This month Border Eco is honored by featuring a woman in our community who echoes in the field of arts. Elizabeth Weatherbie is the Executive Vice President/Treasurer for Patrons of the Arts, Inc. also known as the Hilltop Gallery. She holds a very diverse role in the organization from accounting to coordinating events, and maintaining the organization's social media. “There is so much behind the scenes duties that get tackled on a daily basis, it’s hard to really pinpoint a main role in the organization. Mostly my role is to ensure everything gets done and on time,” said Weatherbie.
Elizabeth was born in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1968. At the age of 6 months, her family moved to Mexico where she spent the first three years of her life. Her family later moved to Nogales, Arizona in 1971 and maintained a residence in Nogales, Sonora, as well. Elizabeth was raised in Ambos Nogales and attended Sacred Heart School with her siblings. Her father was an architect who worked for the City of Nogales for many years in the Planning and Zoning Department. Her father was also a musician and artist. Her mother was a housewife/artist and also a substitute teacher. Her mother taught Catechism at Sacred Heart School in the 70s. Elizabeth attended Nogales High School, but decided to get her GED. She later moved to Silver City, New Mexico in 1997, with her two children, and earned a degree in business from Western New Mexico University in 2001. She began working for Patrons of the Arts, Inc. in 2011, then took a sabbatical for a few years until she was invited back as a board member in 2020.
“It’s good to be back. My passion for the arts is helping the community come together in many ways whether it’s through painting, music or just art appreciation. I would like to continue to help unite our community in these artistic endeavors. Hilltop Gallery is the only nonprofit art venue in our community. We encourage the arts on all levels and with all ages. We have branched out to not just be visual arts, but to include the performing arts, as well. We also offer art classes to all ages,” said the Executive Vice President.
The Hilltop Gallery has revamped their approach to attract young people in Santa Cruz County. We have a variety of shows that have branched out to include children, youth, and adults. Our Women Breaking the Silence show features all female artists of all ages from 9 to 90. This art exhibit is from local women artists who use their talent and creativity to express their thoughts and feelings. The art exhibit was curated by Alma Rodriguez.
We have a variety of art programs at the Hilltop Gallery. Our “Open Talent Nite” brings community members to share their many hidden talents such as music, poetry, singing and other performing arts, as well as the visual arts. The Trip Around the World is where young artists use their imagination to visit every continent, while the staff works to emphasize creativity and encourages them to have fun. The Summer Art Program was in part thanks to the City of Nogales Parks & Rec Dept., the Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools Alfredo I. Velásquez and Pizza Hut for their continued support.
Art is therapeutic. It is an outlet for emotions. It quiets the mind. It helps with anxieties. I especially enjoy sharing my work with others who enjoy art. I have dabbled in the arts most of my life, but it hasn’t really been until the past few years that I realized my true passion for the arts. I used to work mostly with acrylics, but for the past year I have found oils more appealing. I work with a variety of arts media from textiles to paints. I am a painter, seamstress and musician. Lately, I find myself working mostly with oil paints. I’ve grown more patient with my art, and it’s very relaxing “waiting for the paint to dry.”
My artwork helps me express myself in many ways that I can’t verbally do. It is a language of its own. The more I paint; the better I feel. It made me realize my true passion and love is art. My future plans are to be a full-time artist. I want to be able to make a living creating art. I want to continue to be a part of the artistic community and help others learn the value of being an artist, as well.
“I enjoy being able to encourage the arts on every level. I love being able to share art with the community. I thrive on seeing people’s faces light up when they see a work of art they love. I mostly love seeing children excited about and doing art. To me, children’s art is the best art. It is pure and beautiful with so much meaning,” said Weatherbie.
A pioneer of public health-Casslyn David
Border Eco this month honors the service of all health care workers. One public healthcare worker in particular Casslyn David. She is a pioneer of public health. She has been working in the field of public health for over 11 years in a variety of roles.
Women in health care continue to make an impact in our healthcare system and on the delivery of services in our community. Individuals like Cassalyn who work in public health do not diagnose or treat patients. Instead, their focus is to research and track health trends including biological, environmental factors, and behavioral. She uses research to help predict and prevent future health events or problems that could impact the health of the general population. Her work is focused on educating the public on ways to protect, and prevent against health risks.
Cassalyn David has been working for Mariposa Community Health Center for 9 years as one of the managers in the Community Health Services Department, and Platicamos Salud. The grants and programs she works under fall into community-based partnerships, food systems, and youth. She is the program director for the Santa Cruz County Adolescent Wellness Network.
The Santa Cruz County Adolescent Wellness Network is one of the longest-running projects. It combines primary care, behavioral health, nonprofits, schools, and youth so it can improve the overall well-being of adolescents.
“Our teens told us we needed to focus on mental health and overall wellness, so we do that by offering training,improving coordination, and making referrals. Right now I’m helping coordinate the creation of a school based Telehealth. Dr. Williams wanted to bring telehealth to our schools and community because of the benefits it will have on our student wellness and academic success. We were fortunate that our schools have been partnering with the Adolescent Wellness Network for many years, so we already have a foundation and relationships to build from.”
“I was drawn to public health because it seemed like it had the best tools to understand and solve problems. I wanted to work on things like health disparities and with public health you think outside the clinic walls and have an opportunity to create a healthier environment. Mariposa does that in so many different ways, by offering education, the Nogales “Little” Mercado Farmer’s Market, and by partnering with schools and nonprofits. About half of my family members are educators, so they showed me the strengths and the challenges schools face,” said David.
