impact report Albuquerque Academy | 2021

A Message from the Head of School

Dear Charger community,

Throughout my first year as head of school, members from across our community reached out to welcome me, many remarking on the unusual circumstances presented by the global pandemic. While it is true that my first year in Albuquerque included a variety of unique and unforeseen challenges, those same conditions provided an expedited view into the heart and soul of this community that may have otherwise taken years to know and appreciate.

It did not take long for me to recognize that I had joined a team of professionals, ready to navigate rough waters, and immediately witnessed how deeply committed my colleagues were to our students and the school. Generations from now might look back at 2020-21 and find it hard to fathom how our community not only adapted but thrived in such extraordinary ways. My hope is that the record reflects that the greatest instrument of our success was, and continues to be, the Albuquerque Academy community itself in the forms of strong leadership from our board of trustees, curious students, a supportive parent body, innovative and dedicated employees, engaged alumni, and support from many peers and friends.

Philanthropic support is at the Academy’s core and provides an ongoing and essential lifeline for the health of our community. Every year, all students and families benefit from annual giving and our school’s general endowment fund, which allows tuition to remain far below the true cost of educating each student. I was pleased to make my first gift ever to the Academy last year, knowing that our collective generosity and participation are vital to serving our current students and supporting necessary and intentional efforts to prepare our campus and innovate for the future.

A clear highlight in advancement last year was the increase in participation in annual giving across our community. The vote of confidence in our faculty, the support for our students, and general care and concern helped fuel us through challenges and reflected the grit with which we endured.

Thank you to each and every one of you who supported and actively engaged in our community last year. Through giving, volunteer hours, thoughtful questions, trust, and constructive feedback, all contributions mattered and made a difference, as reflected in this 2020-21 Impact Report.

Our school is healthy, our faculty and staff are well equipped, and our students are well supported in building their educational foundations, lifelong relationships, and countless memories. I am humbled and proud to be a Charger.

Sincerely, Julianne Puente, Head of School

This message was shared with the community in Spring 2021.

Community Engagement: Virtual Common Grounds

On April 1, donors, parents, alumni, alumni parents, former trustees, and friends of the Academy gathered virtually in our Common Grounds Café for coffee with our head of school. In lieu of an in-person option, 125 guests signed on to “meet” Julianne Puente and to learn more about the current state of the Academy, as well as plans for spring and the coming school year.

During the meeting, Advancement Committee Chair Diane Harrison Ogawa P’10, P’14 spoke about the newly formed committee for the board of trustees and the importance of community investments in advancement. She shared “why” she and her family continue to give their time and financial support to the Academy.

After the event, attendees were also asked to share their “why.” A sample of the many heartwarming responses are sprinkled throughout this report. It was wonderful to see so many long-term and deeply committed members of the community connected again in one place.

Reflecting on the 2020-21 School Year

On the Path to Participation: Employees Set New Record

In October 2020, classes were fully virtual with the majority of teachers Zooming from their classrooms across campus. Indoor gatherings were strictly limited, large outdoor gatherings were not permitted, masks were mandatory, and social distancing was in full effect.

On October 13, an employee flu shot clinic was held on the Path in adherence to public health orders. Given the many months of isolation that had passed since March 2020, the clinic provided the welcome sight of colleagues, even with fully masked faces. “It felt downright social,” remarked then-Interim Director of Advancement Dawn Lorenz. “We were all so happy to be out of our offices and classrooms and to see one another. It inspired us to create another outdoor event for faculty and staff to safely gather, to share gratitude for our community, and to participate in annual giving.”

The response to our On the Path event yielded 25 new donors and increased giving participation by 16% in a single day. Faculty and staff support more than doubled last year, and resulted in the highest number of participants in recent years.

Faculty and staff noted what they're thankful for during the On the Path event.
Giving TuesdAAy 2020

On December 1, our community participated in Giving TuesdAAy, continuing the Simms Family legacy of meaningful philanthropy. Chargers from every corner of our community joined together in support of the Academy mission, investing $102,579 in gifts and pledges from 483 donors.

At the end of a year filled with unrelenting challenges, the Academy was humbled and grateful for the support, encouragement, generosity, and care shown to the Academy community.

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ACADEMY ALIGHT: In an effort to keep students and our community safe yet connected, and to celebrate the holiday season, senior class officers imagined a clever and beautiful way to do so. With assistance from the administration, division heads and deans, and remote volunteers, students set the campus “alight” with nearly 6,000 luminarias and seasonal decor. Academy families were invited to drive through campus to view the displays from their cars, starting a new annual tradition.
Return-to-Campus Celebrations

By the end of February 2021, all students who opted for in-person learning had returned to campus, making school feel like school again!

