About Us

Leadership Team

Angela Merkert

Executive Director & Board Member, AFLEP

After attending the Craig Barnes lectures and grassroots organizing meetings in Santa Fe, I became active in WeArePeopleHere! (the nonprofit inspired by his work), where I led a study group on Deliberative Democracy. Then I moved to Albuquerque to head a nonprofit and joined an economic justice group in my faith community, out of which grew a robust book discussion on What Then Must We Do? by Gar Alperovitz.

Public banking emerged as a compelling response for creating greater economic parity in our state – and the organization, Public Bank for Central New Mexico was formed. Our group participated in the 2014 international Public Banking Symposium in Santa Fe and then organized an Albuquerque Symposium in 2015 for regional leaders.

My professional background includes tenure as a university professor in education; leadership and organizational development in the corporate world; and Executive Director roles in nonprofit organizations for 14 years. Throughout my career, my passion has focused on enacting change that strengthens our democracy through social and economic justice; affirming dignity and respect for every person; and increasing access to and engagement with, quality education for children, especially early childhood programs.

Living in New Mexico since 2006, I’ve also been an advocate for safe, affordable housing and expanded support for homeless families, especially those with young children. I’ve been active in the United Way of Central New Mexico’s Mission: Families Vision Council and the Early Childhood Accountability Project (ECAP). I earned a B.S. and M.S. from Iowa State University; an Ed.D from New Mexico State University; and a MTS (Master of Theological Studies) from the Harvard Divinity School.

Elaine Sullivan

Board President, AFLEP

I have been involved in this work since the fall of 2012 when our grassroots organization, Banking on New Mexico focused on ways to keep public dollars working for us at home, so our communities and all our residents can thrive. Subsequent research in our state and around the nation has convinced me that, with persistence in holding to our economic justice vision propelled with solid research and education about the public banking alternative, we can create a vibrant, economically healthy New Mexico.

In 2017-18, I served on the City of Santa Fe Public Bank Task Force.

I grew up in a small town in western Kentucky when small business was still the center of a community’s economy. My father, a dairy farmer, taught me a powerful lesson when he set the family’s rules to buy only from dairy customers and from businesses providing local jobs. When Walmart arrived in Mayfield, he was quick to say, “this will be the death of downtown.” After my daughters were raised and I’d retired from organizational consulting work, my deep passion for the fair labor movement and reviving local economies took center stage. I am proud to have helped form the Santa Fe PFLAG Chapter (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the groundbreaking Santa Fe Business Alliance, established to promote the importance of supporting locally-owned businesses and keeping more of our money circulating in our local communities. I advocated for the Living Wage Network and was a founding member of WeArePeopleHere! in 2011.

George Gamble

Board Secretary, AFLEP

I retired as a cultural anthropologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and moved to Santa Fe in 2005. At UNC, my primary focus was public health and medical research.

Born and raised in New York City, my teen years were spent on a chicken farm in upstate New York, near Cooperstown.


My undergraduate years were divided between Michigan State University and Long Island University, and my graduate years were spent at UNC in Chapel Hill. In 1962 I joined the Peace Corps with a school building project in the West African nation of Gabon. Later, during graduate school, I did research and lived in Venezuela for two years. Since moving to Santa Fe, I’ve served on the Santa Fe County Health Policy and Planning Board, tutored in the public schools and in November 2016 was elected to serve on the Governing Board of the Santa Fe Community College.

Robert A. Mang

Board Treasurer, AFLEP

I co-founded and am retired from the Regenesis Group, a Santa Fe based international consulting company to developers, architects, civil engineers, planners and community development professionals and activists. Prior to moving to Santa Fe, my business background focused on infill real estate investment, development and finance, and as a relocation financial consultant to several Silicon Valley companies.


My public policy background ranges from international relations to environmental and regional planning, and I’ve authored articles on sustainable community and ecological development.

I currently serve on the Sustainable Santa Fe Commission; on the Board of Jessica’s Love Foundation; and the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce Board, and recently served on the City of Santa Fe Public Bank Task Force. In past years, I’ve served as Chair of the International Rivers Network, was President of the Greenbelt Alliance in the San Francisco Bay Area; and am a former Board member of the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers, the Partnership for Responsible Business and a founding Board Member of Sustainable Communities, Inc. and 1000 Friends of New Mexico.

My wife Pamela and I have been residents of Santa Fe since 1991.

Ada Browne

Board Member, AFLEP

Craig Barnes’ vision of creating a Public Bank for Santa Fe, really tied two powerful ideas together…creating a real sense of community and tangible economic justice. His values colored absolutely everything he did. After he died…I felt a sense of calling… to carry this mission forward. I became a Board Member of the public banking proponent, WeArePeopleHere!


