New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Awards 2012
Recognizing Those Committed to Making a Difference
Catherine Oppenheimer and Garrett Thornburg
Catherine Oppenheimer and her husband Garrett Thornburg have been chosen as the N.M. Distinguished Public Service Award program’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipients for 2013 for their many years of community service and philanthropy. Mr. Thornburg is the CEO of Thornburg Investment Management, a privately held company based in Santa Fe, with assets under management of $93 billion. Founded in 1982, the firm manages seven equity funds, nine bond funds and separate portfolios for select institutions and individuals. Ms. Oppenheimer, formerly of the New York City Ballet and Twyla Tharp Dance Company, was the founding artistic director and is a current board member of the National Dance Institute of New Mexico, which started in Santa Fe in 1994. NDI-NM has grown from serving 100 children in one school to reaching more than 60,000 children through in-school, after-school, summer and advanced training classes in 36 communities statewide.

Mr. Thornburg was a founding member of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, and his firm has provided charitable leadership since its founding. The corporation contributes to an educational fund that benefits schoolchildren throughout the state, with the focus on the poorer schools. In Santa Fe, funds are donated through the Partners in Education program. The firm also supports the Foundation for Financial Planning and the New Mexico Coalition for Financial Education.

Mr. Thornburg also created a company program called Dollar for Do-ers, in which any staffer who serves 40 hours a year as a volunteer, or as a board member of a local nonprofit, can request a $1,000 check for that organization. “He is unquestionably the most community-minded senior executive I’ve been associated with in 40 years in business,” said David Miller, who heads the corporate giving arm of the company, in an article on the couple published in the Albuquerque Journal in 2010. The newspaper profiled the couple when they received the “Philanthropist of the Year Award” for 2010, sponsored by the Journal Santa Fe.

Of Ms. Oppenheimer, Russell Baker, executive director of NDI-NM’s public school program, had this to say in the article: “(Catherine’s) generosity of spirit, her intellect and her passion have created a nonprofit that brings together children, teachers and parents to create an organization that has impacted the lives of so many New Mexico children.”

The couple annually donates millions of dollars through their family’s Thornburg Charitable Foundation in the areas of arts, culture and humanities; youth development, environment, human services, health care; civil rights, social action, advocacy and social justice; medical research, public societal benefit, and housing and shelter.