Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick – 2018 Advocacy Award Recipient

Chancellor, Maricopa Community Colleges

Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick was born and raised in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, during the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship and President Balaguer. As the eldest of three daughters, she grew up in a loving and safe environment where family and education were highly valued, and her multi-cultural ancestry was honored.

At an early age, Maria found her passion for books, newspapers, and magazines. She was hungry to learn new things and to serve others. This is how her career in teaching began. Her career path sprouted a lifelong passion and enthusiasm for teaching others about the beauty and power of knowledge and imagination.

Maria came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar at Arizona State University in 1982 at the age of 23. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Technology and a Master’s Degree in Instructional Media from Arizona State University and a Licentiate in School Administration and Pedagogy from Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena in the Dominican Republic.

Dr. Harper-Marinick has been the recipient of multiple awards and recognition, including 2017 Woman of the Year Award from Valley Leadership, 2016 Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Award in the category of Public Sector service, and 2015 Woman of the Year award from the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and many others. On the national level, she is currently a mentor with the National Community College Hispanic Council Fellows program and the Aspen Institute Presidential Fellowship.

One of the many challenges Dr. Harper-Marinick has met in her education and career is discrimination. For example, due to her accent, while attending Arizona State University, some students would question the accuracy of her test scores each time she scored higher than them. The YWCA’s mission to Eliminate Racism speaks to the core of Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick.

Dr. Harper-Marinick has been a tireless advocate for student success and, as a result, the success of our community. As only the fourth Chancellor of one of the largest community college systems in the nation, the first female, the first Latina, she champions each and every day for students to succeed regardless of background, socioeconomics, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or political ideology. She is driven by a passion to see students find their own unique and successful pathways to and through education.

Dr. Harper-Marinick has been a formal mentor in the Maricopa Community College District’s Women Leadership program for 15 years and an informal mentor for countless people who aspire to achieve higher education. “I consider the community at large my ‘work space’,” she said. “Mentoring and learning together with others is a lifelong commitment.”

Dr. Harper-Marinick has been married to Michael since 1985 and has two children, John and Gabrielle.

The YWCA is honored to present the 2018 Advocacy Award to Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick.