Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
PORTALES—Eastern New Mexico University has hired Denton, Texas, resident as grants coordinator.
"Ihave been on the job for three weeks now, and I am enjoying and amexcited about my new position," said Laney, who brings 26 years ofexperience in grant writing and grant management to Eastern.
Theroad to Eastern for the experienced grant writer led through the townof Ponder, Texas. "At the time I moved to Ponder, I had just finished aterm as president of the Denton League of Women Voters, so when no onesigned up to run for mayor of Ponder, I did," said Laney.
Inwinning, she became the first woman mayor in this small Texas town of355, which was considered a distinction not only because she was awoman, but also because she was not a native Texan. "After I put my hatin, one group of folk placed one of there relatives on the ballot andthen another group countered with a relative of their own," said Laney."That race did bring out the vote," she added. "Ninety-five percent ofthose that could vote did, and the other 15 folk went to a rodeo.
Laneywent on to serve two terms as mayor. The former mayor took severallessons away from her time in office: "I learned that water andwaste-water are one of the most important considerations that smalltowns must address as well as there is no real buffer zone between youand citizens if your are a small- town mayor."
Shesaid that when she took office the mayor was both the acting lawenforcement and judge of the town. "I remember getting a call atmidnight from one of my constituents about someone else's chickens inhis yard," said Laney. "I got up and went over to their house where Ifound the neighbors waiting for me. I told both men that I would payfor the supplies to fix the fence that the chickens got out from underof from my own pocket. After some grumbling, they agreed and the nextweekend we were able to fix the fence and the neighbors, who werefriends just having a minor spat, and had a barbeque afterwards." Sheadded that after settling that dispute she quickly hired an on-callpolice officer, as well as a judge to come in once a month.
Asthe mayor, Laney did normal things that any person in political officegets to do. "I got to bake bread with a kindergarten class from scratchas well as sit in on many local, state and national committees," shesaid.
Laney, who admits to beinga an avid collector of flamingos, doesn't have many set up in hercurrent office in the College of Business because of her impending moveto Quay Hall. "My house is decorated in all types of flamingos, though"she noted. She added that when she was traveling with her late husbandthat they would go into antique shops just to find flamingos.
"But, when I move over to my new office, it will be decorated in movie posters," she promises.
Besidesher love of flamingos, she owns a seven-toed cat named ElliotPuddlefoot. "My cat has seven toes on each of his front paws. When shewalks it seems she has to place one paw almost around the other so thatshe can walk."
Laney looks atthe day she received her cat as a blessing of sorts. "She was born justdays before my husband was killed in a car accident. Because of that, Ithink I developed a special bond with Elliott Puddlefoot."
Laney,who is the mother of one son who lives in Houston, has also been amember of a Texas Workforce Board, an Outstanding Young Woman ofAmerica ("When I was young," she added), a member of the U.S.Department of Education's "Teen Drop-Out Task Force," advisor to theDenton County Teen Court, and founder of the Denton County LiteracyProgram.
In addition she haswritten workforce, education-based, and secondary language curriculumfor such entities as Sears, Frito Lay, SER Jobs for Progress, La Raza,Chicago's 21st Century Program, NiñosFirst, the governments of PuertoRico and Mexico, and the Texas Workforce Commission.