The Board


Homer Thiel – President                                                      

Homer Thiel received his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and has a Master’s Degree in Anthropology from Arizona State University. He has worked as Desert Archaeology, Inc.’s historical archaeologist since 1992. His work has included locating the walls and corner tower of the original Presidio San Agustín del Tucson, preparing family histories of all residents of the fortress, and working on numerous other blocks in downtown Tucson. He has been on the Board for many years serving in a variety of capacities including developing the TPT newsletter, planning the annual member meeting, and acting as recording secretary.  Occasionally he appears as a Victorian gentleman for events.  He is a native of Traverse City, Michigan.

Rick Collins – Vice-President                                          

Rick Collins just completed six years of service at the TPT Board President and now continues service as a Vice President. He has been active with TPT since 2006. Rick has been a volunteer for most of his adult life with organizations including the Red Cross, Arizona State Parks, the Southern Arizona Rescue Association, the Arizona Historical Society and the National Park Service. At Saguaro National Park, Rick acted as the volunteer coordinator for backcountry patrol, ran the volunteer response team, a search and rescue and back country volunteer ranger unit, and mule packed for the fire crew. Rick was also on the Chiricahua Surrender Centennial Council which brought the Chiricahua tribe back to Arizona for the first time in 100 years and organized the 75 mile surrender march. 
Rick has organized and interpreted various historic units and events. He currently serves as the volunteer coordinator for living history programs in Southern Arizona for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.

Jean Baxter – Vice President                                 

Jean Baxter’s professional career is in the area of education.  She spent twenty-five years as a reading teacher for the Flowing Wells School District and many years as a staff development specialist and teacher trainer.  Before that she worked briefly for the Department of Defense based in Japan and then in Germany. In her retirement, she became a professional storyteller specializing in historically-based presentations. She has a Master’s in Education from the University of Arizona.
Jean has been involved with TPT since 2011 and as Vice President for Education she has developed the bulk of the children’s educational programming now offered at the Presidio.  She also volunteers as a regular docent.

Erica Rankin – Secretary              

Erica Coleman has a background in Journalism and Media Arts.  She works at the University of Arizona Medical Center where she acts as a Media Specialist for Medical Television, streaming medical school classes and producing videos for UAMC's website.  She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona, followed by a Master’s in Education at Northern Arizona University.
Erica has been involved with TPT for many years as a soldier's daughter, but became a member of the Board in 2010 serving as the Public Information Officer. I She has served in the position of Vice President before serving as Secretary. Over the years she has done publicity for Living History days, and has helped on fundraising events.

Jon Rankin - Treasurer                                                    

Jon Rankin is a Registered Investment Advisor with AXA Advisors, LLC.  He has a Bachelor's Degree in Finance and Entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona. Jon has been involved locally with various non-profit organizations, and has served on the Associate Board of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson. He has filled roles of leading corporate sponsorship for a number of local fundraising events. Jon was born and raised in Tucson. Jon is serving his third year as the Treasurer for the Board and the gift shop.



Bill Brinckerhoff                                                        

Bill Brinckerhoff is a native Tucsonan.  Bill received his Bachelor's degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Tucson. He has been in the call center industry in various training and management roles since 1997. He is currently is Delivery Training Manager at Citigroup.
From a very early age he was immersed in the history of the southwest. Family vacations typically consisted of visits to historical sites in Arizona and Mexico.

Jeanne Broome                                                            

Jeanne Broome has been a volunteer docent at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for over 30 years. During her volunteer service there she helped to develop a myriad of natural history educational training materials and studied the native cultures of the Southwest. She is an amateur historian particularly interested in the relationship between the European and Native peoples. She has a Masters in Home Economics from the University of Arizona.
Jeanne has volunteered with TPT for eight years.  She has been part of the living history program participating in the creation of homemade soap, posole, mesquite bean jelly, candles and chocolate.  She is the Trust's new volunteer recruiter.
She is an accomplished photographer and naturalist.  She is also an accomplished cook who has trained with Janos Wilder, the Parisian Kitchen and Culinary Concepts.  As a docent, Jeanne has been trained to handle a variety of wild animals including kestrels, vultures, snakes and spiders.  

