News Release


AREA Announces 505 Award Honorees

Recognizes Leaders in Economic Development in the Greater Albuquerque Region 

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) – The Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance (AREA) announced the honorees for the Fifth Annual 505 Awards and Dinner. The event recognizes organizations and individuals who are making exceptional contributions to the economic growth and prosperity in the greater Albuquerque region. 

This year’s awards and dinner will be held November 16, at the Isleta Resort and Casino. This year’s theme is AREA 51, a nod to the history of our state, but also a look ahead, and where we hope to see our economy, 51 years from now. The 505 Awards and Annual Dinner Title Sponsor is Swire Coca-Cola. 

“The Greater Albuquerque Region is on the cusp of greatness, and we are already seeing so much growth and economic impact within our community,” said Danielle Casey, President & CEO of AREA. “It is my honor to recognize such an incredible group of economic leaders during our 505 Awards, which is a night to bring awareness and gratitude to our regions overall economic strength.” 

RISING STAR AWARD (Sponsored by TLC Plumbing) 

2023 Honoree: Rhiannon Samuel, NAIOP 

This award honors an emerging leader who is contributing to economic development programs, projects and activities in a significant manner that leads to increased investment in the community. 

PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD (Sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co) 

2023 Honoree: Representative Joshua Hernandez 

This award recognizes a public official or employee who has served as a committed supporter of economic development efforts. 

COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARD (Sponsored by Albuquerque International Sunport) 

2023 Honoree: Kamal Ali, PNC Bank 

This award recognizes an organization that has made significant contributions toward advancing and strengthening the community’s economy. 


2023 Honoree: Kristin Leigh & Joe Hastings, Explora 

This award recognizes an organization that has played a leading role in workforce readiness, including the implementation of training and educational programs, the sponsorship of scholarship or grant programs, the creation of internship or mentorship programs, and more. 

SMALL BUSINESS CHAMPION AWARD (Sponsored by Presbyterian) 

2023 Honoree: Michael M. Silva, Jr., Rude Boy Cookies 

This award recognizes a small business (100 employees or less) that is creating an environment focusing on collaboration, innovation and hard work, consistently demonstrating a commitment to its employees, clients and Albuquerque. 

ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR AWARD (Sponsored by Deloitte) 

2023 Honoree: Tara Gohr & Erin Hielkema, The Grant Plant, Inc. 

This award recognizes a business leader who has made a measurable difference by investing in projects that have created jobs and enhanced our ability to attract investment. 


2023 Honoree: Dr. Kathie Winograd, Economic Forum 

This award honors someone whose ongoing commitment to economic development over the years has made a significant and lasting impact on the greater Albuquerque region. 

To attend the 2023 505 Awards and Annual Dinner, where the honorees will be recognized, or for more information on award categories, eligibility requirements or judging criteria, visit 

The awards program is made possible by Title Sponsor Swire Coca-Cola. Event sponsors include New Mexico Mutual, Old Republic Title, Enterprise Bank and Trust, Amazon, Fidelity Investments, and Gridworks. AREA is also thankful for its media sponsor, Albuquerque Business First. 


About AREA  

The Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is leads and executes strategies designed to grow and diversify the economic base of the greater Albuquerque region, creating a prosperous, diverse and inclusive economy and elevating the standard of living for all. AREA provides confidential assistance to businesses considering the area for expansion and new investment. Since its creation in 1960, AREA has recruited more than 250 companies and more than 35,000 jobs to the Albuquerque metro area. 

AREA also provides retention and expansion assistance to existing industry. For more information, visit 

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