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Valle de Sol, a Phoenix-based human services and leadership training nonprofit, awarded its 2018 Daniel R. Ortega Jr. Public Service Award to Joseph Garcia, director of the Latino Public Policy Center at Arizona State University's Morrison Institute for Public Policy.
Garcia, who also is director of communication and community impact at Morrison Institute, was given the award during the 2018 graduation ceremony of the Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI).
Ortega, a civil rights attorney and community leader, presented the award with his namesake, 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? as well as Garcia's continued work toward advancing the educational attainment of Latinos. A longtime journalist, Garcia has also taught as an adjunct professor at ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, His civic involvement includes 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 the 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 Hispanic Leadership Institute 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 that 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.”
A Flagstaff native, Garcia 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,’” Garcia 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."
Garcia earned his master's degree in nonprofit leadership and management from the School of Community Resources and Development at ASU and his bachelor's of journalism degree from the University of Arizona.