20th Century Trailblazer

Concha Ortiz y Pino in front of her 1942 photo at the New Mexico State Legislature.

Concha Ortiz y Pino was the most influential New Mexican of the 20th Century. Her long life provided nine decades of history. Concha took part in business, politics, culture, religion and civic service. She was born in 1910 and died at the age of 96 in 2006. Her story begins in Spain in the 16th century and continues in the New World. Followed by the American Civil War, the Mexican American War and World War II. During the Great Depression she embraced Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ideology and did her part to bring America back from the brink of the Great Depression.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression in 1929 and the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s impacted Santa Fe. Government programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), brought relief. Thousands of people passed through New Mexico on their way to California in search of work. In 1943 during World War II, the dawn of the Atomic age got its start in Santa Fe. The Manhattan Project opened an office on Palace Avenue. It was there that scientists registered on their way up to “the Hill,” at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Concha Ortiz y Pino was the first female whip of a legislature in 1941.

Concha Ortiz y Pino broke through the political glass ceiling when she became the first female majority whip of a legislature in the nation.  In addition, Concha was the lady-boss of Agua Verde, a 100,000-acre ranch. During her lifetime she became a member of more than 60 local and national foundations. Concha was the only in New Mexican ever appointed to national boards by five different U.S. presidents. She worked for the betterment of society in the humanities, the arts and for the disadvantaged. Throughout her 96 years of life her Spanish heritage defined her love of country, family and religion. Concha Ortiz y Pino blazed the trail for thousands. Six U.S. presidents, 19 New Mexico governors, people in Washington and Hollywood and the people of New Mexico all knew her as Concha!

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