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Profiles of Success 2019

LATINA LEADERSHIP AWARD

This award gives special recognition to a Latina or organization in the core areas of service to community, advocacy, philanthropy, and leadership development.

Honorable Charlene Fernandez

Charlene Fernandez is the Democratic Leader of the Arizona House of Representatives.  She was first elected to the state House in 2014 and represents Southwestern Arizona, specifically, the majority of Yuma County, western Pima County, southwestern Maricopa County and southwestern Pinal County.

Charlene was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona to her parents Antonio “Tony” and Carmen Ramos.  She attended her local high school, Yuma High and was active in student government.  She later attended Arizona Western College before transferring to Northern Arizona University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in education.

Her love of government continued when she volunteered on Congressman Ed Pastor’s first Congressional race in 1991.  She went on to run his Yuma office, coordinating constituent services for the western portion of then Congressional District 2 for nearly twelve years.

While working for Congressman Pastor, Charlene spearheaded an effort that culminated in bringing a Veteran’s Administration clinic to Yuma County for the first time in history; previously the Phoenix Veterans facility was the closest place for them to receive these services.

Charlene later served Governor Janet Napolitano as a liaison for the Arizona Department of Environment Quality in Yuma County. In this capacity she worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as its counterpart in the Republic of Mexico, to ensure that the air and water in Southwestern Arizona remained safe while ensuring that businesses faced minimal impact. 

Charlene also worked for Congressman Raúl Grijalva running his Yuma Congressional office as well before deciding to run for the Arizona legislature. 

In addition to her legislative work, Charlene continues her love of community work by serving on the Yuma Community Foundation.

She and her husband Sergio have been married for 40 years and have three children and two grandchildren.