Alumna Felicia Ortiz adresses NMHU’s 2019 grads

Photo of keynote speaker Felicia Ortiz
Highlands alumna and successful businesswoman Felicia Ortiz addresses the New Mexico Highlands University class of 2019 May 11 in the university’s John A. Wilson Complex. Photo: Sean Weaver/Highlands University

Las Vegas, N.M. – Take advantage of opportunities to give back to your community and mentor others, Highlands alumna and successful businesswoman Felicia Ortiz told graduates at the Highlands University main campus commencement May 11.

A total of 984
students are on track to graduate in 2019 from Highlands and its centers, with
425 students earning their diplomas at the main Las Vegas campus. Of the total
graduates, 501 will earn bachelor’s degrees and 483 will earn master’s degrees.

Ortiz is the
president and CEO of PM Solutions Consulting, a project management firm she
established in 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ortiz also founded Foresee Consulting
in 2011 and then led the fast-growing company for three years as chief
operating officer.

In 2012, the
Latin Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas, Nevada, honored Ortiz as one of the top
ten Latino Power Brokers. She is the only Latino member of the Nevada State
Board of Education, an elected position she has held since 2016.

“After only six
years in Las Vegas, Nevada I was working at my dream job as the deputy director
of budget and controls on the $9-billion-dollar City Center construction
project on the Las Vegas strip, but something was missing and I just didn’t
have that sense of fulfillment,” said Ortiz, who earned her B.A. in business administration
and accounting cum laude from
Highlands in 2001 and her MBA at the Keller Graduate School of Management of
DeVry University in 2006.

Ortiz, who grew
up on a ranch in the small ranching community of Rociada, New Mexico, north of
Las Vegas, recalled lessons learned from her mother and Mary Lou Griego, a
former librarian and mentor from Robertson High School.

“They reminded
me that when we ‘make it’ we must always reach back to those coming up behind us
to help them achieve as well. Getting involved in my community was exactly what
was missing from my life,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz said she
volunteered with a number of community organizations in Las Vegas, Nevada, but
wanted to find a way to make a bigger impact.

“I inevitably
ended up focusing on education and although almost half of the students in our 321,000
Las Vegas school district looked like me, there was nobody who looked like us sitting
at the table. Three of my mentors forwarded the letter from the Nevada governor
stating that he was looking to appoint someone to the State Board of Education
to fill a term. I applied and was appointed,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz later ran
for election to the Nevada State Board of Education and won. She is also a
leader in education advocacy organizations like the Nevada State College
Advisory Board and the Roseman Medical School Community Advisory Board.

Ortiz has also
been a leader in organizations such as the Latino Leadership Council and the Latino
Leadership Network of Southern Nevada.

Ortiz was named
a Highlands distinguished young alumna in 2012. Her mother and Griego are also both
Highlands alumnae.

“Carrying on
the family tradition here at Highlands was an obvious choice and ended up being
a great choice. Not only did I get a fantastic education, I still have
relationships with many of my classmates and professors,” Ortiz said.

In 2018, Ortiz
became a member of the Highlands University Foundation board of directors.

“When I was
asked to sit on the foundation board, I gladly accepted. Now I get to give back
here at home too,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz told the
graduates never to forget or regret where they come from.

“This is what
makes you special and unique,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz
encouraged the graduates to embrace the struggles in life, saying it will make
them stronger when life throws them curve balls.