Our Team

Take some time to meet our team:

Don Ancona: President
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Don has almost twenty years of experience as President of two staffing firms that have received national recognition with Management Recruiters International.

Prior to becoming a Management Recruiters International franchise owner Don was an executive with a Fortune 500 company. He is an accomplished information technology and engineering professional with nearly 20 years of experience in that field.

In 1995 Don's entrepreneurial spirit got the better of him and he founded Management Recruiters of Chanhassen, MN. This highly successful company quickly established itself as a premier technical recruiting company in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. In its first year the company was awarded the prestigious 1996 National Rookie Office of the Year Award. The company also was a member of MRI's President's Club, placing it among the top 25 percent of all MRI offices nationwide. In 1998 Don and his family fulfilled their dream to again live in the Southwest, moving to Albuquerque and opening MRI of the Sandias.

Management Recruiters of the Sandias, NM is located in Albuquerque and has been a nationally recognized office. In fact, it was a member of the elite Presidents Gold Club in its very first year in business. Don's company philosophy is simple: Partner with client companies and candidates and always do the right thing for both, always putting their best interests first.

Don personally specializes in placing Impact Players in Senior-Level technology positions, and works on a retained basis with his clients. He is a regular speaker at MRI national events on many recruitment, training and business topics, and consistently has top-performing, long term, dedicated people on his team.

He was recently recognized as a Top-5 MRINetwork Southwest Region Manager of the Year. MRI of the Sandias was recently honored as one of Albuquerque's top 20 Fastest Growing Companies for 2013.

Don grew up in St. Louis and is a graduate of the University of Missouri. He has been on the Board of Directors for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Mexico and the Childrens Cancer Fund of New Mexico. He also is an active member of the Albuquerque Economic Development Organization and is a voting member of the High Desert Homeowners Association.

Paula Ancona: Managing Partner
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Paula brings broad experience to her role as a search consultant. She has held several positions in the search firms she and her husband, Don, have owned and operated including account executive, project coordinator, trainer and manager. She finds it very rewarding to successfully match a client company with its next key player. Paula takes the core values of MRI of the Sandias very seriously: Integrity, Resourcefulness, Rapport and Discernment.

Before working in recruiting, Paula was an award-winning journalist in Ohio and New Mexico. She also wrote a nationally syndicated career column and published a book of workplace advice. She credits her reporting background for her ability to find excellent candidates and uncover what truly matters to both client companies and candidates.

Paula is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, but has lived in beautiful New Mexico for the better part of 25 years. She and Don have three children. An active volunteer for many years, her proudest volunteer accomplishment is being a Girl Scout leader to an outstanding group of high school girls who have been in her troop since first grade.

Steve Freeman: Senior Vice President, AEC Recruiting
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Steve came to MRI of the Sandias almost 10 years ago with over 20 years in outside sales and management, recruiting and training some of the top salespeople in the wine distribution industry. Helping people succeed in life and in business has been Steve's driving goal. Steve now takes this zeal for quality of life into MRI of the Sandias in helping other people find a new and exciting challenge in advancing their careers.

Steve has been married to his high school sweet heart for over 30 years with 4 grown children and now 4 grandchildren, all boys! They bring him the balance of work and play. Steve and Sue love to camp in New Mexico.

Steve is also a Pastor to Crestview Baptist Church serving the intercity needs of Albuquerque New Mexico. He and Sue have a strong passion for strengthening marriages. Sue works for a non-profit organization called Care Net Pregnancy Center.

Steve has won the Southwest Rookie of the year award and was one of the top 10 billing rookies nationally, as well as being a 3 time Pacesetter in the MRI Network . 

Mike Chavez: Vice President, Certified Senior Account Manager
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Michael "Mike" Chavez recently achieved the designation of Certified Senior Account Manager \, the highest rank awarded to recruiters at MRINetwork®, one of the world’s largest search and recruitment organizations. The CSAM® program, which was established in 1985, allows executive recruiters to accelerate their personal and professional development and to differentiate themselves from the competition. In order to receive the CSAM® designation, recruiters must pursue a comprehensive course of study and pass a rigorous examination. They must also be recommended by their managers in order to participate in the program.

Mike is part of a vanishing breed in New Mexico, "Born and Bred". He has spent all of his 38 years in Albuquerque and has thoroughly enjoyed the changes he has seen in our fair city. With the influx of people from out of state and country, it's like the world has brought itself to New Mexico's doorstep. Prior to joining MRI over 6 years ago Mike spent 6 years with the largest rental car company in the world, as a senior manager. Before that he spent 7 years in radio, and he did everything. Mike was an on-air jock, he reported traffic, worked in promotions and wrote and produced commercials. All at the same time! Mike gave it up when his wife Tammi and he welcomed their 1st child into the world, Zachary. Zachary is now eleven and is working on becoming a Flag Football all-star, and Mike and Tammy have welcomed their second son, Daniel.

Mike brings top level sales and management skills to his position at MRI. He is accustomed to working hard for the candidate and for the client company. And., he realizes that relationship is like a Chinese dinner, "It's not over till everyone gets their cookies!"

Jennifer Caffrey: Account Executive
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Jennifer came to MRI of the Sandias with over twenty years of experience in business development, marketing, and connecting people with opportunities that enhance their professional lives. With a diverse background in various industries and finely developed skills in networking and research, Jennifer knows how to support our commercial construction clients with the key performers they need to succeed. Knowing how important the right work environment is to quality of life for our candidates, Jennifer is intent on finding the right match between them and clients. She feels successful only when both find that a placement has helped each reach their goals.

 A native of Massachusetts, Jennifer escaped to the warmth of New Mexico and hasn't lost a sense of wonder at all this very different part of the country offers. When not exploring the state with her family, she fosters shelter pets for the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department,  volunteers at her daughter’s school, and discovers new ways to inject green chile into every possible recipe she tries.

Gene Cantrell: Account Executive
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Gene came to MRI of the Sandias with over 25 years in retail sales and management experience, recruiting and training some of the best in the Managers in the retail field. His experience includes 9 years in one of the largest home improvement store chains in the country. Before that he spent 15 years in the supermarket industry.

Gene was born in raised in Illinois, Enjoyed 15 years in Indiana, before making New Mexico his home in 2012. Gene has been married over 15 years to the love of his life. Gene and Carissa have 3 children and 2 dogs. Gene enjoys hiking, golfing, and traveling with his family along with volunteering at his daughter’s school and his church.

Janet DeBesse: Administrative Assistant
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Janet comes to MRI with a solid background in recruiting. She was the Senior Recruiter for a call center in Texas for the last 7 years, responsible for not only recruiting top salespeople, but also for supporting the entire recruiting department administratively. She enjoyed the constant interaction with candidates as well as creating processes that assured the recruiting department ran smoothly.  Janet is excited to use her recruiting knowledge to support the staff at MRI of the Sandias.

As the wife of a University of New Mexico football coach, Janet is an avid Lobo fan.  Fall and football season are her favorite times of year and she loves to attend home games as well as travel to away games to support the Lobo football team.   A native Texan and lover of the outdoors, Janet has lived in several different regions of the country, and admits that New Mexico might be her favorite yet.  Janet enjoys running, hiking and snow skiing on and around the beautiful Sandia Mountains.

 Janet and her husband of 31 years met and fell in love in college.  They have 3 grown children, 2 daughters and a son.  Her proudest accomplishments in life are her family, with her favorite moments being when all 5 DeBesses are together!