Nelson Balido | Chairman & CEO

As Chairman and founder of the Border Council, Nelson delivers strategic management expertise and cross-sector consulting to public and private entities on matters of U.S. Border trade and security relations, communications, international public relations, marketing, Fortune 500 business leadership, politics, art and cultural affairs, entertainment, media, and government relations.

His sought-after, multicultural expertise is also frequently called upon by domestic and International media outlets, and Nelson has been featured as a commentator for Univision, TheHill.com, Fox News, and many others.

BORDER, TRADE & ENERGY:

  • Nelson also chairs the Border Commerce and Security Council and is the founder of the Energy Council of the Americas, which has a mission to improve North American competitiveness by supporting public policies which increase cross-border cooperation among businesses and governments. He has led both of these councils along with their  American, Canadian, and Mexican public and private sector members to become the nation’s two premier organizations for fostering cross—border relations that enhance North America’s economic health, cultural understanding, and security.
  • Nelson has also been a key catalyst in improving border security and trade issues in North America by establishing effective relationships among U.S., Mexican, and Canadian diplomats and government officials.
  • Nelson has also testified before Congress and is a frequent speaker at border security and trade symposiums educating the public on new trade policy and security initiatives.
  • His efforts in part have enabled the passage of various legislative rule-change initiatives and major appropriations at the state and federal levels.
  • Furthermore, since 2010, the United States Trade Representative and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce have appointed Nelson to the U.S. Department of Commerce Industry Trade Advisory Council every four years based on his expertise and success. In this capacity, he currently advises the secretaries on issues concerning trade agreements such as the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and various others.

GOVERNMENTAL & EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP:

  • In 2007, the secretary of Homeland Security, with a recommendation from the Whitehouse, appointed Nelson to the Department of Homeland Security Senior Advisory Council. Based on his strategic and actionable advice, Nelson received the department’s highest civilian award, the Outstanding Public Service Medal.
  • Nelson later founded the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s private sector division. His efforts in creating this division, alongside his ongoing work to build strong public-private relationships, resulted in Nelson earning the Secretary’s Award for Excellence.
  • In 2020, Nelson was appointed as a Special Government Employee/Consultant to the Undersecretary of Intelligence and Analysis for the Department of Homeland Security, focused on trade, travel, and security issues for U.S. land and maritime borders.
  • The Governor of Texas appointed Nelson as Commissioner of the Texas Commission of the Arts and later the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board, where he developed a receptive climate for six artistic disciplines, driving an increase in grants and international cultural exchange programs while establishing Cultural Arts districts and landmark grant programs for Texas and arts industries.
  • As the Chairperson of the Cultural Arts Board for the City of San Antonio, Nelson increased the number of grants by more than 60% by creating a solid marketing and execution plan.
  • As a past National Alumni Board Member and Campaign Cabinet member for Texas Tech University, Nelson helped to generate more than $500 million in funding for the University. Texas Tech recognized Nelson as the first Hispanic to be awarded the Texas Tech Silver Medallion and invited Nelson to deliver the keynote address for the 2006  Commencement Ceremony.
  • As a recognized political leader, Nelson has made critical contributions to bridging the gap with Hispanic voters, leading to successful Presidential and gubernatorial elections. Based on his success, Nelson has served as a Texas delegate at three national conventions.
  • In addition to these roles, Nelson is currently serving his country as an active U.S. Navy Reserve Public Affairs and language officer at U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, NE.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP:

Nelson has built a remarkable record in the private sector by leveraging his public sector experience to help companies succeed.

