2016 Women of Influence
(l. to r.): Three women from The University of New Mexico were among 30 named recently by Albuquerque Business First as 2016 Women of Influence awardees. They include: Renee Delgado-Riley, Jennifer Gomez-Chavez and Dr. Cynthia Arndell.

Albuquerque Business First named 30 honorees to be recognized as Women of Influence. Of these honorees, three came from The University of New Mexico. Two are staff members at the main campus and the other is a member of the UNM Health Sciences Center.

UNM’s honorees include Associate Professor for the UNM School of Medicine, Dr. Cynthia Arndell; Special Assistant to the vice president for Collective Impact and Executive Director of the Unidos Project, Jennifer Gomez-Chavez; and Director of the Student Affairs Assessment & Research office at UNM, Renee Delgado-Riley.

The selected women were honored at a banquet at Sandia Resort and Casino recently. A panel of judges selected these women from a pool of over 150 nominations. These women are some of the most powerful and innovative in New Mexico.

 Dr. Cynthia Arndell
Associate Professor for the UNM School of Medicine, Dr. Cynthia Arndell.

Arndell received her BSN in Nursing, followed by an M.D., and completed her residency in Internal Medicine all at UNM. She has been practicing for over 35 years. Arndell has made several presentations nationally as well as internationally on interprofessional education relative to attending to the needs of vulnerable populations.

She was also recently awarded the UNM Presidential Luminaria Award. Those who are close to Arndell say that she has always been dedicated.

Arndell’s older sister Sue Rzendzian said, “It has always been 24/7 with her. Long before she was a nurse or a doctor, she used to volunteer in nursing homes. It inspired our entire family.”

Jennifer Gomez-Chavez
Special Assistant to the vice president for Collective Impact and Executive Director of the Unidos Project, Jennifer Gomez-Chavez.

Gomez-Chavez grew up in Hagerman, N.M. and graduated from high school in Artesia, N.M. She earned her B.A. in Criminal Justice, a Master’s in counseling, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. Gomez-Chavez has 25 years experience working with low-income students, and students from underrepresented backgrounds.

She has held positions at LULAC National Educational Service Center and the University of New Mexico. She started as a College Enrichment Program academic advisor and eventually became director for College Enrichment.

In 2006, Gomez-Chavez was named to lead the first Title V grant at UNM, which became a nationally recognized model. Four years ago, she was appointed the first director of Student Academic Success for the university.  

In her current role, she leads key strategies for increasing retention and graduation rates. Last summer she was given the NM LULAC Woman of the Year award for her work in the community.

Renee Delgado-Riley
Director of the Student Affairs Assessment & Research office at UNM, Renee Delgado-Riley.

Much of Delgado-Riley’s career has been spent working in higher education. She is also an active member of her community as well as an advocate for urban farming. Delgado-Riley recognizes the amount of innovation at UNM within Student Affairs. She said that UNM is making its best effort to continue supporting students with multifaceted programming.

Delgado-Riley has several goals including support for the implementation of a more structured career readiness program for student employees at UNM in collaboration with Mission Graduate so they are more prepared for the workforce upon graduation; focus on publications of best practices of student interventions in Student Affairs to share at a national level; and complete hey culinary arts degree in an effort to open her own farm business and wholesale company.

I feel humbled by this honor and the community support,” Delgado-Riley said. “My passion in higher education is about opportunity...in which students from New Mexico can achieve their educational dreams. I am from this community and giving back is something that is necessary for supporting one another.”

Albuquerque Business First recognized the honorees recently in a ceremony at Sandia Resort & Casino.