Statement of UnidosUS on the passing of New Mexico Community Leader Amos Atencio

We were saddened to learn of the passing of a venerable member of the UnidosUS familia, Amos Atencio, co-founder and former head of one of UnidosUS’s original seven Affiliates, Siete del Norte, one of the leading Latino-led Community Development Corporations in the country and our Affiliate of the Year in 1988.

Amos also served with distinction on the UnidosUS Board of Directors when it was known as the National Council of La Raza.

Amos was a gentle, kind and often soft-spoken man, but there was no doubt of his fierce and lifelong devotion to his family, his community and his beloved Northern New Mexico, home to his family for generations.  In turn, he was revered as a leader for social justice, and an icon by his community for his tireless work to spur economic opportunity, protect their land and battle the scourge of substance abuse and addiction.

He was also a strong and constant supporter of UnidosUS, lending his time and talents to us on numerous issues and to mentoring his fellow Affiliates.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his loving family, his many friends and colleagues, and his community.

In honor of his profound legacy, we would also like to share a wonderful tribute to Amos’ life and work by UnidosUS President Emeritus and former CEO, Raul Yzaguirre, Washington, DC – December 7, 2022:

Monday morning, December 5, 2022, Amos Atencio of Dixon, New Mexico passed. Like so many others, I have been inspired, taught, mentored, and led by Amos Atencio. Many years ago, my son Roberto Yzaguirre was an AmeriCorps volunteer and was able to see the enchantment of New Mexico through the lens of an Atencio—a family that has lived there since the 1700s. Amos was my trusted friend, my advisor and my role model. He served on the board of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), now UnidosUS, for 9 years while I was its president.

Amos lived una vida buena y sana. He will be long remembered by the people of the rural communities of northern New Mexico, those he met while he served on national and regional boards, and by his many friends throughout this great nation. Besides UnidosUS, among them are the United Presbyterian Church’s Council on Church and Race, the National Congress for Community Economic Development, and the National Hispanic Council on Aging. At the time of his passing, he chaired the Advisory Board for the National Development Council, which works to generate investment in underserved communities across the United States.

Fighting poverty, defending civil rights, and serving rural communities and Hispanic families was Amos’ life mission and passion. He was a co-founder and for 35 years the Executive Director of Siete del Norte Community Development Corporation, providing economic development programs in the state’s seven northern rural counties. He brought hope, inspiration, and opportunity to our community. And he taught many of us, who led and directed national organizations, how to address the needs and appreciate the contributions of rural American families.

Let us follow Amos’ example and live lives of honor and service. I will miss him dearly. My heartfelt condolences to his family.


Raul Yzaguirre