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Former Boy Scouts executive heads Hispano Chamber

“They have done many, many wonderful things over the years,” says Marcos Nava about the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce he now leads. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A former nonprofit national executive has become the executive director of the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce.

Marcos Nava, who joined the organization March 1, said that the chamber will refocus its efforts on helping local businesses and being involved in the community now that it has completed some personnel and organizational changes.

Nava said he came to Roswell from Southern California about 12 years ago to serve as the scout executive of the local Conquistador Council of the Boy Scouts of America, an organization he retired from in May 2018 after 31 years.

Less than a year after joining the Roswell council, he was asked to become part of the national organization, first as national director of Hispanic initiatives and then as director of community organizations for the group’s national alliances team.

Because he and his wife, Judy, believed their three children were “enamored” with and well-established in Roswell, they decided to keep their home base here, while Nava traveled to and from Texas as well as around the country for his work.

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He speaks with obvious pride about his children, Brandon, a Goddard High School senior, expected to graduate among the top 20 percent of his class this May, and Marcela and Marc, both Goddard High School valedictorians. Marcela plans to pursue medical school after graduating from the University of New Mexico, while Marc is in Bolivia on church work.

He said the new position was unexpected but intriguing.

“I was retired and enjoying Roswell on a full-time basis now when I got the call from the chamber’s current president who asked me if I would be interested in interviewing for the job,” he said. “When I interviewed, they shared their aspirations and their goals. I was able to look into the records and saw that this year in May they will (have their) 32 years’ anniversary and they have done many, many wonderful things over the years.”

He added that he has since heard from other groups that he has contacted, including the Boy Scouts, that the Hispano Chamber is well regarded.

“They all speak highly of the Hispano Chamber,” Nava said. “It has a good reputation and they are happy to see that we haven’t given up, that we are still at it.”

He and the new board president Mathew Martinez, with the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, said the chamber had a difficult year that involved some personnel and board member changes, which caused it to cancel many of its planned activities and festivals. It also moved its offices a couple of times, but is now located at 412 N. Richardson Ave. in the Villegas Insurance offices.

Martinez and Nava say the organization is looking forward to returning as a visible and active part of the community.

“I think his community engagement experience, the years of experience he has, is going to help our organization,” said Martinez. “He is a visionary, and his 30 years of executive experience with the Boy Scouts of America I think is impressive.”

Nava and Martinez agree on the goals ahead of the chamber: increase membership from a current base of about 300; involve the community through some highly visible events; strengthen partnerships with other chambers, business groups, educational institutions and community organizations; and offer more workshops and seminars with subject matter experts to help develop or retain local businesses by honing skills and increasing knowledge about such topics as business plans, budgets, networking and social media.

The three major events being planned are the Cinco de Mayo Festival and Rise over Roswell Balloon Rally to be held May 3-5 at the Russ Dekay Soccer Complex and to be co-sponsored by the Roswell Chamber of the Commerce; the Pinata Fest, the group’s signature event, scheduled for Sept. 27-28 at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds and to be held in cooperation with MainStreet Roswell and Leprino Foods, which simultaneously will hold the Chile Cheese Festival; and a new event planned for late October or early November, a Dia de los Muertes celebration.

“If you have seen the movie “Coco” you have an understanding of the importance the living people have for the people who have gone before them,” Nava said. He added that he thinks the day will be an educational and cultural event involving local schools, churches and other community groups and that it, too, will become identified with the Hispano Chamber.

“We are focusing and planning and doing the research to make sure that we do an authentic representation of the Day of the Dead,” he said.

The chamber also coordinates student recognition programs and social networking events for business people.

“I think community events will get the community engaged,” said Martinez, “but the workshops is where we will be focused on our business partners. I think it is a two-pronged approach.”

Martinez added that the current eight-member board is a “working” board, focused on helping local businesses succeed, especially those involving Hispanic populations.

The Roswell City Council approved the chamber’s business retention and development services agreement for the year at its March 14 meeting. It also agreed to provide $23,100 in funding to help the chamber grow and retain local businesses and increase the area’s tourism base.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.