FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2021
SANTA FE - The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (NMDCA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Margie Huerta as executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) and Ms. Noël Bella Merriam as its artistic director. These two appointments represent an exciting new leadership model for the NHCC.
With dynamic programming in the visual, literary, and performing arts, history, genealogy, and Spanish language, the NHCC encompasses approximately 20 acres. It has more than 140,000 square feet of space which includes three theaters, an art museum, a historic designated building, an education center, a library, a genealogy center, and a restaurant. Under the new leadership model, Dr. Huerta will be charged with leadership of the NHCC, including strategic direction, community outreach and engagement, campus master planning and operations, oversight of budget and financial activity, fundraising, and more. With nearly 40 years of experience from teaching Mexican American/Chicano Literature to having served as Dean of Arts, Humanities and Cultural Affairs at Austin Community College, Dr. Huerta has the direct administrative experience and personal commitment to lead the NHCC. She served on the NHCC board for ten years, as an Austin Arts Commissioner, as president of the Las Cruces Hispano Chamber of Commerce, as president of the New Mexico Association of Community Colleges, and as a member of the White House Initiative on Hispanic Educational Excellence. She will begin November 5.
“The advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities has been an integral part of my career, and I have a deeply rooted passion for its promotion and preservation,” states Dr. Huerta. “I am honored to be selected as the new executive director and look forward to working with the staff, board, and foundation to propel the NHCC to its rightful place nationally.”
As artistic director, Ms. Merriam will work directly for Dr. Huerta, guiding the artistic and educational programming of the NHCC with a focus on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. Her duties will include developing a comprehensive artistic and educational strategy and managing the program directors for the visual and performing arts, history and literary arts, and education. Ms. Merriam comes from the San Antonio Museum of Art where she is the AT&T Director of Education, Diversity, and Inclusion. She has spent the past 28 years working in the arts with a focus on arts learning. She was the National Art Education Association’s 2021 Western Region Museum Education Art Educator of the Year, completed a two-year term on the National Arts Education Association Commission for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and is currently an Education Advisory Committee member for the Smithsonian Latino Center. She will begin on January 6.
“As a second-generation Nicaraguan American, I am an advocate of advancing a broader understanding of the rich diversity and numerous contributions of Hispanics predating and throughout the history of the United States,” states Ms. Merriam. “I am excited to utilize my unique combination of experience, skills, and education in furtherance of NHCC’s mission and commitment to community.”
The Board of Directors of NHCC conducted an executive search to identify candidates for executive director. Following a thorough public search, the board identified Dr. Huerta and Ms. Merriam as finalists for the position. Working closely with the board president and vice president, Cabinet Secretary Garcia y Griego identified the need for a leadership model that was more responsive to the unique needs of NHCC.
“Having celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2020, NHCC is poised to take on national and international prominence in preserving, promoting, and advancing Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities,” states Matthew Martinez, president of the NHCC Board of Directors. “I am confident Dr. Huerta has the vision and commitment to lead NHCC to this goal, complemented by Ms. Merriam’s knowledge and experience in arts programming and arts education.”
About the National Hispanic Cultural Center The National Hispanic Cultural Center is dedicated to the preservation, promotion and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities. The NHCC presents mission related events throughout the year, some produced by its history, literary, performing, and visual arts programs, and others by partnering with external organizations. Events take place at its 20-plus-acre campus, which includes a plaza, an art museum, a historic designated building, a library, and a genealogy center. The NHCC is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and is further supported by the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation.