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Raul Castro Institute Names New Executive Director

August 23, 2011

Ofelia Cañez, a longtime educator with deep roots in Arizona, has been named the new director of the Raul H. Castro Institute, a public policy “do tank” housed and supported by Phoenix College.

In her role, Cañez will lead the activities of the institute, which was created to provide public policy input and programming in the areas of education, health and human services and civic engagement, and honor the legacy of former Arizona Gov. Raul Castro. She replaces Maria Enciso, who held the position since 2009 and returns to her full-time teaching role at Phoenix College.

“Ofelia Cañez brings a wealth of experience and commitment to this position,” says Dr. Anna Solley, president of Phoenix College. “We were fortunate to attract someone with such passion and strong ties to the community and state.”

Cañez spent 25 years in teaching and program development in preK-12 and secondary educational institutions. She served as residential faculty at Phoenix College for 11 years. Most recently she served as an academic program advisor at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

“My education, experience and family life have all culminated in working with the Raul Castro Institute,” she says. “I’m paying it forward by building on the achievements of the RCI.”

In addition to continuing RCI’s initiatives for stronger educational outcomes for youth, Cañez, an Arizona native, also is keenly interested in the institute’s work in health care. She previously served on the Medical Radiology Technology Board of Arizona and the Medical Board of Directors for the Mountain Park Health Center in south Phoenix.

“How do we get the Latino community interested in pursuing interventions at an early stage in areas such as breast cancer, diabetes, obesity and drug use,” she says.

She’s looking forward to working with the Institute’s distinguished Advisory Committee to address priority areas and offer innovative projects that enable the state’s Latino communities to grow and prosper.

“I love the idea of it being a ‘do’ tank,” she says. “That means something is being done to overcome obstacles and find solutions.”