A lifelong New Mexican, Gary grew up in Las Vegas, New Mexico to a single mother. As one of seven children, he attributes his hard work ethic to his mother, Vangie Tripp, who provided for her children on a waitressing income. He is proud to say he and his siblings broke the barrier of poverty. Today, they are a business owner, retired educators, a counselor, an auditor and a Veteran of the United State Army.
After graduating from West Las Vegas High School, Gary attended Highlands University on an athletic scholarship, playing baseball for four years and football for one year for the Cowboys. He graduated in 1984 with a BA in Education, and later would receive his MA in Administration in 1987. He was inducted into the Highlands Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. Today, Gary sits on the Highlands H-Club Board.
Gary began his teaching career at Moriarty High School where he was a teacher, coach, and administrator for seventeen years. At MHS, Gary led the Honors Civics program, “We the People” to Washington D.C. to the national competition three times. He also coached football, basketball, and baseball and also led free youth sports programs for the greater Moriarty community.
In 1999, Gary left Moriarty Schools to become an assistant principal at the newly built, Rio Rancho High School. After one year, Gary would become Rio Rancho’s principal and proudly work with exceptional educators and position RRHS as a school of excellence.
After five years at Rio Rancho High, Gary accepted the Executive Director’s role at the New Mexico Activities Association. At the NMAA, Gary spear-headed the NMAA Scholarship Foundation, attracted state events to Rio Rancho and Bernalillo to trigger economic growth in the area, became the first state association to livestream state events to reach our service members overseas, and reconstructed tournament seeding formats.
Following nine years at the NMAA, Gary left to get back into the schools. He went on to become principal at T’siya Elementary and Middle School on Zia Pueblo, a school close to his home in northern Rio Rancho. There, T’siya saw test scores improve all three years Gary was principal. After thinking retirement was in his future, Gary was wrong. He couldn’t help but want to continue to work in improving New Mexico schools. In 2015, he became the Chief of Staff for the Superintendent at Rio Rancho Public Schools. At RRPS, he led the development of the Strategic Plan as well as Profile of a Graduate and proudly worked with over 30 ministers in the community on the social and emotional well being of our students, and collaborated with churches to address students living in poverty.
Gary now works for Cooperative Educational Services heading an administrator leadership development program where teachers with a masters degree can obtain their administrative license. He knows his extensive background in education at different levels and roles can contribute to strengthening and reforming education in New Mexico.
An avid long-distance runner, Gary has raced all over New Mexico and cherishes its natural beauty. This is one reason he wishes to protect NM lands, and preserve blue skies for his
grandchildren. Green jobs in solar and wind energy are one his biggest visions for New Mexico. Married to an educator and one himself, he believes NM needs to increase teacher pay, and offer more self-selected professional development opportunities for teachers. As a Christian, Gary believes life is valuable and precious for those who have put their life on the line for our freedoms. Having a brother, father-in-law and two brother-in-laws who are Veterans, he wants to assist Veterans to find jobs, support their businesses, ensure their mental health, and that they have living conditions, not on the street. He believes that we educate our youth to make smart and safe choices regarding family planning, and that whatever a woman chooses, she be given resources to ensure her mental health, and be supported on a positive path forward. He is a proud brother, uncle, friend, and colleague of LGBTQ as well as sees himself as a Christian brother to immigrants seeking a better life in America.
Gary has been married to Jeannette for forty-one years and they have two daughters, and four grandchildren.
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