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9th Annual President’s Golden Bear Partnership Awards Recognizes Community Partners

May 19, 2014

Phoenix College recognized members of the community who provide outstanding partnerships for the college at a variety of levels at the 9thAnnual President’s Golden Bear Partnership Awards, which was held on May 1, 2014. From assisting with student success initiatives to providing valuable partnerships for the college, each of the 10 honorees has made a significant impact at Phoenix College.

The Golden Bear Award, which was established in 2006, acknowledges individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to Phoenix College students, employees, programs, services, and the college community. The selection committee for the awards recipients is comprised of Phoenix College administrators, faculty and support staff.  At the beginning of the Spring semester, the committee announces a call for nominations, allowing members of the college community to nominate outstanding individuals in 10 categories:  Advisory Council Member, Alumni Partner, Business & Industry Partner, Community Leader, Community Organization Partner, K-12 School Colleague, Public Service Partner, Scholarship Donor, Technology Partner, and University Colleague. The committee then meets to begin the difficult task of selecting the individuals who will receive the awards.

“The partnerships established between Phoenix College and these outstanding members of the community are priceless in terms of assisting us in reaching our objectives of student success,” said Dr. Anna Solley, president of Phoenix College. “I am delighted to have the opportunity to recognize them and honor their commitment to Phoenix College.”


The following partners were honored this year as 2014 Phoenix College Golden Bears:

Carlos Galindo-Elvira, Raul H. Castro Institute – Advisory Council Member                                                              

Carlos Galindo-Elvira is an active, engaging and productive member of the advisory committee for the Raul H. Castro Institute at Phoenix College. As Chief Development Officer for Valle del Sol, he has extensive experience working in the Latino community in Arizona and a wealth of expertise in the nonprofit sector. He also brings his knowledge and relationships from the political arena, having served as mayor of Hayden, Arizona; an assistant to a United States senator; and a voter outreach coordinator. Carlos guides the direction of the RCI through strategic planning, fundraising efforts and coordination of successful activities and programs. He is a great resource and contributor to RCI’s Arizona Latina Trailblazers celebration. He serves on the selection committee for this popular event and always provides essential support for the Trailblazers’ ceremony.


Ann Oehmke, Phoenix College Alumni - Class of 1953 – Alumni Partner                                                               

An active member of the Phoenix College Alumni Association, Ann Oehmke has had nearly a lifelong connection to Phoenix College. Graduating from PC in 1953, Ann returned as a faculty member and staff development coordinator. She serves on the Alumni Hall of Fame committee and has been an instrumental mentor to students in the PCAA Bear Scholarship Program. A member of the Half-Century Club for nearly eight years, Ann has held several executive board seats including her current position as vice president. In 2011, and was selected as a Phoenix College History Maker at the 13th Annual Alumni Hall of Fame. Ann helped launch outreach efforts to engage retired faculty and staff of Phoenix College. The project was very successful, resulting in the formation of the Phoenix College Golden Bears in 2010. She now works at the District level to coordinate and engage retirees throughout the Maricopa Community Colleges.


Comverge, Inc. – Business & Industry Partner                                                                                                                    

Comverge, Inc. delivers intelligent energy management solutions that help utilities and their customers optimize energy usage to reduce costs, meet regulatory requirements, and support sustainability initiatives. Phoenix College works with Joel Fisher of Comverge on a program known as APS Peak Solutions. This program assists large energy consumers in efforts to reduce non-essential electrical use during the hours when it is at its highest demand. This partnership began at Phoenix College in 2011 and is implemented by the college’s Operations staff. To date, this program has provided revenues in excess of $32,000 and provides the opportunity for the college to set an example for students of responsible energy usage as well as providing funds to support the Phoenix College Green Committee and its initiatives.


Jeff Johnston, Arizona Center for Fire Service Excellence – Community Leader                                                         

Working closely with the Phoenix College Fire Science Program, Jeff Johnston guided the college’s participation in the newly-accredited certifications for Firefighter and Hazardous Materials First Responder students. Implementing the new process was a long, time consuming experience, but Jeff's drive kept this moving forward over a four-year period. He involved the college all along the way in the preparation of test banks, exams and skills development. Phoenix College was always kept up-to-date on the progress of accreditation and informed of any changes or new requirements. The Firefighter I & II certification and the Hazardous Materials First Responder Awareness and Operations certifications provide a direct link for our students to job placement across the country. These new certifications place Phoenix College students at a very high level of preparedness and competency in this highly competitive job market. 


