The Executive Leadership Team

The Executive Leadership team at MVPHA set the highest standards for all MVPHA employees to follow. These standards are evident through MVPHA’s Code of Professional Conduct. Adherence to this Code is required and serves to ensure public confidence in the integrity and services of the MVPHA.

As Executive Director of the Mesilla Valley Public Housing Authority (MVPHA), one of New Mexico’s largest and highest performing providers of affordable housing programs for low-income families, Mr. Olvera manages an annual operating budget of $8.5 million that supports 252 public housing units, 40 Section 8 New Construction units, 661 affordable housing units, and 1,627 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) which provide housing to some 2,500 families in New Mexico.

Before joining MVPHA, Mr. Olvera was the Director of Development and Capital Projects for the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, Texas. During his tenure, he secured $8.3 million from a competitive grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to build the Paisano Green Community – a Net Zero, LEED Platinum, Fossil Fuels Free Public Housing community for the elderly. Additionally, he co-developed a mixed income community with 198 affordable housing units and he was instrumental in securing more than $20 million in 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) for the redevelopment of two public housing properties.

Mr. Olvera’s prior experience includes serving as President and Chief Executive Officer for multi-million dollar subsidiaries and companies of two of the largest cement and construction materials companies in the world. In the public sector, Mr. Olvera served as Procurement and Contracts Manager for the West Texas Workforce Board.

Mr. Olvera earned a Masters in Engineering Management/Industrial Engineering from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Science in Chemical and Industrial Engineering from the Monterrey Institute of Technology, Mexico. His professional certifications include Public Housing Manager, Public Housing Executive Asset Manager, and Housing Choice Voucher Specialist.

Until recently, Mrs. Rivera was the Housing Choice Voucher (“HCV”) Program Director for the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, Texas (“HACEP”). She has extensive knowledge in the HCV Program and has served the clients of HACEP for 19 years. During her tenure at HACEP, she also held several positions including HCV Supervisor for the Admissions Department, Accountant for the Internal Audits Department, Quality Assurance Accountant for the HCV Department, Accountant for the Budgets Department, and Accountant Technician for the Payroll Department.

Her professional certifications include HCV Executive Management, PH Asset Management for Executives, HCV Eligibility Specialist, HCV Rent Calculation Specialist, Family Self-Sufficiency Specialist, HCV Housing Quality Standards, Leadership Certificate Skills Program for Housing Authorities, and Management Competencies Certification Program for Housing Authorities.

Mrs. Rivera is a graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso with an Executive MBA in Business and a B.B.A. in Finance with a Minor in Management. She also has an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from Rose State College in Oklahoma City. She is a native El Pasoan and is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Ms. Mena is a lifelong resident of El Paso, TX and retired from the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP) after 30 plus years of service.

Both her parents migrated to El Paso, TX after they married at a young age. She comes from a family of six siblings and was brought up with very traditional family values. Some of her values are love God, respect, family is her support, work hard, being persistent until you get it and become good at what you do.

She held the position of director of the Housing Choice Voucher Program, QC and Compliance Manager, Quality Assurance Specialist, PHAS/SEMAP Coordinator, Human Resources Technician, and other positions with HACEP that have developed her to have several skills, knowledge, and experience in the housing industry. Ms. Mena’s education supplements her knowledge which she possesses a bachelor’s degree of Science in Human Resources Management and a master’s degree in Business Administration. Needless to say, the experiences of interviewing families last a lifetime because it provides a check on compassion, empathy, listening skills, and firmness with clients of diverse backgrounds.

MVPHA Comptroller Elizabeth Garcia has more than 30 years of accounting expertise. Her experience includes staff accountant at the El Paso Independent School District and 18 years at the Housing Authority for the City of El Paso (HACEP). During her tenure at HACEP Garcia worked in various roles including Accountant overseeing state, federal and local grants and Capital Fund Planning and Budget Specialist and was responsible for developing the Public Housing Annual and Five Year Plan and Budgets; including the timetable for the implementation of the Capital Fund Programs.

Garcia is bilingual and graduated from Park University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management.

Mr. Cruz is a lifelong resident of El Paso with over 38 years of experience in the maintenance department and construction projects at the El Paso Housing Authority (HACEP).

During his employment at HACEP, he held the position of Maintenance Supervisor, Special Projects Supervisor, Area Maintenance Supervisor, Assistant Construction Manager, Warehouse Clerk, Assistance Superintendent, Warehouse Labor, and Utility Labor.

Mr. Cruz has extensive supervisory experience. He has supervised temporary employees under modernization construction programs and CFP funds through sixteen communities, including all warehouse materials needed.

In addition, Mr. Cruz has supervised grounds crew, and in-house permanent roofing crew to provide replacement of diverse types of roof membranes throughout the Housing Authority Communities to including scattered site units, two-stories’ building, High-Rise buildings and Mid-Rise buildings.

