Congratulations to the 2019 Arizona Humanities Awards winners!

  • Natalie Diaz – Humanities Public Scholar
  • Joan McGregor – Humanities Public Scholar
  • Kevin Schindler – Friend of the Humanities
  • Rachel Egboro – Humanities Rising Star
  • Morning Star Leaders, Inc. – Founders Community Partnership Award
  • Rodo Sofranac – Outstanding Supporter Award
Brenda Thomson, Arizona Humanities Executive Director shared, “Once again I am amazed by the talent and diversity of this year’s award winners…scholars, poets, storytellers, youth leaders and community builders. The one thing they all have in common is their outstanding contribution to public humanities across Arizona. For this we are most grateful.”
The 2019 Arizona Humanities Awards celebration will take place Sunday, April 14, 2019 at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, AZ. Tickets for the event are on sale now. To learn more and purchase tickets, click here.
Read more about each Arizona Humanities Awards winner below:
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Humanities Public Scholars

Photo courtesy Alonso Parra

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

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. Diaz’s second collection, Postcolonial Love Poem is forthecoming from Graywolf Press in 2020. She is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, Lannan Literary Fellow and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. She was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, a Hodder Fellowship, and a PEN/Civitella Ranieri Foundation Residency, as well as being awarded a U.S. Artists Ford Fellowship, and Princeton University’s Hodder Fellowship. Diaz teaches in Arizona State University’s creative writing MFA program, where she holds the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry in the Department of English.
Photo courtesy Joan McGregory and School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies

Joan McGregor

Professor of Philosophy, Arizona State University
School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies Senior Sustainability Scholar, Global Institute for Sustainability
Honors Faculty, Barrett, the Honors College
Professor Joan McGregor is a Professor of Philosophy at Arizona State University and President of the ASU Faculty Senate, Tempe Campus. She holds a PhD in Philosophy with a Minor in Law from the University of Arizona. She has a sustained and distinguished record of publications, grants (including a Mellon grant, “Humanities for the Anthropocene”, 3 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institutes, and a National Science Foundation grant for Ethics Education in Science and Engineering), administrative appointments, innovative teaching, and community engagement. Her record of scholarship spans 46 separate refereed articles, 11 book chapters, 39 other publications, and a monograph. Her research has broken new ground in applied ethics, in particular, trans-humanism, sustainability, food ethics, and sexual assault.
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Friend of the Humanities
Kevin Schindler
Historian, Lowell Observatory
Kevin Schindler has lived in Flagstaff for over twenty years, working for most of that time at Lowell Observatory. He’s always been interested in history, from the very old of the cosmos, to the less ancient of fossils, to the comparatively modern of scientists and their research. He currently serves as Lowell Observatory’s historian after two decades of leading the observatory’s education and outreach efforts. Kevin is an active member of the Flagstaff history and science communities and served as sheriff of the Flagstaff Corral of Westerners International for thirteen years. He writes articles for a variety of publications and contributes a biweekly column, “View from Mars Hill,” for the Arizona Daily Sun newspaper and has written five books. In 2012, Kevin was awarded the Flagstaff Arts Council’s Viola Award for Flagstaff Science Educator of the Year. Kevin spearheads the Flagstaff Lunar Legacy celebration recognizing northern Arizona’s contributions to the 1960’s-70’s missions to the Moon. This event runs July 2018 to December 2019 and centers around the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. It teaches Flagstaff residents and visitors about the history of Arizona and helps them see connections to their modern lives. His other work as a Friend of the Humanities includes presentations in classrooms, libraries, restaurants, camp grounds, and even remote places such as the bottom of the Grand Canyon. He shares his knowledge and passion for history, science, baseball, and many other aspects of Arizona life with people of all ages. Fun fact: Schindler has a fossil crab and an asteroid named after him.
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Humanities Rising Star
Rachel Egboro
Director of The Whole Story
Rachel Egboro is a storyteller – which she says is strange for her to say, since everyone has a story. She just chooses to spend her free time writing, curating and coaching individuals and businesses on the art of storytelling. In January 2017, Egboro launched The Whole Story to expand Black narratives and challenge stereotypes through personal stories. In partnership with the Phoenix Art Museum, the show debuted to a sold out crowd and received the 2017 New Times Best of Phoenix award for “Best New Storytelling Event.” Each quarter, five different people work with Egboro to develop their stories for a live, 300-person audience in the museum’s Whiteman Hall. After seven sold out shows, over 2,000 people have heard 35 stories on love, life and a variety of universal themes told from the Black perspective. With each event, Egboro hopes to paint a clearer picture of the Black experience as a whole.
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Founders Community Partner Award
Debbie Nez-Manuel and Royce Manuel leading their Arizona Humanities AZ Speaks program, “Protecting a Way of Life, Kinship Responsibilities”

Morning Star Leaders, Inc.

Megan LaRose, Debbie Nez-Manuel, Royce Manuel
Founders Debbie Nez-Manuel (Diné), Royce Manuel (Akimel Aw-Thum and a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Communities), and Megan LaRose (Diné) formed Morning Star Leaders, Inc. (MSL) with a vision to serve Arizona tribal communities. MSL’s mission is to preserve, strengthen, and renew cultural identity in indigenous youth through traditional indigenous leadership teachings. Through a range of student programming MSL has become a vital community resource to support tribal youth who live off-reservation, and who may have experienced a disconnect with their home languages and cultural teachings. MSL works to ensure native youth are college ready. “The morning star is our compass. We are reminded that the morning star is up early. At the end of ceremony we go out and we greet the morning and there is a star that’s there, it’s there every season, it doesn’t change. We give our offering and pray with intention, exactly what we want to do and accomplish, and that becomes our compass,” shared Nez-Manual.
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Outstanding Supporter Award
Rodo Sofranac
Children’s Book Author

Rodo Sofranac spent his first few years in a tiny village called Rijeka Crnojevića, Montenegro-former Yugoslavia. His family fled to Austria and later immigrated to the United States. The Montenegrin connection brought him to Arizona in 1974. He speaks, reads, and writes Serbo-Croatian and German.  This diversity of cultures and languages inspires Rodo to read, write, and enjoy sharing stories. As a teacher, translator, mentor, and community organizer, he has worked with people of all ages-from birth to over 100-and in numerous settings, including over 25 years at the university level. Rodo’s award-wining work embraces varied storytelling, the latest being seven fun children’s books. Sofranac has connected Arizona Humanities to new friends and supporters through his readings, book donations, volunteerism, and advocacy to individuals and local businesses across Arizona.

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2019 Humanities Awards Nominees

Humanities Public Scholar Nominees

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

Friend of the Humanities Nominees

Stuart Graff, Randall Holdridge, Jean Reynolds, Helen Stephenson

Rising Star Nominees

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

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