The Dialogue’s Board is composed of between 15 and 25 individuals who live in most of New Mexico’s 16 water planning regions, and who bring many perspectives on water issues to bear on our work. Our current Board members are listed below.
In parenthesis is the year each member joined the Board. Short bio-sketches are available for some members.
Aron Balok – Roswell (2010)
Aron Balok has been the Water Resource Specialist for the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District for about a year. He came to the district from the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, where he was the South Eastern Regional Director. Aron has a passion for New Mexico’s agricultural heritage and a deep appreciation for the complexity of the water issues that face the state. He has been professionally involved in water related issues for the past seven years. Aron was raised on a cattle ranch in north western New Mexico. He attended New Mexico State University, and in 1997 graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Extension and Educatioxn. He and his Wife Hayly and their three girls live in Roswell New Mexico.
Michael Benson – Navajo Nation, Fort Defiance (1992)
John Brown – Corrales (2007)
John served as the Dialogue’s executive director from 2002 to 2006, and has been a Board member since then. He is now a semi-retired public policy consultant. His career has focused on understanding how policy gets made, its results, and how people can change it. He has worked in policy organizations for the federal government, the Navajo Nation, the State of New Mexico, Sandoval County, and (as a consultant) for several Indian tribes and organizations. He taught about the policy process as an instructor at the University of New Mexico in Public Administration and the Political Science Department. In the mid 1990s, as a consultant to a Philippines environmental NGO and later for the New Mexico Acequia Association, he became interested in how institutions – rules, norms, and shared strategies that people use to structure their interactions – work to maintain policy stability and shape policy change around social-ecological systems (SES) and issues. In 2000-01, as a visiting scholar at Indiana University’s Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, he studied with Elinor Ostrom and began writing about these themes in relation to water planning and policy in New Mexico. He has been active in the MRG Water Assembly since 1999.
Kimberly Caputo-Heath, Albuquerque (2020)
Aaron Chavez, President – Farmington (2010)
Aaron graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2000 with a Bachelor Degree in Geography (GIS). Aaron has worked for the San Juan Water Commission since 2001 and is currently the Commission’s GIS Coordinator – IT and Web Design Specialist. Through his work at the Commission, Aaron actively participates in a variety of water programs and projects relating to the San Juan Watershed including, the Hydrology Committee for the San Juan Basin Recovery Implementation Program, the Animas Watershed Partnership, the San Juan Watershed Group, and the San Juan Watershed Woody Invasive Initiative. In addition, Aaron is a member of the Colorado River Water Users Association, where he represents New Mexico on the Program Committee. Aaron continues to provide technical support to the San Juan Basin Regional Water Planning Committee and he is currently working on mapping projects in San Juan County to promote regional planning. A native New Mexican from Cuba, New Mexico, Aaron currently resides in Aztec with his wife Sabrina, and their two young sons.
Gary Esslinger – Las Cruces (2011)
Gary L. Esslinger has been the Treasurer-Manager of the Elephant Butte Irrigation District since 1987. Gary is a third generation member of a pioneer farming family living in the Mesilla Valley. His grandfather, J. L. Esslinger, Sr., settled in La Mesa in 1913 prior to the completion of the Elephant Butte Dam. Gary’s father, J. L. Esslinger, Jr., also farmed for over fifty years. Gary kept his roots in farming as well as other agricultural based industry and lives on the family farm with his wife, Tina. Gary and Tina have three daughters. They have been foster parents since 2001 and legal guardians of three other children. Gary earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Northern Arizona University in 1973. He returned to the Mesilla Valley and began working for EBID in 1978, where he has been for more than 30 years. Gary was also appointed to the Office of the Dona Ana County Flood Commission, as Flood Commissioner, a position he held from 2002 until 2006. Gary is actively involved with the Family Farm Alliance and the National Water Resource Association.
