Advisory Board

Philippe Acheritogaray
Philippe Acheritogaray, a native San Franciscan, has worked the past 20 years in the information technology department of Franklin Templeton Investments. Acheritogaray 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. He 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. She is a part-time faculty member at Great Basin College in Elko, Nevada, and teaches 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 2009-2018)
Michonne Ascuaga served as the chief executive officer of John Ascuaga's Nugget Hotel and Casino, Sparks, Nevada, for many years. 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
Annette Bidart is a senior consultant at AndCo. She works extensively with plan sponsors, supporting their defined benefit, defined contribution, and nonqualified plans, and trustees of foundations, endowments and trusts by designing customized solutions in the areas of administration, fiduciary oversight, investment policy and design, asset allocation, investment fund line and mapping strategies, investment monitoring, evaluation, provider searches, and total plan cost analysis. A third-generation Nevadan, she received her Bachelor of Arts in political science and Spanish from the University of Nevada, Reno. She has served on the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation Board (Emeriti), the Community Foundation of Western Nevada Advisory Board and is currently a member of the Board of the National Security Forum (NSF) and the Basque Studies Advisory Board.

Michael J. Bidart
As a preeminent consumer attorney, Michael J. Bidart is a name partner of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria 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. Bidart has made a major impact on the healthcare system. Since bringing his expertise to the firm in 1986, he has developed the firm's health insurance practice by successfully prosecuting bad faith disputes against insurers and HMOs. His inexhaustible efforts were showcased in 1999 with a landmark $120.5 million verdict against Aetna over its refusal to pay for care recommended by the health plan's own physicians. It is the largest jury verdict ever rendered against an HMO nationally.

Tony and Juliet Campos
Tony Campos emigrated to the United States from Nafarroa at the age of 17 to tend sheep. His wife, Juliet, was born in Chino, California, where her parents owned the Centro Vasco Hotel and Restaurant. Basque dance has been her lifelong passion. 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 also has represented the club at NABO and has been an active fundraiser. Over the years, Juliet has written numerous articles about Basque culture for the club's fundraising 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 (Vice-chair, 2001-2009)
William Douglass helped establish the Basque Studies Program (now called the Center for Basque Studies) and served as its director for 33 years until his retirement in 1999. He also edited the Basque Book Series of the University of Nevada Press for 30 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, 2009-2014)
Before her retirement, Jeronima Echeverria served as executive vice-chancellor of the California State University System. Before that, Echeverria was provost and assistant provost at California State University, Fresno, where she was also a professor and chair of the Department of History. She earned her B.A. 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 12 years, she earned her doctorate in history at the University of North Texas, with research focusing on Basque-related topics. She currently offers workshops on leadership and speaks on Basque-related topics.

John Echeverria (Chair, 2001-2009)
John Echeverria was born and educated in Reno, Nevada. After graduating from Stanford University, he served in the United States Air Force. Following discharge, he attended Hastings College of Law and received his Juris Doctorate degree in 1972. He was admitted to both the Nevada and California Bar and then became an associate with the prestigious San Francisco law firm founded by Bruce Walkup, specializing in representing injured persons in personal injury litigation throughout the Western United States. He became a partner in the law firm in 1978 and practiced with the firm until 2003 when he moved back to his native Nevada. He continues to represent catastrophically injured persons in personal injury and wrongful death litigation. Echeverria has been selected for membership in both the American Board of Trial Advocates and the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has received numerous awards for excellence in the representation of injured persons

Dale Erquiaga
Dale Erquiaga is the president and CEO of Communities In Schools, the nation's largest and most effective dropout prevention organization. He most recently served as the chief strategy officer for Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and previously served as the state's 27th superintendent of public instruction. Erquiaga has a long career in public service and marketing communications. He worked for the Clark County School District as executive director of government affairs, public policy and strategic planning. He also served as director of the Nevada State Department of Museums and was chief deputy secretary of state. His private sector experience includes managing a successful consulting practice and working as a vice president and managing director with an advertising firm in both Nevada and Arizona. The grandson of Spanish Basque immigrants to America, Erquiaga holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Nevada, Reno and a master's degree in leadership from Grand Canyon University.

Pete Ernaut
As R&R's president of government and public affairs, Ernaut oversees the agency's government and public affairs operations, as well as spearheads efforts to expand its 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. His 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 his many accomplishments, he 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 nonrenewable power plant permitting in multiple states. Ernaut also has considerable experience in political campaigns and elections, including the management of the late Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn's successful campaign. Following his election, he served as 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 U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and former President George W. Bush. 

Pete Etchart
Pete Etchart is very proud of his Basque heritage and being part of the rich tradition of Basques in Nevada. His paternal grandparents were born in the French Pyrenees and immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. Etchart is a graduate of Carson City High School and the University of Nevada, Reno with bachelor's degrees in renewable natural resources and civil engineering and a master's degree in business administration. He is currently the chief operating officer of the Washoe County School District.

