Dr. Clifton (Pete) Braker, Secretary

With over 50 years of experience in vocational and agricultural education.  His educational credentials include a BS, MS, and a Doctorate in Agricultural Education from Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University).  Dr. Braker has an extensive teaching career that spans 40 plus years in high schools, universities, and vocational institutes.  In January 1998, Dr. Braker began to teach night classes at Northwest Technical Institute and eventually became the Coordinator of Industrial Community Education until 2013.

Les Garrett, Vice Chair

​​Mr. Les Garrett has been in the tire industry since 1966.  Originally a native Southern Californian, he moved to Northwest Arkansas in 1973.  Four years later, he opened Garrett Tire and Auto Center.  With his experience in the industry and owning a business, he is a big advocate for vocational education. He is excited for the opportunity to serve on the NTI Board of Directors.

Dr. Marianne Neighbors, Member

Dr. Marianne Neighbors has been in nursing practice and nursing education for more than 40 years. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Mankato State, a master’s degree in health education at the University of Arkansas, a master’s degree in nursing at the University of Oklahoma, and a doctoral degree in education with a focus on health science at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Neighbors has taught in associate degree nursing education for 18 years, focusing on medical/surgical nursing, and in baccalaureate nursing education for 23 years, focusing on health promotion and community health. She also taught advanced health promotion and nurse educator classes at the master’s level. She is currently an Emeritus Professor in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Board of Directors

Carlos Chicas, Member
​Originally from Guatemala, Mr. Chicas relocated to the United States over 20 years ago. He graduated from John Brown University, with a Master’s Degree in Counseling. Mr. Chicas has spent 20 years working as a Sports Broadcaster and News Reporter. Some of his time was spent covering Arkansas Razorback sports in Spanish, where he was named “Voice of the Razorbacks” in 2007. He is currently working for the second largest Spanish TV network, Telemundo. He is also the General Manager of Sales & Marketing for Hola Media Group. Mr. Chicas and his wife, Deysi have three children.

Tommy Free, Chair

Mr. Tommy Free was recently appointed by the Governor for a five-year term. Mr. Free is currently Sr. Vice President of Business Development at Centennial Bank in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He has been in banking for 51 years, with the last 39 years in Siloam Springs and Fayetteville, and is actively involved in the community. He has been recognized for Outstanding Civic Leadership by the Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce.

As President of NTI I would like to personally introduce to our students and constituents a group of hard working individuals who have volunteered their time to serve as Board members. Each member of our Board brings to the conference table a wealth of personal and work experiences. This background helps our staff, faculty and administration be able to provide real life and valuable training for each of our students.


My thanks to our Board,

Blake Robertson, Ed.D.

President of NTI