NEWS AND INFO - Advisory Board
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
Philippe Acheritogaray
Philippe Acheritogaray, a native San Franciscan, has worked the past twenty years in the information technology department of Franklin Templeton Investments. Philippe is a director and past president of the San Francisco Basque Cultural Center and the Basque Educational Organization and is the treasurer of the San Francisco Basque Club. Philippe represented the North American Basque Organizations at the 2007 Congress of Basque Communities in Bilbao.
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.
Annette Bidart
In 1988, Annette and James co-founded Bidart & Ross. She is a Partner in the firm and a Consultant to retirement plans, foundations and high net-worth individuals primarily located on the West Coast. In addition to client services and consultation, Annette attends various investment and consulting seminars and conferences throughout the year to continue her education and maintain her edge in industry trends. Prior to establishing Bidart & Ross, Annette joined James Ross in the investment consulting division of a major Wall Street brokerage firm. Annette was trained by the division's analytical staff in New York specifically in performance evaluation, manager search and screening, and asset liability modeling. Previous experience includes positions with a West Coast real estate development firm as assistant to the Vice President of administration, where she was in charge of property and liability insurance and staff management. Annette earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1985 where she majored in both political science and Spanish. A co-director of the University's Women's Center, she also served as an intern with the Sparks City Attorney's Office and the Nevada State Legislature. In addition, she lived and studied in Spain and Colombia, South America. Annette's personal interests include spending time with her husband and two boys. They enjoy snow and water skiing in the Sierra, biking and hiking.
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.
Tony and Juliet Campos
Tony Campos emigrated to the United States from Nafarroa at the age of seventeen to tend sheep. His wife Juliet was born in Chino, where her parents owned the Centro Vasco Hotel and Restaurant. Basque dance has been her lifelong passion; and when the Fresno Basque Club opened in 1978, she and Tony organized a dance group of 36 children. Tony was one of the original founders of that club, for which he and Juliet have regularly served as Officer and Director. Tony has also represented the club at NABO and has been an active fund-raiser. Over the years Juliet has written numerous articles about Basque culture for the club’s fund-raising pamphlet. In 2003, Bishop John Steinbock honored the couple at his annual gala dinner for their outstanding contributions to the Fresno Basque Club and to the preservation of their Basque heritage.
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.
Jeronima Echeverria (Vice-Chair)
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.
Dale Erquiaga
Dale Erquiaga is Nevada’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval in August 2013.  He comes to the position after service as the Governor’s senior advisor, work in the Clark County School District, and several years of successful consulting in policy development and communications.  A native Nevadan, Dale has held several positions in State Government.  He has long been active in the arts.  Dale holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from UNR and a Master’s Degree in Leadership from Grand Canyon University.
Pete Ernaut
As R&R’s president of government and public affairs, Pete oversees the agency’s government and public affairs operations, as well as spearheads efforts to expand our presence regionally, nationally and internationally. His vision and direction have led to a national and international footprint with nine government and public affairs offices in six states and in Washington, D.C. A former three-term Nevada state assemblyman, he is widely known as one of the state’s most influential political consultants. Pete’s background in local, state, federal and international government, along with his 25 years of experience in many industries such as energy, gaming, tourism, mining and telecommunications, gives him a high and diverse level of government and public affairs expertise. Among Pete’s many accomplishments, he recently led efforts to pass groundbreaking legislation in the areas of online gaming, renewable energy development and telecommunication deregulation, as well as overseeing all government and public affairs strategy on a major interstate natural gas pipeline, utility transmission line projects, and both renewable and non-renewable power plant permitting in multiple states. Pete also has considerable experience in political campaigns and elections, including the management of the late Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn’s successful campaign. Following his election, he served as Governor Guinn’s chief of staff, supervising all strategic, administrative and legislative affairs for the governor. He also served as the senior consultant or director on several other campaigns, including those of current U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.), current Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and former President George W. Bush.
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.
Adam Paul Laxalt
Adam Paul Laxalt, elected as Nevada’s 33rd Attorney General, took office on January 5, 2015, making him the youngest in the country. Laxalt is a father, a husband, and a fourth generation native Nevadan.  A former Lieutenant in the United States Navy, the US Navy trained him as a prosecutor and legal advisor.  Laxalt served his country as a Judge Advocate General.  While in the Navy, he volunteered to serve in a combat zone in Iraq at Forward Operating Base Camp Victory.  Laxalt's team was in charge of more than 20,000 detainees during the Surge, keeping our troops and the world safer by assisting with the detention and prosecution of thousands of war criminals and terrorists.  For his exemplary service, Laxalt was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal, and his Unit was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award. Laxalt served as a Special Assistant US Attorney, as an Assistant Professor of Law in the Leadership, Ethics and Law Department at the US Naval Academy, and as a Special Advisor to the Undersecretary of the State for Arms Control and International Security, John R. Bolton.  Throughout his time in military and government service, he worked to put Americans' security first. Prior to becoming the Attorney General, Laxalt was in private practice in Las Vegas, solving problems for a wide array of Nevadans and their businesses.  As a community leader, Laxalt serves on the Board of Trustees for Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, the largest private social services in the state.  Laxalt also co-founded the Saint Thomas More Society in Nevada, a legal ethics and leadership society that has sponsored numerous legal education and leadership events. Laxalt graduated Magna Cum Laude from Georgetown University and also graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center. Laxalt is a devoted family man.  He and his wife Jaime live in Reno with their daughter Sophia and their dogs Hoya and Buckley.
