Alumni Award Recipients


Lobo Award

Jack Fortner ('78 BA)

Jack Fortner grew up in Farmington, enrolling at UNM in August of l973 where he graduated from UNM with a bachelor's degree in political science and minor in psychology in 1978. In 1981, Fortner graduated from the University of Michigan School of Law and returned to Albuquerque joining the Law firm of Sutin, Thayer & Brown. In l983, he moved to Farmington where Fortner continues to practice law.

In l996, Fortner was elected to the San Juan County Commission, and re-elected again in 2000, 2012 and 2016. He currently serves as chairman of the San Juan County commission. Fortner also served on the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board from l994 to l996, Chairman of the Labor Management Relations Board for the City of Farmington, The Domestic Relations Hearing Officer for the Eleventh Judicial District Court, and as the City of Farmington Alternate Municipal Judge from l994 to 2009. In January of 2017, the Hispanic Round Table of New Mexico awarded Fortner the Community Leadership Award.

Fortner has served on the UNM Board of Regents from 1998 to 2016. He served as President of the Board of Regents in 2005 and from 2011 to 2015. Fortner's wife, Terri, is a UNM graduate from the UNM School of Nursing. His daughter, Suzanne, is a double UNM graduate, and his daughter, Krissy, is a Senior at UNM and plays softball for the Lobos.

Zia Awards

Amy Boule ('68 BA, '84 MBA)

Amy Boule is a double alumna of UNM, graduating with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's in business administration. Boule worked as a hospital clinical chemist for 15 years before working at UNM Hospital where she worked for 24 years acting as a hospital administrator. Following retirement from UNMH, Amy worked as the director of operations at the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator for six years until her final retirement at the end of 2014.

Amy served for six years on the UNM Alumni Association Board of Directors and chaired the Awards Committee for several years. She has served on the Lobo Living Room committee for the past several years and currently serves as co-chair of the committee. Throughout her career, Amy has been committed to community service, having served on and as chair of the board of Quality New Mexico, on the United Way Allocations Committee, the Senior Operations Officers Council of the University Health Systems Consortium, and on the boards of TriCore Reference Laboratories and Albuquerque Ambulance Company. Amy was recognized as a Woman on the Move by the YWCA in 1988 and was inducted into the Anderson School of Management's Hall of Fame in 2009.

Larry Larranaga ('71 BSCE, '80 MS)

Larry Larranaga received a bachelor's of science and master's of science in civil engineering from the University of New Mexico. He was a partner in the Bohannan Huston Consulting Engineering firm for 15 years. Larranaga also served as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer and Public Works Director for the City of Albuquerque for three years and served as Cabinet Secretary of Highways for the State of New Mexico for five years after working for the New Mexico Highway Department for 15 years. Larranaga served in the Armed Services in Hawaii and Southeast Asia. He owns and operates a ranching business in Central New Mexico.

Larranaga has served on numerous boards and commissions appointed by presidents, governors, mayors, county commissioners and universities. He has served in the New Mexico House of Representatives since 1994. He presently sits as a member of the following committees: The House Appropriations and Finance Committee, the House Agriculture and Water Resources, and the House Rules and Order of Business. In the Interim Legislative schedule, he sits as a member of the Legislative Finance Committee, The State Investment and Pensions Committee, the Water and Natural Resources Committee, The Public School Capital Outlay Committee, and the Redistricting Committee. Larranaga's wife, Charletta, is a UNM graduate with a degree in education, and his daughter Pam Thies is also a graduate in electrical engineering degree from UNM.

L. Ray Nunley ('62 BSPH)

L. Ray Nunley graduated from the UNM College of Pharmacy in 1962. He led a distinguished career as a pharmacist and as a public servant, including serving as Mayor of Ruidoso. Nunley opened and operated Nunley Drug in Ruidoso from 1966 to 1982, and then spent the most of the rest of his career as a Walmart pharmacist. He was named Walmart's Regional Pharmacist of the Year in 1994, 1998, and 2003. He retired from Walmart at the end of 2014. Nunley was named the 2015 UNM College of Pharmacy Distinguished Alumnus, the highest honor the College of Pharmacy bestows. His professional career was intertwined with public service. He served as the Lincoln County Commissioner for ten years and the Lincoln County Commission Chairman from 1994 to1995. In 1990, he was appointed to serve as a public member on the Board of Nursing where he eventually became the vice chairman. Nunley also served on the New Mexico State Agency on Aging and to the NM Aging and Long Term Care Department in 2002 and was re-appointed in 2004. In 2002, he was elected to the Ruidoso Village Council, and in 2006, he was elected Mayor of Ruidoso Village. In 2010, Governor Susanna Martinez, appointed Nunley to serve as a professional member of the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy where he served until 2013.

