Mayra G. Maldonado
Mayra is a Research Economist who leads the Institute’s work on binational, comparative commercial and financial analysis. She has worked as an Economist at the Central Bank of Mexico, where she led the economic and financial analysis of Mexico’s northeastern border region, and its linkages with the rest of Mexico and the U.S. Mayra has also worked for Morgan Stanley Capital International, where she led the Americas Index Research and Corporate Actions teams based in Mumbai, India, and Monterrey, Mexico. During her time at MSCI, she specialized in analysis of Inter-American financial markets inequities. She received her BA in Economics from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM Campus Monterrey) and her MA in Economics from New York University (NYU) through CONACYT and Fulbright scholarships. During her BA studies, she participated in an exchange program with the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP). Born and raised in a dynamic cross-border region (Texas-Nuevo Leon), Mayra is personally and professionally invested in contributing to the economic development of the Paso del Norte region.
Director of Operations
Roberto is the Director of Operations for the Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness, in his role he oversees the institute's projects, ensuring that tasks and resources advance according to objectives and guidelines. Roberto provides efficient use of resources and management to strengthen regional and binational cooperation for the institute.
In previous roles, Roberto established a keen working knowledge of the Paso del Norte Region through developing, directing, and administering businesses outreach efforts in recruitment, retention, and expansion. These efforts contributed to the strong economic growth of the Southern New Mexico’s Borderplex region, generating hundreds of jobs and attracting numerous industries by developing close and lasting partnerships with businesses owners from small, medium, and large companies.
Subsequently, Roberto enjoyed working at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), first, in envisioning and building the success of the UTEP Centennial Year project for the Office of the President, and then, in implementing and administering the nation’s first Department of Engineering Education and Leadership in the College of Engineering.
Roberto obtained his BA in International Business and Computer Information Systems from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2005. Having worked in the private, public, and academic sectors, Roberto has extensive experience in the representation of binational affairs for the Paso del Norte Region.
John D. Gibson
Associate Director of Research
Dr. Gibson is the Associate Director of Research for the Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness. In this role, Dr. Gibson focuses primarily on producing policy relevant technical reports and scholarly research papers using data gathered by the Institute. Dr. Gibson is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and Finance and the Coordinator for the M.S. Economics program at UTEP.
Prior to joining UTEP, Dr. Gibson served as an Assistant Professor at Georgia State University and he is currently a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and a consultant to the GMF Latin American Division of the World Bank. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in economics from Florida State University and his B.A. in economics with mathematics from the University of Southern Mississippi. His research interests include measuring the economic impact of public policies, such as infrastructure investment, and investigating the important role played by real-world frictions related to labor and credit markets. Dr. Gibson’s work has been published in leading economic journals including Journal of Money, Credit & Banking, Journal of Economic Dynamics & Control, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, and Economic Inquiry, among others.
José Ángel Moreno
José Ángel Moreno was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and grew up in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, for the greater part of his life. By virtue of these life experiences, he became intimately aware of the Paso del Norte’s economic structures and practices. In fact, José Ángel refined this knowledge and regional economic analysis skills first by acquiring a BA Economics and then, most recently, an MS in Economics, both from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Throughout his graduate studies, he contributed to various major projects at the Institute as a Research Assistant, most notably to the Regional Economic Sector Reviews. There, he collected, analyzed, and harmonized regional economic data while also overseeing the creation of all of the energy sector infrastructure maps that showcase the region’s crude oil, refined gasoline, and natural gas infrastructure, as well as its renewable energy potential and associated infrastructure. As a Research Economist at the Institute, José Ángel continues this work by overseeing the Regional Economic Sector Reviews and is currently in the process of finalizing a Regional Banking Sector Review and Water Sector Review.
Rafael Perez Peña
Dr. Rafael Pérez Peña is a Research Economist at the Hunt Institute. He was born and raised in the Mexico-U.S. border region. Rafael obtained his Doctoral Degree in Economic Development from New Mexico State University (NMSU) with a concentration in Research Methods. He also completed a Master’s Degree in Applied Economics, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. Rafael studied abroad at the University of Toulouse (France) as an awardee of the Toulouse-Latin American Economics Program. His research interests include Regional Economics, Energy Economics, Agricultural Economics, International Trade and their applications to the U.S.-Mexico Border Region and Latin American Region.
As part of his role in the Hunt Institute, Dr. Pérez Peña applies regional modeling techniques to conduct economic impact analysis for water utilities, transportation, and border security infrastructure projects. Rafael has coauthored technical reports for United Nations agencies such as UNCTAD, FAO, and UN HABITAT before joining the Institute. He has also published research articles in academic journals and presented research papers in conferences in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and Europe.
Dr. Pérez Peña worked as a Business Data Analyst in a money transfer firm in Florida and Maryland. He also worked as a Research Assistant at the Economics Department of NMSU, at the Observatory of Violence and Citizen Conviviality at the University Autonomous of Ciudad Juarez and at the Department of Regional Studies at University of Guadalajara. Rafael interned at the Sustainable Biofuels Unit of the United States Department of Agriculture in Philadelphia, at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York, and at the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Senior China Trade Analyst
Xiaofei serves as Senior China Trade Analyst for the Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness, her role focuses on the maritime shipping industry research and trade relationships between Asia and the Paso del Norte Region. With her previous experience in China, Xiaofei brings with her a comprehensive background in international business and management. She co-founded Jiahua Language School in Shenzhen, China and was the Managing Director for the company responsible for all day-to-day operations. She took part in all aspects of operations including business development, strategy and service delivery. Xiaofei led the organization’s expansion into multiple locations in Guangdong province and the company was eventually acquired by Aston Education in 2013. Aston Education has over one hundred and twenty different international education locations in China, Vietnam and the United States. After the acquisition, she participated in various projects around the world gaining a unique perspective and understanding of international business.
In 2012, Xiaofei was honored as one of Shenzhen University’s top 30 graduates in the school history. She was one of the youngest recipients to be named alongside CEOs of multinational corporations like Tencent Holdings. She was also active in the Shenzhen business community as the Vice President for the Shenzhen Zhanjiang Chamber of Commerce. She also served as the Vice President for the Shenzhen Nanshan District Education Committee primary focusing on research and analysis. She received her BA in Chinese Language and Literature from Shenzhen University and her MBA from the University of Texas at El Paso. Since moving to the United States from Mainland China, Xiaofei has focused her efforts in international trade and the economic impact to the Paso del Norte Region.
Joshua joined the Hunt Institute in April of 2015 as an administrative assistant. An El Pasoan and former student of the University of Texas at El Paso, Josh graduated in May of 2014 with a B.B.A. in Economics. He is excited to be assisting the Hunt Institute in its mission to foster the economic and social well-being of the communities in the Paso del Norte Region, with a special interest in the Social Policy and Economic Development.