Rosario Anaya’s family accepting her NEN Hall of Fame award: (left) Menée Soliz Hill (niece), Monica Montoya (niece) y Carlota Soliz (sister). Photo Amanda Trescott

The late Rosario Anaya, former executive director at the Mission Vocational Studies School (MLVS), was one of a number of community figures honored during this year’s NEN Awards hosted by the Neighborhood Empowerment Network.

The NEN is a collaborative organization composed of community organizations, city agencies, nonprofits and academic institutions. Its annual awards ceremony recognizes leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to improving their communities by making them safe, clean, green and healthy places to live, work and raise families in. The emotional ceremony was full of beautiful words, applause, smiles and even tears.

Rosario Anaya. Photo courtesy of The Greenlining Institute

Anaya was inducted into the NEN Hall of Fame. The award recognizes leaders whose contributions have impacted lives in the community in a positive way.

From 1973 until her death on Aug. 5, 2015 at the age of 70, Anaya managed MLVS, a school dedicated to teaching English as a second language, and to technical and vocational training of the Latin American community, comprising mostly new immigrants.

In 1978, Mayor George Moscone appointed Anaya to a public post as a member of the San Francisco Board of Education. In 1982 and 1986, Anaya was elected president of the board by an overwhelming majority of votes for two consecutive terms, becoming the first Latin American woman to be elected to public office in San Francisco.

Changing the lives of many, Anaya always supported the causes and movements important to Latinos, such as bilingual education and providing free English classes, vocational training and work in their vocation at MLVS.

Anaya’s vocation was to empower the needy, the new immigrants from Latin American.

“Anaya became a leader in the Mission because she believed in the exact same things that we are now working to make a reality—education, employment, community investment,” said Mayor Ed Lee.

“There are a couple of people in my life who are responsible for getting me where I am today,” said District 9 Supervisor David Campos. “Rosario was that person for thousands of people. Her induction elevates this Hall of Fame.”

According to family members who survive her,  there are four life lessons Anaya instilled in her family: “Do not let anyone mistreat you; always demand the best; education is fundamental; and help others whenever you can.”