NMCEL Board 2022-2023

2022-2023 NMCEL Board Members

Executive Board

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Christina Velasquez


Past President, NMCASE

Student Services Director,

Pojoaque Valley Schools

Christina was confirmed as President-Elect during the NMCEL Board meeting in July 2019 at the annual summer conference.

Christina's goal as a member of the NMCEL Executive Board is to improve education for all students in New Mexico.  Representing the NM Council of Administrators of Special Education, she continuously works to improve education for students with disabilities.


Bonnie Lightfoot

Bonnie Lightfoot

NMCEL President Elect

NMSSA President

Representative ENMERC

Superintendent, House Municipal Schools

Bonnie Lightfoot was elected July 2017 as the ENMERC Representative for the Eastern New Mexico Educational Resource Center and serves as the liaison for 13 Superintendents in REC 6.  ENMERC provides an opportunity for a unified voice related to educational issues at the state and legislative levels.  Currently, Bonnie is serving as the Superintendent of House Municipal Schools however, she began her administrative career as a Principal in the Cimarron School District.  Before her Superintendency at House, Bonnie was proud to have been Superintendent for Roy Municipal Schools.

Bonnie is happy to have been in NM education for the entirety of her 29 year career.  Prior to administration, she was an Agricultural Education teacher and FFA Advisor and taught in the Aztec, Magdalena and Moriarty school districts.  Her favorite part of being a Ag Teacher was the leadership skills and opportunities she was able to provide for her students.  Bonnie is most proud of training the NM FFA State Champion Parliamentary Procedure team in 2005 that went on to win the National FFA Parliamentary Procedure Championship as well.

While Bonnie is passionate about education in NM, she is most proud to be married to Clay Lightfoot for  28 years and mother of three children; Mackenzie, Micah and Braeden.  Education runs deep in her family as both she and her husband are teachers and two of their three children are seriously considering entering the education field as a career choice as well.

Bonnie is grateful for the faith the Superintendents in ENMERC and REC 6 have placed in her as she serves them as the ENMERC Representative and is looking forward to working together with the NMCEL Board towards a brighter future for NM education.  


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Stan Rounds

Executive Director

NM Coalition of Educational Leaders, NM Superintendents' Association


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Will Hawkins

NMCEL Past President

Superintendent, Silver Consolidated Schools

Mr. Will Hawkins was elected to President-elect during the July 19, 2017, board meeting which is held in conjunction with our Annual Summer Conference. Will has served in the educational field for 18 years.  Prior to his current position, he was a middle school English teacher in San Angelo, assistant high school principal in Brownfield, middle school principal in Brady, and a high school principal in Brownfield, all in the Texas school system.  He then joined the Hobbs School District as the Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Instruction.



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Judith Touloumis

Representative, NMABE

Principal, Albuquerque Public Schools


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Terry S. Dean


Executive Director, NMASBO

The New Mexico Association of School Business Officials (NMASBO) is a non-profit professional association offering support and professional development opportunities to individuals involved in providing business management services to New Mexico’s schools.

Founded in the early 70s and affiliated with ASBO International in 2002, the New Mexico Association of School Business Officials (NMASBO) is a non-profit professional association offering support and professional development opportunities to individuals providing business management services to New Mexico’s schools. NMASBO is an affiliate member of ASBO International.
NMASBO offers its members a variety of services.


Call 505.923-3283

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Dusty Young


Assistant Director, NMAA

Dusty is currently the Associate Director of the New Mexico Activities Association.  He is in his 18th year with the NMAA and oversees the sports of Football and Baseball, the activities of Chess, JROTC, and Esports, Media Relations, Marketing, Membership, and the NMAA Foundation.  Dusty received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of New Mexico.  While at UNM, he played baseball for the Lobos for four years, earning both Academic All-American and All-American honors during his senior season.  Dusty went on to play in the Florida Marlins minor-league system prior to beginning his career with the NMAA.  He graduated from Manzano High School in 1998. 

