The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government announced Shannon Kunkel will take over as executive director next month following the retirement of Melanie Majors.

The organization, which aims to defend transparency and open records laws like the state's Inspection of Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act, announced the board of directors hired Kunkel in a news release Tuesday.

Kunkel, 38, most recently coordinated fundraisers and ran social media efforts as a contractor for voting rights organization Common Cause in Albuquerque. Before that, she worked in marketing for Roadrunner Food Bank and the Albuquerque Publishing Company.

She graduated from University of New Mexico in 2008 after studying journalism and marketing.

Kunkel said the foundation's focus on transparency is "near and dear" to her heart.

"Protecting the public's right to know is really important to me," she said. "I feel without an informed electorate, we really don't have a democracy." 

Kunkel hopes to grow membership and ramp up fundraising efforts so the foundation can hire a full-time attorney to tackle transparency issues statewide.

"It would dramatically improve our capacity," she said. 

Majors, also an adjunct professor at UNM and owner of public relations firm the Majors Company, announced her retirement in October after serving as executive director for nearly four years. Her last day is Dec. 31.

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