Sixto Jimenez
Sixto Jimenez 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. Jimenez 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 Jan. 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, he was trained as a prosecutor and legal adviser in the U.S. Navy. 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 served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, as an assistant professor of law in the Leadership, Ethics and Law Department at the U.S. Naval Academy, and as a special advisor to the Undersecretary of the State for Arms Control and International Security John R. Bolton. Before 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.

Michon Martin
Michon Martin is senior vice president and national strategic advisor for R&R Partners. She brings her broad legal and political experience to bear for the agency's clients. She is responsible for cultivating opportunities in new and expanding industries, as well as providing strategic oversight for R&R's clients on reputation management, cause marketing, public affairs and corporate social responsibility. Before to joining R&R, Martin most recently served as senior vice president and deputy general counsel of public affairs for Resorts World Las Vegas. Martin served as chief deputy attorney general with the Nevada Attorney General's Office under Catherine Cortez Masto's leadership, where she managed the litigation division and served as counsel to a number of state agencies. A fourth-generation Nevadan, she earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Bart Mowry
Bart Mowry is a third-generation Nevadan born and raised in Winnemucca. His maternal grandparents emigrated from Amoroto and Bedarona, Ea, Biscaya in the late 1800s to Paradise Valley, Nevada. He was educated at the University of Nevada, Reno (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). He is a member of the state bars of California and Nevada and is also a licensed CPA. He has been a member and shareholder of the Reno law firm of Maupin, Cox & LeGoy for the past 37 years. His law practice is concentrated in estate planning, probate and trust law, choice of business entity and business succession planning with an emphasis in all aspects of estate, income, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax planning. His professional accomplishments include being listed in the Best Lawyers in America for the more than 25 years in the categories of taxation, trust and estates, and charitable organizations. 

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. Sen. 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, Gov. Kenny Guinn appointed him to a seat at the Eighth Judicial District Court. In 2003, 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 and has served as Nevada's Chief Justice twice.

Koldo San Sebastian
Koldo San Sebastian is a well-known journalist, writer and television producer. For 18 years, he worked at the Bilbao newspaper Deia, and he has produced more than 200 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 more than 20 books, some of them related to 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.

Jane Tors
As director of research communications, Jane Tors contributes to the University of Nevada, Reno's enhanced reputation and capacity as a high-impact research university and an economic cornerstone for Nevada. Advancing and amplifying strategically important stories, news and information about the University's research, scholarly activities and the infrastructure that helps make them hum are the focus of Tors' part-time role in the University's Research and Innovation division. Before moving to this role in 2016, she served as the University's director of communications for 11 years. Tors joined the University in 2005 after 20-plus years in communications and public relations roles with the Estipona Group; Washoe Health System and Washoe Medical Center, northern Nevada's largest healthcare organization now known as Renown Health; and Harrah's. She is accredited in public relations (APR) by the national Public Relations Society of America and is a past-president of the Sierra Nevada Chapter of PRSA. She currently serves on the Nevada Humanities Board of Directors, Nevada Land Trust Board of Trustees and the KUNR Community Leadership Board. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno. Jane is a native Nevadan of Basque descent.

Steve Trounday (Vice-Chair, 2015-2018, Chair 2018)
Steve Trounday is the senior vice president of marketing at the Navegante Group, a casino resort development, management and consulting company. Trounday 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. He is a Reno native and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, with a degree in managerial sciences. Active in community events, he is the past president of the Great Reno Balloon Race, is the advertising and public relationships chairman for the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Organizing Committee, media adviser 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. Trounday is also a co-owner of the College Courtyard Apartments, a 60-apartment complex for students located just west of the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

Sam Zengotitabengoa
Sam Zengotitabengoa represents his family: Jose Ramon, Gema (deceased), Ana and Beatriz, in support of the Center for Basque Studies. Zengotitabengoa sits on the board of the Washington, D.C., 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 J.D. and M.B.A. from American University, in Washington, D.C. He works as an international trade specialist and liaison with the United States Department of Commerce.

Emeritus Member of the Board

Jose Ramon Cengotitabengoa
Jose Ramon Cengotitabengoa was born in 1938 in Zaldibar, Bizkaia. His studies took him to Tudela, Nafarroa, and then Liège, Belgium, where he studied engineering. He lived and worked in England, Germany and Holland before returning to the Basque Country. Through his and others' efforts, the Society for Basque Studies in America was established, which served as a catalyst for numerous academic initiatives to promote and study Basque culture in the United States. Specifically, he promoted the Society's Journal and the Basque Hall of Fame. He also played a prominent role in establishing: the Exposition of Basque Sculptors, in Chicago, Illinois; the National Monument to the Basque Sheepherder in Reno, Nevada; and the gift of the Basque Fishing Boat "Ameriketatik." Since his retirement, Cengotitabengoa has been inducted into the Basque Hall of Fame, and he was awarded the Argizaiola Award for his work in the Basque diaspora. He served on the center's advisory board for many years, and he continues to be represented by his family.

Honorary Member of the Board

Frank Gehry
Born in Toronto, Canada, 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. In the years immediately following, he worked in a number of firms including Victor Gruen Associates and Pereira and Luckman Associates.