About the Rio Grande Foundation
Table of Contents
RGF Mission Statement
RGF Board of Directors
The Rio Grande Foundation is a research institute dedicated to increasing liberty and prosperity for all of New Mexico’s citizens. We do this by informing New Mexicans of the importance of individual freedom, limited government, and economic opportunity.
- The Rio Grande Foundation does not endorse or oppose either directly or indirectly any candidate for public office.
- The Foundation does not contribute to campaigns.
- The Foundation does not participate or engage in political fund raising events or otherwise solicit contributions to any candidate’s campaign.
- The Foundation does not distribute statements for or against any particular candidate.
- The Foundation does not engage in any other activity that may favor or oppose a candidate.
Board of Directors
Paul J. Gessing
Victor S. Bruno
Paul J. Gessing
Paul Gessing became the first full-time President of the Rio Grande Foundation in March of 2006. Since joining the Foundation, Gessing has been a prominent voice for limited government and individual liberties in policy areas including: Constitutional liberties, taxes, health care, education, and transportation.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Gessing headed up the lobbying efforts of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) a respected taxpayer-advocacy organization in Washington, DC.
He has published articles in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, US News & World Reports, The Albuquerque Journal, Barron’s and several other major publications. He writes for and appears regularly in media outlets around New Mexico. Paul has also testified in Congress and before a variety of state and local bodies.
Paul graduated from Bowling Green State University in Ohio with a degree in Political Science in 1997 and he received his Masters in Business Administration from the University of Maryland in 2005. Despite not growing up in Albuquerque himself, his mother is a 1963 graduate of St. Pius and Paul has family in the Albuquerque area dating back to World War II.
Paul is on the Board of New Mexico Connections virtual charter school.
Paul and his wife Krista were married in October 2007 in Algodones, N.M. and have three girls, Grace, Katherine and Charlotte Rose. He is active in Toastmasters and, in his spare time, Paul enjoys hiking and walking with the family dogs, playing basketball, golf and traveling.
D. Dowd Muska
Dowd Muska joined the Rio Grande Foundation in January of 2015. As research director, he oversees the Foundation’s analysis of New Mexico public policy, and advocates for smaller and more accountable government in The Land of Enchantment.
Prior to moving to New Mexico, Dowd held positions at several free-market organizations, including the Nevada Policy Research Institute and National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. An expert on government at the local, state, and federal levels, his focus is on the nexus of fiscal policy, economic development, and technology.
In addition to authoring papers, issue briefs, and op-eds, Dowd’s work has been quoted in many newspapers and magazines. He has made numerous appearances on radio and television broadcasts.
Dowd is a graduate of The George Washington University. A native of Connecticut, he is delighted to have relocated to the Southwest to promote prosperity for New Mexico based on the principles of limited government, economic freedom, and individual responsibility.
William Patrick Leonard, PhD
Dr. William Patrick Leonard is Advisor on Higher Education Policy at the Rio Grande Foundation. He serves as Vice Dean SolBridge International School of Business in Daejeon, Korea. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Communication from the University of Pittsburgh, MBA Loyola University of Chicago and master and bachelor’s degrees from Indiana University, Bloomington. He has served in an array of senior academic leadership posts-dean library and learning resources, associate provost, vice chancellor, campus executive dean and college president. Leonard as has served in Guatemala, Germany, United Arab Emirates and currently Korea. His research interest focuses on assessment, economics, governance and policy issues in higher education. His 170 essays and reviews have appeared in an array of professional journals and popular press.
Dr. Eric Fruits is an adjunct scholar with the Rio Grande Foundation. He is an economics expert, finance expert, and statistics expert. He has produced numerous research studies involving economic analysis, financial modeling, and statistical analysis. As an expert witness, he has provided expert testimony in state court, federal court, and an international court.
As a finance expert, Dr. Fruits has been a testifying expert and provided expert consulting services in cases alleging insider trading. He is a securities expert who has conducted numerous research studies on financial issues, including initial public offerings and municipal bonds.
He has written peer-reviewed articles on initial public offerings (IPOs), the municipal bond market, and the formation and operation of cartels. His economic analysis has been widely cited and has been published in The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.
Dr. Fruits has been affiliated with Portland State University, Pacific Northwest College of Art, University of Southern California, Indiana University, and the Claremont Colleges. He has been an economic consultant with LECG, ECONorthwest, and Econ One Research.
J. Scott Moody, M.A.
J. Scott Moody has worked as a Tax Policy Economist for over 13 years. He is the author, co-author and editor of over 100 studies and books. He has testified twice before the House Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. Congress as well as various state legislatures. He has been interviewed by countless newspapers and radio and television stations. His work has appeared in Forbes, CNN Money, State Tax Notes, Portland Press Herald, New Hampshire’;s Union Leader, Hartford Courant, the Oklahoman and Albuquerque Journal.
His professional experiences includes a positions as Senior Economist at the Tax Foundation, Senior Economist at the Heritage Foundation, Vice President of Policy and Chief Economist at the Maine Heritage Policy Center, Senior Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and Research Fellow at several other free-market think tanks.
Scott received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Wingate University (Wingate, N.C.). He received his Master of Arts in Economics from George Mason University (Fairfax, VA).
