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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.