Marketing & Communications  


August 31, 2009 - Each fall the Aquinas College Reflection Award is given to an individual who reflects the values of Aquinas College: commitment, vision, service, loyalty, and integrity. Thursday, September 10, Dr. Juan Olivarez will receive the Reflection award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to education and society as a whole. The evening's events begin at 6 p.m. on the Browne Center Lawn, 2001 Robinson Road SE.

Juan Olivarez joined the Kalamazoo Community Foundation as president/CEO in July 2008. Previously he served as President of Grand Rapids Community College from 1999 through June 2008. He holds a doctorate in family and child ecology from Michigan State University, a master's degree in educational psychology from Wayne State University, and a bachelor's degree from Aquinas College.

A native of Benavides, Texas, Olivarez and his family moved to East Chicago, Ind., where his father and uncle worked in the steel mills of Gary. In 1967 he arrived in Grand Rapids to attend Aquinas College. His career in education began in 1971 when he was hired by Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) to teach first grade, becoming one of the first bilingual teachers in the district. Olivarez worked for GRPS for 20 years.

Olivarez currently serves as a board or committee member of the National Institute for Literacy (appointed by President George W. Bush); Van Andel Education Institute; Council for
Advancement of Adult Literacy; Early Childhood Investment Corporation (appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm); Innovation network in Communities; Literacy Funders County Task Force of Early Childhood Education; Next-Steps for the Kalamazoo Action Covenant and Michigan Migrant Legal Assistance Project, Inc.

Additionally, Olivarez has demonstrated his commitment to community involvement by serving on committees and boards of numerous local, state and national organizations, including the Cherry Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth (appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm); Delta Strategy Executive Committee; Kent and Allegan Workforce Development board of directors; Right Place, Inc. Manufacturers Council; Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

He received the West Michigan Regional National Black Nurses Association's Making a Positive Difference Award and the Aquinas College Outstanding Alumnus Award for 2005. He has also received the Faith in Humanity Award from the Hugh Michael Beahan Foundation, the Communicator of the Year Award from the Association of West Michigan Communication Professionals, the Distinguished Community Trustee Award from Leadership Grand Rapids, and the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award from the Boy Scouts of America for service to youth.

For information on the Reflection event or to make reservations, please e-mail or call (616) 632-2805. The cost to attend if $150 per person.