After serving as The University of New Mexico’s Chief Government Relations Officer for the past two years, Dr. Barbara Damron has decided to return to her faculty role full-time, leaving the Office of Government and Community Relations poised for future growth, in collaboration with UNM’s valued government partners.
Damron expressed her great appreciation for the opportunity to lead government relations work on behalf of the University and is now eager to return to her scholarly endeavors and refocus on her academic passions, given her ongoing, multiple roles as a tenured professor and doctoral dissertation mentor for many bright learners and future leaders here in New Mexico.
“Working for President Stokes these past two years in the capacity of Chief Government Relations Officer has been one of the greatest honors and privileges of my professional life,” she said. “Together, we have successfully built a university-wide, highly adaptable Office of Government & Community Relations, dutifully serving our faculty, staff and students across all campuses – HSC, main, and branches.”
After moving the Office of Government and Community Relations directly under the Office of the President in early 2019, President Garnett S. Stokes determined that a Chief Government Relations Officer would enhance strategic oversight of all government relations activities and how they intersect with campus constituents. She appointed Damron in October 2019 in anticipation of the 2020 New Mexico legislative session.
"Dr. Damron has done an exceptional job of developing very strong relationships with our Congressional Delegation and state legislators, as well as state and local leaders and officials," said Stokes. "We are grateful for her outstanding service in communicating the needs and interests of UNM and are so pleased that she will remain a member of our distinguished faculty in the UNM College of Nursing."
Before being named UNM’s Chief government relations officer in 2019, Damron had enjoyed a long professional history spanning nearly 40 years – half of which has been spent in New Mexico – including being a leader in education, a health care executive, an advanced practice nurse, a college professor, an international consultant, and a cancer scientist. She has built positive and extensive relationships within the state’s higher education community, as well as within the legislative and executive branches.
Damron’s plans extend beyond the classroom. “I am committed to publishing a reference work regarding the history and future of higher education in New Mexico,” she said. “Perhaps most importantly, I am excited to return to family life with my husband who has been extraordinarily supportive of my relentless pursuit of broad policy and community goals on behalf of UNM, but who is also ready for me to return to relative normalcy.”
Damron is currently a professor at the UNM College of Nursing. She also holds a faculty appointment at the UNM School of Medicine’s Department of Family & Community Medicine. Prior to that, she served as New Mexico’s Cabinet Secretary of Higher Education for four years.
"The CON has been honored to have Dr. Damron serve UNM and New Mexico in the crucial role of the Chief Governmental Relations Officer," said UNM College of Nursing Dean Christine Kasper. "Dr. Damron has led the UNM Government Relations Office to a high level of effective professional operations. We are very excited to have Dr. Damron return to her role as a full-time senior Professor in the CON, where both the faculty and students will have the full benefit of her extensive expertise and scholarship.
Damron will return to her faculty role Nov. 1. Stokes will consider options for filling the position in the coming weeks.