University of Nevada, Reno

Advisory Board Members

Honorary Members of the Board:

Frank Gehry

Born in Toronto, Frank Owen Gehry is one of the most inventive and pioneering architects working today. Based in Los Angeles, where he relocated with his family in 1947, he has developed a unique architectural style that reflects both the urban vernacular and his long association with contemporary artists. He received his undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Southern California and in the years immediately following, worked in a number of firms including Victor Gruen Associates and Pereira and Luckman Associates.

After brief studies in urban planning at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and a year in Paris working for André Rémondet, Gehry returned to California and opened a small office in Santa Monica in 1962. The scope of his work has grown to include exhibition design, furniture, libraries, office buildings, restaurants, schools, and visual and performing arts venues.

The award of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1989 brought increased recognition, and the years following have been among the most productive and rewarding of Gehry’s career. The introduction of sophisticated computer software in the early 1990s has facilitated the construction and engineering of complex building systems and successfully translated the gestural quality of his work from model to built form. Frank O. Gehry & Associates has grown to over 140 employees, and the firm’s work is now featured in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. Gehry’s apotheosis came about with his masterpiece Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, considered the most emblematic building of the turn of the century.

Juan Zelaia Letamendi

Juan Zelaia Letamendi has been President of Kulturaren Aldeko Euskal Fundazioa since its creation in 1994. Born in Oñati, Gipuzkoa, he received a Doctorate in Industrial Engineering from Bilbao’s School of Engineering in 1947.

The battery company Cegasa, founded in 1934 thanks to the technical inspiration of a Basque-Chilean relative, was the family starting point from which he developed his later industrial initiatives.

Tuboplast Hispania (plastic packaging for cosmetics, chemists, etc: Vitoria-Gasteiz and Vichy, 1964) and Hidronor (recuperation, treatment and management of industrial waste, 1973), complete the trilogy of companies closest to his management, along with Cegasa. Mr. Zelaia is Executive President of the three, and actively participates in industries in other sectors, such as food and drink, commercialization, cartridges etc.

The industrial activities of Mr. Zelaia go beyond the Basque Country, reaching Spain, France, England, Portugal, the U.S.A., Chile, Argentina, Mexico, and other countries. Ever concerned about the social and cultural dimensions of life, he always supports initiatives in Basque culture, such as ikastolas (schools taught in the Basque language), UZEI (terminology center) the Tximist Expedition to Everest, sports, etc. Linked personally by family to the Basque American diaspora, he has always encouraged the meeting of both Basque Countries (the one on European soil and the one found throughout the world). As promoter and President of K.A. Euskal Fundazioa, he directs this project as a cultural meeting place for all Basques.

Advisory Board Members:

Anita Anacabe-Franzoia

Anita Anacabe is owner-operator of Anacabe’s Elko General Merchandise and is part-time faculty at Great Basin College in Elko, Nevada, teaching Spanish and Basque. She has been a past GBC Foundation member and current Nursing Advisory Board Member. She is a graduate of Boise State University.

Michonne R. Ascuaga (chair 2009- )

Michonne Ascuaga is Chief Executive Officer of John Ascuaga’s Nugget Hotel and Casino, Sparks, Nevada. She is a graduate of Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, and earned an MBA degree from Stanford University. She sits on several boards, including the Santa Clara University Board of Regents, Sierra Arts Foundation, Nevada Women’s Fund, and the Forum for a Common Agenda.

Michael J. Bidart

Michael J. Bidart is a name partner of Shernoff Bidart & Darras, and leads the firm’s HMO and Property and Casualty Departments. A prominent consumer attorney with more than 25 years of experience representing individual and business consumers, he is a frequent lecturer and keynote speaker on HMO litigation and bad faith insurance practices. He received his B.S. degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and his J.D. from Pepperdine University.


José Antonio Campos Granados

José Antonio (Tontxu) Campos grew up in Barrakaldo (Bizkaia), in the Basque Country. He has a degree in Economics, an MBA, and a Ph.D in business from Deusto University. He is currently the Basque State Minister of Education, Universities and Research in the autonomous Basque Government. He also served as a councilor for Innovation and Economic Development in the regional government of Bizkaia, and as Director of Housing and Environment for the Basque Government. 

