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SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard announced today two new additions to the leadership team at the State Land Office, hiring Michael Sage, CEcD, as Assistant Commissioner of Commercial Resources and Ethan Olando Ortega (he/him/his) as Assistant Commissioner of Cultural Resources. Sage is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) recognized by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and comes to the agency with over 16 years of economic development experience. Ortega previously served as the Division Director of the Cultural Resources Office where he recently helped oversee the implementation of the Cultural Properties Protection rule, issued by Commissioner Garcia Richard to protect cultural resources on state lands.

Commissioner Garcia Richard on Michael Sage:

“Michael Sage is a home-run hire for us with his impressive track record in economic development. He has everything it takes to help us continue diversifying our revenue for New Mexico’s public schools and other institutions. Michael’s experience in identifying opportunities to grow local economies and his deep knowledge of New Mexico’s communities, particularly in the northwestern quadrant of the state, add incredible value to our team. We are so happy to have Michael on board and look forward to the insights he brings to our Commercial Division and the agency as a whole.”

Commissioner Garcia Richard on Ethan Ortega:

“Ethan Ortega has already demonstrated that he has the knowledge and skills to protect New Mexico’s cultural resources and he brings great energy into this elevated role. The leadership Ethan showed during the rollout of our Cultural Properties Protection Rule was outstanding, and I’m excited to see where his career goes from here. We were very lucky to have a highly qualified person to lead our Cultural Resources Office already in the building.”

“This is my home, and I’m excited to step into a role that directly impacts the lives of everyday New Mexicans in a positive way,” said Michael Sage. “Under Commissioner Garcia Richard’s leadership, the State Land Office has been open for business and has brought in unprecedented revenue in recent years. It’s my goal to help the agency continue on that upward trajectory and to use the skills I’ve gained throughout my career in economic development to help the State Land Office reach new heights. Commercial Resources has embarked on a number of ambitious projects in recent years, and I aim to help push them across the finish line.”

“Growing up in New Mexico I was exposed to the numerous and diverse cultural resources of the state,” said Ethan Ortega. “I’m excited to continue my career in this position by helping to identify and protect cultural properties. Commissioner Garcia Richard’s support has allowed the agency to create policies and procedures like the Cultural Properties Protection Rule to better steward cultural resources in a way that respects the heritage and cultures of descendant communities.”

Michael Sage specializes in Economic Development Marketing & Attraction, Business Credit Analysis, Economic Development Finance, Real Estate Development & Reuse, and Workforce Development. Most recently, Sage served as both Deputy Director of the Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation and Regional Economic Development Manager for the Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments.

Sage was named Developer of the Year in 2020 by the NM IDEA and in 2023, was named a Top 40 Economic Developer under 40.

Sage will now lead the State Land Office’s Commercial Resources Division, which oversees business leasing, economic development, rights-of-way, renewable energy and more. Since Commissioner Garcia Richard took office in 2019, the State Land Office has more than quadrupled the amount of renewable energy under lease on state lands, opened up affordable housing opportunities for seniors, and has secured long-term leases with companies like Netflix.

During his time at the State Land Office, Ortega has developed a standardized cultural review process for the agency and participates in interagency and tribal consultation. In addition to his administrative role, he leads archaeological fieldwork as a Principal Investigator approved by the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee. He has coordinated projects with beneficiary institutions to survey, research, and interpret cultural resources on state lands.

Ortega holds a B.S. in Anthropology from Eastern New Mexico University, a M.S. in Museum Studies from the University of New Mexico, and he is currently enrolled as a doctoral student in History at the University of New Mexico. His experience includes archaeological surveys and excavations throughout the American Southwest and Spain. Prior to joining the NMSLO, he held various positions with the Historic Sites Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs from 2014 to 2022 including managing the newly-designated Los Luceros Historic Site. 


Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard has overseen the New Mexico State Land Office since 2019. In that time the agency has raised more than $8 billion for New Mexico public schools, hospitals, and universities. Over 13 million acres of state trust land are leased for a variety of uses, including ranching and farming, renewable energy, business development, mineral development, and outdoor recreation. The State Land Office has a dual mandate to use state trust land to financially support vital public institutions, while simultaneously working to protect the land for future generations.