From left, Leadership Roswell Alumni Association honorees Judy Stubbs, Pat Burnett, Roger Burnett and Phelps White III at New Mexico Military Institute, Tuesday. Noah Vernau Photo
The Leadership Roswell Alumni Association held its 15th annual awards banquet Tuesday at New Mexico Military Institute, recognizing the outstanding achievements of community leaders.
Phelps White III, a U.S. Army veteran, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for many years spent improving Chaves County. White has been active in a multitude of civic and state organizations throughout his life, including the Historical Foundation for Southeast New Mexico, the Community Foundation of Chaves County, Roswell Rotary, New Mexico Woolgrowers Inc., New Mexico State University Foundation and the United Way of Chaves County.
“I’ve been here all my life, and I’ve seen Roswell grow. So I’m very honored by it,” White said. “It makes you humble.”
White, who served on the New Mexico Stream Commission for more than 35 years, said work with state water agencies represents his proudest accomplishments. “If I’ve ever accomplished anything, I feel like I’ve contributed to a successful implementation of an agreement that we made with all the stakeholders up and down the river, to solve a riddle or a question that we had in satisfying a U.S. Supreme Court decree — Texas versus New Mexico! So we were under the gun for a long, long time — and still are, for that matter, but I think we have been able to protect this valley’s water resources.”
The Outstanding Leader Award was presented to Judy Stubbs, whose documented history of improving Chaves County includes 16 years on the Roswell City Council. Stubbs, currently president of New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe Foundation Board of Directors, is a graduate of the first Leadership Roswell class in 1984, and has since helped to organize the alumni association.
“I’m extremely honored; it never occurred to me that I would be among those people (chosen),” she said. “So I’m very humbled, and I’m very appreciative of it.”
Stubbs said her passion for public policy came early. “I was a 4-H’er when I was 9 years old! I always tell everyone that everything I ever needed to learn, I learned in 4-H.
“… I feel that I’m here to do what I can. I love public policy. … There’s nothing better; there’s no better feeling than to do something for either the community or for someone who can’t do (something) for him or herself. My parents raised me to give to my community whenever I could.
… It’s the most gratifying part of my life.”
Roger and Pat Burnett received the Commitment to Youth Award, recognized for their many years of involvement in youth activities. The Burnetts, married for 30 years, are retired educators who have a combined 64 years of service to children in the state. The two serve as charter members of the Sunrise Optimist Club of Roswell, and as co-chairpersons on the organization’s scholarship committee, awarded more than $24,000 in 13 years to graduating high school seniors.
“Honestly, we were surprised,” Roger said. “We do a lot of things for the community, but we don’t think of it as doing it for an award. We just like doing things for the kids. We’re retired elementary school teachers, and we just continue doing things like that.”
Roger and Pat, past graduates of Leadership Roswell, recently restarted school tours for fourth-graders at the Historical Center for Southeast New Mexico, one of their proudest accomplishments.
“Children who know more about their community and appreciate it tend to stay in their community, or at least come back with good thoughts about it,” Pat said. “And so it gives us a chance to let them know a little history, and maybe build a little foundation for them.
“… Whether it’s a student at a young age or a young person in the community, you’re going to buy in more when you understand what the community is about.”
Also honored at the banquet, New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe student Milo Fairbanks was given the Emerging Leader Award and a $600 scholarship, and Tyler Herring, a Roswell High School student, received the Team Leader Scholarship for $400.