Sandia LabNews

Two Sandians join 2021 class of 40 Under Forty honorees


Engineer Rachel Gupton and manager Gabriel Mondragon have been named to the Albuquerque Business First’s 2021 class of 40 Under Forty honorees.

Now in its 20th year, Albuquerque Business First annually honors up-and-coming professionals under the age of 40 in New Mexico. Nominees are judged on their career achievements and philanthropic and community outreach, according to the program’s website. They will be recognized at a ceremony in October.

Rachel Gupton: Creating a solution to boost local restaurants and support families impacted by COVID-19

INNOVATION TO IMPACT — Rachel Gupton is an electrical engineer and project lead of a satellite payload at Sandia. Last year, she fundraised and donated $250,000 to local nonprofits that bought meals from restaurants to serve families impacted by the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Gupton)

In March 2020, when the effects of COVID-19 temporarily halted dining in restaurants and impacted many families, Sandian engineer Rachel and her husband Billy were focused on a creative way to support the Albuquerque community. “At the time, we felt helpless, but we were in very blessed situation with the time and resources to give back,” Rachel said.

Rachel and her husband partnered with United Way to create the Feeding Families Fund. The fund was distributed among nonprofit organizations that care for local families. The nonprofits used the donations to buy meals from local restaurants to feed families in their care. Rachel and her husband raised $250,000 in a few months to benefit organizations like All Faiths, Casa Esperanza, CLNkids, Endorphin Power Company, Haven House, Ronald McDonald House and St. Terese of Calcutta Soup Kitchen.

“At the time, many people and companies felt like we did — they wanted to help but didn’t know how — so they were very willing to donate. We raised a lot of money in a short amount of time. It was before many companies had their own outreach solutions, so there was a lot of enthusiasm to help out.”

Since starting her career as a Sandia intern in 2011, Rachel was an assembly integration and test engineer for a satellite payload before becoming the technical lead of that program. Rachel holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Arizona.

In addition to her work, Rachel loves to spend time with her husband and two dogs, travel internationally and serve the Albuquerque community. She volunteers for United Way in a variety of roles, serves on several nonprofit boards and is active in prison ministry through her church. Rachel and her husband recently welcomed their first child, a baby girl.

Gabriel Mondragon: Giving back to the community that shaped his success

LEADING WITH PURPOSE — Gabriel Mondragon is the manager of a project management team for the W80-4 systems program. He volunteers for several local organizations and is active in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Gabriel Mondragon)

Gabriel is a manager of project management for the W80-4 program, currently the largest program at Sandia. He started as an intern in 2011 and has spent his career in different roles supporting various parts of the nuclear deterrence mission. He joined the W80-4 in early 2018 and became a manager later that year.

“The people I’ve worked with at Sandia have given me the blueprint for how to be successful,” he said. “I’ve put in the work, but the accomplishments are a result of the culture we have of helping and empowering each other.”

Born and raised in Albuquerque, Gabriel generously gives his time to local nonprofit organizations, like the Roadrunner Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and Special Olympics of New Mexico. “In the last 15 years, I’ve been a big fan of investing my time back into Albuquerque. I want to give back to the community that shaped who I have become,” he said.

Recently, he has volunteered as a big brother with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico Mentor2.0 Program. Gabriel has mentored a high school student from freshman year to now, as his mentee prepares for life after high school. He is grateful for the opportunity to positively impact someone on an individual level and provide support to a student at such an important juncture in life.

When he is not working or volunteering, Gabriel enjoys spending his time with his wife, playing with his two young children and helping with everyday household duties. “It’s not a resume booster, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Getting more time at home over the past year has been such a blessing to me and our family,” he said.

Gabriel holds an MBA in information assurance and a bachelor’s degree in accounting, both from the University of New Mexico.