The group’s focus on social justice through economic democracy resonates deeply with my values and desire to effect positive change in our community and the world.

I was born into a second-generation Italian family in southeastern Oklahoma and graduated from the University of Oklahoma, in social work. In the late 70’s I moved to Santa Fe, working as a bookkeeper/office manager for Outward Bound and John Muir Publications and later, Production Coordinator for The Santa Fe Catalogue. And it was in Santa Fe that I discovered my passion for facilitating the cultural exchanges of ideas, through art, dance, and tribal ceremonies between indigenous tribes of Mexico and indigenous peoples of the United States. Over the next 17 years I hosted several Huichol and Tarahumara families in New Mexico and regularly traveled to Mexico, bringing food, medicine and supplies.

Melissa Pickett

Outreach Coordinator, AFLEP

During my professional career at Sunwest Bank of Albuquerque (a community bank acquired by Bank of America), I served as International Banking Officer, Electronic Banking Manager, Commercial Banking Officer and was Vice President and Marketing Director when the bank was absorbed by one of the big ten multinational banks.


As a native New Mexican, I see trajectories for our state that are both exciting and terrifying. Infrastructure, agricultural, social and economic initiatives that support a livable, resilient economy are paramount if we are to survive the volatility and challenges of this time. Seeking solutions beyond the status quo will ensure our local communities thrive. A public bank is a real nexus of the money culture that connects us to the benefits of taking back our money. My experience as a banker, organizational development consultant, and health and wellness advocate, tells me that it is time for a Public Bank for New Mexico.

Sarah Manning

Outreach Coordinator, AFLEP

I’ve been blessed with several life experiences, all of which drive and inform my conviction that a public bank for New Mexico is the missing tool our future needs to thrive. My small business in sporting retail taught me that any endeavor’s chances for survival relies on access to credit and capital. Decades of working in elementary education proved that access to community support systems enhance every child’s growth, education and career. Volunteering through the Master Gardening program and managing a 700-acre ranch showed me that every decision made and every action taken influences many other people, plants, and landscapes.

I believe we do not live isolated lives. I have a responsibility to consider community needs and dreams and to take a thoughtful role in participating in our mutual society. I’ve been blessed by those who came before me. I hope those who come after us can say that we made wise contributions.

Elizabeth Dwyer

Core Team, AFLEP

Over my tenure in local governments, I grew increasingly concerned about the debt load cities create when they must continuously fund infrastructure projects by issuing bonds, which raise the cost of the project being funded by 30% to 40%. However, there seemed to be no alternative.


In September, 2013, I attended my first WeArePeopleHere! meeting where Craig Barnes introduced their plan to create a Public Bank for Santa Fe, and discovered that a public bank could be the alternative. Although a proud resident of the Town of Bernalillo, I traveled to Santa Fe to work with the Brass Tacks Team, collaborating with city officials and national public banking experts to conduct financial and economic analyses of issues surrounding the creation of a public bank.

After earning my Master’s Degree in Counseling and practiced in social service agencies, I spent ten years working with several families who found themselves in home foreclosure, giving me a unique perspective on the difficulty of navigating large government systems. In 1976, after receiving the CORO Fellowship in Public Affairs, I made the decision to continue my career in the public sector, and for the next 30 years worked in two local governments. In St. Louis County, MO, I staffed the St. Louis County Local Development Company and later managed the Federal HUD Community Development Block Grant Program. As the Housing Planner at the City of Albuquerque, I staffed the Affordable Housing Committee and from 2009-11 managed the HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program, through which foreclosed single family homes and apartments were purchased and rehabilitated for sale and rental to lower income families.

Dorothy "Dee" Gamble

Core Team, AFLEP

I was born and raised on a farm in northeast Colorado and did undergraduate work at the University of Colorado. After college I spent two years in Colombia, South America, with the Peace Corps doing urban community development. After graduate school at Columbia University I taught community social work and community sustainable development at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, for more than 30 years.

My community social work syllabus always had a unit about the Public Bank of North Dakota because it seemed an encouraging example of keeping public money local for local investment and improving community wellbeing. I was delighted to find the Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity, to be part of a group with interest in developing a Public Bank in New Mexico. Our work with AFLEP involves outreach, especially in the North Central Economic Development District, with the Food and Farm Policy Council, and with indigenous food and farm entrepreneurs. I am also a volunteer in the Santa Fe Public Schools through Communities In Schools.

Rebeca Jasso-Aguilar

Core Team, AFLEP

I became involved with the public banking movement in 2014, after attending the Public Banking Symposium in Santa Fe sponsored by WeArePeopleHere!. I have a PhD in Sociology and have studied social movements in Latin America. Public banks were a staple in Latin American countries until the early 1980s; during these times their economies were stronger and healthier; Latin America’s economic decline coincided with the establishment of neoliberal policies that included the privatization of banks. The evidence suggests that a public bank can promote economic well-being and help weather economic crises. I strongly believe that studying the different public banks that exist in the world, and the efforts that are currently underway in various cities and states in our own country, will allow us to find the model that works best for New Mexico’s economic needs.

