Governor MLG’s Cabinet Appointments Complete; On To Boards and Commissions!

Governor Lujan Grisham has completed making her 30 Cabinet Secretary appointments and the Governor’s Office Executive appointments.

All started to work immediately when their appointments were announced.

Cabinet Secretaries are paid $128,000 a year, the standard rate for any state cabinet secretary.

The New Mexico Senate will now vote to approve or reject Cabinet Secretary designates.

With the Democrats in control of the Senate, it is more likely than not all of her cabinet appointments will be approved very quickly during the 2019 Legislative Session.

There appear to be no controversial appointments as plagued Lujan Grisham’s predecessor.


Following is the complete listing of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s cabinet appointments:

SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION (DFA): Olivia Padilla-Jackson was appointed the new Secretary of DFA which functions as state government’s central budget office. She is a former director of the state Board of Finance. The DFA will be responsible for overseeing the state’ s expenditures at a time of unprecedented revenue levels with a total of $1.1 billion in new money projected for the coming budget year due primarily to surging oil production levels.

SECRETARY OF THE HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT: Governor Lujan Grisham appointed Dr. David Scrase Human Services Department (HSD) Secretary. HSD is one of the state’s largest agencies with more than 2,000 employees. The Human Services Department administers the state’s Medicaid program and programs for New Mexicans with mental illness and addiction issues. Secretary designate Scrase is a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and the section chief of geriatrics at the UNM Health Sciences Center.

SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Jackie White, a captain in Albuquerque Fire Rescue will head homeland security department. Her 17-year career includes work in special operations, homeland security and fire investigations. Jackie White was previously the captain of homeland security and emergency management of the Albuquerque Fire Department, where she worked for 17 years, since 2002. Prior to that, she was the captain of fire investigations. She is a member of the Intrastate Mutual Aid System. White has managed emergency response for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and all city-sponsored special events; her experience includes fire suppression, paramedicine, instructing cadet and paramedic programs and providing oversight for the special operation division.

SECRETARY OF THE ENERGY, MINERALS AND NATURAL RESOURCES DEPARTMENT: Sarah Cottrell Propst has been appointed Secretary and will oversee the State Parks division and regulate oil and natural gas drilling in New Mexico. Sarah Cottrell Propst previously served as the Executive Director of the Interwest Energy Alliance, a non-profit trade association that represents the nation’s leading companies in the renewable energy industry, from 2012 to 2018, bringing them together with non-governmental organizations in the West (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming). She is the founder of Propst Consulting LLC, specializing in energy and environmental policy. Propst was Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department after serving as Energy and Environmental Policy Advisor to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

SECRETARY OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS: Debra Garcia y Griego, director of the city of Santa Fe’s Arts Commission, is the new cabinet secretary. Garcia y Griego is a board member of the nonprofit Americans for the Arts and she has an international reputation in the arts community. As the director of the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission, a position she held from 2012 to December of 2018, she led the city’s efforts to support arts and cultural affairs. She developed the nation’s first municipal ordinance addressing the forgery of Native American arts and crafts and led the development of Santa Fe’s first cultural plan, “Culture Connects Santa Fe,” and she was staff representative to the high-level negotiations over the Entrada between the All Pueblo Council of Governors, Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Santa Fe Fiesta Council and Caballeros de Vargas

SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT): Vincent Martinez, who served in the state House from 1993 to 1997, is the new IT Secretary. Former Representative Martinez already works in the department as managing director of cloud and communications.

SECRETARY OF HIGHER EDUCATION: Kate O’Neill, the former CEO of the University of New Mexico’s campus in Taos, has been appointed Secretary of Higher Education. is a proven leader and innovator in New Mexico higher education, previously serving as chief executive officer of the University of New Mexico at Taos for 12 years, beginning in 2006, and as special assistant to the chief executive since her retirement in 2016. In her time there, she developed a nationally accredited nursing program, and over ten years under her leadership, the campus’ budget grew by 250 percent. She began at the campus as adjunct faculty in 1994 and worked her way up, serving as an associate professor, department chair of psychology and academy head for professions and liberal arts. The UNM Taos campus was struggling in rural New Mexico until she was able to turn it around.

