Fiestas de Taos

Taos Fiesta Council

Photo by Chuck McLaughlin of Sean Kelly Portraits – Taos, NM

Back Row (L to R): Philip Ortega; Emilio Garcia; Derek Silva (Auxiliary); Mike Medina; Hon. Don Francisco Trujillo II, President; Anthony Trujillo; Mary Thelma Montez, Vice President; Annabella Garcia-Noga; Ruby Ann Alaniz; Monique Cisneros (Auxiliary).

Center Row (L to R): Melecia Ortega; Renee Medina Lavadie, Secretary; Kathleen Branchal-Garcia, Treasurer; Joshua Herrera; Charles Lane; Marlene Rael.

Front Row (L to R): Bernadette Trujillo; Donna Jo Martinez; Theresa Trujillo; Liz Medina; Elma Vigil; Hon. Judith ‘Judi’ Cantu; Sonya Torres-Vigil; Isabel Chacon.

Not Pictured: Manuel Medina; Tina Jo Martinez; Auxiliary Members: Christina Rose Martinez; Tiana Martinez; Durin Medina McCash; James Valerio; Wilbert Vigil. 

Previous Councils: 2018, 2017, 2016




Hon. Don Francisco Trujillo II

2019 President; Former President, Vice-President and Treasurer; Executive Director and Public Relations Director; Longest serving Fiesta Council Member since 1982

BIOGRAPHY: The Honorable Don Francisco Trujillo II is a native Taoseño, a descendent of two long standing, time-honored Spanish families with deep roots documented to have settled in northern New Mexico in approximately 1563.  He is employed in corporate management at B&D Industries. Don Francisco previously served as New Mexico's Deputy Secretary of State and Director of the New Mexico State Bureau of Elections (2007-2010), an elected Taos County Commissioner (2003-2006), Director of Sales and Marketing for the Town of Taos, and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Council of the Enchanted Circle in northern New Mexico. He served two consecutive terms on the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Board of Directors (2005-2011): appointed Chairman of various committees, elected Board Secretary and completed his tenure as National Vice-President.  He has held positions with several local, state and national boards and holds many prestigious honors, most notably: Henry Toll Fellow, Kentucky Colonel, New Mexico Colonel Aide De Camp and Guardia de Honor del Orden del Mar Oceano (Madrid, Spain). Additionally, he is Chairman of the Taos Regional Airport Board, this year celebrates his 37th year of tenure with the Taos Fiesta Council.


Mary Thelma Montez

2019 Vice President; Former Vice President; Former Taos Fiesta Princesa 1981; Member since 2014

BIOGRAPHY: Thelma Montez is a native Taosena, she is the mother of two sons Ronald and Jacob, and the proud Nana of Alexis, Antonio, Aubrielle, and Marcus. Thelma has been owner/stylist/nail tech at Reflections of Beauty for 28 years. She is a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and, has served as mayordoma, assisted with Saint Micheal's youth group, and was part of the choir. Thelma enjoys being part of a positive group that all have a common interest, to preserve the culture and traditions of this beautiful town we call home.


Renee Medina Lavadie

2019 Secretary; Former Taos Princesa 1987; Member since 2013

BIOGRAPHY: Renee Medina Lavadie is a native Taoseña whose documented ancestors settled in Northern New Mexico over four hundred years ago. She is extremely proud of her roots, culture, and traditions and diligently strives to maintain them, and instill their value in her own children. She loves being a mom and cherishes her family time. Cooking traditional foods, the outdoors and supporting local events is her fun time. Growing up she was an active member of 4-H for many years. Renee attended Taos Municipal Schools and graduated from the University of New Mexico. She is employed by Presbyterian as a Care Coordinator III, which falls in line with her passion for helping people, especially those in need.  Renee was previously employed by Tri County Community Services and spent 10 years with them. Renee is the daughter of Robert Medina and Quirina Cordova Medina and the eldest grandchild of Philip E. Cordova and the late Cordy Cordova of Arroyo Seco. She has a brother Felipe R. Medina and is the proud Mother of Raul, Katrina, Andrew, and Melanie Gonzales. 


Kathleen Branchal-Garcia

2019 Treasurer; Former President, Vice-President, and Secretary; Former Taos Fiesta Princesa 1982; Member since 2007

BIOGRAPHY:Kathleen is a lifelong Taoseña and a 1982 Fiestas de Taos Princesa. Kathleen is the Chief Procurement Officer and the Bureau Chief of the General Services Division for the NM Corrections Department in Santa Fe. She is a Choir Director for San Francisco de Asis Church and the Confirmation Director. She is married to Emilio Garcia and is the mother of three daughters Sonya, Sarah and Raylyn and the late Isaac Garcia. Kathleen is the proud “Grammy” to five biological grandchildren and the proud “Gramma Kat” to her three step grandsons. Kathleen points to the fact that serving in different capacities in the community gives her a sense of pride and satisfaction. Meeting and working with different people creates lifelong friendships and is the main reason she enjoys giving of her time.  




Ruby Ann Alaniz

Member since 2019

Ruby Ann Alaniz is a native Taoseña who attended Taos Municipal Schools and Northern New Mexico Community College. She is a member of San Francisco de Assis Church, a participating Mayordoma, a Guadalupana, and a former member and officer of the Women’s Softball League. Ruby Ann and her late husband, Joseph L. Alaniz, love(d) the Taos Fiestas as a reminder to celebrate life. The Fiestas honor Santiago and Santa Ana which are a highlight of summertime vacation and bring together family and friends to create beautiful memories. Ruby Ann is daughter of Evelyn C. Abeyta of Taos and Ruben D. Abeyta of Santa Fe. She is the second of four children. Her siblings are: Francina P. Cordova, Daniel T. Abeyta and the late Ruben Albert Abeyta. Ruby Ann enjoys the outdoors and spending time with family and friends. She is honored to have joined the Taos Fiesta Council, Inc., giving back to her beloved community and preserving the traditions and heritage of our ancestors.


Hon. Judith 'Judi' Cantu

Member since 2014

BIOGRAPHY: The Honorable Judi Cantu is a native daughter of Taos and in 2014 was elected to the Town of Taos Council. Judi is a great, great-great grand daughter of the legendary Padre Antonio Martinez.  She is the daughter of the late Mayor Philip Cantu Jr. and Angie Cantu, granddaughter of Josie Montaño-Cantu and Felipe Cantu Sr.  She has four children who are all members of the Jemez Pueblo: Christy Loretto-Erkins, Julie Loretto-Daw and twins, Joshua and Monique Loretto; along with four precious grandchildren: Xochitl and Jaden Archuleta, Savaante Erkins and Jaydah Martinez. Judi feels blessed to have been born in the sacred valley of Taos and is fiercely protective over what she considers to be the unique gem on God's fantastic earth. Judi explains, "My people are indigenous in themselves. Mestizo is what many people native to Taos truly are. My family has traced our roots back to Portugal, Italy and Spain. My Mother's family were Jewish and expelled from Portugal in 1496 making their way to the western hemisphere. My Father's family were Cowens out of Italy and came to this western hemisphere in the days of Oñate. My History is quite complex with many fascinating facets. I think it is so important in this 21st century with so many changes in this world that we preserve and protect, our history and culture. Assimilation in this fast moving world of technology, takes away from the celebration of life. We can’t lose who we are, so celebrating Taos Fiestas by getting together with our friends and family at this time is crucial to staying connected to our roots as life changes so quickly.


Isabel Chacon

Member since 2018

Isabel Chacon is a native Taoseña, the daughter of the late LeRoy B Chacon and Rosalie Chacon. Isabel has found memories as a child attending the Fiestas with her parents and grandparents. She recalls how much fun she always had looking at the Fiesta Court and admiring their vestidos and the festivities. She always enjoyed listening to the music and watching all the performers, always yearning to be a part of this historic community function. Isabel is the mother of 3 - Annette, Judy & Belarmino Maes, Jr. and the Grandmother to 4 precious grandchildren: Ashley, Ruben Jr., Angelo & Feliciana. Isabel’s life span has included being a Treatment Foster Parent for Casa De Corazon for 14 years and working with the Developmentally Disabled for 25 years. lsabel is proud to be Catholic, proud of her Hispanic Heritage and proud to be a part of her community by serving as a member of the Taos Fiesta Council.