Read all about it in this Advocate article by Uzair Hammad '24.

Celebrating Endurance, Charging Ahead! The Community Pennant Project

As students returned to campus for classes in person, we conducted a campus-wide pennant project to celebrate the endurance that was on display across our community during the pandemic. Advancement volunteers gathered on campus for the first time all year to help with preparations. Chargers were asked to customize a felt pennant with one word to describe what it meant to endure the pandemic. Hundreds of pennants were strung and displayed along the Path and throughout other spots on campus and served as a unifying symbol of endurance and as a way to honor and memorialize the range of challenges and loss. It also provided a source of Charger pride and hope as we began to emerge from the year we had endured together as a strong, united community.

We collected words from parents and faculty and staff online, and at the New Family Welcome event on April 18, we included our newest Chargers in our project, asking them to customize a pennant to reflect how they felt about joining the Academy community in the year ahead.

The pennant project brought the community together.
Spring Day of Giving Endurance Celebration

Our spring annual giving campaign was the culminating celebration of endurance for our community. One year prior, we converted this traditional day of giving to direct fundraising efforts to emergency tuition assistance to help keep our students enrolled through financial uncertainty as the pandemic took a toll. We were thrilled to be celebrating a return to campus and the variety of ways we pulled together as a community. Nearly $135,000 in gifts and pledges from 533 donors were received in the course of our Spring Day of Giving efforts, marking the single largest online giving day ever hosted by Albuquerque Academy.

Kids Academy

Kids Academy operated in Simms Library and Common Grounds Café from August 12, 2020 through April 1, 2021 to support the faculty and staff whose children’s schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program took on a life of its own, forming fast community and lasting bonds – and even had a yearbook when the program came to a close. Its dedication reads: “On behalf of the 18 employees, 23 children, and 7 teaching assistants (all Albuquerque Academy alumni), we dedicate this book to Julianne Puente, Stephanie Lipkowitz, and Bruce Orem. Their creative vision and unwavering support provided a safe, nurturing, and fun place for their children to 'do school,' allowing their parents to bring their best selves to their work at the Academy during an incredibly challenging time. Our families are deeply grateful.”

Alumni Reboot!

Over the past 12 months, we’ve been hard at work, looking at our extended community of graduates, building exciting new programming to give us all a place to connect. We figured out how to stay connected and engaged in a time of social distancing, and we held strong as a community, looking to each other for the strength and support we know is here at Albuquerque Academy. We were inspired and grateful for the extraordinary support, through service, connection, and financial assistance for the school from the alumni community.


Reconnect on our new alumni website pages! Visit aa.edu/alumni to see all of the ways to be a Charger, no matter where you live. You can catch up on alumni in the news, submit your own news, find activities on campus, nominate a classmate for an award, see how you can get involved as a volunteer, and even be listed in our Academy community business directory.

Alumni Council

The alumni council engages with alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents, volunteer boards, and friends of the Academy to support the mission and to strengthen our school and its community. As graduates of Albuquerque Academy, we recognize a responsibility to preserve its resources and serve generations of children to come. The council spent this year advocating in the community and planning for the next phase of alumni programming.

Albuquerque Academy Athletic Hall of Fame Induction

Introducing the Athletics Hall of Fame

The Albuquerque Academy Athletics Hall of Fame was established in 2020 in order to honor and preserve our school’s rich tradition of athletic success. It serves as a means of recognizing the athletes, teams, coaches, and supporters who made significant contributions to the Charger tradition of excellence.

Last fall we asked our community to submit their nominations for this inaugural class, and we received more than 100 candidates who’ve made an impact on the Academy athletic program. The Hall of Fame committee selected five community members to be inducted at Homecoming 2021.

We welcomed the Class of 2020 back to campus during the summer for the in-person celebration they missed due to the pandemic.
Congratulations to Our Newest Alumni!
  • 23 National Merit Scholarship semfinalists
  • 8 National Merit Commended students
  • 11 National Recognition Program Scholars (10 National Hispanic Recognition Scholars and one National African American Recognition Scholar)
  • 166 classmates enrolled in 100 different colleges in the U.S., Canada, England, Scotland, and Switzerland
In Memorium

We mourn these Academy community members lost during the 2020-21 school year. Our hearts continue to be with their families, friends, and students who knew and loved them. To provide additions or corrections to this list, please email alumni@aa.edu.

