13:13 PM

NLRC Director Wins Social Justice Award

Dr. Arcela Nuñez-Alvarez, the research director of the National Latino Research Center at Cal State San Marcos, has won the 2020 Ashley L. Walker Social Justice Award for her years of work with Latino and migrant communities. 

Nuñez-Alvarez received the award on Jan. 20 from Alliance San Diego at the 32nd annual All Peoples Celebration, honoring the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Alliance San Diego is a community empowerment organization that builds coalitions to promote justice and social change. 

Nuñez-Alvarez was recognized for her “tireless empowerment of rural and migrant community members in San Diego County.” 

In addition to her work with the NLRC, she is the co-founder and director of Universidad Popular, a community-based organization in Vista with the mission of making the promise of education a reality for all. She’s also the co-founder and director of Homie UP, which offers American history from a Chicano/Latino perspective to incarcerated individuals free of charge. 

Nuñez-Alvarez is currently leading the regional outreach and education campaign for the 2020 U.S. census. She was the lead author for a proposal called Count Me 2020, a coalition of more than 100 civic and community-based organizations that received $1.66 million from the state of California last year to coordinate census outreach.  

“More than one individual, this award recognizes the work of hundreds of community leaders at the National Latino Research Center, Universidad Popular and Homie UP who are working to nurture and grow our beloved community with education and love,” Nuñez-Alvarez said. “We are forever indebted to social justice warriors like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who taught us to appreciate life in struggle and to love our community.” 

Born in Michoacán, Mexico, Nuñez-Alvarez migrated to the United States with her mother and six sisters, and settled in North County, where she continues to live and work. Her scope of research includes Chicano and Chicana history, ethnic studies, civic engagement, cultural folkways, educational equity, health and food justice, immigration, environmental justice, and human rights. 

The Alliance San Diego award is named after Ashley L. Walker, a lifelong social justice activist who recently retired as executive director of the City of San Diego’s Human Relations Commission. The award, which has been given out since 2009, recognizes an individual or group for their work in promoting peace, social justice, and human and civil rights in the San Diego community.  

“She is a true inspiration,” Nuñez-Alvarez said of Walker, “and I’m privileged to walk the path that she helped to pave for educators and social justice champions.”