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YWCA El Paso del Norte Region
2006 Las Cruces REACH Award Winners

Maria Navarra-Pino

Arts Category
Maria Navarra-Pino has been described much like her amazing creations: beautiful, intricate, timeless, complicated, inspiring and unique.  Maria's passion for weaving and her professional roles in different social service agencies always remained two separate features of her life. As an artist, mother, and compassionate human being, she worked to improve the lives of others but always wished that her craft could someday become united with her career. Her wish came true when she became a part of the Community Action Agency's Tres Manos Program. Maria's weaving truly enables the women from the colonias through the Tres Manos textile arts program by teaching, and guiding them as they perfect their weaving skills. The ultimate goal of the program is to provide women from the colonias with a trade that will open the doors of economic development and self-sufficiency. Maria Navarra-Pino now lives her dream of pursuing her passion for weaving while simultaneously supporting others to pursue their own life's goals.


Connie Hines

Business Category
Connie Hines has taken her business success and applied the same formula to other areas of her life.  She has branched out her work into home construction, economic development and art, carefully managing several successful businesses over the years. Currently, Connie is the owner and principal designer of Connie Hines Interior Design. She has projected her expertise in design, art, and business ingenuity onto other organizations in the community which she devotes significant time to, such as the NMSU Dean's Council for Excellence in the Arts, the Fine and Performing Arts Center, and the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, among several others, all in effort to improve the quality of life for the Las Cruces community. She remains especially active in business and trade organizations such as the Citizens Bank Board of Directors, Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, International Society of Interior Design, International Interior Design Association, the Las Cruces Home Builders Association, and the Regional Professional Chapter of Interior Design. Connie has become an advisor and dedicated positions in her company to many young women who are interested in a career in interior design.


Eula Fern Thompson

Volunteer Service Category
Eula Fern Thompson has enjoyed a rich career in education that included positions at Mayfield High School, International Business College, NMSU Doña Ana Branch Community College, earning awards such as the Donald C. Rousch Award for Excellence in Teaching and the National Teaching Excellence Award. Her generosity for others began early in her career when she began sponsoring student clubs and other school organizations. She then became involved with the Las Cruces Symphony Association and Guild raising funds for programs and concerts for students in the Las Cruces Publish School District. She retired from NMSU in 1998 as a full professor but did not slow down her fundraising activities. Eula Fern Thompson has been instrumental in establishing two endowments at NMSU and helping other groups and organizations to increase funds to provide scholarships for students. Many students have benefited from the assistance and scholarships that Eula has launched or continued with the endless amount of time and energy she has dedicated over the years.


Elizabeth Marrufo, Ed.S.

Education Category - K-12
Elizabeth Marrufo has an impressive history of working closely with students with limited English proficiency and from a difficult socioeconomic background. She began her career as an elementary bilingual education teacher along the way earning an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction and an Ed.S. in Educational Administration. Elizabeth is an innovator, always looking for a different way to improve the delivery of education for students. Her hard work vaulted her to the position of principal and she soon began transforming programs and revising curriculum to better address the needs of students. One of her most successful projects was Recipe for Success which she has presented to numerous administrators. Her mentorship and creativity continue today. She is active at the Center for Indigenous and Border Education Leadership (CIBEL) at NMSU where she works to encourage students, especially minorities, to pursue careers in education and study evaluations of school principals. It is Elizabeth's love for the children that inspires her to be proactive about their education.


Dr. Cheryl Nims

Education Category - Post Secondary
As an educator, Dr. Nims nurtures minds by sharing her talents, energy, and knowledge with many students. She has been part of the NMSU Department of English since 1988 and currently serves as the Associate Director of the Writing Program. She is involved with the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program and Foundation for Excellence. Dr. Nims' service to others extends beyond the NMSU campus as she has also dedicated herself to organizations such as La Casa, Inc., Southern New Mexico Community Foundation and the Junior League of Las Cruces. The most important role that Dr. Nims performs is that of mentor, empowering women to fulfill their goals and inspiring everyone she meets to embrace the joy of life.


