Rev. Laurie Benavides- President
The Reverend Laurie Benavides is a Deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. Reverend Benavides lives out her central ministry as a deacon by activating the community to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely, and by interpreting to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. Prior to ordination in 2006, she retired from a 31-year career in public education that included teaching in five different school districts in Texas. In addition to many years of teaching elementary students, she managed a Pregnancy and Parenting program at Weslaco High School, was a balanced literacy facilitator and Reading Recovery Teacher in Georgetown ISD, and a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader in charge of training Reading Recovery Teachers in Midland and Ector County ISDs. She is married to Dr. Roy C. Benavides and they have three grown daughters and two grandchildren.
Vivian Isaacs – Vice President
After having a career in banking, working with the adult community in Ruidoso at Ruidoso State Bank, I wanted to become a teacher-working with high school students. I returned to school, earning a degree in English/Communications-Theatre from Eastern New Mexico University; later earning my Master’s in English. Teaching gave me insight into the on-going changes and challenges faced by students each day; my experiences spanned from New Mexico, Colorado, California, Florida and back to New Mexico. My greatest impact on students came with the countless hours spent teaching theatre in each of these surroundings. When I retired two years ago, I continued my theatre interests as a member of the New Mexico Thespian Board, which allows me the opportunity to serve theatre students giving them a venue in the arts. I believe that the arts are a vital part of allowing students the opportunity to express who they really are and be successful in meeting life’s many challenges. Returning to Ruidoso after retiring, I recognized that the mountain village had somehow changed and that the challenges encountered during my teaching career were now in Ruidoso. Remembering when my own children, Bart and Chantel, were active in the Ruidoso Schools, I was drawn to learn more about the students who are facing life-altering challenges; thus my introduction to the High Mountain Youth Project in 2016. I am proud to be a part of this group of individuals who are caring, compassionate, and committed to giving students the opportunity to become successful in life. As a recently elected Board member, I am committed to creating “a loving and caring community where all youth are protected, empowered, loved, respected and treated with dignity.”
Dr. Clayton Alred – Treasurer
Dr. Clayton Alred is the immediate past president of Eastern New Mexico University – Ruidoso Branch Community College, a position he held for eight years. Prior to joining the Ruidoso campus, Dr. Alred worked for 30 years in multiple administrative positions at Odessa College, Odessa, Texas. His January 2018 retirement came a the end of a forty-year career as an educator. From the start of his professional life as a junior high school science teacher through his service as a community-college president, he has stood as a staunch advocate for students and worked to eliminate barriers to their success. In addition to his bachelors and masters degrees, he holds a doctorate degree from the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Clayton and his wife, Catherine, recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary, and are the parents of two children, Steven and Mollie, both of whom are married.
Deanna Oberheu is currently a science teacher at Ruidoso High School, her high school alma mater. After graduation, Deanna attended Texas Tech University where she received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Wildlife Sciences. Deanna worked for Texas Parks and Wildlife for almost 10 years until she and her family moved to Colorado, where she began sharing her love of science with students, teaching middle and high school sciences. Nearly two years ago, Deanna’s husband, Todd, became the administrator of Lincoln County Medical Center and they relocated to her hometown with their two boys, Grant and Ty.
In 1984 Luisa Rodriguez graduated from Ysleta High School in El Paso, Texas. Following, her graduation she got married a year later had her son Victor and began working for a local grocery company for fourteen years. In 2001 Luisa enrolled at Park University in Fort Bliss, TX to attain her Bachelor’s degree , she graduated in 2005 with her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in Administration. In 2005 she got a job in Ruidoso NM with the Center Of Protective Environment (COPE, INC) a domestic violence agency as a victim advocate. She was promoted to a domestic violence specialist where she did individual and group life skills sessions. In 2012, Luisa enrolled at the Highlands University in New Mexico; in 2015 she obtained her Master’s degree in Clinical Social work. The State of New Mexico issued Luisa Rodriguez the School Social Worker License on July 1, 2015. The State of New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department Board of Social Work Examiners issued her the NM state license on June 9th, 2016. Currently Luisa is employed with the Ruidoso Municipal School district as the school social worker at Ruidoso High School. Among other responsibilities her duties are to work with the general student population and their families when there is a need such as financial hardship, need for food, transportation, school supplies, clothing, and emotional support. In the three years that she has been with the high school, she has secured a grant from the Road Runner Food Bank that supplies a food pantry. She created and now manages school the Natural Helpers program. She secured a washer and dryer from the Ministerial Alliance for students.
Joni Stettheimer grew up in New Mexico and vacationed in Ruidoso several times a year. She always had an affinity for Ruidoso and viewed it as her home away from home. She moved to Ruidoso permanently in 2000 and received her Bachelor of Business Administration with a Minor in Marketing from Eastern New Mexico University in 2006. In 2007, Joni and her husband opened Indulgence in Midtown Ruidoso, and have been in business for almost 12 years. After having their first child, Carson, in 2012, Joni felt a desire to contribute to the youth in the community. She and her husband saw the need for more outdoor recreational equipment, and spearheaded the efforts to install a playground at Wingfield Park. With the help from the Village of Ruidoso Parks and Recreation Department, several local donors, and countless volunteers, their vision came to fruition and Carson’s Corner was completed in early 2016. Since the completion of the playground, Joni and her husband welcomed another baby girl, Chandler! In addition, Joni has been a volunteer for the High Mountain Youth Project’s Annual Bed Race since the inception of the fundraiser.
