Dr. Barbara Damron is currently Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Higher Education Department and is the State Higher Education Executive Officer (SHEEO) for New Mexico, with oversight of the state’s 28 public institutions of higher education, 4 tribal colleges, and over 180 private and proprietary post-secondary schools. She chairs the New Mexico Education Trust Board, the state’s 529 college savings plan. Dr. Damron is a Commissioner of the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE), serves on the WICHE executive and policy committees, and is a Commissioner of the Education Commission of the States. She is currently treasurer of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. Prior to her work as Cabinet Secretary and as the New Mexico SHEEO, she was an Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico (UNM) College of Nursing and at the School of Medicine in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the UNM Health Science Center. Dr. Damron developed and directed the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center (UNM CCC) Office of Community Partnerships and Cancer Health Disparities, which included outreach to Native American and Hispanic populations. She also was an associate scientist at the UNM CCC.
Dr. Damron was a 2012-2014 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/National Academy of Medicine Health Policy Fellow and a 2012-2013 American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. She worked in Washington DC on the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) for Senator Lamar Alexander.
Dr. Damron has served as a hospital manager and executive for 3 hospitals in Texas. She practiced her basic and advanced clinical work in Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Santa Fe. Dr. Damron provided educational, research, and leadership consultation to hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and health organizations for 10 years through her company, Damron Oncology Consulting. She is currently serving or has served on and chaired numerous national and state boards including Complete College America, the American Cancer Society, the Oncology Nursing Foundation, and St. Vincent/Christus Hospital Board of Directors. She is the recipient of over 35 international, national, and state awards.
Dr. Damron’s research focused on cancer health disparities in Hispanic and Native American populations, communication patterns between health care professionals and patients, and attitudes of underserved populations toward bio-specimen collection. She has been published in several peer-reviewed journals including Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention and the Oncology Nursing Forum. She co-edited the country’s first cancer policy textbook Cancer and Health Policy: Advancement and Opportunities. Dr. Damron has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels and was core faculty in the development and implementation of the UNM College of Nursing’s Nursing and Health Policy doctoral program.
Dr. Damron received her BSN from Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. She received her MSN from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She completed a PhD in Educational Psychology, with a concentration in social/personality/developmental psychology applied to oncology, from the University of Texas at Austin.