Class Notes Fall 2021

Class Notes Fall 2021

Photo of the exterior of Hodgin Hall looking West

Class Notes Fall 2021

Photo of Chad

Look for a friend on every page!

Send your alumni news to Mirage Editor, The University of New Mexico Alumni Association, MSC 01-1160, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 87131-0001. Or better yet, email your news to Alumni@unm.edu. Please include your middle name or initial and tell us where you’re living now.

Deadlines:

  • Spring deadline: January 1
  • Fall deadline: June 1

1950

Dave Barney headshot photo

Dave E. Barney (’59 BS, ’61 MS), Placitas, N.M., retired from the Albuquerque Academy after 47 years as swimming coach.

1950

1960

Katherine Kuligowski (’60 BS), Albuquerque, has published “Rehoming Love.”

Nancy Gearhart (’66 BSHE), Mesa, Ariz, celebrated her 60th wedding anniversary with husband Steve Gearhart.

Luther C. Garcia (’67 BSED, ’71 MA) and Karen A. Garcia (‘68 BSED), Albuquerque, celebrated 50 years of marriage on February 6.

Thomas Horn headshot photo

Thomas Horn (’68 BA), San Francisco, was awarded the French Legion of Honor, the highest award France bestows, in acknowledgment of his lifelong dedication to philanthropy and advocacy for the arts and culture of France. Horn, an attorney, also serves as honorary consul of Monaco in San Francisco.

Vicki A. Turpen (’69 BAED, ’93 MA), Albuquerque, has published “The Delicate Balance.”

1960

1970

Enrique R. Lamadrid (’70 BA), Albuquerque, was granted the 2021 Heritage Publication Award from the Cultural Properties Review Committee.

Linda Kurth (’71 BAED, ’73 MA), Mount Vernon, Wash., has published “God, the Devil and Divorce.”

Dan H. Lopez (’71 BA, ’72 MA, ’83 PhD), Albuquerque, former New Mexico Tech president, was named to the Western New Mexico University board of regents.

Janis A. Devoti (’72 BSED, ’83 MA), Santa Fe, N.M., the principal at Piñon Elementary School, retired after nearly 30 years.

Patricia K. Tharp (’73 BUS), Farmington, N.M., has published “The Lost Communities of Navajo Dam Vol. 1/Vol. 2.”

Gregory J. Lalire (’74 BA), Leesburg, Va., has published “Man from Montana.”

Joseph F. McGrath (’75 PhD), New Upper Falls, Md., has published “T.C. O'Connor.”

Martin A. Serna (’76 BBA, ’86 MAPA), Albuquerque, was elected to the board of directors for Nusenda Credit Union.

Theodore J. Bornhorst (’77 MS, ’80 PhD), Houghton, Mich., has announced his retirement from Michigan Technological University after 40 years with the institution.

Thomas Daulton headshot photo

Thomas Daulton (’77 BBA), Dallas, Texas, was elected to the Albuquerque Community Foundation’s 2021 board of trustees.

Mark D. Guadagnoli (’77 BS, ’81 MD), Fort Collins, Colo., has published “Final Chaos.”

Holly Harrison (’77 MA, ’90 PhD), Albuquerque, has published “Rites & Wrongs.”

Del Leonard Jones (’77 BA), Helper, Utah, has published “At the Bat: The Strikeout That Shamed America.”

Edward Mazria (’77 MARCH), Santa Fe, N.M., was awarded the 2021 Gold Medal by the American Institute of Architects for his work sounding the alarm on climate change and motivating the architecture profession into action.

Nancy Hollander (’78 JD) New York, N.Y., was recently depited in the film “The Mauritanian.”

Genevieve J. Jackson (’78 BSED, ’83 MA) Window Rock, Ariz., was appointed to the McKinley County Commission.

Judy A. Cartmell (’79 BBA, ’96 MPA), Colorado Springs, Colo., was elected to the board of directors for Nusenda Credit Union.

Vincent R. Trollinger (’79 MPA), Albuquerque, and his wife Danice, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on January 30.

1970

1980

Jaima M. Chevalier (’80 BA), Santa Fe, N.M., has published “Fringe: Maria Benitez’s Flamenco Enchantment.”

Donald L. Willerton (’80 MS), Los Alamos, N.M., has published “Teddy’s War” and “The King of Trash.”

Benjamin G. Diven (’81 MD), Las Cruces, N.M., was awarded the Tim Fleming Medical Director of the Year award.

Bob Matteucci headshot photo

Bob Matteucci, Jr. (’82 BAS, ’08 JD) has opened his own law practice, Matteucci Family Law.

Jennifer J. Pruett (’83 JD), Santa Fe, N.M., Deputy Cabinet Secretary in the New Mexico Environment Department, retired after more than 20 years with the department.

Perry R. Wilkes (’83 BAENV), Nogales, Ariz., has published “I Always Wanted to Tell You…” and “Under Torn Paper Mountains.”

Thomas R. Leary (’84 BSPH, ’08 PharmD), Albuquerque, was elected to the Veterans Integration Center board of directors.

Richard J. Berry (’85 BBA), Albuquerque, was elected to serve as an officer the United Way of Central New Mexico’s board of directors.

Michael E. Brands (’85 MRCP), Woodstock, Vt., received the Northern New England Planning Association Chapter of the American Planning Association’s first Planner Emeritus award. Brands retired in May after 31 years as planning director for the Town of Woodstock, Vermont.

