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When Sue George (`88) arrived at the University of New Mexico School of Law in the mid-1980s, she was conflicted. She wanted to pursue both natural resources law and children’s law, but knew she couldn’t do both.
From an early age, she had spent long hours at a family cabin in the Jemez Mountains, where she developed a love for nature. During college at UNM, she worked at summer camps in New Mexico and Colorado, and after graduation, she worked with wilderness youth-at-risk programs in New Mexico and Texas, and interned as an environmental educator at the Pt. Reyes Bird Observatory in California.
“When I thought about going to law school, I couldn’t decide whether to pursue natural resources law or children’s law,” said George. “The outstanding natural resources faculty, Natural Resources Journal and Natural Resources Certificate settled that question for me fairly early on.”
During school, George served as a lead articles editor of the Natural Resources Journal, and upon graduation in 1988, earned a Natural Resources Certificate.
This passion for the natural world has guided her career, and in May 2011, she became director of the new Regulatory Programs and Training Center at the Institute of Public Law (IPL). This new center combines IPL’s expertise in administrative rulemaking, civics education and policy development, and in this position, George will expand upon the work she has been pursuing at IPL since joining the staff in 2006.
George began her career in 1988 at Keleher & McLeod, which had just established an environmental law section. She left to pursue a master’s degree in biology and was in the middle of her work on that degree in 1995 when she returned to the law and joined the Western Environmental Law Center. Not long afterward, Defenders of Wildlife opened a New Mexico field office, and George jumped at the chance to lead the office, where she worked closely with Ruth Musgrave (`79), director of the Center for Wildlife Law at IPL.
For the next 12 years, she looked at different mechanisms for states to protect the wildlife within their borders. She managed the nonprofit’s state wildlife legal program, where she supervised a litigation docket, prepared model laws and reports and tracked wildlife legislation in all 50 states through a clearinghouse. She also taught wildlife law at the UNM School of Law as an adjunct faculty member.
When she arrived at IPL in 2006, George provided legal services to the Center for Wildlife Law, the Government Law Center, the Children’s Law Center and the Traffic Safety Center. As director of the new Regulatory Programs and Training Center, she will direct the award-winning Wild Friends Program, a civics and wildlife education program serving grades 4-12 statewide, as well as provide legal counsel and rule-making assistance to various state agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the New Mexico Environment Department.
George looks forward to expanding the Wild Friends program, working with the Utton Center, along with other centers at the UNM School of Law, its students and faculty.
“In this new job, I love that I am able to continue my wildlife law interest and also work with children, both of which were goals when I first entered law school,” said George. “I also like working locally and with state government, and making a contribution to New Mexico.”
Outside of work, it’s no surprise that she enjoys hiking. She also is a longtime yoga practitioner and loves to read. At home in the North Valley of Albuquerque, she has one husband, two children, two dogs and two cats.
November 1, 2011