How CNM is Helping People 50+ Start Their Own Businesses

The project is part of a collaboration with AARP and focused on spurring economic development across the state
May 28, 2020

Morgan O'Donnell spent her career helping people find their path in higher education. At various colleges throughout Texas she was a graduate advisor program coordinator, ran outreach for a women’s center, and eventually became an associate director for graduate recruitment.

Here in New Mexico—where she and her partner now live—Morgan, 52, wanted to keep coaching and advising but had trouble finding the right job. Then she came across an advertisement for CNM’s joint project with AARP that’s focused on helping people 50 and older start their own business. Morgan had already helped her partner start her digital marketing agency and figured, why not?

“My partner’s business is thriving so I knew I could do it and I wanted to get back into something I was passionate about,” Morgan says. 

Morgan enrolled in one of the program’s one-day seminars in late January and says she was immediately inspired by the seminar lead Lucio Lanucara, an instructor in CNM’s School of Business & Information Technology. Lucio, she says, taught the attendees that the best way to start a business was to lean on skills they had already developed.

For Morgan, that was coaching and advising, so by February she already had a website offering those services. Soon after, she connected with the program director for The Senior Source— a senior support organization in Dallas, Texas—who asked Morgan to help lead a webinar for seniors that would teach them how to engage and network on LinkedIn. 

That webinar was held back in May and since then the opportunities have continued to roll in. Morgan just launched a webinar that teaches people how to use humor to create engagement,  and this week she was part of a panel designed to teach both individuals and small businesses how to overcome the financial hurdles created by COVID-19.

“I’m really excited about being able to help people again, especially during these difficult times,” Morgan says. 

For Lucio, it’s equally inspiring to see people like Morgan succeed. 

“It's great to see people here in New Mexico use the skills they already have to either make extra money or even start a new company they feel proud about,” he says. 

Morgan didn’t need extra advisement, but Lucio says that CNM offers seminar attendees additional coaching if they want it down the road. Through a CNM program called the Silver Entrepreneurship Initiative, Lucio will continue to meet with attendees and help them either get their business off the ground, or help them get a business plan written up that can then be taken to CNM’s Small Business Development Center for additional support.

“We want to make sure that if someone really wants to start a business, they don’t have to go at it alone,” Lucio says. 

CNM and AARP hope to lead another online seminar in August. For more information please email Lucio Lanucara at