She grew up in the Phoenix area and went to college in Tucson. She was interested in international relations and got to spend a semester in central Europe. This experience sparked her interest in public health. David received her Masters in Public Health from the University of Washington. She considers herself fortunate as it gave her the opportunity to live in a lot of beautiful places. She worked as an AmeriCorps Volunteer near the Olympic Mountains and backcountry ranger in Alaska.
Casslyn lives in Patagonia with her son and husband, Nate Porter, a teacher, coach, and Athletic Director at Patagonia High School. He was the 2020 SCC Teacher of the Year Runner Up.One of their favorite recreational activities is hiking.
"I love the variety of roles I have in my job. I am able to work on many, many different subject areas...Many different organizations and people are our partners, and it seems as though there is always something new every day...This specific role has allowed me to continue learning and I really feel as though I am able to provide a service to people and make a difference in our community. It is a very rewarding position,” said Cassalyn David, program director for the Santa Cruz County Adolescent Wellness Network.
For the month of August, Border Eco recognizes a woman in our community who is making a difference in the healthcare field. We are honored to have selected Linda Manjarrez. She has over 25 years of extensive experience working in the field of gerontology. Manjarrez is the regional program director for Luminaria Home Care Services. She has been working with Lutheran Social Services since 2011.
“Through this job I have been able to grow in a professional and personal manner. Ever since I had started out as care coordinator, I have found myself to be more confident and better able to connect with those around me. I take pride in improving myself and being able to lead my staff in a way that can help them and the people we serve. We are an inclusive organization dedicated to service regardless of background, creed, or ethnicity. It always brought me great joy in the ways we can improve the lives of others,” said Manjarrez.
Linda is an active community member who understands some of the challenges families with limited resources face when caring for their loved ones. The high cost of healthcare has made it difficult for local families to have access to the services their loved ones need to lead normal healthy lives. She has made it her lifetime career helping seniors and people with disabilities find the resources they need, so they are able to lead fulfilling lives.
“I know personally some of the challenges many caregivers face when caring for their loved ones. I am always looking for new venues to help the elderly and children with special needs in our community. I have been working with Lutheran Social Services/Luminaria Home Care for several years now. I am very passionate about the work we do in Southern Arizona. I am honored to work for an organization who is dedicated to serving those in need. Our caregivers have gone above and beyond to make sure they are there for their clients,” she said.
“This past year, during the pandemic we learned just how valuable caregivers are in our community. Our caregivers are superheroes! They worked tirelessly and never complained. I admire their bravery. They worked throughout the entire pandemic. Caregivers truly make a difference in many people’s lives. They are individuals that dedicate their time and energy to helping their clients or loved ones, during challenging times in their lives. They are selfless individuals who spend their days ensuring their clients or loved ones are comfortable, safe, and happy,” said Linda Manjarrez.
"I love working for Lutheran Social Services because there is such an incredible sense of morale. Our caregivers care so much about their jobs and what we do is very important. I take a tremendous sense of pride in feeling that what I am doing is helping to preserve and protect not just the health of our clients but also our caregivers. They really are such a tremendous resource and an unbelievable opportunity to work to preserve such a caring staff."
This month we recognize a woman in our county, who has made a difference in the field of education Cynthia Matus Morriss.
She started serving as a governing board member for the Patagonia Elementary School District #6 from 1988 through 2020. She was appointed to serve on the governing board of the Patagonia Union High School in 2020 to date.
Besides being inspired by her mother, Cythina’s husband Ron has always encouraged her to do what makes her happy, which is being of service to family, friends, and the community, no matter the time it takes.
She volunteered at the Patagonia schools by reading to elementary students, and attended school field trips. Cynthia has for 25 years helped bring arts education programs to schools in Santa Cruz County through Santa Cruz County Young Audiences.
Through the support of her colleagues in Santa Cruz County, she served on the Arizona School Boards Association’s Board of Directors (ASBA) for seven years. In 1995, she was awarded the “All Arizona School Board Member Award.”
Matus was elected and served in all the executive offices of the ASBA. She served as the first Latina President of ASBA in 2003. She was then elected to serve as President of the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Pacific Region in 2005.
In 2008-2010, Cynthia was elected as Chair of NSBA’s National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members and a year later elected to serve on the NSBA Board of Directors, from 2011 to 2014.
Cynthia Matus Morris was honored with the ASBA Barbara B. Robey Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contributions and dedication in support of public education and ASBA’s mission through servant leadership in 2014. She was later named in 2019, AZ19 Most Influential People. As an elected Latina official was invited to serve on the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Board of Directors, NALEO.
“It is important for me to act as an advocate for the schools and the students. Listen to ideas and opinions from the students, staff, and citizens and strive to incorporate their views into the deliberations and decisions. The connections and relationships with the school community, students, and parents all play a key role when it comes to setting policy (that is not mandated by statute), hiring the best Superintendent for the district, and setting the budget,” said Matus Morriss.
As a board member, I am mindful of the decisions being made at the board table and the impact it has on staff, students, and families. Many tasks and decisions are delegated to the superintendent but ultimately the board is responsible for all district matters. We witnessed the impact COVID-19 had in our schools. It changed our traditional methods of teaching. As a result, school governance needs to change to meet safety requirements while helping our students achieve their potential.
The school board is currently working on community outreach. This is one of our major focuses, especially now, after the pandemic. We want to welcome people back to getting involved with the school and their children. After a year of having to close the campus down, we want to focus on reaching out to welcome the community back on campus as long as it is safe. Many of our other plans needed to be re-prioritized due to the pandemic.
In order to see progress in our community we need certain things to change in our area. We need more affordable housing. We have great teachers, but too many of them have to travel to work in Patagonia. Affordable housing would benefit our community. At a state level, we need a government that is willing to support public education for rural areas. Promoting school choice sure is a great campaign slogan, but in reality, it is hurting public schools.
Patagonia Public Schools are working towards increasing student achievement. Our goal is to have students embrace a growth mindset and understanding that with proper hard work they can achieve anything. We are in the process of increasing our CTE and Dual Enrollment programs at the school. We continue to prepare students for life after school no matter what path they choose. We also want students to know that attending a college is always an option and we are working towards increasing the rate at which students fill out FAFSA to 100%. We reached 83% this school year and won the most improved FAFSA completion rate for the Arizona FAFSA challenge.
Cynthia’s parents were born in Santa Cruz County. Her father, Guillermo, was born in Harshaw, and mother Carmen in Duquesne. Both her parents attended Patagonia Schools. Her sister, Emma, and her were both born in Nogales, AZ. She has lived in the Patagonia area for 68 years. Matus attended school in Harshaw, Patagonia Elementary School and Patagonia Union High School. She is married to Ronald R. Morriss. They have two daughters, Samantha and Rhonda, and her late sons, Charles and John Wm. They have four grandchildren, Emily, Johnny, Alexis, and Thomas with a great-grandchild due in late July!
Ron and Cynthia are former owners of Patagonia Cable TV, Big Foot Feed & Supply, and the Alamo Country Store. She has been a full-time volunteer for most of her life serving with the Patagonia Friends of the Library, 4-H, Patagonia Youth Enrichment Center, and other non-profit organizations. She is a member of the Patagonia United Methodist Church.
“Patagonia is special to me because of our many family ties and family friendships. The beauty of the mountains, high desert and closeness to the Mexican border continues to be pleasing to my soul,” said Cynthia Matus Morriss.
This month we recognize a woman in our county, who has made a difference in the field of education Maya Donnelly. She is driven by the field of education. Maya has been married 28 years to her high school sweetheart- Bill Donnelly. Together, they have three daughters who are hard-working and gracious. “We absolutely love calling Nogales our home. It is where our parents are and many family members and long-time friends. It really is a great little place to be,” said Donnelly.
Maya Donnelly grew up in Nogales and graduated from Nogales High School. She earned a degree in elementary bilingual education from the University of Arizona and began teaching at AJ Mitchell Elementary in 1993. She taught at NUSD for 19 years at Lincoln Elementary and Wade Carpenter Middle School in addition to AJM before making a move to the Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office. She has been working for Mr. Velasquez for five years as the C-CREO Grant Programs Director and Gear Up director.
“I have such great respect for educators and the tireless work they do every day. I never learned more than I did working alongside some of the most inspirational teachers in the field. Then, there’s the students; when I run into a previous student it is an amazing experience. I am so proud to have touched a student’s life in a positive way. I am happiest when I am in a school with kids,”said Donnelly.
The Santa Cruz County Superintendent’s Office was awarded the Gear up Grant in October of 2018. They were the only partnership grant in southern Arizona and the county was awarded $4.2 million to raise awareness for post-secondary education. They are following the cohort of the Class of 2024 from NHS, RRHS, PUHS, Pierson, and Lourdes Catholic High School. When the pandemic sent 8th graders home last year, Gear up went virtual to reach students and families. They launched the website, www.c-creo.org, established their social media presence, and developed a peer-mentoring program that paired students with upperclassmen when they began high school online.
“The pandemic definitely affected the Gear Up Program and our other grants programs as well. We had to take our services online and try our best to reach our families and students and engage them in our services. We rely on our website and social media outlets to get our message out to the community,” stated Donnelly.
Currently, we are working on the C-CREO Summer Camps, supporting our cohort in summer school for credit recovery. We are applying for arts funding to support our Santa Cruz county Arts for Learning initiative in partnership with Young Audiences, launching the Promoting Healthy Students Program, and applying for a new Gear Up Grant to provide services to a new cohort of students. We want to help our county students earn a certification or degree after high school that will lead to a higher paying job in a career they have a passion for.
Working for the county is important to me because Mr. Velasquez seeks out grant programs that will enhance our educational communities and I get to be a part of the process from contributing to the grant writing, to implementing these programs in our county schools. Anything that contributes to building a better future for our students and community is important to me.
“I would like to thank Mr. Velasquez and Chris Young for supporting our C-CREO Grants Team and Santa Cruz County schools for their partnerships. Without their guidance and leadership, our grants team would not be able to provide services in our educational communities. We have formed collaborative relationships with our district schools and their support of our programs keeps our innovative team working hard to secure grant funding,said Maya Donnelly, Grants Program Director.”
