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Hispanic cultural center director quits after 11 months

The exterior of the Roy E. Disney Preforming Arts Center at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The search for a new executive director at the National Hispanic Cultural Center is underway.

Josefa Gonzalez Mariscal resigned, effective Wednesday, after 11 months as executive director.

According to the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, Gonzalez Mariscal said the pandemic has underscored the value of family, and she plans to move near her daughter to spend more time with her.

Cultural Affairs Secretary Debra Garcia y Griego said Deputy Secretary Nick Schiavo will serve as acting director, ensuring that operations continue as normal.

NHCC Executive Director Josefa Gonzalez Mariscal. (Courtesy of NM Department of Cultural Affairs)

Gonzalez Mariscal started as executive director May 3. She was hired after a nearly two-year search by the NHCC to replace former Executive Director Rebecca A. Avitia, who had a nearly five-year tenure.

The process to hire Gonzalez Mariscal was scrutinized. At a June 19, 2019, NHCC board of directors meeting, three candidates were announced as finalists for the position, after six months in the selection process.

But the DCA retooled the description for the position and reopened the search. At the time, the three finalists were all New Mexico residents.

Before arriving at the NHCC, Gonzalez Mariscal spent 20 years as a fine arts appraiser and consultant.

She came from Houston, where she was a cultural attaché for the Consulate General of Mexico in that city, promoting Mexican culture, organizing art exhibitions, concerts, lecture series, book fairs, festivals and parades. She also was a regular contributor to a consular weekly segment on the local Univision television station.

The NHCC board will again lead the search for a new director.

“We do need stability in that position,” said Edward Lujan, who has been chairman of the NHCC and NHCC Foundation boards for many years and was a major player in the establishment of the cultural center.

“When we get an interim leader, it doesn’t help,” he said. “I imagine the board will look at it quickly and make a plan.”

Lujan has seen nearly a dozen executive directors rotate through the NHCC during its 20 years of existence.

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