our staff

  • Jennifer Vargas


    As the Administrator, Jennifer is responsible for production of LPPC’s weekly, monthly and annual documents, management of the church office and coordination of church events in partnership with the many volunteers active at LPPC.

    Jennifer can be reached by phone at 867-5718 or by email: administrator@lasplacitaschurch.org

  • Rev. Ken Cuthbertson

    Parish Associate

    Ken Cuthbertson has been associated with LPPC since 2003. Upon becoming Pastor in 2011 Rev. Drew Henry invited Ken to be Parish Associate at LPPC, a basically volunteer position providing pastoral back-up and helping out on an as-needed / as-available basis.  

    A Kansas native, Ken attended Sterling College (B.A.) there. He is an "a-typical" graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and has a Ph.D. in church history from the University of Iowa's School of Religion. He also has his Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Ordained since 1982, Ken's ministry includes an eclectic mix of part-time teaching, spiritual direction work and retreat leadership, and providing pulpit supply for various congregations including LPPC. He is active in Santa Fe Presbytery, and serves on the boards of the Ecumenical Institute for Ministry, Water in the Desert Ministries, and is on the advisory team for the Casa del Sol Retreat House at Ghost Ranch. His interests and hobbies include gardening, genealogy, things Scottish, and Harry Potter. Ken and his husband, Doug Calderwood, live in Albuquerque.

    Contact Ken through the church office at 867-5718.

  • Rev. Karl Gustafson

    Parish Associate

    Now retired, Karl has served congregations in small-town southern Ohio, large-town West Virginia, rural Maine and very urban Boston. All very different, and all very interesting. But, New Mexico has been his spiritual home since first visiting as a child. Karl states he is fortunate to now live here in body as well as spirit.  

    Karl considers himself spiritually restless, a seeker of God and a very fallible follower of Jesus. Karl has always been drawn to the margins and the marginalized, challenged by the personal need to balance heart and mind, obligated to serve the call of justice but would prefer to contemplate and create things of beauty. His role at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is to assist Pastor Drew as he needs him, and begin to help us explore ways to engage the arts in our faith and worship.  

    Karl has shared life with Katherine for 40 plus years, and together we have two sons, two daughters in law, and have recently been elevated to grandparent status. 

    Contact Karl through the church office at 867-5718.

  • Dana Howarth

    Youth Ministry Coordinator

    Dana Howarth is a descendant of one of the founding families of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church and has grown up in the church. She has been involved in many church activities throughout her life, including being a member of the youth group during her high school years. Now in her young adulthood, Dana is using her experiences as a life-long member of the church in her position as the first ever Youth Ministry Coordinator at Las Placitas. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Family Studies from the University of New Mexico and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Public Administration. Dana organizes regular youth events, corresponds with youth and their families, and pursues growth of youth ministry in the church.

    Dana may be reached at 505-867-5718

    Email: youth@lasplacitaschurch.org

  • Elliot Smith

    Choir Director

    Elliot Smith just banded with Las Placitas Presbyterian Church as our Music Director in 2015. Bringing his wife, Maria, and son, Desmond with him from California, he and his little family moved to Albuquerque a bit over a year ago. They remain enchanted with the resonant spirit of the people here, the pure beauty of the nature that surrounds us, and the evident, outspoken support for the Arts.  

    Elliot received his Bachelors in Music from the University of Redlands, where he focused on music composition, theory, and vocal performance. At one time, he was simultaneously a member of the Chapel Singers, Madrigals, the University Choir, Those Guys!, an all a cappella ensemble, Riverside Little Opera, and Canto Bello, the group in which he eventually propositionally serenaded his wife. He steadfastly was the Music Director for University United Methodist Church in Redlands, California for eleven years.

    Elliot invites anyone to join LPPC’s choir and shall aim for the experience Anne Lamott felt as she shared in Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith: “Then the singing enveloped me. It was furry and resonant, coming from everyone's very heart. There was no sense of performance or judgment, only that the music was breath and food.” 

    Here in Albuquerque, he recently directed musically for Musical Theatre Southwest’s productions of The Addams Family musical and Once Upon a Mattress, in which he successfully rewrote most of the score from instrumental to be purely a cappella. He recently secured a position as a pianist for the National Dance Institute of New Mexico and he also enjoys working with the Alley Kats Tap Company as their bluegrass and indie-style band-leading Music Director.

    Elliot can be reached at the church office, 867-5718 or by email at:


  • Mindy Sampson


    Mindy Sampson joined LPPC as our accompanist in 2009. Holding both Bachelor and Master degrees in Piano from the University of New Mexico, Mindy has been a professional accompanist for many churches and several choruses in the greater Albuquerque area. In addition to her church work, she has performed with dozens of theater productions, including with Albuquerque Civic Light Opera/Musical Theater Southwest, Albuquerque Little Theatre, Adobe Theater, New Mexico Young Actors, The Cell, Duke City Repertory Theatre, and many local high schools, serving as rehearsal accompanist, pit keyboards, and music director. Mindy's most recent classical accomplishment was a concert of Mozart, Bruch, and Schumann trios with Willy Sucre and Lori Lovato in the Placitas Artists Series. Having toured with operatic baritone Carlos Serrano and played countless concerts, recitals, and appearances at local, national, and international hotels, restaurants, convention centers, and celebrity parties (for Wayne Newton, Renaldo Bellini, Sid Caesar, and Bill Daily, among others), Mindy has been a popular solo pianist (as "Mindy Mae") since 1977.

    In addition to her musical contributions, she knits and crochets for the C&J Prayer Shawl group at LPPC and enjoys her son, Alex, a professional acrobat and an accomplished musician and artist. Mindy shares her punny sense of humour with her sister, Ellanie, who also knits and crochets for LPPC.

  • Karen Cox

    Financial Secretary

    Karen Cox was born in Albuquerque and has lived in New Mexico all but two years of her life. She has Bachelor's degrees in History and Government from New Mexico State. After working for the Social Security Administration, she decided to indulge her creative side and owned a wedding business but she found her passion went she went to work for a bookstore. When she decided she was tired of being poor, she went to UNM and took accounting classes. Her work lead to her own small business and working for an architectural firm and an engineering business. She loves God, her husband, Rich Reif, her six cats, reading, the Placitas Library, classical music and good food and wine.

    Karen can be reached at the church office, 867-5718, or by email at:


  • Russell Mink

    Website Manager

    Russell and his wife, Christine, moved to NM in September of 2011 from Central Florida. Originally from Tennessee, Russell spent 36 years with a major telecommunications company managing Data Center Operations. Russell enjoys sports, photography, computers, music, and exploring the beautiful Southwest.

    Looking for a way to volunteer at LPPC, Russell took over management of the website in May of 2013. He is always in need of individuals with an interest in the internet and websites who would like to volunteer at LPPC. Please feel free to contact Russell with any website questions through the church office at 867-5718 or by email: webmanager@lasplacitaschurch.org. 

  • Debbie Stueber

    Mothers' Day Out Preschool (MDO)

    Program Director

    Debbie, or "Ms Debbie" as most of our MDO kids know her, has been with the MDO program since it's inception in 1989.  

    Her endless energy and strong leadership have helped this program grow by leaps and bounds.  

    For more information on the Mothers' Day Out program please click the MDO title line above.

    Debbie can be reached by phone at 867-3371 or through email: