Although I stepped into this role with the understanding of being a change-agent for the organization, I don’t want to change what’s working – and Rio Rancho Roundtable is working –Rhiannon Samuel, NAIOP executive director


Rhiannon Samuel

Rhiannon Samuel has been around the block more than once in her life so far, and her vision extends around the next corner.

“When I was a little girl, I actually wanted to work in some religious capacity, to illustrate to folks that in world religions, they’re much more similar than they are different,” she said.

How’d that work out?

“My life took a spin when I took an internship with Mayor (RJ) Berry in Albuquerque and got into politics, which I never intended to do. I was his director of communications for about four years,” she said. “Then after that, I transitioned into founding a non-profit with Dale Armstrong, Viante New Mexico.”

That entity’s goal , she explained, was “to make New Mexico a more desirable place by removing the state from the wrong end of national lists.”

In her role as executive director with Viante, she was recognized in 2019 as one of Albuquerque Business First’s “40 Under 40 honorees.”

A graduate of St. Pius X High School, she later graduated from the University of New Mexico.

Last year, she became the executive director of NAIOP New Mexico, and she’s been attending recent Rio Rancho Roundtable sessions.

“I’m really excited to help facilitate this great event that’s been going on for so long, finding new avenues of growth, and add new flavor to it all,” she said, noting that the City of Vision and Albuquerque are the only places in the state where NAIOP has meetings.

“We definitely believe that what Jeanie (Springer Knight, developer) has done in Rio Rancho to expand NAIOP’s footprint could be done in other cities, and that’s more of a five-year plan,” she said. “In fact, it was one of the things I brought up in my hiring, my interviewing process: If we have a charter to be a statewide organization, what does our presence look like … in Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Farmington? So let’s start with the low-hanging fruit and then get more of a presence outside of it. … This (Rio Rancho Roundtable) is a great introduction to what could be adopted elsewhere.”

Inspired by the March 4 networking event in Rio Rancho, Samuel said, Albuquerque may do a networking event in November.

“Today was a test. That’s something we’re looking to adopt there,” she said.

“Jeanie Springer has done a remarkable job at making this event something all Rio Ranchoans and people who do business here want to go to, because it’s where you can find the most-meaningful connections within the real estate development industry,” Samuel said. “To this point, a lot has been channels, or talks, with very impactful speakers, but Jeanie and I are working together to think through how we can diversify the engagement people have at these events.”

In other words, in the future, Roundtable attendees should be prepared to provide input and feedback, not just sit back and listen.

At that March meeting, Samuel continued, “We have our speed-networking for business, where we are helping facilitate over 240 connections for people they may not have had before.

“I think this could be tailored to any group – but that’s the beauty of the Rio Rancho Roundtable with NAIOP, it’s a committee effort – all ideas are good ideas,” she said. “I certainly feel that the RR Roundtable is that pipeline for people to get introduced to the organization and perhaps transition into our luncheons that are monthly in Albuquerque … they can see the value that NAIOP presents statewide.”

Samuel had a NAIOP “Developing Ideas” networking event slated for Tin Can Alley in the Duke City for NAIOP members March 24.

“A really big piece of the Rio Rancho Roundtable with NAIOP is the connections that people make, figuring out how they all interconnect and how they can grow each one of their business’s interests,” she said.

There’s been no cost to attend the monthly meetings, but Samuel said that may change as the group grows.

“Although I stepped into this role with the understanding of being a change-agent for the organization, I don’t want to change what’s working – and Rio Rancho Roundtable is working,” Samuel said. “Every so often we can add a little spice to it.”

For information on the state NAIOP chapter, visit