Awardees include a judge, early childhood educator, legislator and foundation CEO

November 14, 2014

CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children, 505-244-9505

ALBUQUERQUE—Four New Mexicans who have dedicated their lives to making the state a better place will be honored at the Spirit of Hope gala. The annual event, a fundraiser for New Mexico Voices for Children, will begin at 6pm on Friday, November 21, at the Sandia Resort and Casino.

The Alice King Public Service Award will be presented to Judge John Romero, Jr. He has been a District Court Judge since 2003, presiding over juvenile justice, child welfare and adoption matters. He currently serves as the only presiding Therapeutic Court Judge over the Program for the Empowerment of Girls, an intensive probation program for girls and their parents. The award is named for former First Lady Alice King, whose contributions to child well-being include playing a significant role in the creation of the Children, Youth and Families Department.

The Patty Jennings and Polly Arango Citizen Advocacy Award will be presented to Olivia Rivera, a life-long early childhood educator. As a school administrator, she worked to establish full-day kindergarten programs in New Mexico, and secured federal funding for the bilingual preschool Even Start and family literacy programs. She is currently with the city of Albuquerque’s Office of Child and Family Development, where she helped to design the Science Learning Center, a hands-on classroom near the Rio Grande Zoo. This award is named for two remarkable women who often advocated together for public policies benefiting families with special-needs children. 

Two Spirit of Hope Awards will be presented this year. State Representative Rick Miera has long championed public policies that have positively impacted the lives of New Mexico children and their families. As Vice Chair of the Legislative Education Study Committee he has fought for higher funding levels for public education. After 24 years of service, Rep. Miera is retiring at the end of this year. Susan Herrera is the CEO of the LANL Foundation where she manages an annual giving budget of $4 million and an endowment of over $68 million. One important initiative she successfully expanded is the First Born Program, a high-quality home visiting programs for first-time parents that now operates in 15 New Mexico counties. 

The award presentations will be the highlight of the evening’s festivities, which will also include dinner, entertainment, and silent and live auctions. Tickets are $100 and are available online.

The Spirit of Hope Gala begins at 6pm on Friday, November 21, at the Sandia Resort and Casino, and is made possible by our Presenting Sponsor CHI St. Joseph’s Children and Silver Sponsor McGinn Carpenter Montoya & Love, P.A.