Julie Morgas Baca has a vision for the National Hispanic Cultural Center
"I came in to establish a healthy and positive working relationship with the center," she says. "I also came into this position to learn about the programs that the center offers."
Morgas Baca has officially been the CEO/president of the NHCC Foundation since Jan. 18, though she had the position in the interim since Nov. 1, when outgoing CEO/ President Clara Apodaca retired.
During her time at the helm of the foundation, Morgas Baca has moved forward from the cloud of bad press that marred the organization.
In 2011, the state demanded that the foundation repay nearly $147,000 in spending related to the NHCC fresco project in what it said was "a textbook example of how public funds should never be spent." The audit also reported missing purchase records, improper state funding and a lack of government oversight.
"Knowing where we were at, I made the move to be as transparent as I could be," she says. "I believe that transparency builds trust and confidence and that's what I had to build with the board and the community."
Morgas Baca says the NHCC Foundation's mission is to support the programs of the center. It will continue to raise funds through events such as Maravilla and its Legend's Ball. This year's Maravilla will take place on Sept. 7 and is called "Una Noche en Espana/A Night in Spain."
The foundation also is planning the "Trailblazers en el Camino," which will celebrating Justice Dan Sosa Jr. at 6 p.m. on May 31 at the NHCC. It's a new fundraiser and Morgas Baca is proud to provide something different.
"The truth is, Clara set the bar high with these events," she says. "I'm trying to keep up the standard of providing a great event for the community and something our donors will be proud of. We're focusing on quality not quantity and we have the best and most dedicated volunteers."
And Morgas Baca is working toward getting the community involved. Since she took over fulltime, she has added new board members and has the 22-member board at capacity.
"My mission is that I want you to be part of the success story," she says. "The community is part of the center and helps keep it thriving."
The changes also can be seen with members of the NHCC Board of Directors. Board President Christopher Saucedo says the relationship between the two entities has been improving for some time.
"Julie is very respectful and attentive to the board and their concerns," he says. "At the same time, she makes sure and understands the needs of the center as a whole and that's not easy to do."
Saucedo says the goal is to work as a team because the goal is the same -- to benefit the center.
"The center has a more active role in the fundraising activities and the program directors will be helping promote their programs," he says. "The directors are the most knowledgeable and they are the most passionate."
Saucedo says the NHCC board and NHCC Foundation are putting together a new and updated general operating agreement, which will allow the center to accept the funds from the foundation.
"We've been in active discussions for at least a month and we are near complete," he says. "We have exchanged drafts and I'm confident something will be in place soon."
Saucedo says as the relationship between the two entities continues to grow, the center will go to the foundation to seek funding for the programming.
Honoring a 'trailblazer'
The NHCC Foundation's "Trailblazers en el Camino" will honor Dan Sosa Jr. from 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 31 at the Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 Fourth SW. Tickets are $100 general and $50 for students and available at www. nhccfoundation.org or 766-9858. The master of ceremonies will be Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez with a keynote speech by Justice Edward L. Chavez.
Sosa Jr. was appointed by Gov. Jerry Apodaca to serve on the Supreme Court in 1975. This was after earning his bachelor's degree from New Mexico State University in 1947 and then earning a law degree from the University of New Mexico in 1951, which was the law school's second graduating class. He remains one of the longest-serving justices and chief justices in the history of New Mexico courts, serving on the bench from 1975 until his retirement in 1991. He's been called the "champion of the working people."
Sosa Jr. and his wife, Rita Ortiz Sosa, are both native New Mexicans and have seven children.
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