SECRETARY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Mike Sandoval, a 24-year state employee and a division director within the state Department of Transportation is the Secretary designate. Sandoval has overseen the Rail Runner Express commuter train, commercial-vehicle permitting, traffic safety and other programs. Michael Sandoval has spent more than 20 years at the New Mexico Department of Transportation, most recently serving as executive manager of modal divisions, a role in which he oversees 300 contracts and 12 ports of entry and major programs such as the Railrunner, commercial vehicle permitting and traffic safety. At the department, he has also served as division director of the office of safety programs, planning divisions and traffic safety division. He has also worked in other areas of state government, serving as division director of the Motor Vehicle Division from 2009-2010.

SECRETARY OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS SERVICES: Judy Griego, a brigadier general retired from the Air Force, has been appointed cabinet secretary. She is the first woman to reach the rank of brigadier general in the New Mexico National Guard and serve one tour of duty in Afghanistan. Brig. Gen. Judy Griego had a decorated military career, establishing herself as both pioneer and leader. Her most recent role, before her retirement in 2016 after a 36-year career, was as chief of staff of the New Mexico Air National Guard, where she directed, managed and supervised the development, execution and evaluation of programs and policies pertaining to the command, control and operations at the State Headquarters level.

OFFICE OF AFRICAN AMERICAN AFFAIRS: William Scott Carreathers, Director of African American Student Services at the University of New Mexico and former Associate Dean, was appointed to head the department. From 2005 to 2010, he was associate dean for diversity initiatives, linking the Division of Student Affairs and the University College Advising Center. Other roles at the University of New Mexico include senior academic advisor and university representative, helping to develop a recruitment plan and liaising with counselors and educators in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado. Carreathers has an undergraduate degree in health from Northwest Oklahoma State University and a master of education degree from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas.

SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM: Jen Schroer, a former president and chief executive of the New Mexico Hospitality Association, was appointed to serve as cabinet secretary for tourism. She worked earlier in the New Mexico Tourism Department. Ms. Schroer is returning to New Mexico in that she was the Executive Director of the Davis Chamber of Commerce located in California.

SECRETARY OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Alicia Keyes, Albuquerque’s film liaison director and a former Walt Disney Company executive has been appointed cabinet secretary. Keyes worked in the City of Albuquerque film department where she oversaw the deal to make the city home to NETFLEX’s first United States production hub. Keyes has been given major credit for suggesting to NETFELX to buy the Albuquerque Studios with NETFLEX planning to invest $1 Billion dollars in New Mexico over 10 years. She grew up partly in New Mexico and attended Albuquerque Academy. She established a workforce training program with both the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College and was responsible for all film permitting and recruiting

SECRETARY OF GENERAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT: Ken Ortiz who worked for Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, will head this department. He said his initial priorities include ensuring the state procurement code gives local businesses a fair chance to win state contracts.

SUPERINTENDENT OF REGULATION AND LICENSING: Marguerite Salazar, who has had a Cabinet-level position under outgoing Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is the new cabinet superintendent. She has had a similar role in Colorado, where she was the executive director of the Department of Regulatory Agencies.

DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS: Former New Mexico House Representative Bill McCamley of Las Cruces Democrat will head the department. McCamley is a former Doña Ana County commissioner, and he ran a nonprofit group that worked on economic development in rural areas. He sought the Democratic nomination for state auditor. Bill McCamley was a Las Cruces-area state representative from 2012 through 2018. He was chairman of the House Labor and Economic Development Committee, where he oversaw progress on critical issues like wage theft and increasing the minimum wage. He has been a statewide leader in job creation activities like workforce training, border trade and cannabis legalization.

DEPARTMENT OF AGING AND LONG-TERM SERVICES: Alice Liu McCoy, an attorney for Disability Rights New Mexico, a nonprofit advocacy group, will now be in charge of the department. McCoy sued the state recently for failing to regulate boarding homes that take in former psychiatric patients.

CHILDREN YOUTH AND FAMILIES DEPARTMENT: Brian Blalock will take over the Children, Youth and Families Department, or CYFD. Blalock has a lengthy background in youth law and will make a move to the agency from being the law and policy director at Tipping Point Community which is an anti-poverty group in the Bay Area.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Mark Shea has been named the new Secretary of the Department of Public Safety. Shea is currently the undersheriff of Valencia County and has been in law enforcement for more than four decades including a lengthy stint at the department he will now lead. For nine years, Shea worked in the Department of Public Safety’s training and recruiting division.

ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT: James Kenney is the new Secretary of the Environment Department after spending more than 21 years at the Environmental Protection Agency, most recently as senior policy advisor for oil and gas. In that role, he has worked with senior agency leadership and designed strategies to support environmentally responsible development of oil and natural gas resources while working with states, tribes, federal agencies and industries on regulatory and policy matters.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Kathy Kunkel will be the new Secretary of the Department of Health. Kunkel spent the last four years as deputy director of the DOH overseeing multiple facets of the agency. Kathy Kunkel has worked seven years across different stints at the state Department of Health, the most recent four as deputy director, overseeing the bureau of behavioral supports, regional offices, litigation management and supported employment. Kunkel developed a fair hearings bureau, and, as an attorney with a law degree from the University of New Mexico, she provided litigation support, developing legal strategy with the department and working on issues related to various settlements.

TAXATION AND REVENUE DEPARTMENT: Stephanie Schardin Clarke, a former Deputy Secretary of Finance and Administration for the state, was appointed to head this department and the agency includes the Motor Vehicle Division. Ms. Clarke also has worked for Santa Fe County and the Legislative Finance Committee.

INDIAN AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT: Lynn A. Trujillo, Native American coordinator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been selected Secretary of Indian Affairs. She has worked as general counsel at Sandia Pueblo, where she’s also a member.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION: Karen Trujillo is the new cabinet Secretary for Public Education. Trujillo has more than two decades of experience in education both in teaching and professional development. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from New Mexico State University and is currently serving as the university’s interim associate dean for research at the school’s College of Education. NOTE: Lt. Governor Howie Morales was appointed as an “acting secretary” until Trujillo was appointed.

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: Julie Jones, a former corrections secretary in Florida will oversee New Mexico’s prison system as the Secretary of the Department of Corrections.

STATE PERSONNEL OFFICE: PAM COLEMAN is the Director of the state personnel office. She started her career as a lawyer in New York City after earning her B.A. at New York University and her J.D. cum laude from New York Law School. Pam Coleman previously worked in various White House roles in the administration of President Barack Obama. Coleman was special assistant to the president for leadership development; a special assistant for energy and the environment; and served as the director of the outreach and recruitment team in the presidential personnel office. Before that, Coleman was the White House liaison for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AFFAIRS: Major General Kenneth A. Nava serves as the Adjutant General for the State of New Mexico. As the Adjutant General, he serves as senior military advisor to the Governor and is responsible for providing the State of New Mexico and the United States with a ready force of citizen Airmen and Soldiers. General Nava’s career began in 1988 as an enlisted HAWK firing section mechanic in the 7th Battalion (HAWK), 200th Air Defense Artillery, New Mexico Army National Guard. He later earned his commission as a second lieutenant through Officer Candidate School in 1992. General Nava has held various staff positions at the battalion, brigade and Joint Forces Headquarters levels.

NEW MEXICO SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: The Secretary of Agriculture is Jeff Witt. The Department of Agriculture is responsible for ensuring a safe and secure food supply and a fair marketplace, protecting natural resources and the environment, and promoting markets and trade. The Secretary of Agriculture serves on the governor’s cabinet but reports to the New Mexico State University board and university president.

STATE ENGINEER: John Romero, Acting New Mexico State Engineer who has been with the department for a number of years. The Office of the State Engineer is charged with administering the state’s water resources. The State Engineer has authority over the supervision, measurement, appropriation, and distribution of all surface and groundwater in New Mexico, including streams and rivers that cross state boundaries. The State Engineer is also Secretary of the Interstate Stream Commission.

PROBATION AND PAROLE: Former State Senator Cisco Mcsorley has been appointed to head the Division which is within the Department of Corrections. Before resigning the State Senate, Mc Sorely had the distinction of being the longest serving member in the legislature having served since 1985, first in the House and then in the Senate.

