The UNM Alumni Association recently announced the award recipients of its 2023 Alumni Awards. After hours of combing through countless nominations for outstanding alumni and community members, the awards committee selected this year’s honorees. During and after their time at UNM these recipients have positively impacted the university, their respective fields and communities across the world. Receiving an award from the Alumni Association is one of the University’s highest honors and these award recipients exemplify the continuing growth, diversity and strength in our communities.
Scott Elder, APS Superintendent (’88, ’97, ’17), Bernard S. Rodey Award
· Bernard S. Rodey Award: Recognizes those whose leadership efforts have contributed significantly to the field of education. The recipient may or may not be an alum of the University.
Scott Elder is a third-generation New Mexican and has been an employee of Albuquerque Public Schools since 1991. He began his career as an English Second Language teacher and served as a school principal for 19 years. After receiving his MBA, he was asked to serve as Chief Operations Officer for the district. During the pandemic, he was appointed to Interim Superintendent and was made permanent in March 2020. He is a vocal advocate for public education with a focus on improving outcomes for all students.
Rudolfo Anaya, Author/Poet (posthumous) (’63, ’68, ’72), James F. Zimmerman Award
· James F. Zimmerman Award: Given to an alum of The University of New Mexico who has made a significant contribution which has brought fame and honor to The University of New Mexico or to the State of New Mexico.
Rudolfo A. Anaya (1937-2020) was born in Pastura, New Mexico and moved to Albuquerque in 1952, where he graduated from Albuquerque High School (1956) and earned his BA (1963) and two MAs (1968, 1972) from UNM. Anaya, one of New Mexico’s most important Chicano writers, taught at UNM from 1975 until his retirement in 1993, inspiring generations of UNM students. His first novel, Bless Me, Ultima, was adapted into a feature-length film and released as a 50th anniversary Penguin Random House edition. Anaya is the recipient of the 2001 Medal of the Arts and the 2015 Humanities Medal, as well as the author of sixteen more novels, including three for young adults, eleven children’s books, and numerous other writings that attest to his legacy as teacher, leader, artist and visionary.
Jamie Koch, Former UNM Regent (’59), Erna S. Fergusson Award
· Erna S. Fergusson Award: Recognizes exceptional accomplishments and commitment or distinguished service to The University of New Mexico. The recipient may or may not be an alum of the University. Formerly named the Award of Distinction.
Jamie Koch graduated from UNM in 1959 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. He came to UNM on a wrestling and football scholarship and met his wife, Nene, during his time at The University. Koch balanced a professional career and a lifetime of public service including President of Daniels Insurance (1991-2014), UNM Board of Regents (2002-2015), Lobo Athletic Hall of Honor (2007), UNM Letterman’s Association Alumni President (81), Chair of the NM Democratic Party, Chair of the NM Game and Fish Commission, Natural Resource Trustee Officer and NM Legislator (1968-74). Koch and his wife helped develop the Nene and Jamie Koch Comprehensive Movement Disorders Center and the Nene and Jamie Koch Project SEARCH training program at UNM Hospitals. He is also the recipient of the William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the NM Independent Insurance Agents.
Humble Lukanga, Founder and CEO of Lifeline Financial (’08, ’09), Inspirational Young Alum Award
· Inspirational Young Alumnus Award: Recognizes significant contributions by an individual, whether through professional achievement or community service. Recipients demonstrate a commitment to excellence in post-academic life and an ongoing commitment to professional work, research, multicultural relations and/or volunteerism, while being recognized as an emerging leader.
Humble Lukanga is the founder and CEO of LifeLine, a multi-family office servicing leaders in sports, entertainment and business. Lukanga was born in Masaka, a small village in Uganda, where he spent the first decade of his life enduring genocide, famine and extreme poverty. At the age of 11, he and his family were granted political asylum, allowing them to come to the United States to seek refuge in Denver. After high school, Lukanga attended UNM where he earned a Bachelor’s of Business Management and a Master’s of Business Administration. Lukanga currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of New Mexico Foundation. Lukanga is passionate about social entrepreneurship, financial literacy, freedom and the orphans of Uganda. He is a philanthropist, teacher and self-proclaimed ambassador of hope.
Wendy Greyeyes Ph.D., Faculty Teaching Award
· Faculty Teaching Award: Recognizes outstanding teaching and service to students. The recipient is a faculty member currently employed full-time in any school or college of the University.
Wendy S. Greyeyes (Diné) is an Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at The University of New Mexico. Greyeyes received her master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and bachelor’s degree from Stanford University. She recently published “A History of Navajo Education: Disentangling our Sovereign Body” (University of Arizona Press, 2022) with a forthcoming anthology, “The Yazzie Case: Building a Public Education System for Our Indigenous Future,” through the University of New Mexico Press. Greyeyes formerly served as the tribal liaison for the Arizona Governor, a Statistician/Demographer for the Department of Diné Education, a Chief Implementation Officer for the Bureau of Indian Education, and a research consultant for the Department of Diné Education. She is the Navajo representative for New Mexico Indian Education Advisory Council, President of the American Indian Studies Association, founder of the Native American Alumni Chapter and faculty advisor for the Kiva Club.
Hengameh Raissy PharmD., Interim VP for Research at UNM (’99), Research Award
· Research Award: Recognizes outstanding research being conducted at the University of New Mexico. The recipient is currently conducting research full-time in any school or college of the University.
Hengameh Raissy is Research Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and the interim Vice President for Research at HSC. She graduated from the UNM College of Pharmacy and joined the Pediatric Department in 2001 after completing a fellowship in Pediatric Pulmonary at UNM School of Medicine. She has been the principal investigator for more than 100 clinical trials including NHLBI funded Asthma Networks. She is the co-director of IDeA State Pediatric Clinical Trial Network and Co-PI for adult and pediatric RECOVER study- a NIH funded study to learn about “long COVID.”
Janice Ruggiero, Retired Deputy Athletic Director for Internal Affairs at UNM (’89, ’97), Lobo Award
· Lobo Award: Presented to a UNM alum who has given outstanding personal service to the university or whose career achievement reflects on the University.
Janice Ruggiero was recruited by the University of New Mexico and played basketball from 1984-87. Ruggiero served in the UNM Athletics Department for more than 32 years. She held a variety of positions from Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach to Deputy Athletic Director. She served as the Senior Woman Administrator from 2000 until 2021 and was the Interim Athletic Director from June through September 2017. During her tenure, she oversaw many different departments and all but two of UNM’s sports programs. She has served on many NCAA committees and especially enjoyed her time on three women’s basketball committees with the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee being the highlight of service. She was named one of the Top 10 Senior Woman Administrators by College AD in February 2015. Ruggiero received her bachelor’s degree and her Master’s of Sports Administration from UNM.
Fred Mondragon, Cabinet Secretary of NM Economic Development (’64), Zia Award
· Zia Award: Honors New Mexico residents with a UNM degree who have distinguished themselves in any one or more of the following categories – philanthropic endeavors, public office, service to The University, community and volunteer activities, and/or business or educational fields.
Fred Mondragon graduated from The University of New Mexico with his Bachelor’s in Biology and English Literature. He later went on to obtain his MBA in Healthcare Administration from George Washington University. He worked as CEO of the Bernalillo County Medical Center and helped transition the county hospital to The University of New Mexico Medical Center. He also held positions as the Regional Administrator of the Presbyterian Hospital System and the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Albuquerque. Mondragon worked for two national system integration companies, TRW and Northrop Grumman, and later became the Director of Economic Development for the City of Albuquerque and Cabinet Secretary for Economic Development under Governor Bill Richardson. He also worked as interim Executive Director of Spaceport America, served in the New Mexico Legislature for three terms and was a member of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. Mondragon serves as Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of Spain. He has also served as a longtime board member of the UNM Alumni Association. Mondragon and his wife, Connie enjoy international travel and staying in touch with their 7 children and 19 grandchildren.
The UNM Alumni Association celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of outstanding alumni with awards given out throughout the year. The award recipients will be honored at a reception and awards dinner on February 28, 2023. For additional information, contact Victoria Lujan at 505-277-5808 or email@example.com.