Celebrating Leaders and Role Models Here and Now
We are deeply inspired by the seven people we are honoring as we observe Hispanic Heritage Month. This year, we are focusing on people who are doing meaningful work right now and have the potential to create wonderful legacies as leaders and role models.
Please join us in celebrating Ana del Rocío, Ana M. Richards, Chris Vazquez, Delia Palomeque, Concie Pedroza, Odalis Gonzalez, and Sonia Galaviz, as well as the thousands of other students, educators and leaders of Central and South American descent who are making a difference in the Northwest and beyond.
Ana del Rocío
David Douglas S.D. Board Member and Policy Director for a Multnomah County Commissioner, Portland, Oregon
Ana del Rocío is the daughter of immigrants from Peru and is the first in her family to be born in the United States. This year, voters elected her to serve on the David Douglas School Board in an historic election that saw people of color on the ballot for the first time in that district. She also serves as policy director to Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, who was the first Latina elected to the Oregon House of Representatives.
Ana is focused on raising her two children and is dedicated to paving the way for people of color and underrepresented communities to build political power in Oregon.
“My children inspire me … Their endless curiosity, the natural trust that they place in others and their infinite capacity for forgiveness are models for how to live peacefully and fearlessly.” —Ana del Rocío
Ana M. Richards
ADA and Diversity Coordinator, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska
Ana Marie Richards has lived and taught acceptance of diversity throughout her life.
Born in Panama, she set off on an adventure to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) as an international student.
She was a bilingual instructor for over 10 years in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District before returning to UAF, first as an instructor and currently as ADA and diversity coordinator. She has won multiple awards, served as keynote speaker for cultural observances and led dozens of workshops on civil rights law.
As an educator, she engages learners in a personal style that she learned from her father, who is a well-known civil rights leader in Panama.
One of my favorite quotes is from Martin Luther King Jr.: 'Our goal is to create a beloved community, and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.'
—Ana M. Richards
Montana State University Computer Engineering Student and Emerging Entrepreneur, Townsend, Montana
Chris Vazquez’s parents immigrated from Mexico in the 1990s, and he was born and raised in Montana.
While attending college, he is also building a technology consulting business.
His inspiration comes from his family who made sacrifices so that he could have a better life. He has a deep passion for technology and his heritage and hopes to be an inspiration to other Latinos through his hard work and perseverance.
My family sacrificed everything for a better life, and that's what inspires me to go above and beyond.
Principal Leadership Coach, Seattle Public Schools, Seattle, Washington
The daughter of migrant workers, Concie Pedroza grew up in Stanwood, Washington. She is a first-generation college graduate and recently received her doctorate in education leadership.
Having served as a teacher and principal, she is currently a principal leadership coach for Seattle Public Schools, providing coaching and consultancy to new principals and assistant principals.
Her priorities include leading for equity and putting student and family voice at the center of decision making.
Education is the equalizer in opportunities, access and knowledge. Learning is the core value of every person I have met that has inspired or challenged my thinking.
Program Specialist, Multnomah County Library, Portland, Oregon
Delia Palomeque is a program specialist at Multnomah County Library. She helps Latino families get their children ready to succeed in school, with a special emphasis on heritage, language and culture. Prior to joining the library, she worked as a teacher.
She is proud to work for a library that provides literacy programs for the community and helps children with language acquisition, early reading performance and success in school.
Education leads to life betterment. It gives me hope to see that immigrant families hold high expectations for their children.
American Falls, Idaho High School Valedictorian and Current Student at University of Notre Dame, American Falls, Idaho
The 2017 valedictorian of her high school, Odalis Gonzalez was born in Mexico but grew up in American Falls, Idaho.
She is currently a freshman at the University of Notre Dame with plans to major in psychology and political science.
The hard work, dedication, unconditional love and support from her family has inspired her. “Everything I do, I do for and because of them,” she says.
Everybody is a dreamer, but I want to be someone who makes my dreams into reality.
Garfield Elementary School Teacher and 2017 NEA Foundation Award Recipient, Boise Idaho
Sonia Galaviz grew up in Northern Idaho as one of the only Latinas in her school. She is now a fifth-grade teacher and STEM coordinator at Garfield Elementary.
Her father was a migrant field worker in Arizona who didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. She is proud that through her parents’ sacrifice, she is heading into the dissertation year of her doctorate in education at Boise State University.
In 2017, she received the NEA Foundation’s Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence.
“My students give me hope. I teach students who have experienced more than anyone should at such a young age, yet they still laugh, still are curious, and still love to learn. It's inspiring.” —Sonia Galaviz