José Ramón Cengotitabengoa

A native of Zaldibar, Bizkaia, José Ramón Cengotitabengoa is president of Whale Steel of Chicago. He received a degree in engineering at Liege, Belgium, then worked as an engineer for several years before coming to the U.S. to pursue a career in the steel industry. He has been a leader in promoting Basque arts and cultural activities, including erection of the Monument to the Basque Sheepherder in Reno, financed by Basques and friends of Basques in the U.S. and in the Basque Country.

William A. Douglass

William Douglass helped establish the Basque Studies Program (now called the Center for Basque Studies) and served as its director for thirty-three years until his retirement in 1999. He also has edited the Basque Book Series of the University of Nevada Press for thirty years. His many publications on Basque topics have all been groundbreaking in the various fields of Basque studies. A native of Reno, he attended the University of Nevada, Reno, majoring in Spanish literature, and received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.

Emilia Doyaga

Emilia Doyaga, a native of Brooklyn, New York, retired as a Distinguished Professor from State University of New York, where she also served as Academic Vice President. She was also on the faculties of St. John’s University, Brooklyn College and York College of City University College of New York, where she was also a Dean. She received a Ph.D. at New York University; IEM (Institute of Educational Management) at Harvard.

Jeronima Echeverria

Jeronima Echeverria is currently the Asst. Provost at California State University, Fresno, where she has also been a professor and chair of the Department of History. She earned her BA in history and humanities at the University of California, Irvine and completed a teaching credential. After teaching social studies at the secondary school level for twelve years, she earned her doctorate in history at University of North Texas, with research focusing on Basque-related topics.

John Echeverria (Chair, 2001–2009)

John Echeverria was born and educated in Reno, Nevada. After serving in the United States Air Force, he attended Hastings College of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate degree. He is a named partner in the prestigious San Francisco law firm of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Echeverria, specializing in personal injury litigation throughout the Western United States. Echeverria was selected for membership in both the American Board of Trial Advocates and the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Pete Ernaut

Originally from Elko, Nevada, Pete Ernaut has served as Managing Director, Government Affairs and Public Policy for Jones Vargas since January of 2001. He is also the founder and president of Ernaut Strategies Incorporated, a political consulting/government affairs firm. In 1999 he served as Chief-of-Staff to Governor Guinn, administering all strategic, administrative and legislative affairs of the State of Nevada. He also served as Nevada State Assemblyman, Republican Floor Leader, and Chairman of the Interim Committee on Electrical Deregulation as well as serving on several State Committees.



Jose (Joe) M. Goicoechea

Joe Goicoechea was born in Lekeitio (Bizkaia) and migrated to Australia in 1938 where he studied civil engineering pertaining mainly to development of urban and suburban land sub-divisions, highway construction, airport construction, local government authority works including roads, water, sewerage, etc. He is a member of the Society of Engineers of London. After serving for ten years with a civil engineering consulting firm he formed his own construction company—Vasco Construction Company Pty. Ltd.—in Northwest Queensland. Today the Goicoechea group consists of nine companies.

Xabier Irala

Xabier Irala was born in New York of Basque parents from Bilbao. His father Antón was Secretary to the Presidency of the Basque Government headed by  Jose Antonio Aguirre, and head of the Basque Delegation in New York until 1949. Xabier graduated with a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from La Salle University in Manila, Philippines. He has worked with General Electric, including as Vice President Finance GE-CGR Europe, as Vice President and CEO of Asea Brown Boveri Spain, and in 1996 he was appointed Chairman and CEO of Iberia Airlines. He has served as Chairman of the European Airlines Association, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and FITUR (International Tourism Fair). Since  2003  he  has been  the  Chairman  and  CEO of Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa (Bilbao Savings Bank), In addition, he is chairman of several foundations and member of many boards.


