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2019 Humanities Awards

Arizona Humanities Celebrates…the Humanities Awards

For more than 25 years, Arizona Humanities has honored and celebrated outstanding contributions to the humanities in our state by recognizing individuals and community organizations who have advanced the humanities in Arizona through their scholarship, leadership, support, and advocacy. We are delighted to honor this year’s award recipients and are especially pleased to highlight two special community partners. The award recipients below help us bring the rich cultural history of Arizona to communities everywhere. We hope you will support this festive event and join us in celebrating the work of the award recipients and Arizona Humanities.

2019 Award Recipients
  • Natalie Diaz – Humanities Public Scholar
  • Joan McGregor – Humanities Public Scholar
  • Rachel Egboro – Humanities Rising Star
  • Kevin Schindler – Friend of the Humanities
  • Rodo Sofranac – Community Partner Outstanding Supporter Award
  • Morning Star Leaders, Inc. – Founder’s Community Partnership Award
Event Information

Sunday, April 14, 2019
4:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Mesa Arts Center – Virginia G. Piper Repertory Theater
1 E Main St, Mesa, AZ 85201


$50 per person
Hosted refreshments and entertainment

Click here to purchase tickets.

Sponsorship Packages

Sponsorship creates opportunities for Arizonans to explore our history, culture, and stories.

Click here for Sponsorship Packages.

Humanities Public Scholars – Dan Shilling Award

This award recognizes humanities scholars who have distinguished themselves by enhancing public understanding of the role the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities, and have been recognized leaders in promoting the humanities.

Natalie Diaz

An innovative and artistic public thinker

Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Associate Professor, Arizona State University

Professor Diaz is a nationally recognized writer, poet, and linguist. She consistently provides dynamic programming, educational and engagement opportunities to students and audiences across the state of Arizona.

“[Natalie] is a gifted writer, an elegant thinker, a passionate educator, and a courageous public figure who continuously invites others to feel, witness, question, wonder, and let themselves be captivated by the power of language… Ms. Diaz understands the value of story, the importance of having a space to tell it, and the meaning of having it heard.”

Joan McGregor

A brilliant equity, ethics, and sustainability champion

School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies Senior Sustainability Scholar, Global Institute for Sustainability, Honors Faculty, Barrett, the Honors College, and Professor of Philosophy at Arizona State University

Professor McGregor has a sustained and significant record of ambassadorship and public engagement for the Humanities. Her ongoing project, “The Future of Food,” has brought members of the community from diverse backgrounds together in various contexts. Her many projects and partnerships have demonstrated the value of Humanities research in addressing urgent problems of our time and have engaged members of the public, academics across disciplines, and working professionals.

“As a passionate and creative advocate for the Humanities, Professor McGregor has created public dialogue around questions of sustainability and the environment, food, and health, and demonstrated the value of Humanities research to academics and professionals in the sciences and law…”


Humanities Public Scholar Nominees

Owen Anderson, T.J. Davis, Betsy Fahlman, Ronald Geronimo, Björn Krondorfer, Tyler Meier, Paul Morris, Heidi Osselaer, Kirt Shineman, Brooks Simpson

Humanities Rising Star Award

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

Rachel Egboro

A creative storyteller mobilizing diverse communities

Director, The Whole Story

Rachel Egboro is changing conversations about race in Arizona. Through the art of storytelling, Egboro has created a platform where Black people have a space to celebrate their stories and invite the whole community to partake in the experience. The Whole Story connects seemingly disparate people, on levels deeper than the skin, as human beings.

“Rachel creates spaces for people to come together and celebrate our humanity…[she] has a gift of connecting with any individual no matter their ethnicity, age, background or experience…Diverse topics that are difficult to share are easier to understand because of her unique storytelling technique.”


Humanities Rising Star Nominees

Sean Avery Medlin, Travis Franks, Jake Friedman and Kelsey Pinckney, J. Seth Schermerhorn

Friend of the Humanities – Juliana Yoder Award

This award recognizes individuals who have made a lasting contribution to the cultural life of their communities through their active support of and involvement in promoting the humanities. The award recognizes the dedication and contribution of Julian Yoder during her service and leadership with Arizona Humanities.

Kevin Schindler

A passionate steward of the skies

Historian, Lowell Observatory

Kevin Schindler is spearheading the Flagstaff Lunar Legacy celebration, which recognizes northern Arizona’s contributions to the 1960’s-70’s missions to the Moon. He writes extensively about Arizona history and the history of science; his latest book is “Pluto and Lowell Observatory: A History of Discovery at Flagstaff”. Through over 400 published works and countless presentations to people of all ages, Kevin has helped Arizonans make connections between history and their own lives.

“I cannot think of another person with more skill at connecting history to people’s lives. Kevin’s passion for the humanities is evident in the depth and breadth of his knowledge, especially about the history of Arizona…History is very much alive at Lowell, thanks in large part to Kevin’s work as our resident Historian.”


Friend of the Humanities Nominees

Stuart Graff, Randall Holdridge, Jean Reynolds, Helen Stephenson

Community Partner Outstanding Supporter Award

Rodo Sofranac

A humanities advocate fostering relationships across disciplines

When we talk about that ripple in the water that the humanities are, we think of Rodo. He brings people, organizations, and communities together to advance our mission and helps make the world a better place. Rodo not only serves as an AZ Speaker, he shares resources and connects us with other community partners. He has introduced us to Thrivent Choice and encourages others to support AH with their time and donations. He has promoted AH through his own book events and donated proceeds back. Rodo participated in our Hop Skip Jump and Ghostly Stories programs as a reader, and continuously encourages others to volunteer at and attend AH programs.

Founder’s Community Partner Award

Morning Star Leaders, Inc. Megan LaRose, Debbie Nez-Manuel, Royce Manuel

A collaborative effort supporting Native-American youth

Debbie Nez-Manuel and Royce Manuel leading their Arizona Humanities AZ Speaks program, “Protecting a Way of Life, Kinship Responsibilities”

Morning Star Leaders is an AH Project Grant recipient. Royce and Debbie Manuel encourage Native youth to learn, engage and become leaders in their tribe through the Morning Star Leader program. Everywhere they go, Royce and Debbie acknowledge AH and invite people to learn more about the work we do. Royce and Debbie have been strong contributors to the AZ Speaks program for the past three years, and in particular present to high school students through Speaker in the Schools. They received an AH grant for the Bow and Arrow Project in 2017, a unique hands-on educational program that teaches teens about all aspects of the cultural tradition, history, and importance of bow-making in Native culture.

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