Council Members

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham 
Chair, ex officio

Governor Lujan Grisham became the first Democratic woman elected as governor of New Mexico, as well as the first Democratic Latina elected state chief executive in the history of the United States. She was sworn in on November 6, 2018. She is a 12th-generation New Mexican who has dedicated her life to serving her community while fighting for families, seniors, and veterans, and building an economy that works for all New Mexicans.

She was elected to a second term in November of 2022. Previously she held three terms as a U.S. Congresswoman in the U.S. House of Representatives. There she served as chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and served on the Budget Committee and Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. She has passed legislation to help local tribes, public schools and pay for training for law enforcement. She also took on the VA to increase veterans’ access to health care, convinced the Social Security Administration to hire more judges, and held bureaucrats accountable for cleaning up a jet-fuel spill that threatened Albuquerque’s drinking water.

After graduating from the University of New Mexico’s law school, Michelle worked providing free legal services for seniors with the state bar’s lawyer referral for the elderly program. She served as director of the state agency on aging for 14 years, pioneering innovative practices now used nationwide, including undercover inspections of nursing home facilities. In 2004, Michelle was appointed Secretary of the Department of Health where she expanded the number of school-based health centers and instituted teen pregnancy prevention programs. She was elected to the Bernalillo County Commission in 2010, serving for two years before winning an open seat in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District in 2012.

State Land Commissioner
Stephanie Garcia Richard

Vice Chair, ex officio

Commissioner Garcia Richard is the first woman, the first Latina, and the first educator to serve in the position as New Mexico’s Commissioner of Public Lands.

Born in Tucumcari and raised in Silver City, Stephanie learned at a young age the importance of serving others. Her father, a WWII veteran, was a teacher; her mother was active in their church and community. Stephanie grew up in a family that operated ranches on the eastern plans and northern mountains of New Mexico, sparking the strong connection to our land that she holds today. After graduating from Silver High School, Stephanie went on to receive her undergraduate degree from Barnard College at Columbia University in New York.

Stephanie was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2012. During her six years as a State Representative, she championed laws to increase access to a quality education, transparency, and investments in renewable energy, job training, and economic development. She served as Chair of the House Education Committee for two years before being elected Land Commissioner in 2018.

As Land Commissioner, Stephanie is focused on raising as much money as possible while always keeping an eye toward stewardship and preserving the land for generations to come. We can diversify the revenue that comes into the Land Office by tripling the number of renewable energy projects, promoting outdoor recreation, and encouraging new and innovative commercial development on state trust land. With the largest continuous oil and gas resources potential ever assessed in the world sitting in Southeast New Mexico, and land that is prime for wind and solar development, Commissioner Garcia Richard is committed to working to make more money for New Mexico while protecting the health of our land.

Treasurer Laura Montoya
Ex officio

Treasurer Montoya was sworn into office on January 1, 2023, becoming the first female New Mexico State Treasurer and the first Latina in this country’s history. Laura was born, raised and educated in Northern New Mexico.

She has served New Mexico for more than two decades at the federal, state, tribal and local government. She served under U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, in several capacities at the New Mexico Legislature, and under the leadership of Treasurer Douglas M. Brown.

Laura served two terms as Sandoval County Treasurer and under her leadership, internal controls and policies were developed that earned several clean audits and a 99.37% tax collection rate for the ten years. She also served as the Legislative Chairwoman for eight years, working on the passage of over 20 pieces of legislation.

Laura also served as the Vice Chair of Finance, Pensions, and Intergovernmental Affairs and Chair of the Next Generation Young Elected Officials with the National Association of Counties.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology with a minor in sociology and her master’s degree in public affairs from New Mexico Highlands University. Laura became the 2003 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and studied International Relations at the University of Costa Rica. She earned her Certified Treasury Official, Certified Public Official and Certified Public Manager along with 600 credit hours in finance, investments, treasury, market outlook and leadership.

Laura is the daughter of Councilman Michael L. Montoya and Geralyn B. Montoya of Las Vegas, NM.

DFA Secretary Wayne Propst
Ex officio

Secretary Propst is the Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration, having been appointed to the position by Governor Lujan Grisham in January 2023. Prior to his appointment, Wayne served as the Chief of Staff to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, overseeing a staff of 100 employees and a $13 million operation budget.

From 2012 to 2021, Wayne was the Executive Director of the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association where he oversaw a $15 billion Trust Fund administered to provide a defined retirement benefit to 45,000 public sector retirees and 55,000 active public employees. He also oversaw a 457b deferred compensation plan with $500 million in assets under management.

Wayne was the Executive Director of the New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority from 2008 to 2012, where he oversaw New Mexico’s retiree health care plan for retired public employees and teachers. He also served as a senior legislative analyst for the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee and Director of the Office of Policy and Planning for the New Mexico Department of Health from 2005 to 2008.

He served as the Country Director for the National Democratic Institute for International Affair’s field office in Abuja, The Federal Republic of Nigeria. Prior to his time in Nigeria, Wayne served for nearly seven years as a senior legislative advisor to U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman.

