Education & Business Leaders Collaborate to Streamline Students’ Pathways


By Denni Cheney

President/CEO, The Bridge of Southern New Mexico


The Bridge of Southern New Mexico conducted a K-20 Counseling and Advising Summit in mid-September that was generously supported by a grant from the Daniels Fund. We hosted 150 counselors, teachers, principals, advisors, superintendents, college presidents and business leaders. Participants included the Dona Ana County public schools, New Mexico State University, Dona Ana Community College and business representatives.

Our summit focused on identifying both the transitional gaps and best practices, as well as improving communication and streamlining student progressions from K-12 public education into higher education. The goal is to create a model of flawless communication and seamless transition for all students who pass through the educational pipeline in Dona Ana County.

Participants Narrow Information Gaps

The Bridge mission focuses on collaboration and leveraging resources between public and private sectors to support educational excellence and optimize the Dona Ana County workforce. At the end of our workday, we succeeded in building bridges and advancing collaboration among all of these resources. While our work is not nearly complete, we did learn from one another and began narrowing information gaps and improving lines of communication.

Participants were tasked with identifying the big, system-wide issues that impact all levels of the education system. As students transition to each education level, both students and their parents need information about higher expectations and requirements. Students want to feel valued at each level of the educational system. Much discussion focused on the need for more face-to-face and on-campus interaction for students and parents at DACC and NMSU.

Survey feedback from summit participants was extremely positive. Summit speakers from public and higher education as well as business representatives received the highest scores, with 86 percent of respondents giving speakers a top rating of 5. Seventy-four percent of respondents rated their overall satisfaction at the top score. Opportunities for questions and interaction during the summit also scored a top rating by 76 percent of respondents.

Without a doubt, each group who participated wants to achieve the same goal: 100 percent graduation for all students in Dona Ana County and an excellent future workforce. As we continue the collaboration among all of these groups working with students from elementary to middle to high school and on to career and higher education, we know we can make that happen. Our students are the most important resource for Dona Ana County’s workforce and our future economic success.

Student Success: The Top Priority

We have such great leadership in this community, from NMSU and DACC, to our school superintendents and our business leaders. They each give 110 percent every day to help make this community strong and successful. Each of these leaders jumped on board to help make this summit a success. They continue to lend their expertise in support of The Bridge mission wherever they can be of help.

I appreciate the strong support in this community, not only from these leaders but from everyone who continues to help by volunteering and working hard every day to make sure our students are the number-one priority for The Bridge’s work. If you are out and about and see an NMSU Board of Regents member, a school board member, or one of our business leaders, please tell them how much you appreciate their hard work to make sure our students are successful from kindergarten to graduate school!

Denni Cheney is president/CEO of The Bridge of Southern New Mexico, whose mission is to facilitate collaboration and leverage resources between public and private sectors to support educational excellence and optimize the Dona Ana County workforce. Denni can be reached at 541-7325 or at