The Board of Directors of the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area (NRGNHA) has hired Thomas “Tomás” Romero as its new Executive Director. Romero has served as Associate Vice President for the Santa Fe Community College, in several Deputy Secretary positions in NM State government, and as managing director of El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe.

Board President Katherine Mortimer said, “The NRGNHA Board of Directors looks forward to Tomás’ leadership in finalizing their Management Plan and in embarking on the implementation of the plan through expansion of the ongoing grant program that the Heritage Area manages, through development of outreach and educational interpretive programs, and through the formation of partnerships with organizations with similar missions and visions.”

The NRGNHA was designated by Congress in 2006 as an area where natural, cultural, historic, and scenic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape. The area consists of the New Mexico counties of Río Arriba, Santa Fe and Taos. It encompasses more than 10,000 square miles and a population of more than 219,000, nearly 55 percent of whom are Hispanic or Native American. Every epoch of New Mexico’s geologic and human history is represented there, from fossil remains hundreds of millions years old to archeological sites that demonstrate human occupation more than 5,000 years ago and communities that have been continuously inhabited since the 13th or 14th century.

In designating the NRGHA in 2006, Congress determined that the resources of northern NM could be conserved best through a network of cooperation, rather than through direct federal government oversight. Congress specifically called upon NRGNHA, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, to create and sustain partnerships as the best means for local governments, Tribal organizations, and communities to conserve and interpret the story of the region. These partnerships are created, sustained, and enhanced through the shared vision of respecting, protecting, conserving, and celebrating the landscape and the historical, social, and cultural characteristics of the Indian, Hispanic, Anglo and other communities of the area.

More information may be obtained from the organization’s website: www.riograndenha.org.