Staff List

We’re Here to Help!

The staff of the New Mexico Restaurant Association strives to provide exceptional customer service to our members and the restaurant community. Below you’ll find a list of our staff and how we can best serve you.

Carol Wight – Chief Executive Officer

Carol became the CEO of the New Mexico Restaurant Association in 2002 and enjoys being an advocate for the industry. As CEO, Carol is the leader of the NMRA staff and the Face of Political Advocacy. She is responsible for carrying out the mission and vision of the organization. You can always contact Carol regarding questions or concerns regarding Regulations and Legislation and anything pertaining to Media Relations.   Cell: 250-2911

Cindy Ploen – Director of Finance and Administration

Cindy has 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry and has held positions from cashier to general manager. She has an associate degree in accounting and has been with NMRA since August 2007.  You can contact Cindy for inquiries regarding Accounting Procedures, Invoicing, Payroll Inquires, Wage, Tips and Hours Questions and anything related to HR.


Dionne Wright-Bower – Director of Membership and Communication

Dionne is a graduate of NMSU and has over 13 years experience in the non-profit sector including other New Mexico trade and membership associations. Would you like to join your NMRA? Do you have questions about your Membership or Member Benefits? Would you like to know about becoming an Associate Vendor Member? Contact Dionne to get started!


Brianna DennisEducation Director

Brianna has been in the Culinary Industry for 14 years and with NMRA for 3 years as a NMRA ServSafe teacher and has recently earned the title as Education Director.  Brianna is your point of contact for ServSafe Food Safety and Alcohol Server Classes and our high school culinary program, ProStart.



Candela Gomez – Events Administration and Planning

Candela is a professional Event Planner with 10 years of experience in New Mexico, Boston and Mexico and is the go-to contact for all things related to any of the events we have throughout the year.  Contact Candela for inquiries regarding all NMRA Events like Legislative Days, the Hospitality Industry Awards, Board Meetings and


Lawrence Baker – Communication Specialist

Lawrence joined NMRA as the Communication Specialist and has a background in sales and marketing. He is the point of contact for all things social and advertising related. Do you have a job posting, event or vendor opportunity that you’d like us to share to get more visibility? Want to advertise your product or service?


Terry Cochrane – Administrative and Membership Specialist

Terry joined NMRA as the front-line contact for members and non-members. Terry can provide answers on general information about the association and any upcoming classes or class materials and help you make changes to your member


Katharine WrightExecutive Director of Greater Santa Fe Restaurant Association

Katharine has always maintained a career in the service industry and started with GSFRA in January of 2018.  She is passionate about great food and about Santa Fe. Would you like to become a member our GSFRA Chapter? Would you like to advertise your restaurant is Santa Fe? Contact Katharine and she can help you get started.


Allison Kuper-SmithAllison – Government Affairs Director

At NMRA, Allison handles all aspects of government relations. She is the staff lobbyist and prepares NMRA Position Papers. She graduated from the Swiss Hotel Association School, Les Roches in 1991 and completed her Masters of Science degree at New Mexico State University in 2005. At NMSU she combined her education in hospitality and tourism with her experience with the state legislature by writing her thesis on Tourism Policy Development.

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