 What is the NMAA? 

 The New Mexico Activities Association was formed in 1921 as a private/non-profit organization whose principle purpose is the regulation, direction, administration and supervision of interscholastic athletics and activities in the State of New Mexico. The NMAA prides itself in its leadership, providing educational and social experiences for the students and communities of New Mexico. The NMAA has taken a leadership role nationally in several areas, including sportsmanship, media relations, coaches preparation, and corporate development. The New Mexico Activities Association was formed in 1921 as a private/non-profit organization whose principle purpose is the regulation, direction, administration and supervision of interscholastic activities in the State of New Mexico. The NMAA prides itself in its leadership, providing educational and social experiences for the students and communities of New Mexico. The NMAA has taken a leadership role nationally in several areas, including sportsmanship, media relations, coaches preparation, corporate development and interscholastic activities.


Gene Strickland

Representative SNMERC

Superintendent, Hobbs Municipal Schools


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Christa Kulidge


President, NMCASE

Coordinator of Student Services, Farmington Municipal Schools


  • Have at least one member from each of the public school districts

  • Co-sponsor professional development activities in conjunction with the PED, Regional Educational Cooperatives (RECs), and Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs)

  • Have a mentorship program for administrators and special education who have three or less years of experience


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Elisia Beguira

Lake Arthur Municipal Schools

In this position, Elisa advocates for equity and inclusion for students; supports a much-needed educational reform for teachers; and lobbies for funding opportunities to improve teaching and learning. Before her superintendence, Elisa was the Director of Leadership and a mentor and coach for principals of schools implementing turnaround initiatives for the Roswell ISD. Knowledge of data analysis, PLC protocols, CCSS implementation, and transformational feedback techniques are her strength areas. Her understanding of standards and research-based strategies, as well as her ability to provide high quality professional development are proven to increase student engagement and overall student achievement. Before that, Elisa also served as an innovative principal of a top-performing elementary school after having taught for several years at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Elisa is well known, both in her district and across the state, for preparing principals to handle a complex, rapidly changing environment enabling them to implement instructional reforms that lead to sustained improvement in student achievement.


Bobbie Gutierrez

Bobbie Gutierrez


Executive Director, NMRECA

Bobbie Gutierrez currently serves as New Mexico’s State Executive Director for the New Mexico Regional Education Cooperatives, better known as NM RECA. There are 10 Regional Education Cooperatives (RECs) found regionally throughout the state. RECs are state agencies, administratively attached by statute, to the New Mexico Public Education Department and they provide many services to the sixty-eight rural school districts in the state, as well as manage Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) and grants for NMPED. RECs also provide services to other state agencies. The RECs have numerous statewide initiatives that support all school districts in the state. Bobbie is NM RECA’s first association executive director in the history of the RECs.

Bobbie “grew up” in the Santa Fe Public Schools from the classroom to the boardroom and retired in 2012 after serving several years as superintendent. In later years, Bobbie served as the superintendent of schools for Espanola Public Schools. Bobbie has coordinated and facilitated the Aspiring Superintendents’ Academy for the New Mexico Coalition of Educational Leaders (NMCEL) and Cooperative Education Services (CES) Leadership Development programs since 2020; and prior to that from 2013-2017. She represents the RECs on the NMCEL Board of Directors. She currently serves on the board of directors for Cooking with Kids in Santa Fe and is the immediate past president of the New Mexico Retired Superintendents’ Association (NMRSA).

Bobbie is a native of Lubbock, Texas, attended Texas Tech University, and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education with certifications in secondary language arts and reading. She has a Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration and Leadership from the University of New Mexico. Bobbie comes from a family of educators. Her husband is a retired educator, and Bobbie has sons, and five grandchildren that inspire her to continue her work in public education.


