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New interim Black Programs director seeks to enhance resources for NMSU students

When Kimberly York moved to Las Cruces in 2015 from Cleveland, one of the first things she did was contact the Black Programs office at New Mexico State University about opportunities to volunteer. After years of mentoring and volunteer work, York recently stepped into a new role as the interim director of Black Programs, effective July 1. York comes to NMSU with a background in clinical social work, nonprofit leadership, and youth development.

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Kimberly York has been named New Mexico State University’s interim director of Black Programs, effective July 1. York, who has served as a volunteer with Black Programs since 2015, comes to NMSU with a background in clinical social work, nonprofit leadership and youth development. (Courtesy photo)

“Volunteering with Black Programs has given me the privilege of serving as a mentor to several students, so I understand the vital role of relationships in helping to navigate the joys and challenges of the college experience,” York said. “I am eager to build upon the foundational work that has already been done in Black Programs.”

York said she is most excited about the opportunity to learn while leading.

“I view our amazing students as living textbooks,” she said. “I am grateful to start this journey with such an amazing group of Black Student Association leaders, who embody optimistic hope and innovative solutions. We will be more intentional about recognizing and celebrating the rich diverse cultures of our students.”

In appointing York to the interim role, NMSU Provost Carol Parker acknowledged that strong, compassionate leadership for Black Programs is more important than ever during the current movement for societal change.

“Ms. York has been a wonderful mentor to our Black students,” Parker said. “She is now taking on this interim role in a time when our students need strong support to navigate change on many fronts. We are grateful to have her experience, expertise and leadership at a critical time.”

York has trained teachers, administrators, organizational leaders, and staff on best practices for working with at-risk youth, as well as providing support to families and students in a variety of community and school-based settings. She is the founder and past president of SO WHO Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that offers resiliency-based support and services. York is certified in nonprofit management and has more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience, including consulting with numerous New Mexico organizations, including United Way, Ngage New Mexico, and Las Cruces Public Schools. Most recently, York served as an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at NMSU's College of Health and Social Services.

As a community advocate, York previously served as second vice president of Doña Ana County NAACP and on New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office of African American Affairs Executive Committee. She holds two master’s degrees in social administration and nonprofit organizations from Case Western Reserve University and is a doctoral candidate in psychology with an emphasis on industrial and organizational psychology at Grand Canyon University.

“As a first-generation college graduate, I am intimately familiar with the daunting task that students of color encounter developing a sense of self while simultaneously trying to establish an academic identity,” York said. “While my dual master's degrees in nonprofit organizations and social administration have equipped me with theoretical frameworks for understanding the scope of practice related to this role, in a nonprofit university, I believe it is my uniquely blended career of direct student service that affords me the latitude to transfer textbook knowledge into practical application.”

York said having lived in other countries, and as a transplant from Cleveland, she also has a strong commitment to being entrenched in the culture of people.

“I have been very intentional about understanding and engaging in my Las Cruces and NMSU community through grassroots efforts – namely volunteering,” she said.

York feels that the world as we know has changed forever, however, she said Black Programs remain unwavering in its mission of helping students reach their full potential through academic, cultural, and social supports and that our current societal challenges present an opportunity to reassess their program goals and strategies.

“My priority is to facilitate listening sessions with our students and families to better understand their current needs, followed by campus and community conversations with our constituents to strengthen and cultivate strategic alliances,” York said. “From there we will rebuild, rebrand, and re-energize our solution-focused vision in alignment with the university’s LEADS 2025 strategic plan. Concentrated efforts will be made to enhance our hybrid services along with recruitment and securing scholarships and other resources that can help our students succeed.”

York succeeds Patrick Turner, who has served as acting director of Black Programs since October 2019, and Festus Addo-Yobo, who served as director of Black Programs since 2005.