This month we recognize a woman from our county, who makes a difference in our community. This month Border Eco is honored to feature Shannon Enciso. She is an individual who echoes across Santa Cruz County. Her dedication to our schools and community through her work in communications has made a difference in our community. She began as a communications specialist in July of 2019. Shannon’s main responsibility is to provide communications to the community. In doing that, she helps to connect families, organizations, and community groups to information, services and opportunities. She manages the website, social media, live streaming, and printed communications. Shannon also serves as the contact point for the community, outside organizations and news media.She has worked on several projects and committees over the past couple of years. She is part of the SCV35 Hall of Fame Committee, which honors athletes, staff and community members who have made lasting and memorable contributions to our schools. Shannon also worked with a great group of ladies from the City and County during the census on the SCC Complete Count Committee. There are others, but the most important and the most taxing responsibility she has had over the past couple of years has definitely been relaying information regarding COVID-19 to the community. Before working for the school district, she managed a small company which consumed a lot of her time, and although she enjoyed the work, she wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on her family and community. “I am learning how to use digital platforms to help connect us in an age and time when technology tends to try and divide us. I have learned how humbling a typo can be and how hard it is to “undo” or correct a miscommunication. I love telling people’s stories and connecting our community. There are so many local people making a difference in the lives of others every single day and I get to capture and share it with others! It’s absolutely the best part of my job,” said Enciso.Shannon Enciso was born and raised in Frankfort Kentucky. She graduated high school in Frankfort, and attended Eastern Kentucky University briefly. In 1997, she moved to Nogales shortly after moving her mom here. She worked for a couple manufacturing companies, Alpha ProTech & Xerox, up until 2005 when she gave birth to her triplet daughters. She took maternity leave when her girls were born, and when she returned to work, Xerox had moved operations further south into Mexico leaving her without a job. She then took a job working for Paul Bond at the Paul Bond Boot Company as the general manager. She learned how to measure customers, make a boot last, and sales as part of the position. She was very fortunate to spend several years working with Mr. Bond up until his death in 2011. She cherishes the conversations and life lessons she learned from him while working there.In 2012, she began working for the Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No.35 (SCV35). Shannon worked as an office clerk, technology integration aide, school secretary, and at her current position as communications specialist. As part of the SCV35 communications position, she also serves Santa Cruz County as a communications specialist. She has worked on special projects and provided communications support to the County.She married her current husband Mark in 2011. He recently retired after serving as state trooper for over 20 years. He is a wonderful bonus dad to her adult son and teenage triplet daughters, grandad to their brand-new grandson, and a dad to their fur babies. They are long standing members of The First Baptist Church of Nogales, which they both love and serve. Shannon recently became a member of the Rio Rico Rotary Club, a wonderful group of people serving our local community.She plans to continue growing in this position and to continue connecting people through our schools, services, civic organizations, churches, and community events. She has spent a lot of time online over the years pursuing a degree and just a few hours short. Hopefully, she will have the opportunity to finish her education once her last children have graduated.
This month we recognize women across our county, who make a difference in our community. This month we have a woman who works for the Santa Cruz County Superintendent's Office. A woman who works directly in public service. It is our honor to feature Patricia Barraza in our issue this month.
She is a woman who “echoes” in the field of education. She will be celebrating 10 years with the SCC School Superintendent’s Office. Border Eco is proud to feature this month Patricia Barraza. She was born and raised in Nogales Arizona. She graduated from Nogales High School and attended the University of Arizona for one year.
Patricia worked in the produce industry for two years, got licensed in real estate for the State of Arizona and married her late husband Manuel (Guerro) Barraza that same year. Together they brought up three children Giovana, Andres and Paloma. She moved to Hermosillo, San Diego and then moved back home to Nogales in 2011 after becoming an empty nester.
After moving to Nogales in 2011, she met her present husband, Luis Preciado, a man who shares the same enthusiasm as she does for serving his community and an artist. He is well known for his remarkable talent.Patricia Barraza is known as “Nana Pooh” to her four beautiful granddaughters and “hopefully more” in the future. She is the proud daughter of the late Ignacio (Nachito) Acuna and Anna Acuna. Her mom was very much involved with the community and dedicated to helping the less fortunate. She learned from her mother the importance of volunteering, getting involved in politics, and serving the community you live in. Her mother retired as one of the most beloved children librarians and still misses her story hours.
Barraza is a fiscal agent for the school districts. She is responsible for two districts and performs those fiscal duties. She processes payrolls, expenses, reconciliations, journal entries, deposits of warrant vouchers and keeps the homeschooled student records for the superintendents’ office. She also has the tasks of organizing several events during the year.
Patricia organizes the Annual Santa Cruz County Teacher of the Year Awards and Dinner event. It takes seven months to plan it from day one to the day of the event. She first starts with the Kick-off Breakfast, which is mostly a notice to sponsors, donors and school administrators they are starting with the process of honoring our educators. Barraza is also responsible for seeking out sponsors and donors for the event.
“These wonderful folks make it possible to be able to provide prizes, trophies, cash rewards and a wonderful reception for our nominees. I am also in charge of hosting the day in, which we select our Teacher of the Year. It’s a tedious challenging event and definitely one of the largest ones in the County but it’s so rewarding to see how happy our incredible educators are at the end of the night,” said Barraza.
Barraza also organizes the Read across America Annual event, which entails inviting over 70 to 90 volunteers to visit every public, private and charter elementary classroom in the county and read a story to them. “The importance of student and adult interaction during these reading sessions is incredible to see. This year was a little tricky to coordinate because of Covid, we had to conduct the readings to the classrooms virtually. It was so nice to see that even though we were faced with a pandemic and challenges, we still had over 75 volunteers for our event and the students were so pleased to have the guests in their virtual classrooms.”
