More leadership changes at the National Hispanic Cultural Center - Albuquerque Journal

More leadership changes at the National Hispanic Cultural Center

The National Hispanic Cultural Center will be looking for a new executive director. (Marla Brose/Journal)

Leadership at the National Hispanic Cultural Center continues to undergo change.

On Thursday, NHCC Board of Directors President Matt Martinez was removed from his role by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The call came at noon — less than two hours before a regular board meeting was supposed to start.

NHCC Board of Directors Vice President Bill Miera filled in for Martinez during the meeting.

Maddy Hayden, a Lujan Grisham spokeswoman, confirmed that Martinez was removed but didn’t give a reason. Martinez was named to the board by Lujan Grisham in 2019.

Board members are appointed for their terms — varying by year — by the governor, who also holds the decision in retaining each board member.

During Thursday’s meeting, Miera brought up a letter that he, Martinez and Holly Barnet-Sanchez wrote to Debra Garcia y Griego, Department of Cultural Affairs Cabinet Secretary, on Jan. 25.

The letter was written to show support for former NHCC director Margie Huerta, who was relieved of her duties on Jan. 25 and was put on leave before the December meeting pending a personnel investigation.

Miera told the board of directors that he, Martinez and Barnet-Sanchez wanted to get answers from the Department of Cultural Affairs.

“It is now over 7 weeks since we were given a minimal amount of information regarding the Executive Director being placed on leave pending an investigation,” the letter stated. “We have since been given no information regarding the process nor the status of the investigation. It does not seem plausible that an investigation would take this long.”

As Miera let the board members know of this letter, many board members were upset that a letter was written without the entire board’s knowledge.

In the letter, the trio expressed concern about undergoing another search for an NHCC director.

“After several years of the Center having no leadership, it fell deeply into an organization that was a mere shadow of its former self and far from its potential,” the letter stated. “Employee morale was down, and some employees fell into habits of not working. We were extremely enthused by the last year of a new energy and vision being brought to the center under Dr. Huerta’s leadership.”

Miera attempted to read the letter during public comment, but was advised by the Governor’s counsel to put it on the agenda for the next meeting.

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