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NMSU Alumni Association welcomes new leaders to board

With the addition of new leaders to the New Mexico State University Alumni Association Executive Council and International Board of Directors, NMSU alumni can expect to see even more programs and events benefiting alumni and the university.


“We have a wonderful group of alumni who are helping us discover new ways to engage, educate and reconnect alumni to NMSU,” said Leslie Cervantes, associate vice president for alumni engagement, participation and stewardship and executive director of the Alumni Association. “Through the NMSU Alumni Association’s International Board of Directors and Executive Council, alumni volunteers are working to connect and inspire a growing network of 128,000 alumni.”

Board members have worked on several new initiatives and programs, including a new association membership model. In the past, alumni became members by paying a membership fee. Now, by making a gift of any amount to anything at NMSU that matters to them, they become a member of the Alumni Association. Updating the new membership model allows alumni to give in a way that is meaningful to them, while impacting student success. The change has helped raise the alumni giving rate ¬– an institutional rating by U.S. News and World Report – to 6.1 percent, its best rate in five years.

New officers on the executive council include President Crystal Lay, who holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism management and a Master of Arts in educational administration; President-Elect Manuel “Tony” Martinez, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in government and a Master of Arts in educational administration; and Secretary/Treasurer Kay Brilliant, who holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In addition, Amy Bigbee, who earned a Bachelor of Business Administration, will serve as past president. Other members include Steve Duran, Abigail Goodin, Connie Lee, Andrea Sparkevicius, Scott Sponseller and Adam Thompson.

“I am thrilled to serve as president of the NMSU Alumni Association Executive Council,” Lay said. “As a two-time graduate of NMSU, I know the quality of education our alumni received, and I know many alumni share the same sense of pride. I am here to help the Alumni Association serve as a valuable connection to their alma mater.”

The 31-member International Board of Directors connects alumni and friends to the university to advance the university goals, to promote student success, increase alumni engagement and giving and to promote Aggie spirit and pride.

“The strength of the International Board of Directors is the professionalism, experience and passion these Aggies bring to the Alumni Association and NMSU,” Cervantes said. “They have a passion for impacting our students, and their service is extensive.

“One of our newest members, Carol Smallwood, vice president of claims and customer service at BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona, has served on the College of Health and Social Services Advisory Board and received both the Distinguished Alumni Award and James F. Cole Award for Service,” Cervantes continued. “She is an example of the many incredible Aggies who serve on our board.”

Along with Smallwood, who earned a bachelor’s degree in community health, the International Board of Directors welcomed new members Kevin Merhege, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business; Midhat Quadri, who holds a master’s degree in business administration and Paul Gutierrez, who holds a bachelor’s degree in ag economics and business.

For a complete list of members, visit http://advancing.nmsu.edu/alumni/about/alumni-international-board-of-directors.