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Bowman named “Hometown Hero” by film fest


A well-known business owner and philanthropist in Las Cruces with many awards to her credit soon will receive another prestigious award from the Las Cruces International Film Festival.

Wanda Bowman will be the LCIFF’s next “Hometown Hero” at a ceremony during the ninth annual film festival, April 3-7. The festival is supported by New Mexico State University and Visit Las Cruces.

Each year the “Hometown Hero” award recognizes someone with ties to the Las Cruces area who has made significant contributions to the community both within Las Cruces and beyond.

“Wanda Bowman is one of the kindest and most giving people I know,” said LCIFF founder and executive director Ross Marks. “She gives selflessly of herself, her business and resources. She is a pillar of the community and makes Las Cruces a better city just by being herself.”

Bowman will receive the award during the LCIFF awards ceremony at 7 p.m Saturday, April 6 at the Rio Grande Theatre on 211 N. Main Street. The five-day festival, meanwhile, will be at the Allen Theatres Cineport 10.

Ticket information is available at LasCrucesFilmFest.com.

Past recipients of the award include New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Russell Allen, Belia Alvarez and Curtis Rosemond, Irene Oliver Lewis, Greg Smith and Marci Dickerson.

Bowman has received many awards. She was named Citizen of the Year in 2022 and won the Las Cruces Bulletin’s Best Award for “Best Home Furnishing Store” in 2021, 2022 and 2023. While operating Ashley Furniture, Bowman was named one of "New Mexico Woman's top 25 Businesswomen." She has served as a member of the NMSU College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council for eight years.

Among her many philanthropy efforts, Bowman purchased the Lou Henson-era NMSU Basketball flooring in 2017 and auctioned off pieces to Aggie memorabilia seekers and donated the proceeds to the athletic department. Bowman also worked with the Las Cruces Public Schools administration in 2023 to donate 211 beds to children in need, which earned the Partner in Education award.

Marks, a NMSU Creative Media Institute professor, founded the festival in 2016. He also teaches a class for NMSU students on how to produce a film festival, and his students gain valuable experience working with him during the LCIFF every year. The event has drawn crowds of more than 10,000 people to the region.

Wanda Bowman, LCIFF, Hometown Hero, Ashley Furniture