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ENMU-R administrator honored for service

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Donna Oracion of ENMU-Roswell is described by a fellow Leadership Roswell Alumni Association member as “classy, kind, helpful and intelligent.” (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The Leadership Roswell Alumni Association gives annual awards to people who have made outstanding contributions to the community. This year, the group has honored four people. The Roswell Daily Record is publishing an article each day about one recipient. This is the second article.

Donna Oracion has spent more than three decades in Roswell dispensing information and building coalitions of support for some of its highest profile organizations.

Yet Oracion, a former TV journalist and the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell college development director, is known for her unassuming style, her willingness to work in the background.

Not surprisingly, she expresses humility about receiving the Leadership Roswell Alumni Award.

“I was very surprised because that was not something that I ever expected to receive, but I do appreciate the honor,” she said. “I know I am in good company with the rest of the honorees.”

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The award is the newest category of recognition given by the leadership group. It honors outstanding contributions by a program graduate to the community, Leadership Roswell and the Leadership Roswell Alumni Association. Previous recipients are Mike McLeod, Xcel Energy regional manager for Community and Economic Development (2018); and Elaine Mayfield, Galacticon organizer, community volunteer and two-time Alumni Association president (2019).

Oracion completed the Leadership Roswell program in 1999. She became active with the group’s Alumni Association in 2012, serving as a member of the board for four years, including as its secretary and then as its president.

“Donna just bends over backwards for us,” said Jean Ann Dunn, who nominated her for the award and served with her on the board. “Anything we have ever asked her to do, she is right there, getting it done.”

Dunn said Oracion has been involved in the group’s Teen Leadership Institute for high school students and the end-of-the-year banquet.

“She is classy and kind and helpful and very intelligent,” Dunn said. “She just always comes through for us.”

Oracion’s other community work has involved membership during prior years with Kiwanis and Altrusa, while her professional service has included being a state representative to the board of directors of the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. She also has participated in regional and national conferences for the organization.

Right now, she said, she has two major projects: serving as a core member of the Roswell 2020 Complete Count Committee in its efforts to inform people about the decennial survey and boost the number who respond, and continuing to guide communications, marketing and fundraising at ENMU-R.

“I have been concentrating on so many things with the campus,” she said. “We have had so many changes and things going on with the pandemic and making adjustments.”

ENMU-R has issued many reports, plans and announcements on its website and social media platforms and has been holding regular Facebook Live sessions to keep people informed.

Oracion said she feels ENMU-R should receive a lot of the credit that she thinks she is getting for support to the Leadership Roswell program. She said the educational institution aims to send two people to each class, provides meeting space, as well as van and bus transportation for field trips, and offers meals or food for its events.

She said a look through Leadership Roswell’s yearbooks indicate that a lot of its graduates have become significant people in their communities.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to network with people you may not normally see or meet within your own circle,” she said. “It is a great opportunity to learn about the community, to go to places you would not normally go to. You learn leadership skills — just things you can really carry with you for the rest of your life within your job and with your interactions with people in general. It is just a wonderful opportunity, and I encourage anyone to go through who is able to.”

She added that she thinks people who live and work in a community should also give back of their time and resources and should work to improve the area rather than just complain.

Oracion has been working on Roswell’s behalf for about 34 years. After growing up in Albuquerque and earning a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from New Mexico State University, she got her first job in TV news at KBIM-TV in 1986. About five years later, she joined the Roswell satellite for KOAT-TV, where she worked for four years before joining ENMU-R in 1994 as marketing director. She later became the community relations director and then moved into her current role.

She oversees a staff of four in charge of the ENMU-R Foundation and its fundraising efforts, media relations, publications and website development.

“I have a good team of people who work with me,” she said. “I appreciate everything they do, and, of course, Dr. Powell has been very supportive.”

ENMU-R President Shawn Powell said, “Donna Oracion is an essential part of our campus and our community. She is always willing to assist others and helps students reach their goals. We appreciate Leadership Roswell recognizing Donna’s ongoing efforts through this Alumni Award.”

Oracion added, somewhat wryly, that she thinks she should probably also thank her husband, Tim Oracion, known by many people in the area for his cross-country bicycling adventures.

Asked to comment on anything else she thought it was important for people to know about her, she again sought to minimize her moment in the spotlight.

“Just keep it short,” she said.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.