Nogales native Irasema Coronado has been tapped to lead the secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America, an organization of NAFTA partners that addresses environmental issues of continental concern, including those presented by continent-wide free trade.

In an announcement issued Thursday, the commission known as the CEC said its council had appointed Coronado as the seventh executive director of the CEC secretariat. The council is the commission’s governing body and the secretariat provides technical, administrative and operational support to the council.

The CEC called Coronado “a noted expert on transboundary environmental issues” who has recently served as a member of its public advisory committee.

Juan R. Elvira-Quesada, as Chair of the CEC Council, welcomed Coronado, a noted expert on transboundary environmental issues and a member of the CEC’s Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC), to the position of CEC Secretariat executive director.

“With more than 20 years experience working with border communities and experts, Irasema Coronado brings a vast understanding of North American environmental issues,” said Juan Elvira-Quesada, Mexico’s secretary of the environment and natural resources. “She has a keen understanding of the opportunities and challenges the CEC faces in supporting the cooperative environmental agenda of Canada, Mexico and the United States.”

Coronados’s three-year term as executive director of will begin on 1 December 2012.

Coronado grew up in Nogales and left town after her junior year of high school, She returned to the area while she worked on her doctoral dissertation in political science from the University of Arizona, and during that stint in Nogales, her daughter graduated from Nogales High School. Her mother and one of her brothers still live in Nogales.

Speaking for a July 2010 profile in the NI, Coronado said she thinks Nogales is a quintessential example of cross-border cooperation.

“I want to encourage young people in Nogales,” Coronado said. “Being bilingual and bicultural has been a real asset for me. It has provided me with incredible opportunities I never thought I’d have.”

Her most recent work came as a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas at El Paso. At UTEP, she has served as an associate provost, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, chair of the Political Science Department, and assistant professor of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies.

She was appointed to the CEC’s Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC), comprised of five citizens from each NAFTA country in May 2010, by President Barack Obama and served as JPAC chair in 2011.

Learn more about the CEC at