Honoring New Mexico’s Advocates

New Mexico Voices for Children has bestowed many awards over the years to fellow New Mexicans who strive to make their communities and the world better places.

Youth Spirit Awards

Youth Spirit Award logoThe Youth Spirit Awards recognize exemplary New Mexico youth who contribute to equity, community well-being, and social justice by working to make the world a better place through community service, advocacy, or organizing. It is open to all New Mexico youth ages 13 to 25 demonstrating remarkable service and leadership within the past two years. Awardees receive financial support to put towards their cause of choice as they see fit, including college tuition fees, charitable donations, or other expenses associated with equity, community service, and social justice. Originally named in honor of Santa Fe High School graduate Amy Biehl, who was killed in a riot while conducting voter registration for South Africa’s first all-race election, it has been bestowed upon like-minded New Mexico youth since 1994.

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.

Patty Jennings and Polly Arango Citizen Advocacy Award

Patty Jennings-crop-smPatty Jennings

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, and 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-smPolly Arango

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 encourage 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 Direct Service Award

The Spirit of Hope Direct Service Award honors New Mexico’s hard-working providers of programs and services that personally engage children, making a difference in their lives. Their work has both subtle and profound impacts, creating a cumulative effect and broader reach that ultimately improves the quality of life for all New Mexicans.

Past Award Recipients

See photos from the various awards ceremonies here.

Youth Spirit Award Recipients

Jonathan Alonzo (13-18 age group) and Hope Alvarado (19-26 age group), both of Albuquerque (2018)
Natalie Chambers (age 18) and Janelle Astorga-Ramos (age 20), both of Albuquerque (2017)
Sofia Jensen (age 16) and Carolina Belmares (age 26), both of Albuquerque (2016)
Rafael Mario Colón (age 17) and Nicole Baty (age 26), both of Albuquerque (2015)
Elizabeth Moeser (age 16) of Albuquerque and Blanca Adriana Ontiveros (age 25) of Las Cruces (2014)
Celia Yazmin Avila Hernandez (age 18) of Albuquerque and Saif Khalfan Almuhairbi (age 23) of Anthony (2013)
Cesar Miranda (age 18) of Pajarito Mesa and Marcella Gurule-Sandoval (age 26) of Santa Cruz (2011)
Cecilia Frescas and D’Ana Alderete, both of Albuquerque (2010)
Alejandra Carmona (age 17) of Albuquerque and Fiona Walters (age 19) of Mexican Springs (2009)
Nimsey Melendez (age 17) of Albuquerque and Shayna Lewis (age 20) of Santa Fe (2008)
Angelica Calabaza (age 17) of Santo Domingo and Mayra Franco (age 20) of Chamberino (2007)
Graciela Lopez (age 18) of Albuquerque (2006)
Kara Deyhle (age 21) of Albuquerque (2005)
Anisha Imhoff-Kerr (age 19) of Albuquerque (2004)
Anika Liljenwall (age 18) of Santa Fe (2003)
Tiffany Elston (age 17) of Taos (2002)
Matthew Maez (age 17) of Los Alamos (2001)
Lisa Gomez (age 19) of Albuquerque (2000)
Sandra Wechsler (age 24) of Santa Fe (1999)
Rease Harker (age 17) of Zuni (1998)
Renee Garcia (age 19) of Albuquerque (1997)
Joe Saldana (age 23) of Las Cruces (1996)
Donna Garcia (age 19) of Albuquerque (1994)

Alice King Public Service Award Recipients

Allen Sanchez (President, CHI St. Josephs’ Children; 2019)
Susan Thom Loubet (New Mexico Women’s Agenda and KUNM’s “Women’s Focus”; 2018)
Fred Harris (UNM professor, former US Senator; 2017)
Paula Tackett (Legislative Council Services; 2016)
Kathie Winograd, Ed.D. (Central New Mexico Community College; 2015)
Judge John Romero, Jr. (District Court; 2014)
Speaker of the House Ben Lujan (New Mexico House of Representatives; 2013; awarded posthumously)
U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman and U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (Honorary Founding Board Members, NM Voices; 2012)
Kara Bobroff (Native American Community Academy; 2011)
McClellan Hall (National Indian Youth Leadership Project; 2010)
Justice Petra Jimenez-Maes (New Mexico Supreme Court; 2009)

Patty Jennings and Polly Arango Citizen Advocacy Award Recipients

Plantiff families of the Yazzie/Martinez v. State of NM lawsuit (2019)
Searchlight New Mexico (Investigative journalism; 2018)
Notah Begay (Notah Begay III Foundation; 2017)
Kim Posich (NM Center on Law and Poverty; 2016)
Lance Chilton, MD (Pediatrics Department, University of New Mexico; 2015)
Olivia Rivera (Office of Child and Family Development, City of Albuquerque; 2014)
Frank Sanchez (Needmor Fund; 2013)
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)
Anna Nelson (NM Forum for Youth in Community; 2011)
Tara Ford (Pegasus; 2010)
Angie Vachio (PB&J; 2009)

Legislative Advocacy Award Recipients

Representative Javier Martinez (2019)
Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino (2018)
Senator Mimi Stewart (2017)
Representative Sheryl Williams Stapleton and Senator Howie Morales (2016)
Representative Luciano “Lucky” Varela (2015)
Representative Rick Miera (2014)

Spirit of Hope Direct Service Award Recipients

Dr. Bill Wagner (Executive Director, Centro Savila; 2019)
Roberta Rael (Generation Justice; 2018)
Somos un Pueblo Unido and El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos (2017)
Jerry Montoya (New Mexico Department of Health) and Nancy Jo Archer (Hogares; 2016)
Mary Dudley, Ph.D. (Steering Committee, Early Childhood Action Network) and Ted Martinez (School Board, Albuquerque Public Schools; 2015)
Susan Herrera (LANL Foundation; 2014)
Ronalda Warito-Tome (Education for Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs) and Ventura Lovato (Native Vision; 2013)

Voices for Children Award Recipients

Bob Greenberg, M.D. (NM Voices Co-founder; 2006)
J. Paul Taylor (Former State Legislator; 2004)
Alice King (Former First Lady; 2003)