With this series, The Independent wants to create a spotlight on important community officials in the small towns and cities we cover. We think it is important that the public gets to know the people who help make the important decisions. Maybe it’s your town’s mayor, or the police chief in the next city over that you want to know more about. Is there somebody you think would be a good candidate for this series? Send your suggestions to email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this profile, we’re getting to know the new Tijeras Village clerk, Hallie Brown. Want to know how Hallie landed her gig with Tijeras? She called the experience “serendipitous.” Her favorite band is a little wacky and you’ll want to read on to see exactly what they call themselves. Get to know Hallie a little bit better.
The Independent: Okay, where are you from?
Hallie: I consider myself from Edgewood. I moved to Edgewood when I was eight, so pretty much for my entire life I grew up there. Before that I lived in Arizona and California. My dad’s family is from California, but basically my entire formative years of life happened in Edgewood.
Have you ever had a nickname?
On the speech and debate team in high school my nickname was Hash Brown, probably because my last name is Brown and I probably said something about liking potatoes once, I don’t know.
What kind of activities did you like to do when you were a kid?
I liked to ride my bike, that’s something I still like to do. I’m actually moving really close to here and I’m hoping I can bike to work every day. But yeah, I really like to bike and there’s not a better place to do it than out here. There are no cars on the road, nobody was trying to run me over or anything, so it was a good activity. I was also really into community theater, so I was in a bunch of community theater productions that East Mountain Community Theatre did back in the day. I don’t really know if they exist anymore, but I did that a lot in my younger years, and then in high school I did speech and debate, predominately that was my extracurricular activity, so.
Okay, well that was my next question, what about high school so, what did you do after graduation?
I went to UNM, I got a BA in international studies and a BA in sociology. I graduated in 2018. While I was at UNM, I was a resident advisor and I was on student senate. I was involved in sort of a myriad of activities there, and then post-graduation I was a Peace Corp. volunteer.
How did you end up here?
So, I ended up here in this position because I was evacuated from Peace Corp. at the beginning of the pandemic. I was supposed to be serving until December. Traditionally your Peace Corp. service is 27 months. I was 17 months into my 27 months, so I was set to return to the United States in December, but when the pandemic hit, they made the decision to evacuate Peace Corp. volunteers globally. So even though where I was serving there were no cases of coronavirus, they still got us out of there which ended up being a good decision because they ended up closing the borders. So, anyway, it was probably a good idea, but it was a little hectic, as I obviously didn’t intend on being back here in that time frame, or before December. And I found out in a CCN article that I was being evacuated; I had no communication from my in-country staff that that was happening. I had 24 hours to pack my things and get to the capitol.
I was living in the Gambia, which is inside of Senegal in West Africa, and they transported us by land to Dakar. I got a chartered embassy flight actually out of Dakar because they actually cancelled all commercial flights at that point. So, I landed back here, and I was doing my two-week quarantine in a travel trailer in my parents’ driveway, and my friend from East Mountain High School—she now works at East Mountain High School—had contacted me because, [Tijeras Clerk] Mike is actually on the governing council for the high school as well as his role here. So, Mike had approached her and said, ‘Hey, we’re hiring for deputy clerk at the village, I think you’d be great at it, you should apply.’ And she was like, ‘Well I’m kind of not interested in leaving my current role, but can I recommend my friend who just got evacuated from Peace Corp.?’ I really got lucky, this was the first and only job I applied for post evacuation, and yeah that’s how I ended up here.
It’s really interesting how things work out.
Yeah, it seems a little serendipitous.
Yeah, that’s the word that popped into my head when you were telling me the story too. But I’m going to assume you didn’t want to do this when you were a kid?
I’ve always kind of imagined that I would get into government somehow. I’ve always been civically engaged and enjoyed doing things with community service and just being an active participant in the various governments or bodies that I’m a part of. So, I kind of imagined that in some way I’d be doing something that’s similar to this and I always sort of imagined being in a role that’s like of service to others, so not exactly this, but the kind of idea was there all along.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing about my job is kind of just, what we were talking about earlier, just watching the Village of Tijeras come alive. It’s nice to have some fresh ideas and fresh perspectives here. I think it’s appreciated and welcomed in the community and I think it’s been really fun to be apart of that progress and just the innovation. Mike and I always joke that we’re bringing the Village of Tijeras into the 21st Century because while we’ve been here, we’ve updated the website, and we’ve created a lot of online forms that you can fill out for the various services that we’re providing. We’ve created a Facebook page, we’ve transitioned to have online bill pay for our water service, and we’re digitizing a bunch of our records. It’s kind of a fun joke that we have that we’re bringing us into the 21st Century, but in a lot of ways, it’s fun to be a part of these transitions and innovations and the procedures and processes of the operations here.
What motivates you to work hard?
I think just knowing that I work for the people here in the village is what motivates me to work hard. I don’t want there to ever seem like there’s a barrier between this building and this office and the residents and so I think my big push, and the Mayor’s big push, is really transparency. I think making this an accessible space, making ourselves as leaders and public servants accessible to the public and making sure anything I do, I’m doing that because I have the interests and the intentions of the community to back what I’m doing is sort of what I think motivates me to do what I do.
Okay. I’m switching gears a little bit, and these are going to be more so rapid-fire questions. What is your favorite television show?
My favorite television show right now is “Shameless.” I’m finishing the 10th season that just came out on Netflix.
Favorite movie? Probably “Ladybird.”
Favorite musical artist?
Umm, Rainbow Kitten Surprise. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them but they’re an indie pop kind of band.
You said Rainbow Kitten Surprise?
Yeah, they’ve got quite the name.
Interesting, I’ll have to look them up. If you watch sports, favorite sport or team?
I don’t watch sports, but my mom’s family is from Iowa and they’re big Hawkeyes college football fans, so I guess my default answer is usually that but I’m not super into sports.
Okay, what is your favorite food but where is your favorite place to eat out?
Okay my favorite food is probably the combination of food that is Thanksgiving, so all of those things on a plate. My favorite place to eat out right now is Basil Leaf, which is on Eubank and Constitution maybe, but it’s like a Pan-Asian restaurant. They have good take-out.
What is your favorite hobby?
Right now, my favorite hobby is gardening. I’ve got a big garden at my house.
What is your worst fear?
My worst fear? Hmmm, probably heights. I really don’t like heights. Even though I like hiking, I get on trails that have a cliff face, and I’m like, ‘Okay, we need to turn around.’
If you could travel to any period in time, where would you go?
The 1920s, I’d like to experience prohibition. I think it would be interesting.
What makes you laugh the most?
Ummm, probably just like sarcasm and just dry sarcastic, senses of humor. My family and I share that, so we are always making each other laugh.
What is your go-to karaoke song?
My go-to song is “Summer Nights” from Grease. I need a partner.
If you were a superhero, what power would you have? Why?
I would like to be invisible. Because I’d just like be a fly on the wall for a lot of things, just being able to observe.
Last question, if you died tomorrow, how would you want people to remember you?
Just as someone that was happy and friendly and easy to get along with.