Seeking to understand who we are, who we were and who we aspire to be.

Meet OUR Board of Directors

At the heart of the New Mexico Humanities Council lies the guidance and vision of our esteemed Board of Directors.

Our board members enrich NMHC by contributing their expertise in such areas as the law, library science, languages, literature, historic preservation, philanthropy and creative communications to the organization.

We are privileged to have such an exceptional group of community members serving as our Board. These individuals generously volunteer their time, talents, energy and collective wisdom for the benefit of the New Mexico Humanities Council.

The Board is responsible for providing effective oversight of NMHC operations and financial assets. This includes the approval of the annual budget, audit reports, financial statements and US Government IRS Tax Form 990. Our Board members serve on different committees, bringing unique perspectives, skills and areas of expertise to their governance. Their guidance is instrumental in shaping policies and strategies that have a lasting positive impact on our state, our communities and our individual lives.

About Miriam

Miriam Langer, BOARD CHAIR

How does NMHC's mission and work motivate you?

“I’m pleased to introduce myself as the new NMHC Board Chair. I have served as a board member since 2019 and stepped into the role of Vice-Chair in 2022. Thank you to outgoing chair Arif Khan for demonstrating what an effective, supportive, NMHC Board Chair can be.

“In my four years as an NMHC Board member, my primary contribution has been as a member of the grants committee. During my twenty-plus years as a faculty member at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, I’ve applied for many grants – from funders small and large. I’ve written grants for building projects, for general support, to fund our internship program, programming, and exhibit design for cultural institutions. Serving on the grants committee for the NMHC gave me the opportunity to be on the other side – reviewing applications from around New Mexico. We have awarded funds to humanities programs in rural communities, on tribal lands, in N.M.’s population centers, and for online events. The joy of awarding funding is (almost) better than receiving it!

“As Board Chair, I hope to work closely with the staff and program officers to bring in new applicants and discover ways to make the application and reporting process more accessible.”



About Fabian

Fabian E. Sisneros, Vice Chair 

What drew you to the public humanities or NMHC?

“The initial draw to NMHC began with a simple invitation by a previous board member. So it is more accurate to say that it is not what I was drawn to but, rather, to speak of who it was that drew me to NMHC. This is an important distinction to make. When I consider the mission of the NMHC, it is incumbent on me to remember that my involvement with NMHC began with a relationship with others in my local arts community. As a board member, I will do my best to remember that a council dedicated to the humanities must be engaged with the communities it serves.”









About Maresa

Maresa Thompson, Board Secretary

Why did you join the board?

“NMHC is an essential organization to distribute federal funds to local arts and humanities organizations. Being a smaller population, lower-income state, New Mexico’s organizations can truly benefit from an infusion of cash to create worthwhile humanities programming for all New Mexicans and visitors to enjoy. It is an honor and pleasure to serve with other dedicated professionals on the NMHC board of directors. The statewide impact that NMHC has is truly inspiring. Funds go to worthy organizations all over the state and are not just concentrated in the population centers. NMHC enables the public to gain an understanding and appreciation of the history and rich cultural diversity of New Mexico.”





About Elva

Elva Osterreich, Board Treasurer

How does NMHC's mission and work motivate you?

“The New Mexico Humanities Council has played a part in my life since the 1970s when my mother, Helgi Osterreich was on the council. I often traveled with her to the different meeting locations and learned much about the state of New Mexico and a small part of what it has to offer.

“I have a fascination with the history of the state, the beauty of its architecture and the creativity of its multicultures. The work of NMHC addresses all these and more. The variety of programs and initiatives spearheaded by the council is impressive and important. My first love was the Speaker’s Bureau through which over the years I have met such amazing individuals as Nina Otero-Warren; Concha Ortiz Y Pino; Doña Tules Barcelo; Aldo Leopold; and Cattle Queen Susan McSween. NMHC’s role in connecting the present with the past in art, film, podcast and live performance serves to unite New Mexicans and support communities in their transmissions into the future.”




About Carmen

Carmen Nocentelli, Board Member

Why did you choose board membership with the NMHC?

