Annual Rick Billings Memorial Award

In Memory of Rick Billings

Rick Billings

Rick Billings was the former Executive Committee (EC) Non-Federal Co-Chair, an EC member, and a long-time supporter of the Collaborative Program. In his memory, Bureau of Reclamation’s Albuquerque Area Office sponsors an annual award recognizing an individual's contributions to the success of the Collaborative Program.

2023 Co-winner - Alan Hatch

The 2023 Rick Billings Memorial Award was co-awarded to Rick Billings, former Director of Natural Resources at the Pueblo of Santa Ana and EC representative, who recently passed away on December 14, 2023. Please visit the In Memory of Alan Hatch page on the Portal. 

As a long-time member of the Collaborative Program, Alan was a huge supporter of its activities and participants. He rarely missed an EC meeting and volunteered to be the first EC ex officio member on the Science and Adaptive Management Committee in 2020. He regularly welcomed the Collaborative Program onto the Pueblo of Santa Ana for field trips, workshops, and meetings. Alan supported a collaborative approach to conservation and management of the Rio Grande and was hopeful and positive about the Collaborative Program’s future direction, particularly with the move to an ecosystem approach.

Alan Hatch

2023 Co-winners - Debbie Lee and Catherine Murphy

The 2023 Rick Billings Memorial Award was co-awarded to Debbie Lee and Catherine Murphy, former Program Coordinator and Science Coordinator for the Collaborative Program, respectively. 

Debbie and Catherine worked very diligently to develop strong working relationships with each of the signatories, building relationships and trust at every level. These relationships were key to maintaining the complete and transparent communication the Program needed as it focused on transitioning to a science-based program. They successfully navigated the development of foundational processes for this transition including a restructuring of the Collaborative Program, while managing to take into account both the Collaborative Program's strengths and limitations and allowing for nimbleness and flexibility for all the signatories.

Debbie and Catherine's passion for and belief in the work that the Collaborative Program embarked on was obvious to all. They saw the potential for the Collaborative Program to help the signatories implement scientifically sound, adaptive management strategies and the Program would not be where it is today without them.

Debbie Lee and Catherine Murphy

2022 Winner - Grace Haggerty

The 2022 Rick Billings Memorial Award was awarded to Grace Haggerty, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission. Grace has been a guiding force in the Collaborative Program for many years. She makes sure the NMISC is actively engaging with participation at meetings, technical expertise, contracting important services for the Collaborative Program; champions the Los Lunas Silvery Minnow Refugium as a place for rearing Rio Grande silvery minnow (RGSM) and as a potential experimental facility; and continually supports the Collaborative Program and its activities. Most recently, Grace contracted with GSA to develop the RioRestore geospatial database of habitat restoration sites, with USGS to contract Charles Yackulic to develop the RGSM Integrated Population Model. In addition to being an EC member, she has also served as Non-Federal Co-Chair to the Fiscal Planning Committee.

Grace Haggerty

2021 Winner - Wayne Pullan

The 2021 Rick Billings Memorial Award was awarded to Wayne Pullan. Wayne is the Regional Director of Bureau of Reclamation’s Upper Colorado Basin Region and former Federal Co-Chair from April 2020 to May 2021. He was a decisive leader during a major period of transition for the Collaborative Program, and was often praised for his ability to provide clarity and guidance during EC meetings. Without a doubt, Wayne was instrumental in transforming the Collaborative Program into the program it is today.

Wayne Pullan

2020 Winner - John Stomp

The first Rick Billings Memorial Award was granted in December 2020 to John Stomp, the former Chief Operating Officer for the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority. John served as the EC Non-Federal Co-Chair from June 2019 to December 2020, when he retired. John was instrumental in supporting the Collaborative Program in developing a Science & Adaptive Management Plan (Science & AM Plan). He helped the EC navigate difficult decisions and hurdles, and adopt a forward-looking, solution-focused perspective.

John Stomp