U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján and Dist. 43 Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, center, present longtime Democratic Party volunteer Karyl Ann Armbruster with the prestigeous JFK Recognition Award during Sunday’s annual JFK Dinner at the Betty Ehart Center. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Attendees at Sunday’s JFK Dinner give a standing ovation to Democratic Party volunteer Karyl Ann Armbruster honored during the evening for her years of dedicated service to the Party. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, Dist. 43 Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, Democratic Party State Chair Deb Haaland, Vice Chair Juan Sanchez and special guest speaker New Mexico House Democratic Leader Brian Egolf gathered with more than 100 people to honor Armbruster during the annual JFK Dinner Sunday at the Betty Ehart Center.
“Our 5th JFK Dinner was an overwhelming success,” said Chair Robyn Schultz of the Democratic Party of Los Alamos. “This year we hosted 120 guests to honor Karyl Ann Armbruster. Our guests raved about the delicious food from Blue Window and the inspiring keynote address by New Mexico House Democratic Leader Brian Egolf. And we all agreed that Karyl Ann is truly our hardest working volunteer. She deserved all the accolades (and the little bit of teasing) she received.”
Last year’s recipient was U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman. This year, Luján and Garcia Richard presented the award to Armbruster and the back of the program for Sunday’s event addressed the many reasons she was selected to receive this prestigious award.
“If you want something done, ask a busy person” … that adage certainly applies to the 2016 honoree, Karyl Ann Armbruster.
Armbruster was a teacher for 39 years, always in special education and for 33 years in middle school. She deserves more than an honor for that; she deserves a medal! She started in the days before the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed. Her first principals decided which kids would be allowed to get a public school education.
With her masters degree in learning disabilities, Armbruster worked with a wide variety of students and brought compassion and a sense of fairness and social justice to her work.
When she began her teaching career she also began her life as a union member, first as an NEA member for 22 years, then AFT in Los Alamos. She spent many years as part of the contract negotiations team and six years as president of the local AFT.
Upon retirement from public education, Armbruster became involved in the League of Women Voters of Los Alamos, where she is noted for planning the monthly Lunch with a Leader program, a popular event for League and community members. She also became involved in politics after retirement. She was asked to be the lead for Labor 2010 for AFT, where she joined with other unions to call and walk for labor-endorsed candidates.
In 2010, Armbruster also met Stephanie Garcia Richard, then a young teacher running for the state legislature. Armbruster became involved in her first campaign, became her adopted “mom,” and has been one of Garcia Richard’s most devoted volunteers, knocking on hundreds of doors in each campaign and calling hundreds of people in her district.
In 2012, a fellow union member asked Armbruster to run for the Public Education Commission. Although she never envisioned running for office herself and preferred to work for other candidates, she threw her hat in the ring and entered the race. Armbruster was elected and is currently running for another term. The PEC authorizes and oversees charter schools throughout the state, and she has thrown herself into her work as a commissioner with all the zeal she brings to everything she does.
Armbruster also is wife to Ken, mother to Courtney, and friend to many, many people in Los Alamos and around the country. She runs to help a friend in need. She supports Democratic causes such as social justice, improved education, fighting poverty, and humane treatment for animals. She has a wonderful sense of humor, a kind and generous spirit, and a marvelous sense of style.
Anyone who knows Karyl Ann Armbruster can be grateful that she is part of their life. She is truly deserving of this recognition.
Los Alamos County Councilor Pete Sheehey, left, is running for re-election in Tuesday’s primary. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Kelly Egolf with her husband New Mexico House Democratic Leader Brian Egolf. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
County Council candidate Chris Chandler chats with Roland Caspersen. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com