Rio Grande Chapter Executive Committee candidate statements

Below are Rio Grande Chapter and regional group candidate statements for the 2020 chapter and group Executive Committee elections. If you are a member, you may click here to vote. You must be a Rio Grande Chapter member to vote. If you have a joint membership, each member may vote once. 

Chapter Executive Committee (three candidates for three spots)

Anita Gonzales

A native New Mexican, Anita was born in Las Vegas, NM, to the Lopez family of Villanueva, NM, and the Gallegos family of Las Vegas, NM. A middle child, Anita moved between Las Vegas and Albuquerque and graduated high school from West Mesa High School. After completing the majority of her degree at Texas A&M University, she returned home to Las Vegas to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at New Mexico Highlands University. She is the mother of a 9-year-old son and currently lives in Las Vegas, NM. 

Anita has worked at New Mexico Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (NM MESA), Inc for over 17 years – which empowers and motivates New Mexico’s culturally diverse students with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) enrichment. NM MESA has allowed her to network with partners, industry leaders, educational institutions, and contacts from across the state.

Prior to COVID, Anita was an active STEM and parent volunteer for Don Cecilio Elementary, a volunteer with the Samaritan House, Team Mom and volunteer for the Meadow City Havoc in the Northern New Mexico Children’s Football League, and has served as a long-term family caretaker. Anita has also served as Commissioner for the Acequia de los Madres Vigiles and the Grzelachowski Ditch and is a member of the San Miguel Women Democrats and the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club. Recently, Anita was a Democratic Candidate for the New Mexico House of Representatives, District 70 and was an endorsed candidate from the RG Chapter of the Sierra Club. 

Susan Martin

My family were tradespeople, and camping was the only vacation we knew. What a gift! Our chapter has worked to increase such opportunities, which have become more vital escapes in our Covid-19 world. From systemic racism to the wildfire devastation generated by climate disruption, our challenges are mutating like the virus.

We are considered a “high-functioning chapter,” which is a testament to collaboration of many singular volunteers dedicated to protecting the environment and inhabitants of the Land of Enchantment. My experience as chapter chair, vice chair, and political chair can support our efforts to elect and work with environmental champions who truly represent their communities.

My community efforts include service on the Santa Fe County Planning Commission, Literacy Volunteers, the Santa Fe County Democratic Party, and the Santa Fe Metropolitan Water Board. Professional info: JD-MBA University of California Berkeley, Planner Director NM Environment Department, Senior Project Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council and Counsel, US House of Representatives, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Energy and Commerce Committee.

Ray Shortridge

Shortly after retiring as an information technology executive and re-locating to New Mexico, Ray assumed the volunteer Treasurer position for the chapter and served about five years in that capacity. In his business career, Ray participated in several high tech start-ups which he characterizes as an exhilarating experience.

Northern New Mexico Group Executive Committee 

(four candidates for five spots)

Ken Hughes

I am currently Transportation Chair for the Rio Grande Chapter and serve on the Executive Committee as representative from the Northern Group. I chair the Political Committee for the Northern Group and serve on its Executive Committee. I am on the Transportation for All Committee of the National Club. Past Club stints include population lobbyist in the DC office, lobbyist in the Roundhouse in the early 1990’s, Chapter energy chair, and Chapter conservation chair for over 20 years.

Norman R. Norvelle

Norman Norvelle is a retired environmental scientist who has lived in Farmington, NM since 1957. He attended Eastern New Mexico University and in 1970 earned a BS in Microbiology and Chemistry and in 1974 a Master of Natural Science  degree from ENMU. Norman is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist (Registered Sanitarian), NM Certified Level IV Water and Level IV Wastewater Operator. He is a lifetime member of the American Water Works Association (40+ years) and a lifetime member of the NM Water & Wastewater Association (40+ years). Also, he is a member of the National Environmental Health Association, past professional member of the American Association of Safety Engineers, American Chemical Society, and a past section Trustee and section President of the National Association of Corrosion Engineers. In 1994, he was the founder of the Four Corners Oil & Gas Conference & Exposition and chairman for the first 3 conventions. The conference was established to assist oil & gas companies with new compliance regulations and new technologies.  Norman was a Boy Scout leader and assistant scoutmaster for over 10 years and a National Jamboree Asst. Scoutmaster.

Mr. Norvelle started his career with the New Mexico Department of Public Health and worked four years as a laboratory scientist and public health advisor. He was a senior chemist with Public Service Company of NM (San Juan Generating Station (12 years) and El Paso Natural Gas Company (7 years). Norman worked five years for the State of New Mexico as a safety consultant and four years as the NMED Environmental Health Scientist Staff Manager for San Juan County. He worked over 5 years as an environmental consultant and trainer specializing in industrial water and wastewater treatment. Norman retired from NMED in 2012. He serves as a volunteer for the San Juan Watershed Group, NMED Gold King Mine Citizens Advisory Council, and was appointed by the Secretary of Interior as a member of the U.S. BLM Resource Advisory Council for the Farmington District Office for three years.  His retirement years are focused on raising grandchildren and environmental activities to improve the environment within the San Juan Basin.

Carlos Trujillo

One of my earliest memories as a child in Chimayó was running through the cornfields playing and picking chile with cousins, on our grandfather’s farm, on property that had been farmed by generations of ancestors. I learned how to irrigate before I was in elementary school. The acequia water was essential to our ancestors’ way of life. As I grew up, my father and uncles would take me on horseback rides to the San Pedro Wilderness or the Valle Vidal Wilderness. My father to this day reminds me, “you must always leave the land and water in better condition than you received it.” 

After my freshman year at UNM, I managed my first campaign and since then have managed or consulted on more than 45 campaigns across the country. I was one of three college interns who oversaw the Jardines Del Bosques YCC Program at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

In 2003 I became New Mexico field director for Gov. Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. I then worked for Gov. Bill Richardson’s Political Office in a variety of positions, Including Florida state director of his Moving America Forward political organization registering 45,000 new voters in the Latino and African American community, primarily in South Florida.I also served as regional political and field director for the New Mexico Democratic Party before moving to Gov. Richardson’s 2006 re-election campaign and then as Western States Political Director for Gov. Richardson’s presidential campaign.

I managed Public Regulation Commissioner Ben Ray Lujan’s victorious 2008 campaign for the 3rd Congressional seat. I have worked on numerous other local and state campaigns since then.  

This year I served as a senior advisor to Leo Jaramillo’s campaign for state Senate District 5, and Roger Montoya’s primary campaign for New Mexico House District 40 and managed Montoya’s historic general-election campaign as the first gay man elected to the New Mexico House. 

I look forward to working on advancing the Sierra Club issues that are so important to all New Mexicans as a Northern New Mexico Executive Committee member.

Joe Wells

Sierra Club and environmental group activist. BA and MA in political science, masters thesis A Case Study of Environmental Interest Groups : The Big Thicket Association. Employment Assistant to Dallas County Commissioner, Elected Dallas County Treasurer (07-14) Retired moved to Taos County in 2015. Volunteer activities, Taos Land Trust Land Conservation Committee. 80s Founding Board VP Big Thicket Conservation Association, State Field Representative American Rivers. 90s Chair Dallas Nature Center, Vice Chair Dallas Sierra Club Group, State Sierra Club Political Committee, appointed member Dallas Environmental Health Commission and Regional Council of Governments Air Quality Advisory Committee, National Sierra Club Clean Air DC Lobby Week prior to US House passage Clean Air Act Amendments 1990, Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club Conservation Award recipient. Provided written comments / testimony on a variety of environmental issues at local, state and Federal agency and legislative hearings. Led and organized citizen advocacy on issues including Park acquisition and funding, river protection, Protection of public lands, Air Quality and Sierra Club endorsed political candidates campaigns.

Central New Mexico Group 

Carol Chamberland

Carol has been a Sierra Club member since 1984, when she joined to partake of the outings. She later became an outings leader herself, and most recently has been involved as leader of the Zero Waste Action Team for the Central Group. She recently exhibited her artworks honoring Petroglyph National Monument at Albuquerque Open Space Visitor Center. In spite of the pandemic, she remains committed to reducing, reusing, recycling in New Mexico.

