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Torres-Velásquez recognized for Excellence in Community Service by MALDEF

Diana Torres-Velásquez was recently recognized for her many efforts in civil rights in New Mexico by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz presented Torres-Velásquez with MALDEF's Excellence in Community Service Award at an Awards Gala in San Antonio, TX.

Torres-Velásquez is Associate Professor of Secondary Education in the College of Education and Human Sciences, and in the community serves as President of the Latino Education Task Force.

In both roles, Torres-Velásquez collaborates with MALDEF on the long-running educational equity and school finance case in New Mexico, Martínez v. State of New Mexico, which brought about systemic changes to the state’s education system. The Martínez lawsuit has Latino and Native American plaintiffs. She worked to recruit participation from all ethnic groups because of the demographics of our student populations. Prior to her leadership with the Martínez lawsuit, in 2010, she served as the Hispanic Education Liaison for the state of New Mexico and wrote the first report on the Status of Hispanic Education, as required by New Mexico’s Hispanic Education Act. Torres-Velásquez later worked to provide poetry workshops for female inmates serving life in prison for crimes of passion.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive this award from MALDEF, an organization that I have admired throughout my education and work career,” said Torres-Velásquez. “This award adds to the credibility of the work done together with many communities, especially with the Martínez and Yazzie lawsuits. I wish to acknowledge all of the MALDEF team for their wisdom and expertise in this case and in historically significant landmark cases over many decades, and wish especially to acknowledge the dedicated community members, students, and families who worked by my side as we climbed a steep mountain to create a level playing field for students of all ages in New Mexico.”

COEHS Dean Hansel Burley noted: "This is a tremendous honor. It is a recognition of Professor Torres-Velásquez's commitment to social justice. It is also evidence of the impact of her expertise that she has so generously shared with the people of New Mexico. She helped to make things happen for the good of everyone in the state."

Dr. Diana Torres-Velásquez is an Associate Professor in Secondary Education