Hispanic group honors Aztlan-cheerleader Isabel Garcia


Tucson, Arizona Friday, 13 December 2002

Hispanic group honors Valdez for life achievements


The Hispanic Professional Action Committee honored six Tucsonans Thursday night, including longtime city manager and current UA administrator Joel Valdez who received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The organization named Mary Fimbres its Woman of the Year. Fimbres is the director of the Arizona League of United Latin American Citizens.

Robert Jensen, the outgoing chancellor for Pima Community College, was named Man of the Year.

Community Service Awards were given to Anna Marie Chalk, UA alumni administrative associate; Isabel Garcia, Pima County legal defender; and folklorist Jim Griffith.

Valdez, the University of Arizona's senior vice president for business affairs, became assistant city manager in 1971 and advanced to city manager, a position he held until 1990, when he moved to the university to deal with mounting budget problems.

"As the negative turn of the economy would have it, Joel is back at it again, having to deal with major financial issues," said A.E. Araiza, who emceed the awards presentation that drew more than 100 people to the Arizona Inn. "There is no doubt that the University of Arizona will overcome this current financial crisis with Joel Valdez driving that ship." Araiza is a photographer for the Arizona Daily Star.

Fimbres is serving her third term as director of the Arizona chapter of LULAC. She has volunteered extensively in her 13 years with the organization and has worked with the YWCA and as an aide to City Councilman Steve Leal.

Jensen, who is retiring from PCC after leading the college for eight years, is recognized by colleagues for his leadership and passion in helping students succeed. Jensen has led four community colleges in California and Arizona for 25 of his 41-year career.

In 23 years with the UA's Alumni Association, Chalk has advised numerous student groups, including the senior honorary Bobcats, fraternities, sororities and Hispanic scholarship recipients. Chalk, who also worked with alumni clubs for American Indian, Asian and black graduates, will retire next year.

Garcia, a first-generation daughter of a Mexican copper miner who helped organize industry workers, is director of the Pima County Legal Defender's Office. Garcia is also an advocate of immigrant and human rights and is the founder and co-chairwoman of Derechos Humanos, a group dedicated to improving U.S. border policy with a focus on immigration, refuge and human-rights issues.

Born in Santa Barbara, Calif., Griffith has dedicated his career to being an author, historian and folklorist for Southern Arizona and northern Sonora. He served as director of the Southwest Folklore Center from 1979 until his retirement in 1998. Griffith also started the annual Tucson Meet Yourself festival.

* Contact reporter Eric Swedlund at 629-9412 or swedlund@azstarnet.com.