2013 DA: Lee Ellen Banks (’88), Raul Prieto (’84, ’85)

COB Distinguished Alumna

Lee Ellen Banks (’88)

Lee Ellen Banks ('88)

Lee Ellen Banks

Lee Ellen Banks received her bachelor of Accountancy in 1988 from NMSU and since then, she hasn’t strayed far from the University. She is currently the treasurer of the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors and a member of the President’s Associates Scholarship Board of Directors. She is also a lifetime member of the NMSU Alumni Association, joining as a lifetime member shortly after graduation.

“I believe that the education received at NMSU is the foundation for my professional and personal success. I want to give something back to the University, to thank NMSU, and to allow others to follow my lead. I also think that as many students as possible should have the opportunity to attend NMSU to further their education.”

Ms. Banks joined the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors in 2007, and has since created the Banks Family Endowed Accounting Scholarship. She credits her parents, Bob and Shelby (deceased) Banks as the people who instilled the importance of a college education in her and who made it possible, financially, for her to attend college. Her sister, Jeanne Banks, has also been a role model for her since she arrived at NMSU in 1972; demonstrating that a woman can succeed no matter the chosen profession (in her sister’s case, computer science and math).

Ms. Banks has been a certified public accountant in the state of Texas since 1992, and has been recognized as a leader and top accountant in her field. In 2012, Ms. Banks became the Controller at Varay Systems, a company that provides design, project management, and development of IT systems in El Paso.

As an Aggie, Ms. Banks likes to encourage all alumni to stay involved in the University, just as she was encouraged.

“My NMSU involvement increased while I lived across the country in Tampa, FL. I attended an Alumni Kitchen Coffee at the home of Jose Uranga. Jose was a member of the NMSU Foundation Board at that time. In attendance were two representatives from University Advancement and the NMSU Alumni Association and a few alumni living in Florida. It was an enjoyable and intimate dinner. I thought that it was a novelty to re-connect with NMSU while in Florida, and the result was my interest in establishing a scholarship.”


  • Leadership Texas Graduate, 2011 (premiere statewide women’s leadership program)
  • El Paso Marathon Foundation Board Member
  • Executive Forum President-Elect (business women’s networking organization)
  • Junior League of El Paso Sustaining Member
  • Leadership El Paso Class 15
  • Board Member on numerous other not for profits in both El Paso, Texas and Tampa, Florida (1994-2008)

International Dist. Alumnus

Raul D. Prieto (’84, ’85)

Raul D. Prieto

Raul D. Prieto

Raul Prieto’s career has focused on international tax and accounting for over 25 years after receiving a bachelor’s degree in Accountancy and Economics, and a master’s degree in Accountancy.

After working for some of the largest and top accounting firms, Mr. Prieto ventured off to start his own practice, Strickler & Prieto, in El Paso. The firm provides assurance, tax, and consulting services to a wide range of clients including developing and established middle market clients, governmental, and not-for-profit organizations, as well as Fortune 1000 multinational corporations.

“My master’s degree advisor, Dr. Peter Dillaway once told me: ‘In accounting, the sky is the limit,’ and he was right. It is very rewarding to have the opportunity and be able to control how high you want to go. Just like those simple words of wisdom, NMSU provided with me the experiences that are necessary to grow professionally and personally. Those attributes, although difficult to measure, are very real.”

In all of Mr. Prieto’s professional travels and service throughout the world, he has served as an advocate and ambassador for NMSU and the University’s business students, and he has served on the Accounting Advisory Council as well as the Business Advisory Council. He dedicates his time, talent, and financial support to advance students through scholarships, input on business curricula, and feedback toward re-accreditation from the governing body of business education. Despite a demanding professional and family schedule, he has always found time to give back to his alma mater.

Between working at the office and his time being spent with his family, Mr. Prieto manages to find time for the community. He is an executive board member of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and dedicates some of his time to helping his local church with various projects. He is a current member and was a chapter director for the El Paso Chapter of the Texas Society for Certified Public Accountants. He is also an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New Mexico Society of Certified Public Accountants.

“It is important to support the activities of NMSU in pursuing its mission and goals so that future generations enjoy a current level of knowledge and skills that they will need when they graduate.”

Mr. Prieto is married to Cindy, and has a daughter, AlmaSue, and a son, Alex. AlmaSue is currently attending NMSU in the College of Business.