Presidential Search Committee

Dr. Brandon Kempner, presidential search committee chair, head shotDr. Brandon Kempner

Search Committee Chair, Dean of Arts and Sciences

Bio: Dr. Brandon Kempner is currently the Dean of Arts and Sciences at New Mexico Highlands University. He joined NMHU in 2006 as an assistant professor of English, and he has held a variety of different roles at the university, including department chair, chair of the faculty senate, Director of HLC Accreditation, and Director of Emergency Operations during COVID.

Dr. Lauren Fath head shotDr. Lauren Fath

Associate Professor, Chair of English Department/Chair of Faculty Senate

Bio: Dr. Lauren Fath is an associate professor and chair of the English department at New Mexico Highlands University. As a faculty member at Highlands since 2015, she has served in varying capacities, including as an executive committee member, vice chair, and now chair of the faculty senate; the president’s leadership development fellow; and chair of the outcomes assessment committee.


Dr. Kim Blea profile imageDr. Kim Blea

Dean of Students

Bio: Dr. Kimberly “Kim” Blea currently serves as Dean of Students and senior student affairs officer at New Mexico Highlands University. She has worked in academic and student affairs throughout her 17 years at NMHU. Dr. Blea proudly earned a B.A. in Political Science and a M.A. in Public Affairs from Highlands, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of New Mexico.

Dr. Barbara Casey profile imageDr. Barbara Perea-Casey

Community Member

Bio: Native Las Vegan, BA & MA from NMHU; Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Organizational Learning from UNM. Former NMHU  School of Education adjunct professor,  retired public school superintendent. Served on NMHU Foundation Board of Directors for over a decade. Retired public school superintendent. Former NM State Representative. Served as Educational Commissioner for Education Commission of the States as national vice chairwoman for 9 years. Current City Councilor serving 2nd 4 year term.

Shanna Halalilo head shotShanna Halalilo

NMHU Co-Athletic Director

Bio: Shanna Halalilo is currently the Co-Director of Athletics at New Mexico Highlands University. She came to NMHU in 2018 as an Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Services, and was most recently the Athletics Fundraiser with the Highlands Foundation.

Dr. Sylvester Perez

Community Member

Bio: Sylvester (Syl) Perez is a native of  San Antonio, Texas.  He received his B.A. from NMHU in 1972 and his M.A. in 1978.  He later received his Doctorate in Education Administration from Texas A&M, College Station, Texas in 1995.

He retired as Superintendent of Schools in the San Antonio Independent School District after serving more than 41 years in public education.

Dr. Perez has been recognized as an NMHU Distinguished Graduate and is also a member of the NMHU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Paul Cassidy head shotPaul Cassidy

Community Member

Bio: Mr. Cassidy is currently a member of the New Mexico State Board of Finance and the New Mexico Military Base Planning Commission and serves on numerous non-profit boards including the NMHU Foundation Board. He and his family reside in Albuquerque and Cleveland, New Mexico.

Robert Anaya headshot

Robert Anaya

Director of NMHU Santa Fe and Farmington Centers, President of Staff Senate

Bio: Robert A. Anaya is currently the NMHU Staff Senate President and Co-Chair of the President’s Council on Diversity Equity and Inclusion.  Robert is the Center Manager for Farmington and Santa Fe Centers, and has served on various campus committees during his time at NMHU.  Robert is NMHU Alumni, he received both his BA and MA, has worked in the public and private sectors, served on several non-profit and community, state, regional, and national organizations, and is a former elected official.

Jeannae Leger profile image

Jeannae Leger

Community Member

Bio: Jeannae Leger has been a member of the NMHU Alumni Board since 2016 and serves as Immediate Past President of the NMHU Alumni Board and a current member of the NMHU Foundation.  Ms. Leger was born and raised in Las Vegas and a proud NMHU alumni.


Jay Moore profile imageJay Moore

Community Member

Bio: Was a graduate of Robertson High School in Las Vegas and I graduated from New Mexico Highlands University in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree.  Was a member of the Foundation Board for 12 years and a past President of the Foundation.  I have lived in Las Vegas since 1973 and have been a member of several committees with the City of Las Vegas as well serving on the Finance Board of Immaculate Conception Church.  I am a local business person and have had my own company since 1986 with offices in Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Photo of Rebecca Moore

Dr. Rebecca Moore

Professor of Social Work

Bio: Dr. Rebecca Moore is a professor of Social Work at New Mexico Highlands University.

Dr. Rodney Rock

Associate Professor of Education

Bio: Dr. Rodney  Rock is an Associate Professor of Education at New Mexico Highlands University.

Kayl Rainer

Student Member, President of Student Senate

Bio: Kayl Rainer is the president of the student senate at New Mexico Highlands University and is majoring in Forestry.