Board of Directors
- Ranson W. Webster, Chairman
- George Balaban, Secretary/Treasurer
- Nancy Croom
- Ben Farahi
- Bruce James
- Monte Miller
- Gary Vause
- William P. Weidner
- Darren Wilson
- Judy Cresanta, NPRI Founder
Ranson W. Webster is the founder and a managing member of Evergreen Capital LLC, an early stage investment company that focuses on and invests in start-up Internet, service-oriented and biotech companies.
A successful and innovative businessman, Mr. Webster founded Computing Resources, Inc. (CRI) in 1978 as a general purpose service bureau specializing in automating accounting functions. Over the years, Mr. Webster's vision allowed CRI to gain national recognition as the nation's fourth-largest quality payroll services provider, servicing over 32,000 businesses nationwide. In March of 1999, CRI announced it had agreed to a merger with Intuit, and Mr. Webster served as Chairman and CEO of Intuit's payroll division (CRI) until March 2000.
Mr. Webster currently serves on the boards of Heetronix, Inzap Inc, Athena On-line, and hCell Technology Inc. Other investments include Salu.net, Sand Hill Capital II, Customer Link, Turbo Coverage, Sierra Sciences, Bridge Bank of Silicon Valley and Heritage Bank of Commerce. A resident of Reno since 1972, Mr. Webster is currently Chairman of the Board for the National Automobile Museum - The Harrah Collection; a past Chairman of the Financial Advisory Board for the city of Reno; an Artown board member; and the Governor's appointee for The Commission On Education Technology.
George Balaban is the president of Desert Cab Inc., a company originally acquired by his father in 1964 with only one taxi. The company had grown to nine taxis when Mr. Balaban took over in 1979, and now has 150 taxis. The business is owned equally by Mr. Balaban, his brother and his sister.
Mr. Balaban was born in San Diego, Calif., in 1958. He moved to Las Vegas shortly after that, but moved back to San Diego, where he lived from the ages of seven to 13. After spending his high school years in Wisconsin, and then heading back to San Diego for college, he moved back to Las Vegas in 1979 and has lived there ever since. He attended both San Diego State University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Mr. Balaban is a member of the Keystone Corporation, the Las Vegas Country Club, the UNLV Golf Foundation, the UNLV Football Foundation and the UNLV Educational Foundation He and his brother also started On Demand Sedan and Limousine Company 10 years ago, and the business has grown to approximately 100 vehicles.
Nancy A. Croom, a former professional golfer, is a 20 year veteran in golf and resort community development. Among her various accomplishments, culminating in her forming her own consulting business, Mrs. Croom was instrumental in the early conception and development of a multi-destination resort club called The Owners Club by ClubCorp, USA as well as the expansion of the 1760-acre Mission Hills Country Club community in Rancho Mirage, California, home of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the longest running major tournament on the LPGA Tour.
Long in love with the great outdoors and all that Nevada has to offer, Mrs. Croom married her husband George and became a Nevada resident in 2005. Among her many civic endeavors, Mrs. Croom is Chair of NPRI’s Lake Tahoe based Advisory Board and is a trustee of the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, California where she focuses on insuring cultural arts education programs for K-12 students.
Mrs. Croom is a licensed pilot and real estate broker in both Nevada and California. She earned her MBA at Pepperdine University and undergraduate degree in Marketing Management at the University of Tulsa where she played on a golf scholarship with Hall of Famer, Nancy Lopez. Previously inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame in her hometown of El Paso, Texas Mrs. Croom was also honored with a national Rolex Achievement Award presented by Arnold Palmer in recognition of her business and civic achievements.
Ben Farahi, age 60, married and blessed with four children, has been active in various private and public companies and partnerships in the purchase, financing and management of residential and retail real estate. He currently is the managing partner of a number of public and private real estate partnerships. He is a board member of the Nevada Policy Research Institute as well as the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy. He was a director of the United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra from 1999 to 2004 and of the Bank of North Las Vegas from 2006 until 2011. He was Co-chairman of the Board, Chief Financial Officer, Secretary and Treasurer of Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc. (Nasdaq ticker: MCRI), which through its wholly owned subsidiary Golden Road Motor Inn, Inc., developed and operates the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, NV, from its inception in 1993 until May 2006. His responsibilities at Monarch involved the financing and development of the property. Mr. Farahi holds a mechanical engineering degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a MBA degree from California State University, East Bay.
Bruce James is President and CEO of Nevada New-Tech, Inc. An experienced business, government and civic leader, Mr. James served as chairman of the Nevada Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) beginning in June 2008. The SAGE Commission was comprised of 14 senior Nevada business people who served without compensation and are were charged by then-governor Jim Gibbons with making periodic recommendations to him and to the Nevada Legislature for ways to streamline state government.
From 2002 to 2007, Mr. James served as a Senate-confirmed, presidential appointee in Washington, D.C. as the 24th Public Printer of the United States and chief executive officer of the U. S. Government Printing Office. During his tenure, the 200-year-old government agency was transformed from a heavy-metal, ink-on-paper printing provider into an innovative publisher and distributor of government information in a wide variety of electronic and conventional formats. He was selected as the U. S. Government Civilian Executive of the Year in 2006, as the GPO turned a $100 million operating loss into a $100 million operating surplus during his four years at the helm.
From 1993 to 2002, Mr. James was a board member of a wide variety of Nevada non-profit organizations in Reno, Las Vegas, and the rural areas as well as higher education institutions and organizations throughout the country.
Monte Miller, chief executive officer of KeyState Corporate Management, has over 40 years of investment management and trust banking experience.
Prior to founding KeyState, a Nevada holding services company, in January 1991, he served as SVP and trust division manager for Valley Bank of Nevada (currently Bank of America Nevada) and serviced over $4 billion in assets.
Mr. Miller holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Nevada, Reno and received his M.A. in Economics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He serves on the board of directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and as a commissioner for the Nevada Commission on Economic Development.
He also serves on the executive committee of the board of trustees of the Nevada Development Authority, and on the board of directors of the Community College of Southern Nevada Foundation.
Gary Vause, a native of Las Vegas, is a graduate of the University of Utah. He and his wife, Linda, are owners of Lit'l Scholar Child Care Pre-Schools and Kindergartens in Las Vegas. He is a partner in the Aztec Inn Casino.
Gary is active in many community organizations, including Keystone, the Las Vegas Rotary, the Las Vegas High School Alumni Association (class of '56), the Boys' Club, and is a life member and past President of the Las Vegas Jaycees.
His professional affiliations include serving as past President of the Child Care Association of Nevada, past President of the Clark County Child Care Association, and past Vice President of the National Child Care Association. He currently is a Director of the National Child Care Association representing the state of Nevada.
Gary is a former trustee of the Las Vegas City Centre Development Corporation, and was an organizer and Board Member of the Valley Bank of Nevada.
Gary has been a member of the Nevada Policy Research Institute since March 1998.
William P. Weidner is the former president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Previously, he has served as assistant professor of Business Administration and Hotel Management at Paul Smith's College; vice president of hotel operations and marketing at Caesars in Atlantic City; executive vice president of the Greate Bay Casino Corporation; and president of the Pratt Hotel Corporation.
A native of Northville, Mich., Mr. Weidner earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Hotel Administration and an M.B.A. from Michigan State University.
Darren Wilson is the founder and president of Sierra Air Conditioning, Inc. and has been an HVAC Contractor in Nevada since 1987. Darren and his two business partners have been successful in the endeavor of providing quality HVAC systems to both the residential new construction sector and commercial HVAC sector, as well as all aspects of customer service to the HVAC Industry for the last 26 years. Sierra Air Conditioning, Inc. is a C21 licensed HVAC Contractor in Nevada that holds an unlimited classification, allowing the company to move in any direction within its industry.
Born in Bakersfield, Calif., in 1959, the family moved to Las Vegas in the spring of 1964. Darren has been a resident of Las Vegas for the last 48 years, and graduated from Valley High in 1977. Darren attended an HVAC trade school and then had two years of business management classes at UNLV. His entrepreneurial spirit pushed him forward in his father's local HVAC business, which formed his professional career in the HVAC Industry through 1986. Darren's vision was to be an entrepreneur and form his own company, which has proved to be the industry leader over the last 26 years. He has also served as a board member for multiple organizations that support business development, including the Southern Nevada Air Conditioning Refrigeration Service Contractors Association, the Nevada Subcontractors Association, the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, the Nevada Taxpayers Association and the Keystone Corporation.
Darren has been married to Cheryl Caples Wilson for 27 years. They have two children, Austin and Cassidy.
Judy Cresanta founded the Nevada Policy Research Institute in the early 1990s following a life-changing trip to the former Soviet Union to educate pro-democracy leaders about free markets and free elections. Her inspirations included Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation; Jeff Coors of Coors Brewing and the Castle Rock Foundation; Bill Bennett, former secretary of education under President Reagan; and Morton Blackwell of the Council for National Policy. Ms. Cresanta served as the Institute's president until 2001.
NPRI was established as Nevada's first free-market think tank, with the goal of confronting the state's many eroding institutions, including government, the education establishment, the media and academia, with straight-forward, well researched information that would keep the public armed with the truth. The absense of truth, Ms. Cresanta learned while in the former Soviet Union, allows the state to enslave its citizens. Under Ms. Cresanta's leadership, NPRI worked with some of the top individuals and organizations from around Nevada and the nation to perform compelling research and provide it to the Silver State's citizens and policymakers.
Ms. Cresanta has an undergraduate degree from St. Louis University and Masters Degrees in Public Policy and Public Administration from the University of Nevada, Reno.