Sixto Jimenez

Sixto Jiménez received a Bachelor’s degree in Economic Science and Business Administration from the Universidad Comercial de Deusto. He worked in management of various companies and  then became the CEO for Viscofan, where he worked for 18 years until December 2000. By 2000 the company was the worldwide leader for meat product  casings, and had acquired the canned food company IAN, leader of the national canned food market. He currently manages investments in small companies in different sectors. He has also been a lecturer in Strategic Management at the University of Zaragoza and is preparing a book on management. Jiménez is a member of various Administration Boards, such as Caja Navarra (Navarra Savings Bank), and is President of the NGO Properu and Vice President of the Basque Studies Societies in Navarra.


Ron D. Parraguirre

Justice Ron D. Parraguirre’s family emigrated from the Basque country to western Nevada in the 1870s to ranch in the Carson City area. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. He then  moved to Washington, D.C., to work for U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt. He was later admitted to the Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, and Nevada Bars and became a Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Criminal Law. In 1987 he returned to Nevada to join his father in the private practice of law. 

His judicial career began in 1991 when he won a seat on the Las Vegas Municipal Court. In 1999, Governor Kenny Guinn appointed him to a seat at the Eighth Judicial District Court. In 2003, Judge Parraguirre was appointed presiding Judge of the Civil Division of the Eighth Judicial District Court and in 2004 he was elected President of the Nevada District Judges Association and has served on numerous committees and commissions. He won a seat on the Nevada Supreme Court, beginning his term in January 2005.

Pello Salaburu

Pello Salaburu served as President of the University of the Basque Country during the years 1996–2000 and as Vice President from 1992–1996. He has a Ph.D. in Basque Philology from the University of the Basque Country, and also studied at the universities of MIT, Cornell, and New Mexico. He spent a year as a visiting scholar with the Center for Basque Studies at UNR. Presently he is Professor of Basque Philology at the University of the Basque Country.  He is the author of a dozen books on Basque linguistics and of about forty scientific articles on language, and is a regular  contributor to the newspapers and magazines of the Basque Country. In January of 2001, Dr. Salaburu was elected to the prestigious European Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Koldo San Sebastián

Koldo San Sebastian is a well-known journalist, writer and television producer. For eighteen years he worked at the Bilbao newspaper Deia and he has produced more than two hundred documentaries for ETB (Basque Public Television).. For the past six years he has been a TV producer for different networks. In addition, he has published over twenty books, some of them related the Basque diaspora and the Basque exile in America. He collaborated closely with Bibliographer Jon Bilbao in the establishment of Harriluze, the Institute of the Basque Diaspora.


Antonio M. de Ynchausti y Larrauri

Antonio M. de Ynchausti y Larrauri was born in Manila, and  studied at the College of St. Francois Xavier in Ustaritz. He  later attended the University of Paris to study business administration, economics, and sociology. He did post-graduate work at the Bouwcentrum in Rotterdam. He then managed the family real estate holdings in San Sebastian. In 1959, he and a  brother founded the International Center of Information and Documentation for the Construction Industry in Southwestern Europe, Etxegintza, to prepare Basque industry for the European Common Market. He served for four years as Philippine Honorary Consul in San Sebastián, returning to the Philippines in 1964 to oversee the Ynchausti interests. He continued the family’s tradition of philanthropy and service through his involvement in numerous foundations and causes. He is currently the chairman and president of Ynchausti Development Corporation.


Emeritus Members:


José María Basagoiti

José M. Basagoiti received degrees in Law and in Philosophy and Letters from the University of Madrid. He is the former president of several companies and organizations, including COPARMEX (Confederation of the Mexican Republic’s Companies), USEM (Social Union of Mexican Companies), Cigarros la Tabacalera Mexicana, S.A., Discos Gamma, S.A., and Mexican Tobaccos, S.A. He has also served as a board member of numerous organizations, including the World Business Organization, the Social and Economic Council of the United Nations, and the National Bank of Mexico.

Pete T. Cenarrusa

A native of Carey, Idaho, Pete Cenarrusa graduated from the University of Idaho with a B.S. in Agriculture. He was a high school educator, and served as a Marine Naval aviator in World War II, a Corsair fighter pilot, retiring as a major. He served as State Representative to the Idaho Legislature for nine terms, before becoming Secretary of State of Idaho, an office he held from 1967–2002. He served for a term as National Dean of Secretaries of State. In 2001 he was granted the prestigious Sabino Arana Award.


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