CYFD Secretary Barbara Vigil to transition to new role on Policy Advisory Council
Governor’s Chief Operating Officer, Teresa Casados, to lead bold transition of CYFD in interim
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced today that Children, Youth and Families Department Secretary (CYFD) Barbara J. Vigil will transition from heading the Children, Youth and Family Services Department to serving on the newly created Policy Advisory Council, effective May 1. As the administration launches a national search to find Secretary Vigil’s replacement, Teresa Casados, Chief Operating Officer of the Office of the Governor, will serve as interim leadership at the agency.
Vigil has served as cabinet secretary of CYFD since August 2021, bringing a steady hand to the organization and resetting vital relationships with staff, stakeholders and tribes.
“I am profoundly grateful to Barbara Vigil for her legacy of service to the children of our state, especially for being such a stabilizing force for the Children, Youth and Family Services Department. I’m looking forward to continuing to benefit from her expertise in her new role on the Policy Advisory Council,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “Chief Casados has hit the ground running and is already making significant strides to meaningfully transform CYFD.”
Under Secretary Vigil’s leadership, CYFD has spearheaded the passage of crucial legislation, including the landmark Indian Family Protection Act, as part of her efforts to strengthen the department’s work with tribal partners. The Act specifically supports children in CYFD’s care in maintaining their culture and connections to their tribe. She also championed the critical foundational work necessary to execute the commitments outlined in the Kevin S. Settlement.
“My time at CYFD has been the culmination of a career working in both the judicial and the executive branches of government, always with a particular focus on the well-being of New Mexico’s children and families,” said Secretary Vigil. “Collaborating with child welfare professionals, we built a foundation for lasting change and positive outcomes for our children and families. It’s been my honor to serve these families. I am grateful to the thousands of dedicated professionals – foster families, service providers, and CYFD staff and believe deeply in their capacity to achieve transformational change.”
The governor will conduct a national search for the next cabinet secretary, who must have experience in successfully pioneering major systemic reforms.
“I do not step into this role lightly. The stories of the children in our care keep me up at night and surface-level changes will not suffice,” Chief Casados said. “We need long-lasting, fundamental changes to this system of care that deliver vastly better outcomes for New Mexico’s children. I am committed to ramping up the rigor and driving outcomes until we identify a leader to continue our agency reform and transformation work.”
In February 2023, Gov. Lujan Grisham signed an executive order to accelerate reforms at the department. As part of that order, the governor assembled a team of executive operatives to implement the executive order. The executive order also established the Policy Advisory Council, which will meet for the first time on May 4. In addition, the administration announced this week it is actively recruiting applicants for four new leadership positions, including an executive director for the newly established Office of Innovation.