Con Alma is proud to announce two health heroes who have built coalitions with partners to improve the health of their communities: Ophelia Reeder, facilitator of the McKinley County Health Council, and Mary Stoecker, who retired this year as health promotion specialist for the New Mexico Department of Health in Silver City.

This is the ninth year we have recognized health heroes — people who make incredible contributions to improve the health of New Mexicans. For each health hero, Con Alma donates $1,000 to a nonprofit of the hero’s choice. Con Alma will donate to Inmate Support Program of the Behavioral Health Collaborative Continuum of Care on behalf of Stoecker, and to the Alzheimer’s Association, New Mexico Chapter on behalf of Reeder.

“This year we are focusing on the power of partnerships because we have seen the successful results when organizations work together to make life better for people in their community,” said Dolores E. Roybal, Con Alma’s executive director. “We are proud to honor Ophelia and Mary, who have invested their lives in creating and sustaining strong partnerships that aim to give everyone a chance at living a healthy life, regardless of their income, zip code or race.”

Stoecker fostered a culture of regional collaboration and public health innovation in southwestern New Mexico, according to Melanie Goodman, who nominated Stoecker for the hero award and is a field representative for U.S. Sen. Tom Udall in Las Cruces. Goodman described Stoecker as fearless, a person who knows when to lead and when to let others lead.

“To Mary partnerships mattered greatly and she facilitated ground breaking dialogue so counties could identify needs and turn ideas into action,” Goodman wrote in her nomination letter. “An early adopter working upstream on social determinants of health and improving economic resiliency for rural New Mexico, she was a master cultivator of our collective capacity for systems change.”

Stoecker said many incredible people work on partnered initiatives in New Mexico communities. “It takes so darn long to affect system and policy changes that a ‘kudo’ to those working and volunteering in the field of health promotion and community organizing really helps them to keep at it,” she said. “I’ll be representing all those folks in Grant County and our three partner counties of Catron, Luna and Hidalgo.”

In the northwestern part of New Mexico, Reeder has spent years building coalitions with partners and participating in many aspects of improving public health, according to her nominator, Helen Tso, a health services outreach officer for the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center’s Office for Community Health.

“Her focused attention to health-related matters is being harnessed by both hospitals in Gallup as well as by various initiatives designed to capitalize on collaborations,” Tso wrote in her nomination letter. “Her tenacity for equality and her insights about the broad spectrum of health in a part of the state that depends on such dedicated individuals continue to be a benefit for the whole community.”

This year people across New Mexico nominated 32 individuals as their communities’ heroes, including volunteers, doctors, teachers, nonprofit directors, health directors and advocates for caregivers, immigrants, dental care, minority populations, people with disabilities, health-care access, healthy-food access. We have included a list of the 2017 Hero of Health Nominees below.

Past heroes include Doug Meiklejohn, director of New Mexico Environmental Law Center in Santa Fe; Lauren Reichelt, director of Rio Arriba County’s Health and Human Services Department. Follow this link for full list of past heroes.

2017 Hero of Health Nominees

Trinidad de Jesus Arguello, PhD, Compostela Community & Family Cultural Institute

Alida Brown, Quay County Health Council

Neal Devitt, MD, La Familia Medical Center

Donald Clark, MD, Brain Injury Alliance New Mexico

Shirley A. Ellison, Ed.D, American Diabetes Association

Ron Hale, NM Alliance of Health Councils

Alisha Hawthorne-Martinez, Second Chance Counseling, Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

Jeffrey Holland, Endorphin Power Company

Pixie Hopkins, Nor-Lea Hospital District

Erin Hourihan, Childhaven, Inc.

Donald Hume, Molina HealthCare

Philip Jameson, MD, Sandia Lab Health Management Clinic, Amer. Diabetes Assoc.

Jennifer Landman, Presbyterian Hospital

Stephanie Gurule Leyba, Santa Fe Public Schools- Capital High School

Azul La Luz, PhD,  Nuevalight Enterprises

James H. Lubowitz, MD, Taos Orthopaedic Institute

Michelle Melendez, Rio Grande Community Development Corp.

Andrés Mercado, City of Santa Fe Fire Department

Mary Meyer, Kids Cook!

Ana Morelos, Las Cumbres Community Services

Josue De Luna Navarro, NM Dream Team/ United We Dream

Aamna Nayyar, DDS, Santa Fe Community College Dental Dept.

Maria D. Otero, Nuestra Salud

Wanda Ross Padilla, DPA, A Better Life Now

Nick Pavlakos, Share your Care Adult Day Services

Allen Sanchez, CHI St. Josephs Children

Renee Sandoval, Española YMCA Teen Center

Adrienne R. Smith, New Mexico Direct Care Givers Coalition

Lisa D. Thompson, Lea Regional Medical Center

Donna Ortiz & Judith Trujillo, UNM Robertson High School