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Twenty-two officials earn certified public official designations from NMSU County College

SANTA FE, N.M. - Twenty-two county officials from across New Mexico received their certified public official designations from New Mexico State University's County College in January during the New Mexico Association of Counties' annual conference in Santa Fe.

"With today's recipients, 55 New Mexico Association of County members have earned their certified public official designation," said Jon Boren, director of NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "Several more individuals are only one or two classes from joining this rank. The individuals we are recognizing today have taken the initial step toward these goals. This professional education pays off for them, for their employers, and for the public."

Among those honored during the conference's closing banquet was Judy Pressett of Eddy County, who is the first student to earn the second level of designation, certified public supervisor.

The certified public official designation recipients were Mark Willard of Chaves County; Freda Baca of Colfax County; Beni Dampier, Stephanie Hicks, Lance Pyle and Debbie Spriggs of Curry County; Betty Berry of DeBaca County; Mario Jimenez and Lorrie Munoz of Dona Ana County; Karen Robinson, Darlene Rosprim and Robin VanNatta of Eddy County; Melissa Goins and Dezirie Gomez of McKinley County; Larry Deyapp of Rio Arriba County; Glo Jean Todacheene of San Juan County; Valerie Espinoza and Richard Varela of Santa Fe County; Lillian Miller of Taos County; Tracy Sedillo of Torrance County; and Joyce Sowers of Union County.

Ensuring better government through education is the purpose of County College, which follows the guidelines of the National Certified Public Manager Consortium to develop certification programs.

The program has three levels of designations -- certified public official, certified public supervisor and certified public manager. To earn the first-level designation of certified public official, individuals must complete at least 18 three-hour classes through the County College in fields such as government, management and human resources. The certified public supervisor designation requires completing 28 classes, and the certified public manager designation requires 55 classes.

County College is also working with affiliates of the New Mexico Association of Counties to develop affiliate-specific curricula for county commissioners, county clerks, treasurers, public assessment officers and county health care officials.

County College began in 2002 as a dream of the late Sam Montoya, the executive director of the New Mexico Association of Counties, who asked New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service to develop an educational program for New Mexico's county officials and employees. Courses based on the certified public officials' model used in other states were first delivered in New Mexico in late 2004.

In 2008, the NMSU Department of Government became a regular partner in County College and introduced the nationally accredited Certified Public Manager Program. Curriculum committees were established to fully develop core programs, and some affiliate-specific educational programs were also established. The program began awarding NMSU Continuing Education Units for County College courses in 2008.

NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service convened the first meeting of the New Mexico Certified Public Manager Advisory Board on Jan. 20. The board will advise NMSU on the accreditation process for the Certified Public Manager Program with the National Certified Public Manager Consortium. The board will also advise NMSU on reaching an audience broader than county officials and employees. The board comprises representatives from state, municipal, county, and federal government.

The County College program is provided by the New Mexico Association of Counties and NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service and Department of Government.