Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has been named the senior fellow for Latin America at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

In this new role, Richardson will provide direction to the Baker Institute Latin America Initiative"s policy focus on crucial issues, including immigration, natural resources and energy, as well as the emerging roles of key countries such as Brazil.

"I have long been interested and involved in issues pertaining to Latin America," Richardson said. "I am looking forward to collaborating closely with the Baker Institute to improve and expand public policy on hemispheric concerns of mutual interest to the United States and the countries of Latin America. The Baker Institute's affiliation with Rice University, combined with its location in Houston and that city's close ties to Latin America, make it a natural to lead this effort."

Most recently, Richardson served as the 30th governor of New Mexico from 2003 to 2011. He is currently a special envoy for the Organization of American States, a role in which he focuses on immigration and economic development in the Western Hemisphere. He is also chairman of APCO Worldwide's executive advisory service, Global Political Strategies.

"The Honorary Chair of the Baker Institute -- James A. Baker, III -- and I are particularly pleased with Gov. Richardson's appointment," said Edward Djerejian, the founding director of the Baker Institute. "Throughout his long and illustrious career, Bill Richardson distinguished himself on the world stage as a leader, policymaker, governor and diplomat. His expertise will take the institute's Latin America program to a new level of accomplishment by incorporating his background in diplomacy and public policy."

As the institute's senior fellow for Latin America, Richardson will work with Baker Institute fellow in political science Mark P. Jones, the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies at Rice University; Nicolas Shumway, dean of Rice's School of Humanities and Baker Institute Rice scholar; and Latin America Initiative Program director Erika de la Garza.