Alumni Award Recipients
James F. Zimmerman Award
Henry Rivera ('68 BA '73 JD)
Rivera, a New Mexico native, is a partner in the Washington, D.C., firm of Wiley Rein, LLP. He is an internationally recognized communications expert, author, speaker and conference leader. He was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to the position of Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, which nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate. Rivera headed an Agency Review Team for the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team and served as a member of a Federal Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy for the U.S. Department of State. He was President of the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA), President of the Young Lawyers Division of the NM State Bar Association (YLD), and President-Elect of the Albuquerque Bar Association. He has been inducted into the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council's Hall of Fame. Rivera is a Vietnam Veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star. Currently, he serves on the Boards of the UNM Alumni Association, El Rancho De Las Golondrinas and the Multicultural Media and Telecommunications Council.
Hart contributes an expertise in contracts and commercial law to the UNM law faculty, but he is best known throughout the law school community for his role in shaping the school during his 37 years on the faculty, including two terms as dean. Shortly after arriving at the law school, he was asked to start up a pre-law summer program aimed at increasing the enrollment of Native American law students. The Pre-law Summer Institute has become the most successful program of its kind in the country. As dean, from 1971-1979 and 1985-1986, he worked to bring in a more diverse student body, increasing the number of women law students. Hart has taught Commercial Law, Contracts, Property, Legal Reasoning, Research and Writing and Consumer Law. Prior to joining the UNM law faculty, he taught at Boston College Law School, New York University School of Law and the Albany Law School of Union University. He also has taught as a visitor at Hofstra University Law School, the University of California at Davis Law School and Saint John's University Law School.
Zanotti is a native New Mexican born in Gallup. She grew up in Albuquerque and graduated from Highland High School before attending The University of New Mexico. Zanotti has two degrees from UNM, a Bachelor's of Science in Business and a Master's of Arts in Special Education. She has served as President of the Alumni Association twice in 1988-89 and 2008-09. Zanotti was the founding executive director of the Albuquerque Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, the executive director of the State Bar of New Mexico, a senior vice president at Public Service Company of New Mexico and the president/executive director of New Mexico First. She currently serves as a trustee on the UNM Foundation Board, on the leadership team of the Albuquerque Chapter of World Vision's Women of Vision, is a member of the International Women's Forum and the UNM College of Education Friends Board. Zanotti received the New Mexico Ethics in Business Award in 2005 and the YWCA New Mexican of Vision Award in 2005 and was inducted in the UNM Anderson School of Management's Hall of Fame in 1998.
Celia Foy Castillo ('81 JD)
Castillo began working as a teacher but eventually attended law school and went into the family business, joining Foy, Foy and Castillo law firm in Silver City. She was elected to the New Mexico Court of Appeals in 2000 and served until her retirement in 2013, including two years as chief judge. In retirement she serves on the boards of several small companies and is president of the International Women's Forum – New Mexico.
Kenneth Gonzales ('88 BA, '94 JD)
Gonzales is a U.S. District Court judge serving in Las Cruces. Before his judicial appointment, Gonzales served as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico from 2010 to 2013 and as an assistant U.S. attorney in that office from 1999 to 2010. Gonzales was commissioned in 2001 as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and he holds the rank of major in the Army Judge Advocate General's Corp.
Gary Gordon ('83 BBA, '86 JD)
Gordon practiced with the law firm Miller Stratvert P.A. in Albuquerque for 23 years, specializing in medical malpractice defense, and has been involved in a host of civic and philanthropic organizations. He has been especially active with the Albuquerque Academy and UNM, his alma maters. Gordon currently is the Chief Financial Officer for the Academy and has served as a trustee of the Academy for 15 years, including three as board chair. He served for 12 years as a trustee of the UNM Foundation.
James Miller ('71 BSEd, '79 PhD)
Miller put his degrees in elementary education and education administration to use in the Albuquerque Public Schools and for the Department of Defense in Germany before heading up the Carrizozo and Farmington school districts as superintendent. In 1991 he was hired to create the new Ruidoso branch campus of Eastern New Mexico University where he served as campus director and dean emeritus until his retirement in 2005. Miller's father, James, Sr., was a Zia Award recipient in 1995. Miller now works part-time or volunteers in business energy efficiency, compressed Natural Gas and solar energy deployment in southern New Mexico.
Carol Pierce ('86 MPA)
Pierce has worked on behalf of the health of New Mexicans for more than 30 years. A former public health director for the New Mexico Department of Health, she now holds two positions ¬– as the program manager for the UNM School-Based Health Center Program, which provides integrated medical, behavioral and dental services, health education and case management at six Albuquerque Public Schools, and as the school nurse for PB&J Family Services' Therapeutic Preschool.
Randy Royster ('92 JD)
Royster worked in real estate, construction, health care and law before making the switch to the nonprofit world. Since 2005 he has been the president and CEO of the Albuquerque Community Foundation, which manages a community endowment and makes grants to nonprofit organizations. Under his leadership, the foundation's managed assets have grown by more than 40 percent, average annual contributions have almost tripled and average annual grant making has more than quadrupled over the first 24 years of the foundation's existence.
Robert Solenberger ('65 BSCHE)
Solenberger, a physician and a colonel in the U.S. Army, has been deployed as a senior surgeon and field hospital commander in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Honduras, Egypt and Korea. The surgeon credits his engineering education at UNM for helping him think outside the box in medicine, including a unique and successful separation of conjoined Siamese twins in 1995 in which Solenberger led a 70-person team through more than 26 hours in the operating room. Solenberger currently works at the VA Hospital in Belton, Texas as a surgeon.
Inspirational Young Alumnus Awards
Bridgit Lujan ('98 BBA, '00 MBA, '04 MA)
Lujan has been dancing since she was 2, when she began attending Spanish folk dance classes. Since then, she has trained in classical ballet, jazz, flamenco, classical Spanish and Mexican folklorico dance. Lujan founded her own national touring company, Dulce Flamenco Internacional, Inc., and offers a professional training program for young aspiring flamenco dancers. The Anderson School of Management recognized Lujan with a 2016 Hall of Fame Young Alumni Award.
Shepherd joined the faculty of the UNM Honors Program in 1998. In 2011, she was named the CASE/Carnegie U.S. Professor of the Year, and when the Honors Program became a college in the fall of 2013, she was named its associate dean. Shepherd said the Honors College is a very special gem in UNM's crown, and one which offers world-class academic opportunities to undergraduate students from all majors and fields of interest. Shepherd received her Master's Degree. in Social Sciences and Communication Arts from the University of the Pacific. She worked as a Personnel Manager in Silicon Valley for several years before returning to school to pursue a PhD in Ecology and Biogeography. Shepherd's own research interests include biological diversity at various scales and across several taxa, and most recently she has worked in marine ecosystems studying marine invertebrates such corals and the microbial partners that provide their energy systems. Her work has important applications for marine conservation and for maintaining coral reefs worldwide.
For questions or more information:
Alumni Relations Office