Emilio Garcia

Member since 2019

Emilio was born in Denver, Colorado but was raised in Des Montes and remained in Taos from the age of 5. He has served the community as a Public Safety Officer with the Town of Taos Police Department for the last 20 years. Emilio is married to Kathleen, is dad to the late Isaac Garcia, and step dad to three daughters, Sonya, Sarah and Raylyn. Emilio is the proud grandpa to his three grandsons, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Isaac born of his only son. He is also step grandpa to 5. Emilio performed as a drummer for Mighty Quick before touring and recording as a drummer for Jerome Grant y Los Amigos Unidos for approximately 8 years. His last major performance was performing with Nick Branchal at the Quince Grandes Awards Ceremony in Albuquerque in August 2018 where New Mexico’s Best are honored. He currently drums in the San Francisco de Asis Choir with his wife Kathleen and is enjoying serving on the council. Serving as a Public Safety Officer for the Town of Taos has facilitated his service at the Taos Fiestas for the last 20 years.


Annabella Garcia Noga

Member since 2016

BIOGRAPHY: Annabelle Garcia Noga, although she is not a native Taosena, she has called Taos her home for 31 years. She has two daughters, Deseree and Ashley that have been raised with the traditions and culture of Taos. She also has two grandchildren Estevan and Angelia. Annabelle is active in helping the people of Taos by actively participating in Fraternal Order of Eagles # 3489 where she serves as an officer, Taos Helping Hands and Taos Fiesta Council. She is a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. Annabelle is very passionate about the rich culture of Taos and wanted to be part of continuing the Fiesta de Taos in the traditional way la gente has grown to love and enjoy. Y que viva la Fiesta.


Joshua 'Josh' Herrera


Charles 'Chuck' Lane

Member since 2018


Tina Jo Martinez

Member since 2016

BIOGRAPHY: A Native Taosena, born and raised attending Taos Fiestas with family and friends. She is born to Polito E Martinez and Tina V Martinez from Talpa. She is the mother of three successful Son’s namely Mark T Flores II, Teodoro D Flores and Andrew J Flores. She is blessed with daughter in law’s Rosa Flores, Elena Struck and Sandy Flores. She has five granddaughters, Alexis, Juliana, Natalia, Tatiana and Feliz. Tina enjoys the outdoors specifically skiing, camping, hiking and fishing. She loves to travel and experience other places and other cultures. Tina has over 30 years’ experience in local, state and federal government. In an effort to preserve local traditions and teach the young to do the same, she is a member of the Taos Fiesta Council. She encourages everyone to embrace their heritage and teach our youth the language, traditions and ways of our Ancestors.


Donna Jo Martinez

Former Vice-President; Member since 2005

BIOGRAPHY: Donna was born and raised in northern New Mexico. She is the third child of four, married to Juan E. Martinez, mother of two sons, one daughter and step-mother of three daughters. Donna is the Human Resources Assistant at Holy Cross Hospital and is actively involved in various wellness/charitable committees within the hospital. She enjoys the outdoors and spending time with family, and friends. She feels that by being a Fiesta Council member, she and her family may give back to Taos, a community that has given so much to them.


Liz Medina

Member since 2019

Liz is a native of Taos and the daughter of Delia Guara Sisneros and Justin Sisneros. She is married to Mike Medina and is the mother of son Kevin Nichols, and grandma to Jeremiah, Samantha, and Elena. For 42 years she worked as a dental assistant, lab technician and office manager in the dental field. Liz was also a Dental Lab Instructor at the Bryan Institute for Dental Assistants at Arlington, Texas, a sales representative for Nabisco by Kraft Foods, and recently an entrepreneur with husband, Mike, owning and operating Lizzy’s Restaurant in Taos. Her favorite activities are anything outdoors and motorcycle riding.


Manuel Medina

Member since 1992

BIOGRAPHY: Manuel is a 22 year Board Member of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative in Taos. He and fellow council member Theresa Trujillo have a daughter, LeAndra, who was the 1992 Reina de las Fiestas de Taos. They also have two grandchildren, Durin and Bree. Manuel is self employed and runs his own business, MTM Crane Service. In addition, he and his siblings share the responsibility of running their parents company with a 50 year plus history, Robert Medina & Sons.


