First recipient named in Jennifer Riordan Women of Influence Award

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Annemarie Henton is still surprised that she’s now the first winner of the Jennifer Riordan Woman of Influence Community Impact Award. 

“It reminds me what we do every day really does make a difference,” said Henton, who works with Albuquerque Economic Development.

The award is named after her mentor and friend, someone who dedicated her life to volunteering, Jennifer Riordan.

“I want to continue to live the values that she cared about, her legacy, she always wanted to be known for being kind, loving, caring and sharing,” said Henton.

The inaugural Jennifer Riordan Women of Influence Community Impact Award recognizes women making a difference in the community.

It’s something that Riordan did until her tragic death. Her life was cut short in April 2018 in a bizarre Southwest Airlines plane incident. The engine blew, sending shrapnel through the window where Jennifer was sitting. She didn’t survive.

However, her legacy lives on.

“It wasn’t just going to be a lifetime achievement award, it was someone currently working hard for Albuquerque and really encompassed everything that Jennifer was,” said Michael Riordan, Jennifer’s husband.

This year, that’s Henton.

She serves Albuquerque through her work with Economic Development and in a number of organizations like Junior Achievement and Lovelace Women’s Hospital. She says Jennifer still inspires her to do more.

“There’s a lot of causes that are really important to me here that make life in Albuquerque better for the people I care about here,” said Henton.

Nearly a year of heartbreak later, the Riordan family is using their tragedy to do good and keep Jennifer’s memory alive.

“The only way we can make sense of this or do any good from this is to have the courage to be kind and to be like Jenn and so I hope people are striving to do that every year,” said Michael Riordan.

The Riordan family says they received many nominations of outstanding women to include military, healthcare workers and some in government, and choosing one winner was difficult.

The family says they’re already looking forward to getting the next round of award nominations next year.

*Correction: The original version of this story stated that Annemarie Henton was named the first “Woman of Influence” in her community, when in fact she is the winner of the “Jennifer Riordan Woman of Influence Community Impact Award.” The name of the award has been corrected. 

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