Frances McClelland Institute celebrates 2021 Vision Award winners

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families (FMI) is delighted to share this year’s award recipients for the 2021 Frances McClelland Vision Awards. These awards were given to honor leaders who are working towards improving the well-being of children, youth, families, and community during a virtual ceremony on Oct. 15. These award winners represent the strength, dedication, vision and passion that Frances McClelland exhibited throughout her life. We are also honoring the legacy of another visionary leader in our community, Richard Elias, a community advocate and leader who served on the Pima County Board of Supervisors and the Frances McClelland Institute Advisory Council.

  • The Frances McClelland Vision Award – Linda Leatherman
  • The Richard Elías Award – Alonzo Morado
  • The Frances McClelland Youth Vision Award – Alyssa Norris
  • The Frances McClelland Youth Group Vision Award – Project Smile (Hurshneet and Pravneet Chadha)
  • The Frances McClelland Youth Group Vision Award – The Officers of Teen Court Bar Association
  • The Frances McClelland Organizational Spirit Award – Step Up to Justice

Top sponsors for this year’s Vision Awards are the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and Child & Family Resources.

The Richard Elías Legacy Award is given to honor an individual who works with the Southern Arizona community to build resilience, work for justice, and honor the beauty and heritage for our community and for its members. This individual is a champion of our unique Sonoran Desert and its people and exemplifies many of the admirable qualities of Richard Elías: a person who is dedicated and willing to take risks, who is approachable and open to everyone in the community, and who promotes equity and opportunity. Nominations of DACA recipients were encouraged.

About Frances McClelland

Frances Helen McClelland (1923-2005) was a business leader, community leader, and philanthropist. She was a Tucson native, the first child of Irish immigrants who founded Shamrock Dairy. A 1946 graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in accounting, Frances was stricken with polio at a young age and she grew to understand vulnerability in the lives of children and families. Committed to understanding ways to improve the lives of children and families, she believed, in particular, in human potential: that when opportunities are accessible – particularly to people who are vulnerable – all people can reach their potential for a productive future.

About the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families

The Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families (FMI) supports cutting edge, collaborative and impactful research aimed at improving the lives of children, youth and families, especially those from vulnerable and marginalized communities. FMI supports innovative research, actively partners with community organizations, shares timely research findings with service providers and the community, and educates the next generation of engaged scholars and community leaders. The FMI mission is to work collaboratively with community organizations and researchers to build strong communities that promote family resilience so that children and youth from marginalized backgrounds have the opportunity to thrive.

Detailed Descriptions of Award Winners:

The Frances McClelland Vision Award - Linda Leatherman

Linda Leatherman retired from Pima County on July 6, 2021, after 18 years as the Pima County Faith-Based Community Initiatives Coordinator.  Linda was responsible for implementing Board Resolution 2003-224 with outlined purpose and goal to “level the playing field” so 650+ faith groups and their members utilized equal access to government resources.  This involved developing and implementing processes and relationships between elected officials, County departments, non-profit corporations, and the faith community. The success of her work as liaison for the government with the faith community is evidenced by the faith community’s collaboration with County departments in providing testing and vaccine sites and other collaborations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to working with the County, Linda directed the Southern Arizona Office of Congressman Ed Pastor, directed a post-secondary technical school, was a certified public high school teacher, and wrote and administered grants for a non-profit state-wide organization. She has administered grants for the Navajo Nation, the Apache Nation and for the U.S. Dept of Labor.  The U.S. Labor grants enabled the faith community of Pima County to better serve the homeless and to mentor youth.  She is an active member of Grace Temple Missionary Baptist Church and the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Her numerous awards include a Mayor’s Copper Letter and induction into the national Farmworkers Hall of Fame.  In 2014 she was both honored by the Tucson NAACP for her work with the African American Community and inducted into the LULAC National Hall of Fame for Women in Washington, D.C.

The Richard Elías Legacy Award - Alonzo Morado

For the past 8 years, Alonzo Morado has worked as the Community Engagement Coordinator at Primavera Foundation.  The mission of Primavera Foundation, providing pathways out of poverty, has given Alonzo the opportunity to work for families and children living at the lowest spectrum of poverty.  Alonzo directs the afterschool program for the children at the Las Abuelitas Family Housing and Community Center—Primavera’s green housing designed multi-family affordable housing project.  The after-school program includes residents from Primavera’s Las Abuelitas housing project as well as the surrounding South Tucson neighborhood, including the South Tucson Housing Authority.  The program provides a safe, fun place to gather for the children that also has homework help available and allows time for reading time.

Alonzo also works in partnership with the Pima County Public Defender’s Office, the University of Arizona School of Law, and many volunteer attorneys, to provide Rights Restoration services as well as helping people with housing, education, and employment opportunities after obtaining their civil rights. Alonzo works to help residents of South Tucson make their voices heard by helping neighborhood organizations, teaching basic civic participation, and teaching and showing how government can work for everyone. Promoting community self-determination and working in partnership with these residents has allowed Primavera Foundation to be good neighbors with the community. Alonzo’s career has spanned many years as well as many different organizations in the non-profit, private and public sector including SER, Jobs for progress, The Sullivan Jackson Employment Center, the City of Tucson, Pima County, the Federal Government, 1st Interstate Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, La Raza Development Fund (a CDFI of National Council of La Raza) and the Primavera Foundation. Alonzo’s focus has always been on working in low-income communities, working to build wealth and equity as it has always been an uphill battle fighting inequity and racism.