Gayle Hartmann                                                                                                       
Gayle Hartmann’s professional expertise is in Southwest history and archaeology.  She has published on a variety of topics including the Coronado expedition to the Southwest, prehistoric rock art and the Spanish Colonial period in Tucson.  She has a B.A. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona.

Gayle has been involved with TPT for over 14years.  She was President of the Board for four years leading up to and during the construction of the Presidio.  She has worked as a docent and during the living history programs demonstrating spinning, weaving and carding and also making soaps, jellies, and “puree de membrillo” (quince sauce).  Gayle has served on a number of other boards including the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society and St. Michael’s School.


Caitlin Jensen                                            
Caitlin Jensen is a 2nd generation Tucson native who currently works as the Marketing and Public Relations Manager at the Downtown Tucson Partnership promoting our vibrant, authentic city center. She fell in love with Downtown Tucson and the surrounding historic neighborhoods while attending Carrillo Elementary School in Barrio Viejo, where she now lives, and later Safford Middle Magnet School. After several years working on electoral campaigns for local, state, and national candidates, she is pleased to be part of the revitalization and preservation of our unique Downtown in Tucson. 

Laraine Daly Jones                                                               

Laraine Daly Jones, a native of Massachusetts, has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textiles and a Master’s in Museum Studies. Although she worked as a civilian for the U.S. Navy’s Clothing and Textile Research Facility in Natick, Massachusetts, developing new uniforms and special protective clothing for troops aboard ship, she always maintained an interest in history and especially historic textiles. Leaving New England for graduate school in Lubbock, Texas and a subsequent internship in Tucson, opened her eyes to new cultures and histories that weren’t taught in her grade school classes on colonial America. Laraine worked in small museums in Bisbee and Nogales, before returning to the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson, where she has spent 28 years working with the object collections. Preservation of Arizona’s Hispanic, Mexican, and Territorial Period material culture is an ongoing concern. Married, with one adult son, she has traveled with her family to Europe, Asia, and South America. She enjoys bringing community groups to the collections, to see and appreciate the collected material culture that illustrates Arizona history.


Donald H. Laidlaw                                                                       
Don Laidlaw retired in 2008 after fifty-two years as a City Planning Director (Tucson and Santa Rosa, CA.) and planning community development consultant.  For decades he has been an advocate for historic preservation in Tucson.  He facilitated the protection of the Art Center Block and other historic properties in the downtown redevelopment area in the 1960’s.  Later he was the principal author of the Santa Cruz River Park Master Plan (1975) and the Master Plan for the reconstruction of the Mission San Agustín del Tucson Convento at the base of “A” Mountain (1989).  He continued to advocate for historic preservation downtown as a participant in the “Tucson Origins” planning program.
Don has been on the Board of TPT since the day in 1997 that the Tucson City Manager announced that a key portion of the original site of the 1775 Presidio San Agustín del Tucson was under the control of the City of Tucson.  Don served as President of TPT from 2000 – 2003, during which time the formal “living history” program was initiated thanks to the determined efforts of fellow Board members and the cooperation of the Tucson Museum of Art. His greatest pleasure is to act as the “cowboy” during TPT’s Friday at the Fort program, teaching fourth graders how to rope a cow.
Don’s record of community service includes Rotary Club of Tucson (twenty-four years), Tucson Botanic Gardens (twenty years) Tucson Festival Society (four years) and active membership in the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association including obtaining National Historic Neighborhood designation since 1983.

Monica Dunbar Smith                                                                
Monica Dunbar Smith retired as Associate Chief Deputy Commissioner from the California Parole Board in 2001 after a 38 year career in criminal justice working for both California State & local government. During her career she was appointed to the UNICOR Board (inmate job training program) a program of the Federal Prison Industries; the California Youth Authority Board and California Council on Criminal Justice. She has an MPA from California State University at Los Angeles.
Monica has been a Board Member of TPT for approximately twelve years and actively participates in ‘La Gente’ dressed in period costume.  Her interest in Arizona’s cultural and historic past stems from her family ties that date back to the 1752 Spanish Military at Tubac Presidio. She is a ninth generation descendant of Soldado Cristóbal Ortega, who traveled to Pimería Alta with Juan Bautista de Anza. Monica is also the great granddaughter of pioneer AZ Territorial Legislator, Thomas Dunbar, who was involved in the establishment of Cochise County in 1881; and who served as postmaster & stage stop owner at Tres Alamos, north of present day Benson.
Her community service activity includes serving on the Board of Los Descendientes.  She was elected the first female President of the Mexican American Correctional Association in 1980. 


