Gary Risley is the founding director and shareholder of the Risley Law Firm, P.C. Prior to starting his own firm he was a director and shareholder in the Farmington office of the Miller Stratvert P.A.law firm. He graduated cum laude from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas in 1980 with a bachelor of arts degree, and received his juris doctor the Baylor University School of Law in 1983. He received the second highest score among those taking the July, 1983 Texas bar examination.
Gary’s practice today emphasizes commercial transactions, business succession planning, estate planning, probate matters, water law, and related litigation. He also serves in the part-time position as San Juan County (New Mexico) Probate Judge.
Gary served as the Vice-president of Legal Affairs, general counsel, and corporate secretary for Mesa Air Group for 11 years before he returned to practice in 1999. During his tenure of the publicly-traded company, it grew through merger and acquisition, as well as internal growth, from a company with 13 aircraft and $40 million a year in revenue to an airline with nearly 200 aircraft and over $500 million a year in revenue. He had the privilege of working on commercial transactions ranging from $1000 to $250 million. He also dealt with complex personnel issues, and the Human Resources director at Mesa reported to him. Risley was responsible for all legal affairs of the company during his tenure.
While at Mesa, he also served as the president of Mesa Air Pilot Development, an ab initio pilot training school that was recognized as best cooperative program between private business and public education in New Mexico. The program started with two single-engine aircraft and grew to 13 aircraft and more than 100 students during the time that he ran the program.
Gary is very active in a large number of community and political activities. He is very active in the Boy Scout program, having been the founder or co-founder of a Cub Scout Pack, a Boy Scout Troop, and a Venture Crew. He was the Scoutmaster of the troop until March, 2009. He has also served as District Chairman of the Anasazi District and on the Great Southwest Council Board.
He has been very active in party politics, and is a past County Chairman of his party, past Vice-Chair of the state party, and has been elected a delegate to the national convention on two occasions. He has served on the platform committee of the national party once, and served three times on the state platform committee.
He was first elected to serve as the probate judge in San Juan County in 2002, and was re-elected in 2006.
He was a member of Jaycees while living in Texas, and is a past member of the Board of Directors for Navajo Ministries – which, among other things, operates the Four Corners Home for Children and radio station KNMI here in Farmington. He helped bring USTA tennis to Farmington, and participated in organizing both adult and junior leagues in that sport. He was a certified tennis official, having been to the USTA’s National Chair school in Florida, and was certified to call lines at professional level matches.
He is currently an active member of the San Juan Rotary Club, and is the immediate past president of the Club.
Risley has served the chair of the Farmington Chamber of Commerce Telecommunications and Transportation Committee. During the period of his chairmanship, the committee was actively focusing two key issues: 1) Preservation of scheduled air service in rural communities, particularly Farmington, NM, and 2) improvement of high-speed data access in San Juan County. The TNT committee was the key advocate of a plan that has recently resulted in the creation of a redundant fiber optic loop which will avoid outages with line cuts in San Juan County, and by advocating with providers to make DSL or cable modems more accessible in our county. Regional Aviation Partners, a rural air service advocacy group, named Gary to their Board of Directors.
He is very active in his church, has been recognized in the past as one of “New Mexico’s Top 100 Power Brokers” by New Mexico Business Weekly, and in 2004 was featured in the Four Corners Business Journal as a leader in the Four Corners Region. The San Juan Rotary Club named him its “Vocational Member of the Year for 2003.”
Gary is married to Annette Layman Risley, and they have three children. He has more hobbies than he has time, but his favorites are flying and tennis. He also enjoys mountain biking, camping, and he is a licensed ham radio operator. He continues to serve from time to time on various charitable boards.