Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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AliMcGraw 6263Ali MacGraw

Honored October, 2016

Ali MacGraw

When you mention Ali MacGraw, people in the country immediately recognize her as the talented and successful academy award nominated actress.  Mention Ali MacGraw in our community, and people recognize her as an activist dedicated to human and animal rights.

Ali came to Santa Fe over 20 years ago when her home in Malibu, CA burned to the ground.  She left with few possessions and her animals. She brought with her her core values—a strong work ethic, kindness, integrity, and compassion. In contrast to other celebrities who live secluded and private lives in Santa Fe, Ali embraced her new home. She recognizes that using her popularity and celebrity brings attention to causes she deeply believes in. Her commitment runs broad and deep—to human rights—women’s issues, gay issues-and animal rights—shelters and rescue, education, as well as promoting arts in Santa Fe.  She is the voice for the abandoned, abused, and voiceless. The Santa Fe Animal Shelter, The Cancer Foundation for New Mexico, Animal Protection of NM, the National Dance Institute, and Dollars4Schools are just a few of the many organizations that benefit from Ali’s support.

She uses every opportunity she can to actively advocate for vulnerable individuals. Her actions run the gamut, from lobbying for stronger laws, to supporting organizations working to raise funds for their lifesaving missions, to hosting media conferences to highlight important social issues. Ali willingly hosts events, auctions, special functions, and speaks for a cause. There was never a time that she was too busy, too tired or too anything—she would simply be there.  She is as real and heart-centered as they come.

Ali emphasizes that violence, no matter what form it takes, harms our community. Governor Richardson praised Ali’s high profile activism in helping ban cockfighting in New Mexico. She supported the permanent sanctuary of chimpanzees used for decades in painful experiments, and helped fight for stronger penalties for animal abusers. She advocates for a ban on animal killing contests. In 2001 Animal Protection of NM, an organization dedicated to promoting animal rights, honored Ali with their prestigious Humane Education Milagro award.

When Ali supports a cause, she does not just show up or lend her name, she works. She appears on the scene to help when there is a community emergency or disaster. One 4th of July night Ali was spotted sitting on the floor holding and comforting frightened animals at the animal shelter as fire works were going off in an adjacent field.

Ali has has supported and helped many individuals with addictions committed to turning their lives around. With friends in sickness, she is there at their sides, with friends running local businesses, she’ll offer to work in the store, she’ll perform in plays, do readings for children, write blurbs for book jackets, promote documentaries.  For the Thanksgiving holiday she gets her Tesuque community to pitch in for food drives at the Elementary School. A friend wrote, “It is not the size of the action, but the love in which it is done that matters most.”

Ali MacGraw epitomizes ideals of community service and contribution. She
is a living example of someone who cares deeply and puts that caring into action. Through her humble sincerity and tireless and selfless efforts, she has made an immeasurable difference in our city. Ali is a true ambassador for the heart and soul of life in Santa Fe.


Story by Nancy Dahl

Photo © 2016 by Genevieve Russell