The New Mexico Coalition of Educational Leaders honored two New Mexico State University alumni – NMSU Regent Arsenio Romero and the late Karen Trujillo – with awards at NMCEL’s 2021 Summer Conference this week in Albuquerque.

Romero was named 2021 Administrator of the Year for his work as superintendent of Los Lunas Public Schools. A native New Mexican, Romero also serves on the Governor of New Mexico’s Central Racial Equity Committee. Romero received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at NMSU, as well as a Ph.D. in educational management and development.

NMCEL leaders recognized Romero for his contributions to state education, particularly in the areas of turnaround initiative, multiage environments, using technology to enhance learning and politics in the educational setting.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” Romero said. “This award belongs to all superintendents, all directors, all principals and all teachers across New Mexico. Together, we make a difference for students.”

Trujillo, who died following a tragic car accident in February, was superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools and former New Mexico secretary of education. Trujillo, a former interim associate dean of research in NMSU’s College of Education, was an outspoken advocate of New Mexico’s students and teachers, and was instrumental in establishing Educators Rising New Mexico, an organization that was close to her heart. Trujillo earned all three degrees – bachelor’s, graduate and Ph.D. – from NMSU in secondary education, mathematics, and curriculum and instruction.

Trujillo’s death sparked an outpouring of grief not only in Las Cruces, but statewide. NMCEL leaders recognized Trujillo’s contributions to education in New Mexico with the 2021 Earl Nunn Award.

“Thank you to (NMCEL executive director) Stan Rounds and the New Mexico Coalition of Educational Leaders for recognizing Karen and presenting this amazing award,” said Trujillo’s husband, Ben Trujillo, who accepted the award. “It continues to allow her light to shine bright.  It was truly an honor to accept this on her behalf. When Karen was superintendent, she challenged all LCPS employees by asking them to remember to have some grace with yourself and go above and beyond every day for each other. If educators can do that, what a bright future we will have because, make no mistake about it, we shape the future.”

For more information about NMCEL, visit

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