Dudek dedicates 26 years to Roswell Leadership
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
The Leadership Roswell Alumni Association presents awards annually to outstanding members of the community, with recipients nominated by area residents and chosen by a selection committee. The Roswell Daily Record will publish an article on each of the four winners. This is the third article in the 2021 series.
Working to build the Roswell Leadership Program has been a big part of Laurie Jerge Dudek’s life for approximately 26 years, since she herself took the program in 1995 and served as class president.
“She probably convinced a dozen people to take the course, including myself,” said Elaine Mayfield, also an active member of the Leadership Roswell Alumni Association.
Dudek won the 2021 Alumni Award in recognition of his years of effort for the group. Since 1983, the group has offered a nine-month leadership training program that educates local professionals from all economic sectors in Chaves County, Roswell and New Mexico.
While the Leadership Roswell Alumni Association has been giving out its other annual awards for over 20 years, the Alumni Award is relatively new, with only three previous recipients.
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Mayfield, who also worked with Dudek for about 25 years in the city of Roswell when Dudek ran the Parks and Recreation Department and Mayfield ran the Spring River Zoo, described Dudek as an accomplished professional characterized by her drive and vigor. .
“As a professional she is always well prepared and thorough,” said Mayfield, also describing Dudek as “bubbly, full of life, energetic with energy to burn, absolutely caring, always there”.
The award honors Dudek for the “hundreds and hundreds of hours” she devoted to the organization as a program director from 1996 to approximately 2010 alongside attorney Rick Kraft, volunteer CEO since 1992. Even after leaving the position of program director, she remained involved in coordinating an introductory exercise each year and worked with Kraft on her “signature” presentation on attitude.
“Basically it was continuity from year to year,” Kraft said. “We have a class president who would help us for a year. They would work for a year, then we would have another to replace them. But Laurie was my right hand. She worked side by side with me in managing the program.
He added that she had a “contagious” attitude that spreads happiness in others.
“She’s really a joy to be around,” he said. “It adds value. She adds value to my life and, I believe, to members of the community. She is very dedicated, a very hard worker. His attitude is what really shines.
For all of his involvement with Leadership Roswell, Dudek is known to many in the community for more than that.
She grew up in Roswell in a close-knit family and a fifth generation of New Mexicans. She said her grandmother gave her a lasting nickname of “Little Miss Sunshine” and that her parents, Christine and John, taught her to work hard and give back. She has two sisters and a brother who died in 2019.
“I have to say that my family was my inspiration to become the best version of me,” she said. “And even at my age, I’m still trying to hit that bar. I feel like I am the most blessed person on earth.
She graduated from Roswell High School in 1984, with trainer Flo Valdez a great influence on her.
“She called me ‘RM’, for reliable manager, and taught me that it takes hard work to make your dreams come true,” Dudek said.
Dudek also praised the teachers at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, where she obtained her associate degree. She went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree, both in human performance and sports, from the University of the Highlands of New Mexico. While in Highlands, she also ran an exercise studio.
She said she had no doubts she would return to Roswell, and she did so around 1991, first working for the YMCA, then joining the city’s Parks and Recreation group. When she left town after 28 years, she was the superintendent of its recreation and parks program and said she felt most accomplished in helping to establish the Party on the River and Cinco de Mayo event, the Robert Goddard Days and Science Discovery Festival and July 4th Party.
“What a wonderful experience to wake up and know that at the end of the day you would have touched so many lives in such a positive way,” said Dudek. “There is no greater satisfaction than seeing smiles on children’s faces. “
She was also involved in the effort to build the new Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center and said that after that she felt ready to take on a new challenge.
In December 2019, she assumed a new role as the Southeast Region Health Promotion Manager for the New Mexico Department of Health. In this role, she works with eight counties to educate a population of around 250,000 people about health and wellness issues and to improve access to care, and to build links between the health department of the ‘State and community medical and health organizations.
Her volunteer work has included giving time to the Assumption Catholic Church and working with the Chaves County Community Foundation. She also continues the ties she and her family have with ENMU-Roswell.
“Laurie has served on the board of directors of the ENMU-Roswell Foundation since 2011,” said college development director Donna Oracion. “She has been a dedicated and enthusiastic member of the Board of Directors and has participated in many foundation events, such as our annual golf tournaments, over the years. She is a true advocate for our campus and her two daughters are graduates of ENMU-Roswell.
His previous accolades include a Distinguished Young Professional Award from the National Parks and Recreation Association, as well as the KUDOS Group Awards for his public relations and marketing efforts. Dudek also received the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Young Women of New Mexico.
Dudek has words of praise for her immediate family, including her husband Kameron Dudek, whom she married in 2017 and calls a “God send”. Daughter DeAnna Hendrickson is a registered nurse in Carlsbad working to become a nurse practitioner, while Amanda Jerge is an occupational therapist assistant studying to become a certified occupational therapist. She describes them as “beautiful inside and out”.
She said she viewed Rick Kraft and former Roswell City Manager Bob Thomson as two of her most important mentors. She calls the Roswell Leadership program a “turning point” in her life.
“This program is life changing and it gives you the tools to make positive change,” she said. “I am an advocate for them and a strong supporter of their mission to create future leaders. “
Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at [email protected]