Laura Harris

At 10 years old, Laura Harris was the youngest person ever to testify before a U.S. House Committee, when she spoke in support of the 1972 Sea Mammal Protection Act. Harris, enrolled citizen of the Comanche Nation, has led the national nonprofit advocacy organization Americans for Indian Opportunity for 20 years where she coordinates an international network of Indigenous leaders and organizations. Harris developed the curriculum and implements the award-winning Ambassadors Program, the only national Indigenous values-based leadership training. Harris is an experienced community engagement facilitator and has provided an AIO-crafted cultural competency presentation, “Indian 101,” to hundreds of groups and businesses. In 1997, President Clinton appointed Harris senior consultant to the President’s Initiative on Race. Currently, Harris serves on the national boards of the Latin American Working Group and the Native American Hall of Fame. She is elected secretary of the Toyah Band of Comanche and active huutsi (Comanche paternal grandmother) to Madelyn (age 5).

Peter Kelling

Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, Inflight Refueling Specialist USAF 1960 – 1964, AA Degree in Horticulture, San Francisco City College, former Special Events Coordinator, Rio Grande Nature Center, former Photo Contest Coordinator, Festival of The Cranes, current Sierra Club Art Exhibit Coordinator.

Terry Owen

Terry Owen has been a Rio Grande chapter member for four years and established the Military Outdoors Program in New Mexico. He is currently the Central Group and chapter Outings Chairman, and outings leader instructor. He has also participated in several Sierra Club advocacy and awareness events around the state. His primary interests are protection of wildlife, public lands and waters.

He currently has his own consulting business following an 18-year career at Sandia National Laboratories as an accounting and policy manager. Prior to that he completed a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy as an engineering officer. He was also a deep submersible pilot certified to 20,000 feet and conducted a number of science missions to study plate tectonics in the mid-Pacific. In this role he bore witness to the damage that humans were inflicting on the world’s oceans and which fired his passion for protecting the planet.    

Originally from Prescott, Arizona, Terry graduated with Bachelors and Masters of Accountancy degrees from New Mexico State University which included coursework in environmental economics and green accounting. During his time at NMSU he interned with the Southwest Environmental Center in Las Cruces. His hobbies include rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking with his wife of 32 years, Kathe Mehrer-Owen.

Pajarito Group

Jody Benson

Jody Benson joined the Pajarito Group at its inception when the group’s primary goal was helping to save the Valles Caldera from being sold by the owners for private development. That national triumph helped energize the group to work on local issues, some short-term, many, alas, still on-going.  During her 20 years with the Pajarito Group she has served as publicity, recording secretary, and chair, along with other conservation positions.  The primary concern of the Pajarito Group is the expansion of nuclear weapons triggers at LANL, making “pits” the focus of the Lab’s mission, a direction that will require new houses, businesses, infrastructure, and transportation for the up-to 7000 new households by 2025. The Pajarito Group invites others who love the landscape and all that live within it to join us in the leadership position with your ideas and passion.

Tom Ribe

I was born and raised in Los Alamos and started contacting the Forest Service about timber sales in the Jemez in the early 1970s, learning the activist process early. I witnessed the La Mesa fire in 1977 while home from college and have been interested in wildfire ever since. I got my MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon and worked for the National Park Service in California and New Mexico doing education and prescribed fire management. I worked at LANL in the environmental restoration effort before starting a business in Santa Fe. I was part of the Valles Caldera Coalition and then helped start Caldera Action which led the effort to get the Valles Caldera National Preserve transferred to the National Park Service. Caldera Action continues to advocate for protection of the VCNP today. I am on the Board of Directors of Firefighters United for Safety Ethics and Ecology and the J Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee. I write from my home in the foothills near Santa Fe and am particularly concerned about the impacts of livestock grazing on public land ecology, especially in wilderness areas.

Southern New Mexico Group

Howie Dash

Howie Dash moved to Southern New Mexico from the Hudson Valley of New York in 2009.  He was involved in numerous environmental issues there as President of the Knickerbocker Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club and President and Conservation Chair of the Catskill 3500 Club.
In New Mexico, Howie joined the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter and got involved in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Action Team.  The Action Team, along with other environmental organizations, was instrumental in the creation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.  Howie is currently Southern Group Chair as well as the Southern Group Outings Chair.

Mary Katherine Ray

Mary Katherine Ray has loved nature, wildlife and New Mexico since she can remember. Born in El Paso, TX, many fond summer days were spent in Cloudcroft, White Sands and Elephant Butte Lake. She has a degree in Biology from NMSU, taught high school in El Paso and retired with her husband to the outback of Socorro county. She has been a Sierra Club member for decades and wildlife chair since 2006.



Rio Grande Chapter Executive Committee candidate statements