About Paula Garcia
As a Chair of the Mora County Commission, Paula has dedicated herself to promoting ethics and transparency in county government. Through collaboration and teamwork, Mora County has made progress on completing public works projects, providing basic services such as ambulance and EMS, and developing policies that protect our natural resources and promote rural economic development.
For nearly two decades, Paula has served as Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association. During her time of service, communities around the state have mobilized to protect agricultural water rights based on the principle that “El Agua es Vida, Water is Life” and acequias have been an important voice in state policy. In addition to empowering communities to defend their water rights, Garcia built partnerships to create youth and farmer training programs to ensure the continuation of agriculture and land-based traditions in New Mexico.
Paula served as President of the New Mexico Association of Counties (NMAC) where one of her priorities was to protect the authority of local governments to enact local policies to protect land, water, worker rights, and community health. During her tenure with the NMAC, she worked on economic development, criminal justice, health, and natural resource policy and established a Native American Committee to strengthen communications between county and tribal governments.
Paula’s views on land, water, and community have been published and referenced in various op-ed pieces, articles, and book chapters. She has also spoken at numerous conferences at the local, state, and national level including at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Conference, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, the National Family Farm Alliance, and the National Water Resources Association.
She has served on policy making boards including the New Mexico Water Trust Board, the Utton Transboundary Resources Center Advisory Board at the UNM Law School, and the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Water. She was appointed during the Obama Administration to lead the USDA Minority Farmer Advisory Committee where she advocated for federal funding for farmers and ranchers.
Her contributions to the state and her local community have been recognized through the Governor’s Outstanding Woman of the Year Award by the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women and the Emerging Leader of the Year Award from Emerge New Mexico. At the national level, the Imagen Foundation and Dolores Huerta Foundation recognized Paula with the Latina Leader Award, an honor for which she was nominated by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Paula was raised on a ranch in Mora County where her grandparents Juan Pablo and Adelina Garcia operated a sawmill for over fifty years. Her parents Paul Jr. and Angela Garcia continued farming and ranching traditions while also having careers, her father as a lineman with the Mora San Miguel Rural Electric Cooperative and her mother as an elementary teacher specializing in bilingual education. She graduated from Mora High School and attended the University of New Mexico. She lives in Mora County where her extended family continues to operate a small-scale ranching and forestry business. Her son Joaquin is in the ninth grade at Mora High School.