Tech President Selected To Chair Denish Transition Team, Dec. 12, 2008

By Thomas Guengerich

SOCORRO, N.M., Dec. 12, 2008 – Lt. Governor Diane D. Denish announced the appointment of New Mexico Tech President Dr. Daniel H. López to her Transition Advisory Leadership team.

“New Mexico is strong. We have a diverse economy, a stronger education system, and continue to put policy and programs in place to protect and support New Mexico families,” Denish said in a press release. “Today we're here to talk about the unprecedented transition of leadership. I'm proud to be a part of history and I look forward to continuing our progress.”

López and Brenda Brooks of Hobbs will be the co-chairs of the committee. The team will spend the next seven weeks crafting a list of recommendations to help Denish and her cabinet make a seamless transition into the governorship.

Gov. Bill Richardson has accepted President-elect Barack Obama’s nomination as U.S. Secretary of Commerce. He is expected to officially step down as governor of New Mexico early in 2009.

Denish said López’s experience in state government will be beneficial to the Transition Team.

“Dan brings extensive knowledge of state government and finance issues,” Denish said in the release. “Dr. López 's experience in administration, planning, finance and budgeting will be important to guiding work of this advisory team.”

López said he’s pleased to provide an important public service to New Mexico during this time of transition in uncertain economic times.

“I’m honored to serve the Lt. Governor in a capacity that could help to support a very smooth transition,” López said. “Our first responsibility is to gather information about how to continue the progress that has been made by the current governor to make sure we don’t ignore any programs or initiatives that have shown positive outcomes. Second, we will come up with a priority list of new ideas that might support and enhance what has already been initiated.”

A native of Puerto de Luna, New Mexico, López is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and an Air Force veteran who served in Korea. He served former Gov. Tony Anaya as secretary of the Department of Labor and later as the secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration. He has been president of New Mexico Tech since 1993. He is also a founding member and chairman of the Council of University Presidents.

Denish served on the Board of Regents for New Mexico Tech in the 1980s and 1990s, including when Lopez was named the President.

López and Brooks will guide the work of teams focusing on specific areas including government efficiency and finance, economic stability, transportation and infrastructure, education and workforce, healthy families and communities, energy and environment, safety and security.

López said the transition team will develop a series of concise position papers or summaries of opportunities for the new administration in legislation of executive emphasis.

“We’ll bring in a wide range of ideas in a coherent manner for the new governor to hit the ground running,” he said. “We’ll get input from all across New Mexico.”

The Transition Team will direct teams of citizens who will identify areas where Denish, her administration and state government can identify ways in which agencies can better integrate, rank priorities and make recommendations about what can be accomplished in the next two years, and in the next five years.

Lopez said the transition advisory team leaders and members represent every county and every public and private sectors, rural and urban areas, and the cultural strength that makes New Mexico unique. They are volunteering their time to public service and to New Mexico.

Trevor Loy of Flywheel Ventures in Albuquerque will lead the Government Efficiency and Finance Advisory Team to bring private sector finance expertise.

Alex Romero, an economic development and marketing expert, will lead the Economic Stability Team.

Dr. Margie Huerta, president of Dona Ana Community College will lead the education and workforce advisory team. Huerta has introduced new programs to meet the growing demands of business and industry in the Dona Ana County area.

Matt Martinez will lead the Healthy Families and Communities Advisory Team. Matt is the vice president of National Hispanic Cultural Center board and former Mayor of Las Vegas.

Maria Griego-Raby, owner of Contract Associates and former UNM regent, will lead the Safety and Security Team. Maria currently serves on the State Board of Finance, collaborating with communities to keep families safe and secure. She also owned a business in Juarez, Mexico, and understands border safety and security issues related to economic and workforce development.

Joe Garcia, Chairman of the All Indian Pueblo Council and President of the National Congress of American Indians, will lead the Energy and Environment Advisory Team. Garcia has been an electrical engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 25 years and is a past recipient of the New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Award.

Joe Maestas, mayor of Espanola, will lead the Transportation and Infrastructure Advisory Team. Maestas has more than 20 years as an engineer, planner, and program manager for the federal government. In addition, Joe served as President of the New Mexico Municipal League Board of Directors.

“I would like to thank the hundreds if New Mexicans that have offered their skills, talents, and support to make this a smooth transition,” Denish said.

– NMT –