Diane DenishThursday 4pm "Collaboration and Transparency in Times of Chaos"

Diane Denish served as New Mexico's first woman Lt. Governor from 2002-2010. Her goal was not just to be elected but to translate her experience in the world of small business, family, and policy into meaningful service for New Mexico. Her singular focus in office was on building what she called the "educonomy" in New Mexico. 

Simply put, this met focusing on policy issues and using the public bully pulpit to promote investments in education from 0 – 21, strong workforce development policies, and building and protecting assets for families.  Denish established bi-partisan efforts to address early childhood education, established a three-pronged effort between education professionals, the business community and policy makers to address workforce needs for today as well as the future workforce. 

Major accomplishments were establishment of 4-year old pre-K, State partnerships with national foundations for early childhood investment, establishment of financial literacy trainings and legislation for curriculum, and career path education programs for the existing workforce.

Through her own small business experience in the early 90's and  the inability to acquire a line of credit without the signature of her father or husband, it ingrained in her how difficult it is for women and entrepreneurs to get the required capital to start or stay in business.  That experience inspired her to lead the effort to establish micro-lending programs in New Mexico, allowing state funds to be partnered with banks to increase access to capital.  The establishment of this program resulted in 2000 New Mexico businesses acquiring much needed micro-loans.

And, as this effort grew, Denish understood the need to take on the predatory lending practices that plague New Mexico citizens – working to reign in predatory lenders and the stripping of wealth from communities.  Minor legislative changes were made working with a bi-partisan group and the Attorney General, but more importantly the battle continues today in the courts with a significant case soon to be heard.  Diane is known among many as New Mexico's most active and effective Lt. Governor in history. 

Throughout Diane's life she has maintained this active role in the grassroots political arena. For 12 years prior to becoming an elected official she owned and ran her own business, The Target Group, a small market research group.   In public as well as in private life, she has championed small business, leading a NM delegation to the National Small Business Conference under President Clinton, and serving on the national SBA Regulatory Fairness Board for 5 years.   While doing this, Diane took on the leadership of New Mexico Democratic Party for 4 years to stabilize finances, and continued to actively participate in the broader small business community in New Mexico. 

In addition, she served as Chair of the Board of Regents of New Mexico's premier science and technology University, New Mexico Tech, and she  chaired New Mexico First which remains as New Mexico's leading nonpartisan public policy convener. 

Diane served as a Founding Member of the Daniels Fund Board (2000-2010), having been inspired by its Founder Bill Daniels, her paternal uncle and an inspiration to her in business and philanthropy. Today, that Fund continues to have  impact in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah providing scholarships to over 1000 young people, and grants in seven areas including ethics and entrepreneurship, early childhood, education reform and homelessness.   

Diane has returned to the private sector working with Strategies 360-NM. 360 has offices in 14 western states and provides a full range of services for non-profits, for-profits, government and political entities.   She serves actively on the Board of Golden Apple NM, Planned Parenthood,  New Mexico First, as a precinct chair in her neighborhood  and continues to mentor and encourage women of all ages and ethnicities to run for public office.