UNM’s Family Development Program (FDP) has a new director for the first time in two decades.

FDP, housed in the College of Education & Human Sciences (COEHS) is welcoming Veronica Griego-Sanders as the successor for Lois Vermilya, who has retired after decades of serving New Mexico children.

The UNM alum has 30 years of education experience under her belt. In 1993, she started her career as a teacher in Grants, where she eventually worked as an elementary school principal. Starting in 2009 she taught elementary school at Rio Rancho Public Schools, and also eventually served as an elementary school assistant principal, as well as a middle school assistant principal and principal. 

She also brings a plethora of experience with community connection, when it comes to education and families. In addition to serving Rio Rancho Public Schools as Assistant Director of Parent, Community, and Staff Engagement, she has spent time with pre-school and high school students as an interim principal.

As a retired teacher and principal, I have had many opportunities to work with children and families and I have always seen a great need for early intervention as well as family and community engagement throughout New Mexico,” Griegos-Sanders said. “There are so many resources to support families in the area of early childhood and I was drawn to UNM's Family Development Program as a team that supports our communities in these efforts.

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Although she retired from the K-12 system, Griego-Sanders continued to be an education powerhouse. Before coming to UNM’s FDP, she worked for the New Mexico Public Education Department in the Student, Schools, and Family Support Bureau as well as the College and Career Readiness Bureau. She has also served as the Early College High School Coordinator for the Extending Equity into the Digital Workforce Program with REC-1. These experiences have wholly prepared her for a bright, jam-packed tenure at UNM.

“I am excited to work with the amazing team of professionals in FDP as well as with UNM COEHS. My goal is to learn all that I can about the families and communities we work with and the areas in which we can offer support and resources when it comes to Early Childhood in New Mexico,” she said.

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In addition to her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Master of Arts in Education Leadership, Griego-Sanders is working toward her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. With an emphasis on Equity and Social Justice from Loyola University Chicago, she hopes to complete that degree by Summer 2024.

“I truly believe in this quote by Jay Weatherill: ‘investing in our children's development from the earliest age is the single most important contribution we can make,’” she said.

Learn more about the work this critical program provides at the Family Development Program website.