Bart Mowry
Locally based and a partner in a law firm, Bart specializes in all aspects of estate, income, gift and generations skipping transfer tax planning for high net worth families and individuals and succession planning for business owners. Bart’s professional accomplishments include being listed in the Best Lawyers in America for the past 20 years in the categories of taxation, trust and estates, and charitable organizations. He has also been named as a Super Lawyer in Nevada and the Mountain States. He is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant. Bart was educated at UNR (B.S., with honors, 1974); University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (J.D., with honors, 1979); New York University (LL.M., Taxation, with honors, 1981). Bart is proud of his Basque roots.
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.
Laree Estes Perez
Ms. Laree Perez has served as an independent financial consultant with The Medallion Company, LLC., an investment advisory, consultation and professional money management company, since September 2002. From February 1996 to September 2002, she served as Vice President of Loomis, Sayles & Company, L.P. She previously served in the position of Vice President at several investment firms including Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith (Albuquerque), Thomson McKinnon Securities, Inc. and E.F. Hutton & Company. Ms. Perez serves on the Board of Directors of Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina, and serves as the Finance Committee Chair. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of RRI Energy, Inc. December 2010 became GenOn Energy in Houston, Texas, and has served as the Chair of the Audit Committee . Past corporate board service includes American Home Furniture Company in New Mexico and Arizona, and Norwest Bank Albuquerque where she served on the Audit and Business Development Committees. Ms. Perez is currently a member of the Leadership Council for Mayo Clinic Arizona after serving on the Board of Directors of Baylor College Medicine 2007 to 2009 in Houston,Texas. From 1998 to 2007, she was a member and Vice Chairman of the Board of Regents at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and served on several Board committees. Other past boards include the Albuquerque Community Foundation (Chair Investment Committee), President of New Mexico State University Board of Regents (appointed to a six year term by the Governor of New Mexico), Albuquerque Academy, University of New Mexico Hospital (Chair Finance Committee), and Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University. Past government and civic service commitments included the New Mexico State Investment Council (three year appointment by the Governor of New Mexico), The New Mexico Amigos, National Committeewoman Republican Party of New Mexico, and New Mexico First (Executive Committee). Ms. Perez was appointed to New Mexico First in its Inaugural year, 1986, by founders, Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). It is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that engages New Mexicans in public policy, primarily by holding consensus-driven town halls on topics of public interest. Ms. Perez received a BBA in Finance and Economics from Baylor University. She is a native New Mexican, where still owns and operates an interest in the family ranch near Yeso, New Mexico. She enjoys horseback riding, trekking and many other sports.
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 (UPV/EHU), and the director of the Basque Language Institute (UPV/EHU). He is the author or co-author of more than therty books on Basque linguistics and of about eighty 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.He is a full member of Euskaltzaindia (The Royal Academy of Basque Language) since 1984, and president of the Grammar Commision in that institution; member as well of STUDIA XXI, Club of Rome, and many other institutions and associations. In 2014 was elected for the international Board of Akredita QU Chile (Quality Agency on Higher Education).
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.
Steve Trounday
Steve Trounday is the senior vice president of marketing at the Navegante Group, a casino resort development, management and consulting company. Steve oversees all of the marketing functions for the company including advertising, special events, entertainment, promotions, VIP services, and the players’ clubs. His previous experience includes being the vice president of marketing for the Reno Hilton. Steve is a Reno native and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, with a degree in managerial sciences. Active in community events, Steve is the past president of the Great Reno Balloon Race, is the advertising and P.R. chairman for the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Organizing Committee, media advisor for A.V.A. Ballet Theatre, and a member of the Advisory Board for the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. Steve is also a co-owner of the College Courtyard Apartments, a 60 apartment complex for students located just west of the University of Nevada campus.
Sam Zengotitabengoa
Sam Zengotitabengoa represents his family, Jose Ramon, Gema (deceased). Ana, and Beatriz, in support of the Center for Basque Studies. Mr. Zengotitabengoa sits on the board of the Washington DC Euskal Etxea and was editor in chief of the Journal of the Society of Basque Studies in America. He graduated from the University of Illinois, in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, and earned a JD and MBA from American University, in Washington, DC. He works as an international trade specialist and liaison with the United States Department of Commerce.
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.