal and policy solutions for the natural resource challenges facing New Mexico. Since graduating from the UNM School of Law in 2000, he has provided legal counsel to tribes, farmers and NGOs on water and environmental issues in New Mexico. Adrian served as a Special Assistant Attorney General, representing the Interstate Stream Commission on the Pecos River. He also established and directed the New Mexico Living Rivers Program for The Nature Conservancy.
As the Agricultural Program Manager, Joshua oversees the Village’s innovative programs supporting farmers, agritourism events, education and agricultural research for the Village. Joshua previously spent nine years working on the border between the US and Mexico working with at risk populations in Juarez, MX. He founded several community gardens and facilitated agricultural programming and education. Joshua spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Central Asia with his wife where he worked with small scale farmers. He is also a former mountaineering guide and river guide and loves spending time outdoors with his family.
Axie Navas has a decade of professional storytelling experience in the outdoor industry. Before joining the New Mexico Economic Development Department as the state's founding Outdoor Recreation Director, she led Outside magazine's digital business as the Digital Editorial Director. At Outside, she created a digital strategy built around inclusively and advocacy that grew the website's audience by 25 percent and led to its 2019 National Magazine Award nomination for General Excellence. She has always revered nature, thanks in large part to a childhood spent outside skiing, biking, and exploring the Rockies. Axie spent four years in Illinois to earn her degrees in Journalism and Spanish at Northwestern University, where she also served as president of the school's collegiate road racing team.
Theresa Pasqual is the Project Manager for the Chaco Heritage Tribal Association (CHTA) and former Acoma Historic Preservation Director. She led a multi-Tribal nomination of 400,000 square acres of Mt. Taylor as a Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) to the NM Register of Historic Places. Its listing, upheld by the NM Supreme Court, remains an example of community empowerment, strategic coalition building, and elevating voice that has become a template for other such designations. Theresa continues to work in the areas of preservation policy and law while assisting Tribes with protecting their cultural heritage and traditional resources. Ms. Pasqual is the Board President of Conservation Voters New Mexico, an advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and a 2014 W. K. Kellogg Foundation Leadership Fellow.
Ángel Peña was born and raised in the Río Bravo valley, he is a first generation American and father of three. Ángel’s education in anthropology and archaeology allows him to emphasize and advocate for our nation’s historic, prehistoric and cultural assets, bringing cultural resources to the forefront of conservation. As a Cultural Resources Specialist for New Mexico Wild (2012), Wyss Fellow (2014), & as the Río Bravo Director at the Conservation Lands Foundation (2016) Àngel has had the opportunity to support and lead amazing teams that ultimately secured protections totaling millions of acres across the American Southwest. “As the Executive Director of the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project it’s about empowering the people that have true, authentic and deep-rooted ties to the land. It’s about supporting and empowering those agents of change. That’s how we win.”
A native New Mexican, Matt has over 30 years of business experience in the fields of art, design, hospitality, agriculture and tourism. Since taking over operations of Los Poblanos in 2005, he has overseen development of all areas of his family’s business, including a working organic farm, a 45-room boutique inn, a nationally recognized field-to-fork restaurant, retail and light manufacturing operations, cultural programming, and a newly opened spa. Los Poblanos was awarded Excellence in the Stewardship of Historic Sites by the National Trust of Historic Preservation for creating a new paradigm in historic preservation and for its seamless integration of agriculture into the overall site design and guest experience. Other awards received include Wine Spectator, James Beard Foundation, and AIA New Mexico Distinguished Architecture Award.
Chas began with Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) in April 2012. He began as a Field Supervisor, then co-led a Disaster Relief Crew in New York in November 2012 after Hurricane Sandy. In January 2013, he began as Ancestral Lands Program Coordinator, working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Acoma Pueblo to support existing programs and create new conservation opportunities in Indigenous communities in the Southwest. Chas became the SCC Four Corners Program Director in January 2014, the Ancestral Lands Program Director in 2015, and in 2019, the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps Director. Before joining SCC, Chas spent 3 ½ years with the Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) Desert Restoration Corps, working to restore and protect fragile but resilient ecosystems in the Mojave Desert.
Secretary Jen Paul Schroer was appointed as Secretary of Tourism by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in January 2019. Prior to her appointment to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Cabinet as Tourism Secretary, Jen served as the President & CEO of New Mexico Hospitality Association, where she led the merger of two state level trade associations and went on to pass key legislation to help boost tourism development. Jen helped launch a series of cross-collaborative initiatives that helped bridge business and government to spur economic development, established an endowed scholarship fund for hospitality and tourism students, and enhanced continued learning opportunities for hospitality and tourism professionals by hosting professional development programming at statewide conferences.
Elected Mayor in 2018, Victor is a lifelong outdoorsman, retired military and JROTC instructor. He has ridden his bike throughout Europe while on deployment including Italy, Turkey, Greece, France, and Spain. As Mayor of Aztec Victor has secured funding to complete a feasibility study for an Outdoor Recreation business accelerator, and worked to create an interconnected trail system throughout San Juan County. He has recently started his own outdoor company, Juicy Gravel Racing.
Born and raised in New Mexico, Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury leads with determination and compassion. She has dedicated her career to finding solutions to water issues, poverty, and climate change — representing New Mexico in the Legislature and now in Congress. She is a champion of efforts to address hunger, food, and water insecurity, conservation and climate change, and economic development and recovery. Stansbury worked in communities across the state as a STEM educator, researcher on land and water issues, and served as a former staffer in the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the White House Office of Management and Budget. As the Congresswoman from New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, she is working hard to lift up the voices of our communities and tackle our biggest challenges— from economic development, to food and water security, to climate change.
As the Executive Director of Outdoor New Mexico, Jeff works with a diverse group of stakeholders to encourage protection and sustainable outdoor recreation within New Mexico’s diverse public lands. He helped lead the successful campaign to establish the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, and as a State Legislator, authored legislation creating the Rio Grande Trail and the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division.
Tonya began working for the FCVB in 2000 as the Marketing Manager, becoming the director in 2012. In her time as director, Tonya and her team have led the effort to brand Farmington community-wide. As a result, the FCVB then commissioned a feasibility study and gap analysis on the outdoor recreation industry for the Farmington area and launched the Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative (ORII) until the City of Farmington took it on as a formal initiative within the municipality. Tourism has become a prominent driver in diversifying the Farmington economy and the FCVB’s outdoor recreation ad campaigns have recently won statewide advertising awards, including Best of Show for the website, FarmingtonNM.org.
A native of Mora, New Mexico, Toby Velasquez has worked for the State of New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department - State Parks Division for over 23 years. Toby started as a summer Seasonal Laborer in high school and college and was hired as a Park Ranger after college. Toby went on to serve as Park Manager, Northeast Regional Manager, Chief of Law Enforcement and Boating Safety, and Deputy Director. Toby has served on national, regional, and local non-profit executive boards, and was the first New Mexican, first Hispanic, and youngest elected President of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Toby also served as a two-term President of the Western States Boating Administrators Association. In 2015, former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson appointed Toby to the National Boating Safety Advisory Council, Toby was reappointed in 2016 and has received three Public Service Commendations for his service.
Ralph is a twelfth-generation Nuevo Mexicano from Pecos whose passion lies in his work protecting the precious resources that have sustained New Mexico's traditional acequia communities for hundreds of years. He is the Chairman of the New Mexico Acequia Commission where he has fought tirelessly to protect acequias and the watersheds that feed them for 16 years. Ralph is also the owner of Molino de la Isla Organics, a small organic farm that grows healthy, acequia grown food for his community and helps educate the public about acequia culture and its contribution to the environment that sustains them. Ralph also serves on the board of directors of the New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association and is working towards bringing more agri-tourism to our state.
The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is America’s leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations and organizations, comprising 31 national association members serving over 100,000 businesses. Ms. Wahl has over a decade of experience in outdoor recreation spanning the public, private and non-profit sectors. Prior to ORR, Ms. Wahl directed the Outdoor Industry Association’s (OIA) outdoor recreation and conservation portfolio in Washington D.C. where she led a successful effort that gained landmark government recognition of outdoor recreation’s contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product. Ms. Wahl was also the co-founder and past-chair of the Coalition for Outdoor Access working to reform outfitter and guide permitting systems within federal land agencies, an effort designed to help more Americans gain access to the outdoors. Before OIA, she worked at the Department of the Interior in the Office of the Interior Secretary and managed First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside and Let’s Move! in Indian Country initiatives.
Max Walukas currently serves as New Mexico Angels’ Membership & Marketing Director. He has worked in New Mexico startups and small businesses for over 10 years, learning to think asynchronously about the competing needs of a growing organization. Previously, Max worked in technology, politics, entertainment, fine art and media. He holds a BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Santa Fe and additional finance credentials including accounting credits from Santa Fe Community College and a certificate from Harvard Business School Online. He is interested in the intersection of economics, politics and society, especially where entrepreneurship is concerned.
Dana Watts has been the Executive Director of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics since 1996. Watts began her career working on the hill and for the public affairs firm Ogilvy Adams and Rinehart in Washington, DC. She moved to Boulder in 1993 and has focused largely on public lands and conservation since. She has taken Leave No Trace from a conservation concept to an education, training and research powerhouse that reaches 15M Americans each year and is taught in 80 countries. Watts has served on several national conservation and outdoor recreation boards including the Outdoor Industry Association and Colorado Fourteener’s Initiative. She has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, on NPR and the Today Show and was a nominee for Sporting Good’s Business Woman of the Year.
Kathy is the visionary and founding Director of Western New Mexico University’s Outdoor Program. Launched in 2012, the Outdoor Program mission is to engage students in experiential adventure-based programming to advance ecological and civic literacy and practice social responsibility for a sustainable future. Since its inception, the program has served more than 2370 students and community members through activities including student leadership trainings, an outdoor gear rental facility, a state-recognized Search and Rescue team, First-Year Student Orientations, teambuilding workshops, certification courses, outdoor trips, and academic coursework leading to a minor in Outdoor Leadership Studies. Kathy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Sciences where she teaches courses in outdoor leadership and geographic information systems.
Sarah grew up in New Mexico and is a proud Lobo-Aggie, having attended both UNM and NMSU where she studied biology and plant ecology. She lived and worked throughout New Mexico as a field biologist with the US Forest Service and the New Mexico Natural Heritage Program. For over 17 years, she was an outdoor educator and park manager with New Mexico State Parks. She enjoys hiking, rafting, and fixing things and is thrilled to be supporting New Mexico’s youth through the YCC.