2018 Statewide Town Hall: Strengthening Higher Education and Tomorrow’s Workforce

2018 Statewide Town Hall: Strengthening Higher Education and Tomorrow’s Workforce

Dates: 10-Apr-2018-11-Apr-2018

Time: 8:30 AM-5:00 PM

Location: Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid, 5151 San Francisco Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109


Watch the Higher Education, Workforce Town Hall Live-streamed Video!

New Mexico First will host a statewide town hall on higher education and workforce development in spring 2018. Our state is rich in education and career opportunities but also faces challenges. New Mexico First is actively working to overcome those challenges by researching barriers to progress and convening a statewide deliberation on solutions.

New Mexico has ample opportunities, but must overcome barriers. Jobs in healthcare, education, energy, agriculture and STEM-related fields are abundant, but positions remain vacant. State tuition costs are some of the lowest in the nation, yet enrollment has fallen, and student loan default rates remain high. Higher educational institutions grapple with how to efficiently produce the graduates needed to fill industry demand despite considerable workforce pipeline barriers. These barriers include our state’s low high school graduation rates, poverty, a shrinking working-age population drawn to other states, and other barriers to entering and remaining in college and New Mexico’s workforce.

The town hall will begin with data-driven analyses and informed resident deliberations. It will result in consensus-supported direction and actionable policy recommendations for education, community, business and policy leaders seeking optimal alignment of education and the workforce, as well as statewide economic prosperity. When education and workforce align, New Mexico communities and families will thrive.


Town hall participants will focus on key issues surrounding higher education in New Mexico:

  • Student success and completion
    • Community college
    • Four-year university and beyond
  • Leadership, governance, and finance of the higher education system
  • Workforce integration and alignment
  • Healthcare workforce
  • Energy workforce

Who Should Attend?

  • Community members
  • Business leaders
  • Educators
  • Tribal representatives
  • Government professionals
  • Energy professionals
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Students
  • Elected officials

What Happens at the Town Hall?

Our town halls are not typical conferences with a series of presentations. There will be a roundtable discussion and speakers at the beginning of the event to help set context, but the bulk of the town hall is comprised of small group discussions among participants who care about the future of the state and want to create practical recommendations that will lead to progress.

Prior to the town hall, participants will receive a background report that will outline the key issues and serve as a basis for the discussions held during the town hall.  

What Happens after the Town Hall?

The recommendations will not sit on a shelf. Immediately after the town hall, the New Mexico First implementation team will develop a plan to advance the town hall’s platform with policymakers.



Day 1: April 10*

When What
8:30 Check-in, Breakfast and Networking
9:00 Welcome and Overview
9:30 Roundtable Discussion
10:45 Town Hall Overview
11:15 Break
11:30 Small Group Overview
12:00 Keynote Presentation and Lunch
1:00 Small Group Discussion A
2:45 Break
3:00 Small Group Discussion B
4:45 Plenary Session: Group Recommendations
5:00 Adjourn


Day 2: April 11*

When What
8:30 Breakfast & Town Hall Overview
9:00 Small Group Discussion C
10:45 Break
11:15 Small Group Discussion D: Recommendation Amendments
1:30 Presentation and Lunch
2:30 Plenary Session
4:45 Closing
5:00 Adjourn




Our deliberations are not typical conferences with a series of presentations. There will be a roundtable discussion and a keynote speaker to help set the context, but the bulk of the town hall is comprised of small group discussions among participants.

Roundtable Discussion
  • Barbara Damron, N.M. Higher Education Department, Cabinet Secretary
  • Angelo Gonzales, Mission Graduate
  • Lisa Hardison, URENCO, Manager, Communications & Public Relations
  • Celina Bussey, New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, Cabinet Secretary
  • Fabiola Perez, UNM College of Pharmacy, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate, 2019

Keynote Speaker

  • Amy Loyd, Building Educational Pathways for Youth, Associate Vice President

Luncheon Speaker

  • C.J. Bacino, LANL, Director of Diversity and Strategic Staffing

Town Hall Leadership

  • Heather Balas, President and Plenary Co-Chair, New Mexico First
  • Valerie Romero-Leggott, Chair, New Mexico First Board of Directors
  • Johnny Montoya, Chair-elect, New Mexico First Board of Directors

Implementation Leadership

  • Adelmo "Del" Archuleta, Molzen-Corbin & Associates, President
  • Randy Grissom, Santa Fe Community College, Retired President



Background Report: A New Mexico First Background Report is produced for town hall participants. We ask that participants read the report before the town hall.

Online Version

Print Version (PDF)

Final Report: Recommendations report developed by nearly 200 New Mexicans on solutions to the state’s higher education and workforce development systems.

Online Version

Print Version (PDF)


We gratefully acknowledge the following sponsors who generously support this town hall.

Signature Sponsors


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Bronze Sponsors


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Some of Our Sponsors