Larry T. Torres (’85 MA), Arroyo Seco, N.M., published the novel “The Children of the Blue Nun.”

Barbara Vigil (’85 JD), Santa Fe, N.M., retired from the New Mexico Supreme Court and was appointed secretary of the New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department.

Fred B. Bugbee headshot photo

Fred B. Bugbee (’86 BM), Albuquerque, N.M. has become the new head of the NMSU Music Department after joining the university in 1994.

Gerald E. Baca (’87 JD), Las Vegas, N.M., is a New Mexico Court of Appeals judge.

Hilma M. Chynoweth (’87 BA,’14 MA), Albuquerque, was elected to the New Mexico Public Relations Society of America.

Sheila R. Hernandez (’87 BBA), Albuquerque, was named senior vice president/customer service officer at Summit Electric Supply.

Scott Elder headshot photo

Scott Elder (’88 BA, ’97 MA, ’17 MBA), Albuquerque, who had served as Albuquerque Public Schools interim superintendent for nine months, was promoted to the permanent position in March.

Sonya F. Priestly (’88 BBA), Albuquerque, was elected to the United Way of Central New Mexico’s board of directors.

Joseph M. Lane (’89 BUS, ’92 BS), Albuquerque, received the UNM Staff Council’s 2021 Jim Davis Award.

Cheryl A. Matherly (’89 BA), Allentown, Pa., was named Senior International Officer of the Year by The Institute of International Education.

1980

1990

Steven Lee Carr (’90 BA), Albuquerque, was elected to the board of directors of the New Mexico Public Relations Society of America.

Jill K. Trujillo (’90 BBA), Albuquerque, was named Mountain West Women’s Golf Coach of the Year.

Wayne E. Propst (’90 JD), Santa Fe, N.M., was named the New Mexico Public Regulation Comission’s chief of staff.

Eileen P. Riordan (’ 90 JD), Carlsbad, N.M., was appointed district judge by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to serve in the Fifth Judicial District, which includes Eddy, Chaves and Lea counties.

Kenneth E. Sickenger (’90 BA), Albuquerque, a reporter for the Albuquerque Journal, was named the 2020 New Mexico Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.

Sanjay I. Engineer (’92 MARCH), Albuquerque, vice president at FBT Architects, was elected to the Albuquerque Community Foundation’s 2021 board of trustees.

Carol J. Matindale-Taylor (’92 BA), Albuquerque, published “Unfinished: In This Life and The Next.”

Jacquelyn M. Marushka (’92 BA), Nashville, Tenn., was named board member for the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce.

Fernando G. Baca (’93 BA), Albuquerque, is the new vice president of commercial lending in Santa Fe at WaFd Bank New Mexico.

Julie J. Vargas (’93 JD), Albuquerque, is a justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Thomas E. Antram (’94 BA), Albuquerque, was elected to the Albuquerque Community Foundation’s 2021 Board of Trustees.

Laura C. Parajon (’95 MD, ’99 MPH) was appointed Deputy Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Health.

Michael M. Silva (’95 BA), Albuquerque, joined the Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation board of directors.

Melissa M. Garcia (’96 DM), Albuquerque, is the new medical director for True Health New Mexico.

Robert L. Metzger (’96 BSN), Dallas, Texas, received the 2020 Texas Nurse Practitioners’ NP of the Year Award. Metzger is the advanced practice provider manager for surgical services at Parkland Health & Hospital Systems.

Jackie Lindsey (’97 BA), Santa Fe, N.M., has become Santa Fe County’s first female fire chief. A former Olympian and Albuquerque firefighter, she is also currently on the FEMA National Advisory Council.

Renee Salazar-Garcia (’97 BAED, ’91 MA), Albuquerque, is Santa Fe High School’s new principal.

Susan J. Wilson (’97 BA), Albuquerque, was elected to the United Way of Central New Mexico’s board of directors.

Karen Dressler Argeanas (‘98 MA), Moriarty, N.M., had her art work featured at La Galería @ The Shaffer in Mountainair, N.M.

Patricia A. Gonzales (‘98 AAS, ’00 BUS, ’06 MA, ’10 CERT1), El Prado, N.M., was named one of Taos Behavioral Health’s new board officers.

Lois E. Frank (’99 MA, ’11 PhD), Santa Fe, N.M., has partnered with Heritage Hotels in their 2021 virtual culinary tours.

Jeanette Hargreaves (’99 BFA), Austin, Texas, has published “The Day I Threw Banana Bread and Almost Went to Jail” and has launched her temper management website TemperCoaching.com.

1990

2000

Leslie D. Cordova-Trujillo (’00 BS), San Pedro, Calif., has published “Dear Her: Letters to Teenage Girls and Young Ladies About Lessons Learned Through Education.”

Theresa M. Duncan (’00 JD), Santa Fe, N.M. was recently depicted in the film The Mauritanian.

Karli R. Massey (’00 BA), Albuquerque, was elected to the New Mexico Public Relations Society of America’s board of directors.

Briana H. Zamora (’00 JD), Albuquerque, was appointed to the New Mexico Supreme Court. She was previously a New Mexico Court of Appeals judge.

Martha I. Chew-Sanchez (’01 PhD), Canton, N.J., has coedited “Scattered Musics.”

Kimimila L. Locke (’01 BA), Standing Rock, N.D., has been named a 2021 Bush Fellow.

Brenda Maloney Shafer (’01 JD), a partner in the national law firm Quarles & Brady’s Health & Life Sciences Practice Group, has been appointed to the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel.

Joshua J. Sanchez (’02 BA, ’06 JD), Belen, N.M., is a judge in the Second Judicial District Court of Bernalillo County.

Allison Elaine Burnett (’03 PHARM, ’03 PharmD), Albuquerque, has been named president of the Anticoagulation Forum.

Candace A. Sall (’03 MA), Columbia, Mo., is the new director of the Museum of Anthropology and American Archaeology Division at the University of Missouri.

Sophie Martin headshot photo

Sophie Martin (’03 MBA, ’13 JD), Albuquerque, is director of Communications, Education, and Outreach for the National Conference of Bar Examiners in Madison, Wisc. Martin previously was the executive director of the New Mexico Board of Bar Examiners.

Holmon D. Wiggins (’03 BA), Tuscaloosa, Ala., a former Lobo running back, has been promoted to assistant head coach of offense for the University of Alabama.

Rebecca M. Roose (’04 JD), Santa Fe, N.M., is Deputy Cabinet Secretary at the New Mexico Environment Department.

Nicole J. Aiken-Shaban (’05 BA), Baltimore, Md., has been promoted to partner at Reed Smith LLP in the firm’s Philadelphia office.

Purvi P. Mody (’05 MACCT), Albuquerque, is the new special director of the New Mexico Department of Health.

William D. Duncan (’06 MA), Albuquerque, retired after serving for 16 years as Rio Rancho High School’s activities director.

Matthew J. Pacheco (’07 BBA), Albuquerque, became partner at Burt & Company CPAs, LLC.

Sureyya C. Stone (’08 BA, ’16 BSN, ’20 MSN), Albuquerque, joined Lovelace Medical Group’s team of health care providers.

Lancing C. Adams (’09 BA, ’14 MPA), Santa Fe, N.M., is development director at the New Mexico Tourism Department.

Leigh A. Caswell (’09 MPH), Albuquerque, was elected to the United Way of Central New Mexico’s board of directors.

Ricardo S. Gonzales (’09 BA, ’17 MA, ’20 JD), Los Lunas, N.M., has joined Montgomery & Andrews, P.A., as an associate.

Charles B. Kraft (’09 BA, ’13 JD), Albuquerque, has become a partner at the law firm of Butt Thornton & Baehr PC.

Jennifer H. Watkins (’09 MA), Santa Fe, N.M., has published “So Pipe the Young.”

Isaac A. Leon headshot photo

Isaac Leon (’09 MBA, ’19 JD), Albuquerque, joined Sutin, Thayer & Browne as an associate attorney.

Frankie Solomon (’09 BBA), Dallas, Texas, Lobos defensive back in 2006 through 2009, recently played for the U.S. flag football team in Denmark.

2000

2010

Sheldon Spotted Elk (’10 JD), Denver, Colo., has joined the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges as program director for tribal justice partnerships.

Brandi N. Bowman (’11 BS, ’15 PharmD), Albuquerque, joined Presbyterian Medical Group’s team of health care providers.

Kristen Gamboa (’11 BBA), Peralta, N.M., is the new senior economic developer for the village of Los Lunas.

Miquela C. Martinez (’11 BS, ’16 MS), Santa Fe, N.M., was named to the spring All-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference volleyball team.

Ranah B. Yaqub (’11 BA), Cedar Crest, N.M., was awarded the New Mexico Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award on Feb. 6, 2021.

Landon Brown (’12 MD), Albuquerque, has joined New Mexico Orthopaedics West Side Clinic.

Lauren M. Crabtree (’12 BSNE), Albuquerque, was recognized for her studies in engineering by the International Atomic Energy Agency and selected for the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Program.

Daniel J. Galvan (’12 BA), Albuquerque, was promoted to commander of the Alamogordo National Guard Unit and also received the Army Achievement Award for his service overseas.

Florencio Olguin headshot photo

Florencio “Flo” Olguin Jr. (’12 BA, ’15 MPA), Albuquerque, was named academic operations officer for the UNM College of Fine Arts.

Kendra N. Pesko (’12 PhD), Albuquerque,was promoted to technical director of infectious disease at TriCore Reference Laboratories.

Stephanie K. Rodriguez (’12 BAPD, ’14 MCRP), Albuquerque, was confirmed as Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Higher Education Department.

Tiffany J. Rawls (’13 BBA, ’15 MBA), Albuquerque, joined the Albuquerque Community Foundation in the role of senior accountant.

Emily B. Allen (’14 MBA, ’14 MEMBA), Corrales, N.M., was elected to the Albuquerque Community Foundation’s 2021 Board of Trustees.

Alexander M. Greenberg (’14 BA, ’17 MBA), Albuquerque, is the new financial program specialist at the New Mexico Economic Development Department.

Graciela A. Ruiz (’14 BFA) San Francisco, Calif., was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30.

Kari E. Olson (’14 JD), Santa Fe, N.M., was elected shareholder at the Montgomery & Andrews law firm.

Gavin K. Green (’15 BLA), Albuquerque, will be representing Malaysia in the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo in men’s golf.

Victor V. Perez (’15 BA), Séméac, France, represented France in the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo in men’s golf.

Lucas L. Baca (’16 BA), Albuquerque, was elected to the New Mexico Public Relations Society of America board of directors.

Robert J. Johnston (’16 JD), Albuquerque, a lawyer with Sutin, Thayer & Browne, served as attorney coach for the Albuquerque High Mock Trial Green Team. This year’s team earned second place overall in the statewide competition.

Andie E. Mirabal (’16 BBA), Albuquerque, was elected to the New Mexico Public Relations Society of America.

Jayson C. Peters (’16 AA), Belen, N.M., was awarded the 2020 Citizen of the Year award by the Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce for his role in the Believe in Belen initiative.

Nicholas Estes (’17 PhD), Albuquerque, co-curated the online exhibition “Seven Generations of Red Power in New Mexico,” detailing the Native rights movement.

Rachel L. Garcia (’17 BSN, ’20 MSN), Rio Rancho, N.M., joined Lovelace Medical Group’s team of health care providers.

Valinda Coretta Shirley (’17 BS), Rock Point, Ariz., was confirmed by the Navajo Nation Council as the executive director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency.

Corey Bojorquez (’18 BLA), Bellflower, Calif., was signed to the Los Angeles Rams as a punter.

Lawrence A. Sanchez (’18 MBA), Los Lunas, N.M., was elected to the United Way of Central New Mexico’s board of directors.

Jason T. Sanders (’18 BA) Orange, Calif., re-signed through 2026 as a kicker for the Miami Dolphins.

River E. Marquez (’19 BA), Albuquerque, was elected to the board of directors of the New Mexico Public Relations Society of America.

Rebecca G. Prinster (’19 MA), Albuquerque, co-curated the online exhibition “Seven Generations of Red Power in New Mexico,” detailing the Native rights movement.

2010

2020

Makayla E. Grijalva (’20 BA), Las Cruces, N.M., was elected to the board of the Rio Grande Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalism.

Amelia F. Kloer (’20 BAA), Albuquerque, has joined Modulus Architects Inc. as an architect intern.

Remy L. Link (’20 BA), Albuquerque, is a volunteer with ProtectNM, an organization founded by UNM medical students to collect and deliver PPE to medical organizations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cody Moezzi (’20 BA), Albuquerque, a volunteer with ProtectNM, an organization founded by UNM medical students, delivered and distributed 45,000 KN95 masks to high-risk medical organizations in his home town of Alamogordo.

Teton Saltes headshot photo

Teton W. Saltes (’20 BA), Albuquerque, was awarded the 2020 Wuerffel Trophy for his community service, athletic achievements and excellence in the classroom.

2020

My Alumni Story – Jacy Watley

My Alumni Story – Jacy Watley

alum Jacy Watley wearing a cherry button up UNM shirt

My Alumni Story: Jacy Watley

I was born and raised in Las Cruces and when I graduated from high school I realized I needed to leave to experience more things. The goal was to get out of town.

UNM was a great choice. It’s so diverse. You meet so many people on campus from so many walks of life. I’ve met so many people who have broadened my world view.

I majored in art studio and I especially enjoyed my time in the printmaking studio. All through my time getting a degree at UNM I was also a student employee. I worked as a mentor/tutor for ENLACE, going to high schools to tutor students and promote higher education. And in the summers I worked for UNM’s College Prep Programs hosting summer camps for high school students.

Art’s not a lucrative career and I knew that going in. After I graduated I was able to use my experience in student jobs to get a position with UNM as an admissions advisor and then as a recruiter. And then I was out on the road, selling the school to high school students and transfer students at junior colleges.

For five years I drove all over New Mexico – Las Vegas, Tucumcari, Raton, Farmington, Chama, Clovis. And I went to Denver and Dallas. My selling points: We’re D-1 in sports, Tier 1 in research, we’ve got a great price and a beautiful campus.

Now I work in the College Enrichment Program helping students succeed and making sure they’re doing everything to maintain their scholarships.

Since 2006 when I enrolled as a freshman, I have been immersed in UNM. Two years ago, I made my ties to UNM even stronger and became a board member of the UNM Young Alumni Chapter – just another way to show my Lobo pride.

Go Lobos!

Jacy Watley
(’13 BAFA)

Alumni Network

Alumni Network

UNM Alumni Board of Directors with Head Football Coach Danny Gonzales (’98 BBA, ’02 MS) and retired UNM Baseball Coach Ray Birmingham

Alumni Network

UNM Black Alumni chapter members posing for camera outside

Director of African American Student Services Brandi Stone (’14 BA, ‘17 MPA) with the UNM Black Alumni Chapter President Deidre Gordon (’98 BA), Treasurer Patrick Barrett (’14 BA), Vice President Dee Dee Hatch Sanders (’93 BUS), and their Joe Long Scholarship Recipient Monice Aguilar (middle).

four climbers on top of a mountain with a UNM Lobos flag

Ryan Brophy, Duncan Cruickshank (’87 BA, ’90 MBA), Donald “Don” Appleby (’90 BBA), and Victor “Vic” Perini (’91 BSPH) climbed and summited the Emmet glacier route to Mount Rainier, 14,410 feet, Washington State with the leadership of RMI guides. Brophy was a baseball player and the other 3 – Cruickshank, Appleby, and Perini were four-year swimming lettermen.

two men in red lobo gear outside of bbq event make the lobo hand sign

Chapter Leader Paul Tyhurst (’12 BBA) and UNM College of Fine Arts Dean Harris Smith get their spicy fix at the annual Salt Lake City Green Chile Social.