Wayne is a graduate of Eastern New Mexico University and the University of New Mexico School of Law. After graduating from law school, he joined the U.S. Peace Corps and served for two years in the Republic of Gabon where he trained rural farmers on how to build fishponds and raise tilapia. He also served as legislative and election consultant for the Carter Center, the International Republic Institute and the National Conference of State Legislators in Algeria, Nigeria, and Somaliland.

Nicholas Telles
Ex officio |
Began 2019

Nick fufills the requirement that a chief financial officer (CFO) of a state institution of higher education be a Member of the Council.

Nick has dedicated nearly two decades of his career to public service in the areas of public finance, legislative education policy, higher education, and leadership. Nick currently serves as the Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO for Santa Fe Community College where he has led transformational change in the college’s financial stability and performance.

Nick also served as Director of Finance for Valencia County where he was recognized by the NM Office of the State Auditor for accountability and excellence related to the county’s annual audit. The Valencia County Commission also appointed Nick, by a unanimous vote, to serve as Interim-County Manager.

Nick also has extensive legislative experience working for NM Senate leaders on the Senate Education Committee and in the Senate Majority Leadership Office. In this capacity, he worked directly on education, public policy, and finance matters related to early childhood education, K-12 education, need based scholarships, dual credit, adult basic education, and higher education.

Nick earned an M.B.A. and Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, both from the University of New Mexico, Anderson School of Management.

Catherine Allen
Public Member, Legislative Appointee
Term: 2021-2025

For more than 30 years, Catherine Allen has been an outstanding leader in technology, strategy, and corporate board governance and a key thought leader in business innovation, cybersecurity and risk management.

Catherine is the Founder and Chairman of the Board of The Santa Fe Group (SFG), based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The SFG is a strategic advisory company focused on cybersecurity and risk management, specializing in briefings to C-level executives and boards of directors at financial institutions and other critical infrastructure companies. The SFG provides management for the Shared Assessments Program, a membership organization focused on best practices and assessment tools in third party risk management. Shared Assessments has over 325 corporate members, including many of the Fortune 1000. The SFG has received many awards from Cyber Defense Infosec and SC Media for their contributions to cybersecurity and risk management. Catherine was named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Women in Cybersecurity in 2019 by Cyber Defense Magazine. SC Media named her one of the 2019 Visionaries in Cybersecurity of the Last 30 Years.

Catherine has served, or continues to serve, as a corporate board member of Synovus Financial Corporation, El Paso Electric Company, Stewart Information Services, NBS Technologies, RiskSense, Belief Agency, Houlihan Lokey and CRI Advantage. She has set up and chaired, or served on, risk, security and technology committees of boards, as well as serving on compensation, nominations and governance, energy and natural resources and public policy. In 2018 she was named one of the NACD 100 Most Influential Directors. Catherine sits on the audit committee of Women Corporate Directors, the advisory board of the Executive Women’s Forum and is President-Elect of the New Mexico International Women’s Forum.

Catherine’s nonprofit work crosses the areas of arts, social justice, and higher education. She was tri-chair of the University of Missouri’s $1.4 billion capital campaign and sits on the Board of Visitors. She sits on the board of trustees for the New York Institute of Technology. She is also a member of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, International Folk Art Alliance and Resilient New Mexico nonprofit boards. Prior nonprofit boards have included New Mexico Appleseed, Communities in Schools, the Lensic Center for Performing Arts, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the Valles Caldera Trust, the New Mexico State Investment Council and the Mark Twain Research Foundation.

In 2007, Catherine stepped down from her role as the founding CEO of the financial services industry consortium, BITS, after a decade of service, to continue her work with The Santa Fe Group and pursue her passion to serve on corporate and nonprofit boards. During her tenure at BITS, Catherine worked closely with CEOs, CIOs and executives at the nation’s 100 largest financial institutions on strategic issues facing the financial services industry, from payments strategies to risk management. BITS’ accomplishments under Catherine’s leadership include creating best practices in more than 30 areas of financial services management.
Earlier in her career, Catherine served in several senior executive positions at Citicorp in the Retail, Bankcards, and Corporate Innovation and Technology divisions. She represented Citibank as founding chair and president of the multi-industry Smart Card Forum. Prior to joining Citibank, Catherine was director of corporate planning for Dun and Bradstreet, where she created and chaired the Electronic Yellow Pages and Information Association. Catherine was also a consultant to CBS, Inc. on new technologies and international trade while she was a professor at American University’s Kogod College of Business Administration.

Catherine is active politically in national and local spheres and is an advocate for getting more women and people of color onto corporate boards, into the C-Suite and into public policy. Catherine has received many awards for her contributions to financial services, technology and mentoring of women. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Missouri in 2007. She has co-authored four books and is a sought-out speaker at industry conferences and in the media.

Catherine is married to Paul Rooker and they live between Santa Fe, NM and Cape Cod, MA. Together they share five stepchildren and ten grandchildren.