His professional certifications include Chief Procurement Officer (CPO), and Housing Agency Procurement & Contracts Management.

Maria Licon has over 30 years in an administrative, HR and Managerial roles. Maria Licon brings extensive experience in customer service, human resources, business operations and leadership. Ms. Licon has hands on experience in the Housing Choice Voucher Program as an HCV Specialist as well as the FSS Coordinator. She enjoys working with our families and providing safe and affordable housing.

Maria Licon comes from a close-knit family, and she enjoys spending time with her sisters. Maria Licon was born in El Paso, and she attended the University of Texas in El Paso and finished her studies with The University of Phoenix and graduated with a bachelor’s in business management. Her professional certifications include Travel Consultant, HCV & FSS Specialist and Human Resources. She is bilingual and speaks fluent English and Spanish.

Board of Commissioners

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MVPHA is governed by a five-member Board of Commissioners, two of whom are appointed by the mayor of the City of Las Cruces and two of whom are appointed by the Board of Doña Ana County Commissioners. The fifth member of the MVPHA’s board is a public housing resident.

The Commissioners are appointed to staggered five-year terms and provide services without pay.

Marcos Montes joined the MVPHA Board in February of 2017. With 24 years of experience in mortgage lending, he currently serves as the Mortgage Sales Manager, Gateway Mortgage Group, a Division of Gateway First Bank in Las Cruces.

He resides outside of Las Cruces, in the county area between La Mesa and Chamberino in Southern New Mexico. Montes says his life experiences of being raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to make sure he and his sister had what they needed shaped his interest in helping people achieve the American Dream of home ownership with a special emphasis on helping single parent households and first-time homebuyers.

Mr. Montes is a graduate of Gadsden High School in Anthony, NM, and received his industry training and education at the Western States School of Banking, Norris School of Real Estate and New Mexico State University.

Comissioner Cordero was born and raised in Las Cruces and graduated from Mayfield High School. After serving his country honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps, he returned to Las Cruces and began a career in Law Enforcement where he worked for both the Las Cruces Police Department and the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office. His diverse professional experience also includes serving as a Housing Inspector in the construction field and attaining a building contractor license from the State of New Mexico Construction Industries Division. As a second career, Commissioner Cordero received a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from NMSU and he is presently employed in the private sector as a Facilities Manager for Sitel, a world-wide company.

In addition to his service to the MVPHA Board, Commissioner Cordero is actively involved in a variety of community organizations including the Marine Corps League (MCL) Honor Guard Funeral Detail, the MCL Yearly Golf Tournament Organizer and the MCL Birthday Ball Committee. He is a previous board member of the Whole Enchilada Fiesta and volunteer with Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary. He is a current member of the NMSU Alumni Association, the Las Cruces Downtown Mall Revitalization Committee, and the Las Cruces Housing Land Bank & Affordable Housing Trust Fund Advisory Committee. Commissioner Cordero also earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and enjoys softball, traveling and helping veteran organizations. Above all, he is proudly married to his wife, Sonia Saldana, for more than 20 years.

Michael Murphy was appointed to the MVPHA Board in December 2020 by the Mayor of the City of Las Cruces. He is a retired lawyer and judge who was admitted to the practice of law in California, New Mexico, and before the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Murphy graduated from University of California with a degree in Real Estate Finance and received his law degree from Pepperdine University. He is the former chairman of the New Mexico Board of Bar Examiners.

Judge Murphy has a long-standing interest and dedication to the poor and underserved in the area of fair and affordable housing and he believes that access to fair housing is essential to the wellbeing of any community.

He lives in Las Cruces with his wife, Mary, a retired Army Officer.

Robert Duran has lived in Las Cruces all his life. He graduated from Las Cruces High school and the Dona Branch Community College. Robert is married for 46 years and has two sons. Robert retired from White Sands Missile Range, NM as the Chief of Safety and Occupational Health after 34 years of service to civilians, Soldiers and their families. Robert also retired from the Army National Guard. Robert enjoys hunting, fishing and camping.

Commissioner Joseph Anthony Figueroa is the sole resident commissioner that sits on the MVPHA Board of Commissioners. A New York native, Figueroa has lived in Las Cruces since 2008 and currently resides in the San Pedro complex. He is a retired plumber, carpenter and electrician.

His community involvement dates back to his time in New York when he worked for a group called “Community Voices”. Starting as a volunteer then promoted to manager, Figueroa’s role involved leading a grassroots effort to inform residents, residing in apartment complexes, about the importance of voting.

He says his life experiences and challenges he has had to overcome in life give him some insight when connecting to people, and helping others is what is most gratifying.

“I believe that if I can help at least one family, I’ve met my goal. I want to give people a voice,” said Figueroa. “Making a difference makes it all worthwhile.”

The Commissioner has three daughters, one son and seven grandchildren.

He enjoys crocheting and spending time with his rescue cat Walo. You’ll also find him participating in Bible study every Saturday night.