In a virtual ceremony set for Thursday, Aug. 6, winners for the annual Paul Ré Peace Prize will be recognized. Winners will be named in several categories including one winner in the general category, four lifetime achievement awardees, three career achievement awardees and two emerging promoter of peace awardees. The awardees will be honored at the Paul Ré Peace Prize reception during the virtual event set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (MST).

On a biennial cycle, the Peace Prize is given to UNM students, faculty, staff members, alumni, retirees or volunteers who promote peace, harmony, and understanding among people of the world. In announcing the 2020 roster of awardees, chair of the Peace Prize selection committee, Susan Morrison, said, “We always have excellent nominees and it is a pleasure and privilege to interact with them.”

The Awardees...

The winner of the 2020 Peace Prize in the general category is Sarah Bird for her work as an acclaimed author and activist in Austin, Texas. Bird, a UNM alumna, feels her novel The Flamenco Academy is her love letter to New Mexico, and in particular, to Albuquerque and her beloved University of New Mexico. She feels that this novel most closely embodies the ideals expressed in Paul Ré’s work. Set in UNM’s world-class Flamenco Studies program it explores a young woman’s search for peace through the study of this most demanding of dance forms.

While touring with her book, Bird turned bookstores from Austin to Manhattan into Flamenco workshops and found that sharing the basics of this art form with audiences could be transformative. Bird also works tirelessly as an activist for libraries and literacy in Austin and is a sought-after speaker to help educate and raise funds for candidates who have dedicated themselves to moving society towards a space of harmony and where peace might flourish. 

Four Lifetime Achievement Awardees will also be recognized including Robert Hitchcock (MA ’78, Ph.D. ’82), adjunct professor, UNM Department of Anthropology, maintains a very active teaching profile, significant anthropological research, and student mentoring. Hitchcock has dedicated his life to assisting traditional hunter-gatherer, subsistence agriculturalists, and pastoral communities across southern Africa as they negotiate the changing dynamics of the 20th-21st centuries. He has worked tirelessly to address indigenous concerns as these populations inevitably enter the globalized world, to alleviate their suffering due to poverty, ethnic discrimination, land disputes, population displacement, refugee resettlement and political marginalization. 

A Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Gerald Vizenorretired UNM Distinguished Professor of American Studies, writer and scholar, and an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth Reservation. Vizenor also taught for many years at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was Director of Native American Studies and is now a Professor Emeritus. He has published more than 30 books, including fiction, essays, and poetry.

Throughout his career, Vizenor has sought to raise the difficult questions of the nature of justice in a society that includes colonized peoples. His promotion of “survivance” of tribal peoples implies a process rather than an end, as the ways of tribal peoples continue to change. He also notes that the survival of tribal peoples as distinct from majority cultures is based in resistance, and through his works continues to criticize both Native American nationalism and Euro-American colonial attitudes that in themselves reject peace and peaceful resolutions to understanding cultural differences.

The third Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Frank Martinez (BA ’71, MPA ’82), visiting research scholar, School of Architecture + Planning. A life-long community volunteer and advocate, Martinez helped form the Citizens Information Committee of Martineztown (CICM) in 1971, created to protest the urban renewal condemnation of Martineztown, one of Albuquerque’s oldest neighborhoods. As a result of neighborhood involvement, Martineztown has maintained its residential, historic character. Martinez served as the president of the organization for many years and remains the committee’s spokesperson. He was an early supporter of Innovate ABQ and the subsequent construction of Lobo Rainforest building. He is a firm believer in innovation and entrepreneurship as a path to economic growth for Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico.

The fourth Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Christine Glidden, board member and past chair of the UNM Hospitals Board of Trustees, and named Changemaker by the Anderson School of Management Faculty. Glidden leads an all-volunteer non-profit called Women to Be which aims to end the gender violence and human rights violations done to women by depriving them of effective means of menstrual management. Women to Be fabricates and distributes ‘kits’ of underwear and washable sanitary pads to women and girls in Nepal, Zambia and Mexico. The project also offers a reproductive health class offering options to avoid unintended pregnancy. Women to Be girls have what they need to succeed and grow to become women who possess self-esteem and a sense of pride in contributing and belonging.