Pam Lillibridge

Health Services Category
Creating opportunities for persons with disabilities is the main focus of Pam Lillibridge's professional and community efforts. She began her career of service in 1989 with Tresco, Inc. and has been President and CEO since 2001. Although she heads a large organization, Lillibridge has ensured that it maintains a high level of excellence for the people it serves through a variety of programs such as early intervention, therapy, family support, job placement, supported employment and assisted living for adults. She has also worked to educate the community regarding the barriers and discrimination faced by people with disabilities. Lillibridge is part of the adjunct faculty at NMSU's Public Administration Program. She knows the value of collaboration and is involved with many organizations that seek to improve the quality of life for all Las Cruces residents.  Lillibridge demonstrates how a progressive attitude, responsible leadership and a pledge to upholding the highest standards when working with people can achieve great success.


Carolyn Kuhn
Government Category
Carolyn Kuhn not only develops software, she builds bridges. The software development company which she owns produces educational learning tools that help schools make connections between technology and curriculum.  Recognizing the necessity for updating the resources that can aid students in becoming academically successful, Carolyn has cooperated with both the Las Cruces and Gadsden school districts to identify and secure funding to create effective learning environments for students using technology as the main instrument.  Her talents have also brought together entrepreneurship and education. Her entrepreneurial gifts have been especially helpful to the High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico whom she has assisted in grant writing and fund development. Carolyn's abilities have allowed her to work with Bill Gates to develop educational software packages and to help contribute to the development of profitable educational products. Her energy and vision have no doubt fueled her many triumphs and innovations.


Esther Gray
Non-Profit Category

Instilling confidence in people is what Esther Gray does on a daily basis.  For over 13 years she has been a vital staff member of the Las Cruces Gospel Daily Mission, Inc. but just in the past three years she has been a paid staff member. Esther has been the supervisor of the ministry which depends on a team of volunteers that cares for many women and their children. Knowing that a child will have basic undergarments for the first day of school or a woman an outfit to wear for a job interview, is what drives Esther's work. Her warmth and generosity towards others is unwavering and is noted in the years of service that her volunteers have dedicated to the ministry under her guidance and the many lives which she has touched and who have returned to thank her for her efforts.

Kerry Leslie

Young Woman of Achievement - High School
Recognizing a need and leading the charge to change, are qualities that Mayfield High School senior Kerry Leslie shows which set her apart from many others, not just other students. Kerry is an outstanding student who carries a 4.1 GPA and is active in the National Honor Society, volleyball and basketball teams. Through her involvement with the National Honor Society, Kerry has participated in events such as Dress-A-Child, River Clean-Up, volleyball and basketball camps. Her dedication to her community also involves volunteering for La Casa, Inc. and really shines through with her work for Jardin de Los Niños. In 2004, Kerry initiated a project to design and create toys for the children at Jardin. These toys took the shape of sock monkeys and soon, Kerry was able to bring other students on board to help with the project. Since then, Kerry and other students from the National Honor Society have continued making the sock monkeys and delivering toys not only to Jardin De los Niños but also to the Las Cruces Police Department's Domestic Abuse Program. Kerry's commitment for caring, drive, and personal investment have brought smiles to many children.

Sherry Kamali

Young Woman of Achievement Category - College
Sherry Kamali has been a student at the forefront of involvement in both campus and community life while pursuing a bachelor's degree at New Mexico State University. Currently a senior majoring in Law and Society, Sherry has earned numerous honors and awards throughout her college career including the Regent's Scholarship, Crimson Scholarship, Dean's List, Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, and the Roberts Memorial Scholarship. Sherry exemplifies the qualities of leadership and commitment with her participation in the Associated Students of NMSU (ASNMSU), Pan-Hellenic, and Delta Zeta Sorority. With ASNMSU, Sherry developed two workshops for administrators and students that addressed alcohol abuse, an issue that most recently affected the campus body. Although she is a busy student, Sherry has also managed to volunteer with La Casa, Inc. as a Peer Educator. Sherry's devotion to her community and student life is truly remarkable.

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