Making their mark
Julia Cuesta Soto Zozaya
Julia Cuesta Soto Zozaya exemplified a moral courage and strong will to succeed. As a teenager, Julia was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa; by the age of 27, she was legally blind. Despite her loss of vision, Julia pursued a series of successful careers, including business manager for Zozaya Construction, information specialist for the state of Arizona, and owner of the first 24-hour Spanish FM radio station, KNNN. In 1992, Julia became the first blind person to pass Arizona’s real estate exam. Julia was a member of the Arizona Federation of the Blind; LULAC, where she served as national vice-president from 1968 to 1997; Arizona-Mexico Commission; Valley Big Sisters, and American Women in Radio and Television, to name a few. She died at 78 in 2004.
Anna Marie Ochoa O’Leary
Anna Marie Ochoa O’Leary is an assistant professor of practice in the Department of Mexican American and Raza Studies at the University of Arizona, where she earned her B.A. in political science and her Ph.D. in anthropology. Her research and scholarship on Mexican women and immigration enforcement and transnational migration on the U.S.-Mexico border places her on the forefront of understanding the lives of undocumented migrant Mexicanas. Anna Marie is also a 2006-2007 Fulbright Scholar, and involved in several nonprofits such as the Arizona Border Rights Foundation, Fundación México, and Las Adelitas Political Association. A defining time in her life was her involvement with the Morenci Miners Women’s Auxiliary (MMWA) in the 1980s.
Barbara Rodriguez Mundell
Barbara Rodriguez Mundell is the first female and the first Hispanic presiding judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court. She oversees the work of approximately 95 judges, 58 commissioners, more than 4,000 staff members, 25 justice courts, and 23 municipal courts. Barbara grew up in an environment where what she experienced convinced her that the creation and enforcement of laws to protect the poor and disadvantaged were the avenues to social change and the end of economic exploitation and discrimination. She received her juris doctorate degree in 1981 from the College of Law at ASU, entered private practice in 1983, and ended the decade as an administrative law judge with the Arizona Industrial Commission. Barbara has worked throughout the court system: civil, criminal, family, juvenile, probate and mental health.
Plácida Elvira García Smith
Plácida Elvira García Smith’s place in Phoenix history is during post-World War I at Friendly House, established in 1922. Disturbed by the poverty and racism she witnessed within the Mexican and Mexican-American community in south Phoenix, Plácida became a volunteer social worker for Friendly House, providing essential services to those in need. She became director in 1931. In 1940, Plácida and her friend, journalist María A. García, founded the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council #110, the first in Phoenix. By the end of the 1940s, Plácida relinquished the directorship of Friendly House to Adam Diaz. She died in 1981, and was admitted to the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame in 1982.