group photo of albuquerque alumni chapter members wearing masks and cherry lobo attire

UNM Albuquerque Chapter welcomes students back to campus.

outgoing and incoming alumni association presidents wearing cherry suit jackets and black button ups

Outgoing UNM Alumni Association President Chad Cooper (’01 MBA) celebrates transition of leadership with incoming President Michael Silva (’95 BA).

two women holding the NM state flag and throwing the lobo howl hand sign

UNM alumnae Lindsay Scott (’18 Ph.D) (left) and Mariah Mármol (‘16 BA) at the Austin Green Chile Roast and Picnic.

family in rockies and lobo gear and rockies stadium in Denver

Scott Sanchez (’16 BA) and Chapter President Alissa Vandel (’00 BA) cheer on the Rockies with fellow Denver Lobos.

All About Community

All About Community

Mike Silva owner of Rude Boy Cookies

All About Community: From ska beats to cookie batter, Alumni Association President Mike Silva keeps it real

By Leslie Linthicum

A snapshot of Michael Silva’s life before age 8: Violence on the streets of South Central Los Angeles. Chaos at home. A fearless little man fighting to survive a tumultuous and violent childhood.

Michael after age 8 when his mother snatched up her three kids (with a fourth on the way) and moved to Albuquerque to start fresh: With space and calm, the angry kid begins to relax. He finds the saxophone in band class and a passion is sparked. People come into his life who are helpful and kind. From his house in the Kirtland, he can see The Pit and University Stadium. He begins to dream of going to college, specifically UNM.

The Central Avenue location of Rude Boy Cookies, Silva’s business for the past seven years, is not yet open as Silva (’95 BA) sits in a comfortable booth and reflects on the course his life has taken, the “then” and “now” that seem entire worlds apart.

But as Silva reaches new heights – two successful businesses, a stable, loving family, a circle of friends and accolades and awards from his community – he is reminded that everything he is today has roots in that scrappy, damaged kid from L.A.

“My childhood was pretty hardcore. There was a lot of loss, there was quite a bit of trauma,” he says. “As an adult now I’m finding that I’m still processing some of that stuff and dealing with it. But it’s work that I’m fully engaged in, I’m active in and I’m committed to because now I’m a father.”

The incoming president of the UNM Alumni Association chokes up when he thinks about that kid who is still inside him.

“It’s heavy and it doesn’t go away. It doesn’t matter how successful you are. It doesn’t matter how much community equity you have,” Silva says. “If you don’t deal with that stuff, it never goes away, it always comes back. So, because of all of the loss and the abandonment that void in me is filled by tremendous amounts and love and grace and kindness.”

ska checkerboard pattern in black and white

Silva first picked up the accordion as a kid in L.A., but it was the saxophone that hooked him on music.

By the time he landed at Del Norte High School as a freshman, he was an accomplished musician. “That was my life,” Silva says. “I was laser focused. That’s all I cared about. It became my direction. It became my path.”

When he neared graduation, he targeted UNM and a degree in music. “I grew up in the shadow of the University. My love of the University began to grow at a very young age and I knew I wanted to go to UNM.”

His first semesters were tough. He wasn’t clicking with his classes. His study habits weren’t cutting it. He struggled to afford tuition and living expenses. And scheduling an 8 a.m. math class didn’t help.

He was teetering on the edge of dropping out when he decided to try a different major as a sophomore and see if his interest in history and politics might help him find a focus.

He switched majors to political science and began to excel.

“I had some unbelievable professors who helped me, pushed me, guided me. I had Fred Harris for several classes. He was very impactful.”

Still, performing on a stage with a band held a powerful sway. Silva put law school on hold (becoming the next junior senator from New Mexico could wait) and pursued music. He played sax and drums in Cool Runnings, a 10-piece reggae band, and in Giant Steps, a seven-piece ska band that had regional success, cut a few albums and toured with some national acts.

When it came time to get to down to more traditional work, Silva went into hospitality and sales. Getting fired from a sales job persuaded him to become his own boss and he and fellow Lobo Jesse Herron (‘03 BBA, ’05 MBA) hatched the plan for ABQ Trolley Co. in 2007 over chips, salsa and five hours of conversation at a Taco Cabana.

Once their custom-made trolley was delivered in 2009, they launched the tour company, switching off driving and microphone duties, and grew the company into what it is today – Albuquerque Tourism and Sightseeing Factory, an umbrella for the four divisions of the company: trolley tours (which include the wildly popular Breaking Bad tour), a walking ghost tour, a party bike business and ABQ in a Box, a gift company.

For his next entrepreneurial venture, Silva looked to two of his passions – ska and reggae music and cookies.

Ska music, which originated in Jamaica and shares an offbeat with reggae, has an inclusive ethos (its early “two-tone” bands were racially integrated) and an upbeat energy and message.

Two-tone fashion is a black-and-white checkerboard and when Silva played in ska bands he wore the sharp black-and-white ska uniform favored by Rude Boys, the fervent ska fanatics – a neat black suit, white shirts and black skinny tie and sharp shoes.

“My life is ruled by checkerboard. It’s everywhere and in every aspect of everything I do,” Silva says. In 2014, Silva wanted to start another business. There was no cookie bakery in Albuquerque at the time, so he decided to launch one with a former co-worker, Kristin Dowling, a dedicated baker who had a culinary degree from CNM.

They opened Rude Boy Cookies in 2015 with the intent of satisfying sweet tooths and also engaging with and supporting Albuquerque.

“To me, there’s much more to life than the bottom line,” Silva says. “I want to be successful. But there’s more important things than just making a buck.”

Silva, whose 23 and Me results show is 60 percent Black and 30 percent Spanish, was traumatized and then galvanized by George Floyd’s murder under the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020. With members of his circle of brothers, a group of Black professionals in Albuquerque, he helped to organize a silent protest at Civic Plaza, and another along Central Avenue. They formed BURQUE Against Racism and Silva is committed to helping the less fortunate and, in his words, “lifting up all Black lives in Albuquerque.”

“I am going to stand up for what’s right and I’m outspoken about it,” he says. “I’ve maybe lost business because of it but I can look at myself in the mirror every single day and know that I’m doing the right thing.”

Silva is honored to serve as president of the UNM Alumni Association and he wants to use his year as the head of the board to help build pride and connection to an institution that lifted his family and changed his life.

After arriving in Albuquerque, his mother, Martha Washington (’84 BA, ’87 JD, ’94 MA) began attending UNM and was an academic advisor for athletics and then a student in the School of Law while Silva was an undergraduate.

“The University became a huge part of me,” Silva says. And it helped lift us up. I bleed Cherry and Silver with a little tinge of checkerboard.”

The goal for this year is engage active students to build excitement and a loyalty to UNM so that they become alumni with a strong connection to the Alumni Association.

Silva hopes to make a whistle-stop tour across campus to engage with undergrads in all majors and to build something like a Big Brother/Big Sister mentor network between alumni and at-risk students.

The Alumni Association, Silva says, is the school’s front porch. “Every alum is an ambassador to the University and it’s our job to engage people. To me it’s about asking people to be great ambassadors by speaking, by sharing the love of the place.”

Quick takes

His favorite cookie: Chocolate chip, forever.

Top three tracks on his all-time playlist: “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley; “Ghost Town” by the Specials; “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Family: Wife Penimah Silva (’11 BA) , office administrator at the Keleher & McLeod law firm; daughter Ariella, 8.

How he spends a day off: It’s all about his family and his back yard, which got some major love during the pandemic.

Life-changing moment: When he was 18, Silva was hired as a baseball and basketball coach at Camp Greylock, a storied sleepaway camp in Becket, Mass., and found a mentor there, camp director Bert Margolis, who would change his life. Silva returned for the next 13 summers and became head counselor.

“Bert Margolis became the first true father figure I ever had in my life. He stuck around, seemed to care, taught me the life lessons I still live by.”

About that Rude Boy name: “Fans of ska music are called Rude Boys. A Rude Boy is somebody who shows up at a ska show, dressed in a really nice suit, with a skinny black tie, really slick shoes and a pork pie hat.”

Deb Haaland: One for the History Books

Deb Haaland: One for the History Books

Deb Haaland standing cross armed outside in northern New Mexico

Deb Haaland: One for the History Books

The first Native American to head the Department of Interior stays grounded in Pueblo culture

Deb Haaland (’94 BA, ’06 JD) calls herself a 35th-generation New Mexican, tracing her family tree on her mother’s side to the establishment of Laguna Pueblo in the 1200s. Born in Winslow, Ariz., to a Laguna mother and an Anglo father from Minnesota, Haaland grew up as a military brat; her mother served in the Navy and her father in the Marine Corps and the family moved frequently with each of her father’s postings.

A single mother who has been open about her 30-plus years of sobriety, her housing insecurity and her reliance on public assistance, Haaland walked a rough road that led – in 2018 when she was 58 – to election to the United States Congress, representing New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District.

She was one of two Native American women elected to Congress that year – a first for the country. And this March, Haaland notched another historic first becoming the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary when she was sworn in as Secretary of the Interior.

Haaland now heads a massive federal department with 70,000 employees and missions that range from managing the National Parks and Bureaus of Land Management and Reclamation to overseeing Indian education and the trust relationship between the federal government and 574 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages.

Deb Haaland being interviewed on television by Norah O'Donnell

Haaland is interviewed by Norah O’Donnell for CBS Evening News in April. Photo: Department of Interior

The double alum made time in her busy schedule of travel and meetings to talk to Mirage about her life, her new mission, training for a marathon and her continuing connections to UNM.

Mirage: I’m always interested in families and the relationship between our family and who we are. Your family background is a combination of Pueblo culture, Anglo culture and also military culture. How do you think your parents and grandparents shaped who you are today?

Haaland: The military part of it, my dad got his orders every couple of years and there was never any fight or question. We just packed up and moved to wherever the commander in chief instructed him to move. I feel like that part of my life has given me a real opportunity to sort of adapt to things very easily. You have to make new friends wherever you go; it’s a new house, new neighborhood, all of those things. So, I feel grateful for that. I actually feel like I was able to adapt really well to so many different types of situations and so I feel like that’s something that the military life does for a person.

With that being said, whenever my dad had a temporary duty station, meaning he was there for six months or a year, my mom would make sure that we went to stay with my (Laguna) grandparents during that time. She was adamant for us having an opportunity to grow up with my grandparents and have them in our lives. They were part of the assimilation policies. Not only did they go to boarding schools but they worked on the railroad in Winslow, Ariz. My grandfather was a diesel train mechanic for 45 years and my grandmother cleaned diesel train engines. Sometimes when we would go visit them it was Winslow. Other times it was to Laguna.