Three Career Achievement Awards will also be named including Mark Stone, associate professor and Regents’ Lecturer, UNM Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. Stone has served as mentor and project advisor for the UNM Engineers Without Borders.  He oversaw the feasibility study, design, and installation of a process to achieve safe drinking water access for the indigenous Tsimane people of Bolivia. He also serves as co-founder and faculty mentor of UNM4Nepal project, formed in response to the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. Dr. Stone is a co-founder of the UNM Resilience Institute which develops strategies for coping with global warming and other stressors.

A Career Achievement Award will be given to Beth Poquette Drews (BA’ 2001). Drews established Mariachi Pantera de Oro, the second middle school mariachi program in Dallas ISD. Through the Mariachi program, Mexican American students learn and perform music from their Mexican heritage while non-Mexican American students are able to explore a new culture through music, thus promoting cultural understanding. Drews has taught her students to play Mariachi peacefully with dignity. She also advocated on behalf of her students to secure funding for Mariachi Trajes de Charro uniforms arguing that if the school district purchases marching band uniforms and orchestra dresses then Mariachi should also be provided with uniforms as a matter of equity. Additional to the music and traditions learned, the Mariachi students have become an active part of their community, strengthening people through song.

A third Career Achievement Award will be presented to Frank Blazquez (BA ’18). Utilizing art to interrogate the negative forces of racism and discrimination, Blazquez’s art project “Barrios de Nuevo Mexico: Southwest Stories of Vindication” forges ground to create meaningful discussion. Local art curators tried to dissuade Blazquez from street portraiture as it “had no place in art." Contacted by the Huffington Post, Blazquez’s street portraits fit an upcoming story on the human condition. That led to his “Duke City Diaries” video series that have experienced hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. This has bolstered significant conversations about eradicating the negative social forces leading New Mexicans down the wrong path.

The Emerging Promoters of Peace has two awardees in 2020. Wild Friends Program at the UNM School of Law will be receiving this award. The program teaches 4th-12th grade students about nature and civics through hands-on research and environmental advocacy. Since 1991, over 12,000 students from across New Mexico have participated in the Wild Friends Program. Students choose a wildlife-related topic by ballot, learn about the topic as well as the democratic process, and draft a bill or memorial based upon their research. The program director is Sue George, a senior attorney at the Institute of Public Law, UNM School of Law. 

The second award winner for this category is Myrriah Gómez (MA ’09), assistant professor, Honors College, University of New Mexico. Dr. Myrriah Gómez works with the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC), the grassroots organization formed to bring attention to the negative health effects suffered by the people of New Mexico after their overexposure to radiation from the nuclear device that was detonated in 1945 at the Trinity Site.

TBDC advocates include the people of New Mexico in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990, which provides healthcare coverage and compensation to Downwinders from other parts of the country. Dr. Gómez was the primary author of the Health Impact Assessment and traveled to Washington DC to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The following were named as finalists and will be eligible for the 2022 Paul Ré Peace Prize

  • Sandra Wasko-Flood, artist and educator
  • Ken Carpenter, professor, writer, and peace activist
  • Jack Cunningham, photographer, poet, and labor dispute mediator
  • Allan McMullen, artist, poet, and green building designer
  • Joy Elaine, artist, writer, and peace advocator
  • Megan Aragón, social worker and substance abuse counselor

Members of the selection committee are Susan Morrison, attorney, CFP focusing on sustainability and a member of the committee since 2006; Lynn Billings, attorney, mediator; Leslie Donovan, professor, UNM Honors College; and David Muñoz, 2016 Paul Ré Peace Prize winner and engineer. 

Prize sponsor and originator, Paul Ré, who serves as an advisor to the selection committee, noted, “The 2020 awardees demonstrate how UNM affiliates are having a profound, harmonizing influence from locally to globally. They have accomplished this in diverse disciplines while nurturing both inner and outer peace. This is particularly refreshing and hopeful in these challenging times.”

Ré is recognized internationally for promoting world peace and harmony through his transcendent art.  For more information about the Peace Prize and Ré’s almost five decades of creating serene and elevating art, see his acclaimed volume The Dance of the Pencil and his latest, multiple award-winning volume Art, Peace and Transcendence: Réograms that Elevate and Unite available from UNM Press. Additional insights can be found at Paul Re Peace Prize.