Distinguished Public Service Award – KYLE RHODES
PESCO President Kyle Rhodes was a recipient of the Governor’s 2019 New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Award, which recognizes individuals who have made contributions by improving government at all levels and through public service to the community.
Rhodes business and community leadership has been about service. He teaches “servant leadership” at PESCO. “Servant leadership is about equipping, understanding, clear expectations, and accountability. It’s about knowing where each individual is in their professional and personal life – situational leadership – and equipping them to continuously improve,” he said.
This translates well into his public service as a member of the Farmington Municipal Schools Board of Education, which also led Rhodes to assist the state and Farmington’s San Juan College in the development of local job training programs.
Education has long been important to Rhodes, as he has had a goal of trying to equip others for success. “I coached younger kids for 26 years primarily in soccer and basketball,” he said, adding it was his mission to make sports fun enough to make them want to continue to play, while teaching the skills they needed to continue playing. “That mission is critical in all my various pursuits, including positions in our local church, the School Board, the NMSU Foundation Board, raising kids and grandkids. And that is what we’re continually trying to do here at PESCO. To equip all our people in job skills, in life skills, and how to go out into the community and make it a better place to live. How to lead…and love well.”
Rhodes dedication to education led him to run for the Farmington School Board and he was first elected in February 2011, to serve in District 4. It was through the school board that Farmington Schools Superintendent Dr. Eugene Schmidt got to know and appreciate Rhodes. “Kyle is a quiet humble person, yet he advocates with great confidence and educational knowledge,” Schmidt said, adding Rhodes has advocated on behalf of the schools in both Santa Fe and Washington, D.C. “People don’t often get to see the family man in Kyle – his love for his family and extended family, which I would call his business employees – he is one big family guy. He thinks of others before he thinks of himself. His leadership of the board of education really has done wonderful things in setting a positive tone.”
Schmidt said through Rhodes’ leadership, there has been a focus on making the board of education and Farmington Schools a “better place.”
Rhodes said the community supports the school district, which helps makes service to it rewarding, but also eye-opening. “What people don’t realize is that a school district is an extremely complex organization. Just like any other organization, it takes great people and a great culture to achieve the mission of the organization,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have highly valued and talented people throughout our district that are equipping kids for high academic achievement.”
One of Rhodes favorite school board activities is attending high school graduations. “Feeling the joy and sense of accomplishment from those graduating seniors is a true blessing,” he said.
Schmidt said Rhodes is always ready and willing to help at district events. “He leads by example. When time and talent and resources are needed, he is the first to volunteer,” he said. “Back when there was a race to educate, Kyle was the emcee, and he would help contribute to the prizes. These are things you don’t have to do, but you do, do to better a community.”
Schmidt added that there are “PESCO thumbprints all over the community” because of Rhodes service. “His philosophy is service without self. Kyle consistently is of the belief it is possible to make the world a better place through personal commitment. Taking his own personal and family values into the workplace is an amazing statement of kindness concern and compassion.
When looking at the history of the Distinguished Service Award, Rhodes service fits the description. The award was established in the 1960s, when it became difficult to recruit high levels of talent for government service. The National Civil Service League started the program, recognizing both public employees and private citizens, who dedicated their time to public service. The awards were brought to the state by Dr. Albert H. Rosenthal, former Professor of Public Administration at the University of New Mexico, and then Governor David Cargo. It was the hope that the Distinguished Service Award would not only recognize excellence in public service but also encourage others to service. “It truly was an honor to be recognized on a state level,” Rhodes said of his award. “The reality is that I’ve been shaped by a multitude of people throughout my life. The real superstar who deserves a lot of credit is my wife Gini, who allowed me to pursue my passions while she kept the home fires burning.”
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