Alumni Award Recipients


James F. Zimmerman Award

Gerald McNerney

Congressman McNerney, D-Calif. (District 9), is a leader in renewable energy in the US House of Representatives where he is serving his third term. Before running for office, McNerney worked as a contractor in wind engineering at Sandia Labs and US Windpower, as a consultant to various energy clients, and as CEO of a startup wind-turbine company. He is co-author of "Clean Energy Nation" (Amacom, 2011), which covers the history and future of fossil fuels in the US.

Bernard S. Rodey Award

James Anaya

Professor Anaya is the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Long a champion of the rights of indigenous people, Professor Anaya teaches at the University of Arizona and travels the globe to report on the status of native populations. He participated in the drafting of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. He was also the lead counsel in a landmark case against the Nicaraguan government that for the first time upheld indigenous rights as a matter of international law.

Erna S. Fergusson Award

Breda Murphy Bova

As the former advisor—largely as chief of staff—to five University of New Mexico presidents, Professor Bova frequently represented the university to all its constituencies: students, faculty, staff, alumni and community. Currently she is special assistant to the dean of the College of Education. She has taught in the College of Education for 34 years. Her research into generational characteristics and relationships—in the workplace and in learning environments—has informed her career. A 2011 recipient of the State of New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Award, Bova has chaired the board of the United Way of Central New Mexico. She serves as faculty representative to the NCAA.

Zia Award

John Draper ('75 JD)

John Draper grew up in Albuquerque, attending Highland High School and Princeton University before graduating from the UNM School of Law in 1975. Draper also has graduate degrees from the University of Stockholm Law Faculty and St. John's College in Santa Fe. In 1975, he received a Fulbright Scholar Award. Draper practiced for 36 years in Santa Fe with the firm of Montgomery & Andrews. In March 2014 he formed a new firm with his son, Matthew Draper, which specializes in water law and international law. In recent decades Draper has spent most of his professional time representing states in interstate water disputes before the United States Supreme Court. He is currently counsel for the states of New Mexico, Montana and Kansas in U.S. Supreme Court cases involving disputes over interstate rivers. Draper regularly participates in New Mexico State Engineer administrative proceedings and appeals, court adjudications of water rights, and the purchase and sale of water rights.

Charles "Chuck" Lanier ('43 BA)

Charles "Chuck" Lanier was born in Aztec, NM in 1921. He served aboard four aircraft carriers as a Naval Officer during World War II from 1943-1946. He was hired to manage the University Golf Course from 1947 to 1957 by President Tom Popejoy. He spent his career in land title companies and in finance serving as President of New Mexico Title Company for many years. Lanier was an avid participant in all aspects of the community; President, United Community Fund; President, Albuquerque Boy's Club, President, Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of Advisory Council, St. Joseph's Hospital; President for Great SW Area Council, Boy Scouts of America; Chairman, Economic Forum; City Commissioner, City of Albuquerque, Chairman, State Personnel Board for NM; and Vice Chairman, UNM Foundation Board of Directors, just to name a few. Among his awards and honors: Distinguished Service Award and Lifetime Membership, ABQ Jaycees; NM Distinguished Public Service Award, State of NM; Honorary Commander, Kirtland Air Force Base; Inductee, ABQ Senior Citizens Hall of Fame; and Lifetime member, Economic Forum. Lanier received his BA from The University of New Mexico in 1943.

Damon Martinez ('89 BA '92 JD '93 MBA)

On Nov. 21, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Damon P. Martinez to become the 45th U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. Martinez' nomination was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 21, 2014, and he was sworn in on May 27, 2014. As U.S. Attorney, Martinez serves as the top federal law enforcement official in New Mexico, and represents the United States' interests in civil cases. He currently serves on the Border and Immigration Subcommittee, the Native American Issues Subcommittee, the Terrorism and National Security Subcommittee and the Environmental Issues Working Group of the U.S. Attorney General's Advisory Committee. He has worked in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2002, Martinez joined the U.S. Army Reserve as a Judge Advocate. In 2008, he was mobilized to the Washington D.C. area where he worked on a special project that became the U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command. In 2012, he was deployed to Sinai, Egypt, as part of the 1st Battalion of the 200th Infantry Regiment of the New Mexico National Guard in support of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. He currently holds the rank of Major in the New Mexico National Guard. A native of New Mexico, Martinez received a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Economics and Political Science in 1989, a Juris Doctor in 1992, and a Master of Business Administration in 1993, all from The University of New Mexico.