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Erik Bose

Representative NMASSP

Erik Bose- My current day job is the Executive Director of ABQ Charter Academy. I have worked in education since 1993. I earned my degrees at UNM. I have taught Social Studies, English, Physical Education and Special Education before transitioning to Educational Leadership in 2004. Currently. I serve as the State Coordinator for the NM Association of Secondary School Administrators, Vice-President of the Public Charter School of New Mexico and Past-President and current board member for the NM Coalition of Educational Leaders.


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Maria Jaramillo

Representative COSSEP

Executive Director, Central Region Educational Cooperative


RECA President

NMCEL Past President

Maria has served as the Chair of the Coalition of State Supported Educational Programs (COSSEP) since 2011.  Four of the six NM state supported schools serving children are members* of CREC in Albuquerque. 

UNMH Mimbres School*

DOH Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center*

CYFD Juvenile Justice Services*

NM Corrections Department - Education*

NM School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

NM School for the Deaf

COSSEP is a collaborative networking group representing all six NM State Supported Educational Programs/Schools whose purpose is to share and assist one another in their unique role of educating  students within our state. 

Maria is the RECA President and served as NMCEL President, 2017-2019.  She has been with CREC since 1992 and began her educational career as a speech-language pathologist serving over 20 school districts in NM.  She is blessed to have her children raising their families and building their engineering careers in the Albuquerque area.  She and her husband enjoy horseback riding at the ranch and spending time with their three grandsons.


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Dr. Traci Filiss

Representative, NMSTE

My career in educational innovation began as a High School Science teacher in Woodstock, VT and continued into NM inspiring kids as a teacher in Taos and Eagle Nest. As an innovative teacher, I understood that change in educational opportunities was greatly needed. Later in my career, I took action on this philosophy of innovation and educational change and opened Taos Academy Charter School. Taos Academy's hybrid model was developed with the flexibility of digital learning with the strength of relational learning found in face to face instruction. I believe that by providing an environment for kids to feel empowered, encouraged, and inspired supports student ownership of  lifelong learning. Specifically, my connection to NMCEL allows me to be a part of a larger, state forum, to continue supporting my philosophy of educational change. I now have also received my MS in Educational Technology and my EdD Doctor in Organizational Leadership and Administration. 

NMSTE Mission: to ensure the success for all students by serving as a state wide network of individuals seeking to improve teaching and learning by advancing the effective use of technology in education. As a nonprofit membership organization, we will provide leadership and service to improve teaching, learning, and school leadership by advancing the effective use of technology in PK-16 and teacher education.


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Cecilia Hernandez

Alliance for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning - NMSU


Call 575-646-3084

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Russell Goff


Executive Director, NMAER

The New Mexico Association of Educational Retirees, with over 6,700 members, has represented retired educators since 1942.Our purpose is to advocate for educational retirees, particularly with concern to their retirement benefits regarding pension and health care. With the landscape on retirement benefits rapidly changing throughout the country, it is imperative that retirees remain vigilant to maintain this valuable service.


Call 505-275-6427

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Mark Anthony Barela


President, NMAESP

Principal, Carlsbad Municipal Schools

My professional journey led me to Carlsbad in 2002, where I accepted a music teaching position at the newly chartered Jefferson Montessori Academy (JMA). While at JMA, I continued my studies online at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts, receiving a second master’s degree in 2003, this time in Integrative Learning.

Later, I became an elementary music teacher for Loving Municipal Schools where I continued to expand their fine arts program, and then in the Fall of 2007 I became the Principal at Loving Elementary School and served as the Director of Federal Programs and Bilingual Education for Loving Municipal Schools. Finally, in 2012, I was offered and accepted a school principal position for Carlsbad Municipal Schools.  In Carlsbad, I have served as an elementary and middle school principal, Director of Student Achievement & College and Career Readiness, and as the Director of District Guidance Services.

Currently, I’ve returned to the elementary principal position in Carlsbad and am proud to serve as the Executive Director of the New Mexico Association of Elementary School Principals.

