Each year, the alumni body is invited to submit nominations for two alumni awards: the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Young Alumni Service Award. Any member of the Academy community (alumni, family of past or current students, faculty, staff, or current student) may nominate anyone who attended Albuquerque Academy. Nominations are currently open for the 2021 awards.
The Alumni Council presents the Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of extraordinary achievement or service that exemplifies the principles and values of Albuquerque Academy. It may honor an individual for one noteworthy act, or for many years of effort and accomplishment.
The intent is to recognize members of the Academy community making significant contributions to society, more than to highlight persons merely on the basis of human interest or fascinating and unusual life stories. Presentation of the award will occur on an annual basis.
Created by the Alumni Council to recognize notable service to the community and society that exemplifies the spirit of the Albuquerque Academy mission, the Young Alumni Service Award will be presented annually during Alumni Weekend to one recipient who is 35 years of age or younger at the time of nomination, and who has made significant personal achievements in serving the local, national, or international community.
Nominees for this award must:
- demonstrate dedicated volunteer service to others;
- have developed, implemented, or participated in a program, event, or special outreach effort that improves the lives of others;
- exhibit leadership and creative ability in addressing and solving societal problems;
- embody the ideals of the Academy mission
Distinguished Alumni Award: James Borrego ’96
Young Alumni Service Award: Noreen Kassam ’08
Distinguished Alumni: Loretta Cordova de Ortega ’77
Young Alumni: Anna Pancheshnikov ’06
Distinguished Alumni: Stacey Epstein ’87
Young Alumni: Katie Ogawa ’10
Special Award “The Voice of the Chargers”: Brent Carey ’79
Distinguished Alumni: Christopher Schmidt-Nowara ‘84
Young Alumni: Christopher Marianetti ‘99
Distinguished Alumni: Kristine Hain ’85 Rollinson
Young Alumni: Tomas Atencio Pacheco ‘99
Distinguished Alumni: Gary Gordon ‘79
Young Alumni: Kristen Clauss ‘07
Distinguished Alumni: Ian McKinnon ‘85
Young Alumni: Tara Perea ’06 Palomares
Distinguished Alumni: Joshua Ramo ‘87
Young Alumni: Beau Hilland ‘06
Distinguished Alumni: Norman Bay ‘78
Young Alumni: Neely Crane-Smith ’02 Heubach
Distinguished Alumni: Jonathan Wolfe ‘88
Young Alumni: Consuelo Gonzales ‘04
Distinguished Alumni: David Eagleman ‘89
Distinguished Alumni: Tom Casey ‘93
Distinguished Alumni: Laura Hood ’89 Watchman
Deborah Cantrell ‘78
R. Martin Chavez ‘81
James Borrego ’96 – Distinguished Alumni Award
James graduated from Albuquerque Academy in 1996. He attended Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado for one year where he played on the basketball team. After his freshman year, James transferred to University of San Diego where he played and later began his coaching career
After coaching two years at USD, James then began his NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs. He gained his initial head coaching experience in the NBA serving the final 30 games of the 2014-15 season as the interim head coach for the Orlando Magic. James was named the eleventh head coach in Hornets franchise history in May 2018.
In his 16 seasons in the NBA, Borrego has been a part of staffs that have led teams to the playoffs 11 different times in his time in San Antonio and New Orleans. Borrego has been a part of two NBA championship teams and been to four Conference Finals total.
Borrego has dedicated much of his time in the offseason to expanding the game of basketball’s international influence. He participated in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program in Asia, Argentina, and the Americas as well as NBA Camp Cuba.
Borrego earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in leadership studies from USD. He and his wife Megan, who is also a class of ‘96 alum, have a daughter, Grace, and two sons, Zachary and Nicholas.
Click here to watch a short video about James.
Noreen Kassam ’08 – Young Alumni Service Award
Raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Noreen graduated from Albuquerque Academy in 2008 and went on to receive her BA in International Affairs specializing in conflict and security from The George Washington University. Driven by a strong desire to pursue a career in public service, Noreen worked in government during her years in college and after graduation Noreen joined the White House Advance Team where she coordinated the international and domestic logistical operations and diplomatic protocol for the Offices of the President and Vice President, eventually serving as Director of Advance and Special Advisor to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. In her work in the White House, Department of Commerce, Department of State, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Intelligence Community, Noreen has focused on leading teams in the areas of risk evaluation, intelligence operations and analysis, foreign government engagement, and the development and execution of operational and security strategy, coordination, and policy
Since leaving the government in early 2017, Noreen has continued serving communities at home and abroad through her security consulting firm NAAK Global, dedicated to providing innovative strategies and solutions for individuals and organizations facing security risks around the world. As the founder and Managing Partner, Noreen felt that NAAK Global needed to be aligned with her core values, deeply rooted in compassion and invested in the belief that safety and security is a basic human right for every individual. Today her clients primarily include international NGOs serving in some of the most volatile and underprivileged communities around the world. Her work has taken her to places such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and East Africa.
Holding true to her passionate belief that safety and security is a basic human right for all, Noreen feels both humbled and privileged to be able to make an impact on communities both at home and abroad. Through her vast experience she has seen first-hand how even the smallest efforts can make a lasting impact on communities around the world.
Click here to watch a short video about Noreen.