  • After his appointment to the position of Director of Multicultural Marketing for SBC Communications / AT&T by the company’s former Chairman and CEO, Nelson built and managed a new division targeting multicultural Hispanic and international market segments. He grew the division’s revenue from $3 billion to $6 billion in one year through direct mail campaigns, introducing new wireless plans, long-distance programs, and media subscriptions services while improving Hispanic-market advertising, developing Spanish-language websites, expanding operations to more than 150 languages, and increasing brand awareness with event-driven grassroots initiatives.
  • Before his work for SBC Communications, Nelson received several Small Business Administration awards, including Small Business of the Year and a Hispanic Business 500 listing as the General Manager of Southwest Entertainment, a privately held Latin American music, video, and music producer and distributor with worldwide sales.
  • He also served as President and Managing Partner for two successful music production companies.
  • He remains a Lifetime Voting Member for the Grammy Awards and Latin Grammy Awards for his numerous commercially released productions.

EDUCATION:

  • Nelson, born in California to Cuban immigrants, learned the value of hard work, dedication, perseverance, and education early in his life.
  • His degrees and certificates include a Masters-Level Graduate Certificate in Advanced International Affairs from the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University; a Certificate in Petroleum Land Management from the University of Houston; a Certificate in Public Affairs from Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo in Spain; a Certificate in Governmental Relations from Instituto Universitario De Investigación Ortega Y Gasset in Spain; a Certificate in Community Minority Business Advancement from McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin; and a Bachelor of Science in International Economics and Marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Texas Tech University.

Sandy Brooks | Board Member

Sandy is widely acclaimed for her achievements as an inspirational leader, and organizational and technological innovator that has positively advanced our national security posture and interests. She is widely recognized and respected for developing highly effective partnerships within DOD, Interagency, coalitions, partner nations, industry, academia and private consortiums.  Ms. Brooks has a long and successful history of leading highly dynamic and innovative technological change and providing the motivational and inspirational leadership that fosters a sense of urgency and passion at every level she engages. She is actively sought out by senior DOD, Intelligence and Interagency leaders for her advice and counsel.

Ms. Brooks has extensive experience in leadership positions to include almost a decade as a DOD senior civilian leader in Intelligence and a 28 year military career as a Naval Cryptologist/Information Warfare Officer that included command at senior levels. She accumulated a record of successes in progressively challenging assignments at the National, strategic, operational, and tactical levels and more recently as a private sector consultant.

Ms. Brooks was recognized nationally for her remarkable achievements as the 2010 recipient of the Service to America “Samuel J Heyman” Homeland Defense Medal. “By providing technical and intelligence support to the military, law enforcement agencies, and partner nations. She was selected from a field of 30 highly qualified candidates for her unprecedented work in enabling National authorities to better combat threats to our National security interests”  In 2016, Ms. Brooks was awarded the Office Director National Intelligence coveted National Intelligence Superior Service Medal for “contributions to the National Intelligence Community; distinguishing herself through meritorious actions to the betterment of national security in the United States of America, through sustained and selfless service of the highest order.”

Her military and civilian accomplishments illustrate highly effective motivational leadership and innovative “thinking” that serve this Nation well in countering the greatest challenges facing our national and global security interests.

César Martinez | Board Member

César is one of the top media advisors in the US and Latin America, with more than 20 years of experience in marketing, political advertising and broadcast news. During the 2008 Presidential Elections, MAS Consulting was the Hispanic advertising agency of record for the McCain-Palin campaign, with César was in charge of production of Hispanic media materials for Senator McCain.

César served as Hispanic Creative Director/Producer for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign, and was a member of the Strategy/Media team for Bush-Cheney 2004. He has also served as Hispanic Creative Director for Jeb Bush 2002 and Rick Perry 2002 Texas Governor Election Campaign. César’s experience also includes campaigns in Mexico, Latin America and Spain.

César is the recipient of numerous prestigious advertising awards including Clios, EFFIE, Telly, Mobius as well as Addy awards. Additionally he was named “Creative All Star” by Adweek. César has been a guest speaker in many forums including George Washington University, Harvard University, Universidad Europea de Madrid (Spain), Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (Spain) and Tec de Monterrey (Mexico) to name a few.

On the Public Affairs Arena, César has helped many organizations with their Hispanic communication needs like the Foundation for a Better Life and MATT.org (Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together). He is a member of the board of ProLiteracy World Wide, which is the most important Non-Governmental Organization in the world for Adult Literacy. Further, he also helped pass legislation for the anti-littering campaign in the city of Morelia in Michoacán, Mexico. He has also been active in the Water fluoridation campaign for Bexar County in the City of San Antonio, as well as a Plastic Bag Recycling movement/campaign for Bexar County in the city of San Antonio.

Colin Myers | Board Member

Colin Myers is a US Navy veteran and a Manager at Comtech Systems Inc.  In his role at Comtech, Colin advises and supports the US military, allied nations, and US government agencies with risk mitigation strategies to overcome communication challenges for military operations and border security.

Colin served for nine years in the US Navy.   Colin first entered the Navy as a midshipman at the US Naval Academy in 2002, where he graduated and earned his commission as a naval officer in 2006.  Following the academy, Colin was accepted into the submarine service where he managed operations and maintenance of nuclear reactors on the USS WEST VIRGINIA and USS RHODE ISLAND and was certified by the Naval Nuclear Security Administration as a Naval Nuclear Engineer.  After serving as a nuclear supervisor, Colin assumed the role of communications officer and ship driver for his submarine.  As “COMMO” aboard the USS RHODE ISLAND, Colin supervised the receipt, transmission, and decoding of all submarine related messages, led the team of officers responsible for command and control of all nuclear missile launch orders and exercises, and was responsible for all submarine nuclear launch codes and cryptography.  As COMMO, Colin’s crew earned the USSTRATCOM 2010 Omaha Trophy Award as the #1 Strategic Communications Submarine in the US Navy.

Colin resigned from the US Navy in 2011 and settled in Central Florida to spend more time with his family—his wife Merrick, and daughters Peyton and Piper.  In 2013, Colin graduated with his MBA from Rollins College and worked in finance, marketing, and leadership roles at Darden Restaurants, Anthem Wealth Management, and Comtech Systems.  Colin additionally serves as General Manager and Wealth Advisor for a boutique financial firm, Thorium Wealth Management, headquartered in North Carolina.  In his downtime, Colin enjoys adventures with his wife and children, training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and playing table tennis.

Eletha Beckford-Smith | Board Member

Eletha is currently a National Client Partner of federal telecommunications at Verizon based out of the Washington, DC area. She is responsible for managing 4GLTE, 5G, IOT and M2M mobile communications for The Department of Homeland Security HQ and US Custom & Border Protection. Eletha along with her dedicated team of Solutions Architects, Client Executives and Critical Response teams focus on building strong relationships. Her team provides insight to what is possible, thought leadership and supporting the mission by delivering change through digital transformations. Eletha found her passion by interacting with companies and government agencies to provide solutions to obstacles that affected their mission. She has held multiple positions over her career with an increasing level of responsibility. Eletha takes pride in sharing a wide range of
support for critical communications and combining efforts to ensure federal agencies stay
connected across the country. In addition to her telecommunications background, Eletha has 10
years of experience in Business and Finance. Eletha is a WOW Alumni (Women of The World)
member that provides networking opportunities and sharing experiences with other members
pursuing career progression. She also serves as a current board member of one of Verizon
employee resource groups, Wireless Association of Verizon Employees (WAVE). Eletha takes an
active role allocating time for mentoring and volunteering at work and in her community to help
others explore new ideas for continued growth.

Eletha has earned a certification in Project Management, Bachelors degree in Business Management and Masters degree in Business Administration with a concentration in government acquisition. As both a proficient communicator and long term learner she has a great work life balance with a tenacity that both demonstrates a passion for continued education, creativity, leadership and teamwork. In her free time Eletha enjoys traveling with her husband on annual cruises to the Caribbean, spending time with her family and always being open to try new things.

