NM Amigos Visit President Bush
By JAY MILLER
SANTA FE -- The New Mexico Amigos, our state's official goodwill ambassadors, visited President George Bush recently for a quick photo op and gift presentation and ended up spending nearly an hour chatting informally with him.
Sen. Pete Domenici arranged the visit, which was held in the Executive Office Building next to the White House in order to accommodate the 140 Amigos who attended.
The annual goodwill flight, this year traveled to Williamsburg, Va.; Washington, D.C. and Boston. Locations to be visited are determined by the Amigos presidents. This year's president is Mike Pemberton, a Roswell businessman.
While in Washington, the group toured the Capitol Building, courtesy of Sen. Jeff Bingaman, and the Pentagon.
In the Williamsburg area, the Amigos visited Norfolk Naval Air Station, where they split up and toured a submarine, destroyer and cruiser. Their luncheon speaker was Robert L. Dain, a native New Mexican, who will command the yet-to-be-commissioned USS New Mexico nuclear submarine.
The Amigos hosted receptions in all three cities. In Washington, all five members of New Mexico's congressional delegation were in attendance.
Our governors usually join the Amigos on their annual flights. Gov. Bill Richardson has joined them in the past and has arranged for state governors to speak to them.
But this year, Richardson was otherwise occupied, so Lt. Gov. Diane Denish joined them. Denish's father, Jack Daniels, was a charter member of the Amigos and a former president.
The Amigos got their start in 1962 during the celebration of New Mexico's golden anniversary as a state. As part of the celebration, 85 of New Mexico's leading citizens chartered an aircraft at their own expense and visited Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, New York and Washington, D.C. to draw attention to New Mexico's 50 years as a state.
As a result of the trip, a permanent organization was formed, a charter as a private corporation obtained and the governor of New Mexico appointed the Amigos the official goodwill ambassadors for the state.
In all but one year since, the Amigos have chartered an aircraft and made trips to other states, Canada and Mexico to focus attention on New Mexico. The governor is invited as a guest of the organization on the goodwill flights.
In each city, arrangements are made for the Amigos to visit and exchange ideas with large groups of the city's prominent citizens. At luncheons and receptions, the governor addresses local groups and, in turn, that state's governor and other leaders address the Amigos.
While the annual goodwill flight attracts the most attention, the Amigos participate in many other activities to promote the state of New Mexico. Frequently they act as hosts for important groups visiting the state. They support the programs of other organizations that are acting in the interest of New Mexico.
Amigo members are distinguished New Mexico civic, business, industrial and professional leaders who devote time and financial support to the organization.
Amigos must be leaders in their community, decision makers in their business, company or profession and meet rigid membership qualifications. The organization is limited to 260 active members and is governed by a board of directors headed by a president.
To remain active members, Amigos must participate in at least one goodwill flight every three years. The presidency rotates yearly. The list of its 45 presidents is a Who's Who of New Mexico, spread widely throughout the state. Last year's president was Santa Fe art gallery owner Nedra Matteucci.
The position of secretary/treasurer does not rotate. That post has been held by Santa Fe marketing and governmental relations consultant Gary Blakeley for the past 20 years. It's Gary who makes everything work once the decisions are made.
JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail) firstname.lastname@example.org