Programs & Services

State Senate Reconfirms Veronica N. Gonzales as Cultural Affairs Cabinet Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2015

(Santa Fe, NM – February 27, 2015) --- On a 40 to 0 vote, Veronica N. Gonzales was unanimously reconfirmed today as Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) by the State Senate.  Secretary Gonzales originally joined Governor Susana Martinez’s administration as Cabinet Secretary of DCA in 2011.

DCA is tasked with being New Mexico’s cultural steward and to preserve and showcase the state’s cultural riches. With eight museums, eight historic sites, arts, archaeology, historic preservation and library divisions, the Department is one of the largest and most diverse state cultural agencies in the nation.

“It’s a great honor for me to be a part of the vast network of hardworking people who are working to preserve and enrich New Mexico’s unique and vital cultural heritage. I look forward to another four years leading and learning from the highly skilled, talented and dedicated staff at DCA,” said Secretary Gonzales in acknowledging today’s confirmation. “We have many exciting projects in the works for New Mexico’s museums, historic sites, and state library designed to engage the regular museum-goer while attracting new audiences who may not typically consider a museum as an exciting experience.”

Under the leadership of Secretary Gonzales, DCA has achieved many notable benchmarks.  Despite serious budget and staff reductions resulting from economic downturn in previous years, Secretary Gonzales was successful in helping to stabilize agency operations, and led the Department’s effort towards increased efficiency through a strategic statewide assessment and reorganization.  The Department was able to increase its base budget by $5.9 million and secured $7 million in much needed capital improvements.  Secretary Gonzales guided the Department in building a common agenda and collaborative partnerships across 15 diverse agency divisions.  She is engaged in prioritizing and dedicating funds to institutionalize an evaluation and data collection system for effectiveness and efficiency of operations, programming, and outreach.  The Department also saw an increase of audience visitation to its public sites due to increased funding earmarked by Secretary Gonzales specifically for marketing.

Most significantly, under Secretary Gonzales’s administration the Department commissioned a UNM Bureau of Business Economic Research (BBER) report quantifying the value of the art and cultural industries in New Mexico.  The results revealed that arts and culture facilities, programs and services support a $5.6 billion cultural industry annually in New Mexico, which accounts for one in ten jobs in the state amounting to $2.2 billion in salaries.  As a result of this report, released in August 2014, the Department is taking measures for a more strategic emphasis on statewide initiatives that will provide increased services and stronger support from partnerships with the business sector.

Secretary Gonzales has a 30-year background in government relations, non-profit management, and American Indian higher education.  She has served as professional staff in the United States Congress, federal departments and agencies, the White House, and as Executive Director of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, a national non-profit representing 37 tribal colleges and universities. She was selected by President George W. Bush to serve as Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education and the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities.

In New Mexico, Ms. Gonzales worked as Senior Officer and Special Assistant to the President of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, where she helped secure over $30 million in new federal and program funding to support the core operations of the college and museum and to launch the nation’s first Lifelong Learning Center for Indigenous Peoples. 

Secretary Gonzales has received many honors and awards for her advocacy on behalf of the American Indian Tribal Colleges and Universities.  She is a former Trustee of the Board of the American Indian College Fund and member of the W.K. Kellogg Native American Higher Education Initiative Advisory Committee. Recently, Secretary Gonzales was asked to serve as a member of the prestigious New Mexico chapter of the Women’s International Forum, a group that provides opportunities for women leaders in a variety of professions throughout the state to network with their peers and counterparts, and to meet and collaborate with other active female professionals on a variety of issues. 

A native of New Mexico, Secretary Gonzales is married to New Mexico State Senator John Ryan.  Together they have an adopted daughter, Theodora.

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