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Former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez Has Been Appointed Executive Director of ICLEI USA

Three-term former mayor of Albuquerque will lead nation’s largest and oldest membership organization for cities and counties committed to climate protection and sustainability

Feb 17, 2010

Martin Chavez

Washington, D.C.—Martin J. Chavez, three-term former mayor of Albuquerque, has been named Executive Director of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, the nation’s largest and most successful membership organization for local governments committed to climate protection, sustainability, and clean energy.

An Inspiring Mission Ahead

Chavez will lead the growing national movement of U.S. cities, towns, and counties – from New York and Los Angeles to Oklahoma City – that are taking action to combat climate change, save energy, create green jobs, and make their communities better places to live. He will direct ICLEI’s ongoing efforts to empower these local governments with the tools, resources, and expertise necessary to achieve their goals.


A Perfect Fit for ICLEI

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“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I could not be more pleased to welcome this experienced, committed, and tireless local government leader to assume the ICLEI Executive Director position,” said Patrick Hays, ICLEI USA President and Board Chairman, and Mayor of North Little Rock, AR. “Mayor Chavez has very a strong record in the environmental, social justice, and economic development arenas alike. His drive and experience are perfectly suited to building ICLEI’s growing membership, serving our 600+ local government members, and working with our partners in federal and state government.”

An Accomplished Mayor Who Understands ICLEI's Mission

Chavez served three terms as mayor of his native city, Albuquerque, NM (pop. 527,000). He was elected to his first term in 1993, and re-elected in 2001 and 2005, leaving office in 2009. Albuquerque has a “strong mayor” system of government in which the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive officer.

“I’m a strong mayor at heart, and I’m therefore particularly excited to assume executive responsibility for building an organization that I consider so important,” said Chavez. “ICLEI has a successful tradition of helping our cities and counties do more and do better—to create places where we can thrive for generations to come. I look forward to working with fellow local elected officials and professionals nationwide, and of course with the very dedicated ICLEI staff, to achieve measureable impacts in the years ahead.”

Chavez was hailed as one of the nation’s “greenest” mayors, and he brings to ICLEI a deep understanding of and commitment to local environmental, sustainability, and energy issues. (To learn more about his and Albuquerque’s impressive list of environmental and economic achievements, view his biography in the press kit.) Chavez has already served as a member of the ICLEI USA Board of Directors and of the worldwide ICLEI Executive Committee. He also served as a Trustee of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), chaired the Urban Water Council, and was co-chair of USCM’s Climate Change Task Force.


Taking ICLEI Even Higher

Chavez joins ICLEI during a period of unprecedented membership growth, as more local governments seek help to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, plan for unavoidable climate impacts, save energy and taxpayer dollars, create green jobs, and develop plans to improve long-term sustainability and quality of life for their communities. Chavez’s experience on the front lines of these issues in Albuquerque make him ideally suited to helping other mayors and local government staff achieve their goals.

Jeb Brugmann, ICLEI’s founding Secretary General and recently the interim Executive Director of ICLEI USA, added the following: “Mayor Chavez brings a strong sense of mission to ICLEI that will be embraced by ICLEI’s community of path breakers in our field. He assumes the position at a critical time, when ICLEI is poised to establish a full system of standards, tools, educational services, consulting and software partnerships, and regional service offices to achieve ambitious improvements in local energy and water efficiency, resilience, and livability.”

Chavez will formally join ICLEI on March 1, as the organization celebrates its 20th year as the leading organization of its kind.


More on Chavez's Mayoral Accomplishments and Public Service

During Chavez’s first term as mayor, scientists determined that Albuquerque’s aquifer, its sole source of drinking water, would run out of potable water within 25 years. In response, he established one of the nation’s most aggressive water conservation programs and set a course for Albuquerque to access non-indigenous surface water to serve the City’s water future.  Albuquerque reduced water use by one-third over 10 years while growing the number of water accounts by 33 percent. For this, Mayor Chavez accepted the World Leadership Award for Water Conservation and Utilities in 2006 from the World Leadership Forum in London. 

During his tenure, Albuquerque achieved numerous other distinctions, including the EPA Climate Protection Award (2008), United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) Climate Protection Award (2007), Siemens Sustainable Community Award 2008, and First Place, Best Cities for Jobs and a Career (Forbes Magazine, March 2007). 

Chavez’s leadership for progressive change started early. As a student at the University of New Mexico, he organized the state grape and wine boycott for the United Farm Workers. At Georgetown University Law Center, he was co-founder of La Raza National Law Students. He was a staff assistant to U.S. Senator Joseph Montoya and deputy director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Scholarship Fund for Americans of Spanish Origin in Washington, D.C.

Chavez served a brief clerkship with the New Mexico Attorney General, after which he entered private practice with an emphasis on medical malpractice and bad faith insurance litigation.  When New Mexico converted from a court to administrative system for workers compensation in 1985, Chavez was tapped to serve as the founding director of the New Mexico Workers Compensation Administration (WCA).

After starting the WCA, he returned to private practice and was elected to the New Mexico State Senate, where he chaired the Senate Rules Committee.  Among other legislation, he sponsored and passed early voting, motor voter (tying voter registration to drivers licenses), critical amendments to the Public Records Act (for which he was recognized by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government), the Workers Compensation Reform Act, and the New Mexico Forest Re-Leaf Act, a statewide tree planting initiative that has planted over one million trees across New Mexico.

After five years in the Senate, Chavez ran for and was elected Mayor of Albuquerque, where he held the most terms in Albuquerque’s 40-year history of strong mayor government.

Media contact:
Don Knapp, ICLEI USA
(510) 844-0699, Ext. 315
(510) 206-1011 (cell)


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