During a remote Board meeting Thursday afternoon, the Chamber awarded a group of legislators and community leaders with the 2020 Chamber Awards for their important work on behalf of Albuquerque and New Mexico. The annual awards, largely devoted to those legislators and local officials who have done the most to advance important legislation and policy, support the Chamber’s efforts to make progress in key policy areas for New Mexico and Albuquerque, and help make our city and state a great place to work, start a business, and raise a family.
Chamber Board Chair and Indian Pueblo Cultural Center President and CEO Mike Canfield introduced two members of the Chamber’s Executive Committee to present this year’s awards: Immediate Past Board Chair and PNM President and CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn and Chair-Elect and New Mexico Mutual President and CEO Norm Becker. PNM and New Mexico Mutual are the sponsors of this year’s Chamber Awards.
Awardees ranged from Business Advocate in Politics recipient Representative Patricia Lundstrom — who serves as Chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee in the state legislature and leads the Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation — to Excellence in Media recipient Michelle Donaldson, who as general manager of KOB-TV launched the Safe Start NM initiative to help inform consumers about business re-opening plans across New Mexico. Ms. Donaldson is also a Chamber board member.
Rep. Doreen Gallegos (D — Doña Ana) described the Chamber as “a great ally” in the effort to pass legislation establishing the Early Childhood Education and Care endowment fund to ensure stability in funding for early childhood programs, for which she and Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith (D — Doña Ana, Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra) received the Excellence in Education award.
The Chamber’s Public Health and Safety Award was given to leaders of the three largest health providers in the state, each of which has provided vital service at enormous sacrifice during the COVID-19 pandemic: Troy Greer, CEO of Lovelace Medical Center and Heart Hospital of New Mexico; Dale Maxwell, President & CEO of Presbyterian Healthcare Services; and Dr. Paul Roth, Chancellor for Health Sciences and CEO of the UNM Health System.
The Chamber awarded two Distinguished Public Service Awards to two of the most prominent New Mexico women in state-level leadership roles: Senate President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen (D — Doña Ana) and New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith Nakamura. Both are leaving their roles this year, and the Chamber is grateful for their years of service and tireless commitment to improving New Mexico’s judicial and legislative processes.
“A strong advocate for mental health treatment, Senator Papen is widely regarded as an effective legislator, a fair leader within the Senate, a strong advocate for Southern New Mexico, and someone who was always willing to listen to the concerns and perspectives of the business community,” said Ms. Vincent-Collawn in her presentation of the award to the two recipients. “Justice Nakamura, you are the embodiment of “distinguished public service” – fair, serious, smart, and highly competent — the very best of New Mexico’s legal profession and judiciary.”
The Chamber’s prestigious “Statesman of the Year” award went to the late City Councilor and former Bernalillo County Commissioner Ken Sanchez, who passed away last year after serving the city and county for more than two decades. Councilor Sanchez served on the City Council since 2005, and earned a well-deserved reputation for thoughtful, considered leadership. “Ken was even-handed, fair, and kind when you dealt with him,” noted Norm Becker in his presentation of the award to Councilor Sanchez’ family. “As a small businessman himself who worked with other businesses, he always thought through and appreciated how his decisions might impact job creators.”
Finally, Chamber Board Chair Mike Canfield awarded the Chairman’s Award of Excellence to Ms. Vincent Collawn and Mr. Becker for their strong support of the Chamber, both in serving on the Executive Committee and in supporting fundraising efforts to keep the Chamber’s advocacy for the business community in Albuquerque and New Mexico thriving, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chamber is deeply thankful for and indebted to their leadership and commitment to making Albuquerque a great place to start a business and raise a family.
In addition, this year’s recipients of the Chamber’s “Start to Finish” legislative awards are as follows:
- Representatives Bill Rehm, Gregg Schmedes, Tim Lewis, Rebecca Dow, and Kelly Fajardo and Senator Candace Gould for legislation increasing criminal penalties for those who use a firearm in the commission of a crime and those who are felons in possession of a firearm.
- Representatives Jason Harper and Javier Martinez and Senator John Sapien for legislation extending the Manufacturing Equipment Investment Tax Credit.
- Representatives Eliseo Alcon, Debra Sarinana, Harry Garcia, and Patricia Roybal-Caballero and Senator Candace Gould for legislation to expedite professional licenses for military family members stationed in New Mexico.
- Representative Nathan Small and Senator Steve Neville for legislation advancing the cause of Public Regulation Commission reform.
- Senator John Arthur Smith and Representative Doreen Gallegos for the legislation discussed above on the early childhood endowment fund.
- Representative Phelps Anderson and Senator George Munoz for the very difficult legislation they sponsored to reform the state’s public employee retirement system.
All of these pieces of legislation passed and were signed by the Governor, and the Chamber thanks their sponsors for the hard work of drafting and shepherding these bills through the legislative process.