NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department (ALTSD) on Tuesday announced the appointment of Melissa Sanchez as the new Director of the Office of Indian Elder Affairs (OIEA).

“Having had the privilege of growing up within and working closely with Native American and Indigenous communities, universally there is the profound understanding of the unique cultural nuances, traditions, and specific needs that are inherent to tribal communities in New Mexico,” said Sanchez. “Keeping in mind, past, current, and future generations, I’m appreciative of the opportunity to contribute to the collective work that has been accomplished thus far by OIEA, Tribal leaders, Indian Affairs Department and Native American elder advocacy organizations to meet, and exceed, the expectations of our elders.”

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Sanchez previously served as the Tribal Tourism Development Director at the New Mexico Tourism Department and was also the former Director of the Indian Ceremonial Office.

Sanchez holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from New Mexico State University and over 20 years of experience in diverse community development and initiatives. She is also a co-owner and producer at Emergence Productions, a company that specializes in Native American and Indigenous performing arts, promotion and industry research and an alumna of the Americans for Indian Opportunity Ambassador program.

“I am honored to continue working with Melissa here at ALTSD,” said Cabinet Secretary Designate Jen Paul Schroer. “Her extensive work with Native American communities has equipped her with a deep understanding of the unique culture, traditions, and specific healthcare needs of Indigenous elders. I am confident that under Melissa’s leadership and experience, the Office of Indian Elder Affairs will flourish and be able to provide the best possible services to our Native American elders.” 

Sanchez takes over the role from previous OIEA Director Rebecca Baca, who stepped down from the position this past summer.