Explore Class 3 Visits “Ambos Nogales”

May 7, 2024

Visiting “Ambos Nogales” is always an eye opening experience for the participants of Explore. The significance of this region for our larger state cannot be overstated, between the goods crossing into Arizona over the border, the nearby Manganese and Zinc mine, and the rich culture, there is an endless well of knowledge to gain during our visit. 

Our first stop was the Santa Cruz County Provisional Community College District, where we met with several local leaders who are part of the Greater Nogales Port Authority. They shared with our group the significant economic impact of the border in Nogales, the goods crossing, and the investment that goes into ensuring safe and efficient processes.

We then went to Guillermo Valencia’s Cooling Warehouse where he toured us around the significant space, explaining the role of cooling centers in transitioning produce throughout the country once it crosses over from Mexico.

Our next stop was the Wittner Museum, a beautiful local creative space featuring floor to ceiling displays of local artist Paula Wittner’s art. We met with local government officials including Mayor Maldonado, City Manager, Roy Bermudez, County Supervisor Bruce Bracker, and County Administrator, Jesus Valdes. They shared with us their experience in their roles as well as the deep connections, history, and richness of the culture in Nogales.

Our participants then engaged with a panel of local education leaders including Maya Donnnelly, Francisco Padilla, and Aissa Huerta, who helped us understand the unique nature of the bicultural approach to education in the area, and the impressive retention and graduation rates for students. 

We finished our first day with a stop by La Linea Art Studio where we viewed the current exhibit and learned about the strategic investment in the arts from local leader, Evan Kory. We crossed into Mexico for dinner at La Roca, where we enjoyed live music, dancing, and incredible food to wrap up our day. 

Our second day was spent in Nogales, Sonora, with the help of our incredible partner, Eleazar Coronado. We started with ARSOBO, a nonprofit organization that makes custom wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, and hearing devices for people in need in Mexico. Francisco Trujillo leads this work by hiring people who use these devices themselves, creating a unique and highly impactful approach to supporting the community of people with disabilities in Mexico.

We then visited Kino Border Initiative where Sara Ritchie shared the work that the organization does to support migrants who are seeking asylum in the United States. She gave us a tour of the facility and translated a discussion with one of the social workers who helps migrant families through the complicated process. Eleazar then took us to the Industrial Complex to show the group the vast network of maquiladoras, providing insight into the importance of this work in the region and the quality of jobs available to residents.

Our next stop was La Llorona restaurant, which is always a highlight of the day with the incredible food they offer. Stephanie Bermudez of Startup Unidos met with our group to talk about her experience as an entrepreneur and passionate change-maker in the area. We ended our day with a presentation from ARINAC, the local Human Resources organization that supports the maquilas, who shared data about the region, further expanding on what life looks like in Nogales, Sonora for residents and businesses. 

As we crossed back into Arizona at the end of our second day, the impact of such a full program experience was evident. Understanding the importance of Nogales in the larger conversation about Arizona is invaluable to leaders living and working in the Valley. 

For more photos, please visit our Facebook album.

Special thanks to all of our community partners who made the trip such an incredible experience.

Josh RubinVice President of Business Development at Javid LLC
Skylie EstepSouth32 Human Resources Director, North America
Nilo LarrivaExecutive Director of the Nogales Community Development Corporation
Matt MandelVP of Finance & Legal SunFed
Jamie ChamberlainPresident/Owner of Chamberlain Distributing Inc.
Guillermo ValenciaPresident and Co-owner of Valencia International, Inc.
Evan KorySanta Cruz County Arts for Learning Program Director
Bruce BrackerCounty Supervisor / Board of Nogales Community Development
Roy BermudezCity Manager, City of Nogales
Jesus ValdezCounty Manager
Mayor Jorge MaldonadoMayor of Nogales
Maya M. DonnellyChief Deputy at the Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office
Aissa HuertaSanta Cruz County Arts for learning Program Director
Francisco PadillaRegional Director First Things First
Pricilla RodriguezArtist / Nogallería
Francisco TrujilloExecutive Director of ARSOBO
Sara RitchieDirector of Development Kino Border Initiative
Stephanie BermudezStartup Unidos
Eleazar CoronadoSenior Associate, Verdugo & Associates
Tom KieferPhotographer, El Sueño Americano
Alma Cota de YanezExecutive Director of FESAC

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