Campus News - February 11, 2002


Alumni's Chavez recognized as Advancement Employee of the Year

By Carolyn Gonzales

Charlene Chavez, Associate Director, Alumni Relations.Charlene Chavez, associate director of Alumni Relations, was recently named the Ed Sengel Advancement Employee of the Year. The award, presented to an employee in Advancement, recognizes outstanding contributions to the unit.

Chavez first came to Alumni in Feb. 1983, when they and Development were located on the second floor of the Student Union Building.

She recalls, “I hit the ground running. We had a Legislative reception in Santa Fe – I became responsible for it from day one,” she says, noting that she handed off responsibility for the reception about 10 years ago. She also handled Homecoming, but passed it over, too.

Currently she is involved with the various alumni chapters around the country and oversees the travel program. “We organize trips that alumni and others affiliated with the university can take part in,” she says, noting that they have held recent journeys to Holland, Belgium, Greece, Italy and Great Britain.

She also arranges activities for alumni and the campus community if the Lobos go to a bowl game or participate in NCAA post-season games. She coordinates Alumni graduation activities, including helping to organize the reception held at University House following the May commencement ceremony. “In December, we have an open house in Hodgin Hall. We also have a booth at ‘The Pit’ where students can pick up their pins and miniature diplomas. They can also join the Alumni Association,” she says.

A UNM alum herself, she earned a bachelor’s in Fine Arts, concentrating on theater. After graduation, she went to New York to pursue a career in theater production and, while waiting for a break, worked for Simon & Schuster Publishing Company. “I stayed four years, but had to return when my roommate, who was a regular on the soap opera ‘Search for Tomorrow,’ lost her role on the show. I couldn’t afford to live there alone,” she says.

Chavez spent four years working as Sen. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt’s personal secretary. A supporter of his, she sent him her résumé and was hired here in Albuquerque, then went on to work in his Washington, D.C. offices. After he lost an election, she won the job with Alumni.

With her parents, a brother and his family here, and another brother and his family in Dallas, Chavez has plenty of family ties.

Away from UNM she does woodworking and crafting. She used to make costumes and sets for Albuquerque Civic Light Opera Association, but in recent years she became involved with the Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation’s Laughter is the Best Medicine program and Southwest Arts and Crafts Fair.

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