LeadershipLearn About the Sandia Foundation Board of Directors
Suzanne Barker manages Barker Properties, a group of family-owned real estate companies. She previously was executive director and director of special projects for the Thornburg Foundation and a partner at Modrall Sperling law firm, practicing business and tax law and trusts and estates law. She was named a “Super Lawyer” in the Southwest and one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in the area of trusts and estates law. She was also a fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
Ms. Barker is active in both the Albuquerque and Santa Fe communities, and serves on the advisory board of directors at the Bank of Albuquerque, N.A. She received her JD from the University of New Mexico School of Law, her master’s degree from Stanford University, and she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Colorado with bachelor’s degrees in economics and mathematics.
BERNARD “GIG” BRUMMELL
Dean Witter has recognized Bernard “Gig” Brummell as one of the top five branch managers in the United States for his accomplishments as its Albuquerque branch manager. However, before his business career beckoned, Mr. Brummell was set to become a professional baseball player. In 1963, he helped lead the Albuquerque Dukes (the farm team for the Kansas City Athletics) to a first-half championship, before a career-ending injury to his pitching arm after three years with the Athletics led him down a new professional path.
A life-long New Mexican, Mr. Brummell has served on boards of organizations including the Village of Los Ranchos, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and the Archdiocese Catholic Foundation.
His involvement with the University of New Mexico is noteworthy for its duration and its breadth. He is a UNM Popejoy Society member, has served on the UNM Alumni Board, and is past president of the UNM Lettermen’s Association. He was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Honor in 1999, and now serves on the UNM Athletic Council. Mr. Brummell is a past search committee member for the positions of UNM president, athletic director, and head basketball coach, and was on the UNM President’s Advisory Board for presidents Gordon and Frank. He lettered in both baseball and basketball while working toward his degree in business from the UNM Anderson School of Management, and was inducted into the Anderson Hall of Fame. He did graduate work in economics at UNM, and completed the Securities Industry Institute at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Chair, Governance Committee
Vaden Bales is with the Tulsa, Oklahoma law firm of Hall Estill, focusing on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, general corporate matters, and commercial real estate. He lived in Albuquerque from 1997-2008, working first as CEO of Wrangler Properties, LLC and then as chief operating officer of Titan Development.
While in Albuquerque, Mr. Bales served on the boards of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce (vice chair), the Central New Mexico Community College Foundation (president), the Rio Rancho Economic Development Corporation (chair), the Rio Rancho Chamber of Commerce, and WESST Corporation (chair). He currently serves on the board of trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation formerly served as a Trustee of the the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation (Executive and Governance Committees). He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Tulsa and his law degree from Washburn University School of Law. Mr. Bales is admitted to the state bars of Kansas and Oklahoma, and to the bar of the United States Supreme Court.
Harold W. Lavender, Jr.
Secretary, Chair Investment Committee
Harold Lavender, Jr. serves as Director of Business and Financial Development at ABQid, a startup accelerator that helps local entrepreneurs build businesses and create jobs. Following graduation from the University of New Mexico School of Law and after a brief time in practice, Mr. Lavender moved to Chicago and spent 34 years as a trader and broker at the Chicago Board of Trade. He was twice elected to the CBOT Board of Directors and served three terms on the Executive Committee. He returned to Albuquerque in 2010 and was of counsel at Modrall Sperling and at Montgomery & Andrews and worked with Robert Singer at the New Mexico Law Group. He continues now as a sole practitioner.
Mr. Lavender served on the boards of the Bank of the Rio Grande and Quality New Mexico, and as an advisor to New Mexico Community Capital. He serves currently as president of the University of New Mexico Alumni Association, and is a member of the Investment Committee and Impact Investment Committee of the Albuquerque Community Foundation. He was appointed by the New Mexico Legislature to the New Mexico State Investment Council in 2011 and reappointed in 2013, serving as chair of the Investment Committee for five years and serving now as a member of this committee.
Chair, Real Estate Committee
Jim Dobbie is executive vice president for Hunt Investment Management, an SEC-registered investment advisor specializing in real estate investment and development. At Hunt, Jim serves as a member of the investment committee and oversees a $300 million portfolio of assets and a $1B development pipeline. Previously, Jim was responsible for the development and management of ABQ Uptown, a 550,000 square foot mixed-use project in the heart of the city. Prior to joining Hunt, Mr. Dobbie was chief operating officer for a Albuquerque based real estate company with office, retail, industrial and land holdings.
Jim has served on numerous boards in Albuquerque and in New Mexico. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Southern Methodist University
CHAIR, Communication Committee
Mark Benak brings 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, angel investor, and technologist to the Sandia Foundation. Currently, Mr. Benak is CEO of Asset Performance Technologies, Inc (APT). In 2018, Uptake acquired APT. Previously, he co-founded InLight Solutions, a biomedical device company that develops and markets sensor-based measurement systems for life science applications. He was a staff scientist at the Institute of Fluid Mechanics in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, one of the leading research universities in Germany, and served as a research engineer with Daimler-Benz AG in Stuttgart, Germany. He also chaired the board of directors for Incitor (now xF Technologies), a developer of synthetic enzymes for biofuels.
Mr. Benak serves as a board advisor for the Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm, and was a founding board member and co-chair of the Albuquerque Community Foundation Future Fund. He graduated with both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.
Board of Director
Education: B.B.A. Southern Methodist University (SMU) Dallas, Texas, 1990 Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1986
Ed is the executive chairman of the Garcia Family of Companies which primarily consists of automobile dealerships and real estate holdings. The Garcia Automotive Group owns and operates 12 franchised automobile dealerships in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and El Paso with over 300 employees and annual retail vehicle sales of 10,000 units. Ed currently serves on the board of directors of Sandia Foundation and the Albuquerque Community Foundation. Education: B.B.A. Southern Methodist University (SMU) Dallas, Texas, 1990 Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1986.
Board of Director
Carol Graebner is a former business executive and general counsel in the energy industry and financial services sector.
A graduate of Dickinson College, Ms. Graebner received her JD from American University Washington College of Law. She has served on the boards of the American Heart Association in Houston, Roadrunner Food Bank in Albuquerque, and Assistance Dogs of the West in Santa Fe.
Board of Director
Chris Pacheco is executive vice president and general counsel for Titan Development, a full-service land development company. He has extensive experience in structuring, negotiating, and consummating multi-million dollar business and real estate transactions. Mr. Pacheco has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America in the specialty of real estate each year since 2008 and, since 2002, has been in included in Strathmore’s Who’s Who.
He was appointed by Governor Martinez to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, and currently serves as chair. He also serves on the board of the University of New Mexico Medical Group. Mr. Pacheco obtained his BA from New Mexico Highlands University and his JD from the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Board of Director
Olivia Padilla-Jackson is deputy director of finance for the City of Albuquerque, overseeing all aspects of the City’s financial and administrative services. Her previous experience includes work as a trader/analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, director of the New Mexico State Board of Finance, and director of finance for the City of Rio Rancho. She also worked for the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee conducting economic, policy, and budget analysis. Ms. Padilla-Jackson chairs the Manzano Day School Board of Trustees and serves as Vice Chair on the Council for the Hispano Philanthropic Society. Previously, she served as a board member for the University of New Mexico Alumni Association and the New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority. She received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of New Mexico, a master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan, and she completed an executive leadership program for State and Local Government Senior Executives at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Board of Director
Cynthia K. Schultz is CEO of Bradbury Stamm Construction. She grew up in construction, and takes a significant interest in all projects, ensuring resources are appropriately allocated and client expectations are met. Ms. Schultz joined Bradbury Stamm in 2000, working in numerous roles in the company from project engineer to estimator before assuming leadership of the company.
In 2012, she was named one of New Mexico’s prestigious “40 Under 40.” Ms. Schultz is a member of Commercial Real Estate Women-New Mexico, on the board of the United States Green Building Council-New Mexico, and is a former board member of Associated General Contractors of New Mexico. Her bachelor’s degree is in Economics from the University of Chicago, and her master’s degree is in Construction Management from Arizona State University.
Dr. Bronte D. Burleigh-Jones
Dickinson College Representative
Dr. Burleigh-Jones is vice president for finance and administration at Dickinson College, overseeing all areas of finance and campus operations including facilities management, dining services, human resources, financial operations, conferences and special events, the bookstore, and the Children’s Center. She served previously as treasurer and chief operating officer at St. Johns University and vice president for finance and administration at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. She was senior project manager for the Texas State Auditor’s Office, and served on the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Dr. Burleigh-Jones received her bachelor’s degree in finance as well as her MBA from American University, and her doctorate in higher education administration was earned at the University of Texas-Austin. She is a graduate of both the Harvard Institute for Higher Education and the Higher Education Resource Services Institute for Women in Higher Education at Wellesley College.
Robert M. Doughty, III
University of New Mexico Representative
A principal with Doughty Alcaraz, P.A., Robert M. Doughty began his law career with a firm specializing in plaintiff representation in catastrophic personal injury cases. His current practice focuses on personal injury lawsuits, including wrongful death, catastrophic injury, medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, trucking accidents, defective products, premises liability, toxic tort exposure, and construction accidents. Mr. Doughty also handles complex business litigation and election issues, including organization of political committees and political campaign.
Mr. Doughty is a former chair of the New Mexico Racing Commission and a former ex officio member of the New Mexico Gaming Control Board. He currently serves as president of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. Mr. Doughty’s undergraduate degree is from New Mexico State University in Criminal Justice, and he received his JD in 1998 from the University of New Mexico School of Law.
President & CEO
Riis Gonzales is the president and CEO of the Sandia Foundation. Prior to joining the Sandia Foundation, he served as executive director for the New Mexico School for the Arts-Art Institute. During his time there, he secured both a location and multi-million dollar funding for its permanent Santa Fe campus. Mr. Gonzales began his career in higher education at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, New Mexico, and then called Las Cruces home during his tenure at New Mexico State University, where he served in several capacities. His last position at NMSU was vice president for development, with responsibility to manage the NMSU Foundation’s successful $225 million campaign. Mr. Gonzales also served six legislative sessions for the New Mexico State Senate as chief-of-staff and analyst for New Mexico’s Senate Education Committee.
Mr. Gonzales volunteers as a youth basketball coach, and has led exceptional young players from Española, Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe to national Amateur Athletic Union championships. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico and his master’s degree in Communications from New Mexico State University.
Native New Mexican John Perovich is president emeritus of the University of New Mexico. He served as a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and then began his career at UNM in 1946 as a student assistant, moving on to purchasing agent, comptroller, vice president for finance and administration, and—finally—president. He retired as president of UNM in 1985.
Mr. Perovich joined the trustees of the Sandia Foundation in 1960, and became chair in 1968—a position he held for 48 years. He also serves on the board of the Hibben Foundation. Mr. Perovich received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and his MBA from UNM, and was awarded an honorary doctor of law degree from Dickinson College.