I learned how to cook from my grandmother just by watching her through the kitchen window. She didn’t like kids in her kitchen. She moved entirely too fast and you’d get run over if you even tried! And then I’d spend time at Laguna with my grandfather in his fields. He grew corn and there were fruit trees that he would irrigate. We’d pull weeds, pick worms off the corn. So, I feel like it was because of my mom, who really insisted that we learn everything that we could from our grandparents, that I have that incredible perspective. When we got older of course it was hiking on the mesas and climbing rocks and all of that so I got a good taste of the outdoors as well.

My grandmother was from Mesita Village. We’re matrilineal and we follow our mother’s side.

Mirage: She really kept you grounded with Pueblo culture even though you had a very urban childhood and were moving all over the place.

Haaland: I went to 13 public schools before graduating from Highland High School in Albuquerque.

Deb Haaland wearing a blue sweater while the sun rises behind her
Mirage: You graduated from Highland, and then I think you were 28 when you enrolled at UNM. What was happening in that decade between high school and college and what was it that propelled you to seek a college education?

Haaland: I was working at Zinn’s Bakery. I started that job when I was in high school. I walked to work every day after school. And when I graduated from high school, they offered me a full-time job. So, I took that and I just worked. It was important that I make a living by myself. My dad wasn’t the type to let anyone sit around the house, so not working was out of the question.

You know, I just woke up one morning and asked myself, “Am I going to be doing this for the rest of my life?” And the answer clearly was no. And at that point I called my sister, I called my mom and I asked them, “Should I go to college?” And of course, they said absolutely. Neither one of my parents graduated from college. I didn’t have a lot of people telling me I should go to college. So now I do that as a role model for kids. I just plant the seed sometimes. If I’m the only one asking them, you know, “Think about going to college,” then it’s absolutely important that I raise that.

Mirage: The path to college for a first-generation college student is a tough one. It took you awhile to graduate. I’m assuming you worked your way through?

Haaland: I was working. There were family obligations. I just wanted to do well and I thought if I don’t overload myself that I should be able to do well. And it was fine. Things happen the way they’re supposed to, I guess.

Mirage: And you were 34 and quite pregnant when you graduated. (Her only child Somah was born four days after graduation.) That sounds like a lot. And then you had a degree, you had a toddler and you started your own business, Pueblo Salsa.

Haaland: Yes, I kept that alive until I was in law school.

Mirage: Was that about the flexibility of being a single mom and being able to make your own hours?

Haaland: That was part of it definitely. I didn’t want to put my child in day care. I just felt very strongly that children in those young ages, it just lasts for such a short time, I felt very confident that if I kept her with me as much as possible, I would have a strong influence over her life. And as it is, they’re doing pretty well.

Mirage: Yeah, I looked at their social media. Cool kid! You’ve raised a really interesting adult who’s very impressive. I read a piece by Julian Brave Noise Cat in which he described in a really sensitive way this period of time when you really didn’t have enough food, were really down to nothing in the cabinet, and applied for food stamps. Can you talk about your financial struggles and how you coped?

Haaland: Right. Oh, my goodness. It’s tough. And so I understand that. It’s tough for so many people in this country. If I had all the money that I spent in overdraft fees, right? You just hold your breath every day because you’re worried about being able to keep things going, keep a roof over your head. I relied on friends and I relied on family. But I recognize that’s not a foolproof way to gain financial footing, either. That’s why I’ve been very adamant about helping to level the playing field. Equity is an issue in this country that we absolutely need to work on and deal with. People need to be able to support themselves. I remember filling out my application for food stamps and then telling me you don’t qualify for emergency food stamps and I just started crying in the counselor’s office. I know what it’s like to have to put food back when you’re at the checkout line because you don’t have enough money to pay for it.

Mirage: When you did decide to go to law school, were you thinking of a career as a practicing attorney or were you thinking of about getting into politics and just these kinds of social justice issues we’re talking about?

Haaland: You know, when I was in undergraduate, I had to take English 100 when I started because I didn’t score high enough on my standardized test, and my writing instructor would give us extra credit for going to lectures around the university and writing an essay about the lecture. And one of the first ones I went to outside of class was to listen to John Echohawk from the Native American Rights Fund. I was so impressed with him and his journey and work he was doing. He inspired me. And later on in my undergraduate career I took a class from Fred Harris, former senator from Oklahoma. He taught political science and he inspired me further. So I thought between those two I needed to go to law school.

Mirage: And after you graduated from law school, it was a law professor who put on the path of politics? Encouraged you to volunteer?

Haaland: My constitutional law professor invited me to apply to Emerge New Mexico and so I did that. I applied to Emerge New Mexico and the rest is history, I guess. I recognized that I could make an impact on things. Thereafter I just really dug in and started helping folks get out to vote. I was joined, of course, by many folks who feel passionate about our right to vote and so I was in really good company and have been for a long time.

Mirage: The rest is history! I look at your career as starting rather late in life, but then just taking off. From 2012 working for the Obama campaign to 2018 being in Congress yourself, that is a very short period of time. Did it seem like a real life-changing whirlwind?