Another event Patricia organizes is the Santa Cruz County Fair Student Art presentation. “Every year, we meet with the folks in charge of organizing the Santa Cruz County Fair and I am given one of the largest halls to be able to feature the artwork from our county students. All schools in the county are given the fair’s theme and they in turn produce the most fascinating works of art. It takes four days to clean up, set up, judge, and reward the students.
“For this event, we invite between 25 and 35 judges from different areas of our county and ask them to come and spend the morning out in Sonoita and judge the student’s artwork. On the last weekday of the fair, the SCC School Superintendent Alfredo I. Velasquez provides transportation to the fair to students. The students spend the morning with the animals and visit the different halls and exhibitions. It is a pleasure to witness the joy they experience when they see the ribbons on their artwork and get to spend a day at the fair. It is so rewarding our hard work has truly paid off.”
The last major event that she organizes is the Annual Student Council Field trip. The student council members from every elementary public, private and charter school are invited to meet elected officials. Students interview each of the elected officials, they ask them about their duties, how elections function, and what inspired them to run for office. They are then provided a tour of the county offices and get to see how each office operates. Student council members get to enjoy luncheon with county elected officials.
“My position as an accounting specialist has two roles. The first is the everyday fiscal operations of our office with the different school districts in Santa Cruz County. Though it is challenging, it is the second part of my position that I enjoy the most. I am fortunate enough to be able to step out of the fiscal capacity of the position and interact with the community, schools, and students. In a way, each of us in the office at some point during the year, get to network with the community,” said Patricia.
This month we recognize women across our county, who make a difference in our community. This month we have two women working in public service who directly work the front-lines. It is our honor to have them featured in our issue this month.
Making a difference in public service
This month Border Eco is pleased to introduce two women who have made a difference in our community. Their work at the community foodbank has made a difference for many families. The pandemic affected many families, which increased the number of people needing assistance. Monica Gonzalez and Griselda Navarro both work in the Nogales Resource Center with clients and volunteers.
Monica Gonzalez is the Client & Volunteer Services Co-Manager of Nogales Resource Center
She is originally from a small town in Orosi, California known primarily for agriculture. She moved to Nogales, Arizona in 1996. Monica has a 24 year-old daughter, 11 year-old son, and 4 year-old grandson.
Ms. Gonzalez began working as a client services assistant in 2015. In 2019, she was transferred as client services/volunteer coordinator. Recently, she was promoted to client services/volunteer services manager, co-manager of Nogales Resource Center. Her accomplishments are developing connections with agencies to provide services to Santa Cruz County residents, assisting in developing online registration through “get connected” to volunteer, while helping in developing the community garden.
“We are able to provide healthy foods to families the same day they apply, all services are free. We also provide services in case of an emergency situation. We also offer SNAP assistance. I think it is important to help our neighbors in need and to give back to the community you live in is very fulfilling,” said Gonzalez.
Since COVID-19 the community food bank has become a low-touch distribution center relying on help from the National Guard Service and just a few volunteers. Clients are not allowed to come into the building and they can renew their applications by phone. SNAP applications are by appointment only or via phone. Staff and volunteers are required to have daily temperature check-ins.
“Our future plans are to bring in more programs and resources to our clients at a one-stop shop at our Nogales Resource Center. The goal is to help build and maintain a community garden going by empowering our garden leaders. We also hope to grow our volunteer base as soon as it is safe. We are extremely grateful for the support we received from the National Guard Service, local produce warehouses who donate produce, donors who donate monetary donations, and our co-workers who help in the warehouse and office to keep our operation going during the pandemic,” said Gonzalez.
Griselda Navarro is the Nogales Resource Center Co-Manager. She started as a volunteer at the community food bank 4 years ago. Griselda started as a volunteer working for the Kids Farmer's Market where they took vegetables to the schools. She was later hired as a full-time employee working in the warehouse responsible for sending and receiving products. She was later promoted to work as a logistics manager and is now a co-Manager of Nogales Community Food Bank. Griselda is originally from Nogales, Sonora Mexico. She is married and mother of 4 children, as well as the proud grandmother of a little girl.
“I am really happy working as a co-manager and having the opportunity to work in this position. I enjoy helping people and working with the food bank. Senior citizens have been impacted the most, since the pandemic began as the Nogales Rides stopped transporting them. Seniors have been left without a ride to pick up their food, as most of the seniors relied on Nogales Rides to pick up their food here at the Community Food Bank Nogales Resource Center. Some senior citizens are still scared of the virus since they are the most vulnerable population but as an organization we have worked very hard to follow all COVID-19 standards as CDC has recommended,” said Navarro.
This month we recognize women across our county, who make a difference in our community. Jennifer St.John is the first female County Manager in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz County was formed in 1899. For several decades, it has provided an array of services and functions across the county. Santa Cruz County employs approximately 400 individuals.
Jennifer St. John started working with the county in August 2000 as a Finance Director. In 2002, she was promoted to the Administrative Services Director. She was responsible for overseeing several departments that include: the finance department, information technology, the geographic information system, emergency management, building grounds & maintenance, and parks. In September 2015, she was promoted to Deputy County Manager and then on February 29, 2016, promoted to County Manager. Jennifer obtained her accounting degree at ASU in May 1994. She worked for the Auditor General’s Office, State of Arizona before moving to Santa Cruz County. St. John was born in Douglas, Georgia but was raised in Memphis, Arkansas, Tennessee and Germantown, Maryland. She has lived in Santa Cruz County since August of 2000.
