Atkinson graduated from Leadership San Juan in 2004, and serves on its board of directors. He is also past president of the organization.
Atkinson has also been involved at the state level, serving on the curriculum committee and the board of directors. He is a past chairman of the board.
"I've just been a big believer in the value of staying informed," Atkinson said.
Atkinson added the organization is valuable for networking.
"It's a way of keeping in touch," he said. "The network is very complete."
Atkinson was given the award at the 2013 Leadership New Mexico annual dinner May 3 at Sandia Resort Casino in Albuquerque. More than 260 people attended the awards dinner, and 144 golfers participated in the organization's annual golf tournament.
Atkinson began working for San Juan County in 1977 as information technology director. He was later promoted to county manager and served in that capacity for 16 years before retiring in 2004.
After working for county government, Atkinson won two terms as a county commissioner.
"I was very fortunate to be able to do what I did in county government," he said.
Atkinson was recognized by Leadership New Mexico after he was nominated for the honor. A committee evaluated the nominations and selected Atkinson.
"It's a competitive process," said Patty Komko, president of Leadership New Mexico.
Atkinson has been involved in the leadership of the state organization since he graduated in 2004, Komko said.
Chuck Slothower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4638. Follow him on Twitter @DTChuck.