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Hands-On Humanities: A Virtual Awards Celebration

Enjoy Our Virtual Awards Celebration By Clicking the Video Below

Please note: the program begins at 2 minutes, 20 seconds

Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to celebrate the 2020 Humanities Awards virtually on Saturday, September 26. Please mark your calendars. If circumstances change, we will notify everyone via an email, our website, and social media.

Announcing 2020 Humanities Awards Recipients

Arizona Humanities is proud to announce the winners of the 2020 Arizona Humanities Awards. The recipients of this year’s awards are:
  • Paul Hirt, Dan Shilling Public Scholar Award
  • Aguila Youth Leadership Institute, Co-recipient, Juliana Yoder Friend of the Humanities Award
  • J.J. Lamb, Co-recipient, Juliana Yoder Friend of the Humanities Award
  • Rosaura Magaña, Humanities Rising Star Award
  • Judith Hardes, Outstanding Supporter Award
  • Karen O’Keefe, Founder’s Community Partner Award
Every year we honor and celebrate outstanding contributions to the humanities in our state. Since the inaugural awards in 1990, Arizona Humanities has recognized individuals who have advanced the humanities in Arizona through their scholarship, leadership, support, and advocacy. Join us on September 26 at 1PM via ZOOM as we celebrate this year’s award recipients.

PAUL HIRT- Dan Shilling Public Scholar Award

A lifelong Arizonan, Professor Paul Hirt is an historian and practitioner of the public and environmental humanities specializing in the American West, environmental history, environmental policy, and sustainability studies. Hirt is Professor of History in Arizona State University’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and is a Senior Sustainability Scholar in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability. Professor Hirt is a quintessential practitioner of the public humanities: his work is intended for a broad audience and seeks to contribute substantively to debates over public policy and the stewardship of Arizona’s public resources. A tireless public advocate of the humanities and their relevance for the Arizona public, Hirt regularly gives presentations about water resources, renewable energy, electric vehicles, and more across the state to civic organizations, student groups, retirement communities, and on the Navajo Nation.

AGUILA YOUTH LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE – Juliana Yoder Friend of the Humanities Award

 AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute (AGUILA) was founded in 2004 based on more than 30 years of research and experience on how to positively impact communities through education. During the past 15 years AGUILA has successfully guided more than 1,400 youth to 135 colleges/universities across the United States, with scholarships totaling more than $120 million beyond federal aid. Eighty-seven percent of AGUILA students are the first person in their family to attend college. Eighty-five percent of students meet or fall below federal poverty guidelines. Many AGUILA students received little or no guidance on college, career and life before joining the program. Today AGUILA Alumni are employed as teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers, lawyers, business professionals, entrepreneurs, research scientists, and more. AGUILA student success is evident through not only their educational and professional achievements, but also through civic service.

J.J. LAMB – Juliana Yoder Friend of the Humanities Award

As Executive Director of the Vail Preservation Society, J.J. Lamb has led a multitude of projects that have not only preserved the history of her community, but also involved a wide range of citizens.  High school students learned new skills working on the rehabilitation of the 1915 Marsh Station Section Foreman House. Local artists have created the Vail Connects Artist and Artisan Cooperative. Many local individuals have shared their oral histories, now preserved through the Voices of Vail and Celebrating Every Voice projects. Lamb’s work has contributed to her community, the state and the nation beyond.

ROSAURA MAGANA– Humanities Rising Star Award

Rosaura “Chawa” Magaña is a cultural worker, literary organizer, safe-space creator, healing presence, compassionate listener, principled voice, and the owner/operator of Palabras Bilingual Bookstore. Magaña has created a unique space that has shifted the cultural landscape of Phoenix to be more inclusive, equitable, and artistically enriched. Besides providing a much needed space for Spanish speakers to seek literary works in their language, Magaña has created her monthly “POC It To Me” open mic to center the local voices of people of color. She has also established a book club for women, developed a bi-weekly writing group for women of color, and has invited other organizations to host writing groups, such us Trans Queer Pueblo’s “Creatures of Our Dreams.” Her tireless advocacy and community-centered approach has impacted many people.  Magaña has given a voice to people of color, and also fostered community connections and growth.

