Garcia honored for public service work

PHOTO: (From left) Kurt R. Sheppard, President and CEO of Valle del Sol; Joseph Garcia, honoree; and Daniel R. Ortega Jr., presenter.

Joseph Garcia, director of the Latino Public Policy Center at Morrison Institute, has received the Daniel R. Ortega Jr. Public Service Award.

Garcia, who also is director of communication & commuity impact at Morrison Institute, was honored Tuesday during the 2018 graduation ceremony of the Hispanic Leadership Institute.

Ortega, a civil rights attorney and community leader, presented the award, citing Garcia’s public policy work at Morrison Institute, including such reports as Arizona’s Emerging Latino Vote and Who Is Arizona’s Independent Voter?; his continued work toward advancing the educational attainment of Latinos; his long career as a journalist, including as an adjunct professor at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism; and his community involvement, including serving on the boards of Arizona Children’s Action Alliance, a family advocacy nonprofit organization, and Friendly House, a nonprofit agency for workplace development, education and family services.

Garcia, who joined Morrison Institute in 2009, said he was “honored and humbled” by the award.

“But tonight isn’t about me,” he told the audience at the Wells Fargo Conference Center in downtown Phoenix. “Tonight is about you, the HLI grads, as you take yet another step in your life, career and pathway of leadership.”

Garcia said Arizona both welcomes and needs this new wave of leadership.

“Latinos literally represent our state’s future,” Garcia said, noting how Arizona will become a minority-majority state by 2030 and there already are more Latino children in Arizona’s K-12 public schools than non-Latino white classmates.

“As Latinos go, so goes Arizona. Latinos in Arizona will continue to play a larger role in our state – not just in terms of demographics and mega-consumer power, but also in leadership, decision-making and culture. Our culture is strong.”

He urged HLI graduates to rise above recent discouraging acts of racism, noting that although Arizona is an exceptionally diverse state, there is but one Arizona for all people.

“It’s about ‘us,’ but not about ‘us verses them,’” he said. “That’s what they do; they pit us against each other. The ‘us’ I’m talking about is big enough for all who are willing and of pure heart” to build a better Arizona through education, opportunity, equity and action.

2018 Hispanic Leadership Institute graduates:
Luis Acosta, Abe Alirez, Alexis Arcos, Michael Caplice, Nick DeSantiago, Mailai Echeverria, Mark Garcia, Rosie Gastelum, Vanessa Gonzales, Sarah Gonzalez, Paty Gonzalez Sotelo, Marissa Hernandez, Rosalia Hernandez-Gonzalez, Natasha Lopez-Rodriguez, Alejandro Macias, Claudia Maldonado, Vanessa Morales, Linda Nunez, Deana Perez, Maria Rebozo, Tomas Robles Jr., Julia Santa Maria, Christian Solorio, Elenia Sotelo, Alex Vasquez, Gil Velez, Krizia Verplancke, Victor Zendejas.