2020-21 Financials

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Endowment and New Endowed Funds

Seeded with a transformative gift of land in 1959, the Albuquerque Academy endowment plays an important role in the overall financial health of our school. As an investment fund, returns are reinvested in the fund year after year. Each year the board of trustees approves a draw down that is used to support the annual operating budget and other needs and initiatives, which allows tuition to remain far below the true cost of educating each student.

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Single or combined gifts of $35,000 or more may create a mission-appropriate endowed fund for the Academy. These funds not only enhance the size and performance of our general endowment, but their yield provides significant support for departments and programs, as well as financial assistance for Academy students on an annual basis.

2021 award winners
The Mickey Prokopiak Memorial Fund

Fully funded in Fall 2020, the Mickey Prokopiak Memorial Fund helps provide experiential learning opportunities for students in the theatre department and will be used at the discretion of the performing arts department chair. Local and out-of-state trips and activities, such as the International Thespian Festival, are supported by this fund. By subsidizing the cost for students who would otherwise be unable to attend, accessibility to these enriched learning opportunities will increase. Created by generous giving from more than 80 individuals, this fund now totaling $43,493 is a celebration and lasting memorial honoring Mickey’s life and legacy.

"Thank you for caring so much about my Mickey and for contributing so generously to the fund, especially at this time during the pandemic that has been so hard for so many. He would be delighted, and I appreciate you all so very much." ~Madonna Prokopiak

Class of 1970 Tuition Assistance Fund

In honor of their 50th reunion, members of the Class of 1970 launched an initiative in early 2020 to create an endowed fund for tuition assistance bearing their class name. With help from an anonymous classmate, a matching gift challenge was presented to classmates for each dollar contributed up to $17,500. In October, the class achieved their fundraising goal – now more than $53,320 – setting a new milestone in the Academy's 65-year history by becoming the first graduating class to endow a perpetual tuition assistance fund for the school. A challenge to the class remains on the table to reach at least 70% participation from the class.

The Academy is inspired by the big way the Class of 1970 has chosen to give back. Their efforts and impact will remain in our community in perpetuity. View the lists of alumni donors by graduation year.

How Chargers Gave in 2020-21

Just as philanthropy is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, neither is the way donors invest in Albuquerque Academy. Learn more.

  • Online Giving
  • Checks
  • Donor Advised Funds
  • Family Foundations
  • United Way
  • Matching Gifts
  • Recurring Donations
  • Wire Transfers
  • Qualified Charitable Distributions from IRA Accounts
  • Stock
  • In-Kind
  • Volunteer Hours
  • Amazon Smile
  • Smith’s Rewards
Community Partnerships

Albuquerque Academy is grateful for the many companies and outside organizations that support our students and school each year.

The Climate Change Leadership Institute awarded Albuquerque Academy the 2020 Climate Education Award along with the grant of $1,000 in November 2020 in support of the school’s community service program and environmental clubs. The Climate Education Award will help further empower and encourage student leaders of the Academy’s environmental club to discover new and creative solutions that help to solve the climate crisis that New Mexico and our nation face. This grant will be used to support students’ initiative in developing a project that addresses these climate changes, enabling the Academy’s environmental club to continue providing awareness about the causes and impacts of climate change through engagement and education.

Annual Giving Clubs

Membership is based on yearly support of the Albuquerque Academy Fund. Donors who invest $2,500 are considered leadership donors and receive invitations to special events as they occur throughout the year.

  • Charger Giving $10,000+
  • Leaders $5,000 - $9,999
  • Academy Society $2,500 - $4,999
  • Founders $1,000 - $2,499
  • Friends up to $999
Lifetime Circle Giving Society

The Lifetime Circle Giving Society honors those whose cumulative giving totals $35,000 or more, playing an influential role in enriching the future of the school with their philanthropy.

The Laura Lee Moore Society

The Laura Lee Moore Society recognizes, honors, and seeks to perpetuate the tradition of planned giving at Albuquerque Academy. Those who designate Albuquerque Academy as a beneficiary in their planned giving program – bequests, life income arrangements, or other deferred gifts – become members of the Laura Lee Moore Society.

Save the Date: Giving TuesdAAy 2021

Giving TuesdAAy on November 30, 2021 is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. With service at the heart of the Albuquerque Academy mission, we are proud to support this unified day of giving. To further encourage service in our community and annual giving to the Academy, we are excited to join the movement to inspire charitable giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Please mark your calendar for November 30 and make plans to support the curious minds of our students on the Academy’s Giving TuesdAAy!

