Frances McClelland Institute honors 2020 Vision Awards winners

Monday, October 19, 2020
The John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences.

The Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families (FMI), part of the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is delighted to share this year’s award recipients for the 2020 Frances McClelland Vision awards. These awards are given to honor leaders who are working toward improving the well-being of children, youth, families, and community. These award winners represent the strength, dedication, vision and passion that Frances McClelland exhibited throughout her life.

This year we are also honoring the legacy of another visionary leader in our community, Richard Elías, 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: Patricia Harrison-Monroe
  • The Frances McClelland Youth Vision Award: Loralei Cook
  • The Frances McClelland Youth Group Vision Award: Seva Squad
  • The Richard Elías Legacy Award: Kelly Griffith
  • The Richard Elías Award: Jessica Rodriguez
  • The Frances McClelland Organizational Spirit Award: Higher Ground

We will celebrate their accomplishments at the virtual 2020 Frances McClelland Vision Award Ceremony. This award ceremony will be streamed for the first time on Facebook-Live: on Thursday, October 22, 2020 from 4:30 p.m. -5:30 p.m. and then featured on the FMI website,

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.

Detailed Descriptions of Award Winners

The Frances McClelland Vision Award | Dr. Patricia Harrison-Monroe

Dr. Patricia Harrison-Monroe is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. She is a clinician and educator and has a 20-year track record of making seminal contributions to improving access to, and quality of, mental health services for youth, adults, and families in Southern Arizona. Through her teaching, training, and mentorship of students and medical professionals, her contributions extend well beyond Southern Arizona.

Dr. Harrison-Monroe’s visionary leadership led to the development of the Banner-University Medicine Whole Health Clinic along with the co-located Early Psychosis Intervention Center (EPICenter); a significant contribution to public mental health. She is a leader, mentor, advocate, and bridge-builder for equitable, innovative, and comprehensive services, particularly for youth struggling with serious mental illness. Dr. Harrison-Monroe is a true visionary committed to improving the lives of some of the most under-represented and vulnerable members of our community.

The Richard Elías Legacy Award | Kelly Griffith

Kelly Griffith is an activist and advocate who has devoted her 25-year career to social justice. Dedicated to improving the lives of her fellow Arizonans, she has touched some of the oldest and youngest members of our community, and nearly everyone in-between.

12 years, Kelly facilitated the Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors, a statewide support and legislative advocacy network for grandparents raising grandchildren. More recently, she brought her leadership to the Strong Start Tucson initiative, advocating for high-quality early childhood education for all families, regardless of income. In her current role as CEO for the Center for Economic Integrity (CEI), whose mission is to build economically strong communities for all, she took on banning payday lenders from Arizona and won, even when she was outspent 10 to 1.

Kelly has given voice to so many critical concerns impacting workers, consumers, children, and families. Supervisor Elías also cared deeply about these issues and was a close ally and supporter of Kelly.

The Richard Elías Legacy Award | Jessica Rodriguez

Jessica Rodriguez is a strong community advocate fighting for the human rights of the immigrant community in Tucson. As a DACA recipient, Jessica knows firsthand the struggles of some of Tucson’s most vulnerable populations. Jessica works helping immigrants recover stolen wages and helps fight deportation cases. She is not new to social justice; while attending Pima Community College (PCC) her efforts successfully lead to PCC lowering tuition, to in-state tuition, for DACA recipients.

The Frances McClelland Youth Vision Award | Loralei Cook

Loralei Cook is a student at Arizona Connections Academy and a member of the National Honor Society. In her sophomore year of high school, she joined her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club and founded the Galliard International Review, a literary magazine dedicated to promoting the work of young women, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC writers. While serving as the editor-in-chief of this magazine, she became active in LGBTQ+ advocacy, joining GLSEN Phoenix’s SHINE Team, a select group of LGBTQ+ youth activists, and GLSEN Phoenix’s Policy Committee. Loralei then started Queer on Campus, a student-led initiative encouraging LGBTQ+ inclusion and support in the education system. She is also a Bill Researcher and Lobbyist for HER: Empowered and an Activism and Politics Contributor for Et Cetera Magazine, where she urges for the empowerment of women in politics. Striving to create safe spaces for all of Arizona’s students, Loralei hopes that her future contributions will further diversity, equity, and kindness in the community.

The Frances McClelland Youth Group Vision Award | Seva Squad

Seva Squad is a group of teenagers who met as youth volunteers for India Society of Southern Arizona (ISSA), an organization dedicated to the promotion of awareness in the community, the spread of diversity, and the continuation of Indian tradition. The word “Seva” literally means “selfless service,” which is exactly what these girls wanted to do when their community needed it the most.

When COVID-19 first hit in March of 2020, Seva Squad quickly mobilized to gather, create, and donate resources to provide the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Tucson community. They purchased sewing machines, learned to sew, and supplied over 1000 masks to healthcare workers and Tucson community members. They also created face shields and 3D printed the mask holders. Seva Squad provided PPE to Paloma Pediatrics, El Rio Community Health, TMC One, Paloma Medical Center, Summit Healthcare, NW Healthcare, Banner Health, and Catalina Foothills High School.

Seva Squad also offered help to at-risk community members by making grocery and medication runs, providing educational services to kids struggling with online school, and providing catered lunches to healthcare workers. Seva Squad continues to help the Tucson community in their latest efforts to clean up Tucson and provide fresh produce by working with local volunteers with home gardens to grow fresh produce that will be distributed to those in need.

The Frances McClelland Spirit Organizational Award | Higher Ground

Higher Ground is a nonprofit organization located in Tucson whose mission is to empower one life at a time to reach, transform, and elevate their community through love and building character. They partner with local school districts and other organizations to facilitate impactful, creative programs for youth and families. Learn more at:

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 Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families

The Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families (FMI) supports cutting edge, collaborative and innovative 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 build strong communities that promote family resilience so that all children and youth, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have the opportunity to thrive.

Joel Badzinski
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences