Taos County native Antonia Leyba worked her way up through the ranks at the U.S. Postal Service while raising three children. Her hard work and devotion paid off …
Taos County native Antonia Leyba worked her way up through the ranks at the U.S. Postal Service while raising three children. Her hard work and devotion paid off when she finally landed the postmaster job in Taos a couple of years ago.
Leyba is the first local Taos County resident to manage the Taos office in several years. Leyba knows the place and desires the best service for the community.
A 1984 Peñasco High graduate, Leyba earned an associate's degree in business at Northern New Mexico College. She used her degree and interest in the business field at two different banks - 10 years at the Bank of Santa Fe and a year at First State Bank (now U.S. Bank). "After so many years, I began to feel that this was a dead-end job. Where could I go from there? I desired something new," Leyba said. After she left banking, Leyba worked alongside Tommy Montaño for the U.S. Census. Leyba worked in this position for a year and left because she sought a permanent job.
A New Career
Then on March 25, 2000, Leyba began working for the U.S. Postal Service in Española. "This was a good position because I learned to do everything," she said. That included unloading mail trucks at 3 a.m. on many mornings. Later, Leyba worked at the distribution window. "I did what needed to be done," she said.
In 2010, Leyba, who had proven her ability to learn every aspect of the job, accepted the position of acting supervisor at the Taos post office. A year later, she received the position on a permanent basis. Three years later, Leyba accepted a promotion - her first postmaster job - in Mora. The position called for overlapping detail duties, which occurred at the Coronado Station in Santa Fe. "This large office was a challenge, but it helped me prepare for a future return to the Taos post office as the postmaster in April 2017. Here in Taos, we're fully staffed at 19 employees," she explained. By comparison "at Coronado Station, 200 employees and more routes continue as a daily operation."
Leading the Taos post office
Now as the Taos postmaster, Leyba's work duties include street delivery, retail service and post office box service. Hiring new staff involves a three-month process that includes background checks and tests. Other duties for her involve vehicle maintenance and training. Leyba quickly praised her staff: "We have a good balance of strengths and knowledge with the staff, and everyone helps in the entire process to keep the postal services run smoothly. I don't pretend to know everything, and I learn from the postal employees," she said.
She added, "We're steadily improving in retail and delivery upgrades. My new supervisor Lisa Vigil is strong on the carrier side. My strong area is retail, even though I supervised carriers for a short while."
The Taos carriers complete their delivery tasks across the vast rural county before dark, as opposed to the work hours that exist in other large offices.
At post offices throughout the region, scheduling and changes depend on the volume of mail. The Taos post office includes staggered hours among carriers, clerks and other staff from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Leyba manages the main office on Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Enchanted Station on Bertha Street and a contract post office at Taos Ski Valley. "It keeps me busy," she smiled.
Regarding her open door policy, Leyba welcomes comments, suggestions and problem-solving opportunities from her employees and customers. "We must be informed on issues. We can't fix problems unless we know about them," Leyba said. "I think that knowing people in the community helps with communication."
Leyba grew up in Taos County and is happy to have found a career that allows her to remain. "I'm a small-town girl who never left Northern New Mexico. This is home," the Taos postmaster said. She is the daughter of the late Pete Chacon and Connie Chacon. She is the third of five siblings: Christine (Gabriel) Gonzales; Tim (Debbie) Chacon; Lisa (Chris) Kedge; and Manuel (Alicia) Chacon. Four nieces, three nephews and several grandnieces and grandnephews complete her family.
Her three adult sons remain her pride and joy. Thirty-year-old Vicente works as a computer engineer for the New Mexico Highway Department. Daniel, 28, married his high school sweetheart, Vanessa. The couple work at Los Alamos National Laboratory and have two sons, Damian, 4, and Dominic, 6 months. Reyes, who at 23 is the youngest of Antonia Leyba's sons, joined the U.S. Army a month after his high school graduation. He currently serves in Okinawa, Japan.
Postmaster Leyba admits that work consumes her. As a member of a close-knit family, she likes to spend her rare time off with her mother, children and grandchildren. One of Leyba's greatest passions includes cooking for her family. Every Sunday, she cooks a meal for family members. Her specialties include red and green chile, Mexican, grill and pasta meals or "what the boys want." A Christmas or special occasion dish is Tia Antonia's taquitos and salsa, a popular request from relatives. Antonia hopes to travel more in the future, including visiting her son in Okinawa.
For now, she is happy to be heading the Taos post office in the place she loves.
"If people share their concerns, I'm willing to help because I will enhance the postal services," Leyba said. "I'm proud and grateful to serve the people of Taos. It's an honor. I want to do the best job I can."
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