Project Summary

The purpose of the forum was to explore potential prosperity in New Mexico and create a local economic development strategy to honor local cultures and achieve community health. New Mexico has struggled to generate a vital and viable economy, the forum focused on:

  • Minimization of the growing income and asset gap across the state
  • Regeneration of rural frontier communities
  • Diversification of revenue, and address the
  • Pandemic related threats experienced by local businesses

The forum explored options to attract large-scale satellite businesses from national and international corporations and the development of local businesses to fill gaps in current supply chains.


  • Welcome
  • Panel 1: Importance of Local Economic Development
    • Dr. Manuel Montoya
    • Paula Garcia
    • Jenice Gharib
    • Michael Shuman
  • Breakout Discussion 1
  • Panel 2: Economic Policy Options in Local Community Assets
    • Terry Brunner
    • Roy Montibon
    • Vanessa Roanhorse
  • Breakout Discussion 2
  • Reporting Out
  • Closing Address, Helena Norberg-Hodge
  • Next Steps (Statewide, Regional, and Local)


Panelists and participants addressed approaches to develop a more robust and diversified economy that realized the potential of New Mexicans. New Mexicans discussed how we can nourish a “develop-from-within” approach so we may realize our in-state entrepreneurial potential as well as fill current supply chain voids.

Registration is now closed. Participants received confirmation emails in short order. A meeting reminder and materials were made available in early January 2021.

Coming soon!

Browse biographies provided by the Forum’s Featured Speakers.

Dr. Manuel Montoya

Manuel (MJR) Montoya, Ph.D. was an Associate professor of global structures and international management at the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management. His work focused on global political economy and was concerned with how we make the planet a meaningful part of our social and economic realities and has published work on issues ranging from international trade to creative economy.  He received his undergraduate degree at UNM in Economics and English and received his graduate education at New York University (MA), Oxford University (MLitt) and Emory University as a George Woodruff Fellow (PhD, Foreign Relations and Comparative Literature). 

Paula Garcia

For nearly two decades, Paula served as the Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association. During her time of service, communities around the state had mobilized to protect agricultural water rights based on the principle that “El Agua es Vida, Water is Life” and acequias had been an important voice in state policy. In addition to empowering communities to defend their water rights, Garcia built partnerships to create youth and farmer training programs to ensure the continuation of agriculture and land-based traditions in New Mexico.

Jenice Gharib

Jenice Gharib was the Grants Program and Policy Director for New Mexico Arts, the state arts agency and a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. She was responsible for the management of approximately $1M in annual public funding to approximately 200 New Mexico organizations, educational institutions, and government entities. Her focus was community and economic development and her responsibilities included working with New Mexico’s local arts councils, service organizations, arts trails, and economic and entrepreneurial development programs.

Michael Shuman

Michael H. Shuman was an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur, and a leading visionary on community economics. He was Director of Local Economy Programs for Neighborhood Associates Corporation, and an Adjunct Professor at Bard Business School in New York City. He was also a Senior Researcher for Council Fire, where he performed economic-development analyses for states, local governments, and businesses around North America. He was credited with being one of the architects of the 2012 JOBS Act and dozens of state laws overhauling securities regulation of crowdfunding. He authored, coauthored, or edited ten books.

Terry Brunner

Terry Brunner worked for more than 25 years in New Mexico public policy and community development. He served as the CEO of Pivotal New Mexico (formerly The Grants Collective), an Albuquerque-based nonprofit organization that helped other organizations to get the funding they needed to achieve their charitable and social missions. Prior to his time with Pivotal New Mexico, Terry spent 7 years as President Obama’s appointee to the position of USDA New Mexico State Director for Rural Development. During that time, he managed investments of more than $1 billion in housing, small business, renewable energy, and utilities in rural areas throughout New Mexico. Before his time at USDA he served as former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman’s State Director for 7 years. Terry holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Arizona and a M.A. In Latin American Studies with an emphasis in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico.

Roy Montibon

Roy was a serial entrepreneur, artist, designer, inventor, educator and community organizer. Roy was the original founder of the Art Walk in Downtown Los Angeles, which featured local Downtown talent. It has since grown into the largest and most successful Art Walk in the nation. He was elected as a Representative for the Center City Redevelopment Area / Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles. Roy was named Chair of the Las Vegas Arts & Culture District by Lt. Governor Diane Denish and three NM Cabinet Secretaries. Roy also developed the business plan and raised over $100K in seed funding from local citizens to design and build a $17 million Las Vegas Senior Life Community in coordination with the County of San Miguel and the City of Las Vegas; and produced the first two Las Vegas Traditional Hispanic Art; Graffiti Art; plus four NMHU Graduate Art exhibitions at his gallery Royal Mastodon Society.

Vanessa Roanhorse

Vanessa got her management chops working for 7 years at a Chicago-based nonprofit, the Delta Institute, focused throughout the Great Lakes region to build a resilient environment and economy through creative, sustainable, market-driven solutions. Vanessa oversaw many of Delta’s on-the-ground energy efficiency, green infrastructure, community engagement programs, and workforce development training. Vanessa is a 2019 Village Capital Money Matters Advisory Board Member, 2019 SXSW Pitch Advisor, sits on the local Living Cities leadership table, is a Startup Champions Network member, is an Advisor for emerging Navajo incubator, Change Labs, Advisor for Native Entrepreneurship in Residence Program, and is a board member for Native Community Capital, a native-led CDFI. She is a co-founder of Native Women Lead, an organization dedicated to growing native women into positions of leadership and business. Her academic education is in film from the University of Arizona but her professional education is from hands-on experience leading local, regional and national initiatives. Vanessa is Navajo living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Helena Norberg-Hodge

Helena was the founder and director of Local Futures, previously known as the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC). Local Futures was a non-profit organization “dedicated to the revitalization of cultural and biological diversity, and the strengthening of local communities and economies worldwide.” Norberg-Hodge was the author of the international best-selling book Ancient Futures (1991), about tradition and change in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. She was also the author of  Local is Our Future (2019), in which she advocated for localized alternatives to the global economy, particularly involving the creation of robust local food systems and democratic structures that could effectively resist authoritarianism. An outspoken critic of economic globalization, she co-founded – along with Jerry Mander, Doug Tompkins, Vandana Shiva, Martin Khor and others – the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) in 1994. She was a leading proponent of localization as an antidote to the problems arising from globalization, and founded the International Alliance for Localization (IAL) in 2014.

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