Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corporation (LACDC) recently announced Cynthia Rooney, chancellor of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, received the Institutional Leadership Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

“Her outstanding achievements, hard work and dedicated service to the profession goes above and beyond to improve the quality of life for others,” said Tom Kucharski, 2021 IEDC board chair.

The Institutional Leadership Award recognizes a leader of a community institution who has significantly contributed to his or her region in support of economic development. Rooney was nominated by the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and Los Alamos MainStreet.

Rooney Award
From left, IEDC staff member, UNM-Los Alamos Chancellor Dr. Cynthia Rooney and 2021 IEDC Board Chair Tom Kucharski.

“I am passionate about higher education, economic development and finding ways to improve and utilize an extremely important and valuable resource–human capital,” Rooney said. “When things work well, we develop and deliver educational programs that improve the lives of individuals, provide a workforce for employers, improve local economies and produce an informed citizenry for our communities.”

Since 2000, Rooney has been a part of the UNM-Los Alamos community. She has been a faculty member, department chair, dean of instruction and now chancellor and professor of business at UNM-Los Alamos. As chancellor, Rooney has worked tirelessly to break down barriers to provide access to education for the underserved and create worthwhile opportunities for students

In 2020, due to Rooney’s commitment toward advancing career pathways for underserved youth, the Department of Education awarded UNM-Los Alamos more than $2.8 million in funding under the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program. Over the next five years, UNM-Los Alamos will receive more than $500,000 in funding each year to engage and support their students, specifically Hispanic and low-income students, and drive systemic changes needed for the community.

With a vision toward the future, Rooney has supported efforts for UNM-Los Alamos’ first Career Center and the Student Services office has started to make concrete plans and proposals through a grant with Los Alamos National Laboratory. This Career Center will offer students more career development opportunities and expand resources to include the greater Los Alamos community.

“Cindy is an amazing asset to our community,” Chamber Director Ryn Herrmann said. “In addition to the work Rooney does at the University, she makes time to serve her community through her participation on many boards and committees in Los Alamos.”

This prestigious honor was presented at a recognition dinner Monday, Oct. 4, during the IEDC Annual Conference.