Celeste Barnes lived with her mother and sister in Seattle, Washington as a child, and visited her father in Ruidoso every Christmas and summer until Middle School when she moved to Ruidoso full time. She received a Bachelor of Science in Geography/Urban Planning from New Mexico State University in 1997 and ended up back in Seattle where she began her career in Technology. After working as a Software Test Engineer, Project Manager, and Tech Support Manager at three different companies, she found her home at Spacelabs Healthcare in 2001 and has been working there ever since. Her current role as Technology Manager involves helping the Sales Executives navigate the complex technical environment healthcare has become. 15 years ago she moved back from Seattle and she and her husband Chris Barnes are happy to call Ruidoso Downs their forever home.
Jennifer Johnson is a lifetime resident of Ruidoso, who currently teaches math at the very same high school in which she graduated from…Ruidoso High School. She loves working with students and felt honored to be on the Board for the HIGH MOUNTAIN YOUTH PROJECT of LINCOLN COUNTY. She understands the needs of students and wants to make a difference. Her husband is the Ruidoso High School Athletic Director and Head Football Coach. Together they have three children, Kaylee, Parker and Morgan, and one precious granddaughter Ellie, who lives with her parents in Texas. Jennifer is excited about all the future endeavors that she will be a part of with the HMYP and is honored to be working with such wonderful community members and students in our village.
A native New Mexican, born in Carlsbad NM, Chris spent the entirety of his school years in Ruidoso, graduating as a Ruidoso Warrior in 1985. Chris went on to be an Aggie in Las Cruces completing his pre-requisites before becoming a Lobo when accepted into the UNM School of Pharmacy. While at UNM he met Micah, the love of his life and wife of 27 years. After graduating pharmacy school in 1992, having already been employed by Walgreens, Chris took over a Walgreens Pharmacy in Las Cruces. In 1998 an opportunity arose to come back to “our mountain” and open the new Walgreens in Ruidoso. Expecting his first child, Chris felt that it was a good chance to go home and start raising children. He spent countless hours coaching sons Kyler and Grady’s little league teams which provided the opportunity to help kids in the community. In 2014, after a 23 year career with Walgreens, it was time to move on. Chris and Micah went out on a limb and opened Sierra Blanca Pharmacy through which they continue to sponsor and support the youth of Lincoln County. Chris has been a member of the New Mexico state board of Pharmacy since 2013 and currently sits as board Chairman. Chris loves golf and riding his motorcycle.
Laura and her family moved to Alto in April, 2013, after retiring from 33 years in the telecommunications industry. Most of those years were spent in Kentucky, where she grew up. In 2005 Laura accepted a position as CEO for a communications company in Lea County, New Mexico and worked there for eight years. During her career in New Mexico and Kentucky, Laura volunteered on several boards and worked with the youth in different capacities and created or assisted with several fund-raising events for various charitable organizations. Laura visited Ruidoso on several occasions while living in Hobbs, and enjoyed her visits immensely. However, in early 2013, it was clear to her that she was ready to do more than just visit Ruidoso-she was ready to make the Ruidoso area her permanent home and ready to enroll her daughter in the Lincoln County School System. Laura retired from her busy, executive life as CEO and now works from her home as a consultant and a bookkeeper. She enjoys the mountains, horseback riding, gardening, hiking and the wonderful people who make the area their home. Laura began volunteering with the High Mountain Youth Project several years ago and is now on the board helping with fundraising and other opportunities.
Jerry was born and educated in Kansas. After a stint in the military, he graduated from Cowley College, and obtained further education at Kansas State University and Cornell University. Jerry was drawn into the foodservice supply business and spent 21 years in sales, sales management, and vice-presidential positions with a multinational company. In 1984, Jerry established his first foodservice supply company and a second in national and international distribution began in 1992. The first contact with Ruidoso was 1973, and after many visits, our home was purchased in Ruidoso in 2005. Ruidoso and the mountains continued to call so in 2011, both businesses were sold, and Jerry permanently moved to Ruidoso to join his wife, Betty, who had previously relocated, and both became heavily involved in numerous charities and volunteer and service organizations.
Jerry’s guiding principle has always been “that the world steps aside to let any person through who knows where they are going”. That principle can certainly be applied to those youth given the opportunities afforded by the High Mountain Youth Project. It is an honor to be affiliated with an organization offering such safety, guidance, and encouragement to our Lincoln County future as HMYP.
Maria is the branch manager and AVP of WaFd Bank where she has worked for 15 years. She has been in banking for a total of 26 years. She is a lifelong resident of Lincoln County, raising both her boys here. Maria is passionate about her community where she grew up. She has volunteered with other organizations in the past such as Relay for Life, HEAL and the Optimist Club. She felt as if the High Mountain Youth Project was an amazing organization and one she wants to take part in.
Mary Ruth Reeve, M.Ed.
Ms. Reeve has over 4 decades of experience in education and children’s services. Her educational experiences include being a teacher of instrumental music at all levels, early childhood, elementary school, and middle school. She holds multiple certificates that cover all levels of education, special education, and administration. Ms. Reeve has been a teacher, school principal, directors of federal programs, director of special education, and a superintendent of schools. Additionally, she was the vice president for Cal Farley’ Boys Ranch, one of the largest providers of residential services for children in the United States.