A dozen New Mexicans have been named winners of the 2014 Governor’s New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Awards and will be celebrated during a gala banquet Dec. 2 at the Marriott Pyramid North.
The program – honoring exceptional service by individuals for more than 44 years – has raised thousands of dollars in scholarships at three New Mexico universities. It was developed by Dr. Albert Rosenthal, director
emeritus in Public Administration at the University of New Mexico, in the 1960s.
In addition to a lifetime award to Edward Lujan, this year’s selectees are: Nelson Capitan of Albuquerque and Laguna Pueblo; Tom and Jerean Hutchinson of Mesilla; Henry Jaramillo of Belen; Carlo Lucero of Albuquerque; Robert Maruca of Albuquerque; Sherry Morrison of Santa Fe; Tom Phelps of Clovis; Rita Powdrell of Albuquerque; Jamie Silva-Steele of Rio Rancho; and Patricia Sullivan, Ph.D., of Las Cruces.
The program, chaired by New Mexico Tech President Dan Lopez and Gov. Susana Martinez, has maintained a focus on honoring deserving individuals from throughout the state and especially from smaller towns and pueblo and tribal areas.
Capitan is an award-winning Sandia National Laboratories manufacturing technologist. He has served on the labs’ American Indian Outreach Committee Dream Catcher Science Program. He initiated the Dads of Great Students program at Laguna Elementary, served as PTO chair and recently began a youth chess program at his church.
The Hutchinsons own and operate La Posta de la Mesilla restaurant. They both have devoted countless volunteer hours to economic development and tourism projects. “They provide an outstanding example to all New Mexicans of how selfless service by committed individuals benefit our citizens and state,” NMSU President Garrey Carruthers wrote in their nomination.
Jaramillo is a founder of Ranchers State Banks, a UNM graduate and former UNM regent. Nominators called him the quintessential “bridge builder” and a “tireless an dedicated advocate of Belen and its residents.”
Lucero is the owner/president of Sparkle Maintenance, a government-certified contract cleaner that specializes in green cleaning. The former Hispano Chamber board chairman is a founding member of the N.M. Connections Academy Charter School, honorary commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB, and is deeply involved with the United Way.
Maruca , who served as CEO of multiple major Army hospitals, was recruited to create the New Mexico Children’s Hospital and serve as its CEO. He helped initiate the New Mexico portion of the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon. He currently is chairman of the YMCA.
Morrison , retired vice president of operations for Smith Barney, is the president of the board for the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy. She has served as an officer in the Santa Fe Basque Club, created to educate area residents about the Basque culture. One nominator wrote she never seeks recognition for what she feels is a “duty and honor to serve.”
Phelps , a master’s graduate of ENMU, is the current CEO of Plateau Telecommuni cations. He invests his time and energy in a variety of community efforts including Clovis Committee of 50, Cannon AFB support groups, Plains Regional Medical Center board and local school initiatives.
Powdrell is founder and president of the New Mexico African American Museum and Cultural Center. She has been instrumental in documenting and researching African-American founding families, first churches, social organizations, entrepreneurs, and patterns of segregation and integration. One nominator said she is the embodiment of the “servant leader.”
Silva-Steele, who began her health-care career as a pediatric nurse 28 years ago, is the president and CEO of the Sandoval Regional Medical Center. She is credited with improving pediatric care throughout UNM Hospitals and extending interpreter services in the system.
Sullivan , the Associate Dean of Engineering at NMSU, developed and launched the Engineering N.M. Resource Network to develop a high-tech workforce and deliver STEM outreach to K-12 students. She is credited with tripling the number of engineering scholarships, upping the amounts of scholarships, and increasing professorships and chairs available at NMSU. She is a former Engineering Executive of the Year.