In honor of their outstanding contributions to community service, the UNM Office of the President recently announced the winners of the 2020 Sarah Belle Brown award. They are Robert O. Valdez (faculty award) Amy Beggin (staff award) and Mirella Galvan De La Cruz (student award). Each of these recipients received multiple nominations, attesting to their dedication.

The Sarah Belle Brown Community Service Award recognizes one faculty member, one staff member and one student who serve as examples of social responsiveness and who have, over an extended period of time, donated considerable personal time and effort advancing The University of New Mexico’s public service mission. Doug Brown, president of the UNM Board of Regents and former dean of the Anderson School of Management, established this award to honor his wife, Sarah Belle Brown, who has devoted a great deal of time and passion to community service for over thirty years.

The faculty and staff recipients each receive a cash award of $1,500 and the student recipient receives a $1,500 scholarship, all generously endowed by Doug and Sarah Brown.

2020 Recipients

Robert O. Valdez | Associate Director of the Office of Community Health, RWJF Professor of Family Community Medicine and Economics

Robert O. Valdez

From the nominations:
“During Professor Valdez’s tenure on the New Mexico Community Foundation, he helped revitalize collaborations and joint initiatives by the five community foundations in the state…Since the COVID-19 pandemic has affected New Mexico communities, Professor Valdez’s work at the NMCF has allowed non-profits and Tribal nations to distribute food, medical supplies, PPE and personal items, water, livestock feed, propane refills, diapers, and other community needs across the state.”

“Professor Valdez’s strengthening of the New Mexico Foundation over the years has benefitted individuals, families and communities across the state during these times that have tested our government and civic organizations.”

“The kind of heart Professor Valdez has given to communities across our state is especially valuable and should be acknowledged during these times when government and civic organizations are being tested by a global pandemic. Professor Valdez, we now know has been tested and his generosity of spirit and commitment to community are true and making a real difference for the better.”

Amy Beggin | Director of Compliance for Athletics

Amy Beggin

From the nominations:
“Amy’s focus has consistently been specific populations in the Albuquerque area who lack the essentials required to live without fear…She does a great deal of work with people experiencing housing insecurity. This has included collecting and distributing essential personal care items for individuals fleeing persecution in their native countries as well as volunteering at a shelter catering to teens in homelessness. She has created and delivered packages for individuals experiencing homelessness, taking time to chat with them and treat each with the basic human kindness all people deserve.”

“[Amy] Helped numerous, diverse population groups in New Mexico. [She] Has helped the homeless by providing care packages and food and praying with them. Helped students with improved facilities, safe places to go and the resources they need. Provides food to students and families each month. Helped Refugees feel loved and welcomed by providing them with necessities. Helped senior citizens by cleaning up yard and talking with them through COVID.”

“She oversaw the creation and maintenance of “Student Growth Centers” at Highland High School and Van Buren Middle School… These centers are intended to provide a safe space for students to study and hang out after school. Students are able to complete academic tasks, as they have access to computers as well as tutoring. There are also different life skills workshops that are taught by volunteers including faculty members.”

Mirella Galvan De La Cruz | UNM School of Medicine

Mirella Galvan De La Cruz

From the nominations:
“Ms. Galvan de la Cruz is a light in our community. She cares deeply about working with people experiencing homelessness, victims of domestic violence, and other vulnerable and underserved communities and has maintained her active volunteer status in these communities as she has also attended medical school.”

“Mirella has contributed to the recruitment of low-income and underrepresented minority students in New Mexico which aided to increase their attendance in higher education programs specific to healthcare and STEM-related fields. Her volunteer work in women's health clinics has improved patient outcomes through communication efforts through her ability to help with physical exams by applying her interpretation skills by using Spanish to communicate with patients.”

“Mirella’s community service leadership and participation are deeply rooted in her goal to provide excellent culturally adaptive health care for community members, and her desire to support other low income and minority students. As a future doctor, she has many years of demonstrated commitment to volunteerism and service. Her education and her contributions to the community have gone hand in hand. She gives her time as a peer mentor, an organizer, a volunteer, a fundraiser, and educator to contribute to research, toolkits, improved services, and enhanced pathways.”