Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval holding a microphone

New Executive Director Spotlight: Dr. Kim Lanoy-Sandoval

New Executive Director Spotlight: Dr. Kim Lanoy-Sandoval

Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval holding a microphone

With over 20 years of experience in education, Dr. Kim Lanoy-Sandoval brings a clear vision for transforming education for youth in New Mexico into her new role as Executive Director of Future Focused Education. Her passion lies in creating educational landscapes that validate students’ identities, with a focus on learning that is not solely dependent on standardized test scores. 

We are looking forward to her leadership and seeing her unique impact locally here in New Mexico and beyond. Learn more about Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval, and how her family and life experiences have helped shape her success in education.

Why She's Fighting

Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval’s motivation starts with her relationship with her grandmother, who survived a Native American boarding school.

The boarding schools stripped her grandmother of what she knew, disconnecting her from her family and culture. She was taught that she had to leave her community in order to be something or to have value. 

New Mexico was home to at least 43 Native American boarding schools, many of which were in full operation until 1969. Thousands of New Mexicans have been and continue to be impacted by this legacy of racist and genocidal educational policy. 

"I think about the student version of my grandmother enduring harm in a school system that didn't think she was good enough and forced her to assimilate. I feel passionate that I don’t want another student to feel that way, ever. That's what drives me."

In Navajo culture, grandmothers are like second mothers, so her grandmother’s experience made a lasting impression on Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval.

“We were her everything – and she was everything to us,” she says. “And I know that so many New Mexican families have gone through similar experiences because of Native American boarding schools.” 

Another inspiration for Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval’s educational vision is her role  as a mother. She says she’s fighting for a better, updated, and more relevant education for her children, who are 12 and 16 years old. 

 “It's really important to me that they have an education that grows them in a way that speaks to their passions and gifts instead of stifling them. I want them to feel that New Mexico is their home and that our community needs them.”

When she was in high school, Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval got good grades but struggled to stay engaged, which led to stress about her future. Eventually, she transferred to a high school where she found something that connected to what she wanted to do when she grew up - which at the time was forensic science. Being able to see that future path encouraged her to show up and participate. 

Getting experiences that felt relevant to her career goals reinforced Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval’s commitment to much-needed educational opportunities like work-based learning (WBL), Career and Technical Education (CTE), community-centered capstone projects, and internships. She says that students often acquire things like time management, negotiation skills, social awareness, and problem-solving skills outside of classrooms. These essential skills should drive our curriculum rather than it being the other way around.

The power and momentum of New Mexican Youth

At Future Focused, Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval plans to amplify youth voices, ensuring that their lived experiences shape the educational solutions we create. She believes New Mexican youth are “resilient and persistent” in the face of a sometimes negative narrative about education in the state.

"Here in New Mexico, our students are told they’re last. They’re told that their schools are last, that they are at the bottom. But they just keep showing up, and they blow people away in every space they're in. That makes me really proud of them."

When she thinks about the work ahead, Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval emphasizes the importance of unlearning that narrative, which she says is the result of internalized oppression and causes harm to all New Mexico young people.

“I want all of our students to know to push back on that narrative, to never accept that narrative about them, their schools, their communities, or who they are,” she says. 

Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval is confident that New Mexicans are up to the task. She is energized by the positive changes happening in our state.

 “We have never been so close to real systems change in education before, and it’s exciting to be part of this larger movement,” she says. “We’re unstoppable.”

Dr. Lanoy Sandoval sitting in the audience.

"We're talking about students wanting change, teachers wanting change, leadership wanting it. Policy makers, non-profits, community members, etc."

She says she’s lucky to be part of this story of change-making, and to be able to say that she had “a small piece in ensuring this change” and following through on what she sees as her “responsibility and commitment to young people.”

With Dr. Lanoy-Sandoval at the helm, Future Focused will continue our work in creating solutions through work-based learning, community-connected projects, and peer mental health programs. 

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