Janelle Taylor Garcia, Ph.D.
Hometown: Rio Rancho, N.M.
Role: Program Evaluator, New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee
Years of legislative service: Five
One thing she loves about her state: “I love getting to experience all four seasons, sometimes all in one day!”
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
I have always been interested in government and policy, and have volunteered for political campaigns for many years. After 18 years as an educator, I was asked to serve as lead analyst for the Senate Education Committee chair. In that capacity, I learned a great deal about the interworking of government and education and I realized that my background as a teacher and administrator could be used to help inform policy. I chose to work for the Legislative Finance Committee because I wanted to do work that leads to positive changes in our state.
What skill or talent are you most proud of?
My bilingualism is something that I am proud of and has served me in various capacities throughout my life and career. I recently led a program evaluation on our state bilingual and multicultural education programs and this topic allowed me to reflect on my own journey of learning Spanish as a second language. Speaking Spanish has opened many doors and opportunities, and introduced me to many people that I would not have otherwise been able to converse with or befriend.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
My parents, after raising two sons, always instilled in me to be self-sufficient and to take advantage of every educational opportunity. My mother always told me, “You don’t need a spouse. If you have your education and career, you can be self-supporting and independent.” Thankfully, I have my education, a successful career, and also a spouse who has always been supportive of me and has agreed with every move and career change.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by my former students. I am still in contact with many former students and I am proud of the educational, career and life choices they have made. I have always tried to be a role model and instill in others the importance of education, lifelong learning and giving back.
What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?
I’m currently re-reading “Where the Crawdads Sing.” Because I read technical reports and research so often in my position, I prefer to read fiction in my down time. I love opera and musical theater and hope to see my son in an upcoming Broadway musical!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
For its “Staff Snapshots” series, State Legislatures News is asking legislative staff about their role in the legislature. If you’d like to suggest a staffer for this series, please email Holly South at NCSL.