Graciela Olivarez

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Graciela Gil Olivárez (May 9, 1928 – September 19, 1987) was a lawyer who advocated for civil rights and for the poor.

When Olivárez's family moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1944, she dropped out of high school and then proceeded to hold a position at a women's program director of KIFN, a Spanish-language radio station in 1952.[1]

In 1970, Olivárez became the first woman and the first Latina to graduate from the Notre Dame Law School.[2] She was offered a scholarship to the school while she was serving as Director of the Arizona branch of the federal Office of Economic Opportunity, despite the fact that she lacked a high school diploma.[3] The Notre Dame Hispanic Law Students Association presents an award in her name annually.[4]

By 1972, Olivárez had been appointed the director of the University of New Mexico's Institute for Social Research and Development. From 1973 to 1975 she was a professor at the law school and later became New Mexico's State Planning Officer in 1975.[1]

Olivarez served as the chair of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and was one of the first two women on its board.[5]

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed her the director of the Community Services Administration after she had caught Jimmy Carter's attention with Olivárez's efforts to decrease poverty. She thus became the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the Carter administration.[6][7]

In 1980 Olivárez left the Carter administration to run her own business, Olivárez television Company, Incorporated. By 1984, she was the owner of a management consulting/public relations firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico. [1]


  1. ^ a b c Telegen, Diane; Kamp, Jim (1993). Notable Hispanic American Women. Detroit, MI: Gale. pp. 300–301. ISBN 0-8103-7578-8. 
  2. ^ Garcia-Johnson, Ronie-Richele (1993). "Graciela Olivárez". Notable Hispanic American Women (1st ed.). Detroit: Gale Research. pp. 300–301. ISBN 978-0-8103-7578-9. 
  3. ^ [1] Archived April 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "The Graciela Olivarez Award". Notre Dame Hispanic Law Students Association. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Honored Latinas". The National Women's History Project. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ [2] Archived April 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Graciela Gil Olivarez (b. 1928, d. 1987)". Arizona Women's Heritage Trail. Retrieved December 16, 2013.