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NMSU's HRTM program welcomes new advisory board members

A passion for food and entrepreneurship. Wanting to give back to the university. Seeing the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management grow. All of these are reasons three new members have joined the HRTM Board of Advisors.

Kelley Coffeen, owner of the Mesilla Valley Kitchen restaurant in Las Cruces, is one of three new members of the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management Board of Advisors. (Courtesy photo)

Kelley Coffeen of Las Cruces, Antonia Roybal-Mack of Albuquerque, and Steve Paternoster, also of Albuquerque, joined the board during fall 2009. They will join the 22 other members of the advisory board to help provide insight and mentorship to students in the HRTM program.

"It's these leaders who provide our students with insight on current industry trends. They also provide internships, serve as mentors and help the school raise money for scholarships," said Janet Green, director of the school of HRTM.

The board is a broad representation of the hospitality and tourism industry, including restaurant management, hotel management and tourism industry representation from both the public and private sector. Members are from New Mexico as well as Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.

Coffeen received her master's degree in the family and consumer sciences department at NMSU. Besides owning a Las Cruces restaurant, Coffeen has worked in advertising and real estate and has written several cookbooks.

"I would like to help the HRTM program grow, along with offering internships at Mesilla Valley Kitchen for students in the program. I believe that under Janet Green's leadership the HRTM department will become one of the top programs in the country," Coffeen said.

Roybal-Mack has maintained an interest in the NMSU HRTM program since receiving her degree there in 2003. She then attended law school at the University of New Mexico and has been practicing law in Albuquerque with the firm of Melendres, Melendres and Harrigan P.C., in the areas of hospitality law, employment law and general litigation.

"I think it's important for alumni to return to the university and give something back. The HRTM department has done tremendous things since I left and it is exciting to be part of an organization that is only going to get better," she said.

Roybal-Mack added that she cherishes the time she spent at NMSU and would like to be able to see other students enjoy their time there.

Paternoster is the owner of Scalo Northern Italian Grill in Albuquerque. He has participated in many aspects of the food industry, including owning, developing and managing restaurants and food product companies.

"I sought to become a member of the NMSU HRTM advisory board to contribute my expertise to emerging talent from the school in the arena in which I make a living," Paternoster said. "It is an honor, and I am terribly flattered to be a part of the advisory board."

Paternoster also provides internships in his restaurants for HRTM students.