Volunteers Adapt in a Year Like No Other

Volunteer engagement at Albuquerque Academy is vital to the success of our school year. With strong and well-established support from trustees, the Albuquerque Academy Parents’ Association (AAPA), parent councils, faculty, staff, and friends, our community is sustained and enriched by those combined gifts of time and care.

In a year filled with remote learning and public health orders that restricted in-person gatherings, volunteers had to reimagine their activities and adapt their traditional roles continuously. Not surprisingly, but remarkably all the same, time and again creativity and ingenuity prevailed as efforts to support our students, faculty, and school took shape in new and meaningful ways.

We are endlessly grateful for each and every volunteer who gave so generously of their time even as they, too, were navigating an extraordinary year for their kids and families.

Advancement Committee

Even as we dealt with the challenge of the pandemic, the board of trustees was envisioning and preparing for the future. In an effort to build and strengthen support for the school's advancement efforts, a dedicated committee was created to ensure meaningful engagement and long-term impact for the school.

Adopted by the board of trustees in Fall 2020 for inclusion in the bylaws: The Advancement Committee reviews institutional advancement philosophy and policies; assists efforts to maximize opportunities for philanthropic support; provides leadership and guidance of institutional advancement efforts, including major fundraising campaigns, projects, and events; and performs such related functions as determined by the Board.

Annual Giving Parent Committee

Led by AAPA Advancement Liaison Carol Aubin P’22, P’24, the annual giving parent committee works closely with the Academy’s advancement office and school parents to help engage fellow parents in the school’s advancement program and activities. This volunteer committee serves the mission of Albuquerque Academy by building and perpetuating a culture of philanthropy for our community, helps grow awareness about the importance and impact of parent participation, and communicates opportunities for partnership with the school.

Retirees and service award recipients were honored in the spring.

At year-end, the Academy’s custodial team along with Shelby Parsons and the nursing staff were recognized with the employee Pat on the Back Award for their tireless efforts to protect the health and safety of our community throughout a year unlike any other.

The Academy Advancement Team

Excerpts from 2020-21 community announcements:

(From left) Dawn Lorenz was named the Academy’s director of advancement in January 2021 after serving as interim director of advancement since March 2020. While serving as interim director, Dawn, a seasoned advancement professional and an Academy parent, connected with many, establishing positive relationships on campus. She demonstrated creativity in generating awareness regarding the vital work of the advancement office through various campus events (and these early efforts yielded impressive results); was instrumental in the launch of the Athletics Hall of Fame; and helped initiate the Board of Trustees' Advancement Committee.

Mandy Hanks ’99 Warr joined the advancement team as alumni relations coordinator in January 2021. As an alum, Mandy’s passion for the Academy and desire to help write the next chapter(s) for alumni relations for our community are inspiring. As someone who has built a local business, she brings an entrepreneurial spirit with strong organizational and operational skills to help lift our alumni programs to new heights. Mandy has also served as an enthusiastic member of the Alumni Council for the past few years.

Kara Kinney joined the advancement team as a coordinator in August 2020. Kara joined us from the Shelton School in Dallas where she most recently served as coordinator for their $100M capital campaign. As a former collegiate soccer player and middle school coach, Kara brings a strong team mentality, natural ability, and desire to contribute to our community’s pit crew. Her enthusiasm for independent schools is contagious, and we are excited about the energy and experience she brings to the Academy.

Lissette Cerda, advancement services manager, has been with Albuquerque Academy since 2010. She is the parent of graduate Leiah '20, current students Emanee '25 and Solomon '28, and Apollo, a third grader. Originally a member of the Academy business office helping families with tuition questions, Lissette moved into advancement, where she loves building relationships in the community and has developed a keen understanding of the importance of philanthropy.

Emily Collis retired at the end of the 2020-21 school year after 16 years of service to the Academy. She said it had been an enormous privilege working with her fabulous and talented colleagues, our inspiring and generous donors, and the Academy’s dedicated parent and alumni volunteers, all in support of our school’s impactful mission. Emily is forever grateful for the countless ways the faculty and staff have provided her children – Henry ‘16 and Graham ‘20 – and herself a truly special Academy experience that they will always cherish.

The 2020-21 Impact Report is a publication of the Albuquerque Academy advancement team. All efforts have been made to verify the accuracy of our data. If anything appears in error, please contact us at advancement@aa.edu so a correction may be made. To learn more about our advancement efforts or to make your annual gift to the Academy, visit www.aa.edu/support.