John LedererFrom time to time, AARP New Mexico seeks to honor individuals who have had a significant impact on making New Mexicans’ lives better by naming them to the Hall of Fame.

“This year, we were able to add the names of four individuals, who really over a significant period of time, have worked hard to improve their state and the lives of the people who live here,” said Jackie Cooper, AARP New Mexico State President. 

“These individuals are volunteers who don’t get paid for what they do but spend countless hours working on behalf of others and their contributions are significant,” Cooper said. 

This year’s AARP New Mexico Hall of Fame inductees are: 

Dr. Louis Sarabia, a former AARP New Mexico State President who lives in Las Cruces, has been an active volunteer in the Las Cruces area for a very long time. He became a member of the AARP New Mexico Executive Council in 2006 and was named AARP State President in 2007, serving until 2013. He likes to tell people he was a volunteer before he was eligible to be a member. 

Sarabia is a retired New Mexico State University professor, where he taught Mexican American history for over 20 years and was Director of Chicano Affairs. Louis was a founding member of the American Association of Interdisciplinary Ethnic Studies and has worked with Hispanic seniors to publish oral histories of their works. 

He served as AARP Associate State Coordinator for Community Operations, and as AARP Intergenerational Program Director and developed programs at NMSU to help low-income minority children stay out of poverty by obtaining a high school diploma.  Louis also served as the District Coordinator, prior to the establishment of a State Office, for Southern New Mexico. 

 John Lederer, of Albuquerque, has been a long-time volunteer working with AARP for over 16 years.  While over that time period he has worn several hats, including serving as the Albuquerque Chapter president and working at the AARP Information Center, an all-volunteer run resource center in Albuquerque, he is most well-known for managing AARP’s booth at the State Fair. The booth is run by volunteers for the full two-week run of the fair. 

“The best part is talking with the people and sharing really important information that they can use,” Lederer said. “I enjoy people — that’s the main thing.  I’m an older person now myself but I enjoy doing things for the older people.” 

For several years now, Lederer has recruited a core group of volunteers that work the fair with him, and he credits those individuals for reaching the thousands of people they serve each year. He especially thanks his wife Jeanette for all her support over the years.

 Don and Nancy Dayton, who recently returned to Carlsbad after living in Santa Fe for several years, have spent countless hours sitting in New Mexico Legislative Committee meetings listening to and testifying on issues that most of us tend to take for granted – water and voting rights. 

The couple has both been AARP volunteers for over 15 years. For most of those years Don Dayton has monitored issues and legislation surrounding water, which at the time wasn’t on AARP’s radar as a policy issue.  It was Don’s work that caused the issue to gain public awareness at the national level and is now included as part of AARP policy along with other utility issues. 

Nancy Dayton shows the same tenacity sitting through countless hours of discussion and testimony on voter reform and proposed ethics rules, which a lot of the time, went nowhere. Often she played an essential role in forging compromise between incremental reforms and more extreme wide sweeping demands.

(Photo Caption: AARP Volunteer John Lederer, center, stands with AARP NM State Director Gene Varela and State President Jackie Cooper as he is inducted into the AARP NM HAll of Fame.)

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