ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Central New Mexico Community College searched all over the country for its next president, but most of the finalists they’re considering have strong ties to New Mexico.
CNM’S Governing Board plans to announce Tuesday who will be the next president of the Albuquerque junior college with more than 20,000 students. They have named six finalists, though one has withdrawn from consideration, leaving five vying for the spot.
Whoever is chosen will replace Katharine Winograd, who has been the president for more than 12 years and is the longest-serving president in CNM’s 54-year history.
Board members met in closed session Wednesday and Friday and are scheduled to meet again Saturday as they hone in on a pick. Board Chair Pauline Garcia has said that all of the finalists are well-suited to lead the college. She didn’t return a call for comment on Friday.
Brad Moore, a spokesman for CNM, previously said the college spent nearly $60,000 for the Pauly Group to conduct a nationwide recruitment of candidates. Four of the five remaining candidates have ties to New Mexico, according to their résumés and short biographies on CNM’s website.
Two finalists currently work at CNM: Tracy Hartzler, the vice president for finance and operations, and Samantha Sengel, the vice president for advancement and enrollment strategy.
Two others, G.H. Javaheripour, the president of Yuba College in Marysville, California, and Bernadette Montoya, a leadership development facilitator at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona, have strong ties to the Land of Enchantment.
Javaheripour, 62, earned his doctorate in education from the University of New Mexico, and he worked at UNM-Gallup Community College from 2001 to 2005 and at Santa Fe Community College from 2005 to 2006. He has a home in Albuquerque and is married to Patsy Maestas-Javaheripour, who taught at public schools in Albuquerque and Bernalillo.
Montoya, 53, is a native New Mexican. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New Mexico State University and a doctorate in education from UNM. She worked at NMSU Grants Campus Community College from 1992 to 2001, Doña Ana Community College in Las Cruces from 2001 to 2006 and NMSU from 2001 to 2018, ultimately holding the title of vice president for student affairs and enrollment management.
The two internal candidates at CNM include a lawyer who has helped craft higher education public policy in the state and a vice president who is credited with several successful fundraising initiatives for the college.
Hartzler, 49, is the lawyer. She is a member of bar associations in New Mexico and Washington, D.C., and has been a member of the bar in Indiana. She was a special assistant attorney general for the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission before joining the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, where she worked from 2011 to 2015. On the LFC she was involved in changes to funding formulas for higher education institutions and the Lottery Scholarship Program. She has worked at CNM since 2015.
Sengel, 43, has worked at CNM since 2001, originally as the director of development, and has worked her way up through several jobs to the leader of advancement and enrollment strategy. During her time in that position, dual credit enrollment increased by 375%. She has also been a leader in fundraising for the community college. She led CNM’s $20 million by 2020 fundraising campaign, which was achieved ahead of schedule in 2019. While getting her bachelor’s degree at UNM in the late 1990s, she was a student employee for the UNM Foundation.
The only outsider of sorts, Julie Leidig is the provost of Loudoun Campus at Northern Virginia Community College, where she has worked since 2010. Though she does have experience working in the Southwest — she’s held various higher education jobs at colleges in Texas. Leidig’s résumé also has overseas work experience. She worked as an instructional administrator, faculty member and consultant in Tokyo for five years in the late 1980s, according to her résumé.
Leidig, 62, has been a finalist for president at Lord Fairfax Community College in Virginia and Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, in recent years, according to news reports.
While she holds the title of provost, Leidig is the top administrator on the Loudoun campus, which is less than 30 miles from Washington, D.C. It’s one of six campuses that when combined become one of the biggest community colleges in the country. During her tenure, the school has launched partnerships with nearby universities so students could more easily complete their bachelor’s degrees. Universities her school partnered with include George Mason University, George Washington University and Marymount University, according to CNM’s website.