Amerigo Berdeski, Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind – Community Organization Partner   

Amerigo Berdeski, an alumnus of the Phoenix College Interpreter Preparation Program, is the senior educational coordinator for the Desert Valley Regional Cooperative division of the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. In this role, she provides a wealth of ways for our students to explore and achieve careers as interpreters. She offers opportunities for those in our Career Work Experience courses to observe interpreters in K-12 settings, and many find jobs through connections made from the internships Amerigo has facilitated. As a hiring supervisor, her perspective and counsel are invaluable. Amerigo opens workshops to our students for continuing education in educational interpreting. Her willingness to provide opportunities on a moment’s notice are made all the more valuable by her flexibility in accommodating student schedules and needs. Her dedicated and cheerful support of our IPP students contributes to our program’s outstanding reputation.


Dr. Zachary Muñoz, Betty Fairfax High School – K-12 School Colleague                                   

One of the most recent principals to be added to the Degree Phoenix partnership, Dr. Zachary Muñoz is always the first to embrace initiatives and energetically mobilize to see them through. His willingness to collaborate to enhance the high school experience for his students and provide them the best education possible makes Zachary a valued partner. He spearheaded the college application and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion challenge and, to date, his students at Betty Fairfax High School are leading all others in the Phoenix Union High School District in FAFSA completions and college acceptances. He is tireless in his pursuit to find new and better ways to serve students, which makes him a treasured asset to the Degree Phoenix partnership.


Alberto Gutier, Governor's Office of Highway Safety – Public Service Partner

As director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Alberto Gutier has been an integral partner with the Phoenix College Phlebotomy Program in the training and qualifying of law enforcement phlebotomists. He is a champion of the phlebotomy program not only throughout the state of Arizona, but also nationally. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety funds the training of every law enforcement phlebotomist in the state. Through Alberto’s advocacy, Phoenix College is the preferred provider of this important training. With his encouragement, staff at the Office of Highway Safety dedicates their time to participate in the learning experience of the law enforcement personnel throughout their training. The Phoenix College Law Enforcement Phlebotomy training program is able to offer an outstanding educational opportunity through the cooperation and collaboration of Alberto Gutier and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.


Dr. Virginia Foster, Phoenix College Faculty Emeritus – Scholarship Donor   

Dr. Virginia Foster’s commitment to Phoenix College spans more than three decades – first as a teacher to our students, then as a scholarship donor and finally as a vocal advocate for giving and supporting Phoenix College. While a professor, she informally mentored many young scholars, encouraging them to stay in school and guiding them to the financial assistance that might enable them to stay the course of their educational goals. She and her husband David founded the David & Virginia R. Foster Scholarship for Hispanic Immigrants at Phoenix College. Their generosity provides funds for undocumented students to attend Phoenix College, opening doors to a brighter future and much needed opportunities for higher education. Today, Virginia continues to support Phoenix College and actively encourages others to follow in her philanthropic footsteps.


Lisa Duncan, CADsoft Consulting – Technology Partner

As the primary liaison from CADsoft Consulting for Phoenix College’s Applied Technology programs, Lisa Duncan makes the needs of students and faculty paramount. She is attentive to concerns of students and provides the college with excellent customer service in the installation and technical support of Autodesk software, especially when we upgrade CAD software each August. Lisa is proactive in sending out the latest information via newsletters and the CADsoft website so that we can share it with our students and faculty, providing the best instruction possible. She is always available via email or phone to provide top-notch customer service, helping us keep our students on the cutting edge of the software used by most architecture, engineering and construction companies.


Janet Davis, Maricopa Integrated Health Systems’ Maryvale Family Health Center – University Partner                   

For many years, Janet Davis has been a champion of the Phoenix College Medical Assisting Program, helping to develop the program so that our students are both university-ready and workforce-ready. As part of the Phoenix College Medical Assisting Advisory Committee, she has fostered the success of PC students in many ways. She helps to find ideal clinical site matches for students and has assisted in enhancing and expanding the program’s curriculum and training approaches so that Medical Assisting students stand out as workforce-ready upon completion of the program. Janet brings our students into externships in her facility, the Maryvale Family Health Center, and encourages colleagues and associates in her region to do the same. She works one-on-one with students, lending a helping hand with the Maricopa Integrated Health System’s application and hiring process so that our graduates can enjoy fulfilling careers in medical assisting.


Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees!