Arsenio Romero, an alumnus of the Chiefs for Change Future Chiefs leadership development program, was recently selected to serve as secretary of the New Mexico Public Education Department. A veteran education leader, Romero was previously superintendent of Los Lunas Schools, south of Albuquerque, and CEO of Deming Public Schools, on the United States-Mexico border in southwestern New Mexico. He also oversaw district curriculum as assistant superintendent for instruction and transformation for the Roswell Independent School District. Since 2013, Romero has been a lead performance coach/executive coach for the state’s Public Education Department. He started his career in education as an elementary school teacher and principal for Las Cruces Public Schools. He has taught at New Mexico State University since 2014 and joined the university’s Board of Regents in 2020.
“I am from a small town here in New Mexico,” Romero said. “My mother was a teacher. I feel like I have always been in classrooms. I remember going to school with my mom, getting to know the principal, staying after school, being around campus—education has always been a part of my life. I’m in my 27th year of my career and want to continue having a positive impact on the children of this state. I care about our students, our teachers, and our other staff members—and I want to build the pipeline of great leaders for our schools. The kids in New Mexico are worth it. I will do everything I can to work with our educators, and with our governor and our legislators, to give all of our children the opportunities they deserve.”
Through his roles as a district leader, a member of the New Mexico State University Board of Regents, and as an adjunct professor at the university, Romero has worked to improve connections between K-12 and higher education. “If we are simply graduating students with a high school diploma, we have already done a disservice to them,” he said.
Romero has implemented and advocated for policies that expand access to dual enrollment courses and industry recognized certifications, so students graduate from high school having earned tuition-free college credits, valuable credentials in high-wage fields, and pathways in the job market.
“Arsenio has partnered with families and communities over many years to improve opportunities for students,” said fellow Future Chiefs alumnus Matt Montaño, who leads Bernalillo Public Schools, just north of Albuquerque. “I’ve seen the impact he has made, know how much he cares about our state and believes in our kids, and have always valued his insights as a trusted colleague in the work. I’m pleased that our governor chose Arsenio for this important post—I know he will lead New Mexico’s education system with a sense of urgency and a strong focus on those things that we can and must do to ensure children learn and graduate ready to succeed.”
Romero was a part of the fifth cohort of the Future Chiefs program, which identifies talented, diverse emerging leaders and integrates them into a community of practice. Future Chiefs receive coaching and mentorship from members of Chiefs for Change and participate in a variety of valuable learning opportunities.
He earned a Ph.D. in educational management and development and a bachelor’s in elementary education from New Mexico State University. Romero also holds a master’s in educational administration and leadership from the University of New Mexico.
About Chiefs for Change
Chiefs for Change is a bipartisan network of diverse school superintendents and state education leaders. The network supports members and provides technical assistance; advocates for the adoption of effective policies and practices; and develops the next generation of bold, student-focused superintendents.