Rogelio Riojas, president and chief executive officer for Sea Mar Community Health Centers, is the 2013 recipient of the Charles E. Odegaard Award.
The award will be presented at the 43rd annual Educational Opportunity Program Celebration, Fête and Honors hosted by the University of Washington’s Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and the Friends of the Educational Opportunity Program. The event is at 5:30 p.m. Thurs., May 16, at the Husky Union Building on the UW campus.
Established in 1973, the Odegaard award honors individuals whose leadership in the community exemplifies the former UW president’s work on behalf of diversity. It is the only university- and community-selected award, and is regarded as the highest achievement in diversity at the UW.
“As the leader of Sea Mar for the last 35 years, Rogelio has ensured that thousands of our state’s most vulnerable people receive health and human services,” said Sheila Edwards Lange, UW vice president for minority affairs and vice provost for diversity. “Equally important is his activism and commitment to empowering youth in the Latino community. Rogelio’s service in the areas of social equity and justice reflect the goals of Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and the Educational Opportunity Program and we are honored to present him with this award.”
Riojas spent his youth as a migrant farm laborer and was the first member of his family to go to college. He enrolled at UW in 1969 and became a leader among Latino student activists. Riojas’ activism inspired his career in public health.
In 1978, he started the health and human services organization Sea Mar, which began as a single medical clinic in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood. Today, it serves 12 counties and more than 140,000 individuals per year in Washington state.
For more information, visit the celebration website.