The UNM Alumni Association has announced the winners of its prestigious Zia and Lobo Awards for 2011. They include: Larry Abraham, Steve Ciepiela, Michael Currier, Nedra Matteucci, Dennis Peña and Elba Saavedra. The 2011 winner of the Lobo Award is Lillian Montoya-Rael. The UNM Alumni Association will honor the recipients in conjunction with its Homecoming activities at the All-University Breakfast on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. at the Albuquerque Country Club.

The Zia Award is presented to UNM alumni living in New Mexico, who have distinguished themselves in one or many of the following areas: philanthropic endeavors, public office, service to the University, community and volunteer activities, business/professional fields, or who have made a contribution to education.

The Lobo Award is presented to a UNM alumna showing outstanding personal service to the institution or for notable career achievements that reflect credit on the University.

"Every year, we are honored to choose UNM alumni, based in New Mexico, who have distinguished themselves in philanthropic endeavors, public office, service to the UNM community and other volunteer activities, business or professional fields, or who have made a contribution to education," says Karen Abraham, Executive Director of the UNM Alumni Association.

The All-University Breakfast is held annually in conjunction with UNM's Homecoming. The Albuquerque Country Club is located at 601 Laguna SW. The breakfast cost is $20 per person. Reservations are required. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (505) 277-5808 or visit: Homecoming Event Registration.

Zia Award Recipients
Larry Abraham, mayor, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque (BBA '76)


Larry Abraham is lifelong New Mexico resident, a graduate of the Anderson School of Management, and a charter member of the Thomas Popejoy Society who has logged more than 30 years of entrepreneurial sales and real estate success. Abraham—who currently serves on the board of directors for the Lobo Club as a Past President—has been elected mayor of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque twice. As mayor, Abraham has helped erase the village's deficit while promoting its reputation as a unique rural community.

Steve Ciepiela - President / Co-Founder, Charles Stephen & Company, Inc. (BA '77, MPA '80)


Using more than 30 years of financial expertise, Steve Ciepiela has helped create The Strategic Blueprint Formula™, a process to develop strategies to help clients achieve financial independence, and The Retirement Planning Optimization Process™, to help with retirement and transition planning. Ciepiela, who received both an undergraduate degree from UNM and a graduate degree from the UNM School of Public Administration, is a frequent speaker on financial topics, and was named one of the top 200 financial planners in America in a special issue of Money magazine.

Michael Currier - President / CEO, Guaranty Title Company (BA '65)


Michael Currier's experience in the title business—he joined his family's company, Currier Abstract Co., in 1978—and leadership with state and national trade associations for the land title industry led to his appointment as president of the New Mexico Land Title Association, a distinction previously held by his grandfather and father, and was also president of the national trade association, The American Land Title Association, in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he served as chairman of the title agents' section of the American Land Title Association. Currier also served as president of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, and on the board of directors for the New Mexico Military Institute.

Nedra Matteucci - owner, Nedra Matteucci Galleries (BA '72)


A native New Mexican, Nedra Matteucci turned her lifelong passion for art into a thriving business. For more than 25 years, the Nedra Matteucci Galleries has offered the best in contemporary sculpture and painting. Much like Matteucci herself—who has served on the Santa Fe Opera Board, the 10th Anniversary Celebration chairperson for the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum—Matteucci's three galleries all give back to the community and support charitable pursuits (she received the "Corporation that Made a Difference" award from the International Women's Forum.).

Dennis Peña - Evening Charge Pharmacist (retired), University of New Mexico Hospital (BSPH, '57)


Dennis Peña has served a critical role in a number of health legislations, including sponsoring an act to provide massage therapists with educational requirements and a legal board; a memorial to keep non-handicapped drivers out of handicapped spots, and a bill to give trained nurse practitioners the right to serves as anesthesiologists in case of shortage. Peña's work in drug abuse prevention in New Mexico has made him a sought-after speaker for organizations such as the International Narcotic Officers Association.

Elba Saavedra - Faculty, UNM Health Exercise & Sports/Research Assistant Professor (MS '95, Ph.D. '04)


Elba Saavedra's commitment to researching breast cancer in New Mexican women has led to the creation of the Comadre a Comadre Project, a bilingual, bicultural program that addresses the unique needs of Hispanic women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. She has served as a member in professional groups such as the American Cancer Society, New Mexico Cancer Coalition, and the Governor's Women's Health Council.

Lobo Award Recipient
Lillian Montoya-Rael - Principal, Flywheel Ventures (BA '89, MBA ‘98)


With more than 20 years of executive management, strategy, finance, and operations experience, Lillian Montoya-Rael is a native New Mexican and seasoned operations professional with a reputation for innovative, sustainable initiatives. She is a board member for several organizations, including the New Mexico Venture Capital Association, Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship, and the City of Santa Fe's Business and Quality of Life Committee. As an active participant in many community and business groups, the New Mexico Business Weekly has repeatedly named her a "Power Broker."