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New Mexico county officials, administrators earn designations at NM EDGE County College

ROSWELL, N.M. - Twenty county officials and employees from across New Mexico received the designation of certified public official, certified public supervisor or New Mexico Certified County Clerk from The NM EDGE's County College program during the New Mexico Association of Counties 75th Annual Conference held at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell.



County elected officials and employees from across New Mexico are participating in The NM EDGE County College professional education program, a collaboration between the New Mexico Association of Counties and New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. Individuals completing a course of study were honored during the NMAC 75th Annual Conference in Roswell. Earning New Mexico Certified County Clerk designations are, front from left, Sheryl Nichols and Adrianna Ortiz of Los Alamos County, and Rayetta Trujillo of Colfax County. Individuals completing the certified public supervisor designation are, second row from left, Robyn Holmes of Otero County, Sharon Torres of Sandoval County, Jackie Sloan of McKinley County, Sarah Merklein of Catron County, Diane Irwin of Sandoval County, Cammy Mansell of De Baca County and Coni Jo Lyman of Curry County. Individuals receiving the certified public official designation are, third row from left, Mario Gutierrez and Elaine Estrada of San Miguel County, Jaqueline Chavira of Valencia County, Carol Pipes and Connie Backoff of Curry County, and back from left, Bonnie Montoya of Los Alamos County, Jose Luis Gallegos of Rio Arriba County, James Phillips of San Miguel County and Edward Mercure of Rio Arriba County. (NMSU Photo by NM EDGE)

The NM EDGE, which stands for Education Designed to Generate Excellence in the public sector, is a program administered by New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. The NM EDGE County College was developed in collaboration with the New Mexico Association of Counties.

Encouraging better government through education is the purpose of The NM EDGE, which follows the guidelines of the National Certified Public Manager Consortium. The NM EDGE is working with public official associations and other strategic partners around the state to develop certification programs.

"Interest in our program continues to grow," said Mary DeLorenzo, program director for NM EDGE. "We have welcomed many newly elected officials as new students into the NM EDGE County College program. Clearly these individuals and their counties recognize the value of investing in the continuing education of county officials and employees, and that they will gain a return on their investment back in their county."

To earn the certified public official designation, participants must complete at least 18 required three-hour classes such as knowing your government, management, human resources. Those completing this level of education in June were Connie Backoff and Carol Pipes, both of Curry County; Bonnie Montoya of Los Alamos County; Jose Luis Gallegos and Edward Mercure, both of Rio Arriba County; Elaine Estrada, Mario Gutierrez, Fabian Montoya and James Phillips, all of San Miguel County; and Jacque Chavira of Valencia County.

To earn the certified public supervisor designation, participants must complete 28 required three-hour classes.

Among those receiving this honor in June were Sarah Merklein of Catron County, Conie Jo Lyman of Curry County, Cammy Mansell of De Baca County, Jackie Sloan of McKinley County, Robyn Holmes of Otero County, and Sharon Torres and Diane Irwin, both of Sandoval County.

Three county clerk officials completed the first customized certification for an NMAC affiliate. Rayetta Trujillo of Colfax County, and Adriana Ortiz and Sheryl Nicholas, both of Los Alamos became New Mexico Certified County Clerks.

To earn this designation, the individuals completed 28 classes and a mini-portfolio demonstrating, through written and project work, the student's application of the competencies learned by participating in the classes.

NM EDGE County College began in 2002 as a dream of the late Sam Montoya. As the executive director of the New Mexico Association of Counties, Montoya asked New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service to develop an educational program for New Mexico's county officials and employees. Courses based on the certified public manger model used in other states where first delivered in late 2004.

NM EDGE County College is working with affiliates of the New Mexico Association of Counties to develop affiliate-specific curricula. To date, specific curriculum for each of following offices has been developed: county commissioners, county clerk, treasurers, public assessment officers, county health care officials, county GIS offices and Cooperative Extension Service county personnel.

In 2008, the NMSU Department of Government became a regular partner in County College and introduced the nationally accredited Certified Public Manager program. Curriculum committees to fully develop core programs and some affiliate-specific educational programs were established. Awarding of NMSU Continuing Education Units for County College courses was also started in 2008.

NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service convened the first meeting of the New Mexico EDGE Certified Public Manager advisory board in January 2010. The board has representatives from state, municipal, county, and federal government departments and agencies.