Briefcase: Promotions, hires and more - Albuquerque Journal

Briefcase: Promotions, hires and more


Matthew Hess

MATTHEW HESS has been promoted to president and chief executive officer of BennuBio, an Albuquerque-based biotechnology company. Hess previously served as chief operating officer of the company. Outgoing CEO Steven Graves will remain with the company as a board member and contributor to the research and development team.

Derrick Jones

DERRICK JONES has been named chief executive officer of Lovelace Westside Hospital, effective July 1, 2021. Jones has served as CEO of Lovelace UNM Rehabilitation Hospital since 2011. In 2017, he negotiated Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital’s joint venture agreement with the University of New Mexico. Jones led development of the first Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency Program at LURH in July 2019. Under his direction, LURH became the only rehab hospital in New Mexico to become CARF-accredited in six programs. During his tenure, the hospital was named to Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2018 and 2019. LURH also played a vital role during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in caring for medical/surgical patients transferred from Lovelace Medical Center and providing vaccine shots to employees and community members. Jones was named Ardent CEO of the Year in 2013 and his hospital earned the Ardent Employee Loyalty Award in 2018 and the Ardent Quality Award in 2013. He has 23 years of acute and post-acute hospital experience working with organizations such as Catholic Health initiatives, Ascension Health and HealthSouth. While Jones served as CEO of HealthSouth Hospital in Midland, Texas, the facility received the highest patient satisfaction award in the Texas region in 2009 and was also recognized as the most improved hospital in 2010 and 2011. Jones obtained a bachelor of science degree in health care administration from Auburn University and an MBA and MSHA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Gina Hickman

GINA HICKMAN has been named vice president and chief financial officer of New Mexico Mutual, a workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Hickman, formerly a finance and accounting executive, succeeds Kellie Mixon, who was promoted to CEO earlier this year. Hickman has more than 30 years of experience in finance and accounting, including 20 years of service in CFO and executive leadership roles. Before joining New Mexico Mutual, she served for 12 years as deputy director of finance and administration for the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority, which provides financing to help low- and moderate-income New Mexicans obtain affordable housing. Hickman, a CPA, earned her bachelor of accountancy degree at New Mexico State University. She is a member of the Government Finance Officers Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Yesenia I. Alvarez

YESENIA I. ALVAREZ, a staff member at Sutin, Thayer & Browne, has been promoted to paralegal in the firm’s commercial group. Her focus is in estate planning and probate work with additional experience in corporate formations. Alvarez has been working with law firms since 2016, primarily as a legal assistant, and joined Sutin in 2019. She is currently working toward her associate’s degree in paralegal studies at Central New Mexico Community College.



Jeff Kinney

JEFF KINNEY has been hired as chief operating officer of Lovelace Women’s Hospital, effective June 28, 2021. Kinney has more than 12 years of experience in health care, most recently serving as director of practice operations for Presbyterian Healthcare Services. Kinney provided oversight for the heart and vascular program, cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric and adult congenital cardiology. He was also responsible for the entire continuum of patient care for over 20,000 annual patient visits, including outpatient, inpatient, imaging, and surgical needs. While in this role, Kinney co-lead the hospital to Joint Commission and other national recognitions and certifications. Kinney was also director of practice operations for urgent and emergent services for seven PHS central New Mexico and two Santa Fe urgent care centers. He helped support the development and deployment of PHS’ PresNow dual emergency department and urgent care concept as well as PHS’s first asynchronous online visit and same day appointment platform.

Kinney received a bachelor of arts degree in communication and journalism from the University of New Mexico and a master of business administration degree from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo. A published researcher and licensed EMT paramedic, he also served on the board of directors for ABQ Area Firefighter Random Acts and is a St. Jude Hero for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
Richard Haun has been named division chief financial officer of Lovelace Health System. He has been serving as interim division CFO since December. Haun has been the division CFO for the Ardent Health Services Americas Division for six years and will continue to serve in that role in addition to division CFO for Lovelace Health System. He previously served as CFO of Lovelace Women’s Hospital from 2009 – 2010. Haun earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting from University of North Texas in Denton, Texas.
PAMELA STAFFORD has been hired as the first organizing director of New Mexico Caregivers in Action, a nonprofit that serves health care workers in the state. Stafford has 26 years of experience in the disability caregiving field in New Mexico. She has a master’s degree in American studies with an academic emphasis in minority groups and sub-cultures.
Pepper Weatherly

PEPPER WEATHERLY has been hired as regional vice president of retail delivery by Kirtland Federal Credit Union. Weatherly has worked in the credit union industry for 27 years, most recently with Oklahoma Central Credit Union in Tulsa. In previous roles, he worked in retail branch operations, consumer lending and real estate lending. Weatherly received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Texas Tech University and his MBA from Concordia University.


Edward L. Chávez

RETIRED NEW MEXICO SUPREME COURT JUSTICE EDWARD L. CHÁVEZ has been appointed vice chair of the New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. Chávez served on the New Mexico Supreme Court for 15 years until his retirement in 2018. He was chief justice from 2007-2010. While serving on the court, he wrote more than 200 opinions and served as the court’s representative on or liaison to numerous boards and commissions. He served as second vice president to the national Conference of Chief Justices and helped organize and launch a Judge’s Science School at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Since his retirement, Chávez has chaired the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Task Force and the NM Supreme Court Ad Hoc Committee to Review Pretrial Release and Detention Procedures. He co-chaired the NM First Redistricting Task Force and currently chairs the New Mexico Sentencing Commission. Chávez earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Eastern New Mexico University and graduated from the UNM School of Law. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, he was a practicing attorney who served as president of the Legal Aid Society of Albuquerque (now known as New Mexico Legal Aid). NMJPEC was established by the Supreme Court of New Mexico in 1997 as a volunteer, nonpartisan commission to improve the performance of New Mexico’s judges and provide useful, credible information to voters on judges standing for retention in general elections. Under state law, judges standing for retention must receive 57% voter approval to remain on the bench. The New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission is comprised of 15 individuals — seven lawyers and eight non-lawyers — who are appointed by the Supreme Court to staggered terms. Members are selected from nominations made by the governor, chief justice of the Supreme Court, Speaker of the House, Senate President Pro Tempore, House Minority Leader, Senate Minority Leader and President of the State Bar. For more information about the New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, visit



SUNNY505, a New Mexico communications firm, recently placed on Inc. magazine’s Best Workplaces list.

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