Diversity Series celebrates the life and work of local activist

Yakima Valley College’s 2022 Diversity Series celebrates the life and work of local activist Tomás Villanueva. Graciela Villanueva will share her father’s legacy and how he helped shape the Yakima Valley through his social justice and activism for farmworkers. The free event will be held on Wednesday, June 1 at 10:30 a.m. A Q&A will follow the lecture. Register for the event online.

In conjunction with the June 1 event, local artists Bertha López and Christie Tirado will share artwork honoring Villanueva that will be on display at YVC in the student life office.

Tomás Villanueva was 14 when his family immigrated from Mexico to the United States. After following the crops for three years, the family settled in Toppenish, Wash. He spent the next several years working various jobs, then decided to pursue further education. After earning his GED, he enrolled at Yakima Valley College.

Hearing about Caesar Chavez’s farm workers movement, Villanueva and fellow YVC student Lupe Gamboa travelled to California to learn about organizing. Returning to the Yakima Valley, they founded the United Farm Worker Cooperative, one of the first activist Chicano organizations in the state of Washington.

From 1967 to 1974, Villanueva devoted himself to farm worker organizing and Chicano movement activism. Out of these efforts came the establishment of the Yakima Valley Farmworkers Clinic and the United Farm Workers Service Center.

In 1986 he became the first president of the newly formed United Farm Workers of Washington State. Villanueva continued to be an active community leader until his death in 2014.

Graciela Villaneuva is the sixth of Tomás and wife Hortencia’s seven children. She earned a master’s degree in business administration and has over 20 years of experience in the human resources industry. She has lived her entire life in the Yakima Valley and has dedicated her life to continuing Tomas’ legacy by working to improve the lives of underserved and underrepresented populations.

Since 2005 Yakima Valley College has partnered with several area organizations to host events and lectures through its annual Diversity Series. The events provide YVC the opportunity to bring diverse perspectives to everyday topics and push the boundaries of the term beyond race, gender, social class and sexuality.

For more information contact Counselor Vicente Lopez at vlopez@yvcc.edu.

Press Release Contacts:
Dustin Wunderlich / 509.574.6870 / dwunderlich@yvcc.edu
Stefanie Menard / 509.574.4646 / smenard@yvcc.edu