Don Diego Gonzalez – Alcalde (2013)
Sharon Hausam – Laguna Pueblo (2015)
Sharon Hausam was the New Mexico Water Dialogue’s first Executive Director, from 1999 to 2001, and returned as a member of the board in 2015. She was the Planning Program Manager for the Pueblo of Laguna, worked for the Pueblo of Sandia, Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments, and as a consultant, giving her over 20 years of experience in planning. Sharon has been involved in regional and local water planning since 1996, when she helped write and facilitate public input for the Northwest New Mexico Regional Water Plan. She participated in the 2003 state water planning process and in the 2015-2017 regional water planning processes in the Middle Rio Grande and Northwest regions as an employee of tribal governments. Sharon’s primary interests are tribal involvement and public participation in planning. She is the author of “Maybe, maybe not: Native American participation in regional water planning,” a chapter in the edited book Reclaiming Indigenous Planning. Her doctoral dissertation (University of Wisconsin-Madison) research studied Native American and non-Native involvement in collaborative planning processes. She also has a Master of Environmental Studies degree from Yale University and a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in biology and art from the State University of New York. Sharon teaches “Planning on Native American Lands” and “Indigenous Environmental Planning” at the University of New Mexico in the Community and Regional Planning Program, and “Tribal Environmental Management” online certificate courses through Northern Arizona University’s Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals. She is affiliated with the Indigenous Design + Planning Institute. Sharon lives in Albuquerque’s Near North Valley, gardens, and irrigates off the Los Griegos Acequia.
Simeon Herskovits – Taos (2007)
Wade Holdeman – Fort Sumner (2019)
Jason John – Yah ta Hey (2008)
Jason was president of the board of directors from 2013 to 2021.
John L. Jones – Estancia Basin (2010)
John is the Chief Operating Officer for Entranosa Water & Wastewater Association, located in the east mountain area of Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties, and he has served in that capacity since 1998. Entranosa is a community water system organized under the cooperative statutes of the State. It serves slightly more than 3100 connections, 98% of which are residential, and provides operational support for three other community water systems servicing an additional 230 residential connections. He serves as legislative chairman for the NM Rural Water Association, Vice President of the Estancia Basin Regional Water Planning Committee and numerous community groups in Albuquerque and the east mountains. He is a graduate of Santa Fe High School and the University of New Mexico. He retired as a Commander from the United States Navy in 1997, during which time he earned master degrees from Salve Regina College and the Naval War College, both in Newport RI. He lives in Albuquerque with his wife, Janice Arnold-Jones.
John Leeper – Socorro (2016)
Patrick McCarthy – Santa Fe (2019)
Alex Puglisi – Santa Fe (2007)
Hilario Romero – Santa Fe (2021)
Hilario Romero is a New Mexican Mestizo-Genizaro. He was a professor of History, Spanish and Education for forty-two years at Northern New Mexico College as well as the New Mexico State Historian and a former Archivist at the New Mexico State Archives. He was also the Director of Education, Employment & Training for the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, 1982-83. During the past few years he has published a series of historical articles regarding the cultural and historical communities of northern New Mexico.
Denise Rumley – Albuquerque (2020)
Jeffrey Samson – Albuquerque (2017)
Bruce Thomson – Albuquerque (2016)
Stacy Timmons –Socorro (2017)
Stacy Timmons is the Aquifer Mapping Program manager at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources at New Mexico Tech, in Socorro. Working with the Aquifer Mapping Program, she has been involved with several large-scale, long-term hydrogeologic studies focused on geologic influences on recharge, groundwater movement and occurrence. This program aims to combine geologic, hydrologic, geochemical and geophysical information to develop regional conceptual models to describe groundwater flow within aquifers in New Mexico. This work serves the state of New Mexico by providing publicly available reports and data that can be applied to decision-making and water resource planning.
Bob Wessely – Las Vegas (2011)
Avery Young – Santa Fe (2021)
Kate Zeigler – Albuquerque (2017)