UNM-Gallup hires new Workforce Development director

Ashlee Velasquez, seen in this April 23, 2024, photo, is the new director of Workforce Development for The University of New Mexico-Gallup.

UNM-Gallup hires new Workforce Development director

Categories: Students   Faculty   Staff   Community  

Ashlee Velasquez brings experience and vision to expand education and employment opportunities

By Richard Reyes, Friday, May 31, 2024

GALLUP, N.M. — The University of New Mexico-Gallup has hired a new director of Workforce Development who has a wealth of experience and a passionate vision for expanding educational and employment opportunities in the Gallup area.

Ashlee Velasquez officially started as the Workforce Development director at UNM-Gallup on April 15, 2024. The position has been vacant for a few years, so Velasquez has been tasked with rebuilding the program, which also includes Community Education.

"Basically, I'm starting from a clean slate, which is good because I think that will give me a lot of flexibility and the chance to be innovative,” Velasquez said. “The possibilities will be endless.”

Velasquez has spent the first month and a half on the job networking with existing and prospective partners in the community to look at ways UNM-Gallup can better address the workforce needs of the area.

She hopes to offer more employment opportunities and training for under-served and hard-to-serve populations in the community, particularly individuals in their 30s or 40s who want to go back to school but don’t know where to start.

“I would like to bridge that gap and let them know it’s not that hard,” she said. “It’s not too late to start again and start a new chapter in terms of education and getting their training.”

Velasquez formerly worked for the Navajo Nation Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program under the Department for Self Reliance. That’s where she found her passion for helping people to reach their full potential, especially those who have experienced hardships in their lives.

Currently, Workforce Development at UNM-Gallup includes a DWI education program and a commercial driver’s license program. Velasquez hopes to expand Workforce Development to include more certificate opportunities.

“I want to make it available for everyone,” she said. “Nobody will be able to feel like they’re too old or don’t feel like they can do it. I want to be able to let them know there are opportunities there and we can do that for you even if it’s outside the traditional college route.”

Velasquez worked for the Navajo Nation in various roles for more than seven years. Prior to that, she worked as a human resources generalist for Critical Nurse Staffing, LLC in Albuquerque.

Her education background includes a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in human resources and a Master of Public Administration — both from UNM in Albuquerque.

Velasquez is originally from Gallup, so working for the UNM-Gallup branch campus makes her feel like she has come full circle.

“I started off with UNM and got experience, and now I’m bringing it back to UNM where they have given me the knowledge and degree,” she said. “What mostly got me excited for this position were the opportunities I could provide in terms of networking, bringing more resources and building this program.”

Velasquez, who is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, lives in Gallup with her husband and their three daughters. Her maternal clan is the Towering House People, her paternal clan is the Meadow People, her second maternal clan is the Black Streak Wood People, and her second paternal clan is the Red Bottom People.

To learn more about the Community Education and Workforce Development programs at UNM-Gallup, Velasquez can be contacted by phone at 505-863-7634 or email at avelasquez1127@unm.edu.

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The University of New Mexico - Gallup
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