The Burden and Blessing of Leadership

As published in the Las Cruces Bulletin, December 18, 2020

2020 has demanded a lot from us. It changed so many aspects of our lives. It has taken away health, jobs, mobility, and yes, lives. 

It also presented us a mandate to dig deeper, think differently about how we operate, and driven us to new avenues for innovation and operation. Behind these conversations are the leaders of our community, wrestling with an incredibly complex set of factors, as they seek to fulfill their commitment the missions of their organizations.

The Board of Directors of The Bridge of Southern New Mexico are a cross-sector set of some of these outstanding leaders. Spanning business, education, economic development, and government, they have made tough calls and led superhuman efforts to help our community navigate its way through this challenging time.

While our conversations changed dramatically after March, our work did not: support increased graduation rates in high school and college and equip people for the best careers in our community to grow and sustain strong economic development. We have far more barriers to overcome now, face greater threats to student learning and graduation, have thousands more in need of viable, sustainable jobs, and are waiting eagerly for the time when our economy can recover.

Our community has been blessed to have the leadership we do during this never-to-be-forgotten time. They have been tireless in meeting every new challenge and doing so in partnership with one another. Just a few examples include:

  • The City of Las Cruces partnering with Las Cruces Public Schools on meeting the digital access and device needs of students. 
  • The Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce partnering with Doña Ana County on recovery grants for businesses. 
  • The City of Las Cruces partnering with NMSU’s Arrowhead Center on supports for small businesses. 
  • ALL of our educational institutions doing what was unimaginable to transition in-person instruction to remote learning in the space of a few weeks.

This has been a really tough year, and our leaders have borne a sizable portion of that weight with optimism and a fierce commitment to those they serve. Whatever 2021 brings, this is the group of leaders we, as a community, are fortunate to have.

Before we let this year end, I want to express my deep appreciation for all that they’ve done for us. Thank you to the Bridge Board of Directors:

Dr. Dan Arvizu, Chancellor, New Mexico State University

Les Baldock, VP Operations, Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance

Craig Buchanan, Market President, US Bank

Joe Bullington, Commercialization Manager, Jacobs Technologies

Dr. Michael Chavez, Superintendent, Hatch Valley Public Schools

Travis Dempsey, Superintendent, Gadsden Independent School District

Clay Doyle, VP of Transmission & Distribution, El Paso Electric

Chuck McMahon, Assistant Manager, Doña Ana County 

Mariette Mealor, Leadership and Professional Development, White Sands Missile Range

Debbi Moore, President/CEO, Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce

Albert Parra, Corporate Director for Human Resources, Electronic Caregiver

Dr. Susan Brown and Dr. Henrietta Williams Pichon, Interim Deans, NMSU College of Education

David Maestas and Ifo Pili, Interim City Manager and City Manager, City of Las Cruces

Joshua Orozco, VP Strategic Development, Border Industrial Association

Karin Rios, Director of Data and Analytics, The Borderplex Alliance

Curtis Rosemond, Executive Director, Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Retired Brig. Gen. Eric Sanchez, Director, NMSU Physical Sciences Lab

April Tate and Rick Jackson, CFO/Owner and Owner, American Document Services

Dr. Monica Torres, President, Doña Ana Community College

Dr. Karen Trujillo, Superintendent, Las Cruces Public Schools

Ben Woods, Assistant Administrator, Mountainview Regional Medical Center

And special thanks to Dr. Michael Morehead, former Dean of the NMSU College of Education, who has served as our board chair for 2019-2020 and was a founding member of The Bridge. I am deeply indebted to you, and to all of our members, for the light you shine in dark times.

Because of all of you, I look forward to the recovery and revitalization 2021 will bring.