“Our community has molded me into the person I am today. I am so proud of our community and our county. COVID-19 has been a struggle throughout the world but our community has come together to help each other during this pandemic. The partnerships it has taken to put on the testing blitz and now the vaccination clinics have been tremendous but everyone has jumped in and helped, going above and beyond to save lives,”said Jennifer.
Jeniffer’s accomplishments include the construction of the $56 million dollar Adult and Juvenile Detention Center as well as the new court building while serving her role as Administrative Services Director. Her recent accomplishments while serving in her current role as county manager are the county entering into joint agreements with the Town of Patagonia, NUSD, and District #35 to share resources.
She recently helped to coordinate an intergovernmental agreement with Cochise County to house their juveniles detainees, while saving each county approximately $650,000 annually. Ms. St. John has successfully run testing sites in Nogales, Rio Rico, and Patagonia to test residents for COVID-19.
“Santa Cruz County has recently partnered with Mariposa Community Health Center as well as the City of Nogales, District #35 and NUSD to provide vaccination “clinics” in Nogales for our residents. We plan to offer the clinics in other areas of the county once we have a larger allotment of vaccines.”
“There are so many people and organizations to thank. I’d like to start first with the community and residents. I came here when I was 28 and didn’t know many people but the community and my County co-workers welcomed me. Throughout my career, I have made friends and established relationships. The County Elected Officials and Department Heads continue to support me and because of that, I think we have been able to provide more services for our residents given our limited resources. All of my County co-workers, they are dedicated to public service and do an amazing job for the community. My counterparts at the City of Nogales, Town of Patagonia, the School Districts throughout the County, my fellow County Managers throughout the State of Arizona all have been part of my success. I also want to thank the County Board of Supervisors for giving me the opportunity and privilege to serve as the County Manager for Santa Cruz County. I work every day for what I feel is in the best interest of the community and I strive to make a positive difference to the County and residents every day,” replied Jeniffer St. John.
This month we recognize those women across our county, who make a difference in our community. Judith Mendoza Student Service Director for Nogales Unified School District. Judith is a woman who is making a difference in our schools and students. Ms. Mendoza taught Special Education for 9 years at Nogales High School 2000-2009, she was assistant principal at NHS for a year and a half 2009-2011. She served as a principal at NHS for four years and a half (2011-2015) before she transitioned into her current position. She is going into her sixth year as Student Service Director.
During her tenure as Student Service Director, she has been able to update technology for all students receiving Special Education. Mendoza has been able to purchase two vans and one SUV to provide transportation services for students with severe disabilities, working to transition into adulthood. She helped to establish partnerships with the Santa Cruz Training Program and other organizations within the community. We have been able to provide a uniform to each of our student-athletes participating in Special Olympics, representing NUSD.
Ms. Mendoza said, “I have been able to allocate funds for classroom supplies, software and professional development for all staff working with our students. In the area of registration, we have been able to successfully provide all services online. Parents can now register online, process change of address, and fill out a new open enrollment form from the convenience of their homes.”
“COVID-19 has definitely changed all of our lives and the way schools operate. I believe that COVID-19 has also taught us a lot of valuable lessons. School districts were forced to be more creative and find ways to be able to provide services. Our community has been very supportive of our efforts throughout the pandemic, one thing that I would ask the community is to wear a mask and help stop the spread of the virus.”
Voters approved Proposition 208 last November, 2020 during the General Election. This proposition will definitely benefit our schools as the money must be used to hire and increase the base compensation for teachers, support personnel, support services and for mentoring and retention programs. Allowing for additional compensation will attract qualified employees and it will help retain the ones we have. The proposition is currently being challenged by two separate lawsuits challenging the validity of the surtax, which claims that the surtax is a new tax requiring supermajority approval by the state legislature. We will not know how much revenue Proposition 208 will bring or the fiscal impact it will have until the courts sort out the challenges.
“My goal is to attract and retain the most qualified special education teachers and staff as well as be able to provide the most current professional development. It is my goal to be able to provide the best special education services and resources to our students. I’m a firm believer that we can all be the change in our students' lives. Teachers and paraprofessionals have the power to make a difference in our students' lives. If they come to work and treat each student with compassion, love and care—they will be that positive influence in their lives. On the other hand, if students come to school ready to learn and put all their efforts into their studies, they will help create the optimal learning environment,”said Mendoza.
“I’m a proud product of NUSD, I graduated from NHS and it was NHS the one who offered me my first teaching job. I made my career with NUSD and the district has been very generous, by allowing me to further my education by taking advantage of all the professional development NUSD has to offer. I am grateful to NUSD for the opportunity to learn and grow—to all the students, teachers and administrators who have shaped me throughout the years. Special thanks to Dr. Varona for giving me my first teaching job, Mr. Valenzuela for allowing me to be his intern and finally Mr. Parra for trusting me as his assistant principal and all the opportunities he has given me throughout the years.”
My parents and my siblings have been my greatest inspiration. My parents have helped me identify my strengths and have helped me live my life through their teachings. My siblings have always encouraged me and supported me every step of the way. They keep me grounded and always can provide a word of advice or encouragement.