Haaland: It’s a good chunk of years, so it doesn’t necessarily feel like a whirlwind. But sometimes I stop to think how much has happened. I look through photographs I’ve taken that sort of document what I’ve done throughout the years and I think, yes, an awful lot has happened. It’s been wonderful. I’ve made some strong and beautiful friendships across the state. So it’s been great. And I’m still in touch with my college professors from UNM.

Mirage: When you were nominated for this job you spoke about the impacts of climate change and environmental injustice and the Interior Department addressing those issues. I wondered what you see as the core, the theme, of the work that you want to do.

Haaland: Climate change is real and if anyone thinks we’re not facing a climate crisis right now, I don’t understand that. It was a month ago or something the highest carbon levels ever recorded in the history of our world were recorded. So it’s an urgent issue. When you read the front page every day, they’re either talking about drought or wildfires. Our world is definitely changing. And I feel that every single American can participate in this new era that needs to happen and I really hope that every single person gets on board.

Mirage: You are famously the first Native American in charge of this agency and it’s an agency that has such a terrible history with Native Americans. So this isn’t just academic or policy for you – this is personal, right? Do you see that as an opportunity? Does it weigh on you?

Haaland: You know every position I’ve had weighs on me. If you’re a leader in anything you’re in that position because you care deeply about the issues, and I do. I care deeply. However, I feel very blessed that I’ve gotten so much support. For most things that I’ve done, even when I was a member of Congress, I had support across the country for the things that are important that we want to accomplish. So, I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of so many people who came before me who worked hard to conserve our environment, who worked hard to bring issues to the forefront so that people will care about them and I feel like I am sort of honoring those people’s legacy and that’s a part of how I feel about the job that I have now. Many folks have come before me and I really need to stay on that trajectory.

Mirage: I’m curious how you stay grounded and connected – healthy physically and mentally in this period in your life.

Haaland: I’m a runner. I’ve been running for the last 20 years. And that absolutely keeps me grounded. Yesterday morning I got outside and ran eight miles. It was a beautiful New Mexico sunrise. I’m here in New Mexico and I’m going back to D.C. later today. I pack my suitcase with red chile and green chile and corn tortillas. I eat New Mexican food whenever I’m home. My mother taught us that those traditional foods. Yes, they keep your body healthy, but they also feed your soul, because we have a very strong tradition of agriculture here in New Mexico. When you partake of that it feeds your spirit as well.

Mirage: Are you training for any races right now?

Haaland: I am. I’m signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon Oct. 29.

Mirage: Is eight miles for a short run or a long run?

Haaland: When you train for a marathon, you increase your mileage incrementally. So I’m at eight miles. The next time I’ll run 10 and go up from there, my longest run being 20 miles before the marathon.

Mirage: Anything else you’d like to touch on about UNM?

Haaland: I would just say to the students at UNM, you’re so fortunate to be at an amazing university. It’s a close-knit community, everyone cares about each other. I loved my time there and I keep that tradition going.

My child, Somah, also graduated from UNM in the Theater Department in 2017. And so both of us, we recognize the value of being at hometown university like UNM. So just keep up the good work.

Mirage: So, a proud Lobo mom?

Haaland: Absolutely!

Deb Haaland in a turquoise dress with her husband, Skip Sayer, wearing a blue suit, outdoors with Sandia Peak in the background

photo: Department of Interior

Haaland married longtime partner Skip Sayre in August at the the Hyatt Regency Tamaya at Santa Ana Pueblo.

Haaland isn’t the only alumnus joining the Biden-Harris administration in high-profile policy positions.

 

Libby Washburn (’98 JD), formerly the chief compliance officer and chief of staff in the President’s Office at UNM, now serves as in the White House as Special Assistant to the President for Native Affairs.

A member of the Biden-Harris administration’s Domestic Policy Council, Washburn is involved in all aspects of the government-to-government relationships between the United States and American Indian and Alaska Native tribes.

Washburn is no stranger to the federal government.

She served as state director and legislative counsel for U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman and as the chief of staff to the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior in the Obama-Biden administration and at the Bureau of Reclamation.

Washburn earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma in 1994, a master’s in government from Texas Woman’s University in 1995 and her law degree from UNM in 1998.

Washburn, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, served as UNM’s chief compliance officer from 2016 to September 2018, and was appointed chief of staff by interim President Chaouki Abdallah and continued in the role under President Garnett S. Stokes. Washburn left UNM in 2018 to move to Iowa with her husband, UNM School of Law Dean Kevin Washburn, when he became dean of the University of Iowa School of Law.

Xochitl Torres Small (’15 JD), who served one term in the U.S. Congress representing New Mexico’s Second District, has been nominated to serve as Under Secretary of Rural Development in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In announcing the nomination, the White House said, “Throughout her career, Torres Small has employed her experience organizing in vulnerable, rural communities to achieve lasting investments that combat persistent poverty.”

Torres Small, the granddaughter of migrant farmworkers who grew up in Las Cruces, left home at age 16 to attend United World College’s college in Eswatini, then known as Swaziland.

She then attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2007, and returned home to work as a field organizer in colonias in southern New Mexico.

In 2008, she came home from college to work.  She went to work as a field representative for Senator Tom Udall (’77 JD) in 2012, working worked on issues ranging from water conservation and infrastructure development to education and healthcare accessibility and helping communities in New Mexico access American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Inspired by Udall’s work on water in the West, Torres Small enrolled in UNM’s School of Law to focus on water law.

She was an attorney at the firm Kemp Smith and in 2018 became the first woman to represent the second congressional district.

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