Dr. Cynthia Rooney Receives Prestigious Institutional Leadership Award From International Economic Development Council

From left, IEDC staff member, UNM-Los Alamos Chancellor Dr. Cynthia Rooney and 2021 IEDC Board Chair and President/CEO of Invest Buffalo Niagara Tom Kucharski. Courtesy/LACDC


Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corporation (LACDC) has announced that Dr. Cynthia Rooney, Chancellor of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos (UNM-Los Alamos), recently received the Institutional Leadership Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

This prestigious honor was presented at a recognition dinner Monday, Oct. 4, during the IEDC Annual Conference, held Oct. 3-6 in Nashville, Tenn.

“On behalf of the IEDC board of directors and Honorary Awards Committee, congratulations to Dr. Cynthia Rooney,” said 2021 IEDC Board Chair and President and CEO Tom Kucharski of Invest Buffalo Niagara. “Her outstanding achievements, hard work and dedicated service to the profession goes above and beyond to improve the quality of life for others.”

The Institutional Leadership Award recognizes a leader of a community institution who has significantly contributed to his or her region in support of economic development. Dr. Cynthia Rooney was nominated by the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and Los Alamos MainStreet.

In her acceptance speech, Dr. Rooney expressed her gratitude to IEDC, LACDC, family, mentors, and amazing individuals with whom she has had the privilege to collaborate. 

“I am passionate about higher education, economic development, and finding ways to improve and utilize an extremely important and valuable resource–human capital,” Dr. Rooney stated. “When things work well, we develop and deliver educational programs that improve the lives of individuals, provide a workforce for employers, improve local economies, and produce an informed citizenry for our communities.”

Since 2000, Dr. Rooney has been a part of the UNM-Los Alamos community. Dr. Rooney has been a faculty member, department chair, Dean of Instruction, and now Chancellor and Professor of Business at UNM-Los Alamos. As Chancellor of the University, Dr. Rooney has worked tirelessly to break down barriers to provide access to education for the underserved and create worthwhile opportunities for students

In 2020, due to Dr. Rooney’s commitment toward advancing career pathways for underserved youth, the Department of Education awarded UNM-Los Alamos over $2.8 million in funding under the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program. Over the next five years, UNM-Los Alamos will receive over $500,000 in funding each year to engage and support their students, specifically Hispanic and low-income students, and drive systemic changes needed for the community. Because of this work UNM-Los Alamos also has a vibrant and affordable community college that sets the groundwork for career programs and lifelong learning opportunities for students.

With a vision towards the future, Dr. Rooney has supported efforts for UNM-Los Alamos’ first Career Center and the Student Services office has started to make concrete plans and proposals through a grant with Los Alamos National Laboratory. This Career Center will offer students more career development opportunities and expand resources for the community as a whole.

“Cindy is an amazing asset to our community,” Chamber Director Ryn Herrmann said. “In addition to the work Dr. Rooney does at the University, she makes time to serve her community through her participation on many boards and committees in Los Alamos. These include Los Alamos Community Foundation, United Way of Northern New Mexico, Los Alamos Commerce & Economic Development Corporation, New Mexico Association of Community Colleges, and Los Alamos Economic Vitality Action Team”.

Los Alamos MainStreet Director Lauren McDaniel added, “Under Cindy’s leadership, the University also stays engaged with the local community through involvement in events such as the Los Alamos ScienceFest Discovery Day and the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce’s ChamberFest. Not only does staff get involved with the events, but also serve on planning committees and host activities for various events at the University.”

Dr. Rooney has played a key role in understanding education and community partnership. Los Alamos and Northern New Mexico has seen transformative change and elevated the education experience for students at UNM-Los Alamos, thanks largely to Dr. Rooney’s efforts. She has worked tirelessly to advocate education access for all, including the underserved youth in the region.

About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is the world’s largest membership organization for economic development professionals. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life in their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, our members represent the entire range of economic development. Learn more at iedconline.org

About Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and Los Alamos MainStreet

The Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet are both programs of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation (LACDC) which is a private, not-for-profit economic and community development organization, which has served the Los Alamos area since 1983. LACDC also serves as the umbrella organization for the Discover Los Alamos, Los Alamos Small Business Center, projectY cowork Los Alamos, Los Alamos Creative District and the Los Alamos Research Park.