Ellen Ullman
Communications Manager
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SETDA Honors Dr. Arsenio Romero, New Mexico Public Education Secretary, and
Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, former New Mexico Public Education Secretary, with the 2023
State Policymaker of the Year Award

November 9, 2023 (Washington, D.C.) — SETDA, the principal membership association of U.S. state and territorial educational technology and digital learning leaders, announced Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, New Mexico’s former Public Education Secretary, and Dr. Arsenio Romero, New Mexico’s current Public Education Secretary, as the 2023 co-recipients of the SETDA State Policymaker of the Year Award. Dr. Stenhaus accepted the award in person at the 2023 SETDA Leadership Summit last week; Dr. Romero shared his acceptance via video.

The Policymaker of the Year Award, which is rooted in SETDA’s long tradition of seeking out exemplary leadership, recognizes elected and appointed state and federal policymakers who have championed access to and effective use of technology in education. It honors policymakers who actively support digital learning opportunities for all students and engages with the broader education and policymaking communities to advocate for the role of technology in advancing K-12 education.

This year’s award honors Dr. Steinhaus and Dr. Romero for creating an environment in which technology is an integral part of New Mexico’s public education system. 

In 1994, the New Mexico legislature passed the Technology in Education Act to provide support to schools for technology to support education. Dr. Steinhaus oversaw the implementation of the new legislation, setting up the data warehouse system that still collects data from districts. From 1999-2008, he worked as both director of student and education programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory and deputy cabinet secretary of the state Public Education Department. As director of community programs at the lab from 2008-2016, he worked with northern New Mexico school districts to advance the quality of classroom teaching and improve student achievement in math and science. From 2016-2021, he was superintendent of Los Alamos Public Schools, leading the high-performing district to some of the state’s best graduation rates.

In 2022, Dr. Steinhaus began updating the Technology in Education Act. He retired before he could see the updated legislation, now the Digital Equity in Education Act, passed and signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on July 1, 2023.

Dr. Romero came to the Department after serving as superintendent of Los Lunas Public Schools. He completed the work started by Dr. Steinhaus to get the Digital Equity in Education Act passed and signed into law. 

“It is an honor to receive this award from SETDA. We all recognize that making sure our students have access to high-quality opportunities for digital learning and growth will unlock amazing opportunities for students in New Mexico. We look forward to the work we will continue to do together,” said Dr. Romero.

“This award is all about teamwork. I extend thanks and appreciation to all engaged in digital equity,” said former Secretary Steinhaus.

“The Digital Equity in Education Act stands as a pivotal piece of legislation,” said Julia Fallon, Executive Director of SETDA. “This act underscores the fundamental need for digital equity in education, ensuring that all school-aged children have access to broadband internet and devices. By making digital equity a priority, the state is not only embracing the technological evolution in education but also addressing the crucial necessity for inclusive learning environments where every student has the tools needed to thrive in the digital age.”


Founded in 2001, SETDA is the principal association representing U.S. state and territorial educational technology and digital learning leaders. Through a broad array of programs and advocacy, SETDA builds member capacity and engages partners to empower the education community in leveraging technology for learning, teaching, and school operations.

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