Major policy contributions include:
- Developed policy program for SPN think tank as former Vice President of Policy and Chief Economist at The Maine Heritage Policy Center.
- Developed the tax Foundation’s first Federal Individual Income Tax Micro-Simulation Model.
- Developed framework for state-level Individual Income Tax Micro-Simulation Models.
- Co-developer of the Tax Foundation’s “State Business Tax Climate Index.”
- Operationalized the Tax Foundation’s statistically matched database between IRS and CPS data — results published in the “Putting a Face on America’s Tax Returns” report series.
- Author of the Tax Foundation’s “Tax Freedom Day” for five years.
- Editor of the Tax Foundation’s “Facts and Figures on Government Finance” for four years.
Todd Myers is the Director of the Center for the Environment at Washington Policy Center. He is one of the nation’s leading experts on free-market environmental policy. Todd is the author of the landmark 2011 book Eco-Fads: How the Rise of Trendy Environmentalism is Harming the Environment and is designated a Wall Street Journal Expert Panelist for energy and the environment. Todd’s research on the failure of “green” school mandates has stirred a reassessment of those requirements in school districts across the country. He currently sits on the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council and served on the executive team at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Todd also served as Director of Public Relations for the Seattle SuperSonics and Director of PublicÂ Affairs for the Seattle Mariners, and he holds a Master’s degree from the University of Washington.
Deane Waldman, MD, MBA was educated and trained at: Yale, Chicago Medical School, Mayo Clinic, Northwestern, Harvard, and Anderson Management Schools. He has been Chief of Section at San Diego Children’s, University of Chicago and University of New Mexico, as well as a practicing pediatric cardiologist for over 35 years. He has authored over 100 academic publications as well as numerous lay articles and blogs on the practice of medicine as well as the management of and strategy for health care delivery. In his book – Uproot U.S. Healthcare – Deane shares insights into the root causes of why the healthcare system consistently fails patients, providers, and our country alike. Most important, the book shows why the public and only the public can and must fix healthcare.
Wendy P. Warcholik, Ph.D.
Dr. Wendy P. Warcholik has worked as an Economist in public policy settings for over 13 years. She has extensive experience in applying statistical and econometric tools in public policy paradigms.
Her professional experience includes positions as Economist at the Bureau of Economic Analysis in Washington, D.C., Chief Forecasting Economist for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services, Adjunct Scholar with the Tax Foundation, and Research Fellow at The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. In addition, she is a Research Fellow at several U.S. free-market think tanks. She has taught numerous economics classes to MBA students.
She received her Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University. While pursuing her Ph.D., she was a Bradley research fellow and affiliated scholar with Nobel Laureate James Buchanan’s Center for the Study of Public Choice. Her dissertation required the creation and analysis of a panel dataset for 30 variables for all Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) over a ten-year period.
Major policy contributions include:
- Principal architect of the Tax Foundation’s first edition of the State Business Tax Climate Index.
- Rebuilt the State of Virginia’s Medicaid forecasting models.
- Led efforts to use the Tax Foundation’s matched IRS/Census database to produce a stream of reports as part of the Putting a Face on America’s Tax Returns project.
Ruben was born and raised in Albuquerque and graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BA in Political Science. Ruben’s university studies were supplemented by academic seminars offered by the Foundation for Economic Education, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and the Cato Institute. He has completed multiple policy-focused internships in the Washington, D.C. area and in Albuquerque. His interests in informal economies, immigration, and economic development have inspired him to pursue a career that enables him to contribute to a more free and less impoverished world.
Marcos P. Portillo
Marcos P. Portillo is an economics student at the University of New Mexico. He joined the Rio Grande Foundation in May 2012.
Marcos enlisted in the U.S. Army immediately upon graduating from high school and served honorably as a paratrooper for over six years. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant as a member with the prestigious 82nd Airborne Division. He deployed in three combat tours to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and led his platoon in an emergency humanitarian deployment to Port-au-Prince, Haiti in support of Operation Unified Response.
Since being Honorably Discharged in 2011, he has been an enthusiastic student of Free-Market Economics and participant in local politics. Recently, he’s been accepted to George Mason University where he hopes to further his education and career in business and economics.
A New Mexico native, Christopher Abbott joined the Rio Grande Foundation in May to assist with research on state public policy for the summer of 2016. Working under the guidance of Research Director Dowd Muska, Christopher’s current research focuses on analyzing and reforming the mental health care system, particularly regarding Medicaid payments, in New Mexico.
Christopher is rising sophomore in the American University Honors Program pursuing a double major in International Studies and Economics. He is interested in the intersection between these two fields, such as the various methods of leveraging economic strength for diplomatic purposes, and the influence of global organizations (U.N., World Bank, etc.) on the use of economic diplomacy.
Christopher has a history of advocating for limited government, individual liberty, and free markets as a path to prosperity in New Mexico. As a member of the American University College Republicans, Christopher has fought to defend the merits of free markets and individual liberty on a campus dominated by Socialists and Communists, and his 38 page thesis on poverty in New Mexico advocated for lower tax cuts, the elimination of loopholes, and allowing competition into the public education system.