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Riojas To Receive 2013 Odegaard Award

web_croppedRogelio Riojas, president and chief executive officer for Sea Mar Community Health Centers, is the 2013 recipient of the Charles E. Odegaard Award, the University of Washington Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMA&D) announced Feb. 4.

The award will be presented at the 43rd annual EOP Celebration, Fête and Honors hosted by OMA&D and the Friends of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) on Thursday, May 16, at the Husky Union Building on the UW campus. The dinner and scholarship fundraiser will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

eNews-Spring-2013Established 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 OMA&D and EOP and we are honored to present him with this award.”

Riojas was born in West Texas and attended high school in Othello, Wash. He spent his youth as a migrant farm laborer and was the first member of his family to go to college when he enrolled at the University of Washington in 1969. At UW, Riojas was a leader among Latino student activists. He was a member of the UW chapter of M.E.C.h.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan) and Seattle’s Brown Berets. Riojas was involved in campaigns both on campus and in the community. He helped to convince UW Latino staff to donate five percent of their salaries to the United Farm Workers and participated in the 1972 takeover of Beacon Hill Elementary School which led to the founding of El Centro de la Raza, a social service organization for Seattle’s Latino community.

Riojas’ activism inspired his career in public health. He graduated from the University of Washington with bachelor’s degrees in political science (1973) and economics (1975), and a master’s degree in health administration (1977).

In 1978, he started Sea Mar which began as a single medical clinic in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood. Today, it is a comprehensive health and human services organization that serves 12 counties and over 140,000 individuals per year in Washington state. The network includes more than 50 medical, dental and behavioral health clinics and centers, as well as a variety of nutritional, social and educational services.

Under Riojas’ leadership, Sea Mar broadened its services to focus on education. He established a program that has awarded more than 1,000 scholarships to children of migrant farm workers. In addition, Sea Mar acquired the Latino/a Educational Achievement Program (LEAP) which empowers young Latinos to become strong, educated community members. Riojas is active on several community boards and received many campus and community honors including the 2007 UW Multicultural Alumni Partnership (MAP) Distinguished Alumni Award.

For more information about EOP Celebration, Fête and Honors or the Charles E. Odegaard Award, please visit the Celebration web site.

Charles E. Odegaard Award Recipients
2013       Rogelio Riojas
2012       Gertrude Peoples
2011       Assunta Ng
2010       Nelson Del Rio
2009       W. Ron Allen
2008       1968 Black Student Union
2007       Alan T. Sugiyama
2006       Charles Mitchell
2005       Mike McGavick
2004       Jeff and Susan Brotman
2003       Herman McKinney
2002       Constance L. Proctor
2001       Ernest Dunston
2000       Vivian Lee
1999       Albert Black
1998       Bill Hilliard
1997       Andy Reynolds
1996       Hubert G. Locke
1995       Ron Moore
1994       Bernie Whitebear
1993       Ron Sims
1992       Sandra Madrid
1991       Ken Jacobson
1990       Herman D. Lujan
1989       J. Ray Bowen
1988       Frank Byrdwell
1987       Andrew V. Smith
1986       Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney
1985       Norm Rice
1984       Nancy Weber
1983       William Irmscher
1982       Mark Cooper
1981       Millie Russell
1980       Minoru Masuda
1979       Toby Burton
1978       Vivian Kelly
1977       Sam and Joyce Kelly
1976       Leonie Piternick
1975       Larry Gossett
1974       Dalwyn Knight