Rosario Anaya, the former executive director of the Mission Language and Vocational School at 2929 19th Street, was honored on Wednesday night with an induction into the Neighborhood Empowerment Network Hall of Fame, an organization that supports residents, organizations, and government agencies in building resilient communities. Anaya died of lung cancer on August 5, 2015 at age 70, and had worked at the vocational school for more than 40 years.
“There are a couple of people in my life who are responsible for getting me to where I am – Rosario was that person for thousands of people,” said Mission District Supervisor David Campos. “Her induction elevates this Hall of Fame.”
Anaya’s relatives accepted the award. She was the first Latina to serve on the San Francisco Board of Education and also the first Latina elected to public office in San Francisco when, in 1977, she was hand-picked for the San Francisco Board of Education by former mayor George Moscone. Those who knew her professionally and personally have described her as a “beacon of truth” who was steadfast in her morals.
“Anaya became a leader in the Mission because she believed in exactly the things that we are working on now– education, job training, investment in the neighborhood,” said Mayor Ed Lee during the ceremony.
Although much of Anaya’s work in her later life centered around the vocational school, Campos said the extent of her influence reached beyond the Mission – he described her as “part of the fabric of the city.”
A passionate advocate for immigrant rights and for education, Anaya left a legacy of creating opportunities and leveling the playing field for immigrants, children, and the poor. At the vocational school and within her community, Anaya laid the foundation for a vocational and language education program that continues to help immigrant and disadvantaged community members enter the workforce.
“That legacy has to not only be represented on occasion and in spirit, but as a living legacy,” said Daniel Brajkovich, who took over Anaya’s role at the vocational school after her death. Brajkovich said he has aimed to continue both Anaya’s work and spirit at the school.
“Eventually the words go away and the actions take over,” he said. “That’s at root of Rosario’s accomplishments and what that meant for her community — its all about the action.”