Las Vegas, N.M. The New Mexico State Senate confirmed William E. García’s new appointment to the Highlands University Board of Regents March 13 and also confirmed Regent Leveo Sanchez’ reappointment to the board. Their terms extend through Dec. 31, 2024.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham nominated García and Sánchez for the Highlands Board of Regents.
“Mr. Bill García brings strong experience in the New Mexico business sector, including public affairs expertise, to the board,” said Highlands President Sam Minner. “I expect him to provide valuable insight in his new position on the Board of Regents.
García said his personal experience as a Highlands alumnus in business administration motivated him to pursue being a regent.
“Like so many, I was the first in my family to graduate from college and Highlands was the perfect match for me,” said the Gallup, New Mexico, native. “Highlands nurtured my development and encouraged my interests. As a regent, I want to help ensure that students like myself, especially first-generation college students, are supported by the same culture I was.”
García is the former cabinet secretary of economic development for the state of New Mexico and has had a distinguished career in business, taking an active leadership role with numerous New Mexico businesses and civic organizations. From 1967 to 1990, he was the director of public affairs for US West Telecom in Albuquerque. He was the New Mexico public affairs manager for Intel in Rio Rancho from 1995 until his retirement in 2002. García served on the board of directors of the Bank of Albuquerque from 2000-2011 and was a member and chairman of the Albuquerque Economic Forum from 1996-2002.
“As cabinet secretary of economic development from 1991 to 1994, a major highlight was expanding the Intel manufacturing facility in Rio Rancho in 1993. In addition to the expansion of the facility by more than 3,000 employees, the company agreed to hire 60 percent of its workforce from New Mexico,” García said.
He led New Mexico First, a public policy organization, as a board member and chairman from 2000-2009. In 2016, he and his wife, Aileen, both received the Governor’s New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Award. He currently serves on the United Way of Santa Fe County board of directors and executive committee.
“What attracted me to the United Way of Santa Fe is its focus on early childhood education as a means of addressing poverty and improving academic outcomes,” said García, a Santa Fe resident.
He said that it’s important for Highlands University to collaborate with the City of Las Vegas, San Miguel County, legislators and the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce officials to address economic and overall community development.
“I’m a big believer in collaborative problem solving,” García said.
He said he thinks one of the most important responsibilities of a Board of Regents is to work strategically to provide a map of where the university is and where it wants to go.
“For example, while we want to emphasize traditional onsite collegiate experience at Highlands, we must attract more online students as well. We need to examine our academic offerings and build our student base,” García said.
After graduating from Highlands in 1966, García earned his MBA from Arizona State University. He served in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant from 1969 to 1971 in Oklahoma and Georgia.
García was named a Highlands University distinguished alumnus in 1986 and has a long history of serving the university. He has served on the Highlands Foundation board of directors since 1986, including leading as board president. García was also a founding member of the Highlands Alumni Association in the early 1980s.
“Aileen, my wife of 54 years, is also a Highlands University distinguished alumna and is a Las Vegas native. We have worked together to promote this university that we both love,” García said.
Sánchez, who was first appointed to the Highlands Board of Regents in 2008, serves as the chairman of the board. “Leveo Sánchez brings exceptional experience and leadership to his third term on the Board of Regents. His knowledge of Highlands and love for the university and its mission are legendary. It’s an honor to serve Regent Sánchez in another term on the Board of Regents,” Minner said.
A Highlands alumnus in economics, Sánchez brings decades of domestic and international business experience to his role as regent. In 1969, Sánchez founded and was chairman of Development Associates, an international consulting firm specializing in economic development. Under Sánchez’ leadership, the firm became one of the largest minority-owned and operated consulting firms in the country, with offices in eight U.S. cities and work in more than 100 countries. He sold the firm in 2005.
“I’m excited to be appointed again to the Board of Regents because it allows me to continue to be very active in helping move the university forward,” Sánchez said. “We’ve accomplished a great deal but have many more goals to reach, particularly in the areas of recruitment, retention, developing new programs, and energizing our statewide centers.”
Sánchez earned a master’s degree in foreign affairs and Latin American studies from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Highlights of his public service experience include his posts as deputy director of the Peace Corps, Latin American Region, and as director of the U.S. Office of Institutional Development, Latin American Bureau of the Agency for International Development (AID).
Sánchez has served in numerous leadership positions, including as a national board member for the Smithsonian Institution, board chairman of the Latino Economic Develop Corporation and president of the Highlands University Foundation.
Sánchez is a generous longtime donor to Highlands University, gifting approximately $1.6 million that was used for projects ranging from funding student scholarships to helping replace the university’s football stadium turf.