JUDITH HARDES – Outstanding Supporter Award

Judith Hardes is a longtime financial supporter of Arizona Humanities and of arts and culture in Arizona. Hardes is a local philanthropist and recipient of the 2018 Governor’s Arts Award for philanthropy for her lifelong commitment to arts and culture, and for her encouragement of others to give to arts and culture. Hardes has donated annually to Arizona Humanities for 20 years. She is the most consistent donor that we can identify. This means a lot to us and the organizations that receive grants and attend our cultural programs across the state.  “Those who support arts and culture through their generous philanthropy are deeply vital to the long-term success and vitality of so many nonprofit organizations…Judith is among the most ardent, consistent and important donors in Arizona through her unwavering commitment to and enthusiasm for the performing arts.” Rusty Foley, AZ Citizens for the Arts.

KAREN O’KEEFE – Founder’s Community Partner 

Karen O’Keefe is an outstanding educator with a focus on K-12 literacy, and a unique passion for connecting students to the community through her extensive outreach efforts. O’Keefe seeks out people in the community to support literacy programs including retired and working individuals, illustrators, artists, authors, and even family members of the students. She also enlists the support of countless community-based, nonprofit and corporate organizations. O’Keefe’s community-based events both inside and outside the school, have recast the importance of literacy for Mountain View School. She is the recipient of many awards of excellence from the Washington School District for her innovative/interactive learning programs including PencilPALSMulti-Cultural DayYoung Authors DayFamily Reading Nights, and Read Across America Day.

Humanities Public Scholars – Dan Shilling Award

Purpose and Criteria


This award recognizes a distinguished humanities scholar who enhances public understanding of the humanities, transforms lives and strengthens communities through civil discourse and community engagement. The award recognizes the dedication and contribution of former executive director Dan Shilling’s 19 years of service to Arizona Humanities from 1984-2003.


Letters of support should address how the nominee meets the following criteria:

  1. Sustained research (3-5 years), publications, creative activity, and humanities service in Arizona.
  2. Consistently serves as a humanities scholar, or public advocate for humanities.
  3. Actively and consistently engages the Arizona public in one or more humanities disciplines.
  4. Actively and consistently promotes opportunities for people to learn, experience, and explore diverse issues through public programs that foster civil discourse and community engagement.

Friend of the Humanities – Juliana Yoder Award

Purpose and Criteria


This award recognizes a public individual who makes a lasting contribution to the cultural life of Arizona communities through active support of, and involvement in, promoting the humanities. The award recognizes the dedication and contribution of Juliana Yoder during her 21 years of service to the Arizona Humanities.

Letters of support should address how the nominee meets the following criteria:

  1. Actively promotes understanding and appreciation of the humanities in the community through their work, volunteerism or leadership at cultural, civic, educational or other organizations.
  2. Exemplary outreach and/or advocacy supporting the humanities and access to the humanities.
  3. Significant contribution to the community by promoting civil discourse and/or community engagement.

Humanities Rising Star Award

Purpose and Criteria

This award recognizes a young professional, student, or volunteer who demonstrates outstanding and creative approaches to engaging the public with the humanities, and whose humanities scholarship and public service, has enhanced public understanding of the humanities.

Letters of support should address how the nominee meets the following criteria:

  1. Nominees must be 18-35 years of age.
  2. Actively promotes awareness and understanding of the humanities in the community through scholarship, creativity, leadership or volunteerism, and actively advocates for others to support the humanities.
  3. Evidence of impact on diverse issues/communities.
  4. Actively and consistently promotes opportunities for people to learn, experience, and explore diverse issues through public programs and creative activities that foster civil discourse and community engagement.

Checklist and Guidelines

Nomination Checklist

Nomination Checklist

  • A complete nomination packet includes:
  • Online nomination form with two letters of support submitted online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5T5ZQHV. The form includes the nominee’s name, contact info, bio, and brief explanation for the nomination, and the nominator’s contact info, signature and date.
  • Two (2) letters of support are required for each nomination. The letters should describe the specific accomplishments and contributions that qualify the nominee for the award in accordance with the criteria below. The nominator must submit two letters of support. Only two letters will be accepted. For self-nominations, both letters of support must be from individuals other than the person up for the award.

Nomination Guidelines

Nomination Guidelines

  • Anyone can submit a nomination.
  • Self-nominators must provide two support letters from outside sources.
  • The nominator must submit two letters of support. Only two letters will be accepted.
  • Only complete applications will be accepted.
  • Please do not submit supplementary materials.
  • Past nominators are encouraged to re-submit nominee applications.
  • All nomination packets must be completed online through survey monkey.
  • No paper nomination packets will be accepted.
  • Deadline is Monday, September 16.
  • For questions, call 602-257-0335 or email info@azhumanities.org.

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