Con Alma Health Foundation has named Tom Faber, a pediatrician and clinical director at Zuni Indian Health Service Hospital, as a health hero for collaborating with community members to increase opportunities for physical activity and healthy food options. Together community members are transforming what it means to grow up in Zuni, a pueblo of about 8,000 people in the northwest corner of New Mexico.

For the past decade we have recognized people who make incredible contributions to improve the health of their community, and contributed to the nonprofit of their choice. This year Con Alma will donate $1,000 to the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project on behalf of Faber.

“We received a record number of nominations this year telling us how people are improving health across New Mexico,” said Dolores E. Roybal, Con Alma’s executive director. “We chose Dr. Faber for bringing people together to provide children organized physical activity that hadn’t existed before, spearheading the development of more than 70 miles of walking trails and increasing families’ access to healthy food in a rural, isolated pueblo.”

Joseph Claunch, co-director of Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, and Jason Kurland, Diabetes director of Zuni Indian Health Service Hospital, both nominated Faber for the hero award. Ten years ago Dr. Faber founded the nonprofit organization, Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, which now serves more than 600 adolescents each year through summer camps, sports leagues, mentorship, youth leadership, cultural education, gardening, and food sovereignty.

“He understood that the foundation for a healthy Zuni community could be realized by connecting youth with caring, competent adults, challenging youth within a nurturing environment and facilitating a connection to Zuni traditions,” wrote Kurland in his nomination.

Dr. Faber, who moved to Zuni Pueblo in 2006, began partnering with community organizations to provide wrap-around services to his pediatric patients. After building relationships, he invited tribal programs, the public school district, government agencies and local businesses to develop a coalition, officially recognized by the Tribal Council, that works together to enhance local healthy food options and increase physical activity opportunities.

“I am truly honored to be recognized by the Con Alma Health Foundation, an organization which has done so much to elevate the health of all people in our state,” said Dr. Faber. “This award is particularly meaningful to me because of Con Alma’s commitment to respecting each community’s cultural strengths and advocating for equal access to health services.”

This year people across New Mexico nominated 56 individuals as possible heroes, including volunteers, doctors, nurses, nonprofit directors, health workers, community organizers and advocates for minority and underserved populations. Past heroes include Ophelia Reeder, facilitator of the McKinley County Health Council; Mary Stoecker, retired health promotion specialist for the New Mexico Department of Health in Silver City; Doug Meiklejohn, director of New Mexico Environmental Law Center in Santa Fe and Lauren Reichelt, director of Rio Arriba County’s Health and Human Services Department.

 

2018 Hero of Health Nominees

Esther Abeyta, San Jose Neighborhood

Charlie Alfero, Southwest Center for Health Innovation

Ashley Armijo, NM Center for Therapeutic Riding

Glenn Banks, CHRISTUS St. Vincent Sports Medicine

Jesse Barnes, MD, First Choice Community Health

Jack Barrett, Mountain Home Health Care

Curtis Breitner, Epilepsy Research Association

Yolanda B. Cruz, San Miguel County DWI Program

Sandy Dawson, Luna County Parents As Teachers

Colleen C. Dearmin, Solace Crisis Treatment Center

Yolanda “Yoli” Diaz, CARE (Cancer Aid Resource & Education)

Brenda Dunn, New Mexico Lions Operation KidSight

Caren Gala, Santa Fe Indian Center

David A. Gonzales, MD, Presbyterian Medical Services

Bud Hamilton, Cancer Foundation for NM

Lynn Haynes, El Puente de Encuentros

Daniel Hena, Tesuque Pueblo Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court

Olga Hernandez, Strong Families New Mexico

Janet Johnson, Santa Clara Pueblo

Bill Jordan, New Mexico Voices for Children

Stacy Keener, Mental Health Resource

Bob Kristy, The Sky Center

Nandini Pillai Kuehn, PhD, Health Services Consulting

Jenny Landen, Santa Fe Community College

Mary Laumbach, Harding County Health Council

Suzanne Lawson, SL Consulting

Nevin Marquez, HopeWorks

Terri McCaslin, Inside Out Recovery

Marsha McMurray-Avila, Bernalillo County Community Health Council

Claudia Medina, Enlace Comunitario

Stephanie Michnovicz, Cancer Services of New Mexico

Leslie Morrison, MD, UNM Hospital

Sunshine Muse, Black Health New Mexico

Dolly Narang, Pueblo de San Ildefonso

Barbara Nelson, Imagination Library of Grant County

Michael C. Parks, Senior Citizens’ Law Office

Judith Pierce, Taos Public Health Office

Verónica Plaza, MD, University of New Mexico

Jan Rivera-Velasquez, Guadalupe County Health Council

Lewis Rosenthal, Mountain Home Health Care

Lupe Salazar, Barrios Unidos

Allen Sanchez, CHI St. Joseph’s Children

Siena Sanderson, Las Cumbres Community Services

Olivia Seppi, Dona Ana County Head Start

Loretta Sesbeau, ARCA

Michele Suina, PhD, Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board

Karla Thornton, MD, UNM Medical School & Project Echo

Adela Trujillo, Community Action Agency of Southern NM

Amanda Trujillo-Gonzalez, McCurdy Ministries Community Center

Mary Vallejos, Dental Care in Your Home

Victoria VanDame, The OT Circus

Juventino Vasquez, Dona Ana County Head Start

Patricia Walsh , New Mexico State Parks

James Ziomek, MD, Los Alamos Medical Care Clinic

Marcos Zubia, Esperanza Shelter