Group waves off renewal of Regional Coalition pact

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By John Severance


The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities will have to conduct another search for an executive director.

In a statement released to the Los Alamos Monitor Thursday night, DeAnza Sapien of the MVM Group announced her organization will not be renewing the contract that is up on Aug. 1.

The Coalition met in Española Friday where Sapien made the announcement.

“The MVM Group has enjoyed serving as the Executive Office of the Regional Coalition and unfortunately, we are not going to pursue a renewal of our Regional Coalition Executive Services Agreement. After serious consideration and review of our business over the past year, the partners of the MVM Group have decided that, based on our current business model, we will not pursue a renewal of the contract,” Sapien said. 

“We have sincerely enjoyed working with the Regional Coalition board of local elected officials and engaging with the various stakeholders in northern New Mexico. We believe that the work of the Regional Coalition is critical to the region’s overall environmental and economic health.”

The statement went on to talk about MVM and its accomplishments from branding the Coalition, professionalizing the Coalition’s meetings and materials, setting up the organization’s infrastructure, creating greater transparency with a variety of stakeholders, getting the website up and running, instituting governing documents, building strong regional relationships, and forging key partnerships.

“In addition, we’ve been successful in working closely with the New Mexico Congressional Delegation to create a strong platform for increasing federal clean up dollars for Northern New Mexico. The recent $19 million that LANL has received through reprogramming was a real win for the region and we are proud that the Regional Coalition was a strong advocate in getting those reprogramming funds to New Mexico.

“We also worked with the state legislature to pass two important State Memorials this past legislative session to demonstrate statewide support for New Mexico’s DOE facilities and National Laboratories. As our contract ends, we intend to honor our contractual commitment through August 1 and are available to work with the Regional Coalition Board in furthering a thoughtful and effective transition.”
Regional Coalition chair David Coss, also the Santa Fe Mayor, said, “I have enjoyed the support and work of the MVM Group in moving the Regional Coalition forward in our work to support clean up of the legacy waste from LANL.  I was sorry to learn of their decision and wish the company every success in the future.”

Last summer, the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities conducted an extensive search for an executive director.

They decided on the MVM Group, a strategic consulting firm focused on the intersection of business strategy, public policy and reputation management.

Partners Sapien, Yasine Mogharreban Armstrong and Lillian Montoya-Rael lead the firm. Sapien, a New Mexico attorney, assumed the lead role of Executive Director for the coalition.

Back in July, Sapien said, “The MVM Group is thrilled to have been selected to provide Executive Director services for the Regional Coalition,” Sapien said. “We are excited to engage with Northern New Mexico community leaders to help further the goals of the coalition to strengthen the region and create healthy and thriving LANL communities.”

The contract called for MVM to be paid $165,610 over a 12-month period. The group receives a monthly payment of $13,800.84.

In the past year, the coalition has received some heat from watchdog groups.

They claim the coalition lobbies for the lab and not just in cleanup operations.

Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch New Mexico director commented, “It’s past time for New Mexican politicians to show bold leadership that lessens dependence on nuclear weapons programs and helps to stimulate local economic growth through cleanup at LANL and the encouragement of sustainable green industries independent of the federal budget. In the interests of their own constituents this is what local counties and municipalities should be pushing for, instead of lobbying for the continued benefit of the Los Alamos Lab and county. But if the Regional Coalition is going to continue to directly lobby for the lab it should at least use sound facts and figures instead of distorting data to indulge in scare tactics.”

Tris Williams-Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group added, “They are passing themselves off as do-gooders saying they can ‘work with people in good faith.’ These misguided individuals think they should lobby for more money for LANL — which LANL will use to make even more nuclear weapons?? While our state and country are dying around us?? New Mexico should be a leader in sustainable energy, but we are a colony controlled by the military and nuclear weapons establishments.”