Vicki Hagen

Core Team, AFLEP

After being involved with public banking advocacy for five years, I have more and more come to realize the significant impact a public bank can have on our state. It will allow our taxpayer money to be leveraged to create non-tax revenue (more money without additional taxes). Further, a public bank can provide a means to put more of our state money back into our local economy by supporting economic development and education, to name just two areas.


As a retired English and math teacher, I want to use my communication skills to help my state prosper and be a great place to live.

Clifton Chadwick

Core Team, AFLEP

I have lived most of my life in New Mexico, graduating from the University of New Mexico. I have worked helping to promote local businesses for over 30 years, watching the inexorable encroachment on our local economy by actors taking our wealth out of the state. In the early 2000’s I got involved with “KeepItQuerque.org” to promote the importance of “buying local” as a crucial means of keeping money generated by the efforts of New Mexicans recirculating within our own economy rather than let it “leak out.”

When Craig Barnes described a plan to establish a Public Bank effectively owned by the taxpayers of New Mexico, I felt that was right in line with the idea of keeping more of our New Mexico money working here in for New Mexicans. I began collaborating with the group that is now Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity and am pleased to help move the idea to reality.

Terry Brunner

Board Member, AFLEP

I currently serve as the CEO of Pivotal New Mexico, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization helping organizations get the funding they need to achieve their charitable and social missions. I have over 25 years of public policy and community development experience in New Mexico having served as President Barack Obama’s appointee to New Mexico State Director of USDA Rural Development and State Director to former United States Senator Jeff Bingaman.

I’m interested in finding community-based ideas that will improve our state’s economy, and the Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity is doing that work and making the connections we need to bring good ideas to fruition.

Peter Smith

Board Member, AFLEP

My career in higher education includes serving as founding president of both California State University Monterey Bay and the Community College of Vermont. I currently hold a five-year term as the Orkand Endowed Chair and Senior Advisor to the President at the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). I also served as Assistant Director General for Education for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in Paris, France and as state senator (1980-82), Lt. Governor (1982-86) and Congressman (1989-1990.) for Vermont.

I believe the concept of a state bank for New Mexico is community-based capitalism at its best. Instead of putting our tax dollars in the pockets of shareholders and executives from out-of-state, it makes sense to put them to work employing New Mexicans, creating great infrastructure, and keeping control within our borders.

Upcoming Events

september, 2021

04sep10:00 am2:00 pmNew Mexico Prickly Pear FestivalVendors, talks and workshops, all about prickly pears

05sep10:00 am2:00 pmNew Mexico Prickly Pear FestivalVendors, talks and workshops, all about prickly pears

10sep10:00 am11:00 amPublic Banking Coalition Monthly Conference CallLearn more about Public Banking, discuss current issues and get updates on the movement.

25sep9:00 am12:00 pmSoil Health: Compost, Mulch, and Cover CropsSan Juan College Backyard Conservation Workshops Series

The Benefits of Forming a NM Public Bank

Retake Our Democracy
Jun 23, 2020

AFLEP is joined by Ellen Brown, Chair of the Public Banking Institute, and Paul Stull, President and CEO of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico for this panel discussion about the potential benefits of a New Mexico state public bank. Panel facilitated by Retake Our Democracy.

Truthout - FAIR Podcast - AFLEP

California’s New Public Banking Option Opens Door for Real Community Investment
FAIR / Truthout.org

Economy & Labor
Oct 22, 2019

Janine Jackson interviews Public Bank LA’s Trinity Tran about public banking for the October 11, 2019, episode of “CounterSpin.”

>> Listen to the Podcast

It's Our Money with Ellen Brown

Banking on the People by Ellen Brown - AFLEP

Ellen Brown’s
2019 Book

Today most of our money is created, not by governments, but by banks when they make loans. This book takes the reader step by step through the sausage factory of modern money creation, explores improvements made possible by advances in digital technology, and proposes upgrades that could transform our outmoded nineteenth century system into one that is democratic, sustainable, and serves the needs of the twenty-first century.

Order the Book

Join those who’ve endorsed a Public Bank for New Mexico

Paul Gibson endorses Public Banking NM


“I had the good fortune to work on this initiative before Bernie kidnapped all my time. This is one of those no-brainer initiatives that only the 1% could oppose. It has the potential to save the state millions of dollars by vastly reducing the cost of its bonds to improve infrastructure funding. in a public bank, our state funds can be used to build our local economy and our local infrastructure.”

– Paul Gibson
Retake Our Democracy