In 2015, I discovered that the deputy superintendent at one of the biggest public school districts in the nation was hiding charges of child sexual assault from his bosses. The fallout led to the resignation of Superintendent Luis Valentino, who had only been on the job for three months at Albuquerque Public Schools. This coverage also prompted school background check reforms from New Mexico's governor, attorney general, state auditor and state legislature as well as recognition by the Society of Professional Journalists Top of the Rockies awards.
I've won several other awards for my reporting over the years, including:
New Mexico Press Women 2018
First Place in Specialty Articles - Education for story about federal investigation into Albuquerque Public Schools’ treatment of a special education student.
First Place in Feature Story - Online Publication for profile of two Iraqi refugees facing deportation.
National Federation of Press Women 2017
First Place, Continuing Coverage or Unfolding News. The award recognized my coverage of the ongoing food stamp scandal at the New Mexico Human Services Department. I wrote nearly three dozen stories about the state's trouble following federal law on emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program applications. This included coverage prompting state workers to testify in federal court that they were told to fraudulently alter emergency food aid applications by adding fake funds, which gave the state more time to process the applications. A federal judge eventually appointed a special master to oversee the program in the state and held HSD Secretary Brent Earnest in contempt of court over the agency’s actions.
SPJ Top of the Rockies 2017
First Place in Environment-Enterprise Reporting for "City gave ranch million-dollar discount, documents show." Judges described this feature about a shady deal in rural New Mexico as “an eyebrow raised, a brow furrowed. Excellent journalism.” After the story published, the state auditor opened an investigation into the deal and soon found that the city of Jal may have violated the state's anti-donation clause.
Association of Alternative Newsmedia, 2015
I shared an award in the free press category with the Santa Fe Reporter for filing a public records and viewpoint discrimination lawsuit against Gov. Susana Martinez. The case went to trial in March 2017, where I testified on the witness stand. There, the governor's taxpayer-funded contract attorney, a former state supreme court justice, showed his contempt for journalism by calling the entire profession a "racket" and accusing me of being "all mobbed up with email thieves." Read coverage of this important case from the Columbia Journalism Review, the Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico Public Radio and the Santa Fe Reporter.
SPJ Top of the Rockies 2015
First Place in Politics and Enterprise Reporting for "Email Fail." Judges described this feature news story as "a much needed look at why the public should care that public officials' e-mail records are not being saved and are not accessible to the public."
Association for Alternative Newsmedia 2015
Recognition in the Free Press category and shared with colleagues at the Santa Fe Reporter for a lawsuit against the governor of New Mexico over alleged public records violations. Read about the lawsuit here, here and here.
William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award 2013
Shared with colleagues at the Santa Fe Reporter for coverage of a scandal involving a private communications network in the New Mexico governor's office that led to the above lawsuit. Read "The Year in Closed Government" for a primer. Other coverage that led to this award includes "A Higher Power" and "Giant in the Dark."
New Mexico Press Association 2014
First Place in Education Writing for "Education Exodus," an in-depth look at why teachers are leaving the education profession.
New Mexico Press Association 2014
First Place in Investigative Reporting for "Courting Susana," which traced ties between New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and some of her biggest campaign donors.
New Mexico Press Women 2012
First Place in Continuing Coverage for "Under Fire," which reported on the devastating consequences of the Las Conchas Fire in the summer of 2011.