SF State News {University Communications}

Image: Photos of SF State students and scenes from around campus

Dolores Huerta honored with alumni, educators, civic leaders

Oct. 3, 2011 -- Dolores Huerta, activist and co-founder of United Farm Workers, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual College of Ethnic Studies Exemplary Leadership Awards ceremony on Oct. 2.

A photo of Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta

Presenting the award to Huerta, Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies Kenneth Monteiro noted that the breadth of Huerta’s work underscored the meaning of the Exemplary Leadership Awards, which recognize significant contributions to the civil rights and social justice movements and the advancement of the field of ethnic studies.

Huerta was a co-founder of the United Farm Workers and a major force in the American civil rights movement. The mother of 11 children, Huerta is an internationally recognized advocate for women’s rights and reproductive freedom. She continues to encourage and develop community leaders among immigrants, women, youth and the working poor through the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Educators and civic leaders were honored at the event for their leadership and service to diverse communities. The following received Exemplary Leadership Awards:

United Farm Workers (UFW)

Founded in 1962, the UFW is the nation's largest farm workers' union. Key UFW victories throughout the nation include contracts with the largest strawberry, rose, winery and mushroom firms in California. UFW-sponsored laws and regulations to aid farm workers include the first state regulation in the U.S. to prevent heat deaths. This award was presented to Arturo S. Rodriguez, president.

Paula Gunn Allen, Lee Francis III, Carol Lee Sanchez Allen

Of Laguna Pueblo-Metis-Scots heritage, these siblings were posthumously honored for their careers in higher education and advancement of the field of American Indian Studies. Paula Gunn Allen, the recipient of many distinguished literary awards for her books about American Indian lives -- including an American Book Award -- was a director of the American Indian Studies program at SF State. Lee Francis, III, an SF State alumnus (B.A., ’82, M.A., ‘83), taught Native American and American studies at several universities including American University and the University of New Mexico. He also served the United States government as an assistant to Senator Pete V. Domenici, and in the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. Carol Lee Sanchez Allen taught American Indian studies, ethnic studies and women’s studies at SF State, San Francisco Art Institute, Mills College, and the University of Missouri, Columbia. A prolific writer and artist, Sanchez Allen was a director of the California Poets in the Schools program.

Beatriz Leyva-Cutler (B.A., ’79)

An activist who has worked to eliminate the education achievement gap among minority students, Leyva-Cutler is the Berkeley School Board President. Since 1988, she has been the executive director of the Bay Area Hispano Institute for Advancement (BAHIA), a bilingual child development program that provides families with high quality, bilingual learning environments to encourage successful lifelong learning.

Janice Mirikitani (attended ‘66 – '67)

Mirikitani is the founding president of the Glide Foundation at San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church where she and her husband, Reverend Cecil Williams, have developed more than 87 programs to serve the poor and homeless of San Francisco. The author of four books of poetry and editor of nine poetry anthologies, Mirikitani is also a Poet Laureate of San Francisco.

Jerry W. Varnado, Esq (B.A., ’69)

One of the founders of the Black Student Union and the SF State student strike that led to the founding of the College of Ethnic Studies, Varnado and other leaders of the strike served a year in jail for their participation. Upon release he entered the University of California Hastings College of Law, then practiced law. Varnado is noted for his work in prisoners’ rights cases and has remained involved with the community, in such efforts as the Western Addition Area Committee, KPOO radio, the “Up from Darkness” drug rehabilitation program and the San Francisco Juneteenth observation.

“We honor these individuals and groups today as powerful exemplars of justice,” Monteiro said. “They used their skills and talents in collaboration with the people and the communities they served and understood that leadership is best expressed collectively.”

Recipients of the Exemplary Leadership Awards are nominated and selected by College of Ethnic Studies faculty. Past recipients include: actor and activist Danny Glover, former College of Ethnic Studies Dean Jim Hirabayashi, co-founder of Clinica Martin Baro, Dr. Evelyn Carolina Monico and Associate Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies Laureen Chew.

-- Denize Springer


Share this story:



SF State Home