John Bingaman
Public Member, Governor Appointee
Term: 2021-2026

John is Managing Principal of Iron Creek Partners LLC (“Iron Creek”), a private investment partnership based in Santa Fe, NM. John founded Iron Creek in 2009. During his early tenure at Iron Creek, John also served as Executive Chairman of SambaSafety, a leading provider of driver risk management software and data to fleets and insurance carriers, based in Albuquerque. Under John’s leadership, SambaSafety grew from approximately 20 employees to 150 employees and grew its revenues and earnings by an order of magnitude.

John currently serves as Board Chair of Iron Creek’s software portfolio companies, including CAI Software, SlickText, and Prism Visual Software. Prior to founding Iron Creek, John was with Quadrangle Group LLC, a New York City-based private equity firm, and Salomon Smith Barney in the Investment Banking Division.

In January 2019, Governor Lujan Grisham appointed John to serve as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Governor, where he served until November 2020, taking a leave of absence from his responsibilities at Iron Creek.

John resides with his wife and children in Santa Fe. John earned his B.A, magna cum laude in Economics, from Harvard College.

Dr. Kelly O’Donnell
Public Member, Legislative Appointee
Term: 2023-2028

Kelly is an economist with over 25 years’ experience in New Mexico public policy. Currently, she is Chief Research and Policy Officer at Homewise, a Santa Fe-based housing non-profit, and CEO of O’Donnell Economics and Strategy LLC, a consultancy specializing in economic and fiscal impact analysis for governments, businesses, and institutions in New Mexico and nationwide. Prior to Homewise, Kelly was a research professor of public administration at the University of New Mexico. She has also served as a senior fiscal economist and in senior leadership roles throughout New Mexico state government, including Director of Tax Policy, Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Economic Development, and Superintendent of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department. Kelly holds a PhD in economics from the University of New Mexico.

L. Michael Messina
Public Member, Governor Appointee
Term: 2019-2024

Michael is an attorney who has worked extensively on financial transactions since beginning his career in securities law more than 50 years ago. He has worked in private practice in New Mexico for more than 30 years, emphasizing financial and commercial transactions, commercial litigation, business organization and commercial real estate, among other areas. Previously he was the director of the National Health Law Program at the University of California at Los Angeles and worked on securities law as well as civil rights cases. He earned an economics degree from Dartmouth College and his law degree from the Yale Law School.

Allen Sánchez
Public Member, Legislative Appointee
Term: 2023-2028

Allen Sánchez is the President of CHI St. Joseph’s Children, where he developed the largest Home Visiting Program for first-time parents in New Mexico. The organization has an endowment of $110 million.

He served as the Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, as a Consultant on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Commission Migration and Refugee, and on the Institutional Advancement Board of the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

He served as a member of the Governor’s Task Force to Reduce Poverty, the Governor’s Council on Racial Justice, and the Advisory Council of the Early Childhood and Care Department.

He was a Coalition Leader in the passage of the Constitutional Amendment for Early Childhood.

He’s been a rancher, owner and operator of a dairy farm and bottling plant, and has experience in real estate development of agricultural properties.

Allen enjoys raising pheasants, and spends quiet time cultivating and growing a peach and cherry orchard.

He is married and has two children.

Education: Spirituality S.T.M. Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas-Rome, 1993; Theology S.T.B. Pontifical Gregorian University-Rome, 1992; Pastoral Services, B.A.- College of Santa Fe, 1986

Kurt A. Sommer
Public Member, Legislative Appointee
Term: 2022-2027

Kurt is a shareholder and managing director of the law firm of Sommer Udall Law Firm, P.A., located in Santa Fe, NM. Kurt has been employed by this law firm since January 1986. He practiced law in Albuquerque from 1984 to 1985 with the law firm of Schlenker, Lebeck & Sommer, P.A. He practices in the areas of estate and trust planning, estate and trust administration, income, estate and gift taxation for individuals and family owners, real estate law and business transactions.

Kurt is the current President-Elect of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He has been a fellow since 2002. He served as the chairman of the New Mexico Bar Association taxation section and real property and probate sections, and as past chairman of the Santa Fe Estate Planning Council. Kurt chaired the Probate Court Rules Committee for the New Mexico Supreme Court from 2015-2017. He received his A.B. in Economics from Georgetown University in 1981 (magna cum laude), and his J.D. degree from the University of New Mexico in 1984.

About Public Member Terms

The terms of the six public members appointed by the Legislature and Governor are five-years long, and the term lengths are staggered starting with the initial council appointments in 2010. Members must be confirmed by the Senate and may be re-appointed for additional terms at the discretion of the appointing entity.

  • Public Member L. Michael Messina: 2019-2024
  • Public Member Catherine Allen: 2021-2025
  • Public Member John Bingaman: 2021-2026
  • Public Member Kurt A. Sommer: 2023-2027
  • Public Member Kelly O’Donnell: 2024-2028
  • Public Member Allen Sánchez: 2024-2028