2019 Summer Meeting Speakers

Confirmed Speakers


NASDA President Jeff Witte, NM Secretary of Agriculture

Jeff Witte was named the director/secretary of New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) beginning May 16, 2011.  He is also the Cabinet secretary for NMDA under Governor Susana Martinez and serves as the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) President.

Witte comes from a ranching family in northern New Mexico. He is a graduate of New Mexico State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business Management and a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Economics.  

NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr

Matthew Lohr was appointed to serve as chief of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in December of 2018. In this role, Lohr oversees the 3,000 NRCS field offices and their employees across the nation.

Lohr was raised in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley on a century farm and now operates Valley Pike Farm, Inc., with his wife Beth and their six children. He previously served in Virginia’s House of Delegates from 2006-2010 and as Virginia’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2010 to 2013. In recent years, Lohr worked as knowledge center director for Farm Credit of the Virginias and has been farming full-time on the family operation since June 2017, raising poultry, beef cattle, row crops and sweet corn. 

Western Landowners Alliance Executive Director Lesli Allison

Allison is a founding member of both the Western Landowners Alliance and Chama Peak Land Alliance. Through both organizations, Allison has worked with private landowners and multiple stakeholders to advance conservation, sustain working lands and support rural communities.

Previously, Allison managed a large ranch in the southern San Juan Mountains of Colorado. During her 16-year tenure, Allison implemented progressive conservation management through award-winning programs in restoration forestry, prescribed fire, grazing, stream restoration, hunting and wildlife management, and scientific research and monitoring. 

In 2014, Allison received the honorable Petchesky award from the New Mexico Land Conservancy due to her extensive work with private landowners and managers to advance conservation, sustain working lands and support rural communities. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree from St. John’s College, Santa Fe.

Dr. Andrea Travnicek, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, U.S. Department of the Interior

Dr. Travnicek has over 15 years of research and work experience within the natural resources, energy, agriculture, trade, disaster response and recovery, communication, aviation, and public policy fields. She has worked with the Department of the Interior since July 2017. As the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Land Management, she assists the Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management with overseeing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

Since being appointed, Dr. Travnicek has held several key leadership roles in the Administration; she has exercised the Authority of the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks as well as the Authority of the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in both roles.

Dr. Travnicek has provided oversight for the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Office of Everglades Restoration Initiatives, the Office of Gulf Coast Restoration, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Prior to joining Interior, Dr. Travnicek was the Senior Policy Advisor of Natural Resources for Governor Hoeven and Governor Dalrymple in North Dakota from July 2010 to December 2016.

Dr. Travnicek holds a Ph.D. in Natural Resources Management/Communication from North Dakota State University (NDSU) where her research focused on social networks and stakeholders associated with lake management in Minnesota.

Restore New Mexico Partnership Panel

Xavier Montoya
, N.M. NRCS State Conservationist

Jeff Witte, N.M. Secretary of Agriculture

Amy Lueders, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Regional Director

Steve Wells, N.M. BLM Associate State Director

Laura McCarthy, N.M. State Forester

Dana Vacker Strang, Director of Land and Minerals, N.M. State Land Office

Jim Berlier, NMACD President

Cal Joyner, U.S. Forest Service Regional Director

New Mexico Leadership Program Panel

Kendal Wilson, Carrizozo SWCD, NMACD Region 6 Chair

Jimbo Williams, Quemado SWCD, NMACD Vice President

Camille Graham, Penasco SWCD, Region 6 Vice Chair

Kandy Hutchins, Southwest Quay SWCD, Region 5 Vice Chair

Casey Spradley, Cuba SWCD

Melissa May, San Juan SWCD

Marcos Valdez, East Rio Arriba SWCD

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