Team

Yuriria Morales headshot

Yuriria Morales

Executive Director
Bio

Yuri was born and raised in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico and has lived in Albuquerque since 2006.
Yuri earned a Bachelor’s Degree focusing in International Affairs from the Universidad Internacional (UNINTER) located in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. She arrived in Albuquerque as an International Student and earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of New Mexico.

She currently serves as a member on several different boards. The Albuquerque Balloon Museum Foundation allows her the opportunity to keep showcasing the beauty of our city to international visitors. She is a Founding Director and Vice President for Government Affairs to the US-Mexico & Latin America Chamber of Commerce. She sits on the eVOLV Strong Corporate Board promoting health and wellness in the US and Mexico, and is the current Vice President of the Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School Governing Council.

Most recently, Yuri was an award recipient of 2021 New Mexico's Top 40 Under Forty by the Albuquerque Business First.

To contact Yuriria, email her at yuriria@globaltiesabq.org

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Sila Avcil

Program Manager
Bio

Sila was born in Iowa and raised between the United States and Turkey throughout her life. She is a recent graduate from the University of New Mexico with her Master’s in Political Science with a focus on International Relations and Comparative Politics. She completed her BA at UNM as well, where she double majored in International Studies concentrating on Conflict, Peace, and Diplomacy and Foreign Languages concentrating on French and German.

She is a first generation dual citizen, Turkish-American. She speaks French, German, Turkish, and of course English. She has over four years of volunteer experience in the community, specifically with international students at UNM through the Center for English Language and American Culture and ISI ABQ.

Sıla started her position as Program Manager for Global Ties ABQ in late-May after she graduated with her Master's.

To contact Sila, email her at sila@globaltiesabq.org

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Bushra Elfarissi

Marketing & Communications Manager
Bio
Bio Pending
Sarah. Grants and Contracts Administrator

Sarah Wilkinson

Grants & Contracts Administrator
Bio
Sarah Wilkinson founded what was initially called Project PeacePal in 2006 to connect students directly with peers in countries across the globe through hand-written pen pal letters. By 2016 she had expanded the network to over 18,000 participants in 31 countries, and grown the organization to include in-person international exchanges, rebranding as Global One to One. In 2020 Sarah completed her Masters in Public Administration from the University of New Mexico, with her thesis topic “Developing Intercultural Understanding and Communication with Adolescents through Virtual Exchange.” Sarah is passionate about building global connections that celebrate our common humanity, and is excited to continue developing relationships with existing and new partners in her position with GlobalTies ABQ. In her free time she enjoys hiking in the mountains of New Mexico and laughing with friends and family.
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Michael Garland

Youth Program Manager
Bio

Michael was raised in Tempe, Arizona where he received his Bachelor’s in Global Studies from Arizona State University with a minor in French Language and Literature. He then pursued a Master’s of Science in International Management in Lugano, Switzerland at Franklin University Switzerland.

His passion for travel and public diplomacy stems from personal experiences that challenged his core values and beliefs and led to a career in cultural exchange and community engagement.

Outside the office Michael works to support sustainable initiatives and has worked with the UN Habitat and participated at COP 26 and other international conferences. Through international and idea exchanges he believes urban settlements and lifestyles can be more sustainable and retrofitted for the future.

Board

Melora Palmer headshot

Melora Palmer

President
Bio

Melora Palmer is a Communications Consultant specializing in content development and technical writing, she has over 20 years’ experience in the marketing and communications field.
Always internationally inclined, Melora worked in the private sector in both Canada and France where she was lucky to travel extensively… losing count at 30 countries! She then made a 360° shift into the nonprofit sector, first in starting her own company to launch fair trade and ethical products from her home in Paris, France. She then lived in Haiti and West Africa where she worked in communications, report and grant writing for prominent humanitarian organizations such as CARE and Aid for Artisans.

Melora recently relocated to Albuquerque, her Alma Mater, to put her teenage daughter in high school… and you think communicating in business is hard, try it with a 17-year-old! Here, she works as an independent contractor within the nonprofit sector.

All along her commitment to serving her community and being part of the solution has held strong, she has volunteered for numerous charitable groups over the years and continues to be engaged in civic activities be-it political, social, or environmental. She is a daily yoga and meditation practitioner and is often seen at events arriving by bicycle. Melora is fully bilingual in French and English and conversationally adept in Spanish and Haitian Creole.

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Jill Van Nortwick

Immediate Past President
Bio

Jill recently joined the Global Ties Board after being both a member and volunteer. Her exposure to new cultures started when her family moved to Iran when she was 9. Lucky enough to travel the world at an early age, her love of traveling and experiencing other cultures is steadfast.

Jill currently works as principal consultant for curate impact, an intercultural consultancy service dedicated to helping boards and top management teams identify their values, establish patterns of behaviors for ethical decisions, and discover and advance their vision.

Andrew Barnes headshot

Andrew Barnes

Treasurer
Bio

Andrew Barnes is the newest partner of Kubiak Melton and Associates, LLC, a 40 plus year old Albuquerque CPA firm. He is focused on running the tax department as well as the client accounting services of the partnership. Andrew graduated from The Anderson School of Management with an MBA and attributes that time to his desire to serve on the Board of Global Ties ABQ.