Jonathan Ray | Board Member

Jonathan has worked in the Aerospace and Defense industry as a Software Developer, Systems Engineer, and Systems Architect designing / developing / delivering tactical airborne and ground ISR systems for the US Air Force. Jonathan has also designed ISR systems for the DOD Intelligence Community supporting strategic national security globally for over a decade. Jonathan is currently the Director of Commercial Products/Sensor Systems at Innovative Signal Analysis, Inc. in Richardson, TX managing the WAV technology family of products specializing in imagery surveillance and processing. Jonathan holds a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science and Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a Masters of Science and Engineering in Security Engineering from Southern Methodist University.

Randall V. Simmons | Board Member

Major General Simmons retired from the United States Army and Georgia Army National Guard in March 2023 after a distinguished 34 year career.  He currently serves as the Chief Operations Officer for Ranco Response, a disaster response company.

Major General Simmons relinquished command of Joint Task Force – North during a ceremony at Fort Bliss, TX on December 14, 2022 following a successful 26 month assignment.
Prior to assuming command of JTF-N, Major General Simmons served as the Commanding General of the Georgia Army National Guard headquartered at the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, GA from October 2017 to October 2020.

His other leadership assignments included command of Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery (Chatham Artillery). He served as commander of the 1st Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, while the squadron was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009-2010. In 2013, Major General Simmons assumed command of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 as Commander of the Kabul Base Complex.

His key staff assignments included service as the Executive Officer of the 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery Regiment, while deployed in support of Operational Iraqi Freedom, 2005-2006.  Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (G1) and Chief of Staff of the Georgia Army National Guard.  He has worked on numerous strategic level military committees and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Guard Association of the United States.

He is married to Yetive (Chason) Simmons and they have two children; Callie (15) and Luke (12).

Arif A. Mamedov | Board Member

Arif Mamedov is an executive officer at Regula who landed the company in the U.S. He is working to develop the company’s presence in the Americas, including North, Central, and LatAm regions. Arif has a solid history directing sales, and spearheads the go-to-market strategy design and implementation to deliver bottom-line results and accelerate Regula’s growth. He personally runs large-scale projects, cultivating partnerships with enterprise-level companies and government authorities, such as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State.

He is a customer-facing person and an innovation champion at the same time, so he brings customers’ requirements directly to the Regula R&D team. This helps the company introduce new technologies that meet and exceed the needs of organizations.

Arif graduated from Oklahoma State University where he got a Ph.D. in chemistry and the Research Excellence Award.

Joseph Francescon | Chief of Government Affairs

Joe Francescon is a national security executive,serving as an investor and technology leader withHighlander Partner’s defense practice. In thiscapacity, Joe sets government strategy for the multi-billion-dollar fund and directly oversees Washingtonoperations for portfolio companies, including HighPoint Aerotechnologies and Dzyne Technologies.
Joe works across U.S. and foreign government partners to design, source, andintegrate cutting edge autonomous technologies globally. He brings fifteenyears of national security experience, including time at the Pentagon, where heserved as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations andCombating Terrorism, and as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Department ofDefense. In addition, he served on the White House National Security Council asthe Senior Director for Counterterrorism and Transnational Threat Networksand has held senior roles in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Joe earned a Bachelor of Arts in InternationalStudies from Miami University and possesses a Master of Sciences degree inCybersecurity. At home in Washington, D.C., Joe volunteers as a mentor withBig Brothers Big Sisters National Capital Area.

Michael Still | BOARD MEMBER

Michael Still engages in a wide range of ventures, including overseeing land development projects for truck plazas, shopping centers, and apartment complexes, as well as managing underground utility work and farm operations as a General Contractor. He also holds a partial ownership stake in a high-complexity molecular and non-molecular lab that is accredited by A2LA and certified by CLIA. In addition, Michael is active in fuel sales and the propane business sector.

Furthermore, He is an experienced private pilot with commercial ratings, specializing in agricultural aviation for numerous years. Michael enjoys boating activities and prioritizes spending quality time with his family. He is married to Tina Still, and they are the proud parents of five children and grandparents to 14 grandchildren. His commitment to excellence in both his professional endeavors and personal life exemplifies his strong work ethic and unwavering dedication to success.