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NM Distinguished Public Service Award winners named

Lifetime Achievement Award winners philanthropists Catherine Oppenheimer and Garrett Thornburg.

Lifetime Achievement Award winners philanthropists Catherine Oppenheimer and Garrett Thornburg.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Awards will fete this year’s 13 winners at a gala banquet Nov. 12 at the Marriott Pyramid North, 5151 San Francisco NE.

Lifetime Achievement Awards will go to philanthropists Garrett Thornburg and Catherine Oppenheimer. For the first time, the organization also has chosen a student for special recognition.

Gov. Susana Martinez is expected to attend the event. Tickets are $65 each, or $650 for a table of 10. For reservations call Halo Branded Solutions at 505-344-6177.

The winners of Distinguished Public Service Awards, listed alphabetically, are: Steven Anaya of Moriarty; professor Lowell Catlett of Mesilla; Dewey Cave of Tijeras; Joe Garcia of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo; Deborah Peacock of Corrales; Bishop Emeritus Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces; Roland Sanchez, M.D., of Belen; Kimberly (Kim) Sawyer of Albuquerque; Marilyn Stoops of Albuquerque; and Elizabeth Thomas of Rio Rancho.

Anaya is executive vice president of the Realtors Association of New Mexico and has been an advocate for progressive housing policy throughout the state for more than two decades. The New Mexico State University graduate is credited with being a key player in the beautification of Main Street in Moriarty, the building of the civic center and bringing in new businesses to the area.

Catlett is well-known futurist, international lecturer, regents professor and dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at NMSU. He has received numerous national awards for teaching, including the Burlington Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding University Teaching.

He works with the U.S. departments of Labor, Agriculture, Interior, Defense, Education, Energy and with the World Bank. He is a visiting professor or has delivered invited presentations at more than 75 universities, including Cornell, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Cave, the executive director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments, has been called a consummate professional and key employee in keeping that agency flexible to changing funding and needs. He also has been instrumental in helping local communities apply for and land community block grants.

He has been a key financial adviser for the First Steps Child Care Center in Tijeras and has “consistently gone above and beyond” his duties and responsibilities to help those around him, one supporter wrote.

Garcia is a former governor of Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan) Pueblo, a past president of the National Congress of American Indians and past chairman of the All Indian Pueblo Council. He has been credited with being a highly effective and tireless advocate for Indian country before all levels of government.

He also was instrumental in making sure his tribe’s Tewa language was included in Head Start, elementary and high-school curriculums for students from his and other pueblos.

Peacock is a partner and managing director in the law firm of Peacock Myers PC, a registered professional engineer and serves as chair of the state Environmental Improvement Board. She volunteers with a half-dozen nonprofits around New Mexico and has been a multimillion-dollar fundraiser for the Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum.

Her law firm encourages and financially supports all firm employees in volunteer projects. She is a former Ethics in Business award winner.

Bishop Ramirez became the first bishop of the Diocese of Las Cruces in 1982. He has served the church in multiple posts through Texas and Mexico and has been a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops International Justice and Peace Committee and served on the New Mexico Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

He was key in planning a communitywide interfaith one-year anniversary service at Aggie Memorial Stadium after the Sept. 11 attacks. He also has been a key supporter of the arts in southern New Mexico and an advocate of fighting the violence along the border.

Sanchez is a cattleman and a doctor in private practice in the Belen area. Working through NMSU, he has helped to pioneer intense grazing systems, pasture management and laser leveling in Valencia County.

He is an active volunteer with the New Mexico Boys Ranch and has “worked tirelessly to improve the city of Belen, the image of New Mexico through the Farm and Ranch Museum and the Santa Gertrudis Cattlemen’s Association,” one supporter wrote. For more than three decades, he has provided affordable medical care to a poor community “often without cost.”

Sawyer is a deputy director at Sandia National Laboratories and executive vice president for Mission Support. She is credited for significantly stepping up the labs’ outreach and participation in the Greater Albuquerque community. She has been a key leader in the labs’ United Way drives, programs like Shoes for Kids and encouraging individuals acts of volunteerism.

“She has reached out personally to residents, whether helping a deserving family receive a new home through Habitat for Humanity, or in encouraging and counseling young people to fulfill their academic goals,” one supporter wrote.

Stoops is retired but an active member of the mission work of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque. For years, she has tutored young women in the New Mexico prison system and has been part of the New Mexico Newgate program, a college prep course for prisoners who want to go to college when they get out. She returned to college when all five of her children were there, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree from Eastern New Mexico University and a master’s degree in public administration from NMSU.

She is a past president of Church Women United and is on the executive team of the Albuquerque Interfaith Program. She also works at night with homeless families, helping to give them shelter and food and trying to find them jobs.

Thomas, a retired nurse, advocated for children with disabilities statewide, beginning in the Roswell area, and was instrumental in the formation of ARC of New Mexico. She also has advocated for special-education law on the local and national levels.

She is a volunteer with St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho and a key part of the Lions Club’s Kids Sight program, making sure youngsters get vision testing. She also volunteers at the Sandoval Regional Medical Center. She has done all of that and more, and also had two knees and a shoulder replaced.

This year’s first-ever student winner is University of New Mexico student Caroline Muraida of Albuquerque, who is majoring in economics and languages with a 3.9 GPA in her majors. She serves on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Women’s Health, is an intern in the Albuquerque International Association, and is an apprentice at Casa de Salud Family Practice Clinic.

The Phi Beta Kappa and former student body president has a record of extensive volunteer work, including service as a detoxification specialist at drug-rehabilitation clinics.

The awards program was developed by Dr. Albert Rosenthal, professor and director emeritus in public administration at UNM, in the 1960s. It gathers nominations, then a selection committee picks individuals to be honored, as well as a lifetime achievement award recipient.

The program is currently chaired by the governor and New Mexico Tech President Dr. Dan Lopez.

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