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Rail Runner Chief Kicks Off Speakers Series

SOCORRO, N.M. September 28, 2009 – The New Mexico Tech Management Department has announced the lineup for the third annual Verge Fund Speaker Series.

The series features New Mexico’s leaders in venture capital and technology investment firms. The Series also features distinguished corporate executives from outside New Mexico. Each of the interactive lectures are open to any and all interested.

  Lawrence Rael, executive director of the Mid Central Council of Governments, the agency responsible for management of the Rail Runner.

“We appreciate the Verge Fund’s continued interest and involvement in the Department of Management at New Mexico Tech,” department chairman Dr. Peter Anselmo said. “ Unlike conventional business-school programs, we are focused on promoting technology-based growth. Connections with leading-edge companies like Verge help our students learn about the start-up world and also help us develop their abilities to work in and grow the technology businesses, which represent the future of New Mexico’s economy.”

The series kicks off Friday, Oct. 9, with special guest Lawrence Rael, the executive director for the Mid-Region Council of Governments, which represents city, state and federal agencies. The Council also oversees operations of the Rail Runner, the passenger train launched in 2007 that links Belen and Santa Fe. Rael, who championed the Rail Runner for years before its official launch, will talk about the impact of the Rail Runner on Central New Mexico. His presentation begins at 11 a.m. in MSEC 103.

“Lawrence is a dynamic individual and a leading voice for technology in New Mexico,” said Dr. Peter Anselmo, management department chairman and organizer of the Speaker Series. “His presentation about the Rail Runner will be interesting in many regards.” 

“There is interest among Socorroans to extend the Rail Runner southward, and we hope that people from the community will be able to attend and participate in this talk,” Anselmo said. “Mr. Rael is counting on audience input and participation, and we hope that the level of interest in the Rail Runner will make for interesting give-and-take with the audience during his talk.”

Rael touts the Rail Runner as having had tremendous economic impact, as well as a significant impact on quality of life for New Mexicans.

Subsequent speakers are John Chavez of New Mexico Angles (Oct. 16); Tom Stephenson of the Verge Fund (Oct. 30); Gavin Christensen of VSpring (Nov. 6); and Belinda Padilla of Los Alamos National Lab’s transfer program (Nov. 13).

Although Tech will not host a second Technology Forum and Showcase like it did in October 2008, Anselmo is hoping to duplicate one of the Forum’s successes by bringing panelists Chavez, Stephenson and Christensen back to campus. During their visits, Anselmo hopes to have productive discussions with Tech researchers interested in commercialization of their work and in establishing or enhancing connections with the local venture-capital community.

“We have put together a great lineup of speakers,” Anselmo said. They will speak, as usual, to our freshman seminar and, like Mr Rael’s talk, all are open to the public. Our speakers know about Tech’s overall quality, and they are interested in furthering their ties to both the Institute and to interested researchers within the Tech community.”

Rael has served in the capacity of Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Albuquerque for three separate Mayoral terms from 1990 through 2001. For the city, Lawrence oversaw a number of major projects including the construction of a new professional baseball complex and the largest expansion of the Albuquerque Sunport.

Rael received his master’s in Public Administration at the University of New Mexico, with post-graduate work at Harvard University’s School of Public Policy.

He is married to the former Kim Sanchez of Raton. The Raels live in Albuquerque’s North Valley with their three children: Lawrence, Anna and Benna.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech