Marilyn C. O'Leary

Marilyn C. O’Leary was the Director of the Utton Center from its inception in 2001 until her retirement in June 2007. O’Leary had the vision to shape the organization of the Center’s work around several major themes: Transboundary Preventive Diplomacy, New Mexico Water Law & Policy, International Projects, and Education. She returned as interim director in 2013 and led a strategic planning initiative and the search for a new director. The accomplishments that she is the most proud of include the following:

  • Obtaining core funding for the Center. The Center was initially funded by legislation sponsored by Senator Pete Dominici which lasted several years. This funding was supplemented by some smaller state funding, and project funding from Sandia National Laboratories. In 2007 enough recurring funding was obtained from the New Mexico Legislature to cover most of the Center's base funding.
  • The Model Compact Project. This project came from an idea by John Utton of what the Center could do to build on the Bellagio Treaty. The Center held two major conferences which built on the original concept. The Compact was completed and a Continuing Legal Education Conference was held in June 2007 where much interest was shown for the Compact.
  • Hiring a small but dedicated staff committed to carrying on the work of the Center. This work includes many on-going projects and programs, including the adjudication ombudsman program, basin-wide collaborative planning efforts in New Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border work, association with the Natural Resources program at the UNM School of Law and the State Bar, and many others.

Marilyn O’Leary was active in transferring leadership of the Center to incoming Director, Sandy Gaines. After her retirement she continued work on the Winters Centennial Conference which was held in June, 2008. Professor O’Leary assisted in the preparation and direction of the “Water Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty” conference held in October 2014 to address drought response and water management issues. She will continue to be associated with the Center. The law school, Utton Center staff and community of natural resource professionals are thankful for her leadership and commitment in getting the Utton Center firmly established.