Roy Solomon ('89 BUS)

Roy Solomon graduated from UNM in 1989. A lifelong athlete who has completed six full Ironman triathlons, has run in the Boston Marathon twice and completed the New York City Marathon, Solomon is proud of his time as a member of the ski team at the University of New Mexico. While still a student at University of New Mexico, he bought a bar near the state fairgrounds, obtaining his first liquor license almost immediately after turning 21 years old. That property – which he operated as Friar's Pub – led to a series of other food and drink ventures including The Hungry Bear and Sunset Grille in the 1980s and, more recently, 505 Southwestern Chile Products and Bailey's on the Beach. His homegrown chile and salsa line, 505 Southwestern, likely stands as his signature enterprise. However, having sold both the retail and manufacturing components of 505 in the past several years, Solomon has embarked on an eye-catching new project called as the founder and developer of Green Jeans Farmery in Albuquerque. Inspired by a strong desire to be an advocate for small (local) business, Solomon has turned repurposed shipping containers into a new type of cooperative development at Interstate 40 and Carlisle.

Elisabeth Valenzuela ('99 BS, '01 MA, '09 PhD)

Elisabeth Valenzuela is a proud triple alumna of UNM's College of Education. She started her teaching career as a bilingual teacher at La Mesa Elementary School and worked for Albuquerque Public Schools for 13 years. Since leaving APS, she was the first principal at the Dorn Charter Community School, Education Administrator at the Public Education Department (Bilingual Multicultural Education Bureau). During my time with NM PED, she created the Spanish Language Development (SLD) and Spanish Language Arts (SLA) Taskforce, which was charged with reviewing and adopting SLD/SLA standards that would strengthen bilingual programs within New Mexico. Valenzuela has taught various education courses at UNM, NM Highlands University, and Northern New Mexico College. Teaching at the university level has given her the opportunity to work with future teachers from diverse cultural, linguistic, and racial backgrounds. In Valenzuela's current position as the principal at Bernalillo Elementary School, she works within a very diverse Indigenous community – 22 percent of the student population comes from 12 of the 19 pueblos or tribes within the state. In every role she's served, Valenzuela's mission has been to collaborate with all stakeholders to positively impact public education across New Mexico.

Vickie Wilcox ('95 JD)

A 1988 Deming High School graduate, Vickie Wilcox attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., before graduating from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 1995. Her Master of Laws in Taxation is from New York University. She returned to New Mexico in 1996, and has since represented clients across New Mexico, with a primary focus on estate and business planning, and charitable giving. She received the Albuquerque Community Foundation's Excellence in Charitable Gift Planning award. She has served on the Board of the Albuquerque Community Foundation and the Albuquerque Bar Association, and is the founder of the Independent Community Foundation, Inc.

Wilcox now serves on the board of the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management Foundation and was a past adjunct professor at University of New Mexico School of Law. In addition to hosting an annual seminar attended by over 150 top legal, accounting, and financial advisors on current legal topics, Wilcox is often invited to speak locally and nationally. Past speaking engagements have included AICPA Practitioners Symposium and TECH+ Conference in Las Vegas, the Financial Service Professionals Arizona Institute, and the National College of Probate Judges Spring Conference. Wilcox is an American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Fellow and is one of five New Mexico Board Certified Specialists in estate planning, trust, and probate law.

Inspirational Young Alumnus

Megan Fitzpatrick ('08 BA, '14 MD)

Megan Fitzpatrick received her bachelor's degree from UNM in 2008 and worked to become a Doctor of Medicine in 2014 from the UNM School of Medicine. While a student at UNM, she founded and ran an organization dedicated to public health outreach implementation through partnerships with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in El Salvador. In medical school, she learned to use data to identify patterns and investigate causes of malnutrition, typhoid fever, and the supply and demand side economics of antenatal care in Kenya and Uganda through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Hubert Global Health Fellowship. This year, Fitzpatrick completed the Fogarty Global Health Equity Fellowship where she had the chance to create and implement a cervical cancer public health pathology project in Zimbabwe. She is currently completing her anatomic and clinical pathology training at Stanford. She is researching innovative and inexpensive screening methods to detect cervical cancer in low resource settings in the US and internationally, which she hopes to implement in her future career. Her long-term career goals are to incorporate public health, pathology, and basic science to perform global public health research. When Fitzpatrick chose pathology, she found a path that would foster both her scientific and public service goals of medicine.

