Irene Anderson

Areas of Achievement: 
Community Building
Higher Education

Honored By

Honored by: Aviles, Jennifer Hesketh
Date submitted: July 03, 2007
Gift: Engraved Paver, Small

Irene Anderson established several innovative programs that changed the lives of countless women. A victim of domestic violence, Irene chose to use that experience to educate herself and to mentor, educate, and assist others. By 1985 she had testified before representatives of the governor's office on domestic violence, had earned her M.Ed. in counseling and guidance, and had developed course work for domestic violence certification. She subsequently taught the class to 35-40 people each semester for six years and obtained state certification as a professional counselor. By 1995, she had served as chairperson of the Southern Arizona Task Force on Domestic Violence, was a member of the HIV/AIDS Mental Health Provider Network, had worked as director and coordinator of substance abuse programs, and had served as a volunteer on advisory committees and health provider networks. Enriched and empowered by these experiences, she arrived on the University of Arizona campus to single-handedly coordinate the newly created Oasis Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence. During her tenure, Irene creatively expanded the service capability of her office by welcoming the assistance of a doctoral student, many student interns, and several AmeriCorps members. While addressing the needs of the UA community of about 50,000 faculty, staff, and students, she spearheaded the development of the Arizona Higher Education Consortium involving NAU, ASU, and twenty-three state community colleges to address issues common to all. Meanwhile, Irene served as member and then chair of the UA Commission on the Status of Women Campus Climate Committee and guided the development of a climate survey. She provided training sessions for more than twenty organizations including, for example, the Native American Nurse's Association, the University of North Dakota's Department of Continuing Education, and the American College Health Association. In 1998, she spearheaded the development of a unique, to this country, training and mentoring Women's Health Advocacy Program in response to needs of the UA women of 13 sororities. As well, she developed a campus mentoring program to assist in expanding the Oasis Center support network. In October 1999, in response to a grant proposal submitted by the Oasis Center, the U.S. Justice Department awarded $421,006 to the University of Arizona Oasis Center to combat violent crimes against women on campuses. The grant further strengthened the University's ties to minorities and underserved students and expanded prevention and education efforts on campus.

I am honoring Irene Anderson because she believes in the power of networking, mentoring, diversity and shared non-hierarchical leadership to achieve peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all in our community; in fact, in our state. At the UA, she provided opportunities for women student interns to write papers, apply for grants, and develop brochures such as one created for students from other countries and cultures about the dynamics of dating relationships and legal rights in the U.S. She eked out time to accompany the students to conferences and workshops, often driving them herself. She organized community potlucks to provide places for discussions about domestic violence. The AmeriCorps identified the Oasis Center as a national example of AmeriCorps programming and a prime site for high quality experience, training, and supervision. Under her wise and nurturing mentorship, the Oasis Center's only paid staff assistant and concurrent doctoral student, Matt Sanders, worked with her to organize and facilitate collaborations between the Oasis Center staff and other campus offices and organizations to perform outreach activities with not only women but also with men. While doing all of the above, and maintaining partnerships within the UA community, she also maintained leadership commitments to and participation with community efforts of the Tucson Rape Crisis Center, the Brewster Center, Wingspan, and the Community Domestic Violence Healthcare Response Team.