“During this historically short transition period, we’re crafting a leadership team to take over operations on day one, while implementing our vision for a safe, innovative and inclusive city,” Keller said. “We’re building a talented team to tackle Albuquerque’s challenges head on. I have appointed Lawrence Rael as Chief Operating Officer and Oriana Sandoval as Deputy City Attorney. Together, they will bring a powerful combination of fresh talent and perspective with deep local government experience to the job.”
Lawrence Rael will serve as the City’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). Rael brings extensive experience to city government, having served as Assistant to the CAO, and later as CAO, for three different mayors. Throughout his career, he was instrumental in key projects like the expansion of the Airport and Convention Center; development of the Balloon Fiesta Park; Explora Science Center, the Aquarium and Botanic Gardens, and the Isotopes Baseball Park; and transportation infrastructure including managing the planning of the Rail Runner Express commuter rail line. Rael also served as the President of the Green Chamber of Commerce, advocating to increase investments in New Mexico’s renewable energy sector.
Oriana Sandoval will serve as Deputy City Attorney, a new role created by Keller. She will focus on critical issues including immigrant rights protection, refugee affairs, environmental justice and civil rights. Sandoval has specialized in these issues for more than a decade, most recently serving as the Policy Director and Chief Executive Officer at the Center for Civic Policy (CCP) since 2013. A native of Albuquerque, Sandoval received a Masters in Public Policy from the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy and a Juris Doctor from UC Berkeley School of Law. She is currently an active member of the New Mexico Bar Association.
The appointments will take effect December 1, 2017 on an interim basis initially. Please see biographies and photographs for each of Keller’s appointments below.
Lawrence has dedicated his life to serving others. His journey in public service began at an early age when assisting in community development projects in his hometown. That experience led him to work for state government and in his early 20’s he became the Deputy Secretary of Transportation for the State of New Mexico under Governor Toney Anaya.
Lawrence was appointed by President Obama as the Director of the Farm Services Agency for New Mexico in 2012. The agency oversees all aspects of federal farm program delivery – issuing more than $100 million annually in commodity, conservation, disaster and credit benefits to farmers and ranchers across the state. FSA plays a vital role in the economic viability of rural New Mexico. Rael’s responsibilities included insuring the Agency made wise use of taxpayer dollars and that employees were provided the fiscal and human resources necessary to efficiently and effectively deliver programs to the state’s agricultural producers.
Throughout his career Lawrence has worked hard to build a better New Mexico. His most visible accomplishments are those New Mexico institutions he helped build during his time as CAO of Albuquerque and as Executive Director of MRCOG: expansions of the Albuquerque Airport and Convention Center; development of the International Balloon Fiesta Park; educational and family-oriented facilities including the Explora Science Center, the Albuquerque Aquarium and Botanic Gardens, and the Isotopes Baseball Park; and transportation infrastructure, including managing the planning and construction of the award-winning New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter rail line. Lawrence served as the President of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s initiatives include a “Buy Local” campaign that promotes keeping New Mexico dollars in New Mexico with small businesses across the state, as well as extensive advocacy to increase investments in New Mexico’s renewable energy sector.
Lawrence has a track record of getting things done, but he is most proud of his track record of bringing people together. As CAO of Albuquerque, Lawrence built bridges between different New Mexico constituencies to successfully protect Kirtland Air Force Base when it was threatened by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
Lawrence serves as Vice Chair of the board of the New Mexico Land Conservancy and President of the Montessori of the Rio Grande Charter School Governing Council.
About Oriana Sandoval
At the Center for Civic Policy, Oriana leads the organization’s statewide policy and civic engagement campaigns on issues including economic security, election administration, tax and budget priorities, and early childhood education.
A fully bilingual native of New Mexico, Oriana received her Bachelor of Arts in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College; a Masters in Public Policy from the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy; and a Juris Doctor from UC Berkeley School of Law. She is currently an active member of the New Mexico Bar Association.
Oriana worked with the UC Berkeley Labor Center to provide leadership development trainings to Latino immigrant grassroots organizers in California’s Central Valley. She clerked at the Center on Race Poverty and the Environment where she conducted research for litigation on climate change issues and cases involving the violation of air quality standards in California’s Central Valley. Oriana also clerked at the Oakland, CA, Centro Legal de la Raza where she provided legal services to low-income community members in the areas of housing, employment and immigration.
In 2011, Oriana served as the founding Executive Director of New Mexico Vote Matters (NMVM), a non-profit organization committed to the empowerment and participation of historically disenfranchised communities in New Mexico. NMVM assisted over 21,000 New Mexicans in registering to vote in 2012 and conducted a comprehensive Get Out The Vote campaign to over 60,000 unlikely voters in these communities to encourage participation in the political process.