MAY 10TH, 2023

Contact: Julianne Cheng, Programs Manager

[email protected] / 602-257-0335

Congratulations to Dr. Anita Huizar-Hernández, Sandy Chan, Stephanie Joyner, Ginette Rossi, Eshé N. Pickett, and the Rising Youth Theatre.

Arizona Humanities is proud to announce the winners of the 2023 Humanities Awards. The Recipients of this year's awards are:

  • Dr. Anita Huizar-Hernández, Humanities Public Scholar Award
  • Sandy Chan, Friend of the Humanities Award
  • Stephanie Joyner, Rising Star Award
  • Ginette Rossi, K-12 Humanities Educator Award
  • Eshé N. Pickett, Outstanding Supporter Award
  • Rising Youth Theatre, Founder's Community Partner Award

Every year we honor and celebrate outstanding contributions to the humanities in our state. Since the inaugural awards in 1990, Arizona Humanities has recognized individuals and organizations that have advanced the humanities in Arizona through their scholarship, leadership, support, and advocacy. All of this year's winners are hands-on humanitarians. They have actively engaged people in communities across Arizona in the public humanities. You can read more about each award recipient below.

Dr. Anita Huizar-Hernández- Humanities Public Scholar Award 

Dr. Anita Huizar-Hernández, Associate Professor in the School of International Letters & Cultures at ASU, is committed to elevating the stories and histories of Arizona’s diverse communities through the public humanities. She is both a mentor to her students and a strong advocate for public outreach in the humanities. Her research and teaching focus on the ways literature, film, and other forms of expressive culture have consolidated or challenged myths about Arizona, the West, and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Her book Forging Arizona: A History of the Peralta Land Grant and Racial Identity in the West, tells the story of a falsified land grant claim in the nineteenth century that encompassed a large part of Arizona and New Mexico. She is a leader in opening access to the humanities through collaborative and innovative digital projects that tell the stories of the people of the Borderlands. One such project is “Detained: Voices from the Migrant Incarceration System,” a digital public archive that captures and shares the stories of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants incarcerated in Arizona. 

Sandy Chan - Friend of the Humanities Award 

Sandy Chan, academic librarian at Pima Community College for 25 years and former president of the Arizona Genealogical Society, has volunteered for years at the Arizona Historical Society’s Library and Archives in Tucson. In collaboration with the Arizona Historical Society and the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, Chan helped develop the Chinese History Lab. She currently gives educational presentations to students as part of the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center’s Field Trip Program. She has worked with the Vail Preservation Society on projects focused on Chinese laborers who built the railroad through Southern Arizona, and has also presented research on the history of the Tucson Chinese community for many cultural organizations. Chan maintains a website that shares her research on the history and contributions of the Chinese community with the public. Chan is the ultimate community historian. Her volunteer work, collaboration, and leadership in the public humanities has helped to preserve and share the stories of the Chinese community in Southern Arizona. 

Stephanie Joyner - Rising Star Award 

Stephanie Joyner, Pinal County Historical Society’s (PCHS) first Executive Director, has assembled a network of loyal volunteers and built a small but impactful modern museum for the community in Florence. The museum has become a community gathering place that reflects the broad community it serves. Joyner is an advocate for diversity and inclusion and has implemented these core values at the museum. She has created bilingual signage to reach Spanish-speaking Florence residents, designed exhibits focused on the history of local women, and pivoted to virtual programs to reach wider audiences. Joyner wears many hats in her position—from organizing exhibits and programs to fundraising and operations. Outside of PCHS, she has consistently participated in Museum Advocacy Days to secure federal funding for rural communities. She regularly organizes meetings for Pinal County museums so that they can support each other, and she still finds time to volunteer with the San Tan Historical Society.

Ginette Rossi - K-12 Humanities Educator Award


Ginette Rossi, a secondary English Language Arts teacher at the Arizona School for the Arts and a doctoral student in English Education, is known for her innovative, inclusive, and humanities-based classroom programs. Her colleagues describe Rossi as a transformative educator who brings culturally relevant literature to her classroom that reflects diverse lived experiences. One example is the Book Bistro program that promotes active student engagement through sharing books with peers. It incorporates spoken word poetry, writing, and performance in collaboration with Phonetic Spit, a local nonprofit. Rossi’s teaching weaves together history, literature, poetry, and more to encompass the full range of the humanities. She is committed to mentoring and supporting her students by connecting them to community groups, publishers, and other resources. Rossi also mentors future teachers as a faculty associate at ASU. Rossi’s leadership includes service on the board of the Arizona English Teachers Association and as Co-Director of the Central Arizona Writing Project, which provides professional development to Arizona teachers. 

Eshé N. Pickett - Outstanding Supporter Award


Eshé N. Pickett, System Software Architect with Intel Corporation, has been a staunch supporter of Arizona Humanities since she first joined the board in 2015 as a Manifesto Project volunteer apprentice. Pickett is a technologist and community activist who advocates for civil and civic engagement. She volunteers on committees and serves on the boards of organizations that advance human connection. Her STEM background and love of reading and writing inform her passions. Pickett’s advocacy and support for Arizona Humanities is beyond measure, whether hosting fundraisers, launching a Pen Zen writer’s group, inspiring corporate and employee contributions, or sharing her technological expertise with the board and staff. Pickett’s support and contributions have been outstanding and her commitment to advancing the humanities unwavering.

Rising Youth Theatre - Founder's Community Partner Award

Rising Youth Theatre utilizes the arts to spark community conversations around topics that matter including race, mental health, student pushout, and more through original plays and their school residency programs. At its core Rising Youth Theatre is a youth leadership program that believes young people are already capable of being decision makers and agents of change. Young people work in leadership positions as staff, board members and in creative spaces. Their approach is not only youth centered, but youth driven. Arizona Humanities has supported Rising Youth Theatre programs since 2014, programs that have been consistently innovative, imaginative, and impactful. The company received the 2012 Mayor’s Arts Award from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and the 2014 Outstanding Children’s Theatre Award from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. They have also received major grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America, Arizona Commission on the Arts, and Thunderbirds Charities.