New leadership at the Hispanic National Cultural Center

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New CEO of OCNC, Dr. Margie Huerta. Photo by Darren Phillips

NMDCA News:

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (NMDCA) has announced the appointment of Dr. Margie Huerta as Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) and Noël Bella Merriam as Artistic Director.

These two appointments represent an exciting new model of leadership for OCNC.

With dynamic programming in the visual, literary and performing arts, history, genealogy and the Spanish language, OCNC spans approximately 20 acres. It has over 140,000 square feet of space, which includes three theaters, an art museum, a designated historic building, an education center, a library, a genealogy center, and a restaurant.

OCNC’s new artistic director, Nol Bella Merriam. Courtesy / NMDCA

Under the new leadership model, Huerta will be responsible for the direction of OCNC, including strategic direction, community outreach and engagement, major campus planning and operations, oversight of the budget and financial activities, fundraising, etc. With nearly 40 years of experience teaching Mexican-American / Chicano literature until serving as Dean of Arts, Humanities, and Cultural Affairs at Austin Community College, Huerta has direct administrative experience and l personal commitment to lead the NHCC.

She served on the NHCC Board of Directors for 10 years, as Austin Arts Commissioner, as President of the Las Cruces Hispano Chamber of Commerce, as President of the Association of Community Colleges of New Mexico and as a member of the White House Initiative on Hispanic Education. Excellency. She will take up her new duties on November 5.

“The advancement of Hispanic culture, arts and humanities is integral to my career, and I have a deeply rooted passion for its promotion and preservation,” said Huerta. “I am honored to have been chosen as the new CEO and look forward to working with the staff, board and foundation to propel OCNC to its rightful place nationally.

As Artistic Director, Merriam will work directly for Huerta, guiding OCNC’s arts and education programming with a focus on diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion. His duties will include developing a comprehensive arts and education strategy and managing program directors for the visual and performing arts, history and literary arts, and education.

Merriam is from the San Antonio Museum of Art where she is AT&T Director of Education, Diversity and Inclusion. She has spent the past 28 years working in the arts with an emphasis on learning the arts. She was the 2021 Arts Educator of the Year for the National Art Education Association for Western Region Museum Education, completed a two-year term on the National Arts Education Association’s Commission for equity, diversity and inclusion, and is currently a member of the Education Advisory Board for the Smithsonian Center Latino. She will take up her new duties on January 6.

“As a second generation Nicaraguan American, I am an advocate for advancing a broader understanding of the rich diversity and many contributions of Hispanics before and throughout the history of the United States,” Merriam said. “I am delighted to use my unique combination of experience, skills and education in furthering OCNC’s mission and commitment to the community.

The OCNC Board of Directors conducted an executive search to find candidates for the position of CEO. After extensive public research, the board identified Huerta and Merriam as finalists for the position. Working closely with the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Cabinet Secretary Garcia Griego identified the need for a leadership model that better meets the unique needs of OCNCs.

“After celebrating his 20e anniversary in 2020, OCNC is poised to take national and international significance in the preservation, promotion and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts and humanities, ”said OCNC President Matthew Martinez. “I am confident that Dr. Huerta has the vision and commitment to lead OCNC towards this goal, complemented by Ms. Merriam’s knowledge and experience in arts programming and arts education.

About the Hispanic National Cultural Center

The Hispanic National Cultural Center is dedicated to the preservation, promotion and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts and humanities. The OCNC presents mission-related events throughout the year, some produced by its history, literature, performing and visual arts programs, and others in partnership with external organizations. Events take place on its 20-acre campus, which includes a plaza, art museum, designated historic building, library, and genealogy center. OCNC is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and is further supported by the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation.

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