In 2013, the week before Memorial Day, Alberta was recruited by the Village of Questa and given three days to turn an abandoned bank into a visitor center. She did it!
When many Questa locals were asked at that time what was special for visitors, the reply too often was, “Red River is over that way!” To Alberta, the answer was different; after years working in marketing, advertising, travel, and travel writing, she thought the Questa area was as beautiful as New Zealand and the Swiss Alps, and the camping some of the best in the world, especially at our then-brand-new Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument.
That first summer of tracking visitor statistics and comments illuminated a real disconnect between the loving memories held dear in the hearts of Questa locals, and what was apparent to visitors. “My goal quickly became, and has remained, to bridge that divide,” says Alberta.
Questa’s first Marketing Plan was developed by Alberta at a crucial time, the winter before the Questa Chevron mine closed. Her new message that Questa is “surrounded by protected wilderness” with a “unique history and culture,” and a “home to many talented artists and creatives” has served our community well. Outside consultants were hired to develop Questa’s Strategic Plan for economic redevelopment. Alberta’s valuable assistance in that endeavor is cited in that original Marketing Plan.
Alberta grew up on the Hudson River, north of New York City, in a diverse and historically rich area that fostered curiosity and learning and finished high school in the Southeast, when her parents retired to her mother’s hometown.
She lived as a young adult in San Francisco. A student of art and anthropology, she worked in fashion and retail management. Then as writing became more of a passion than the visual arts, she moved into marketing. Her focus was writing promotional material for small businesses seeking to differentiate themselves in often crowded fields. Alberta loved to travel and had a fair amount of travel writing published before leaving California.
An anthropology tour had already brought her through northern New Mexico. When the crowds, traffic, cost of living, and earthquakes of the Bay Area became too much, she returned and has lived in the Questa area since 1996. Already concerned about climate change, she built her own straw-bale home with an off-the-grid solar system. She first learned to honor our wise elders when asking around about how to pour an adobe floor. Then she joined the volunteer fire department.
While she was Questa’s Tourism Director, our Visitor Center became a hub for area promoters to find each other. This informal coming-together helped develop projects such as the Questa History Trail, the Questa Studio Art Tour, and events to celebrate 50 years of the Wilderness Act that has helped preserve our beloved surroundings.
The years of building relationships with the NM Tourism Office, the BLM, Forest Service, Enchanted Circle Marketing group, and NM Economic Development Dept. also involved negotiating the mixed emotions brought on by the need for new growth. “Often this was a rewarding role to play, and sometimes not.”
Alberta has moved away from official development work. The Questa Del Rio News included Alberta as a volunteer Poll Watcher in their December 2022 article about election workers. She is a founding member of the Questa Creative Council, along with a diverse and skilled team of neighbors we know and love.
She’s the current QCC Board Chair. During time serving as acting director, she helped with efforts to secure enough backing to hire a dedicated Executive Director to help manage the future of this valuable non-profit organization. Her skills and interests were in the right place at the right time for Questa.