Veteran newspaperman heads up UNM-VCs public relations

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There's a new face at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus and chances are, he'll be taking a picture of your face. Jon Lechel stepped into the position of senior public relations specialist at the campus in August after the departure of Chad Perry.

Lechel brings nine-and-a-half years of newspaper experience at the Santa Fe New Mexican with him to the job. He grew up in Albuquerque and attended Eastern New Mexico University where he earned a bachelor of science degree in communications in 2002.

Initially, Lechel wanted to pursue a career in teaching and coaching. But his writing skills caught the eye of a friend, who just happened to be the editor of the campus newspaper.

"I've always written. Mostly songs and poetry as a stress reliever," Lechel said. He took a job with the paper and never looked back.

Three months after graduation, the New Mexican offered Lechel the position as sports editor and he settled into the job.

Not only did he layout the sports section for the daily paper and manage the staff, Lechel also stepped in as the automotive page editor, designed special sections and wrote for the paper.

"You know, I just did whatever was needed," he said. Under his leadership as sports editor, the paper earned six national sportswriter-of-the-year awards.

Lechel says all the things he did at the paper indirectly translate to his new job. As senior public relations specialist, he will take pictures at campus events, write press releases, design promotional materials for student recruitment and lay out the course catalog for the campus.

"Basically I just talk to everyone," he said. "And I like talking to people. I like communicating with people."

And lucky for him, Lechel also has a love of higher education.

"I really believe in higher education. If I hadn't gone to college, I wouldn't be sitting here today," he said. "Kids don't think they can do this and they can. They need to see there is a bigger and better future."

Lechel is an avid golfer, loves the NFL and lives with his wife, a nurse practitioner who works in Belen and Los Lunas, in Albuquerque with their two puppies.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.