Autumn Van Den Berg                            
Autumn Van Den Berg is the Community Relations Manager for Cox Communications of Southern Arizona. She has worked for the Cox team since 2011 and quickly developed a corporate-wide understanding of Cox and how its business is interwoven with the fabric of the Southern Arizona community. In her role, Autumn leads the implementation of the Cox Charities grant program in Southern Arizona. In 2013, Cox Charities made its largest Tucson donation to date, distributing $112,000 among 30 Tucson area nonprofits.  She has an avid interest in the history of Southern Arizona and has been working closely with the Presidio Trust to execute a clean-up project of two of the buildings in the Presidio complex, bringing resources and financial support from Cox to the project. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Blake Foundation and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. She is also the proud mother of two sons.



Sidney Brinckerhoff
Sidney Brinkerhoff is the former Executive Director of the Arizona Historical Society. He is a preeminent scholar on Spanish military weaponry of the Colonial era and is the author of many books and articles on Spanish colonial military history including Spanish military weapons in colonial America, 1700-1821.  His honors include being elected a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians. He is a collector of artifacts from Arizona's past, and a continuing student of Spanish and Mexican history of our region. 
Sid brings many years of experience to TPT’s Advisory Board. He was involved as early as the 1960s in efforts to find and restore parts of the Presidio and other Spanish sites around Tucson, and in 1975-1976 organized and led the state efforts to re-enact the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition during the American Bicentennial celebration. He is an avid supporter of Living History Programs and participates at the Presidio as a Spanish officer.


Michael Engs
Michael is a retired educator who worked in the Pima Community College District for thirty-two years as an administrator, counselor and instructor. During his tenure he received numerous awards including Post-Secondary Counselor of the year in the state of Arizona and Administrator of the Year for Pima College.  He is currently teaching leadership development for Pima College and Northern Arizona University.  Michael has a Masters in Counseling and Guidance from William and Mary University and a PhD. in Educational Leadership from NAU.

Michael also worked as a historical interpreter for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation from 1964 – 1969 and brings a great deal of knowledge in interpreting history for the public.  Since 1983 he has been researching the history of African Americans in the Southwest and has lectured on the Buffalo soldiers.  As a member of TPT, Michael has written a number of successful grants and participates in the Living History program.


Mark Santiago

Mark Santiago is currently the Director of the New Mexico Farm  & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces, a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. Previously, he worked for the Arizona Historical Society, serving as the curator of the Yuma branch, collections manager at the Tucson branch, and special projects manager at the Tempe branch; and as director of New Mexico Museum of Space History, in Alamogordo, New Mexico.He is the author of several articles on Spanish colonial military history and three books--The Red Captain: The Life of Hugo O'ConorCommandant Inspector of the Interior Provinces of New Spain (Arizona Historical Society, 1994), Massacre at the Yuma Crossing, Spanish Relations with the Quechans, 1779-1782 (University of Arizona Press, 1998), and The Jar of Severed Hands: Spanish Deportation of Apache Prisoners of War, 1770-1810 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2011), a winner of the 2011 Border Regional Library Association Southwest Book Award and New Mexico Book Co-op  2012 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Multi-cultural winner.


George Steele
George Steele is the former Southern Arizona Executive Officer for Valley National Bank, an organization for which he held various management positions over thirty-three years.  During his tenure he also held the title of Chief Executive Officer of the California subsidiary of Valley National which was headquartered in Fresno.  He has served on the Board of Trustees of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra for over 25 years, the Board of the Marshall Foundation since 1995 and the Advisory Board for Arizona Public Media.   George enjoyed fifty years of marriage to his wife Margaret who passed in 2006. They have three kids. He has been a long-time supporter of TPT and has personally sponsored a number of events and programs over the years.

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