Alumni Award Recipients
Zia Award, 2012
Rhonda King is a State Legislator dedicated to education and retiring from the Legislature this year. She is also committed to funding for UNM, CNM, public education and higher education, and always accessible to New Mexicans.
Rhonda King makes “politician” a compliment. With Rhonda in mind, you could say to someone, “You look like a politician today!” and they’d thank you. You could say, “How very much a politician your child is!” and they’d say “thank you.” Or on an exceptionally fair day you could say, “The weather today reminds me of a politician!” and we’d all know it was sunny and clear.
That’s because Rhonda epitomizes graciousness and service in the public’s interest. She has served District 40—which encompasses portions of Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Torrance Counties—as state representative since 1998. Rhonda had tried to persuade her dad to run for the legislature in the wake of her cousin Gary’s leaving to run for governor. The effort backfired and she was persuaded instead.
Here’s what makes her outstanding:
- She cares about her constituents, inquiring about their families and lives
- She listens to her constituents, taking the time to sit down and talk with them
- She welcomes her constituents to her office, no matter how long the day or how many people she’s seen
- She understands the ins and outs of getting legislation passed
- She shares her knowledge
- She is always polite to those on the other side of the aisle—carrying this equanimity so far as to marry an Aggie!
- She doesn’t ruffle easily; she neither under or overreacts
- She is quick to smile and quick to laugh
- She says what she means and she means what she says
And most importantly for us, she is a staunch advocate for education in New Mexico.
Excellent education for all of our children stands at the top of her legislative goals, along with quality health care for all citizens, economic development to attract jobs, and government accountability. During her 14 years in the House, Rhonda sponsored the Teacher Professional Development Fund, the Teacher Certification Reading Courses Act, and co-sponsored the first Statewide Reading Initiative.
Rhonda is vice-chair of the House Education Committee. She is also a member of the House Appropriations and Finance committee. In 2010 she was appointed chair of that committees new Higher Education Subcommittee, which recommends the budget for the state’s colleges and universities. Rhonda has worked diligently to preserve higher education funding and to prevent cuts during the economic downturn. She also took the lead in developing a new funding formula for colleges and universities, one that would fund research universities such as UNM equitably.
During her years as a legislator, Rhonda married Johnny Montoya and became a mom to now-7-year-old Ashleigh Dawn. She has decided not to seek re-election this year in order to spend more time with her family. It was a value-based decision, one that recognizes the importance of a well-rounded life. An Anderson grad who runs her own real estate business, Rhonda and her family live in Stanley. There she will continue to support the New Mexico Girls and Boys Ranch, 4-H Councils and Clubs, and the Bethel Community Store House. The stage may not be as big, but her impact will remain so.
So, maybe we won’t be able to use “politician” as a compliment after all. Instead, we’ll have to use “Rhonda.” What a “Rhonda” morning this is for me to have the opportunity to present our Zia Award to Representative King. Rhonda, we appreciate your caring, your work, and your accomplishments on behalf of education and all New Mexicans.