The Frances McClelland Youth Vision Award - Alyssa Norris

Alyssa Norris is a senior at Marana High School.  In 2019, Alyssa joined Unidas, a program sponsored by the Women's Foundation of Southern Arizona. Unidas participants strengthen their understanding of social justice issues, broaden professional development skills, and engage in local philanthropy.  Alyssa is now a Unidas Mentor where she plans and facilitates meetings, teaches social justice topics, connects participants with local wellness and sex education resources, and pushes for inclusivity and intersectionality.  Through philanthropy and community, Alyssa found this group of like-minded individuals who have inspired her passion for advocacy and leadership.

In the fall of 2020, Alyssa began advocating for inclusive and comprehensive sex education within her high school.  Alyssa has continuously pushed for partnerships and access to local sex education resources.  Through The National LGBTQ Task Force, Alyssa entered a national program designed to expand her advocacy skills and focus on navigating democratic processes to enact and modernize sex-ed practices and policies.

In her senior year, Alyssa has become the Vice President of the Saguaro Chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS).  This enables her to integrate peers with service and leadership opportunities with aspirations of inspiring a similar passion for local advocacy. Most recently, Alyssa has been elected President of her school’s Mental and Social Health Club (MaSH).  Alyssa leads participants in educating the community on mental health issues and resources, developing, and implementing mental health services, and advocating for enhancements to high school mental health delivery systems. Alyssa will continue her passion for academics, advocacy, mental health, intersectionality, and community at the University of Arizona in the fall of 2022.

The Frances McClelland Youth Group Vision Award – Hurshneet and Pravneet Chadha

Project Smile AZ was founded by two brothers, Hurshneet and Pravneet Chadha, with the goal of spreading smiles for those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic lockdown, they realized the effect of isolation on the mental health of people recovering from the virus, and virtually

recruited volunteers across the world to make handmade cards. Project Smile AZ started off with sending motivating messages to COVID patients who were alone and isolated in hospitals. They soon expanded their letters to veterans, homeless people, cancer patients, and gratitude cards for essential workers. They have shared thousands of handmade cards and hundreds of "Smile Kits” with art supplies for youth in need. In addition, they have held numerous drives that successfully helped people across Arizona such as food drives, mask drives, Smile kits, book drives, thank you cards, and much more. Their motto is “We can all do something with what we have and where we are to make this world better!”. Hurshneet and Pravneet are students at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona. They are passionate about spreading smiles across the world with their homemade cards and kindness! To learn more, please visit their website at

The Frances McClelland Youth Group Vision Award – Officers at the Teen Court Bar Association

A program of the YWCA Southern Arizona, Pima County Teen Court is a peer-led juvenile court diversion program that uses the principles of restorative justice, service learning, and positive youth development to reduce juvenile crime recidivism.  Teen Court was developed in 1995 as a community response to the over-representation of minorities in the juvenile justice system and has since lowered the juvenile crime recidivism risk of nearly 8,000 Pima County adolescents. Teen Court accepts referrals from Pima County Juvenile Court for youth ages 12-17 who were arrested for crimes approved for diversion by the court. Youth enter Teen Court by participating in a hearing where they: account for the behavior that led up to their arrest, receive feedback from teens in the community on how to repair the harm they caused, and are sentenced by a peer jury to complete a set of constructive consequences that are designed to impart consequences for their crimes, address the harm caused, restore relationships, and increase participants’ knowledge and skills.

The unique aspect of Teen Court is that trained youth volunteers serve as attorneys, bailiffs, clerks, and jurors.  All teens who regularly volunteer with Teen Court are automatically members of the Teen Court Bar Association.  Members elect their own Officers (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Documentarian).  The Officers conduct monthly Bar Meetings which include opportunities to debrief and reflect on their service as well as raise topics and questions for program improvement.  Officers work with other members and staff to plan quarterly professional development and volunteer recognition.  While living the mantra of “nothing about us, without us”, Teen Court heavily relies on the leadership of its youth volunteers to reflect emerging needs in the community and the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Frances McClelland Spirit Organizational Award – Step Up to Justice

Step Up to Justice (SU2J) is a full-service, free civil legal center for low-income individuals and families in Pima County. Our challenge: “How can we direct quality free civil legal services to the most people in need at the lowest   cost?” Powered by the talents of volunteer attorneys and technology, SU2J is a public service, funded by private citizens to assist low-income community members who need but cannot afford civil legal services. Through careful financial stewardship and technology designed to bring civil legal services to clients where and when they need them, Step Up to Justice builds connections between clients, attorneys and community partners. Together, we are bringing the promise of equal justice for all to Pima County.

To learn more about Step Up to Justice, please visit

Melissa Barnett
Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences