Faces of CNM: Anthony Rael

For the past 25 years, Anthony has cleaned and maintained CNM campuses so that students, staff, and faculty can thrive
May 14, 2020

In many ways, Anthony Rael grew up at CNM. He started here as a night custodian when he was just 18 and then went on to spend 25 years rising through the ranks. Since 2013, he’s worked as the college’s Director of Maintenance and Operations, overseeing the custodial, grounds, and maintenance staff. On May 29, he’ll officially retire.

During his time at CNM, Anthony has cleaned, fixed, and overseen work on more than one million square feet of office and classroom space as well as 65 acres of land. He’s watched the college grow from two campuses to nine different locations, and ensured thousands of students, staff, and faculty had spotless, maintained, and beautiful spaces where they could learn and work. 

“I’m going to miss the people and the interactions the most,” Anthony says. “I’ve spent over half my life at CNM and the people are what have made it so great.”

Anthony says he’s grateful for what he’s learned at CNM. He earned his GED at the college and is almost done with his degree in Integrated Studies. He’s skilled up on the job and says the college’s values have helped guide him as an employee, a supervisor, and a citizen. 

More specifically, he says CNM’s commitment to a core value set helped him build a quality staff that believes in their work. When hiring, he says skills were important, but so was character. He wanted employees who would take their job seriously and who understood their value to the college. 

“We would never compare ourselves to the frontline workers who are working on the pandemic right now, but in many ways, we were the frontline workers here at CNM,” he says. “Everyone on staff takes a lot of pride in ensuring the college runs, even if we’re just in the background.”

Seeing how committed CNM was to its staff, faculty, and students also motivated Anthony to volunteer outside of campus as well. For years, he’s coached youth sports—everything from football to soccer to baseball—and volunteered in the community at places including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Roadrunner Food Bank.

“I found my job at CNM really rewarding, so I wanted to continue that service in my personal life,” he says. “It all became about how I can help serve the public.”

Retiring in the middle of a pandemic is of course a little bittersweet. Anthony says it was a low point in his career when he was cleaning empty buildings after everyone left and thinking about all the interactions he’d had with people over the years. It’s also hard to leave when there’s such big changes ahead. 

“These kinds of problems are what I’ve thrived on,” he says. “I really enjoy figuring out how we fix things, how we get through difficult situations, and how we move forward.”

That said, he knows his crew will be fine without him and that they’ll find smart, inventive ways to ensure CNM stays safe and clean. And he knows it's time to move on. After 25 years of servicing the campus and raising three boys (his oldest graduates from high school this month), he needs a little down time. His plan is to continue volunteering and also chasing his hobbies, including art. 

“I will always enjoy providing service for other people, but I’m also excited about retirement where I can focus on myself and not feel selfish about it,” he says.