Mike Medina

Member since 2019

Mike is the youngest of seven children born to Epimenio and Margarita Medina. He grew up in Taos and spent 26 years in Santa Fe, returning to Taos in 2010, marrying Liz Nichols. He and wife Liz love living in Taos and are so very proud to call it home. They enjoy the community, it’s people and the rich culture. Mike has three outstanding children: Isaac Medina, Aaron Medina and Amber Medina, as well as three grandchildren. Mike and Liz owned a local restaurant, Lizzy’s for 6 years. In his leisure time, Mike enjoys playing his guitar and making music. Mike looks forward to serving his community of Taos through the Taos Fiesta Council.


Melecia Ortega

Member since 2018

Melecia Ortega was born and raised in Taos. She is the daughter of Didi Cisneros and granddaughter to Cristobal and Clorinda (Cleo) Cisneros. She graduated from Taos High School in 1998, is married to Philip Ortega and together they have 3 children: Former Taos Fiesta Princesa Monique Cisneros, Marissa Ortega and Alejandro Ortega. Melecia has been employed with Taos County for the past 11 years. She is a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and is honored to be a member of the Taos Fiesta Council.


Philip Ortega

Member since 2018

Philip Ortega was born and raised in Taos. He graduated from Taos High School in 1996, where he was an active member of the Mariachi el Tigre. He is the son of JD and Diana Ortega. He has two brothers Isaac and David Ortega and is married to Melecia Ortega. He is a member of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. Philip is a Sheriff’s Deputy with the Taos County Sheriff’s Office and is proud to serve the Taos County community and honored to be on the Taos Fiesta Council.


Marlene Rael

Member since 2018

BIOGRAPHY: My name is Marlene Rael I was born and raised in Taos New Mexico. I graduated from Taos High School 1999. I am honored to be a mother of four kids three boys (Adam, Braxton, Sean) and 1 girl (Alyssa).. I graduated with honors from the University of New Mexico. I have a degree in Early Multicultural Childhood and in Pre-Science. I specialize in Microsoft. I currently work for Taos Schools and MVD and Money Now in Taos. I have always wanted to be part of the Fiesta Council and I am honored to be a part of the Fiesta Council today!


Sonya Torres-Vigil

Former Taos Fiestas Princesa 2014; Member since 2016

Sonya Torres-Vigil is a native Taoseña and 2014 Taos Fiesta Princesa. She is the daughter of the late Leslie Mae Vigil who was 1992 Taos Fiesta Princesa and was also a member of the Taos Fiesta Council. Sonya is 21 years old, a 2016 Taos High School graduate, and is in her 4th and final year of college at Adams State University where she is double-majoring and studying for her bachelors degrees in both Physical Therapy and Music Education. Alongside her mother, she founded and became a member of Mariachi Amigos del Norte in 2018, a group consisting of 12 highly skilled members all in high school and college, which she now is assistant director and one of the groups five section leaders. She is employed with Taos Municipal Schools in Athletics. She loves doing her part in the community when she has an opportunity. Sonya encourages the younger generations to embrace their heritage and take part helping preserve the culture and traditions for many years to come.


Anthony Trujillo


Bernadette 'Berna' Trujillo

Member Since 2012

BIOGRAPHY: Berna is a native Taoseña and daughter of the late Wilfred and the late Rebecca Trujillo. She is the youngest of 8 children, 4 brothers and 3 sisters. Berna has three children: former 2011 Taos Fiesta Princesa Bianca Silva, Caballero Derek M. Silva and Nicholas Silva. She is also the proud Grandma of granddaughter Nevaeh. Berna is employed with Holy Cross Medical Center as a Certified Nurse Assistant and enjoys taking care of and helping people in need. She is honored to be a member of the Taos Fiesta Council and believes it is important to preserve and teach the next generation about our rich culture and traditions of the Fiestas de Taos.