Don Power ('71 BAED '03 EMBA)

Don Power received his BA degree from The University of New Mexico in 1971, and in 2003 he received his Executive MBA degree from the Anderson School of Business at UNM. Power is the Chairman Emeritus of Jaynes Corporation. He began his career with Jaynes in 1969 as a form setter and laborer while in college. Power enjoyed his work in the construction industry. He received great fulfillment meeting new people, listening to their ideas and taking those thoughts from the design stage through successfully completed projects. He served as Chairman of United Way Fund Raising Campaign for 2010 and Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2013. Other organizations where Power has held board positions include: Economic Forum, CNM Foundation Board, UNM Anderson School of Management Foundation Board, Albuquerque Economic Development Inc., New Mexico Partnership, St. Pius X High School Foundation Board of Trustees, Great SW Council Boy Scouts of America, The Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, Eastdale Little League, St. Joseph's Healthcare System, NAIOP, Beaver Creek West Management and he is a member of the New Mexico Amigos.

Ruth Schifani ('70 BA '76 JD)

Ruth Schifani is an experienced practitioner in Banking and Real Estate law. She brings more than thirty years' experience to numerous financial institutions in public finance, real estate, and asset based secured transactions throughout the State of New Mexico and has represented both bank and retail establishments in regulatory and consumer compliance matters. She is a shareholder with Modrall Sperling. Chambers USA reports, "Schifani is particularly adept at financing deals with bond transactions in tax exempt matters. Sources note she is excellent at handling complex development loans, and she is 'a cut above the rest." "(Ms. Schifani) will give 110% to accomplish the deal – she is morally upstanding, very reliable and quietly competent." Schifani is a fellow of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys. In addition to her practice, Schifani is active in the community. She is Chair of the UNM Honors College Advisory Board and Treasurer of New Mexico Appleseed Board. She previously served as President of The University of New Mexico Alumni Association, President of the YWCA of the Middle Rio Grande, and President of the Albuquerque Bar Association. Schifani served 12 years on the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, and was recently appointed to the Judicial Standards Commission. Schifani received both her Bachelors of Arts and Science in 1970 and her Juris Doctorate in 1976 from The University of New Mexico.

Barbara Vigil ('85 JD)

Chief Justice Barbara J. Vigil has served on the New Mexico Supreme Court since December, 2012. Chief Justice Vigil brings to the Court over 14 years of judicial experience. Prior to her election to the New Mexico Supreme Court, she served as a district court judge in the First Judicial District Court. Chief Justice Vigil has been recognized as a leader in community collaboration and in the development of comprehensive strategies to improve and support the juvenile justice system in New Mexico. Barbara Vigil has lived in New Mexico her entire life. She attained a bachelor's degree in accounting from New Mexico State University in 1981 and a juris doctorate from The University of New Mexico School of Law in 1985.

Lobo Award

Tim CassTim Cass ('87 BBA)

Tim Cass is entering his ninth year and currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for the UNM Athletic Department. A former Lobo men's tennis player and head coach, Cass brings a unique passion and vision to his position. Cass serves as the sport oversight for football, men's basketball, and men's and women's tennis. Cass recently oversaw the 18-month, $60 plus million renovation of The Pit. Cass, who was previously the head men's tennis coach at Texas A&M, was one of the most respected Division I head coaches in the nation and guided both the Lobos and the Aggies to unprecedented success. During his collegiate career for the Lobos, Cass was a three-time All-WAC honoree and was an All-America in doubles in 1986. In 2012, he was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame for his work as a collegiate tennis coach and administrator. He was inducted into the UNM Lettermen's Hall of Honor in 2013. Cass graduated from UNM in 1987 with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration.

Inspirational Young Alumnus Award

Michael Chicarelli ('97 BSN '11 MSN)

Michael Chicarelli began his career as a nurse in 1997 in the Emergency Department at UNM Hospital. He quickly worked his way up the ranks to become the Executive Director of Emergency Services in 2010. He currently oversees 350 full time employees and a $30 million budget. During his tenure at UNM Hospitals and under his impeccable leadership, Chicarelli has made numerous advancements and improvements to the Emergency Services Department. He continues his passion for improving health care and the health of others. He is chair of the hospital's Emergency Department Operations Work Group. He also works to mentor nurses and those seeking to enter the health profession. Considered a national expert, Chicarelli uses his time to share his expertise including participating in lectures and published works. He received two degrees, BSN in 1997 and MSN in 2011, both from The University of New Mexico.

Faculty Teaching Award

Feroza Jussawalla

Professor Jussawalla's specialty of postcolonial literature in the UNM English department lends itself to teaching at a minority-majority university. Jussawalla earned her BA at a women's college in India before furthering her studies at the University of Utah. She taught at UTEP for 21 years before coming to UNM in 2001. In her classes, Jussawalla relates the experiences of international writers who lived under colonial rule to the experiences of the myriad cultures in the Southwest. She embraces the importance of teaching and research, and works to see her students succeed at both.

For questions or more information:

Alumni Relations Office
O: 505-277-5808
800-ALUM-UNM (258-6866)
E: alumni@unm.edu