James F. Zimmerman Award

David Campbell (MPA '81, JD '86)

Campbell has had a long and distinguished career filled with contributions to the community, New Mexico, the University and the world. Following service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, he worked as special assistant to Mayor Harry Kinney, as the chief city attorney for Mayor Louis Saavedra, and as the chief administrative officer for Mayor Richard Berry, as well as an attorney in private practice. Campbell chaired the UNM School of Public Administration Advisory Board, and chaired the Explora Science Center and Children's Museum Board. After a lifetime of service to New Mexico, Campbell joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 2011. He served as Vice Consul at the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and as Political Officer for the U.S. Embassy in Mauritius and Seychelles. Currently, Campbell is serving as East Africa Affairs Desk Officer at U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Campbell has been extensively involved in civic affairs in New Mexico. He chaired the Good Government Group from 1986-92; chaired numerous government and ethics reform efforts, including the effort to combine city and county governments; and led the City Charter Review Task Force. Campbell has served on the boards of the United Way, Economic Forum, Golden Apple Foundation and the Disciplinary Board of the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Bernard S. Rodey Award

Loren Kieve (JD '73)

Kieve practices law in San Francisco. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and, for the fifteenth year in a row, as one of the top "Super Lawyers" in the Bay Area. Kieve is a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates and has held ABA leadership positions since 1987. He is a director and past co-chair of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay Area, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the national Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. He previously was on the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California. He attended Stanford and has law degrees from Oxford University and the University of New Mexico.

Kieve chairs the board of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe as a U.S. Presidential appointee. During Kieve's terms as chair, the IAIA built its first campus, greatly expanded its campus and curriculum, renovated and expanded its Museum and is embarking on a new Performing Arts Center. Kieve chairs the National Advisory Board of Stanford's Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. He has been inducted into Stanford's Multicultural Alumni Hall of Fame.

Erna S. Fergusson Award

Stephen Ciepiela (BA '77, MPA '80)

President of Charles Stephen, a firm he co-founded in 1983, Ciepiela is at the helm of one of the oldest and largest independent financial planning firms in New Mexico. One of the first 75 Certified Financial Planners in the United States, he has been a recipient of many honors and awards including being chosen by his peers in a special issue of "Money Magazine" as one of the top 200 financial planners in the country and named in "Wealth Manager Magazine" as one of the top wealth managers in the United States. Ciepiela also is a successful author, writing "When A Partner Dies." Currently, he is writing "Going Part Time – The New Exit Strategy."

Ciepiela received an athletic scholarship to UNM where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees. A valued member of the UNM Alumni Association for more than 34 years, Ciepiela has served in many capacities including association president in 2002. He has also served as a board member, and president in 1988, of the Alumni Letterman. Ciepiela has received the Alumni Association's Zia Award, New Mexico Business Weekly's Top Performing CEO Award, Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce Harry E. Kinney Good Neighbor Award, and a Community Inspiration Award for his work with Roadrunner Food Bank.

Higher Education Distinguished Legislator Award

Senator Jacob Candelaria

Senator Jacob Candelaria was first elected in 2012 and has quickly risen to leadership positions within the Senate. At the time, he was the youngest person to be elected to the NM Legislature and he continued to serve his district while attending UNM Law School. He graduated from the law school in the spring of 2016 and was admitted to the NM Bar later that year. Senator Candelaria is the Caucus Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus and is currently a member of the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee.

During the 2017 legislative Session, Senator Candelaria sponsored SB149, Crime Victim and Witness Confidentiality. This bill would provide protection for the identity of victims and witness of sexual assault/sexual violence from New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). Currently, personal information of victims of a crime are not protected under IPRA. Senator Candelaria was characterized by the Press in numerous articles as trying to help institutions, such as UNM, hide public records when in fact he was trying to protect victims from being re-victimized.

Senator Candelaria stood for what was right and should be recognized for his efforts.

Faculty Teaching Award

Amy Brandzel

Associate professor of American Studies and Women Studies at the University of New Mexico, Brandzel has been a part of the University's community as a faculty member since 2007. Brandzel is an intersectional, interdisciplinary scholar, who works across the connections and contradictions within feminist, GLBT/queer, postcolonial and critical race theories on identity, citizenship, law, history, and knowledge production. Alongside the faculty at UNM, she works to build the University's offerings in postcolonial, feminist and queer studies. Brandzel works closely with graduate and undergraduate students and aims to challenge and inspire her advisees.

In addition to being captivating in classroom, Brandzel is a Faculty Advisor at UNM's LGBTQ Resource Center. She has served on the Ad-Hoc Faculty Senate Teaching Committee and the Ad-Hoc NEH Summer Stipend Committee. Brandzel was a Faculty Senator for the UNM Faculty Senate from 2009-11. She also is a member of the editorial board for "Feminist Formations." Brandzel received her bachelor's degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz, her master's degree from New York University and her PhD from the University of Minnesota.

For questions or more information:

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