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Four Leaders Made Honorary Members of NMSU's Sam Steel Society

LAS CRUCES-Four alumni and supporters have been named honorary members of the Sam Steel Society at New Mexico State University.

New Mexico State University's Sam Steel Society is named for a student who would have been the university's first graduate and the first college graduate in New Mexico Territory. Sam Steel was murdered just months before graduation ceremonies in 1893. However, his family members in later generations attended and graduated from NMSU. (12/16/2003) NMSU agricultural communications graphic

They are Steve Anaya of Moriarty, NMSU Board of Regents vice president and Fannie May partnership director; Tom Bagwell of Las Cruces, special assistant to the New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture; Laura Conniff of Las Cruces, Board of Regents president and realty co-owner; and Robert Gallagher of Rio Rancho, regent and president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.

Jerry G. Schickedanz, dean of NMSU's College of Agriculture and Home Economics, presented the honorary memberships Dec. 12.

The society honors the memory of Sam Steel, who would have been the university's first graduate and the first college graduate in the New Mexico Territory, had he not been killed just months before his graduation in 1893. His family members later attended and graduated from NMSU.

Anaya is mayor pro-tem of the Moriarty City Council and state director of the New Mexico Fannie Mae Partnership Office. Anaya, who earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from NMSU, is one of eight children, seven of whom graduated from the university. He serves as vice president for both the New Mexico 4-H Foundation and the Estancia Valley Economic Development Association. He previously served as the state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Program, overseeing $300 million in loan money for rural businesses, housing and utility services.

Bagwell was recently appointed special assistant to the New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture. He is co-project leader for a New Mexico Tech/NMSU and NMDA effort to develop a biosecurity initiative in Playas. Bagwell earned bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural economics and agricultural business. He coordinated economic development and water projects with the Jicarilla Apache Nation for the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. He serves on the college Water Task Force and represented the university as a delegate to American Indian conferences, the Chihuahua Businessmen's Social Trust in Juarez, Mexico, and other border groups. His production agriculture experience includes working on a family-owned and operated farm and ranch. He has owned and managed a 10,000 acre cattle ranch and a 700-acre farm and swine operation.

Conniff earned a business administration degree with honors from NMSU. She is co-broker and co-owner of Mathers Realty in Las Cruces. In addition, she co-owns two family cattle operations producing purebred shorthorn and Limousin seedstock: Conniff F Cross farm near Las Cruces and Leveldale Farms in central Illinois. Conniff and her family have strong ties to agriculture and the university. Her husband, John, is past president of the New Mexico Beef Council. Her father earned a master's degree in agriculture at NMSU and taught farm appraisal at the university. Conniff began her career as assistant financial analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. She returned to Las Cruces as credit analyst for First National Bank of Doņa Ana County (now Wells Fargo). After having two children, she worked her way from sales associate to co-broker and co-owner at the family business, Mathers Realty. She is a board member of First New Mexico Bank of Las Cruces and founding member of the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico. She is past president of NMSU's Foundation and Mil Gracias Society.

Gallagher is president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. He was a senior adviser on energy matters for Gov. Bill Richardson while Richardson was U.S. Secretary of Energy. Prior to that, Gallagher was a principal with Energy Management Group, an oil and gas wellsite consulting company; and the executive vice president of X-Pert Enterprises, an oil and gas well servicing company. From 1977 to 1994, Gallagher worked for the City of Hobbs, where he served as city manager for almost eight years. He earned a bachelor's degree in police science from NMSU in 1977. He has also maintained university ties by refereeing women's basketball games for the conference.