Law Alums Receive Prestigious UNM Alumni Awards

Alumni Awards
Photo by Maria Wolfe. Pictured from left to right: John Echohawk (`70), Anita Obermeier, Joe Diaz (`65), Alan Morgan.

Joe Diaz (`65) and John Echohawk (`70) were honored by the UNM Alumni Association for their community contributions at the association’s annual awards banquet.

Diaz, of counsel to Modrall Sperling, received the Erna Fergusson Award, presented for exceptional accomplishments, commitment or distinguished service to UNM.

At Modrall, Diaz concentrates his practice in the areas of contract law, real estate law, land use law, zoning law, personnel law, property law, income tax law, condemnation law, bond law, public law, Indian law, litigation and lobbying. He served as Bernalillo County Attorney from 1973 to 1990 and has been a member of the UNM Hospital Board of Trustees for seven years.

Echohawk, executive director and co-founder of the Native American Rights Fund, received the James F. Zimmerman Award, presented to a UNM alum who has made a significant contribution, bringing fame and honor to the university or the state.

John EchohawkA member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, Echohawk was the first Native American graduate of the UNM School of Law, attending on a scholarship designed to increase the number of Native American lawyers. As a student, he co-founded the American Indian Law Students Association. When he was in Albuquerque to receive his award, Echohawk stopped by the UNM School of Law to visit with NALSA students.

He serves on numerous national boards related to Native American affairs and was a member of the Clinton-Gore and the Obama-Biden transition teams for the Department of the Interior.

Additional awards were presented to Alan Morgan, former state superintendent of public instruction, and Anita Obermeier, associate professor of English at UNM.