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USDA Announces New Staff Assigned to Rural Partners Network

Ernie Watson
Albuquerque, N.M.
Release Date

Program designed to create a better economy in Rural New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. March 15, 2023 – Patricia Dominguez State Director for U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development in New Mexico, today announced new staff hired to directly assist rural people in accessing resources and funding to improve their communities.

These new Community Liaisons are part of the Rural Partners Network (RPN), an all-of-government program led by USDA to help local people create jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic stability.

“This is an exciting opportunity to engage in deep partnerships to help rural New Mexicans get their fair share of federal funding,” said Rural Development State Director Dominguez. “As we do this, we are sharing what we hear from rural people with program and policy leaders in Washington to help improve programs and focus investments for better results in every rural community across the nation.”

In New Mexico, three Community Liaisons plus Program Director Michael Rivera will work directly with people and organizations in assigned RPN Community Networks. They will be supported by a Statewide Community Liaison, national RPN staff, and Rural Desk Officers who help manage programs at 20 departments across the federal government.

The new Rural Partners Network staff in New Mexico are:

  • Michael Rivera, Rural Partners Network Program Director
  • Raul Hurtado, Northern New Mexico Pathways Economic Development District, Community Liaison serving Colfax, Mora, San Miguel, and Taos counties.
  • Kristi Ortiz, Southwest New Mexico Community Network, Community Liaison serving Catron, Hidalgo, Grant, and Luna counties. 
  • Patricia Villalobos Community Liaison serving Doña Ana County.

Click here for more information on these employees.

The Biden Administration developed RPN to transform the way federal agencies partner with rural places to create economic opportunity. Through the program, self-identified RPN Community Networks in selected areas are invited to opt into the program.

Each RPN Community Network receives dedicated community development support to help them navigate federal and other programs, build relationships, and identify community-driven solutions. RPN Community Liaisons also help reduce barriers to federal program participation, support development of successful applications, and work to increase investments in underserved areas.

The Rural Partners Network is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between federal agencies and local leaders and residents. The program is focused on improving social and economic well-being bolstered by existing local partnerships and assets. The Rural Partners Networks first launched in April 2022 in 11 communities in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and New Mexico, as well as three Tribes in Arizona. In November 2022, communities in Alaska, Puerto Rico, Nevada, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin were added to the program and will each receive a full-time Community Liaison to help community members and leaders advance locally identified priorities and projects.

Learn more at RURAL.gov.