“The humanities are all about stories, and there is nothing more powerful than stories. Stories make us who we are: they teach us about the past, shape our present, and help us imagine a better future both for ourselves and for those who will come after. Since 1972, the NMHC has empowered New Mexico’s diverse voices, nurtured the stories that these voices sought to tell, and supported grassroot humanities initiatives across all parts of the state. I chose Board membership with the NMHC because I wanted to contribute to this important mission—and was eager to learn from the stories that matter to New Mexico right now.”







About Regina

Regina Bouley Sweeten, Board Member

Why did you join the board?

“By learning about the past, we can better understand ourselves in the present and how we can shape our world in the future. I am excited to use my appointment as an opportunity to serve the communities of Eastern New Mexico and the humanities needs of all New Mexicans.”









About Chelsea

Chelsea Jones, Board Member

Why did you join the board?

“The New Mexico Humanities Council mission resonates with me and the enriching interactions I’ve experienced in my career. I enjoy exploring the diverse human perspectives that the humanities programs provide. The council motivates me to conduct a deeper reflection of my community programs to advance the connections Socorro has with its history and culture.”








About Sommer

Sommer Smith, Board Member

Why did you choose board membership with the NMHC?

“I was born to creative parents in semi-rural New Mexico and the humanities here have been an important part of my life and upbringing. I support the council’s work to enliven and share the spirit of the humanities with people across the state. I feel deeply connected to the mission of helping us to understand who we are, who we were and who we aspire to be.”

About Sharon

Sharon Niederman, Board Member

Why did you join the board?

“I was honored to be selected to serve on the NMHC board as the organization has made and continues to make a tremendous impact in my life, and I welcome the opportunity to ‘give back.’ It provides rich, stimulating ‘lifelong learning’ for New Mexicans and remains an ongoing source of pride and knowledge of our state. It delivers an eye-opening forum of critical thinking as it gives context to issues of our time in a way that encourages a full spectrum of belief and expression. The NMHC offered support for my first book, ‘A Quilt of Words,’ and later, as a member of the Speakers Bureau, I had the opportunity to interact with New Mexicans from Silver City to Farmington.

“I especially like the organization’s focus on values and the interweaving of multiple points of view and issues. The community is constantly at the forefront of program selection, development, and presentation.

“It is a delight to work with the board and staff on delivering consistently quality public programming while supporting local institutions and helping them prosper.”



About Ethan

Ethan Ortega, Board Member

How does NMHC's mission and work motivate you?

“I’ve always been impressed by the diversity of humanities projects supported by the NMHC. Their programs and grantees inspire me to think deeper about history and culture in New Mexico and explore underrepresented narratives that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about.”










About Glenn

Glenn Fetzer, Board Member

Why did you join the board?

“In May of 2017 I attended the Association of Department of Foreign Languages in Atlanta and attended a breakout session on the work of humanities councils across the country. Up to that point I had never heard of humanities councils, and I listened closely as the director of the NY Humanities Council told us about what the organization does and encouraged us to become involved. About three weeks later, I received a call for nominations from the executive director of the NM Humanities Council. For me, it was a no-brainer. Yes, I knew someone who was interested, and yes, I applied. Since then, I have learned about all the wonderful humanities-related organizations that exist in this state.”








About Jonatha

Jonatha Kottler, Board Member

Why did you join the board?

“NMHC’s mission to create inclusive conversations about the humanities in New Mexico is very inspiring to me. My work in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico is all about helping students to deepen their thoughts, be clearer, think critically, and celebrate the many different ways that we share our world. Through Socratic seminars, active learning, and creative expression, we learn together and express our diverse ideas. The things that I can help to nurture in a classroom are the same values that NMHC supports all around the state. Through support of different humanities, such as film, history, storytelling, visual arts, dance, and music the Council ensures that all New Mexicans have access to the greatest kinds of human expression. During the time that I have served on the Board, I’ve learned so much about the many ways in which New Mexicans express themselves and share what is most important to them. It’s such an honor to be able to help the Council in their work.”




About Myrriah

Myrriah Gómez, Board Member

How does NMHC's mission and work motivate you?

“I am motivated by NMHC’s mission to make projects and programs by diverse people accessible to all New Mexicans, especially those in rural areas. I want to engage in the exciting dialogues happening around the humanities throughout New Mexico and also expose broader national and international audiences to the amazing work being done in and about New Mexico. NMHC is supporting hugely successful projects already, but I want to help make the application process more accessible to people who may not have the tools or experience to complete the current application.”








