Board of Directors

Elaine Hampton, President/Secretary

Elaine M. Hampton, Ph.D., has a long career as an educator, writer and researcher with experiences on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. Currently, she is owner of STEM Education Associates and Co-Director of, working to end sexual abuses in Mexico.

Holly Piasente, Treasurer

Holly was born and raised in California, living in the San Francisco Bay Area until moving to Las Cruces in 2002. She was employed for over thirty five years in the pharmeceutical and vision-care industry, as an international accountant and controller. Holly became involved with the Southwest Environmental Center as a volunteer in 2012. She has since continued volunteering as gala committee chair person for A Wild Night for Wildlife fundraiser. She joined the Board of Directors in May, 2016 and was then appointed treasurer in November of that year. Additionally, Holly is Secretary of the Board for Southern New Mexico Pride and has been a director since 2014. She has three children, a son who resides in Las Cruces, a son and daughter living in California, and four grandchildren. She shares a home with four rescue dogs and promotes rescue of all animals, both wild and domestic.

Ken Stinnett

Ken Stinnett has lived in the Chihuahuan Desert for the past half-century. Ken is a photographer and wildlife biologist and has served on SWEC's Board of Directors for 20 years in various capacities.

Tom Burton

Dr. Tom Burton is a retired former Department Head of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NMSU. He has worked in the aerospace industry and has spent nearly four decades as a university faculty, including twenty years as an engineering department head at several universities. He is experienced in budgeting, fundraising, strategic planning, and career development of personnel. He is an avid mountain and desert backpacker and is interested in wildlife and land issues in the West. 

Shirley Peroutka

Shirley earned her Ph.D in communication studies in 1989, as well as her M.A. in literature and creative writing from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She is a retired educator who taught for 30 years at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD., where she chaired the Department of Communication and Media Studies for many years. Along with teaching courses in film, popular culture and gender studies, she also taught classes in environmental writing and sustainability. Shirley has always loved nature, spending much of her childhood freely roaming the countryside of her little hometown in southern Minnesota. She noticed the Southwest Environmental Center on her first scouting trip to Las Cruces a couple years before she retired. She was very happy to see that a locally-based conservation organization could thrive here in Las Cruces and she has been very happy to do what she can to help fulfill the goals of SWEC.