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 has been active with TPT since 2006 including serving six years as its President. 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. Rick has organized and interpreted various historic units and events. He currently is working for the National Park as a Ranger providing interpretive programming at Tumacacori. He has also served as a volunteer coordinator for the living history programs at the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.
Erica Rankin - Secretary
Erica Rankin has a background in Journalism and Media Arts. She works at Banner University Medical Center where she acts as a Media Specialist for Medical Television, streaming medical school classes and producing videos for the hospital and department websites. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona, followed by a Master’s in Education at Northern Arizona University.
Erica became a member of the Board in 2010 serving as the Public Information Officer, Vice President of Communications from 2013-2015 and now as co-Treasurer. Over the years she has done publicity for Living History days, helped develop the Presidio logo and print materials and has helped on fundraising events, such as the Chocolate Festival and the 2014 virtual campaign.
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. Before taking on his current job he interned at Merrill Lynch. Jon has been involved locally with various non-profit organizations, and has been on the Associate Board of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson for two years. He has filled roles of leading corporate sponsorship for local fundraising events throughout the year. He has been on the TPT board serving as co-Treasurer since 2014.
Bill Brinckerhoff is a native Tucsonan and has been on the Trust Board for two years. 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.
Jean Baxter – Education Director
Jean Baxter’s professional career is in the area of education. She spent the last twenty-five years of her career 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 for the Department of Defense based in Okinawa and Germany. In her retirement, she became a professional storyteller specializing in historically-based presentations. She has two Master’s degrees in Education (Reading and Administration) from the University of Arizona.
Jean has been on the Board 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.
Jeanne Broome served as a volunteer docent at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for over 30 years. During her service 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 since 2006 and served on the Board since 2014. 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 an accomplished photographer and naturalist. She is also an accomplished cook who has trained with Janos Wilder, the Parisian Kitchen and Culinary Concepts.
W. Mark Clark
Mark Clark is an Arizona native and has been enthralled with Tucson’s history since moving here for the first time in 1980. He has been doing history as a living historian (of several time periods) since 1982. In his work life, Mark is the President & CEO of Pima Council on Aging, a position he has held since January of 2014. He has more than thirty years of executive leadership of behavioral health, human service, housing and faith-based organizations. He has been active in a number of community and professional organizations, including the Old Ft. Lowell Neighborhood Association where he served as
President, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.
He is currently a board member of the Arizona Town Hall and the Community Partnership of Southern
Arizona. He is honored to have been selected to be Arizona Social Worker of the Year in 2009, and to have received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness. Mark holds a Masters in Social Work from ASU and an undergraduate degree from NAU.
Caitlin Jensen is a 2nd generation Tucson native who currently serves as an aide in the office of Supervisor Richard Elias. Previous to this position she was 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. She has been on the TPT Board since 2015.
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 thirteen 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.