Meet the MRAC Board

MRAC Board thanking Paul LeetmaeMRAC Board Members thank Paul Leetmae of Lawley Toyota. From left: Therese North, Mimi Clark, Bruce Ashburn, Paul Leetmae, Ashleigh Garcia, Maureen Craig.

Julianna Albershardt received a BA in Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She traveled the country as a sound engineer and photographer before landing in the art town of Ojai, California. After working in the arts, recreation, and psychological fields, she spent ten years in Reno, Nevada, where she played folk harp in the Valley Harpers Ensemble. Drawn to the beauty of New Mexico and the small town, artistic ambience of Silver City, Julianna and her husband bought the Murray Hotel in 2004 and moved here full-time in 2009. The hotel continues to be a work of art in progress, and a home for arts, music and culture in Silver City.

Bruce Ashburn,Treasurer, Growing up in a small Ohio town, the Arts have always been a way of expression for Bruce Ashburn. Participation in plays, musicals, and musical productions of both instrumental and vocal variety filled his youth. A business opportunity, (to open the local Domino’s Pizza franchise), brought him and his family from the big cities back to the small town home that he sorely missed, allowing him and his wife to raise their four children in the Silver City area. Selling the rights to the franchise in 2006, Bruce graduated in 2014 from WNMU with a BS in Operations Management and Supervision. He currently works as the Community Manager for PNM in Southwest New Mexico.

Mimi Clark,Vice President, grew up in Iowa and received her BA in Public Relations and Marketing Communications from St. Ambrose University.  She grew up in a very musically talented family.  Her parents were both in the performing arts and her mom was a gifted music teacher.  In 2010, her husband accepted the Head Football Coaching position at Western New Mexico University and they settled into Silver City.  They have one dog, a cat and a growing family.  She is currently the Marketing Coordinator at Western New Mexico University.

Melody Collins, Love for all art forms is a part of my core starting from a very early age. The position of Executive Director of a Chamber, as well as owning and operating art related businesses, interior and gift stores and an international import business all presented many opportunities to cross paths with communities and individuals that have inspired me and caused me to grow personally. Living overseas offered me exposure to cultural experiences that are still very humbling. During my time abroad I had a wonderful start with my art education in London, England at the Heatherly School of Fine Art and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Holland. Oil painting is a love of mine and I paint on a regular basis.

My early years were spent in Denver, Colorado. Summers from the age of 8-16 were spent traveling and performing music concerts and marching in parades all across the nation. These years gave me a love and respect for music.

Maureen Craig, born and raised in Crestwood, New York, Maureen earned a BA in Education from Boston College, and later a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. After a rewarding career working with national nonprofit organizations, Maureen and her husband found their dream home in Grant County and moved with their three dogs to Silver City in 2006. She is currently a member of the Silver City Public Library board of trustees and is a quilter, quilt collector and professional quilt appraiser. She enjoys supporting the arts and does all her holiday shopping locally!

Claudia Elferdink  A third generation Southern Californian, Claudia cultivated a love for the arts in public school. Water colors, pottery, and jewelry making became life-long passions while studying at UCSB and the College of Wooster in Ohio. After living in Philadelphia, meeting her lawyer husband John Egnal, and receiving an M.Ed. at the Antioch Graduate School of Education, they moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, where they raised their family.Claudia taught elementary school, then became a PBS producer at WGBY-TV, and an independent producer specializing in cultural documentaries. Claudia later went on to Harvard Divinity School to study for the Unitarian Universalist Ministry. After frequent visits to family in Silver City, they started building a small passive solar home here. Recently Claudia and her husband retired and moved to Silver City to join their children, Martha and Stuart and their families. Claudia is delighted to support the Mimbres Region Arts Council and its vital work.

Ashleigh Garcia, President, born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, earned a BA in Government at the University of Virginia as a student-athlete playing both Lacrosse and Field Hockey. She has lived in Charlottesville VA, Baltimore MD, Los Angeles CA and met her husband in Raleigh NC (a native of Grant County). Ashleigh has always used the arts as a way to appreciate and immerse herself in local culture. MRAC is to thank for her smooth transition into Grant County and Southwestern New Mexico culture. Ashleigh currently serves as the Foundation Coordinator at the Gila Regional Medical Center Foundation.

Linda Thompson moved to the Southwest from upstate New York as a youngster and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where her love of music led her to crave the local music scene and eventually to work in local radio, TV and print. While raising her two daughters, she taught fourth grade and worked on advanced education degrees, but continued to dabble in radio (the bug never goes away). Attracted to the small town friendliness and prevalence of the arts found here, she moved to Silver City in 2009. Always passionate about the environment and its wildlife, she feels like she has found the perfect sense of place here in SC and hopes to make a positive contribution to the Arts Council and the community.