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.


I recently served on the City of Santa Fe Public Bank Task Force.

I grew up in a small town in western Tennessee 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.

Ada Browne

Board Treasurer, 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.

Vern Hagen

Core Team, AFLEP

My strong interest in public banking comes from growing up in North Dakota (where my father was Deputy State Treasurer in the 1930s), and from my awareness of the need to focus New Mexico’s public financial resources on improved economic growth, education, rural areas, and last but not least, its public infrastructure.

I have a Master’s Degree in economics, worked at the University of Iowa Bureau of Business and Economic Research, took economics classes and taught principles of economics at the University of New Mexico, and worked on analyses of several institutions under a program grant from the NM State Government. I also worked for a private developer, directed Albuquerque Planning in the early 1970s, and the Municipal Development Departments (1980-1986), prior to doing commercial appraisal work for 15 years.

Robert A. Mang

Board Member, 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.

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.

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.

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.

Upcoming Events

october, 2020

01oct3:00 pm4:00 pm2020 Sustainable Agriculture Fall Workshop Series: Seed Saving and On-farm BreedingLearn what it takes to be your own plant breeder and understand concepts of genetics and plant selection

08oct3:00 pm4:00 pm2020 Sustainable Agriculture Fall Workshop Series: Strategies to Prevent Development and Spread of Herbicide-Resistant WeedsWeeds in the garden and farm can become resistant to our most depended-upon herbicide treatments

08oct5:00 pm6:30 pmBring on the Power of Public Banking for FloridaLearn how public banks have been shown to respond more rapidly, effectively and equitably to crises than privately-owned banks

09oct10:00 am11:00 amPublic Banking Coalition Monthly Conference CallLearn more about Public Banking, discuss current issues and get updates on the movement.

13oct1:00 pm2:00 pmKeeping the Water we do get –in the Soil!A collaborative fall webinar series for the benefit of New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers and advancement of healthy soil principles on working lands

15oct3:00 pm4:00 pm2020 Sustainable Agriculture Fall Workshop Series: Beneficial Insect Identification and Habitat ManagementLearn why cultivating the insect ecosystem on your land is pertinent to sustainable agriculture

21oct6:00 pm7:00 pmPublic Banking and YOU!What is a public bank and why is it good for New Mexico? Join Democratic Party of Bernalillo County & AFLEP to find out.

22oct3:00 pm4:00 pm2020 Sustainable Agriculture Fall Workshop Series: Growing vegetables in NM – Managing challenges for an abundant harvestAn informative overview on the farming and gardening methods pertinent to the southwest climate and soil

22oct7:00 pm8:00 pmBring On the Power of Public Banking: How to Rescue Main Street Post COVID-19Public Banking Institute's Town Hall for Butte County, Northern California

23oct2:30 pm3:30 pmPublic Banks vs. the Racial Wealth GapCould a publicly-owned bank be the real solution to a history of harmful private bank practices?

29oct3:00 pm4:00 pm2020 Sustainable Agriculture Fall Workshop Series: Pruning Fruit Trees for Sustainable Production: Why, When, and HowGet a grasp on fruit tree management, especially pruning

Revolution at the Federal Reserve:  Nomi Prins and Thomas Hanna

The Laura Flanders Show
Jan 22, 2019

As Jim Yong Kim resigns from the World Bank, we talk about the way central banks steer world development and for whom. Former Goldman Sachs managing director Nomi Prins, author of “Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World,” and public ownership researcher Thomas Hanna believe that banking, and development, could be very different.

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