About David

David Geary, Board Member

How does NMHC’s mission and work motivate you?

“I’ve long admired the Council’s outreach to the underserved people of New Mexico, particularly those living in remote areas. Too often these people, especially children, can’t partake of humanities events in our large cities. Volunteering as a costumed living historian across the state for 12 years, I’ve seen the positive changes NMHC can make.”









Headshot of board member Deirdre Ewing

About Deirdre


WHY did you join the board?

“One of the greatest things about living in New Mexico is its rich history and diverse cultural heritage. As a member of the board of the New Mexico Humanities Council, I feel privileged to have the ability to contribute to its mission of enhancing the civic and cultural life of our state and particularly providing easy access to outstanding Humanities programs throughout New Mexico. Since joining the board, I’ve learned about programs and history that I had no idea existed and that I’m always excited to share with others. The Council’s commitment to supporting projects in all areas of the state and not just its urban centers is particularly important to me, as the people and the heritage of our more rural communities are such an important part of what makes New Mexico, New Mexico.”







Headshot of NMHC board member JoAnn Melchor

About JoAnn

JoAnn Melchor, Board Member

JoAnn Melchor has extensive experience working with youth, parents and communities throughout New Mexico, the U.S. and Latin America. JoAnn’s commitment to youth education shines through her extensive non-profit work in New Mexico and beyond, including significant roles at the Keres Children’s Learning Center(KCLC) and the American Indian Graduate Center.

Her devotion also extends to her participation in numerous committees, task forces, and boards dedicated to enhancing the well being of children and the broader community. JoAnn’s experience on educational programs and community development initiatives has not only impacted the lives of many but has set a high standard of leadership and commitment that inspires us all. As she prepares her upcoming statement, we anticipate her insightful contributions that continue to guide NMHC further in its goals and fulfilling its mission.





Headshot of NMHC board member Elizabeth Holmes

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Holmes, Board Member

Elizabeth Holmes holds a BA in History from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a JD from University of Detroit Mercy in Detroit, Michigan. She was admitted to the New Mexico Bar in September 2008. Elizabeth, whose extensive legal background and deep commitment to public service significantly enriches our board, is currently supervising attorney in Albuquerque’s Law Offices of the Public Defender, Elizabeth brings over 17 years of comprehensive experience in state government, having worked across all branches including the legislature, executive, judiciary, and higher education sectors.

Elizabeth’s understanding of the intersection between law and public policy, along with her ongoing role in developing key criminal justice programs, provides invaluable jurisprudence expertise to our council. Elizabeth plans to share more about her vision and why she was compelled to join the NMHC board at a later time.







Interested in Joining the NMHC Board of Directors?

The New Mexico Humanities Council accepts nominations for the Board of Directors year-round. The Board is made up of members who share a strong interest in the humanities and a commitment to enhancing the cultural and civic life of the state. We seek leaders with strong knowledge of the cultural nonprofit sector in New Mexico and a commitment to our mission who represent diverse educational backgrounds, geographical, racial, ethnic, occupational, and generational constituencies. At this time we are particularly seeking board members with skills in human resources, finance and fundraising.

The board sets policy, determines NMHC’s goals and objectives both operational and programmatic, evaluates grant applications, and fundraises. Each board member serves a three-year, renewable term. To ensure continuity, terms are staggered so a portion of its members are replaced each year. All service is voluntary but compensation will be given for travel and lodging associated with NMHC board meetings.

Interested candidates must be willing to commit to the following terms of service.

  • Have an understanding of and passion for the public humanities.

  • Commit to serve a 3-year term.

  • Board members should attend meetings regularly.

  • Board members should contribute financially.

  • Approve grant awards and serve on committees as appointed.

  • Attend NMHC-funded programs.

  • Contribute to program development, review and approve NMHC policy and procedures.

If you are interested in nominating yourself and/or someone else, please send a resume no longer than 3 pages in addition to a letter of interest expressing reasons why you would like to serve on the New Mexico Humanities Council Board. Please send a resume and letter to our physical address made to the “Attn” of the Executive Director, Brandon Johnson.