AFS Executive Board Elects Maribel Alvarez as Newest Member

AFS News, Elections
Headshot of Maribel Alvarez, who wears black-frame glasses and a grey shirt

Dr. Maribel Alvarez (University of Arizona and Southwest Folk Alliance) has been elected by the AFS Executive Board to serve as a member of the Board from 2023-2025. She brings extensive fundraising, advocacy, and leadership experience in both public and academic settings through her humanities program-building work that connects the University of Arizona and Southwest Folklife Alliance.

Maribel is Associate Research Social Scientist and Associate Research Professor at the Southwest Center at the University of Arizona. She is an anthropologist, folklorist, curator, and cultural organizer. She holds the Jim Griffith Chair in Public Folklore at the Southwest Center, University of Arizona. From 2018-2021, she served as the inaugural Associate Dean for Community Engagement in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her leadership helped produce the first study ever at the University of Arizona on community perceptions of university interventions. In 2022, she was asked by the University Provost to lead a comprehensive strategic retooling of the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. 

“Our profession–intentional in its commitment to learning complexity from the most simple things–has afforded me some of the greatest satisfactions and epiphanies. I am ready to give back in service and insights to help guide the next generation of inclusive and visionary scholars and practitioners.”

Maribel Alvarez

Maribel is the founder of the Southwest Folklife Alliance (SFA), which produces the annual Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival in addition to other initiatives connecting heritage artists and ethnic food entrepreneurs to grassroots organizing and economic development. She is a thought leader in the field who has grown SFA into a regional powerhouse and a national leader in projects such as the National Folklife Network.

The Executive Board began by identifying several skills and positionalities to prioritize in filling this 2023-2025 Board position. Several members were advanced for consideration, with discussion of the various ways each candidate would contribute to address present needs. Ultimately, the Board voted unanimously to elect Dr. Alvarez, recognizing her extensive leadership and program-building experience, nimbleness in adapting to changing trends in academia, work on diversity and belonging, leadership in program creation, university-community engagement, and fundraising.

The AFS Board looks forward to her insight into ways to expand collaborative opportunities to grow and strengthen our field.

AFS President, Marilyn White reflects on Maribel’s election to the Executive Board:

“First, I am grateful to the membership for your confidence in us that enabled the passage of the new Bylaws. I’m also grateful to the Executive Board, whose diligence and thoughtfulness enabled an important discussion on the needs of AFS and possible individuals who could help fulfill those needs.  We are fortunate to have many gifted and talented people in AFS, and a number of candidates with different skills emerged. Our subsequent discussion and ranked vote helped narrow the field, and we had a clear leader. After confirmation of her willingness to have her name put forward for nomination, Maribel Alvarez received a unanimous vote.

I have admired Maribel for a number of years—especially for her leadership in community engagement, bringing many and varied groups together to celebrate their common interests and increase their understanding of each other. Her work with Mexican and Mexican American communities in multiple locations earned her AFS’s Américo Paredes Prize, an award that has special meaning to me, as Dr. Paredes was on my dissertation committee, and I served on the award committee, 2003-06.

Maribel’s DEI work fits in with AFS’s own, as does her experience with strategic planning, and arts and humanities documentation and presentation. The Executive Board is well-positioned to meet the needs of AFS with the addition of another strong leader and visionary!”

Join us in welcoming Maribel Alvarez to the AFS Executive Board!

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