Theresa Trujillo

Member since 1992

BIOGRAPHY: Theresa is a native Taoseña stemming generations. She is employeed with Holy Cross Hospital and is very involved in charitable organizations that support the local hospital. Theresa and fellow council member, Manuel Medina, became officially involved with the Fiesta Council when their only daughter, LeAndra, was crowned Reina de las Fiestas in 1992. She has two grandchildren that are the joy of her life, Durin and Bree. Theresa has served on the Executive Committee of the Fiesta Council and for many years has chaired the Vendor Booth Committee.


Elma Vigil

Member since 1990

BIOGRAPHY: Elma Vigil is a native Taoseña and a graduate of Taos High School. She is married to her high school sweetheart Wilbert Vigil. They have three wonderful sons. Elma has been employed in retail most of her life. She worked at J.C. Penny’s for thirteen and a half years and has been employed at Wal-Mart for the last twenty-one and a half years. She has served as a Mayordoma at San Francisco de Asis church. Elma joined the Fiesta Council in 1990 and has served in various committees. Her family and preserving traditional values are very important to her.




Monique Cisneros

Member since 2019; Former 2015 Fiestas de Taos Princesa

Monique was born and raised in Taos, NM. She is the daughter of Philip and Melecia Ortega. She has two younger siblings Marissa and Alejandro Ortega. Monique graduated from Taos High School in 2016 and is a three-time state champion with the Taos Varsity cheer and a coach for Taos Xtreme All-Star Cheer. She earned her EMT License and is currently employed with Taos Magistrate Court. Monique served in 2015 as a Fiestas de Taos Princesa. She is a member of Our Lady Of Guadalupe Church and is honored to be part of the Taos Fiesta Council.


Christina Rose Martinez

BIOGRAPHY: Christina is 18 years old and the daughter of Josephine Martinez; granddaughter of Theresa and Rueben Martinez. As a toddler and young girl she participated as a little Fiesta Princesa accompanying the Royal Court to all activities celebrated in New Mexico since 2001. Christina Rose enjoys being able to assist the court as an ambassador for Taos and her fellow members on the council whoh ave become family to her.


Tiana Martinez


Durin Medina McCash

Member since Childhood

Durin was born August 25, 2000, the same day as his Great Grandfather, Hon. Fasho Trujillo, former Taos County Sheriff. His mother is Leandra Medina (1992 Taos Fiesta Queen), his father is Strider McCash and he has one sister, Bree Medina McCash. Durin is the grandson of long-standing Taos Fiesta Council Members Manuel Medina and Theresa Trujillo. He is a 2018 graduate of Moreno Valley High School and studied abroad in Germany. Currently he attends Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, studying Engineering. Durin has always loved the Taos Fiestas and since childhood continues to help his Grandpa Manuel set up the Historic Taos Plaza and coordinate the various vendor booths throughout Fiesta weekend.


Derek Silva

Member since 2019

Derek is a Taos native, the son of Bernadette Trujillo and Derek Silva. He has 2 siblings, former Taos Fiesta Princesa Bianca Silva and younger brother Nicholas Silva. Derek is 20 years old and has been assisting with Fiestas since 2012 when his Mom Berna joined the Taos Fiesta Council. He has also had the honor of participating as a Caballero for the Taos Fiesta Royalty for the past three years. Derek has also been an alter server for many of the Fiesta Mass’s. He has enjoyed Fiestas since he was little and considers it an honor to be directly involved in the Fiestas de Taos. He wants to be an example for the youth of Taos to participate in this historic cultural even and have fun doing it.


James Valerio

Former Caballero; Member since 2014

James is a native TaoseoƱo and the son of Michael and Suzanne Valerio of Ranchos de Taos. James is twenty years old, a graduate of Taos High School and has been involved in Las Fiestas de Taos since serving as a Caballero for the Royal Court in 2014. Currently he officiates as the Master of Ceremonies for the Fiestas de Taos Royal Pageant, Coronation of the Royal Court and Opening Ceremonies, annually. James is also an award-winning New Mexico recording artist who has opened for the Santa Fe Mariachi Extravaganza at the Santa Fe Opera and performs as a Mariachi Soloist. He is currently in his third year at the University of New Mexico - Main Campus and intends to attend law school after graduation. James enjoys participating in and sharing the traditions of Las Fiestas de Taos.


Wilbert Vigil


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