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Gov. Lujan Grisham adds seasoned leaders to state agencies

Jul 14, 2022 | Press Releases

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Thursday the appointment of leadership at three state agencies.

Sarita Nair will assume the role of Secretary of the Department of Workforce Solutions beginning August 15.

Ricky Serna, who has been serving as Acting Secretary for the Department of Workforce Solutions and Director of the State Personnel Office, will begin as cabinet secretary for the Department of Transportation on July 18. Current Acting Secretary Justin Reese will return to his role as NMDOT Deputy Secretary.

Teresa Padilla will assume the role of Director of the State Personnel Office, where she currently serves as Deputy Director.

“These individuals are proven leaders who will take an innovative approach to continuing to build up these agencies and improve how they serve the people of New Mexico,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.

Nair most recently served as Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Albuquerque. Prior to her work with the city, she was the Chief Governmental Accountability Officer and General Counsel of the Office of the State Auditor. She holds a law degree and master’s degree in community and regional planning from the University of New Mexico.

“I am excited and humbled to take on this new role with the state to build and strengthen our state’s workforce, improving the quality of life for communities and families around the state,” Nair said. “Thank you to Gov. Lujan Grisham for this opportunity to continue to serve New Mexicans.”

Serna has served the state as acting leadership for the Department of Workforce Solutions and the State Personnel Office. He worked in public education and state government for over a dozen years and previously served as Deputy Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. Prior to joining the Lujan Grisham administration, he worked in a variety of roles in New Mexico higher education institutions. A first-generation college graduate from Española, he earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in educational leadership, both from New Mexico Highlands University.

“The Department of Transportation does such critical work in our state, whether that’s helping to clear debris off roadways during recent flash flooding or making our roads safer for vehicles and pedestrians,” Serna said. “I am looking forward to leading the agency.”

Padilla has more than 26 years of experience in the human resources field and has worked for the state since 2001. Prior to becoming the Deputy Director of the State Personnel Office in September 2021, she served as the Director of the Human Resources Bureau within the Department of Health.

“Our employees are our most valuable resource here at the State of New Mexico,” said Padilla. “I am looking forward to identifying ways to make sure our state continues to be a great place to work.”

Marcos Martinez, Employee Services Director with the Department of Workforce Solutions, will serve as acting secretary until Nair begins in August.


The Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is located on the fourth floor of the New Mexico State Capitol in Room 400.

490 Old Santa Fe Trail Room 400
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Phone: (505) 476-2200
Toll free: (833) 520-0020

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