Ron Berger (Advisory Council) - Ron is Chief Academic Officer for EL Education, a nonprofit school improvement organization that partners with public schools and districts across America, leads professional learning, and creates open educational resources. He is a well-known keynote speaker nationally and internationally on inspiring a commitment to quality, character and citizenship in students. Ron is the author of best-selling education books, including: An Ethic of Excellence, and A Culture of Quality; and co-author of Leaders of Their Own Learning, Transformational Literacy, Management in the Active Classroom, Learning that Lasts, and We Are Crew: A Teamwork Approach to School Culture. He also teaches at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he did his graduate work. He founded the website Models of Excellence: The Center for High-Quality Student Work, which houses the world’s largest collection of beautiful student work. Ron was a member of the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development. He was a public school teacher and master carpenter in rural Massachusetts for over 25 years, and received the Autodesk Foundation National Teacher of the Year award.
Eduardo Briceno (Advisory Council) - Eduardo is the Co-Founder & CEO of Mindset Works, the leading provider of growth mindset development services and programs. Since he co-founded it in 2007 with Carol Dweck, Lisa Blackwell, and others, Mindset Works has supported thousands of schools and businesses in their advancement of learning-oriented cultures and systems. Eduardo is a frequent keynote speaker at leading national and international conferences, and regularly facilitates workshops at in-house convenings for professionals and executives. His two TEDx talks, The Power of Belief and How to get better at the things you care about have each been viewed by millions. He is a Pahara-Aspen Fellow, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network, and an inductee in the Happiness Hall of Fame. He has been featured and quoted in prominent media outlets and in the documentaries The Process and Rise: Voice of a New Generation. Eduardo grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA and M.A. in Education from Stanford University. Most important, he continues to enjoy lifelong learning every day. Connor Browne (Chair) ~ Connor is a founder and the CEO of City Different Investments, a new investment management firm based in Santa Fe, NM. He previously led the New Mexico Recovery Fund, L.P., a state-backed emergency lending program run by Sun Mountain Capital. He moved to Santa Fe in 2001 and worked at Thornburg Investment Management until early 2020. He was a portfolio manager on a number of equity funds and strategies while at Thornburg. Connor has supported many non-profit organizations in New Mexico, especially Big Brothers Big Sisters Mountain Region, where he volunteered as a big brother and served as Board President and Reading Quest, where he currently serves as Board Chair. Connor and his wife, Christina, an emergency room physician at the University of New Mexico, are particularly focused on helping to create better opportunities for at-risk youth. They have four daughters and an adopted son and can't imagine a better place to raise their family. Connor has a BA in Economics from Princeton University and is a CFA charterholder.
Erin Cave - Erin is the director of corporate social responsibility at Thornburg Investment Management. She works with their investment team, facilities director and human resources team to ensure the firm adheres to environmental and social governance (ESG) practices that align with the United Nation's sustainable development goals. Erin also partners with non-profits in our community focusing on arts and culture, education and social services to support the firm's mission of philanthropy and giving back. She works with their employees to increase engagement and volunteerism, while applying the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion to all initiatives for the firm.Prior to joining Thornburg, Erin worked at Salient for eight years as director of events and corporate social responsibility organizing client events and conferences, as well as internal and corporate hosted events. Erin also directed community partnerships and volunteerism for the firm, with specific coordination around Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Houston.
Sharon Eklund - Sharon earned certification as a secondary language arts teacher at Northwestern University and taught at the middle and high school levels in Los Alamos Public Schools for six years while simultaneously working on an M.B.A. from University of New Mexico. One of her daughters struggled with dyslexia and learning to read, and both of her grandsons have fought the challenges of dyslexia. Sharon worked for the University of California for 20 years before retiring in Santa Fe. She is a founding member of the Interfaith Coalition for Public Education and volunteered in various classrooms for five years to help second and third graders learn to read. Sharon is now on Reading Quest’s team of reading specialists.
Rob MacDonald - (Treasurer) A native of the Boston area, Rob relocated to New Mexico in 2007 after attending The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. For the last 13 years, he has worked on the investment team at Thornburg Investment Management, where he is currently an equity portfolio manager. Rob lives in Santa Fe with his wife, Jen, and three daughters.
Nichole Medina-Stone - (Vice-Chair) Nichole discovered Reading Quest thanks to the recommendation of Dr. Lauren K. Parks; a licensed psychologist specializing in pediatric neuropsychology. Readinq Quest has helped her son flourish and find the magic, once again, in reading. Nichole has been a long-time member of MANA del Norte and has served on the board in various positions which include; Board President, Vice-President, Public Relations Coordinator and Secretary. Nichole also serves on the MANA National Board. She received a BA in Secondary Education and a MA in Education Administration with a focus on underserved youth at the College of Santa Fe. Nichole also holds a SHRM-CP and PHR certification and is currently employed as a Recruitment Coordinator at the State of New Mexico. When she’s not volunteering, she is enjoying the Pecos wilderness with her family and taking photographs of whatever catches her fancy.
Cindy Montoya - (Advisory Council) Cindy Montoya co-founded of New Mexico School for the Arts, a statewide public high school for the arts. Now serving 245 students, the school opened its doors for the first time in 2010 with 127 students. A charter school with a private partner, NMSA-Art Institute, we are committed to providing access to pre-professional arts training and college readiness academics to students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to access mastery arts training. She brings 22 years of experience in education, both in high performing and struggling schools.
Reed Soehnel - Reed is an accounting and investment professional in the private equity space. He has been at Santa Fe-based Sun Mountain Capital for the past five years, where he is currently the Director of Accounting and Private Credit Analyst. Prior to joining Sun Mountain, Reed spent time as a financial statement auditor with both Deloitte & Touche and KPMG. Born and raised in Michigan, he moved to New Mexico in 2013 to be closer to family. Reed and his partner Maya, a freelance artist and illustrator, reside in Santa Fe. Reed has a Bachelor in Professional Accountancy from Saginaw Valley State University and is a Certified Public Accountant in New Mexico.
Caroline Stanley - Caroline is a member of the sales team at Santa Fe Stucco and Roofing. She is a fifth generation Santa Fean. After spending her formative years in Santa Fe, she attended the University of New Mexico, obtaining a bachelors of Liberal Arts with concentrations in Special Education, Fine arts, and Spanish. Since her return to Santa Fe in the summer of 2018, she has reconnected with her roots, soaked up the Santa Fe community and cultural offerings, and explored the natural beauty including the rivers and trails of greater New Mexico as a fly fisherwoman and hiker.
Alicia Vadillo~ Alicia is a bilingual educational diagnostician in Santa Fe. She arrived in to New Mexico 11 years ago. Since then, she has earned a masters degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in TESOL from New Mexico Highlands University. Alicia was recently licensed as an educational diagnostician by the University of the Southwest. She has extensive experience in early childhood, bilingual, and special education for more than 15 years in both Mexico and the US. When she has free time, Alicia enjoys walking with friends, talking about her daughter, and studying astrology. Alicia currently works for SFPS and is a board member for Reading Quest.
Margarita Vargas-Portley: Margarita is a bilingual educator in Santa Fe. She has taught for 20 years and earned her Masters degree in Language, Literacy and Socio-cultural Studies from the University of Colorado. During her career as a teacher, Margarita has worked with students in the elementary setting from preschool through second grade. Margarita was introduced to Reading Quest when she participated in a professional development workshop and observed the summer program. She was inspired by Reading Quest practices that fostered confidence and significantly advanced students' reading skills. When Margarita is not teaching, she enjoys gardening, organizing and being in nature with her family.