By Cassie McClure
Published in Las Cruces Bulletin 6.24.22
Life is filled with opportunities – even when they arrive during a pandemic – especially for those willing to reach for them. At Las Cruces Utilities (LCU), professional development is encouraged for all levels of staff, including those in the administration who want to grow their skills in service to the public. LCU Senior Office Manager Alma Ruiz graduated with two certifications from the New Mexico Education Designed to Generate Excellence (NM EDGE), a program of the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service.
“After nearly ten years in public service, previously in the City of Austin and now eight years for the City of Las Cruces, I realized that more training enables me to build stronger internal and external relationships and lean into skills that allow me to build better communication for the department,” said Ruiz.
Ruiz manages the support of four programs in the LCU Office of the Director line of business: Administration, Griggs and Walnut Superfund, Management of Information Systems, and Utility Safety. She is also the point of contact for the LCU Board of Commissioners (Board) and the Capital Improvements Advisory Committee (CIAC). Ruiz and her five employees ensure that information flows smoothly between critical stakeholders in LCU and the public.
While Ruiz was uncertain how classes would go initially, especially since she started in the middle of the pandemic in September 2020, she realized she had an opportunity to go all in. She is certified as an NM Chief Procurement Officer and most recently earned the NM Certified Public Official (CPO) Certification. She continues to pursue the final two NM EDGE certifications of NM Certified Public Supervisor (CPS) and NM Certified Public Manager ®.
“I was afforded a fantastic opportunity to expand my professional network throughout New Mexico and enriched my singular goal to reach multiple goals, thanks to the support of LCU Director Delilah Walsh, who made sure that professional development was integral to my daily duties,” she said. “By enrolling in the NM EDGE program, I have understood the impact my role has on my community, our citizens, the Utilities Department, LCU Board and CIAC members, my employees, and other local government entities.”
Ruiz credits two of the classes, “Conflict Resolution and “Improving Your Writing Skills,” that were instrumental in identifying techniques she could use immediately,
“I was able to build a stronger relationship with my direct staff by differentiating between formal and informal problem solving,” she said. “And, I shared with them that writing is a matter of thought and care, especially in the workplace, even while we focus on being clear and professional.”
Ruiz said, “What stuck with me is Charles Swindoll’s quote that we covered in class - that life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it. I post it at home to remind me daily that I am in control of how I will respond to life’s challenges, including seizing opportunities to develop myself and those around me.”
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities
For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU Senior Office Manager Alma Ruiz shakes hands with Steve Kopelman, Executive Director, of the New Mexico Association of Counties at her NM EDGE graduation on Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Albuquerque, NM.