Honoring New Mexico’s Advocates
New Mexico Voices for Children bestows several awards every year to fellow New Mexicans who strive to make their communities and worlds a better place.
Amy Biehl Youth Spirit Award
Amy Biehl, a graduate of Santa Fe High School, understood that, as an American, she had it better than many people in much of the world. She also believed that she had a duty to give back—to make life better for others who were not so fortunate. To that end, Amy went to South Africa at the age of 26 as a Fulbright Scholar to help that country’s leaders develop a new constitution. In 1993, while conducting voter registration for South Africa’s first all-race election—the election that would end apartheid—she was killed in a riot.
The Amy Biehl Youth Spirit Award honors young people (ages 13-26) in New Mexico who have stepped up to bring positive change to their communities and/or the world at large through community service or advocacy.
Alice King Public Service Award
Alice King, former first lady and wife of Governor Bruce King, had a deep commitment to the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children. She is credited with persuading lawmakers to create the state’s child welfare agency, the Children, Youth and Families Department. She also founded the New Mexico Girls Ranch and the New Mexico Children’s Foundation, was chair of the New Mexico Children’s Trust Fund, and was a major supporter of the Carrie Tingley Children’s Hospital. Alice King passed away in 2008
The Alice King Public Service Award honors a public leader who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to and service for New Mexico’s children and families.
The Patty Jennings and Polly Arango Citizen Advocacy Award
Patty Jennings is best known for her longtime advocacy on the disability and health issues that she worked on with her husband, state Senator Timothy Jennings. She was an advocate for early childhood programs, special education, and other services for children with special needs and their families. She also advocated on behalf of kids in foster care and other vulnerable children, ans created and then led for many years the New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool, which provides health coverage for people who cannot otherwise obtain it. Patty lost her long struggle with cancer in 2009.
Polly Arango believed families should have the option of caring for their special needs children at home—an idea that met with great resistance at the time. Polly co-founded Family Voices, a national organization that advocates for improved access and quality of health care. She also co-founded Parents Reaching Out, a network of programs for families. She was killed in an accident in 2010.
Together, Patty and Polly worked with the state Legislature—in particular, Patty’s husband, Tim—to create the Medically Fragile Children’s Program and to expand coverage and services for children in various Medicaid Waiver programs.
The Patty Jennings and Polly Arango Citizen Advocacy Award honors any New Mexico citizen not in elected or public life with a proven record of exceptional advocacy, community, and civic engagement, who demonstrates outstanding civic and charitable responsibility and whose actions and leadership encourages others to take on citizen advocacy on a community, national and/or international level.
Legislative Advocacy Award
The Legislative Advocacy Award recognizes those who serve as citizen legislators in our state Senate and House of Representatives. These honorees have demonstrated great advocacy on behalf of New Mexico’s children and vulnerable families both by the legislation they have sponsored and their voting record on bills and appropriations pertaining to education (from early childhood development through our university system), health care, the state’s tax system, criminal justice, and more.
Spirit of Hope Award
The Spirit of Hope Award honors New Mexico’s hard-working supporters of programs and services that engage and touch children, making a difference in their lives. Their work has had both subtle and profound impacts, creating a cumulative effect and broader reach that ultimately improves the quality of life for all New Mexicans.
See photos from the various awards ceremonies here
Amy Biehl Youth Spirit Award Recipients
Donna Garcia (age 19) of Albuquerque (1994)
Joe Saldana (age 23) of Las Cruces (1996)
Renee Garcia (age 19) of Albuquerque (1997)
Rease Harker (age 17) of Zuni (1998)
Sandra Wechsler (age 24) of Santa Fe (1999)
Lisa Gomez (age 19) of Albuquerque (2000)
Matthew Maez (age 17) of Los Alamos (2001)
Tiffany Elston (age 17) of Taos (2002)
Anika Liljenwall (age 18) of Santa Fe (2003)
Anisha Imhoff-Kerr (age 19) of Albuquerque (2004)
Kara Deyhle (age 21) of Albuquerque (2005)
Graciela Lopez (age 18) of Albuquerque (2006)
Angelica Calabaza (age 17) of Santo Domingo and Mayra Franco (age 20) of Chamberino (2007)
Nimsey Melendez (age 17) of Albuquerque and Shayna Lewis (age 20) of Santa Fe (2008)
Alejandra Carmona (age 17) of Albuquerque and Fiona Walters (age 19) of Mexican Springs (2009)
Cecilia Frescas and D’Ana Alderete, both of Albuquerque (2010)
Cesar Miranda (age 18) of Pajarito Mesa and Marcella Gurule-Sandoval (age 26) of Santa Cruz (2011)
Celia Yazmin Avila Hernandez (age 18) of Albuquerque and Saif Khalfan Almuhairbi (age 23) of Anthony (2013)
Elizabeth Moeser (age 16) of Albuquerque and Blanca Adriana Ontiveros (age 25) of Las Cruces (2014)
Rafael Mario Colón (age 17) and Nicole Baty (age 26), both of Albuquerque (2015)
Sofia Jensen (age 16) and Carolina Belmares (age 26), both of Albuquerque (2016)
Alice King Public Service Award Recipients
Justice Petra Jimenez-Maes (New Mexico Supreme Court; 2009)
McClellan Hall (National Indian Youth Leadership Project; 2010)
Kara Bobroff (Native American Community Academy; 2011)
U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman and U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (Honorary Founding Board Members, NM Voices; 2012)
Speaker of the House Ben Lujan (New Mexico House of Representatives; 2013; awarded posthumously)
Judge John Romero, Jr. (District Court; 2014)
Kathie Winograd, Ed.D. (Central New Mexico Community College; 2015)
Paula Tackett (Legislative Council Services; 2016)
Patty Jennings and Polly Arango Citizen Advocacy Award Recipients
Angie Vachio (PB&J; 2009)
Tara Ford (Pegasus; 2010)
Anna Nelson (NM Forum for Youth in Community; 2011)
Bob Greenberg, Norty Kalishman, Stanley Stark, Linda Barr, Lovola Burgess (posthumously), Stephanie Farrow, Caroline Gatson, Marsha Hardeman, Michael Nelson, Vita Saavedra, and Laura Threet (Founding Board Members, NM Voices; 2012)
Frank Sanchez (Needmor Fund; 2013)
Olivia Rivera (Office of Child and Family Development, City of Albuquerque; 2014)
Lance Chilton, MD (Pediatrics Department, University of New Mexico; 2015)
Kim Posich (NM Center on Law and Poverty; 2016)
Legislative Advocacy Award Recipients
Representative Rick Miera (2014)
Representative Luciano “Lucky” Varela (2015)
Senator Howie Morales (2016)
Representative Sheryl Williams Stapleton (2016)
Spirit of Hope Award Recipients
Ventura Lovato (Native Vision; 2013)
Ronalda Warito-Tome (Education for Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs; 2013)
Susan Herrera (LANL Foundation; 2014)
Ted Martinez (School Board, Albuquerque Public Schools; 2015)
Mary Dudley, Ph.D. (Steering Committee, Early Childhood Action Network; 2015)
Nancy Jo Archer (Hogares; 2016)
Jerry Montoya (New Mexico Department of Health; 2016)
Voices for Children Award Recipients
Alice King (Former First Lady; 2003)
J. Paul Taylor (Former State Legislator; 2004)
Bob Greenberg, M.D. (NM Voices Co-founder; 2006)