Josefina Ahumada

Areas of Achievement: 
Social Service

Honored By

Honored by: Battiste, Helen
Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Gift: Engraved Paver, Small

Activist, feminist, educator, healer, equal rights advocate -- these words aptly describe the lifelong work of Josefina Ahumada. Born in Stockton, California, Josefina's commitment to "making a difference" started early in life when her mother Carmen, a volunteer at a health clinic in their South-central Los Angeles neighborhood took her then six-year old daughter along and had her distribute educational pamphlets to the patients. By 1975 Josefina had graduated from UCLA's graduate School of Social Work and moved to Tucson to begin working on her long career to improve services for the severely mentally ill. She pioneered and managed unique community based crisis and case management programs at Kino Community Hospital, ADAP, the Arizona Center for Clinical Management, and Southern Arizona Mental Health Corporation. During the mid 1970's and continuing into the 1980's, she joined other feminists who were active in supporting and mentoring each other as women in their professional roles. She served on the boards of the Tucson Rape Crisis Center, Planned Parenthood, the WYCA, the Tucson Women's Commission, the The Clarion women's newspaper. In 1985 she was a recipient of the YWCA's "Women on the Move" award. Other boards on which Josefina has since served include United Way, Southern Arizona Women's Fund, Tucson Planning Council for the Homeless, City of Tucson Community Development Advisory Committee, the University of Arizona's Minority Advisory Committee, GLBT Advisory Board, and Med Start Program. She has been a role model and mentor for countless Latinas/Latinos and persons of color, advocating for their education and careers in social work and other health fields. The state chapter of the National Association of Social Workers honored Josefina for her local, state, and national work in 1987 when she was named Social Worker of the Year, and in 2005 when she was awarded the organization's Lifetime Achievement award. Josefina joined the faculty of Arizona State University School of Social Work, Tucson component, in 1999, where she has served as field education coordinator and instructor. She is proud of the programs she has developed to improve cultural competence of students and programs for students interested in borderlands work. She was awarded the ASUY Ubiquity Award for Academic Contribution in Teaching. Today, Josefina Ahumada continues to make a difference in the lives of those she encounters. She brings a "se, se puede" spirit to all that she does, and she inspires the best in the people and groups who are privileged to know her.