Four Prominent Leaders Honored for Supporting Hispanic Arts and Culture

Sept. 16, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — Four Austin leaders who have increased awareness of Hispanic life in central Texas and have found innovative ways to preserve its history and culture have been honored by The University of Texas at Austin for their commitment to serving the community through the arts and humanities.

The four honored were: author Martha Cotera; museum founder and director Sylvia Orozco; and theater founders JoAnn Carreon-Reyes and Rupert Reyes. Each received the Community Leadership Award from William Powers Jr., university president, and Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement and the W. K. Kellogg Professor of Community College Leadership, at a reception hosted at the Mexican American Cultural Center.

  • Cotera documented the role of women in the Chicano movement beginning in the 1960s. She has been a role model to many young women, especially Latinas, and is best known for her book "Diosa y Hembra (Goddess and Female): The History and Heritage of Chicanas in the U.S." This book was one of the first histories of Mexican American women and their contributions to civil rights. Cotera has authored more than 100 other books, essays and articles. She has been honored with the annual Martha Cotera Graduate Fellowship award in the History Department at the university and since 1974 has been an archivist librarian at the Benson Latin American Collection—home to the Martha Cotera papers. She earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Texas at El Paso and also holds a master's degree in education.
  • Orozco was one of the founders of Austin's Mexic-Arte Museum, in 1983, and now is its executive director. Mexic-Arte stands just blocks from the state capitol on Congress Avenue and bridges multiple eras in Mexican, Latino and Latin American art, from traditional to contemporary multimedia works. State lawmakers designated Mexic-Arte the official Mexican and Mexican American Fine Arts Museum of Texas five years ago. Seventy-five thousand visitors enjoy its exhibits each year and more than 100,000 children have toured the museum. Orozco, a native Texan, earned a bachelor's degree in art from The University of Texas at Austin.
  • Carreon-Reyes and Reyes, both graduates of The University of Texas at Austin, celebrated the new millennium by founding Teatro Vivo. Since January 2000 Teatro Vivo has specialized in bilingual theater, staging numerous successful plays, acting workshops and collaborations with neighbors and other organizations. JoAnn is the business director. Rupert is the artistic director. Rupert's plays have been staged across the country.

"These four individuals have dedicated their lives to the service of Austin," said Vincent. "They are also ambassadors for The University of Texas at Austin, and we could not be more proud to be able to honor them for all they have done for the community."

More than 225 prominent Austinites attended the ceremony on Sept. 9.

"These are outstanding writers, artists and community leaders who have transformed Austin and brought distinction to The University of Texas at Austin," said Powers during his remarks.

For more information, visit the Diversity and Community Engagement Web site.