The diversity of the University and the fellow students from so many nations opened the entire world up to him without ever leaving his home state. Before arriving in Albuquerque, Andrew grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico and graduated from NMSU with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

He has a New Mexico true vision for the future of our State and sees a wonderful opportunity both through economics and cultural diversity going hand in hand. His most fulfilling role is as father to his three beautiful children and husband to his world traveled wife

Laura Hille

Laura Hille

Secretary
Bio

Laura Hille is the International Admission Director at the Menaul School, which has a long history of welcoming students from around the world. She is passionate about international education and preparing students, our future leaders, to be global citizens.

She is excited to be a part of Global Ties ABQ and its work in welcoming visitors, further expanding Albuquerque’s global opportunities, and building exchange programs.

Previously, during her 7.5 years at the Institute of International Education (IIE), she managed outreach, recruitment, and section activities for a variety of global scholarship programs and institutions, including Schwarzman Scholars, Boren Awards, and New York University Abu Dhabi. Prior to IIE, Laura worked at the American Society of Hematology on international programs and at the U.S. Department of State on the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).

She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has a MA in International Affairs from George Washington University. Laura and her husband, Tyler, moved to Albuquerque after eight years in Washington, D.C. and New York City. In her free time, she enjoys running, traveling, hiking, writing, and visiting New Mexico’s wealth of archeological sites.

Deborah Blank headshot

Deborah Blank

Member-at-Large
Bio
Deborah’s involvement with Global Ties ABQ helps her feel that she has a role to play in creating international goodwill. As a huge added benefit, she has learned so much about other cultures from these very bright and energetic future world leaders – what a privilege to engage with them. They clearly enjoy coming to Albuquerque and she finds it fun to show off the city and share their reaction to the many attributes – especially the food, skies and sunsets!
Stephen L. Bishop headshot

Stephen L. Bishop

Member-at-Large
Bio

Stephen L. Bishop (Ph.D. University of Michigan, 1999; J.D. University of Michigan, 1993; B.S. University of Illinois, 1990) is the Director of the International Studies Institute and an Associate Professor of French and Africana Studies at the University of New Mexico. Professor Bishop’s interests encompass literature and culture of sub-Saharan Africa, law and literature, shame and guilt, feminism, FGM, cultural studies, and child soldier narratives.

Professor Bishop has published a number of articles on African literature and law, as well as his book Legal Oppositional Narrative: A Case Study in Cameroon (Lexington Books, 2008), which examines opposition to government-supported, dominant social orders through legal writing, including fiction that deals with legal themes, settings, and language, as well as nontraditional narratives such as legal decisions and textbooks. He has a forthcoming book, Scripting Humiliation: Shame in the African Novel, with Liverpool University Press.

He teaches courses on African literature and culture, theories of law and literature, and European and African legal and moral traditions in literature and film.

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Alberto Solis

Member-at-Large
Bio

Alberto Solís is the Program and Operations Director of Q Station, a hub for space technology. He is focused on helping the Q Station team and its partners develop a stronger space technology industry in New Mexico. Alberto’s mission and experience has been to lead successful domestic and international programs and to develop emerging leaders and teams. A dual U.S.-Mexican citizen and a UNM alumnus, he is committed to helping the Albuquerque metro area become a hub for global relations and international business development.

His recent leadership includes the UNM Entrepreneurial Challenge/Business Plan Competition, Marketing & Business Development teams for regional and national professional services firms, and international trade programs for the City of Albuquerque and State of New Mexico. He also serves on the Albuquerque Sister Cities Foundation Board, leading the sister cities committee for Albuquerque – Alburquerque, Spain.

His most fulfilling role is as father of his teenage son and daughter, Gael and Tiziana.

Sonya L. Smith headshot

Sonya L. Smith

Member-at-Large
Bio

Sonya L. Smith is a veteran and health care professional. In the Gulf War she served as a medical technician in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. A member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, she received an honorable discharge. Smith most recently worked at the New Mexico Department of Health as a special projects coordinator, specifically helping guide the efforts of the agency’s COVID-19 testing team. Prior to that, she served as director of compliance and primary care programs at Southwest Care Center in Santa Fe, and before that she worked as the clinical compliance manager at the University of New Mexico Truman Health Services clinic.

Sonya Smith is currently the State of New Mexico’s Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Veterans Services

Interns

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Zennie Tran

Marketing & Communications Intern
Bio

My name is Zennie. I'm a University of New Mexico student majoring in Organizational Communication Studies. I was born and raised in Vietnam, and my parents always encouraged me to do my best in everything I do. They let me make my own choices and never pushed me toward a career goal. Growing up in the United States, I noticed that Asian-American representation is among the most minor represented groups working in the PR industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 6.2% of Asian Americans make up the PR industry in the U.S. As a member of the AAPI community, and I believe this might open doors for me to work in the PR industry.

As I sought to gain knowledge in the PR industry, I was able to get the opportunity to be a part of the Global Ties ABQ team. My goal is to be an Asian American representative in the PR industry to emphasize the work industry's power and influence. Being a member of the AAPI, I want to contribute my perspectives and experiences that I could share to enrich U.S communities, enhancing mutual understanding between the U.S and other nations. I also want to be a part of representing a voice for underrepresented groups. Overall, I believe the more diverse and inclusive the PR industry, the more rich and powerful we can get our messages across and strengthen our relationships with the rest of the world.

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Crystelle Stufft

Intern
Bio
Bio Pending.
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Miguel Sabol

Programming Intern
Bio
Bio Pending.
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Ian May

Programming Intern
Bio
Bio Pending.
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Jonah Molina

Programming Intern
Bio
Bio Pending.