Barbara Damron, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN

Professor and Ridenour/Mason New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium (NMNEC) Fellow - University of New Mexico

Fellowship Year


Fellowship Placements

  • Sen Alexander (R-TN)
  • Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (Minority)

Sponsoring Institution

University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center

Dr. Barbara Damron is a tenured professor of nursing at the University of New Mexico (UNM) Health Sciences Center College of Nursing. She is also a tenured professor at the UNM Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in the Department of Family & Community Medicine. Dr. Damron serves as Senior Advisor to the Dean and has responsibility for all government work at the UNM College of Nursing, among other administrative duties. Dr. Damron also holds the UNM College of Nursing Ridenour/Mason New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium Fellowship. Dr. Damron also serves as Senior Advisor to the Director at Project ECHO®, with responsibility for government work at Project ECHO®. Additionally, as the Chair of the Faculty Senate Government Relations Committee, Dr. Damron leads all government activities for UNM’s Faculty Senate.

Before her current roles, Dr. Damron was the Chief Government Relations Officer for the University of New Mexico, including central campus, the health sciences center, and all branch campuses. As the first person to hold this position, she oversaw all federal, state, tribal, county, and city government affairs for the entire UNM system. During this time, she was the only in-house registered lobbyist. Prior to this, she served from 2015-2018 as the New Mexico Higher Education Department Cabinet Secretary, and as the State Higher Education Executive Officer, where she had oversight of the state’s 28 public institutions of higher education, 4 tribal colleges, and over 190 private and proprietary post-secondary schools. She also chaired the New Mexico Education Trust Board, New Mexico’s 529 college savings plan. She currently is a Commissioner and Vice-Chair of the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE) and serves on the Boards of Complete College America and Southwestern Adventist University. She previously worked as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/National Academy of Medicine Fellow on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions in Washington D.C., for Senator Lamar Alexander. Dr. Damron has over 40 years’ experience as an education executive, a health care executive, a college professor, an international consultant, an advanced practice nurse, and a cancer scientist.

Dr. Damron led New Mexico’s state-wide Common Course Numbering System, aligning all lower division courses amongst community colleges, comprehensive/regional universities, research universities, and tribal colleges throughout the State. As Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Damron oversaw the 34 state- and federally-funded post-secondary student financial aid programs and worked to secure funding for ELL training for teachers state-wide. Dr. Damron serves on numerous national and state education and health governing boards and has received over 30 state, national, and international awards.

Dr. Damron’s earlier research focused on cancer prevention and early detection. She was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, and the Susan B. Komen Foundation, among others. Her research has now turned to higher education where she is conducting a study to test the effectiveness of Project ECHO ® in implementing co-requisite remedial education across colleges and universities. Dr. Damron is also writing a comprehensive reference and policy book chronicling the history of higher education in the State of New Mexico, and pathways for the future.

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 in 1996. She has also received an honorary doctorate, a Doctor of Humane Letters, from Southwestern Adventist University and has received over 30 state, national, and international awards.

Dr. Damron and her husband, Dr. J.R. Damron, live in Santa Fe, and have 2 grown children and 1 dog. She enjoys hiking, cooking, reading and all things higher education.