Staff

Allan Oliver

Allan Oliver

Executive Director

Allan Oliver is the Executive Director of the Thornburg Foundation. He oversees the Foundation’s Strategic Initiatives in early childhood education, good government reforms and food and agriculture, as well as Community Funding grants for human services and civil rights, opportunities for children and youth, environmental protection and public policy.

Allan served as Cabinet Secretary-Designate and Deputy Secretary for the New Mexico Economic Development Department. Allan also served as Director of Cabinet Affairs administering monthly cabinet meetings, and as Deputy Communications Director he drafted five State of the State addresses, an inaugural address, as well as major US and foreign policy addresses.

He also established the Partnership for Responsible Business and the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, a business association with over 1100 members supporting renewable energy technology and responsible business practices.

Mr. Oliver earned a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and was named a William Hodson Fellow for International Public Service. He also served as an NGO specialist and initiated the municipal development program for the US Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala.

 

Leslie Garcia

Leslie Garcia

Administrative Director, Community Funding Officer

Leslie Garcia is the Administrative Director and Community Funding Officer at the Thornburg Foundation. She has two decades of experience in management and administration in the investment and legal sectors, and is a native New Mexican. She brings with her a deep understanding of corporate culture, workplace dynamics, project management, marketing and human resources. Ms. Garcia has a proven track record for planning, organizing and executing special events for corporate executives and community outreach. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the College of Santa Fe and holds a SHRM-CP Certification.

 

Michael Weinberg

Michael Weinberg

Policy Officer Education

Michael Weinberg is the Education Policy Officer at the Thornburg Foundation. Previously, Michael was the program evaluation manager for New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee where he identified opportunities to improve outcomes across the birth to college continuum. Michael spent the first fourteen years of his career in the education trenches, as a teacher, literacy coach, and principal of a PreK-8 school. Michael earned his doctoral degree from the University of New Mexico in educational leadership, his master’s from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College. What excites Michael most about his current role is the ability to combine his experiences in policy-making with his passion for improving the lives of children. 

 

Dave Nezzie

Dave Nezzie

Policy Officer Food and Agriculture

Dave Nezzie is the Food and Agriculture Policy Officer at the Thornburg Foundation. Dave is a tribal member from the Navajo Nation. He previously served as a field representative for the Office of U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich where he engaged with federal, state, and local agencies, as well as organizations, community leaders, and sovereign tribal governments. Dave is a candidate in the LL.M. Program in Agriculture & Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law. He received a J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law with program certificates in Federal Indian Law and Natural Resources & Environmental Law. Dave attended Arizona State University as an undergraduate, earning concurrent degrees in Anthropology and American Indian Studies. Dave enjoys backyard farming with his wife and four children in the South Valley near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Heather W. Balas

Heather W. Balas

Policy Officer Good Government Reforms

Heather W. Balas is the Good Government Reforms Policy Officer at the Thornburg Foundation. She is the previous President and Executive Director of New Mexico First, a nonpartisan public policy organization co-founded by U.S. Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman. A fifth-generation New Mexican, Heather worked in Washington, DC, and San Francisco for several years before returning to her home state. She brings over 25 years’ experience in public policy, including policy research, citizen deliberation, legislative advocacy, voter education and coalition-building. Previous employers include the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, California Center for Civic Participation, and the Commission on Presidential Debates. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Communication from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Heather is married and mother to two busy teenagers.

 

Patrick McCarthy

Patrick McCarthy

Policy Officer Water

Patrick McCarthy is the Water Policy Officer at the Thornburg Foundation. Trained as a scientist, he has worked for the last twenty years at the intersection of ecological science, water governance, and community capacity-building. Before joining the Thornburg Foundation, Patrick worked with water managers and community leaders across the U.S. Southwest and in southern Africa on evidence-based solutions for water resources policy, planning, and management. In his work with grantees and partners, Patrick aspires to help create a New Mexico in which healthy watersheds provide clean, abundant, and equitable water to communities and ecosystems. Patrick holds a master’s degree in ecology and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology/zoology and has been awarded fellowships by the Switzer Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He lives in Santa Fe with his wife and two children.