WORKERS COMPENSATION: The acting Director of the Workers Compensation Administration is Verily A. Jones who served as executive deputy director under the previous Martinez Administration. Originally from California, Jones grew up in Orem, Utah, and attended Merced College before transferring to Brigham Young University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in human development. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Washburn University, then worked in foreclosure compliance and insurance sales before moving to New Mexico in 2014. Jones worked for the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, handling all probation violations and specialty courts for the Sandoval County office, prosecuting DWI, domestic violence and property crimes cases. At Rose L. Brand and Associates, P.C., she practiced creditor’s rights law and represented financial institutions in foreclosures and evictions.

STATE ENGINEER: On February 19, 2020. Governor Lujan Grisham appointed John D’Antonio as the new State Engineer. D’Antonio previously worked as state engineer under ex-Gov. Bill Richardson from 2003 through 2011, when he stepped down.


Governor Lujan Grisham has also made the following appointments who will be working directly out of the Governor’s Office:

JOHN BINGAMAN, the son of former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who headed up her transition team, was appointed one of two Chief of Staff who will be “co equal” in authority and report directly to Governor Lujan Grisham. Bingaman is a private sector investment banker and managing principal of an investment firm and will oversee policy development, the legislative team and legal operations in the Governor’s Office.

TERESA CASADOS is a Santa Fe County administrator was also appointed Chief of Staff and will serve as chief operations officer and oversee the execution of policy and legislation, work with Cabinet secretaries and manage constituent services.

MATTHEW L. GARCIA is an Albuquerque Civil rights attorney and appointed General Counsel to the Governor.

DOMINIC GABELLO, Lujan Grisham’s gubernatorial campaign manager, was appointed as Senior Adviser for Policy, Strategy and Communications.

STEPHANIE KEAN, an urban planner who worked in Lujan Grisham’s congressional office was appointed Senior Policy Adviser for Education.

JANE WISHNER, is a founding member of the law firm Peifer, Hanson & Mullins, was appointed Executive Policy Adviser for Health and Human Services. She is also the former Director of the Southwest Women’s Law Center.

MARIANA PADILLA, who worked in Lujan Grisham’s congressional office, was appointed Director of the Children’s Cabinet.

VICTOR REYES was appointed the Governor’s Legislative Director. Reyes has worked as a senior staff member for the New Mexico State Senate Democratic caucus.

MATT RUYBAL, who handled constituent services in Lujan Grisham’s congressional office, was appointed the Governor’s Director of Constituent Relations.

DIEGO ARENCON is the executive policy advisor for labor management affairs. He was a 22-year veteran of the Albuquerque Fire Department, serving as the union president for IAFF Local 244 for a dozen years, as state president of the New Mexico Professional Firefighters Association and previously as the international District Field Representative for the IAFF.

TRIPP STELNICKI, a former Reporter for the Santa Fe New Mexican and covered city and county government, was appointed the Governor’s Director of Communications.


With the appointment of her Cabinet Secretaries, the next round of appointments will no doubt be finding private citizens willing to serve on the numerous boards and commissions.

Boards and Commissions include some very powerful positions such as the New Mexico State Fair and the Board of Regents of all the Universities.

The New Mexico Boards and Commission Division of the Department of Regulation and Licensing establishes specialized standards on education and training to ensure New Mexicans receive quality care and services from qualified professionals such as contractors and realtors.

There are more than 30 different Boards and Commissions that deal with professions and specialized trades, from accountants, barbers, realtors and chiropractors, to funeral directors.

Below is the link to apply for appointment to a Board or Commission:


In characteristic style and with a sense of purpose and urgency, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham hit the ground running with the appointment of her entire cabinet designates and executive staff within 3 months of being elected and assuming office on January 1, 2019.

Eight years ago, the Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s predecessor Republican Governor “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” had difficulty in finding qualified people primarily because she had an absolute ignorance of the many functions of state government and services provided, except for prosecuting people and she was hell-bent on dismantling or reducing the size of government.

Virtually all the appointments of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham reflect a Governor who knows and understands New Mexico state government and agencies, no doubt because she herself is a former cabinet secretary having worked for Democrat and Republican Governors, not to mention that she is a former Bernalillo County Commissioner and US Congresswoman.


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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.