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Office of the Secretary

October 17, 2006

Isabel Benemelis-Nicoli,

Interior Honors Nine Employees With 2006 Manuel Lujan, Jr., Champions Award

The 2006 Manuel Lujan, Jr., Champions Award Winners were recognized during a ceremony held at the Sidney Yates Auditorium of the Main Interior Building on  October 17, 2006.

WASHINGTON—In observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Department of the Interior today awarded Manuel Lujan, Jr., Champions Awards to nine outstanding employees.  The award, named after the 46th Secretary of the Interior, recognizes employees for their outstanding work in carrying out the department’s mission in areas that impact Hispanic communities.

Based on the nominations received from each bureau, nine individuals were selected to receive the award.  Former Secretary Lujan, who was on hand to congratulate the winners, also received a special Champion Recognition Award, for providing the inspiration for the event.

“Champions can be considered as individuals who go beyond the call of duty to help promote a certain initiative or project,” said Lynn Scarlett, Deputy Secretary of the Interior, who delivered the welcoming remarks. “They are not afraid to take on tough assignments and tend to be innovative risk takers that challenge an organization to a higher level of performance.  I thank all of today’s award winners for your service and your leadership.  You have represented this department, your community, and this country well.  You are my champions.”

The 2006 Manuel Lujan, Jr. Champions Award winners are:

Cynthia G. Abeyta, Region II, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Frank S. Atencio, Western Regional Office, Office of Surface Mining
Dolores Chacon, NationalBusinessCenter, Office of the Secretary
Pat S. Chavez, Jr., Southwestern Geographic Science Team, U.S. Geological Survey
Martha S. Hernandez, Western Administrative ServicesCenter, Minerals Management Service
Jacqueline Martinez Wells, Civil Rights & Equal Opportunity Division, Bureau of Reclamation
Gloria Mora, Office of Indian Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs
Selma Sierra, Director’s Office, Bureau of Land Management
David Vela, National Capital Region, National Park Service

Also in honor of Hispanic Heritage month, Interior held a partnership forum and signing ceremony on October 12th establishing a partnership with the League of the United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).  Among the objectives of the Memorandum of Understanding signed; that the Hispanic community will have increased access to employment, training, and career and educational opportunities at the Interior Department.  


Photos and interviews with Manuel Lujan, Jr. Champion award winners
are available upon request.

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