Border Eco recognizes women across Santa Cruz County who make a difference in our community. We are honored to feature Dina Rojas-Sanchez from the Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital as one of those women who has made a difference in our community. She was born in Nogales, Sonora and raised in Nogales, Arizona.
Holy Cross Hospital provides general medical/surgical services, 24-hour emergency care, rehabilitation, diabetes care and community education services, birthing services, mammography and ultrasound. Holy Cross also offers advanced technology such as teleradiology and lithotripsy programs. Holy Cross Hospital also focuses on offering community education and outreach on key health issues including prenatal care, obesity, diabetes, well-child visits and preventive care. Holy Cross is involved in many special events yearly such as toy drives, food drives, educational classes, health fairs and career fairs to further assist families in our community.
“There has been tremendous teamwork and compassion from hospital staff, physicians and board members, who are offering all of their support during this pandemic. We are all in this together to protect the health of our community. As a rural safety net provider, Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital collaborates with community partners like Mariposa Community Health Center and works with emergency medical services to provide care for residents of the Santa Cruz County area,” stated Dina Rojas-Sanchez.
Dina Rojas-Sanchez is the Administrative Director of Support Services for Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales. She joined Holy Cross in April 1994. She has served in many capacities for the past 26 years leading the various departments of strategic planning, community relations, media relations and marketing. She has served as the lead of all ancillary departments overseeing the operations of facilities, environmental services, dietary services, business office, security and biomedical. Dina holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree in Multicultural Education from Northern Arizona University.
“I provide the staff with a link in the community that in turns provides them resources that further enhance their day-to-day job responsibilities or furthermore provides them assistance on a personal level as needed. It is gratifying to know that you come to work every day knowing that you need to positively impact people in your community in some way every single day. I have a passion to make a difference and am committed daily to help others enhance their lifestyle and overall health wellbeing,” said Administrative Director of Support Services- Dina Rojas-Sanchez.
Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital was recognized for its quality of patient and nurse communication and patient safety in the surveys conducted by the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, divisions of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital received Critical Access Hospital recognition certification in 2017 from the National Rural Health Resource Center, recognizing its work with the Community Healthcare Integrated Paramedicine Program. It is also certified as a Critical Access facility by The Joint Commission.
“I have been inspired for many years by my parents. They are compassionate individuals who have given me the resources to continue my educational path through the years and they have instilled the importance of giving unselfishly. They provide mental support during difficult or stressful times all while realizing that we must always help those around us. They motivate me daily to always reach for a higher goal and remind me to never give up. They have pushed me and have instilled family values that I live by daily. Work hard, provide assistance to others, teach your children manners, make a difference in people’s lives regardless how big or small it may be and always have faith,” said Mrs. Rojas-Sanchez .
Border Eco recognizes women across Santa Cruz County who make a difference in our community. We are honored to feature Patty Molina as one of those women who has made a difference in our community. Patty Molina is the Senior Director of Community Health Services at Mariposa Community Health Center in Nogales, Arizona known to the community as Platicamos Salud (We Talk Health).
Platicamos Salud was founded in 1991 and has a well-established Promotora-based (Community Health Worker) delivery model with 34 employees who implement a spectrum of health promotion and disease prevention programs based on model programs and best practices adapted to the Spanish-speaking, Mexican American and Mexican immigrant community that is serves under the supervision of management staff with training in nutrition, social work, medicine and public health.
Platicamos Salud is an important extension of Mariposa’s clinical services, connecting referred patients to additional education, support and follow-up that is culturally competent and language appropriate. Offering a variety of ongoing health education classes for all community members in locations easily accessible. Platicamos Salud also provides a critical link to the community via its community-based services that partner with other health and social services to serve families and create systems change.
Molina began her employment at Mariposa in 2004 assisting the Director of Platicamos Salud at that time, Jo Jean Elenes. It was within 8 months of her employment, she was promoted to Prevention Manager. During her employment with Mariposa, and prior public health experience working with the Border Health Foundation, she developed and managed federal, state and foundation funded community-based programs at the US-Mexico border.
Patty manages 34 staff members at the Mariposa Community Health Services. At the two story Sierra building, they have the Health & Social Services staff under the management leadership of Yara Castro. Castro primarily manages the women's programs such as the Well Woman Health Check, Maternal & Child Health and Patient Advocacy.
At the Community Health Services and Independent Medical Specialists Downtown facility is a co-shared space with Nogales Community Development. It is Community Linkages, under the management leadership of Cassalyn David. David manages the weekly Farmer’s market, Personal Responsibility Education program (Teen Pregnancy Prevention and HIV/STD Education) and the Adolescent Wellness Network program. Health Promotion is under the management of Rosie Piper with the primary focus being health promotion. Prevention is under the management of Lizzie Garcia which focuses on chronic disease prevention programs, tobacco cessation, and youth services.
She has implemented numerous health education programs on breast cancer, diabetes, physical activity and nutrition, HIV/AIDS, tobacco use prevention, asthma, environmental health and maternal child health. Molina designed education and training materials on public and preventative health issues, while establishing numerous community-based projects.
Mrs. Molina facilitated the development of project organizational structure and leadership. She facilitated group processes among community members to help identify needs, gaps in service, existing resources and response strategies. She also served as the lead in various research projects at Mariposa Community Health Center.
Mariposa Community Health Center has a unique Community Health Services Department that provides health promotion and disease prevention services, as well as most public health services provided by a county health department. This department is rooted in the Community Health Worker model. “We recently acquired the Carondelet Medical Group behind Holy Cross Hospital and are now providing the same services out of this facility renamed Mariposa Nogales West,” said Molina.
An initiative she is currently working is helping to manage the pandemic, while continuing to provide the best care. “Our goal is to keep our patients safe, this continues to be our main priority. We are working closely with our local health department to ensure vaccination to all who wish to receive it while continuing to educate on the importance of keeping themselves safe regardless of having received the vaccine. We continue to encourage people to wear a mask, wash their hands and practice social distance.
“First and foremost, I would like to personally thank my staff in Community Health Services. I would not be the leader I am if it wasn’t for their support and strive to do their best. I couldn’t ask for a better group of individuals especially during trying times such as those we are going through now with the pandemic. I truly admire them for remaining strong and providing. As non-clinical staff at Mariposa, many of my staff were trained to perform necessary duties for the safety of themselves and patients we serve. Our staff is committed to this without hesitation. I am proud and honored to work with each and everyone of them,” stated Molina.
Patty Molina was born and raised in Nogales Arizona. She currently resides in Rio Rico with her husband of almost 25 years and has three daughters, Cristina, Rebecca and Camilla. She has lived in Santa Cruz County for over 50 years. Molina is a graduate of the University of Phoenix where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. She completed a certificate program at the University of Arizona, the Rocky Mountain Maternal and Child Health, including a Nutrition and Public Health Certificate Program from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health.
This month Border Eco features Liza Montiel. It was a year ago, we featured her as she announced her plans to run for office. Mrs. Montiel is another woman who has been making a difference in our community. She was voted into office by the people of Nogales to serve as a council member in August. Montiel was sworn into office by the Honorable Judge Vanessa Cartwright on January 4th.
Liza Montiel was born and raised in Nogales by two hard-working, humble and amazing parents who raised 5 children on minimum wage. Her father died on September 11, 2020. Her father was elated after her victorious campaign last year in August. It was her father who taught her from an early age to never give up, work hard and serving others is a value and obligation. “Nogales has always been my home to me and my family,”said Montiel.
Nogales has shaped the life of so many people that have gone on to do amazing things in life. This community gave us an education, friends and memories that will last a lifetime. I feel an undiminished pride in working together in efficient ways by engaging people especially our youth to help our economy move forward to benefit all people especially the struggling families. The main reason I decided to run for council was because I strongly feel it is my responsibility to help make constructive changes to improve our quality of life in Nogales. I truly believe if every person goes out of their way to put other individuals' needs ahead of their own. Nogales will and can economically grow in a sustainable way for all to benefit and generations to come. An example of collaboration is the sales tax boost S.C.C. received from the construction of the State Route 189 (Mariposa Rd.).
There are so many people with good will in their heart, with energy and perseverance and by bringing people together and matching the talents and knowledge of the right person to the right causes, will benefit our community. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to get our economy moving but I don't know that working and allowing those who do know to work collaboratively and providing the necessary resources to do their job. I care about the future of Nogales and want our community to be a place that drives economic growth creating high wage jobs and facilitating on improved quality of life for all.
Now with the impact of COVID-19, real challenges are among the leaders,which are at the frontline responsible to create more inclusive economically strong communities. As leaders, people are depending on our courage, adaptability and creativity to deliver real and sustainable results. We have a serious responsibility to our community to get this “economic” engine” going and help bring the pieces together.
One of the main concerns voiced by our residents as I walked the neighborhoods while campaigning was to make economic development a serious priority. Residents are focused on lifting people up and achieving real results. They are tired of the empty rhetoric. Residents want and expect their streets and roads to be paved, libraries and parks improved and grow this economy to sustain a strong future for their children and grandchildren.
I’m committed to these issues and those that matter to the residents. Now is the perfect moment, to be productive at the local level and take the necessary “risks” to unleash the creative potential of our residents and leaders. We have to overcome present and past challenges, grab opportunities, be inclusive in building a stronger economy. It’s no secret that a strong economy plays a massive part in any city’s well-being.
While Election Day has come and gone, I am grateful for making their vote count. Including so many other organizations working together to register and encourage citizens to vote. It was a real group effort on everyone's part. One of my personal goals was to involve the young votes and people who were not interested in politics(for an array of reasons) to find it important to vote for their future leaders. It's important for our youth to realize that they have the power in their vote, and voting is a fundamental right that enables them to elect the leaders of tomorrow. More than ever, voting this year with the impact that the Coronavirus had on hundreds of families, voting was crucial and necessary to hold elected officials accountable for results.So, it’s been inspiring to see first hand how encouraging people to vote was very important. I will continue to work hard for the quiet majority.
One of my favorite quotes from one of the young voters in my committee was,” City Hall belongs to the people.” In fact, City Hall should reflect the vibrancy of our residents. Hopefully by involving many young people in my campaign and meeting hundreds of citizens, they will be encouraged to run for public office and/or take a larger role in their community. Nonetheless, I’m so proud of our citizens for taking an active role in the election process. They are my inspiration and motivation to have the courage necessary to remain committed and work relentlessly to get Nogales to flourish after a pandemic. I've learned a lot from the people I spoke to during my campaign, including inspirational leaders that have been a part of my life. They know who they are! If anyone wishes to contact me, please email me at email@example.com