Message from Incoming President - Gricel Chavez

Posted By: Rob Grinage for NMLTA Announcements,
Message from Incoming NMLTA President - Gricel Chavez:

Many thanks to all who attended the annual convention, May 4th & 5th. We had a wonderful turn-out in Ruidoso with 136 registered members and guests. Kudos to the committee for a job well done!


Congratulations to the following award winners:

Omer F. Tucker Award (Citizen of the Year)

·        Cass Burton, Fidelity National Title

P.C. Templeton Lifetime Achievement Award

·        Bill Wooten, Fidelity National Title of New Mexico

Professional Excellence in Title:

·        Kelly Wilson, Casa Y Tierra Title

Professional Excellence in Escrow:

·        Kelly Lynn-Newman Miller, Fidelity National Title of New Mexico

·        Jessica Casson, Land Titles of Ruidoso dba The Title Company

·        Stephanie Maestas, Chama Title

For those who were not in attendance, below is a recap of my incoming message to the membership:

“It’s been a pleasure visiting with you these past few days and certainly an honor to serve in this position. There are still folks I haven’t met and looking forward to doing so. 

For those who don’t know me, again, my name is Gricel Chavez. My full name is Gricel Melina Regalado Chavez. When you’re of Hispanic descent they tend to give you a lot of names :)

I was born in Jimenez, Chihuahua, Mexico in 1983. My mother, a 17-year-old single woman, knew there was no future for us in that country, so we immigrated to Las Cruces 4 years later with no money and no ability to speak English. The struggle didn’t end there, but I’m grateful for the lessons learned as a result. For many years, we lived in other people’s homes while my mother served as a live-in nanny, housekeeper, or caregiver.

Eventually, our lives stabilized. I started school. My mother got married and maintained work at a daycare facility in order to be close to me. Through those and many other childhood experiences, I learned the value of hard work and that if we try hard enough, we can live life by our own design.

My husband, Justin, is here this evening, along with our two boys, Braden (10) and Luke (5) - yes, I am an avid Star Wars fan as the little one was literally named after Luke Skywalker. We spend most of our free time on the soccer field or as we like to say “on the pitch” in support of Braden’s dreams. He plays competitively with the El Paso Locomotive youth soccer club and we are quite proud of the commitment and pursuit of what he loves. In January, we began homeschooling the boys and are very appreciative of this opportunity to do so.

Back home, I also serve as a Board Director for Citizens Bank of Las Cruces.

My title story is that I ended up in the industry sort of by accident (maybe even a little by force). Nearly 12 years ago, the company’s previous owner recruited me to replace a longtime agent who was retiring. At the time, I was working for a local non-profit. Initially, I said no as I didn’t know anything about the title industry. He offered me a lucrative 12-month training schedule and said that if it didn’t work out, no hard feelings. So I said, what the heck, let’s give it a shot. 2 months after I started, he threw me in the trenches and it didn’t take long before I was hooked and have never looked back. So much for 12 months!

In 2017, I took ownership of the company - Southwestern Abstract & Title in Dona Ana County with offices in Las Cruces. Established in 1906, SWAT, as we often refer to ourselves, is Dona Ana County’s original title company. In existence even before New Mexico incorporated as a state. Yesterday (May 4th) was our birthday and we are now 117 years old. Although ownership has transferred hands many times, the company has always remained local.

Now that you know about me, I’m excited to learn about you.

Yesterday’s roundtable was my opportunity as incoming President to gauge your concerns and priorities, to provide direction, and to hear what’s on your mind. Although, I will continue the important work of our previous leadership, it is my intent to focus on providing value to the membership with initiatives such as regional meetings, member highlights, and renewed collaboration with industry partners.

Title people are resilient. We are an industry of leaders, doers, creators, and trendsetters. Together, we can combine our life experiences and get to work for this industry that gives us so much. In the words of a favorite artist - “Whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be there”. We’ll be there.”

Gricel R. Chavez, 2023/2024 NMLTA President

Southwestern Abstract & Title Co., Las Cruces, NM

Kelly Wilson of Casa Y Tierra Abstract and Title Company, for Professional Excellence in Title

Stephanie Maestas of Chama Title ~ Professional Excellence in Escrow

Cass Burton of Fidelity National Title Insurance Company - Omer Tucker Citizen of the Year

William "Bill" Wooten of Fedility National Title of New Mexico - P.C. Templeton Lifetime Achievement


You can view our gallery of photos HERE.