Life after working for Pete Domenici

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By Carol A. Clark

Veronica Rodriguez spent more than a decade working for New Mexico’s beloved Sen. Pete Domenici. He retires Dec. 31 and as with the rest of his longtime staff, she had to seek new employment. Rodriguez began working at Los Alamos National Bank in October.

During an interview in her new office, Rodriguez reminisced about her years with Domenici and her life today.

“Every action, every decision he made was always motivated by what was best for New Mexico and its citizens,” she said of Domenici and his 36 years in the U.S. Senate. “He is such an amazing figure. In my mind he is one of the hardest working men in Washington.”

Rodriguez lives in Los Alamos. She spent nearly two years in the Republican senator’s Washington, D.C. office and the remainder of her time in his Santa Fe office.

“I admire the senator and Mrs. Domenici so much for all their years of public service, for all the work they’ve done, particularly regarding mental health,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a true visionary regarding science and the importance of science and the ability of science to address the numerous issues facing us today, such as national security, energy security, climate change, non-proliferation and health issues. It was truly an honor to assist him in his work for 10-and-a-half years.”

Rodriguez is now the business development officer at Los Alamos National Bank. “I’m really excited about this opportunity to join the dynamic, talented and extraordinarily dedicated group of people working here at LANB,” she said. “In deciding to come to work here, a huge motivating factor was LANB’s commitment to the community. One of the things I noticed is that the people who work here are so proud and fiercely devoted to this organization. That has been a key of the bank’s success - to be the best and do the best - that philosophy is what inspires such staff loyalty and longevity.”

Rodriguez credits the leadership of LANB Chairman and CEO Bill Enloe and President Steve Wells. “What Bill and Steve have built with LANB - it’s such a pillar of strength not just in Los Alamos, but in Northern New Mexico,” she said. “The company is growing, they’re building their third office in Santa Fe and I’ll do whatever I can to help the bank continue on its successful path.”

Many organizations talk about having a commitment to excellence, Rodriguez said, but at LANB, it’s evident in every detail.

“There’s really a philosophy of service here,” she said. “The leadership of this bank really encourages volunteer time and is visionary in its support of the small business community.”

As the bank’s business development officer, Rodriguez engages with small business owners, entrepreneurs and people active in New Mexico’s growing venture community.

“LANB has always had a high profile in that community and I’m continuing to make people aware of the many services we can offer people in the small business community,” she said. “LANB is growing and I look forward to using the knowledge I’ve accumulated about Northern New Mexico communities while working for the senator, to help the bank with its expansion.”

Rodriguez started as a staff assistant in Domenici’s Washington office. She became a legislative correspondent and assisted with such legislative initiatives as the Prime Act, which Domenici co-sponsored with Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-MA, promoting micro loans.

Rodriguez recalled participating in a congressional delegation trip to Nicaragua and Honduras following Hurricane Mitch. “It was fascinating to see those countries, especially Nicaragua that was recovering from an era of political instability, try to rebuild their economies and to see how best we could help them recover after a natural disaster,” she said.

What Rodriguez will miss most about working for Domenici, she said, is being involved “in everything” - being right in the center of anything going on in the nation. She found rewarding the ability to address issues and help people with their problems on a national level.

“Now working with an organization like LANB, I still have that ability - the area of focus is just a little bit narrower - it’s about helping the people of New Mexico with their financial needs,” she said. “It’s still about service and it’s still about helping people and being as innovative, efficient and responsive as possible in delivering our services.”

Rodriguez is a Yale University graduate. She has been married eight years and has one son.