I was recognized by the League of United Latin American Citizens as Educator of the Year in New Mexico at the LULAC State Convention in Albuquerque in 2010. The same year I also received recognition in the Who’s Who Among American Teachers program and recognition from the New Mexico Public Education Bilingual and Multicultural Program.

The University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) recognized me for the contributions I’ve given in educational leadership, and published two articles that were presented at the UCEA National Convention in 2012.

In 2013, I was selected to participate in the second third cohort of the New Mexico Coalition of Education Administrator’s Aspiring Superintendent’s Academy for which completed in spring 2014.

At the New Mexico Coalition of Educational Leaders 2014 Summer Conference, I was presented with one of the highest honors as an educational leader. I received the 2014 New Mexico Administrator of the Year Award by the New Mexico Association of Elementary School Principals (NMAESP).

Belief Statement:   “I am an educator. At the heart of my being is the desire to guide, support, and enable others to achieve personal success.”


Call 575-302-3076

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Cindy Rael




Kit Carson Elementary School


Raised in Questa, N.M. I am fluent in Spanish. Attended Highlands University and received an Associates degree in Resort Management. Then went on to attend UNM and acquired a B.S in Education, Masters in Social Cultural literacy studies and an EDS (Education Specialist) with a Bilingual/Tesol endorsement.

Taught at Duranes Elementary for 13 years, with 11 years running the 6th grade academy. Obtained my Administrative license in 2003. Was the Assistant Principal at Hodgin Elementary and now currently going on my 8th year as a principal at Kit Carson Elementary. I was the past president of ASAPA and a current member representing NMCEL.

I live in northern New Mexico with my husband and 3 dogs and 3 cats. I am a 38 year veteran ski instructor at Taos Ski Valley. 

Brian Baca


President, NMSPA

Deputy Superintendent, Los Lunas Schools

The New Mexico School Personnel Association is a coalition of school human resources administrators and professionals who provide information, services and professional development related to personnel issues within the education profession.


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Candice Thompson


President, NMPFMA

Born and raised in the four corners area. Besides having a passion for construction I'm also a dedicated APHA owner where I show and raise horses. I have spent the last 20 plus years in the construction industry. With 16 of those years in the educational facilities and the remaining years as a construction administrator in the private and educational field. Currently I'm the director of Operations for Central Consolidated Schools and currently hold the position of president for the New Mexico Public Facility Managers Association. 

What is New Mexico Public Facility Management Association:

The New Mexico Public Facility Management Association (NMPFMA) was officially organized in October 2017 and then became affiliated with the New Mexico Coalition of Educational Leaders in December 2017. Our membership consists of school district facility managers, charter school Operations and Maintenance professionals, and city and county facility managers.

NMPFMA members are individuals from facility/plant operations that are charged with providing safe and healthy public facilities for the State of New Mexico.

NMPFMA is governed by a seventeen-member board with four officers, eight regional representatives, and 7 Ex-officio members. NMPFMA Ex-officio members include representatives from CES, POMS & Associates, NMASBO, PSFA, District Superintendents, and NM Association of Counties.

NMPFMA was organized by Facility Managers in New Mexico. NMPFMA has prepared a strategic plan and has set goals in place to: 

· Assist facilities management personnel in effecting the best possible programs for construction, operations, maintenance of physical property and equipment at facilities and public buildings. 

· Develop and implement training programs designed to improve the management, supervisory and technical knowledge, skills and abilities of public facilities professionals both statewide and regionally. 

· Investigate and develop regional training opportunities across the state for key maintenance issues and systems.

· Provide an Operations Staff Certificate Program with access to seven training modules for new custodial, maintenance, and operations staff. 

· Advocate for plant and facilities management by providing positive, professional relationships with Superintendents, Business Officials, legislative representatives and other community leaders. 

· Provide statewide networking for facilities professionals for the exchange of ideas and best practices.