SANTA FE – Today, the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) named Heather A. Reed as the new executive director of the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces. She replaces Mark Santiago, who retired from the position in July 2020. Reed will assume the directorship on November 2, 2020.
“We are excited to have Ms. Reed as Executive Director of the Farm & Ranch Museum, which stewards a unique and important aspect of our state’s history, and vital part of our economy,” stated Debra Garcia y Griego, Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. “Her appreciation for history, agriculture, and education, as well as her considerable experience with organizational management, will enable her to advance the museum’s mission and programs.”
As executive director at Farm & Ranch, Reed will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the museum and its programs, as well as establishing a long-term strategic vision. With a staff of 25, she will oversee the development of exhibits, educational programs, and public events. Reporting to the DCA Cabinet Secretary, Reed will work with the Governor-appointed board as well as Friends of the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, coordinating policy and fundraising initiatives.
Opened in 1998, the Farm & Ranch Museum brings to life the 4,000-year history of farming and ranching in New Mexico, across a campus that spans 47 acres. The museum connects the present generation to the history of farming and ranching in New Mexico, inspiring a deeper appreciation and understanding of the state’s rich heritage. The museum accomplishes this by providing exhibitions and programs that enable its users to understand and learn from the past in ways that enrich their present lives and help them shape a better future. The Museum’s main building contains more than 24,000 square feet of exhibit space, along with an area for meetings and events, a mercantile, and a theater. Extensive outdoor exhibits include sheep, goats, and cattle barns, a greenhouse, and historic farming and ranching machinery.
“I’m absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to join the team at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum,” said Reed, who has 16 years of experience working with museums and historic sites. “I’m excited to get started and immerse myself in the New Mexico culture, engage the community, and learn what makes the museum staff passionate about what they do.”
Reed previously served as the first Director of Museum and Education at the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston. In this position, she created and implemented founding operational documents and procedures, leading the museum from opening through its first two years of exhibits, educational programs, open houses, and tours. She oversaw the development and management of goals, budgets, and efficient use of resources.
Prior to this, Reed spent seven years working at the Taylor County History Center in Buffalo Gap, Texas, where she held the positions of Executive Director, Executive Vice President, Site Manager, and Curator. At the Taylor County History Center, she used her knowledge of state academic standards to create a dozen interactive programs in multi-disciplinary topics as well as pre- and post-visit packets for educators, increasing school visitation numbers from five per year to 40 per year.
Additionally, her professional experience includes service at The Grace Museum in Abilene, Texas; Amazement Square Children’s Museum in Lynchburg, Virginia; Ohio Historical Society in Columbus; Morgan County Historical Society in Ohio; Perry County Historical Society in Ohio; Athens County Historical Society & Museum in Ohio; and Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center in Wooster, Ohio. Reed was an adjunct instructor of undergraduate courses on cultural and heritage tourism at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from The College of Wooster in Ohio and a Master of Arts degree in Public History with a focus on Museum Studies, Interpretation, and Heritage Tourism from North Carolina State University.
A native of northeastern Ohio, Reed grew up surrounded by family heirlooms and ancestor’s stories, and traveled the country on family road trips, stopping at state and national parks, campgrounds, and cultural attractions along the way. With regular visits to her grandparent’s farm during her youth, she personally raised and showed goats, a sheep, and a llama.
About the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs
Created in 1978 by the New Mexico Legislature, the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) is New Mexico’s cultural steward, charged with preserving and showcasing the state’s cultural riches. With its eight museums, seven historic sites, arts, archaeology, historic preservation, and library programs, the DCA is one of the largest and most diverse state cultural agencies in the nation. Together, the facilities, programs, and services of the Department support a $5.6 billion cultural industry in New Mexico.